China is trying to press mute on noisy public transportation
Major cities in China are trying to lower the din on public transportation by introducing “quiet cars” or punishing people for using their phone speakers with no headphones on the subway.  In China, there are differences in opinion about whether or not being noisy in public should be regarded as impolite because it can be interpreted as a sign of vibrancy and energy.   But for large swaths of the younger generations, it is important to be quiet on public transportation to show respect to other passengers. Authorities in China appear to have decided that quiet is better.  Last week, Chinese railway authorities started offering a “quiet train carriage” for some high-speed routes. According to
Want to tour Beijing? Airbnb may not be a feasible option 
The Chinese capital has dealt a significant blow to Airbnb in the city by banning short-term stays in the city’s heart, saying they could create a security problem.  The ban affects the Dongcheng district, which includes famous tourist attractions like Tiananmen Square, Zhongshan Park and the Forbidden City. It also applies to the Xicheng district, a popular area for dining. A ban on short-term stays essentially kills the Airbnb business model in the areas.  Beijing said criminal networks and terrorists could use short-term stays at Airbnbs, and the ban aims at improving security in the “core central administrative zone” that is home to China’s top officials. The ban is set to come into effe
Rare protest in Beijing puts the spotlight on an industry in trouble
Hundreds of Chinese parents took to the streets in Beijing on Monday to demand a refund from an education company they feared was about to join a wave of business closures, highlighting the economic stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In a rare display of anger at the heart of the Chinese capital, the demonstrators gathered outside an office building and demanded that Youwin, an afterschool tutoring company, return their deposits. They eventually spilled into the streets and blocked traffic until the police ushered them back onto the sidewalk. Some of the parents said Youwin owed them more than $10,000 in prepaid tuition and had been unable to get a refund. Messages in a WeChat group 
China Trends: a 1980s Chinese song goes viral and Beijing on coronavirus lockdown
Every Tuesday and Thursday, China Trends takes the pulse of the Chinese social media to keep you in the loop of what the world’s biggest internet population is talking about. Xue Hua Piao Piao Bei Feng Xiao Xiao Who would have thought that a song from 1983 would go viral in 2020? That is the case for “Yi Jian Me” (one plum blossom), performed by Fei Yu-ching.  Specifically, it is the line “Xue Hua Piao Piao Bei Feng Xiao Xiao” that has become fodder for short videos on social media. The lyrics translate to, “the snow is fluttering and cold wind is blowing.”   The song originally went viral in China in January, before slowly migrating over to the non-Chinese internet via YouTube and Instagram
How China controls 1.4 billion people’s movement within its borders
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Imagine growing up in rural America, dreaming of leaving the drudgery of small-town suburbia to pursue the glitz and glamor of the big city. Then imagine that a special registration system, required at birth, would issue a document that results in a life spent on the fringes of the concrete jungle. This theoretical document wouldn’t be much of a roadblock for relocation, but, because it is stamped “rural,” enrolling in schools would be difficult, health care access would be limited and it would be impossible to get certain jobs. This scenario is analogous
China’s security law in Hong Kong: What you need to know
A controversial national security law concerning Hong Kong is expected to be on the agenda as China’s rubber-stamp legislative body, the National People’s Congress, began its most important annual meeting on Friday.  The law would ban all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government and external interference in the city’s affairs, as well as target terrorist acts in Hong Kong. Beijing’s plan to make the law was announced less than a year after a proposal to allow extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China sparked months of street unrest. Chinese officials have blamed foreign interference for fueling the protests. Critics of the expected legislation, including Hong Kong’s
The best (and worst) cities in Asia to live and work abroad
Living abroad can be a life of romance, personal growth and exciting opportunities. Or it can be a nightmare of expensive rent, culture shock and loneliness.  But if you are to take the plunge, Asian cities could be your best bets, according to a recent survey. Four of the top five of the world’s best cities for expatriates to live are in Asia, according to the survey of more than 20,000 expatriates. Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, topped the chart for the second year in a row. Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, came in second while Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam was third. Singapore was ranked as the fourth-best city for expatriates while Montréal rounded out the top five as the only non-A
I just moved to Beijing. This is my experience with mobile payments
“You might not have to make that trip to the bank after all,” Rob, a friend, messaged me over WeChat the other day. He attached a press release saying Alipay had launched an international version of its mobile payments platform for visitors to China. Named “Tour Pass,” the app can be used for up to 90 days and could prove handy for me, as I had moved from Hong Kong to Beijing for three months just over a month ago. The last time I lived in Beijing, five years ago while studying at Peking University, cash was still currency, shared bikes did not exist and people did not have their morning Starbucks delivered via an app. Since then China has transformed into an almost cashless society at an ex
Beijing motorists use fake marriages to be able to drive
Beijing motorists desperate to use their cars are resorting to sham marriages to get around strict license plate rules. The rules are designed to limit the number of vehicles allowed on the city’s congested roads. Some drivers were willing to pay the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars to marry someone with one of the prized plates, according to CCTV. They then have the license transferred to their name before getting a divorce. Specialist agencies charge over $20,000 to help clients use this method to obtain a license for a gasoline-driven car. It costs over $15,000 for an electric-powered one, according to the report. The scam is a strategy to get around a license lottery first int