Inkstone Explains

Inkstone Explains

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China.

How bottled water created China's second-richest man
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. China’s billionaire class has a new member, Zhong Shanshan, who made his wealth from one of the country’s hottest commodities: bottled water. Zhong, who chairs one of China’s largest beverage bottling companies, has joined the likes of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Tencent CEO Pony Ma and real estate mogul Hui Ka-yan on the Forbes China Rich List. (Alibaba Group is the parent company of Inkstone.) According to Forbes, Zhong was worth $54.2 billion on September 21, making him the second-richest man in China, behind only Tencent’s Pony Ma. Zhong shot up the rank
Convenient or exploitative? Behind China’s food delivery boom
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Cheap and quick food delivery was popular in China even before widespread travel restrictions turned it into an essential part of urban life for many globally. But as demand for the service has risen in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, public scrutiny is putting pressure on China’s tech giants to show consideration for the workers who risk their lives to hit the tight deadlines set by the services’ algorithms. How popular is food delivery in China? Getting food delivered to one’s doorstep is much more affordable in China than in wealthier countries. Tha
The downward spiral of Australia-China ties
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. The relations between Australian and Chinese governments have gone into a downward spiral in 2020. Over the course of less than a month in the summer of 2020, Beijing announced its second inquiry into Australian wine imports, suspended barley imports from the country’s largest grain exporter and confirmed the detention of a prominent Australian journalist. Then, the Communist Party-run tabloid Global Times on August 31 borrowed late Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew’s words to warn Australia that it risked becoming the “poor white trash of Asia” if it decoupl
How China braces its economy for a more hostile world
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Four decades after China opened its doors and put itself on a path to becoming the world’s factory, a pandemic has exposed how much industralized nations have grown to rely on Chinese imports, from medical equipment to factory parts and consumer goods. To diversify its supply chains, Japan is subsidizing companies to move their factories out of China. And the two men vying to be the next American president, incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden, have both signaled their desire to shift the US economy away from China. China’s
Taiwan redesigned its passport so people won’t mistake it with China
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. After Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in 2017, the White House issued a transcript of what the American president told reporters before he went into the meeting. It was a routine practice, except that the Trump administration made a mistake: the statement called Xi the president of the Republic of China. The Republic of China (ROC) is Taiwan’s government, which sits in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei. Xi is the president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and he rules from the lush quarters of Zhongnanhai in Bei
What is Asean, the group that (loosely) binds Southeast Asia
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Around the turn of the 21st century, the global community saw China as the next great economic opportunity.  The country’s workforce was young, and labor cheap and abundant. This attracted foreign investment and helped build China into the world’s manufacturing powerhouse, in the process lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But as growth in China has slowed and labor cost has risen, those seeking the next great growth story are increasingly looking south – toward Southeast Asia.  The culturally diverse region is connected by an alliance
This secretive, powerful Chinese group is facing US sanctions
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Citing China’s treatment of its ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, the US government in July sanctioned several Chinese officials and organizations believed to be responsible for alleged human rights abuses in the far western region. The sanctions put a spotlight on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, or XPCC, one of the country’s most secretive and powerful entities. But unlike most other people or organizations targeted by US sanctions, XPCC is neither a private company nor a government department. A closer look into how the entity effectively g
News or propaganda? Not all media outlets in China are created equal
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. In response to growing worries in the US over foreign meddling in elections, American social media companies have taken upon themselves to identify accounts run by foreign governments. YouTube in 2018 began adding labels to state-owned media. Facebook followed suit several months before the 2020 presidential elections, while Twitter has taken the extra step of limiting the spread of posts made by outlets and people affiliated with a foreign government. But blanket labeling of Chinese media as “state-affiliated,” as Twitter does, glosses over the important
What’s behind China’s looming demographic crisis?
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. With one in six people on Earth calling it home, China is the world’s most populous country, where a large city can have as many residents as any industrialized nation does. The sheer size of the population has helped develop the country into the world’s second-biggest economy.  But while decades of managed growth in China’s population had paid dividends, the country is on the verge of a potential demographic crisis as a result of government actions, including policy to limit most families to have no more than one child. China’s population is expected to
How to govern China: Chinese provinces and administrative units explained
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. About as big as the United States, China is home to more than four times more people than the American population. Like America, China is divided into dozens of regions. How powers are shared between China’s central and regional governments is crucial to managing the country’s vast and populous territory. The People’s Republic of China can be broken down into 33 regions, with different sets of powers and levels of oversight. Most of these are known as provincial-level divisions and include nominally autonomous regions with large ethnic minority populatio