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 a Chinese short-video app took the world by storm
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. TikTok is one of the world’s most popular apps, allowing some 800 million users worldwide to make and watch addictive short videos. It is the international version of the Chinese app Douyin, which was launched by Beijing-based tech conglomerate ByteDance in 2016. But with its explosive popularity has come accusations of content censorship – something that Douyin routinely does in the Chinese market – and concerns of data security. As US-China tensions have worsened, some American lawmakers have expressed skepticism over the relationship between TikTok and
The passport that allows 3 million Hongkongers to move to the UK
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. The British government is offering a path to UK citizenship to holders of a colonial-era passport in Hong Kong, after Beijing enacted a sweeping national security law in the city.  The national security law, which comes with harsh punishments for what are deemed to be secessionist speech and acts, has led to widespread fear and prompted some to look for a way out of Hong Kong.  Some Hongkongers born in the British colonial era are now counting on a special passport, the British National (Overseas), to emigrate.  What is a BN(O) passport? The BN(O) documen
How China tests millions of people for Covid-19
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. When the coronavirus devastated China’s central city of Wuhan in January 2020, many people who suspected they caught the virus were left in the dark. The health system was stretched to its breaking point and test kits were in short supply. Many Chinese people who may have contracted the virus had to wait for days or weeks to get tested, a prerequisite for treatment. Some people died before getting diagnosed.  Fast forward to mid-May and the same city organized a free testing campaign that covered 9.9 million residents over two weeks. The goal was to weed
Inkstone Explains: India and China’s deadliest border clash in decades
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. 14,000 feet above sea level, a Himalayan border clash between the Chinese and Indian militaries using only sticks and rocks left 20 Indian soldiers dead and 76 injured in June 2020, Indian officials said. Beijing has not detailed the casualties suffered by the Chinese side. It was the most violent clash between the two countries in decades, fueling nationalist anger in both India and China. Both governments have said they want to cool tensions.  The conflict has its roots in a century-old border dispute between the two nuclear powers, which turned bloody 
How to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival is held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. In 2020, that falls on June 25. Rooted in ancient Chinese history, the festival is also known as Tuen Ng (Cantonese) and Duanwu (Mandarin). It has endured for more than 2,000 years and continues to be widely celebrated across East and Southeast Asia.  What is the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival? In 278 BC, Qu Yuan, a poet and a politician, drowned himself in a river to protest the corruption of officials that led to the fall of his state, Chu, which was located in modern-day Hubei, a province in central China. The legend goes that after his death, local villagers who sympathized with Qu beat drums
What is it like to be gay in China?
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Being LGBTQ in China is complicated. In many ways, Chinese society at large represses the culture – coming out can lead to severe professional and personal consequences. And yet, gay communities are allowed to exist openly in many places without repercussions. China is a place where authorities routinely censor homosexual acts in movies and television, but it is also home to the world’s largest gay dating app. Social and political forces continue to shape the development of LGBTQ rights in the world’s most populous country. With rising LGBTQ acceptance am
Why Beijing constantly talks about China’s ‘century of humiliation’
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. In Europe, the years from 1839 to 1949 are often seen as a period of mass destruction and triumphant progress, world wars and technological revolutions. In China today, the 110-year period is often summarized in one word: humiliation. Once an unrivaled regional hegemon, China was beleaguered by endemic corruption, internal rebellion and ailing economy while being subjected to bullying by foreign powers and forced to cede territories to countries including the British Empire. But this painful chapter of history is not relegated to the history book.  Calli
The rise and rise of China’s national language
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Mandarin Chinese has more native speakers than any other language in the world, thanks to China’s large population and a government campaign to get every citizen to speak the national language. Mandarin boasts over 920 million native speakers and an additional 200 million second-language speakers, making it the second most widely spoken language in the world, according to Ethnologue. The global influence of the language has risen along with the country’s profile. In 2013, Former British Prime Minister David Cameron called on schoolchildren to learn Mandar
How China engineers an alternative internet for its people 
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Stretching along the entire border of mainland China is an invisible barrier, dubbed the Great Firewall, that keeps out information that the Chinese authorities deem inappropriate. Sites such as Facebook, Google, Twitter – and Inkstone – are inaccessible in the mainland thanks to this metaphorical wall. The list of banned websites is ever expanding. While software to bypass the wall exists, the sophisticated system of censorship has become a powerful tool for the ruling Chinese Communist Party to strengthen its rule by limiting what China’s 900 million in
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