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
Illegal structures are widespread, and deadly, in China
Self-built suspended balconies. A mountain mansion built on top of a rooftop. An ariel corridor built above a pedestrian walkway.   Amid fast urbanization and a booming property market, China has witnessed all kinds of illegal structures in the past decades.  The latest example is a group of buildings in Shanghai, allegedly converted from a factory workshop into office buildings and dormitories by inserting new floors. While less wacky than a traditional Chinese courtyard build on top of a roof, the problem, in this case, is that the addition of the new floors has resulted in the building showing signs of structural damage.   The Boyang Enterprise Business Park, reconstructed from a major p
These 4 genes may be what make Han Chinese unique
A team of researchers in Shanghai have pinpointed four genes that shape the face of an ethnically Han Chinese person.  According to the new study, changes in these genes could make a chin narrower, eyebrows higher, nose longer and cheeks slimmer. Differences in the genes could also have the opposite effect.  The Journal of Genetics and Genomics published a peer-reviewed paper about the discovery was on Monday. Similar studies have been carried out on European, Latino, African and some Asian populations. The facial genes for ethnic Han, who make up most of China’s population, had previously remained unknown. According to the study, Han Chinese share one face-shaping gene with some people nat
Unorthodox architecture in China
China has long been a testing ground for the world’s architects to try out new ideas. From the “bottle opener” in Shanghai to the “big trousers” in Beijing, the country is no stranger to unorthodox building design. The latest structures to draw attention are two new buildings in the country’s Yangtze River Delta.
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
Shanghai Disneyland reopens
Shanghai Disneyland has reopened to visitors last week after a four-month shutdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but things haven’t fully returned to normal just yet.
Chinese city sorry for shaming people for publicly wearing pajamas
A Chinese city has apologized for naming and shaming people for wearing pajamas in public. In a crackdown on “uncivilized behavior,” the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou on Monday publicly disclosed the information of seven citizens who fell afoul of the supposed dress code. A now-deleted online post on the city's official social media accounts publicized the surnames, headshots and redacted ID numbers of six women and one man going about their day in colorful PJs. It also included their places of "crime." The campaign is an example of China’s efforts to shape citizens’ seemingly innocuous behavior to carry out its vision for “civilized” society and the increasing role of technology in enforc
What makes Elon Musk dance like nobody’s watching in China
The video came with a warning, for good reason. Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla, shared footage of him awkwardly dancing on stage at a Shanghai event for his electric car company.  In his own telling, the video of his flailing limps was “NSFW!!” – not safe for work – internet lingo usually applied to porn and other stuff you don’t want to be caught watching in the office. At Tesla Giga Shanghai NSFW!! — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2020 Scripted or not, Musk’s unabashed display of joy is testimony to the good fortune he’s had in China as he sought to expand Tesla’s sales and production.  The Shanghai event was held on Tuesday to mark the delivery to cust
The most competitive cities: China vs rest of the world
By ranking fourth in the world, the megacity of Shenzhen was the highest-ranking Chinese metropolis in a new study that ranked how important a city is to the global economy.  China generally performed well in the rankings, but the list was dominated by the US.  New York City topped the chart for the third consecutive year. London took the second spot, followed by Singapore and Shenzhen. San Jose, California took fifth and Tokyo was sixth.  The report, which was produced by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the United Nations Human Settlements Program, measured a city’s economic influence based on its “connectivity.” Connectivity was defined by both “hard” and “soft” networks.  The
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