The big China-US chasm, Beijing’s dirty little secret and other stories you may have missed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 July, 2017, 6:06pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 July, 2017, 6:06pm

The big chasm between China and US over the North Korean threat

Why you should care:

The world’s two biggest powers just can’t agree on how to deal with a defiant North Korea and its nuclear ambitions. The issue has long been a thorn in the flesh for Sino-US ties and is bound to complicate the already-volatile relationship. If China and the US can’t compromise, the spillover effects will have global consequences. We tell you what each side has to say to support their stance towards Pyongyang.

China’s ‘significant obstacles’ in its battle against financial risks

Why you should care:

President Xi Jinping has been called a firm leader, a strongman and an iron-fisted ruler, so why is it that he just can’t seem to get China’s financial system in order? American financial services firm Standard & Poor’s has given a sceptical assessment of Xi’s prospects of reining in the country’s credit growth and lowering its financial risks. The report sheds light on what’s hindering Xi from getting his way.

China’s dirty little secret: its growing wealth gap

Why you should care:

Beijing omitted this big piece of information from its economic report this year, but we’ll tell you here: its wealth gap has widened for the first time in five years. On the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, a rating of 0.4 is widely considered the threshold that can trigger social unrest. Guess how much China scored on the index this year? A big wealth gap means fewer opportunities for those at the bottom of the income spectrum, which can lead to festering discontent and eventually violence. This in turn can incur huge economic and social costs for any country. Why do you think Beijing left this out of its report?

The plight of China’s persecuted human rights lawyers

Why you should care:

Imagine yourself at home one evening, suddenly thrown into darkness. You try to call for help but you can’t use the phone, can’t get online, and then there’s a chilling sound of loud drilling at your front door. That was just the beginning of one prominent human rights lawyer’s ordeal when she was seized from the safety of her own home to be interrogated and tortured during China’s “709 crackdown” in 2015. Two years on, what has become of those 300 rights activists rounded up in the crackdown? They now count schizophrenia, severe anxiety and memory issues among their problems.

China’s hi-tech snack shops run into low-tech snag

Why you should care:

Are you an introvert? Hate small talk and socialising? Then you might like China’s latest self-service snack shops, which may give you a glimpse into our convenience stores of the future. You enter just by scanning a QR code, and you can zip right through the aisle and past the automated cashier – all without any human interaction. If you miss having someone to chat with about your snack selection, a human assistant is always at hand – through a video screen in the shop. There’s one big catch for these newly opened unmanned stores, though. Clue: they’re not quite weather-proof...