In China, Millions of Women Never Learned to Read. Can TikTok Help?


At first glance, Liu Bingxia’s lesson looks like any regular Chinese class: The 47-year-old stands in front of a blackboard, reading out the characters she has neatly written in white chalk. “Siji — driver,” she says, then calls on students to repeat the word back to her. But Liu is no ordinary teacher. Each of her online lessons is attended by thousands of people from all … Continue reading In China, Millions of Women Never Learned to Read. Can TikTok Help?

China Is Pushing for a Baby Boom. It’s Getting a Baby Bust.


SHANGHAI — Julia Li has spent much of the past few years wrestling with a dilemma: She was married, in her late 30s, and still undecided about whether to start a family. Li had been putting off having children for years, but now she was running out of time — and excuses. Her family and friends were urging her to have a baby on an … Continue reading China Is Pushing for a Baby Boom. It’s Getting a Baby Bust.

Bridesmaids Go Professional


Xie Yuke has attended over 40 weddings in the past two years and is now making a living from it. The 22-year-old has flown more than 140,000 kilometers and traveled around China working as a professional bridesmaid.  It’s a fast-growing industry in China and is “expected to grow by 25% to 30% a year,” Cao Zhonghua, an expert at the Chinese Traditional Culture Promotion Council, told state … Continue reading Bridesmaids Go Professional

China’s Stressed-Out Workers Are Rediscovering the Art of Meditation


SHANGHAI — In a downtown shopping mall, a crowd of office workers are spending their lunch breaks searching for spiritual harmony. Pulling back a heavy curtain, the group step into a meditation room and lie down on a row of cushions on the floor. Above them, stripes of indigo cloth ripple down from the ceiling like waves. The air is thick with the aroma of … Continue reading China’s Stressed-Out Workers Are Rediscovering the Art of Meditation

In ‘Involuted’ China, Eating Disorders Are a Hidden


SHANGHAI — At the entrance to a packed gallery stands a female figure dressed in a pretty white dress. Her body is covered in abusive messages scrawled in red and black ink. “You’re ugly,” “Your waist is too big,” “You look like a pig,” the notes read. The artwork is part of a landmark exhibition in China titled “Anti Body-Shaming,” which opened in Shanghai on … Continue reading In ‘Involuted’ China, Eating Disorders Are a Hidden