The Young Reporter

Health & Environment

Various experiences of mainland students' semi-closed post pandemic campus life--reasonable, formalised or creativity motivating?

As the new autumn semester began in September, 31 provinces have arranged students back to school for on-campus teaching according to the Ministry of Education. To better control COVID-19, universities have established a semi school-disclosure policy. It means students are not allowed to go out of school as usual. Universities implemented many protection measures to prevent COVID-19 as well.   Among many universities' school closure policies, Tsing Hua University has done a good job according to the Beijing Municipal Education Commission. "Tsing Hua University currently implements a filing system with an app called Tsing hua zijing app," according to the Beijing Municipal Education Commission. Acting as a tracking and reporting system, it is mandatory for students to use this wherever they go. When students leave school, they need to report the reasons for leaving the school, travel trajectory, time of entry and exit on the online system in advance. After filling in advance, they can enter and exit the campus without approval.  "This seems to lack the restraint of one student, but by giving students a certain degree of autonomy and inspiring everyone's awareness of epidemic prevention, it can eventually implement epidemic prevention measures," said Liyi, the Deputy Secretary of Beijing Municipal Education Working Committee, Spokesperson of Municipal Education Committee. Linked with every student's student ID, Tsing Hua zijing app tracks each student's location in Tsinghua university through their QR code scan record on campus. "When entering any interior space such as a canteen, a dorm or a classroom, we have to use this app to scan local QR code before the entrance," said Zhang Zhihao in a chat interview, a year 4 student in the department of civil engineering in Tsinghua University.  Moreover, this app has a function of "Report Body Temperature", which is connected to a robot body temperature …

Culture & Leisure

Online concerts becoming a growing trend in China amid COVID-19

It was Nov. 3, He Xun was supposed to have self-study class in the classroom instead of putting on nice make-up and opening NetEase Music on her smartphone in the dormitory. It was her first time skipping the class just for watching the online concert of Arashi, a J-POP idol group.  Ms He is a 19-year-old student who lives in Baoding, a northern city in Hebei Province near Beijing. She has been a fan of Arashi since middle school and dreamt of watching the live concert.  In February, Arashi announced that the concert scheduled for April at Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium would be cancelled due to the epidemic, so as the concert in May at National Arena of Japan. To meet their fans' expectations, Arashi decided to conduct an audience-free concert on their debut anniversary day, with no recording provided. "As they will suspend the group activities from the end of 2020, this online concert might be their last concert so I couldn't miss it at all," Ms He said. Although unable to attend the concert personally, she still took out her hand lantern and turned off the lights, pretending to be sitting in the Arena. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, live shows, unfortunately, became a victim at the hands of gathering restrictions. According to the China Association of Performing Arts, the COVID-19 outbreak in the first quarter of this year led to the cancellation of 20 thousand performances nationwide and a box office loss of more than 2 billion RMB. When the artists can't perform normally and fans feel down because of the cancellations of musical events, online concerts popped up with the ubiquity of digital music and advanced technology. Tencent Music Entertainment Group has launched TME Live by utilizing a variety of scenes, innovative performance modes, …


Airbnb quarantine service boosts with local residents' concern

A girl with an electronic wristband dragged her huge suitcase into a building but dared not make a sound.  Chen Yanni, a student from the mainland, was going to do her 14-day quarantine in a flat in a residential building listed on Airbnb. Many mainland students, like Yanni, preferred to be quarantined in an Airbnb flat rather than a hotel. The fact that renters of Airbnb are not required to provide their travel history and usually conduct self-quarantine raises concern over hygiene safety among local residents. Airbnb, the world's largest lodging platform, has been operating in Hong Kong for four years. Up to July 2020, the number of mainland students who stated their intention to study in Hong Kong increased by 30.77% from the previous month, according to Kai Tak Education, a mainland education agency for Hong Kong Universities Application. At Hong Kong Baptist University, more than 90 Year 2 and Year 3 mainland students returned to Hong Kong for the new semester in September. That’s about one-third of the mainland students at the University. "Compared with hotels, Airbnb has the advantages of having cooking facilities. I am less lonely and space is bigger," Ms Chen explained. She quarantined with two friends in an Airbnb apartment in Tsim Sha Tsui. "No outdoor activity for 14 days is already frustrating enough, not to mention in a very tiny space," Ms Chen added. She wanted to live somewhere that felt more like home.   On the Airbnb listing, there was no description of whether this apartment accepts quarantine tenants. Potential tenants need to personally message the house owner to ask. "After texting about 30 landlords in person on Airbnb, about 28 replied that they accepted quarantine but needed to make sure nobody would notice us when we enter the apartments," said Ms …


Mandy Lee: A Pioneer in Escapism Cooking

Using a finger to make a well in the flour, Mandy Lee poured in the beaten egg yolks. She added water and salt to the mix and aggressively manoeuvred it, kneading and tearing it until a silky dough was formed. She carefully flattened it through a pasta machine and unwaveringly incised it to create uniform strands.  Staring at the finished product in front of her, Ms Lee found her suppressed anger and anguish briefly consoled via the exhaustive pasta-making session. Spellbound by this sensation, she did not leave her apartment until she perfected the tonnarelli recipe two weeks later.  "Without knowing it yet, I became what I would like to call later on – an escapist cook," Ms Lee wrote in her blog Lady and Pups. The Taiwanese-Canadian, 40, moved to Beijing in 2010, where she struggled living under China's communist regime. She began cooking as a form of escapism from the torture of her reality. This later evolved into her writing an "angry food blog" and the cookbook The Art of Escapism Cooking. Ms Lee was born in Taiwan in 1980 and spent her teenage years in Canada. She dropped out of University of British Columbia after a year to pursue art school in New York. Graduating from Parsons School of Design, she then worked at an architecture firm before starting her own dog food business with a friend. Reflecting on her seven and a half years in New York, Ms Lee said the city complemented her personality the most. "I love New York for the kind of city it is and the kind of energy it has and the kind of freedom it provides," she reminisced. However, such a lifestyle was quickly uprooted when her husband had to move to Asia for a job, finding herself living in …


US Traveller seeking help from Facebook Support Group

Back in July, when he was helping his mom look through Reddit for Hong Kong travel information, Brian stumbled upon the Hong Kong Quarantine Support Group on Facebook.  Brian, who refused to disclose his full name because of privacy issues, a Hongkonger who works in the legal industry, travelled from Los Angeles to Hong Kong at the end of August because of an expiring American visa. Joining the Facebook group in late July after the Hong Kong government implemented the Cap. 599H Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation, Brian was never worried about the inbound trip back to Hong Kong.  "I wasn't too stressed about it. I was just thinking I had another month, so I would follow the situation on Facebook," he said. The Facebook group, created on March 17 by the initiative of Kunj Gandhi, now has more than 18,000 members worldwide, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK. "In this brand new world when so many felt so isolated and had so many questions, we wanted to reach out and help create a place where people could gain information, comfort, and community," Tess Lyons, a moderator of the Hong Kong Quarantine Support Group, said. With an average of 50 daily posts appearing on the page, the support group serves as a forum for anyone who seeks answers and insights regarding travelling to Hong Kong. Common discussion topics include pre- and post-arrival Covid-19 testing, Hong Kong airport procedures, public transportation arrangements, hotel recommendations, and food delivery services. The legal officer contacted a woman who successfully boarded from Los Angeles in the group and went to the same laboratory for the necessary documents. "If Person A found success by going to this laboratory and using these documents, the safest thing to do is to do …

Culture & Leisure

Veganism on the Rise in Hong Kong

It's time for another family gathering… Eugenia Chow, a Hong Kong vegan blogger, pushed up a forceful smile and sat in front of a table filled with traditional Chinese dishes with her family. "One of the main difficulties I face with being vegan is the cultural aspect of eating in Hong Kong," said Ms Eugenia Chow. With Hong Kong's traditional food mainly consisting of animal products, she said eating with family is often difficult, especially as a younger member of the family, "It's difficult to be picky with food in front of elders as it may seem disrespectful." Concerned about the sustainability of eating meat and the effect of animal farming on the environment, Ms Eugenia Chow started an Instagram account three years ago to blog her vegan lifestyle in an effort to encourage more people to start a vegan diet by proving that it is not a difficult task to be a vegan in Hong Kong.  Today, she has more than 8,000 followers on Instagram, alongside a blog and podcast of her own, where she discusses topics such as sustainability and environmentalism. Ever since she started blogging on her social media accounts, more people have asked her for advice on their diets.  Within two years, there was a 50% increase in the number of vegetarians in Hong Kong, according to a 2018 survey conducted by Green Monday, an organization based in Hong Kong that promotes green eating habits.  Ms Eugenia Chow commented that the sudden growth in interest in veganism is because documentaries about animal cruelty have gone viral and people started to be more conscious about their food choices. Another part of the reason is the growing concern on the environment as well as their personal health.  A twofold increase in both the number of Deliveroo's restaurant partners …


Survival of food trucks in Hong Kong, difficult but worthwhile

A million dollars could be the down payment for a flat in Hong Kong. Yet, Gordon Lam Sui-wa decided to spend his million on his first food truck, Table Seven x W. Burger, in 2017. Three years later, food trucks still haven't caught on in the city and revenue is much lower than expected. But Mr Lam says he has no regret. "Food trucks bring me a lot more than just money," he explains. Former Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah proposed the idea of food trucks in Hong Kong in his budget in February 2015. Two years later, the Tourism Commission launched the first batch, mainly targeting customers at tourist spots. Disneyland, Ocean Park and Golden Bauhinia Square are among the first eight spots being selected. However, strict regulations and the lack of support from the government have doomed the food truck industry, a popular and thriving business in western countries. One of the regulations is restricting parking venues. Mr Lam, who is also the chairman of the Hong Kong Food Truck Federation, thinks that parking spaces are only located in districts where the government considers as tourist attractions. "The venues provided have the least flow of people even if it is located in tourist attractions like Tsim Sha Tsui," says Mr Lam.   He uses Clock Tower and Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui as an example, which are located within a six-minute walk. "Tourists would visit the Clock Tower but not Salisbury Garden [where the parking venue is located]," he adds. The chairman says that members of the Federation had made suggestions to  the government on providing parking venues at places with a larger flow of tourists and locals such as Temple Street. But they receive no reply from the authority. "Even if we simply want to relocate a …

Culture & Leisure

Century-old Tradition Warding off Diseases Driven away by the Pandemic

Burnt smell of incense, flaming joss sticks and cheering of the people... the Fire Dragon have been parading along the streets of Tai Hang since a century ago. However, this year Mr Chan, who is the commander in chief of the Dance, felt hopeless about the spectacle's first cancellation ever. "A lot of customers and residents from Tai Hang still came to support us [despite we did it differently this year]," said the 74-year-old Fire Dragon Commander in Chief and Organizer proudly with a twinge of sadness in his voice. Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is held during Mid-Autumn Festival every year. The tradition was legended to drive away diseases. Yet, the Tai Hang Residents' Welfare Association announced in early September that the annual ritual would be cancelled this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures.  Chan Tak-fai has been the Fire Dragon Commander in Chief for over four decades.  "I was told that it was my passion towards Fire Dragon Dance that made me chosen as the Commander in Chief," said the 74-year-old. Since the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance was first held in 1880, the annual ritual was only cancelled once during the Japanese Occupation in December 1941 to August 1945.  Even during the SARS pandemic in 2003, it was held as usual. "The Dance was performed earlier than it usually was in mid-May that year, hoping to drive away the SARS," Mr Chan added.   The Dance that year was seen as effective in driving away the SARS pandemic.  As stated by the World Health Organization, Hong Kong has removed from the list of SARS affected areas on June 23 that year as there were no new cases for 20 consecutive days.   Yet, so far, there is not any scientific proof that the Tai …


Hong Kong legislation fails to curb animal cruelty

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Janice Lo、Jasmine TseEdited by: Yanni Chow、CarineChow
  • 2020-12-16

More than a dozen dead and injured animals, including hamsters, rabbits and cats, were found on a slope near Sham Tseng in Tsuen Wan in February. They were thrown from a building while still alive. Two suspects were not charged, and the Department of Justice dropped the case, claiming there was a lack of evidence. Details of their deliberation were never made public. The decision shocked many, including Fiona Woodhouse, Deputy Director of Welfare of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "It was beyond my expectation, beyond everybody's expectations involved in that case," she said. Last year, 656 cases of suspected animal cruelty were reported, with only 56 prosecutions made by the Hong Kong Police Force and the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department, according to data provided by an AFCD spokesperson.  This is only a slight increase from the 6% conviction rate between 2013 and 2017, according to Legislative Council statistics. "When I read the animal abuse cases, when I hear about the news, when I see cases of cruelty, it hurts me, deeply," said Kim McCoy, founder of the Hong Kong Animal Law and Protection Organization. Stating that the legal system should provide a voice for the voiceless, Mr McCoy criticised the Cap. 169 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance for being outdated and said the lack of duty of care does not prevent cruelty from happening, resulting in the low conviction rate for animal abusers.  The ordinance was introduced in 1935 and based on the United Kingdom 1911 Protection of Animals Act. While the UK act was replaced by the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, Hong Kong's law was briefly revised in 2006 to increase the maximum punishment to three years' imprisonment and a fine of HK$200,000. All animals — mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, or …


Assault survivors: The inevitable trauma that follows

Divya, 23, sits on the rooftop of the building she lives in and savours the pink and purple sunset Hong Kong has to offer. It's her favourite place in the world, her comfort, like being wrapped up in a big, cosy blanket on a chilly day.  But in that same place more than 10 years ago was where she was sexually assaulted. At the time, she was 12 and her assaulter was 20. He was a relative who stayed under the same roof as her and would touch her inappropriately almost every day until she was 14.  Until one day, while it was happening, she blacked out. She doesn't recall anything apart from waking up and shoving him off her. After that point, family tensions started rising due to unrelated reasons and he was out of her life for good.  To this day Divya, who asked to be identified only by her first name, hasn't mentioned it to anyone in her family for she was terrified of victim-blaming, a prominent yet toxic culture in South Asian households where she was raised. Sexual violence is more likely to occur in patriarchal cultures, research has shown, and victim-blaming, when a woman is blamed for causing the assault because of her clothes or behaviour, is still prevalent. "I was afraid that people would think it was my fault," she said.  31 cases of rape and 414 cases of indecent assault have been reported as of August this year, according to statistics from the Hong Kong Police Force. While it showed a decrease compared to statistics last year, the reality is that many victims of sexual assault do not come forward. One out of seven women will experience sexual violence in Hong Kong, but nine out of ten stay silent in a report conducted …