Eduardo Park Monteiro Baptista

Portuguese-Korean journalist and writer. Bylines in The Economist, 1843, Nikkei Asian Review Foreign Policy, CNN, South China Morning Post, The Diplomat, SupChina, among others. Hong Kong via Beijing, Seoul, and La Paz.

Hong Kong's port grapples with slow shift to automation

HONG KONG -- Less than two decades ago, Hong Kong's container port stood as testament to the city's role as a gateway between China and the rest of the world. As recently as 2004, it was the world's busiest port. Now, the strains are evident. Crane operators endure long hours in a demanding environment -- lackluster working conditions are discouraging potential new laborers from entering the workforce, and replacing retiring operators is a challenge. "It's a very difficult job," said Peter Lev

Writing on the wall: a tour of Hong Kong’s protest graffiti

Every Friday night A Him, a 14-year-old Hong Konger, sheds his school uniform, packs his paint and roams the city on a skateboard looking for walls to scribble on. His tags range from the rousing (“Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”), to more juvenile digs at the police (“Popo sucks”). As increasingly violent pro-democracy protests disrupt Hong Kong, graffiti remains a peaceful but persistent form of resistance in a city renowned for order. Tags and scrawls provide a crash course in t

China’s Communist Party Is Making Its Own (Virtual) Reality

China’s Communist Party Is Making Its Own (Virtual) Reality Zhongshan has never been a big city, at least by Chinese standards. The city, home to 3.1 million people, is overshadowed by its giant neighbor Shenzhen on the other side of the mouth of the Pearl River Delta. But that doesn’t matter to Zhongshan. It’s building its own alternate reality. The local Zhongshan Communist Party branch is in possession of a toy not yet available to its big-city counterparts. Thanks to a multimillion-yuan ag

Politically correct cross-dressing in China

T time Wang Zhi performed in drag, 17 years ago, it was in a seedy gay bar three hours’ drive from his university dorm. Today Mr Wang (pictured) says he can make a tidy 2m yuan ($290,000) a year from his cross-dressing routines. Remarkably, they have the Communist Party’s blessing. He regularly appears on nationally televised variety shows. Officials often invite him to entertain people in poor areas. In Xinjiang and Tibet, he boasts, he has enraptured his ethnic-minority audiences. Mr Wang’s s

Becoming Jay Chou: The life of a Chinese celebrity impersonator

The first time Wang Yan was told he looked like Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou, he didn’t even know who the singer was. It was 2005, the peak of Chou’s career. Wang was a 16-year-old high school student in Jiangsu province. One day, he received a text message from an anonymous student that read, “I love you, Jay Chou. Please be my boyfriend!” “I had no idea who Jay Chou was at the time,” Wang recalls. “I didn’t understand why that girl was calling me by that name.” After learning more about Chou

Can China have soft power and heavy censorship?

Beijing (CNN) Beijing-based film director Huang Han has had one of the worst weeks of his life, courtesy of the Chinese government's strict censors. He says his independent, low-budget romance flick, set for an online domestic release in 2019, has been hit by an insoluble problem: how to show the male protagonist smoking without giving the cigarette screen time. It might seem like a bizarre problem but a crackdown on "excessive smoking scenes " is just one of a growing number of restrictions i

Caught Between Two Countries –

“South Koreans treat us like foreigners … worse, they treat us like dogs!” shouted Li Zhangyan, a retired 67-year old chaoxianzu, as ethnic Koreans are called in Chinese. He and his friends had drunk a few too many bottles of soybean wine, making them welcoming to my presence, but also easily riled up. Li has worked in total for over a decade in different cities around South Korea, taking advantage of the higher salaries compared to his home in Yanbian, China’s ethnic Korean prefecture. “There

Pojangmacha: Tent Nostalgia

In Seoul’s central Jongno District lies one of the city’s last pojangmacha alleys. Every day around late afternoon, hired workers take apart around two dozen wheeled carts lining both sides of the alley. Tents are thrown over steel frames; five-gallon oil containers filled to the brim with water are used as makeshifts pegs; simple red banners displaying the pojangmacha owner’s name are pinned onto every tent entrance, a loose plastic flap. 74 year-old pojangmacha owner Kim Su-ja does not even b