Today is chu-san, the third day of the new lunar year. China is essentially closed since everyone gets at least a 7-day holiday and many will be gone from their jobs or schools for a month or more. To give you a feel for how the holiday is being celebrated, here’s a round-up of some interesting articles that have been published recently.
Since Xi Jinping came to power in late 2012, the slogan “Chinese Dream” has been one of the guiding principles of the Chinese Communist Party. The way the Party sees it, the essence of the Chinese dream is national rejuvenation, or making China great again, so to speak. The vast propaganda apparatus has been mobilized to convince people in China that their own personal dreams are inextricably linked to the broader dream of a rising China.
ChinaSource Senior Vice President Joann Pittman lived and worked in China for more than three decades. In this retrospective, she reflects on the significance of some of the changes she has seen in China during that time. These thoughts are drawn from a lengthier piece Joann wrote earlier.
Since I lived in Beijing for the last 15 years of my time in China, it’s not often that I get nostalgic for Changchun, the city in northeast China that was my home for most of the 90s. Lately, however, I have found myself thinking of my time there and the experiences I had. I am, dare I say, homesick for Manchuria.
A review of China’s Next Generation: New China, New Church, New World by Luis Bush, Brent Fulton, and a Christian Worker in China.
China is changing dramatically and rapidly—economically, socially, and culturally. These changes have affected the church as well. This book looks at the “New China” and the factors that have brought about the changes; it also examines how the church has entered this new society. Especially for those working with young people, who need to understand their mindset, this book provides a concise overview of key issues and influences.
In his book, China Airborne, James Fallows takes a look at modern China through the lens of the country’s growing aviation industry. He writes in the introduction about what he calls “the many countries of China,” (p. 6) explaining the diversity and complexity of a country that we tend to (wrongly) view as a monolith.
In what has to be one of the most fascinating lenses through which to observe history and societal change, this short film chronicles recent Chinese history by looking at the different things Chinese people have lined up for over the years.
If you want to find out what is really going on—I mean really going on—in China, ask a taxi driver. Since they spend all day conversing with people from all walks of life, getting various takes and perspectives on the issues of the day, few people have a better feel for the mood.
Here’s a question for you: how do you lip-read when everyone is wearing an anti-pollution facemask? One hearing-impaired woman from Great Britain found out while doing an internship in Beijing. She told her story to the BBC in "Toxic Talk: Trying to Lip Read in China."
We hardly even notice them anymore, and when we do, we probably either roll our eyes or chuckle. I’m referring to the ubiquitous “Made in China” labels that adorn our consumer goods. Televisions, underwear, souvenirs, computers—you name it, it’s probably made in China!
There were a couple of adoption stories out of China in the past few weeks that caught my eye. The first was an article in Christianity Today about the drop in global adoptions, as reported by the US State Department in their Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions.
One of my favorite China books is Peter Hessler’s Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory. Shortly after the book was published in 2010, a CNN travel reporter interviewed Hessler about the book. There was one particular exchange that caught my attention.
Some things just don’t translate well from Chinese into English. Take, for example the annual government meetings that are taking place in Beijing this week. In Chinese the meetings are referred to as Liang Hui (两会), which literally means “two meetings” (sometimes also translated as “sessions”). Using such a term in English to describe a conference, however, leads only to blank stares.
As I walked through the center of town on Christmas Eve, I was forced every few steps to maneuver around yet another vendor trying to sell me something. In years past the pushcarts had been covered with Santa hats and light-up electronic wands. This year, however, it was all about apples—enormous apples branded with fortuitous (or sexy) images and packaged in Christmas-y cardboard boxes.
Over the Christmas holiday I saw three very different large gatherings, each of which demonstrates a prominent trend in contemporary China. Taken together, these three crowds say something profound about the direction that China and her church are headed.
Standing at the threshold of a new year, the perennial question comes to mind, “Whither China?” Since prognostications about China’s future more often than not prove to be off the mark—sometimes by a very wide margin—trying to anticipate with certainty what may happen in 2016 is somewhat of a fool’s errand.
A collection of articles and features on those being left behind or left over in China.
For those of us who live in China’s large cities, the stunning pace of technological and economic development can be overwhelming: ubiquitous smartphones, buses full of people streaming video on their hand-held devices as they commute in air-conditioned comfort, door-to-door food and grocery deliveries, super-chic cafes selling sugared caffeine or fruit libations hot or cold, Uber and DiDi rides on demand, and of course the explosion of online shopping. This is the “new China,” a thoroughly modern place that seems nicely in step with the cultural and economic trends we are familiar with back home in our passport countries.
Rumors were swirling all last week that the Chinese government would announce a major relaxation of the 35-year-old “one-child policy.” Sure enough, on Thursday, October 29, it happened.
A look at the news and analysis about President Xi Jinping's US visit.
It’s not entirely true that I love parades in general, but I must admit to having a strange fascination with Chinese military parades. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it’s because they are multi-layered and there are interesting things going on at every level.
Much has been written about China’s urbanization over the past three decades, as the rural/urban ratio has shifted from 80/20 to roughly 50/50. Most of this urbanization has taken place as a result of millions of people picking up and moving from the countryside into the cities, leaving behind, in many cases empty villages or villages with only old people left.
When I was teaching on a university campus, one of the things that surprised me was the admission by many of my students that they were afraid of ghosts. One of them put it to me very succinctly: “We are atheists during the day, but when the lights go out it’s a different story.”
Two films by China-based, independent filmmaker, Gan Xiao’er.
“Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe.” I loved the 1974 hit “The Air That I Breathe” by The Hollies when I was a kid. The song is really a love song and has little to do with air pollution, the environment, or the main things I wish to reflect on in this short piece.
Last week as the Internet in the US was melting, thanks to a dress and a couple of llamas, Chinese netizens were gripped by an online documentary that was going viral. The video, titled Under the Dome, is a hard-hitting look at the effects of pollution in China. It was posted on February 28, and within 48 hours had been viewed by 100 million people. Yes, you read that right, ONE HUNDRED MILLION!
When I read the title in an email, I knew I had to get a copy of I Stand Corrected: How Teaching Western Manners in China Became Its Own Unforgettable Lesson by Eden Collinsworth (2014).
Earlier this month I got to spend two weeks back in Beijing, my former “home town.”
This afternoon the good folks at FEDEX delivered a small package to my house, and it wasn’t even a Christmas present. In fact, it was something better — my passport, with a brand-spanking-new Ten-year, multiple entry tourist visa to China.
Much is written these days about what makes China tick. It's the pragmatism. It's nationalism, and the desire to be a player on the world stage. It's "socialism with Chinese characteristics," which to some is just another way of saying capitalism.
All our favorite stories this week are about people or communities that are on the margins of Chinese society, either culturally or geographically: Orthodox Christians, Uighur factory workers, Hong Kong taxi drivers, and Miao villagers in Guizhou.
Chinese young people are no different from their counterparts anywhere in the world in that a main question they face is the one of whom to marry. China’s rise and modernization has, in some ways, made this a more complicated question as ideas about marriage and qualifications for a spouse have evolved.
In the mid-1990s, while studying Chinese, I stumbled across a Chinese expression that was a "key" to helping me understand what was going on. I was working through a textbook called Speaking of Chinese Culture that taught about key Chinese cultural rules and values. One chapter was on this Chinese concept called nei wai you bie (内外有别), which means "insiders and outsiders are different."
What does it mean to be Chinese? Three articles this week highlight the complexity of being Chinese.
On October 1, the Cornerstone Blog of The Religious Freedom Project at The Berkeley Center published two helpful posts on religious liberty in China.
For this week's Top Picks, we are re-publishing a post by Joann Pittman originally posted to her blog, Outside-In, on September 30, 2014.
On September 30, Austin Hill, host of the Austin Hill in the Morning program on Faith Radio, interviewed Brent Fulton about the situation in Hong Kong.
Our top picks this week shed light on some of the less known aspects of Chinese society – ecommerce, traffic wardens, and iPhone mania.
I recently went to my local bank to receive an electronic bank transfer. I have been a customer at this bank for nearly 15 years, and so the idea that I have to show up with ID and fill out reams of paperwork just to "accept" a wire transfer into my account does not upset me. On this occasion, however, I was a bit anxious. Having only just returned to China, I was still waiting for my residence permit to be completed. This meant that my passport was still in the hands of the city Public Security officials—and would likely remain there for the next couple weeks.
The past year has seen a steady stream of stories about foreign companies in China being under investigation for regulatory violations and/or outright corruption. The offices of Microsoft were raided. Japanese, German, and American automakers are being probed. Two British nationals working for GlaxoSmithKline were recently jailed. And a Canadian couple that ran a business in the border region near North Korea has been detained on suspicion of stealing state secrets.
Former Hong Kong Chief Secretary Stephen Lam has a unique understanding of "One Country, Two Systems," the policy whereby Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. As director of the office that oversaw the Handover ceremony and related events, Lam worked with both British and Chinese officials to write a significant chapter in China's contemporary history.
Soft power, subways, and cell phones – our favorite stories of this week.
The notion of social renewal is a common theme among urban church leaders as they consider what it means for the church to take its place on the stage of society. The need for social renewal is linked to the recognition that there is currently no shared belief system among China’s people.
I'm sure you've done it, I know I have. Asked a Chinese friend or colleague what stood out to them if they had a chance to visit your home country. I enjoy hearing what stood out to them or to friends who have visited me in China. Their impressions help me to see afresh the places I care about.
To celebrate the start of a new school year, two of our top picks this week have to do with language learning. The third one is a look at China's internet censorship regime.
Every Chinese leader since Chairman Mao has had a slogan (and accompanying campaign of some sort) that was meant to define their rule. President Xi Jinping's slogan is "The Chinese Dream." The organizing principle of his predecessor Hu Jintao's rule was "Harmonious Society."
Mike Falkenstine, President of the China Resource Center, an organization that does Bible distribution in rural churches (registered), recently returned from a trip to China, in which he had the opportunity to seek help from his friends and partners in understanding some of the recent events in China, particularly the cross/church demolition campaigns in Zhejiang.
"This is crazy," I observed to my audience of parents and high school students in Beijing. "Why on earth would parents send their 14- or 15- or 16-year-olds to the other side of the world for schooling, especially when studies show some of the best schools in the world are in your own country?"
Our top picks this week are all on the lighter side. We hope you find them as interesting as we did.
Two glimpses of China's past and the impending trial of a recent infamous murder top this week's list of items not to be missed.