ZGBriefs | February 9, 2017

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Featured Article

Chinese Converted out West Are Losing Faith Back Home (January 26, 2017, Foreign Policy)
Yet large numbers of converts give up after coming back to China. Volunteers and missionary staff who have worked for years with Chinese students in the United States estimate that 80 percent of believers eventually stop going to church after returning home. It generally takes time for returnees to find their places again in a country still searching for rules and norms to match its rapid economic and social changes.


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Overseas NGO Law

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Does China’s Communist Party follow any succession rules at all? (February 7, 2016, South China Morning Post)
Senior party official’s dismissal of unwritten rules as ‘folklore’ muddies waters ahead of top-level reshuffle late this year.

China, United States cannot afford conflict: Chinese foreign minister (February 7, 2017, Reuters)
There would be no winner from conflict between China and the United States, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Tuesday, seeking to dampen tension between the two nations that flared after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. Relations between China and United States have soured after Trump upset Beijing in December by taking a telephone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese imports.

Canada raises alert on fraudulent Chinese visas (February 7, 2017, The Globe and Mail)
Canadian border agents and airlines are being warned to be on the lookout for tampered Canadian visas from Chinese nationals coming from Shanghai and the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, but Ottawa is being tight-lipped about the extent of the problem and threat to this country’s security.

Vatican defends China invite to organ trafficking summit (February 7, 2017, BBC)
The Vatican has defended its decision to invite China to a conference on organ trafficking despite its record of using executed inmates as organ donors. The head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) admitted he did not know whether the practice was continuing but said he hoped to encourage change. Human rights groups say China is still using executed prisoners as a source of organ transplants.

Joyous Africans Take to the Rails, With China’s Help (February 7, 2017, The New York Times)
“It is indeed a historic moment, a pride for our nations and peoples,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia, shortly before the train — the first electric, transnational railway in Africa — headed toward Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. “This line will change the social and economic landscape of our two countries.” But perhaps the biggest star of the day was China, which designed the system, supplied the trains and imported hundreds of engineers for the six years it took to plan and build the 466-mile line. 

China gets testier as South Korea advances its missile defense plans (February 8, 2017, Christian Science Monitor)
Since last July, when Seoul announced that it would deploy the American THAAD missile-defense system to protect against North Korea’s growing nuclear threat, China has taken 43 retaliatory actions against South Korea, according to The Korea Institute for National Unification, a government research organization. Those have included everything from blocking imports of cosmetics and electronics to canceling performances by popular Korean entertainers. 

Religion

Conversions to Christianity Among Highly Educated Chinese (February, 2017, Journal of Global Christianity)
Chinese churches both in mainland China and in other parts of the world have demonstrated re-markable spiritual and numerical growth during the last three decades. Chinese intellectuals, in particular, show an interest in Christianity. This study highlights a variety of reasons for this. 

Christ Against Culture? A Re-Evaluation Of Wang Mingdao’s Popular Theology (February, 2017, Journal of Global Christianity)
Almost twenty-five years after Wang’s death, this paper re-evaluates Wang’s popular theology and his view on how the church should love her neighbour. By relocating Wang and his theology in their historical and theological contexts, this paper argues that Wang’s approach to the church’s cultural mandate is a priori. 

Educated Chinese Christians and Wang Mingdao’s Popular Theology (February 7, 2017, Jackson Wu)
Admirably, Wang prioritized the church over citizenship, yet I’m left with two thoughts. First, I suspect his counsel is less applicable today and would only spur churches to lose balance by re-adopting a strong separatist perspective. Second, I’ve not sure how those who adopt Wang’s view solve this seeming contradiction: if the church is not to be involved in social ministry, how is social reform to happen as an eventual consequence of conversion?

Christian Suffering: Remembering Xu Guoyong (February 7, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
One year ago, Brother Xu Guoyong was tragically killed in a car accident while he was traveling in the United States. Brother Xu had given up a financially promising, secular career to follow God’s call to ministry, even though it meant a certain amount of physical suffering for himself and his family. Xu and his family never anticipated the other hardships that would soon follow. In this article, Rachel shares how Brother Xu and his family are an example of how Christians are to endure suffering.

Youth League Weighs In on Religion Ban for Party Members (February 7, 2017, Sixth Tone)
One cannot serve two masters, the Bible says, and China’s Communist Party appears to agree. A recent post on Zhihu, China’s answer to Quora, has once again prompted the question: Is it possible to be a Christian and a communist at the same time? This issue has been addressed on several occasions in the past, and the short answer — not surprisingly — is still no.

Society / Life

Talking ’Bout My Generation: Chinese Millennials (January 31, 2017, China File)
In this episode of the Sinica Podcast, Alec discusses his book with Kaiser, Jeremy, and David Moser. He talks about contemporary youth culture in China, the concerns of Chinese millennials, how he met the six characters in the book, and what we can understand about China’s changing culture from their stories.

How has the end of its one-child policy affected China? (February 2, 2017, Al Jazeera)
Birth rates have increased but will it be enough to stop a demographic disaster and do Chinese women want more children?

On Deck With China’s Last Junk Builders, Masters of an Ebbing Craft (February 2, 2017, The New York Times)
It is one of a few of these traditional ships with sails being made by one of the last remaining junk builders in China. “The building tradition is more or less moribund,” said Stephen Davies, a former director of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. Yet the style remains traditional, “insofar as they are still doing what Grandpa did, and before him,” he said.

The Rising Tide of Propaganda (February 3, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
For those of us raised in the West, propaganda is a frightening term, carrying with it visions of Orwellian message control and manipulation of facts. The Chinese term xuanchuan (宣传), however, is a much more neutral or even positive term. In the Chinese context “propaganda” is primarily information that the state conveys to the public, and since this information comes from such a reliable source propaganda is generally considered (in the mainland Chinese sense) to be trustworthy.

The Quiet Undercurrents of South Xinjiang (February 3, 2017, Sixth Tone)
My project, “Calm and Quiet Southern Xinjiang,” juxtaposes the mundane daily life of the region’s people with the tensions that exist between them and an increasingly strict government.

Migrant Food-Delivery Workers Struggle to Belong in Beijing (February 3, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Many workers are unaware of the background of their company, and they don’t know who their legal employer is.

Why’s Beijing So Worried About Western Values Infecting China’s Youth? (February 4, 2017, China File)
A series of surveys conducted over the past decade have found that many Chinese college students—perhaps even a majority of them—prefer elements of liberal democracy to China’s one-party system. “I think there is a real threat,” said Stanley Rosen, a University of Southern California political scientist who researches the relationship between Chinese youth and the state.

University in Xiamen Pays Students to Visit Their Parents (February 4, 2017, Sixth Tone)
To encourage out-of-town students to visit their faraway families, Xiamen University of Technology (XUT), in eastern China’s Fujian province, started a “red envelope lottery” to cover travel fees during the recently concluded Spring Festival holiday, Xiamen Daily reported Thursday. Red envelopes, or hongbao are traditionally filled with cash and given to family and friends around the lunar new year and other Chinese holidays.

Why China Is Ripe for the Couch (February 6, 2017, The New York Times)
Confucianism decrees that a person’s identity is largely determined by her position in the family and society. Rituals of behavior, or “li,” may severely limit what a person can say or do — or even feel — consciously or unconsciously. A Chinese friend who trained as a Freudian analyst recently expressed her frustration at how hard people find it to open up. 

China Will Be Home to 329 Million Retirees in 2050 (February 7, 2017, The Beijinger)
A combination of 36 years of life under the one-child policy and huge improvements in healthcare – helping to increase life expectancy and decrease birth rates – means that China is heading towards a period of extreme social and economic uncertainty presented by a vast ageing population.

New 'green card' to ease daily life for foreigners (February 7, 2017, China Daily)
China will update its "green card" policy this year to make life easier for foreign residents, a source at the Ministry of Public Security confirmed on Monday. With improved security features, the permanent resident permit is expected to guarantee more rights equal to those of Chinese citizens, such as when buying railway tickets, checking in at hotels and purchasing property.

Surprise Findings: China’s Youth Are Getting Less Nationalistic, Not More (February 7, 2017, Foreign Policy)
The paper’s headline result suggests that nationalism among Beijing’s residents has not increased over time. On the contrary, the proportion of survey respondents strongly agreeing with the first and third statements decreased sharply from 2002 to 2015, while the number of those who agreed “somewhat” rose.

Uprooted Farmers Shape New Lives in Suburbia (February 7, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In China, the unrelenting march of urbanization moves softly, steadily. For most of his life, 80-year-old Jin Renzu — a spry former farmer — lived in a rural part of Chongming Island, on the outskirts of Shanghai. But just last year, he moved with his family into a brand-new apartment on the sixth floor of an 11-story high-rise that boasts fresh coats of brown and yellow paint. 

Using Stealth, and Drones, to Document a Fading Hong Kong (February 7, 2017, The New York Times)
The explorers belong to HK Urbex, a so-called urban exploration collective whose expeditions often require trespassing or walks through dark, abandoned or dangerous sites. But unlike some urban explorers, they do not court danger purely for its own sake. Their primary goal is to peel back layers of history — sometimes literally, by digging through dust and trash — and forge a video archive of Hong Kong’s colonial-era environment.

Chinese family reunites 500 members for rare photo (February 8, 2017, BBC)
The pictures were taken at a Ren family reunion at Shishe village in China's eastern province of Zhejiang. […] Photographer Zhang Liangzong took the pictures with a drone in front of basalt formations near Shishe. He told the BBC that the Ren family, which originates from the village, can be traced back 851 years, but their family tree had not been updated for more than eight decades.

Construction of Christian Theme Park Draws Wide Criticism on Chinese Social Media (February 8, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
The construction of a 150,000-square-meter Christian theme park in the capital of Hunan has sparked controversy on Chinese social media. Many netizens think a religious park does not belong in the home province of Mao Zedong – especially not when funded by the local government.

Economics / Trade / Business

Why foreign companies are shutting shop in China (February 2, 2017, CNBC)
Once considered Beijing's most-welcomed guests, bringing with them the money, management skills, and technical knowledge that the country so badly needed, foreign companies now appear to have fallen out of favor. 

For Chinese Home Buyers, Seattle Is the New Vancouver (February 7, 2017, The Wall Street Journal)
Chinese real-estate buyers are suddenly descending on the Seattle region. Some are lured by perceptions the coastal city is a bargain, others by warm memories of the 2013 Chinese film “Finding Mr. Right,” which put Seattle on the pop-culture radar there. The biggest draw, though, might be the fact that it isn’t Vancouver.

Chinese passenger plane to rival Boeing and Airbus tipped to be in skies by July (February 7, 2017, CNBC)
China's first homegrown passenger plane is to take to the skies before July this year, according to state media. A China state-owned manufacturer first unveiled the C919 in November 2015, leaving analysts wondering whether it can compete with major manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing.

Health / Environment

Lung cancer deadliest in China: report (December 4, 2017, China Daily)
About 591,000 people in China dies from lung cancer every year. China registered over 3.6 million new cases of malignant tumors and 2.2 million deaths from cancer in 2013, said Chen Wanqing, vice director of the national tumor register center, on Saturday, quoting the findings of a report released by the national cancer center.

History / Culture

Harbin in the late 1960s (February 1, 2017, Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Tomb of ancient general and princess discovered in China (February 8, 2017, The Telegraph)
Archaeologists have discovered the tomb of an ancient Chinese general and his princess who were buried 1,500 years ago with more than 100 mysterious figurines. Zhao Xin, a general in China’s Northern Qi dynasty (550 to 577), was buried with Princess Neé Liu in 564, according to sandstone inscriptions within the tomb, which is located in the northern Shanxi province.

Travel / Food

Travel guide to Yangshuo: China’s ultimate backpacker destination (February 2, 2017, Matador Network)
Yangshuo has become a go-to spot for backpackers, party-goers, sightseers, and climbers but only a short distance outside the township, Yangshuo County remains rural and idyllic. Here are five reasons why despite growing crowds Yangshuo remains China’s ultimate backpacker retreat.

The difficulties of being a vegetarian in China (February 3, 2017, ABC News)
Chinese cuisine is popular the world over, but one group who struggle with it is vegetarians. Meat is nearly always on the table, no matter what part of China the cuisine comes from.

Chinese Tourism to Africa Is Up, but Travel Companies Are Wary (February 3, 2017, China File)
In this episode, Kampala-based travel industry consultant Sandra Rwese joins Eric and Cobus to explain why she thinks African travel companies are so reluctant to embrace the new Chinese tourist and how it may already be too late for African companies to effectively compete.

Language / Language Learning

The Art of Chinese Names (February 2, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
Generally, for people in the Han ethnic group – which is about 91% of the entire Chinese population in Mainland China – a Chinese name consists of two to three Chinese characters. Contrary to English names, the family name always goes first in a Chinese name. 

Image credit:  By Huang Jinhui (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons