ZGBriefs | July 6, 2017


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Featured Article

China, House Churches, and the Growth of the Kingdom (June 29, 2017, Christianity Today)
What goes on in China matters to the Church worldwide; soon, it will be the country with the largest Christian population and, in time, it might have the world’s largest missionary force. When Jesus said He would build His Church, He surely had China in mind.


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Special Section: 20th Anniversary of Hong Kong Handover

Once a Model City, Hong Kong Is in Trouble (June 29, 2017, The New York Times)
When the British left 20 years ago, Hong Kong was seen as a rare blend of East and West that China might seek to emulate. Now, increasingly, it’s a cautionary tale.

Hong Kong, 20 years, then and now – in pictures (June 30, 2017, The Guardian)
AFP photographer Anthony Wallace takes a look at how the city has changed over those years

‘We wanted democracy’: is Hong Kong's two-systems experiment over? (June 30, 2017, The Guardian)
Twenty years after Britain’s departure thrust this hyperactive lair of capitalism into the hands of a Leninist dictatorship, campaigners such as Chu fear Beijing is preparing to up the ante in its battle for control.

Hong Kong handover anniversary: Where are they now? Five key players from 1997 (June 30, 2017, The Telegraph)
The Telegraph looks back on the key players of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover from Britain to China, and asks whatever happened to them.  

Xi Delivers Tough Speech on Hong Kong, as Protests Mark Handover Anniversary (July 1, 2017, The Guardian)
Mr. Xi warned that “any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government” or to “use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line and is absolutely impermissible.”

As Hong Kong Marks Handover Anniversary, A Push And Pull With China Over Identity (July 1, 2017, NPR)
Thinking about these events, we're struck by how much of the recent history of Hong Kong – and of mainland China, too – can be seen as a series of struggles over appearance and disappearance.

Voices from Hong Kong: On the 20th Anniversary of the Hong Kong SAR (July 3, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
My friends come from different generations, they work in a variety of professions, many are Christians but several are not. Two were not resident on the day of the handover but all had lived under British rule and still call Hong Kong home today. Here are their thoughts on Hong Kong then and now.

How China’s media framed the Hong Kong handover anniversary (July 3, 2017, The Interpreter)
In China's English-language media, the message intended for international readers was that Hong Kong is inseparably part of China and that China's internal affairs are not up for debate on the international stage.

Is Xi the next Mao? (July 4, 2017, East Asia Forum)
There remain strong institutional constraints on Xi’s power in the constitution and the practices of the party–state. Xi may be tightening his grip on power in China but he is unlikely to drive the country into the despairs of the past.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Xinjiang Authorities Take Further Steps Towards Total Digital Surveillance (June 29, 2017, Radio Free Asia)
Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang are ordering residents to hand in all digital devices for “checking” at local police stations by Aug. 1, as part of an operation targeting “terrorist videos,” according to an announcement and official sources.

Carrie Lam Is Sworn In as Hong Kong’s First Female Leader (June 30, 2017, The New York Times)
Carrie Lam was sworn in Saturday as Hong Kong’s chief executive, becoming its first female leader and the fourth person to hold the top government post since China regained control of the former British colony in 1997.

Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea (July 3, 2017, The Washington Post)
A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.

China Allows Foreign Experts To Treat Terminally Ill Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo (July 5, 2017, NPR)
China granted permission Wednesday for cancer specialists from the United States, Germany and other countries to help treat imprisoned political dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo as he struggles with late-stage liver cancer, according to a statement released by a local judicial bureau.

What's behind the India-China border stand-off? (July 5, 2017, BBC)
For four weeks, India and China have been involved in a stand-off along part of their 3,500km (2,174-mile) shared border. The two nations fought a war over the border in 1962 and disputes remain unresolved in several areas, causing tensions to rise from time to time. Since this confrontation began last month, each side has reinforced its troops and called on the other to back down.

China’s Strongman Has a Weak Point: North Korea (July 5, 2017, The New York Times)
As much as Mr. Xi disapproves of North Korea’s nuclear program, he fears even more the end of Mr. Kim’s regime, a unified Korea with American troops on his border and a flood of refugees from the North into China.

Religion

Reformation 500 Conference Voices: Mark Moser (June 28, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
A couple of these Chinese students, who are training to be pastors, asked us to visit and teach at their churches in mainland China. "But first," they said, "you need to go to the Reformation 500 conference in Hong Kong. It is a great opportunity for you to learn about China and the house church movement."

County Where The Inn of the Sixth Happiness was Located to Build Its First Church (July 1, 2017, China Christian Daily)
Speaking of Yang Cheng county of Shanxi, it is well known as the location of the Inn of the Sixth Happiness and Gladys Aylward, where and who "the small woman"did great things for God in China. Recently Rev. Niu Tianping, the head of the county's CCC&TSPM, tells CCD that its first church will be completed with a seating capacity of 1000 people.

Responding to Despair, Part 1: "Blue Whale" or Christian Faith? (July 4, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
A Qian describes from a Chinese Christian perspective how the Christian faith provides good news and counters the dark hopelessness of the death game, particularly for Chinese teens.

Society / Life

China's Wild West (July 3, 2017, The Week)
Mining boom towns, violent clashes with indigenous peoples, prospectors pushing into foreign lands — welcome to China's Wild West!

Hu Line: China’s Forgotten Frontier (July 4, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Named after Hu Huanyong, a Chinese demographer who first identified the demarcation in a research paper in the mid-1930s, the imaginary line divides China into two parts. To the east, just over one-third of the nation’s land houses almost 94 percent of the country’s population — more than 1.2 billion people. To the west, around 6 percent of citizens — but most of the country’s ethnic minority groups — share the vast and varied terrain that some still think of as the “wild west.”

Chinese internet giant limits online game play for children over health concerns (July 4, 2017, The Guardian)
All-night gaming marathons will soon end for some Chinese children after the internet giant Tencent began limiting daily playing times on its smartphone smash hit King of Glory in order to “ensure children’s healthy development”.

Dozens killed in China floods as rivers overflow (July 4, 2017, Al Jazeera)
At least 56 people have been killed and 22 are missing as heavy rains pummeled southern China, flooding towns, cutting off power and destroying houses, officials said on Tuesday. Water levels in more than 60 different rivers have risen above warning levels, forcing more than 1.2 million people to evacuate. 

Beijing to Slow Down Traffic by Confusing Drivers With Optical Illusions (July 5, 2017, The Beijinger)
Beijing is looking to make its street intersections safer by introducing optical illusions to help convince its drivers to slow down for pedestrians. The pilot project has "enhanced" white pedestrian markers at two busy Beijing intersections with blue and yellow "sides," giving the illusion of three-dimensional form. As the Beijing Daily reports, this makes the crosswalk more noticable to drivers.

Economics / Trade / Business

In China, A Cashless Trend Is Taking Hold With Mobile Payments (June 29, 2017, NPR)
Chinese consumers are essentially leapfrogging plastic, and going straight from cash to mobile payments. Chinese spent $5.5 trillion through mobile payment platforms last year, about 50 times the amount in the U.S., according to reports.

Arrests over China 'straddling bus' project (July 4, 2017, BBC)
Police in Beijing have arrested 32 people for illegal fundraising linked to a scrapped project to create a "straddling bus" to beat traffic jams. The futuristic idea to lift commuters above congestion quickly attracted international attention when it was launched last year - but was finally scrapped last month. There had been growing speculation that it was no more than an investment scam.

China's 'dockless' bike sharing could be coming to a street near you (July 5, 2017, CNN)
Chinese startups want to export their bike-sharing revolution all around the world. The companies are rolling into the U.K., the U.S. and beyond, aiming to disrupt existing programs with their fleets of colorful bikes that don't need docking stations. Chinese startups want to export their bike-sharing revolution all around the world. The companies are rolling into the U.K., the U.S. and beyond, aiming to disrupt existing programs with their fleets of colorful bikes that don't need docking stations.

Education

Why China’s Overseas Academics Are Loath to Return Home (July 3, 2017, Sixth Tone)
For overseas Chinese Ph.D. students on the fence about whether they should return home for a faculty position or stay abroad, the rigidity of China’s higher education institutions often spooks them into choosing the latter.

Health / Environment

Drought in Northern China Is Worst on Record, Officials Say (June 29, 2017, The New York Times)
Officials governing a large area of northern China say their region is suffering from the worst drought on record, leading to crops wilting and farmers and herders growing desperate to get water to farmlands, grasslands, animals and their households. The drought is affecting the northeastern and eastern areas of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, which is near Beijing.

China unveils plans for world's first pollution-eating 'Forest City' (January 29, 2017, CNN)
The 342-acre, self-contained neighborhood will comprise more than 70 buildings -- including homes, hospitals, hotels, schools and offices -- all of which will be covered with 40,000 trees and almost a million plants. Eventually, up to 30,000 people could call the Forest City home.

Science / Technology

China's new heavy-lift rocket launch fails in flight (July 2, 2017, Reuters)
China's launch of a new heavy-lift rocket, the Long March-5 Y2, carrying what the government said was its heaviest ever satellite, failed on Sunday, official news agency Xinhua said. The same rocket type had been expected to take China's latest lunar probe to the Moon this year and to return with samples. It is not clear how the timetable for that mission could be affected by the failed launch.

How the iPhone Built a City in China (July 3, 2017, The Wall Street Journal)
Farmer Zhang Hailin remembers the day in 2010 when he watched as helicopters flew in over fields of corn and wheat here, hovering in spots to drop balloon-shaped markers. “Three days later, a hundred bulldozers were here,” Mr. Zhang said. The iPhone was coming, and it wouldn’t be long before a new industrial town on the edge of Zhengzhou would be known as iPhone City.

‘Smart Red Cloud’ Tracks Party Cadres’ Ideological Correctness (July 3, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Party cadres in southwestern China will soon be scored on their ideological correctness and job performance by a cloud-based artificial intelligence system that tracks everything from their attendance at Party events to comments they post on social media.

A Remote Chinese Province Uses Its Climate To Grow A Big-Data Industry (July 3, 2017, NPR)
Companies in Guizhou are not just collecting big data on businesses. They're collecting it on people, in order to improve urban services and education. At the big data expo, Xia Yiping, co-founder of the bike-sharing firm Mobike, gives a presentation on how big data allows his company to augment and integrate with Chinese cities' urban transport systems.

China's Electric Cars Are Actually Pretty Dirty (July 4, 2017, Bloomberg)
Electric vehicles seem environmentally benign. They’re lightweight, energy-efficient, and potentially greener than their conventional counterparts. But the reality is more complex. Their manufacture entails energy-intensive mining of rare elements, such as the lithium required for their batteries. Their fuel efficiency can make up for that in the course of use, but only if the electricity is produced in a relatively clean way.

WeChat’s ‘Fapiao Helper’: A User’s Guide for this Helpful App (July 4, 2017, China Briefing)
From July 1, 2017, the State Administration of Taxation (SAT) has mandated that corporate tax identification numbers will be required in addition to company name in order to issue general fapiao or special VAT fapiao. In reaction to the new requirements for fapiao issuance, WeChat has launched a new function that allows users to input relevant corporate tax information, and present it to service providers to issue fapiao.

China To Build World's Most Challenging Railway For $36 Billion (July 5, 2017, NDTV)
The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be the second railway into Tibet region after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The railway line will go through the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the world's most geologically active areas, Xinhua news agency reported.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

China's bloggers, filmmakers feel chill of internet crackdown (July 4, 2017, Reuters)
On Friday, an industry association circulated new regulations that at least two "auditors" will, with immediate effect, be required to check all audiovisual content posted online - from films to "micro" movies, documentaries, sports, educational material and animation - to ensure they adhere to "core socialist values". Topics deemed inappropriate include drug addiction and homosexuality, said the government-affiliated China Netcasting Services Association, which represents more than 600 members.

Chinese Youth in Chinese Film (July 4, 2017, China Policy Analysis)
These films share common features in that they are adapted from popular (online) novels, star iconic actors, and target youthful audiences. Despite being slated by scholars and critics for lack of depth and substance, these Chinese ‘teenpics’ have been box-office successes. The popularity of these Chinese youth films, as such, provides a particularly interesting example of social transformations and global influences at work.
 

History / Culture

The Funeral of Dowager Empress CiXi, November 1908 (June 30, 2017, China Rhyming)
The Empress Dowager CiXi died on 15 November 1908 in the Hall of Graceful Bird at the Middle Sea at Zhongnanhai. Her funeral was naturally a big deal. Here some pictures taken by a Dutchman, Henri Borel, who happened to be in Peking at the time.

Beijing's Mystery Canal: Centuries-Old Brook Reimagined in Qianmen Neighborhood (July 3, 2017, The Beijinger)
Last month, state media buzzed about the restoration of an ancient brook, a long-lost waterway transformed into a beautiful new park in Beijing. The trouble was, the brook didn’t seem to exist on any historical maps of the city.

A collection: Red Guard posters (July 4, 2017, Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

Myth and majesty in China’s Xinjiang lake district (June 29, 2017, The Guardian)
The lakes, forests and mountains of China’s far north are attracting tourists by the busload, but there’s still plenty of untouched wilderness to enjoy.

Foreign Passport Holders Reminded to Cancel Chinese Residency or Else Be Banned From Leaving (June 29, 2017, The Beijinger)
If you or your family recently switched from Chinese citizenship, there's one last bureaucratic hurdle to cross before you start travelling outside China. A government policy to be formally implemented next week will temporarily ban foreign passport holders from leaving the country if they have not cancelled their registered Chinese permanent residence.

Beijing to Shanghai Trains Now Feature Personal Soft Sleeper Compartments (July 5, 2017, The Beijinger)
High-speed train passengers in China now have the option of traveling with more privacy by booking tickets for individual sleeping compartments. Debuting this past weekend on the D311 train scheduled between Beijing and Shanghai, the personalized compartments are designed for a single passenger. Each bunk provides space for passengers and their luggage, and is equipped with an electrical recharging outlet and its own window.

Books

No Wall Too High One Man’s Daring Escape from Mao’s Darkest Prison (June 28, 2017, China File)
Mao Zedong’s labor reform camps, known as the laogai, were notoriously brutal. Modeled on the Soviet Gulag, they subjected their inmates to backbreaking labor, malnutrition, and vindictive wardens. They were thought to be impossible to escape—but one man did.

Living Cross-culturally

3 Questions: High-Impact Networks (July 5, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Whether it’s outreach to Chinese studying abroad or equipping a new generation of Chinese Christians to serve cross-culturally, some tasks are simply too big for any one organization, no matter how well-run or well-resourced they may be. These efforts require a network of likeminded groups, all working from their respective strengths in pursuit of a common goal.

Resources

Contextualization—a Training Tool (June 30, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
This summer Jackson Wu is releasing four full-length training videos dealing with contextualization, honor, and shame. These videos are based on talks given at the 2016 theology conference hosted by Singapore Bible College.