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Top 10 ZGBriefs Links for 2021

Each week I “scan the internet so you don’t have to” looking for interesting stories from China to include in ZGBriefs. That means following and monitoring over 60 different sources, from the “biggies” such as the New York Times, to ministry blogs, and everything in between. Some of the stories I select for linking are about serious and weighty matters; others are lighter fare. I try to find a variety of stories that will help us break out of our one-dimensional thinking about China.

I will admit, though, that since so many foreign journalists have been kicked out of China and more and more sources have placed their articles behind a paywall, finding stories to link has gotten a bit more challenging. Then again, that seems to be the theme of living in or covering China over the past few years.

That said, I was able to find good articles each week to include in ZGBriefs. Below is a list of the ones that you, dear readers, liked the best in 2021. I note that, unlike 2020, only two are COVID-related.

  1. Will I Return to China? (June 22, 2021, China File)
    We asked respondents how likely they were to travel to China once COVID restrictions were lifted. We provided five choices: “Definitely Will Visit,” “Probably Will Visit,” “Unsure,” “Probably Won’t Visit,” and “Definitely Won’t Visit” and asked them to choose one response and then to elaborate on their choice if they wished. 
  2. Canadian swimmer’s success throws spotlight on China’s one-child policy (July 28, 2021, CNN)
    Margaret MacNeil shot to international fame Monday after winning the women’s 100-meter butterfly at the Tokyo Olympics, setting an Americas continental record at her very first Games. In China, however, the 21-year-old was drawing wide attention for another reason, as news spread that the Canadian girl who beat China’s top woman swimmer, Zhang Yufei, by 0.05 seconds was actually born in China and adopted as a baby by a Canadian couple.
  3. Can I travel to mainland China? A guide to entry restrictions, documents, and vaccination and testing requirements (September 17, 2021, South China Morning Post)
    Since closing its borders to most international travel last year, China has imposed strict lockdowns, mass testing, large-scale contact tracing, quarantines and entry restrictions as part of its zero-tolerance Covid-19 strategy. The measures look set to continue despite the potential long-term economic impact and the nation’s plans to host international events including the Winter Olympics. Here is what you need to know about China’s latest entry restrictions.
  4. Has China lifted 100 million people out of poverty? (March 1, 2021, BBC)
    Chinese President Xi Jinping says his country has reached the ambitious goal set when he assumed office in 2012 of lifting 100 million people out of poverty. But what has China actually achieved? We’ve compared the Chinese data with global poverty figures compiled by the World Bank.
  5. Why 1.2 billion people share the same 100 surnames in China  (January 16, 2021, CNN)
    With 1.37 billion citizens, China has the world’s largest population, but has one of the smallest surname pools. Only about 6,000 surnames are in use, according to the Ministry of Public Security. And the vast majority of the population — almost 86% — share just 100 of those surnames.
  6. China orders clergy to toe Communist Party and socialist line (February 19, 2021, South China Morning Post)
    New national rules requiring clergy to embrace the leadership of the Communist Party  and China’s socialist system are expected to compound limits on religious freedom in the country, according to analysts. The new rules – Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel – were published by the State Administration for Religious Affairs early this month and will go into effect in May.
  7. Western Expats Are No Longer Safe in China (September 28, 2021, Foreign Policy)
    In releasing Kovrig and Spavor, Beijing effectively admitted that the charges were trumped up and that the men had been held as bargaining chips.
  8. To WeChat or Not to WeChat? (May 14, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
    Then there are the questions that many of us outside of China who want to stay connected with our friends there have: What can we do? What can we not do? What should we do? What should we not do?
  9. My Life as a Christian Under a Communist Regime (July 1, 2021, The Gospel Coalition)
    As Christians living under a communist regime—the Chinese Communist Party was founded 100 years ago today—there is a sense in which we are blessed. As Proverbs 30:8–9 says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches . . . lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” This can also be applied to religious liberty: since we don’t have full religious liberty, there’s always a heavy price to pay if one decides to follow Christ. We are not under severe persecution—compared to Christians in North Korea or Iran, we are just experiencing some troubles. 
  10. China’s Cultural Crackdowns: A guide (December 2, 2021, SupChina)
    From classrooms to phone screens to celebrity idols, the Chinese government is tightening its control over Chinese society. As culture reaches a new level of strategic importance, SupChina takes stock of the disparate changes to society in the past few years.
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Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio

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