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.
For those of you who are not subscribers to ZGBriefs, check out the December 22 issue to see what you are missing.
I started editing ZGBriefs for ChinaSource 20 years ago, in the autumn of 2002. The media landscape at the time was quite different. Most stories were produced by what some might call the “mainstream media,” and they were in the early days of being online. There really were only a dozen or so sources to check each week. The proliferation of blogs and other alternate media sources was still a few years off.
That struck me as I looked at the list of the top ten linked stories that you, dear reader, clicked on to read. Only four of the ten sources existed in 2002. The links are interesting mix of stories about society, Christianity, and political analysis, with one historical missionary biography thrown into the mix.
- 5 Truths We Must Defend: Lessons from China (August 11, 2022, The Gospel Coalition)
On the basis of my experience in China over the past 30 years, I want to highlight five theological truths that inevitably emerge as crucial battleground issues for Christians living in a hostile, totalitarian environment. Although the experience of Christians in the U.S. is vastly different, we can learn from the faithfulness of our brothers and sisters in China.
- How Xi Jinping Is Reshaping China, in Five Charts (October 17, 2022, Christian Science Monitor)
Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to win a rare third term in this week’s 20th Communist Party Congress. Understanding how Mr. Xi has transformed China over the past decade can offer clues for what comes next.
- A Teacher in China Learns the Limits of Free Expression (May 9, 2022, The New Yorker)
How had the country experienced so much social, economic, and educational change while its politics remained stagnant?
- China’s Top 10 Most Livable Cities, According to Chinese Youth (July 9, 2022, Radii China)
Last week, China’s biggest lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu published a study revealing the factors that impact young Chinese people’s decisions on where to live in the country. Changsha, a city in Central China known for its underground scene, tops the list. Kunming, a Southwest city synonymous with mild weather year-round, follows closely behind. The third spot goes to Chengdu, which — despite the local food’s fiery reputation — is very much about chill vibes.
- Here’s What Thousands of Christian WeChat Accounts Reveal About Chinese Internet Evangelism (May 13, 2022, Christianity Today)
WeChat is a powerful digital media outlet with more than 1.2 billion users worldwide and tens of millions of “public accounts.” Over the past decade, WeChat accounts have been an important platform for Chinese Christians to speak about their faith and communicate the gospel. Prior to 2018, these accounts offered discipleship materials, inspirational messages, and apologetics resources, attracting followings of millions of Christians and seekers.
- Chinese Christian Pop Star G.E.M.’s New Song Is Courageous (August 18, 2022, Christianity Today)
In July 2022, the singer G.E.M., Chinese name 邓紫棋 (Deng Ziqi), released her 14-track album Revelation. On August 9, the music video of the album’s first song, “Gloria,” was released online. G.E.M. also recorded and released a short video sharing her spiritual journey in the creation of the song. Deng, nicknamed “China’s Taylor Swift,” is one of China’s most popular and successful female singers. She is a Christian who has openly talked about her faith on social media.
- I Lasted Three Years in China without Taking a COVID Test (November 2, 2022, The China Project)
Yes, dear reader, I have broken my streak. After three years (well, shy three months of it), in the last three weeks I have taken 15 throat-swab tests. Some were stabbers, some ticklers; some explorers, others gorers; some dabbed, some jabbed, a few stayed in there till I gagged. One kept me aah-ing till I drooled like a dog onto the pavement.
- Mildred Cable: A Missionary Who Made The Right Choices (August 16, 2022, Field Partner)
Mildred Cable was another remarkable missionary to China. The easiest way to introduce her is to focus on a quality that was invaluable to her and is invaluable to any missionary – the capacity to make the right choices.
- Six Signs That Will Tell Us When Secretive China Is Abandoning Covid Zero (May 4, 2022, Bloomberg)
Experts say Beijing will move gradually to dismantle its rigid zero tolerance policy rather than end all curbs overnight.
- 20 Things We Learned from China’s 7th Census (June 17, 2022, Sixth Tone)
There’s a lot to explore in this data, but here’s some of the first things we noticed, from an improving sex ratio to the tiny group of households who reported five generations sharing a single room.
If you are not yet a regular ZGBriefs reader, then I have two suggestions: First, click on each of those links to see the kinds of China stories you may have missed this past year. Second, consider subscribing to ZGBriefs, so you can receive it by email every Thursday!
Happy New Year!
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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