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ZGBriefs The Weeks Top Picks, July 24 Issue

Churches, migration, and anti-corruption campaigns are the topics of this week’s Top Picks from the ZGBriefs Newsletter.

Christians in Wenzhou Fight to Keep Church’s Cross (July 24, 2014, Sinosphere)

The demolition of churches and crosses in Zhejiang continues. The NYT blog Sinosphere writes about a clash between local police and parishioners at one church that ended in violence:

Early Monday, as more than 300 Christians stood guard in and around Salvation Church, witnesses said, about the same number of police officers and other uniformed personnel moved on the church. In the confrontation, more than 50 people were injured, four seriously, according to a local pastor who compiled a list of the injured.


Uniformed men had lined up outside the gate around 3 a.m., said Ye Wanjing, a Christian from a nearby township who had driven an hour to help defend Salvation Church. “Several minutes later they didn’t say anything to us one of the men shouted ‘Go! Go!’ They rushed toward us and beat whoever they saw near the gate.”


Over the next hour, the witnesses said, the men, many armed with electric batons, chased and beat the defending Christians. One of the severely beaten was a 30-year-old man surnamed Zhang, according to his father. “His nose and forehead were broken,” the father said by phone. “They beat his head, and I’m worried about his eyesight.”


The confrontation Monday morning showed local officials’ determination to remove the cross, said Yang Fenggang, a sociology professor and director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University in Indiana. “This blood, injuries these won’t stop them.”

China on the Move (July 19, 2014, The World of Chinese)

One of the writers at The World of Chinese posted an interesting story last week about the migrations taking place in Chinanot just from the countryside to the city, but city-slickers heading to the countryside in search of peace and quiet or heading out of the country to see the world. In other words, Chinese people are on the move.

China is a nation transformed: urban landscapes swell to the brim with rural citizens hoping to make their fortune, the newly rich run from the chaos of the metropolitan rat race, and many of the truly wealthy look for solace outside of China’s borders. This change has had its ups and downs, but it cannot be denied that the people of China are migrating en masse and that the consequences of this mass migration are being felt everywhereeven though the true costs may not be felt for decades to come. The key revolution of China this decade has been economic, one in which a society mills freely about the nation and abroad to seek a fortune or future unthought-of in previous generations.


For China’s cities, this means a great deal, chiefly that the rural population are searching for a lifestyle and a fortune in the urban areas where the pay is better, the work safer, and the outlook brighter. The explosion of the middle class has, for some, had the opposite effect, with China’s relatively young and wealthy looking for a less hectic life in the country’s more peaceful (and possibly more lucrative) areas. Some just want to get out of China altogether, and there are options for the super rich and hopeful parents alike to getting on the fast track to a fresh, new passport from a country of their choosing; just a few decades ago, China opened up to the world, and now the world is opening up to China. Chinese society, put simply, is on the move.

To No End: Why China’s Corruption Crackdown Won’t Be Stopping Soon (July 21, 2014, China Real Time)

When President Xi Jinping came to power in the spring of 2013, one of the first things he did was launch an anti-corruption campaign. While there have been numerous anti-corruption campaigns over the years (centuries), the breadth and scope of this one has surprised even Xi’s supporters. And unlike other anti-corruption campaigns, which usually fizzle out after a few months and the nabbing of a few “big fish,” this one just keeps on going.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Russell Moses ponder the question of why this one seems to have so much staying power:

So what’s next?


That’s the tricky part. Punishing corruption is one thing; preventing its reemergence could be a far-greater problem. As one Chinese analyst admitted despondently in the pages of the People’s Daily (in Chinese), unless the system is thoroughly reformed, there’s a good chance that “the rot will come back.”


Continuing to press hard against corruption seems to make sense if Beijing’s expanding fight against graft is finally starting to show success and developing the party’s legitimacy as a problem-solver on issues that matter to the masses. But there’s also concern about just how much longer the campaign can be maintained when, as the analysis above notes, there is “a danger of overdoing something, leaving some people in a constant state of anxiety.”


Fear is evidently freezing some officials from becoming more actively engaged in supporting Xi’s call for changes in how the government operatesa passivity that has led to complaints in the Party media (in Chinese).


And there’s a greater danger: That this effort to tear down corruption is simply dealing with the existing problems and not doing anything about building a new way of decision-making.

In other words, it may be easy to launch an anti-corruption campaign, but not so easy to end it.

Image credit: UM Connections