Blog EntriesContemporary Society

ZGBriefs The Weeks Top Picks, March 27 Issue


Chinese Atheists? What the Pew Survey Gets Wrong (March 24, 2014, New York Review of Books)

Ian Johnson writes about the interesting findings of a recent Pew survey which purported to show that 75% of Chinese indicate that it there is no link between believing in God and morality.

But then there is China, which at 14 percent has the lowest percentage affirming the need for belief in God of any country surveyedeven lower than in the secular democracies of Western Europe. It's especially striking when compared to other Asian countries, such as Japan, where 42 percent of the population links morality to belief in God, and South Korea, where more than half the population asserts such a link. In fact, according to the Pew data, a full 75 percent of Chinese people say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral.

He then goes on to question this finding, explaining that the problem is in the word used for "God" in the survey. He points out that the survey used the word for the Judeo-Christian God (Shang Di), not the word used in traditional Chinese religious belief (Tian).

According to Pew's English-language report, the actual survey asked people to say which of the following statements came closest to their own opinion: "It is not necessary to believe in God to in order to be moral and have good values" or "It is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values." I was immediately struck by the use of the word "God" in the survey statements, capitalized as it is in the Christian, Jewish, or Muslim tradition. Was the question referring solely to the god of these faiths? But I couldn't imagine that Pew would ask such a narrow questionafter all, the study doesn't describe itself as asking whether belief in an Abrahamic being is necessary to morality, but rather asking whether belief in any supreme being is.

He then goes on to give a helpful explanation of the various terms used for God in Chinese.

China's Deadly Lightning (March 24, 2014, Christianity Today)

Christianity Today writes about the Eastern Lightning cult, known for its harsh recruiting tactics (which include kidnapping) and what churches in China are doing to counter it, including cooperating with local authorities and beefing up theological training.

Since the kidnapping, China Gospel Fellowship leaders have been sharing information with government officials, said G. Wright Doyle, senior associate at the Global China Center. It's a tricky step to take, since the churches have been wary of state persecution. But it's an important one, said one Christian worker who regularly meets with house church leaders in China.

"The government isn't very good at distinguishing between house church and cult movements," the worker said, citing the case of a pastor who was mistakenly jailed for 11 days as a cult leader.

Lay Christians can have trouble telling the difference, too. In response, pastors told CT they are building up theological resistance in their churches by adding lessons on church history and doctrine to their Bible teaching. As a result, the cult is less successful at recruiting church members than it was a decade ago, though it still has strong followings in rural China, said an anonymous source who leads a large Chinese house church network.

Interestingly, the article also noted that Eastern Lightning has become more active in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Search for Lost Jet Is Complicated by Geopolitics and Rivalries (March 26, 2014, The New York Times)

One of the biggest news stories, not just in China, but the world, over the past few weeks has been the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines flight that was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Even though the airplane has not yet been found, the Malaysian government has announced that they believe it crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. While numerous stories have been written, speculating on what happened to the airplane and why, this New York Times article delves into some of the geopolitical issues and tensions that the international search effort has revealed. Edward Wong writes:

The frantic hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been, in one way, a nearly miraculous display of international collaboration: 26 nations, many of them rivals, have opened up their territorial waters and airspace or have contributed closely held technology and surveillance data to a search that has riveted the world.

That extraordinary cooperation has been instrumental in narrowing the search to a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean this week. But the effort has also underscored the limits of trust among powers like China, Malaysia, the United States, India and Thailand, all of which bring their own, often competing, strategic interests to bear.

The instruments of the search advanced radar and satellite arrays, banks of intelligence analysts, surveillance planes and ships are also the tools of spycraft. And as they have come together, the imperative among participating countries to cloak their technological capacities and weaknesses has proved irresistible, at times hindering the search, military analysts say.

If the reporting in this article is correct, it's probably safe to conclude that all the governments in the region know more than they are saying.

These GIFs Of Rapidly Expanding Chinese Cities Will Blow Your Mind (March 21, 2014, Business Insider)

And finally, anyone who has lived in China (or traveled there) in recent decades is well aware of the rapid urbanization that has taken place since the 1980's. Business Insider has put together a set of gifs (animated photos) of satellite photos that actually show this urbanization. Watch as the cities swallow the countryside.

Today we are starting a new feature, linking this blog with another of our publications, the ZGBriefs Newsletter. Every Friday, we will highlight four articles from the ZGBriefs newsletter that we consider the must read articles of the week.

Herewith are this weeks:

The good, the bad and the exiled? Chinas Class of 77 (CNN)

In this article, Jaimie FlorCruz, CNNs Beijing correspondent, reflects on his time as a student at Beijing University beginning in 1977, and some of his fellow students. These include Premier Li Keqiang, disgraced former Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, and exiled dissident Wang Juntao. Its an interesting look at the university careers of these three men, and the different paths they took beyond the academy walls.

When I enrolled at Beida in the fall of 1977, the university was steeped in the political ferment that followed Chairman Mao's death and the start of Deng Xiaoping's reforms.

My classmates, many of whom had worked on farms or in factories during the Cultural Revolution, were viewed by many as China's crme de la crme. They belonged to the storied "Class of '77" who passed the first college entrance exams held after the Cultural Revolution.

During the four years I spent at Beida, I met many other fascinating fellow students who went on to become important players in China's divisive political scene.

Among them was Bo Xilai, once one of the most powerful politicians in China, now disgraced and sentenced to life in prison for corruption and abuse of power.

Kept women (Aeon Magazine)

One of the unfortunate features of society in old China (pre1949) was the practice of having multiple wives, or concubines. When the Communist Party came to power in 1949, it was banned. With the relaxation of state control over the private lives of individuals (somewhat), coupled with the economic prosperity, this practice has made a comeback (albeit not officially sanctioned) in modern China. This article is a rather in-depth look at the modern phenomenon of mistresses in China today.

Shanshans $550 shoes came from her lover, but the soles of her feet, as hard as leather, came from her childhood. We used to play barefoot in the village, she told me. All the girls in the karaoke bar had feet like this.

At 26, Shanshan has come a long way from rural Sichuan, one of Chinas poorer southern provinces, famous for the spiciness of its food and its women. Today her lover, Mr Wu, keeps her in a Beijing apartment that cost 2.5 million yuan ($410,000), and visits whenever he can find the time away from his wife.

Inside the world of Chinas shadow banks (Marketplace)

In the West there is often concern about the financial health of Chinas banking system, and rightly so. However, there may be something more worrying than the Chinese banking system, and that is the shadow banking system, an off-the-books, totally unregulated banking system that a Chinese think-tank suggests is already at 40% of GDP.

"I began making cigarette lighters 20 years ago," continues Huang. "Four of my family members each put in $1,500 and lent it to me without interest. Thats what we call a Wenzhou loan."

Thanks to his Wenzhou loan, Huang Fajing made a fortune selling cigarette lightersChinese media now call him the lighter king.

On his road to cigarette lighter fame and fortune, the Lighter King watched on as more money flowed into Wenzhou. Over time, loans were no longer limited to just family and friends. The Wenzhou loan, says Huang, became a lot less innocent.

"Bigger groups of lenders began to form. They pooled money together and took turns taking out loans. Then they started lending money with very high interest rates - to strangers."

The House Churches Understanding of the Three-Self Church, Chinese Government and Themselves (Pacific Institute for Social Sciences)

This article, written by a house church leader in China (translated), gives an interesting glimpse into the division between the house churches and the official Three-Self Church.

The primary issue for Chinese house churches today is how to manage the relationship with the Three-Self Church and the Chinese government. The relationships among the Three-Self Church, house churches and the government are very complicated. We can only discuss them briefly at this time. If God permits, we should discuss them in greater depth in the future.

Normal

0

false

false

false

EN-US

ZH-CN

X-NONE

DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99"

LatentStyleCount="267">

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Strong"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Table Grid"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Quote"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference"/>

UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title"/>

ChinaSource Team

Written by members of the ChinaSource staff.  View Full Bio