Resources on Contemporary Society

Aug 1

Why China Needs a Higher Righteousness

by ChinaSource Team

In June, video footage of a tragic traffic accident surfaced online, once again prompting questions of morality in Chinese society by Chinese netizens. The incident occurred on April 21 in Zhumadian, Henan province. The video shows a woman who was blindsided by one car while crossing the street and left there by pedestrians. Several people and several cars pass through the intersection without stopping to help. Sadly, the woman is struck again by another car and killed. In this article from the journal Territory, Pastor An analyzes the incident and comments that a cold wave of self-righteousness has swept through Chinese society and says, “what we need is a higher righteousness” to counter this wave of self-righteousness.

Jul 19

Youth in China

by ChinaSource Team

Recent research on church leaders in China conducted by ChinaSource and others revealed that one of their chief concerns is raising up the next generation. Youth ministry is still a relatively undeveloped area, but, as the quotes in this month's Lantern show, the needs are great. Please join us in praying for a breakthrough among China's young people. 

Jul 11

Responding to Despair, Part 2

"Blue Whale" or Christian Faith?

by ChinaSource Team

Last week we posted the first part of an article from Territory about the entrance of the “death game” Blue Whale into China and its effect on teens in China. Part one detailed the workings of the game. The second part describes a Chinese Christian’s response to the game and the gospel’s message of hope for teens in China. This is part two.

Jul 4

Responding to Despair, Part 1

"Blue Whale" or Christian Faith?

by ChinaSource Team

Chinese news sources report that teens in China have fallen victim to a social media “death game” that has its origins in Russia. This game preys on teens who suffer from depression and encourages them to commit suicide. Through threats and blackmail, teens are progressively drawn closer to danger.

The Christian journal Territory recently detailed the dark workings of the death game. The author of the article, A Qian, writes of his own experience with depression and how his faith played an instrumental role in understanding his depression. 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.

Jul 3

Voices from Hong Kong

On the 20th Anniversary of the Hong Kong SAR

by Narci Herr

Were you hopeful or pessimistic about Hong Kong's future in 1997? How do you feel now on the 20th anniversary of the handover?

Jan 30

Chinese New Year: A Round-up

by Joann Pittman

Today is chu-san, the third day of the new lunar year. China is essentially closed since everyone gets at least a 7-day holiday and many will be gone from their jobs or schools for a month or more. To give you a feel for how the holiday is being celebrated, here’s a round-up of some interesting articles that have been published recently.

Oct 31, 2016

The Chinese Dream in 12 Quotes

by Joann Pittman

Since Xi Jinping came to power in late 2012, the slogan “Chinese Dream” has been one of the guiding principles of the Chinese Communist Party. The way the Party sees it, the essence of the Chinese dream is national rejuvenation, or making China great again, so to speak. The vast propaganda apparatus has been mobilized to convince people in China that their own personal dreams are inextricably linked to the broader dream of a rising China.

Oct 19, 2016

Over 30 Years of Observing China

by ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Senior Vice President Joann Pittman lived and worked in China for more than three decades. In this retrospective, she reflects on the significance of some of the changes she has seen in China during that time. These thoughts are drawn from a lengthier piece Joann wrote earlier.

Oct 17, 2016

Homesick for Manchuria

by Joann Pittman

Since I lived in Beijing for the last 15 years of my time in China, it’s not often that I get nostalgic for Changchun, the city in northeast China that was my home for most of the 90s. Lately, however, I have found myself thinking of my time there and the experiences I had. I am, dare I say, homesick for Manchuria. 

Sep 27, 2016

Understanding and Serving in the “New China”

by Peter

A review of China’s Next Generation: New China, New Church, New World by Luis Bush, Brent Fulton, and a Christian Worker in China.

China is changing dramatically and rapidly—economically, socially, and culturally. These changes have affected the church as well. This book looks at the “New China” and the factors that have brought about the changes; it also examines how the church has entered this new society. Especially for those working with young people, who need to understand their mindset, this book provides a concise overview of key issues and influences.

Jul 18, 2016

The Many Countries of China

by Joann Pittman

In his book, China Airborne, James Fallows takes a look at modern China through the lens of the country’s growing aviation industry. He writes in the introduction about what he calls “the many countries of China,” (p. 6) explaining the diversity and complexity of a country that we tend to (wrongly) view as a monolith.

Jun 13, 2016

Why Are They Lining Up?

by Joann Pittman

In what has to be one of the most fascinating lenses through which to observe history and societal change, this short film chronicles recent Chinese history by looking at the different things Chinese people have lined up for over the years.

Jun 6, 2016

“We Don’t Believe in Anything”

by Joann Pittman

If you want to find out what is really going on—I mean really going on—in China, ask a taxi driver. Since they spend all day conversing with people from all walks of life, getting various takes and perspectives on the issues of the day, few people have a better feel for the mood.

May 23, 2016

Lip-Reading in China

by Joann Pittman

Here’s a question for you: how do you lip-read when everyone is wearing an anti-pollution facemask? One hearing-impaired woman from Great Britain found out while doing an internship in Beijing. She told her story to the BBC in "Toxic Talk: Trying to Lip Read in China."

May 2, 2016

Factory Buddies

by Joann Pittman

We hardly even notice them anymore, and when we do, we probably either roll our eyes or chuckle. I’m referring to the ubiquitous “Made in China” labels that adorn our consumer goods. Televisions, underwear, souvenirs, computers—you name it, it’s probably made in China!

Apr 18, 2016

Adoption Stories

by Joann Pittman

There were a couple of adoption stories out of China in the past few weeks that caught my eye. The first was an article in Christianity Today about the drop in global adoptions, as reported by the US State Department in their Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions.

Mar 14, 2016

Pragmatic Religiosity

by Joann Pittman

One of my favorite China books is Peter Hessler’s Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory. Shortly after the book was published in 2010, a CNN travel reporter interviewed Hessler about the book. There was one particular exchange that caught my attention.

Mar 7, 2016

Two Meetings, Three Hands

by Joann Pittman

Some things just don’t translate well from Chinese into English. Take, for example the annual government meetings that are taking place in Beijing this week. In Chinese the meetings are referred to as Liang Hui (两会), which literally means “two meetings” (sometimes also translated as “sessions”).  Using such a term in English to describe a conference, however, leads only to blank stares.

Jan 18, 2016

Christmas Crowds in China | Part 2

Crowds of Apples

by Swells in the Middle Kingdom

From the series Christmas Crowds in China

As I walked through the center of town on Christmas Eve, I was forced every few steps to maneuver around yet another vendor trying to sell me something. In years past the pushcarts had been covered with Santa hats and light-up electronic wands. This year, however, it was all about apples—enormous apples branded with fortuitous (or sexy) images and packaged in Christmas-y cardboard boxes.

Jan 15, 2016

Christmas Crowds in China | Part 1

Crowds of Security Forces

by Swells in the Middle Kingdom

From the series Christmas Crowds in China

Over the Christmas holiday I saw three very different large gatherings, each of which demonstrates a prominent trend in contemporary China.  Taken together, these three crowds say something profound about the direction that China and her church are headed.  

Jan 1, 2016

This Year in China

by Brent Fulton

Standing at the threshold of a new year, the perennial question comes to mind, “Whither China?” Since prognostications about China’s future more often than not prove to be off the mark—sometimes by a very wide margin—trying to anticipate with certainty what may happen in 2016 is somewhat of a fool’s errand.

Dec 7, 2015

Who’s Not Left Behind?

by Joann Pittman

A collection of articles and features on those being left behind or left over in China.

Nov 18, 2015

New China, Old China

by Swells in the Middle Kingdom

For those of us who live in China’s large cities, the stunning pace of technological and economic development can be overwhelming: ubiquitous smartphones, buses full of people streaming video on their hand-held devices as they commute in air-conditioned comfort, door-to-door food and grocery deliveries, super-chic cafes selling sugared caffeine or fruit libations hot or cold, Uber and DiDi rides on demand, and of course the explosion of online shopping. This is the “new China,” a thoroughly modern place that seems nicely in step with the cultural and economic trends we are familiar with back home in our passport countries.

Nov 2, 2015

China’s New Two-Child Policy

by Joann Pittman

Rumors were swirling all last week that the Chinese government would announce a major relaxation of the 35-year-old “one-child policy.”  Sure enough, on Thursday, October 29, it happened.

Sep 28, 2015

Mr. Xi Goes to Washington

by Joann Pittman

A look at the news and analysis about President Xi Jinping's US visit. 

Sep 7, 2015

I Love a Parade

by Joann Pittman

It’s not entirely true that I love parades in general, but I must admit to having a strange fascination with Chinese military parades. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it’s because they are multi-layered and there are interesting things going on at every level.

Jul 13, 2015

From Village to City

by Joann Pittman

Much has been written about China’s urbanization over the past three decades, as the rural/urban ratio has shifted from 80/20 to roughly 50/50.  Most of this urbanization has taken place as a result of millions of people picking up and moving from the countryside into the cities, leaving behind, in many cases empty villages or villages with only old people left.

Jul 6, 2015

Are Chinese People Religious?

by Joann Pittman

When I was teaching on a university campus, one of the things that surprised me was the admission by many of my students that they were afraid of ghosts. One of them put it to me very succinctly: “We are atheists during the day, but when the lights go out it’s a different story.”

Jun 26, 2015

"Raised from Dust" and "The Only Sons "

Films by Gan Xiao’er

by ChinaSource Team

Two films by China-based, independent filmmaker, Gan Xiao’er.

Jun 3, 2015

“The Air that I Breathe”

Personal Reflections on Pollution in China

by Sa Zhong Zi (撒种子)

“Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe.” I loved the 1974 hit “The Air That I Breathe” by The Hollies when I was a kid. The song is really a love song and has little to do with air pollution, the environment, or the main things I wish to reflect on in this short piece.

Mar 18, 2015

Now You See it, Now You Don’t

by Joann Pittman

Last week as the Internet in the US was melting, thanks to a dress and a couple of llamas, Chinese netizens were gripped by an online documentary that was going viral. The video, titled Under the Dome, is a hard-hitting look at the effects of pollution in China. It was posted on February 28, and within 48 hours had been viewed by 100 million people. Yes, you read that right, ONE HUNDRED MILLION!

Mar 4, 2015

I Stand Corrected

A Book Review

by Amy Young

When I read the title in an email, I knew I had to get a copy of I Stand Corrected: How Teaching Western Manners in China Became Its Own Unforgettable Lesson by Eden Collinsworth (2014).

Feb 25, 2015

Random Observations Following a Two-Week Visit to Beijing

by Joann Pittman

Earlier this month I got to spend two weeks back in Beijing, my former “home town.” 

Dec 21, 2014

A Ten-Year Visa

by Joann Pittman

This afternoon the good folks at FEDEX delivered a small package to my house, and it wasn’t even a Christmas present. In fact, it was something better — my passport, with a brand-spanking-new Ten-year, multiple entry tourist visa to China.

Dec 18, 2014

Don't Ignore Marxism

by Joann Pittman

Much is written these days about what makes China tick. It's the pragmatism. It's nationalism, and the desire to be a player on the world stage. It's "socialism with Chinese characteristics," which to some is just another way of saying capitalism.

Nov 6, 2014

ZGBriefs - The Week’s Top Picks, November 6 Issue

by ChinaSource Team

All our favorite stories this week are about people or communities that are on the margins of Chinese society, either culturally or geographically: Orthodox Christians, Uighur factory workers, Hong Kong taxi drivers, and Miao villagers in Guizhou.

Nov 3, 2014

Do Chinese Men and Women Deserve Each Other?

by ChinaSource Team

Chinese young people are no different from their counterparts anywhere in the world in that a main question they face is the one of whom to marry. China’s rise and modernization has, in some ways, made this a more complicated question as ideas about marriage and qualifications for a spouse have evolved.

Oct 27, 2014

Insiders and Outsiders are Different

by Joann Pittman

In the mid-1990s, while studying Chinese, I stumbled across a Chinese expression that was a "key" to helping me understand what was going on. I was working through a textbook called Speaking of Chinese Culture that taught about key Chinese cultural rules and values. One chapter was on this Chinese concept called nei wai you bie (内外有别), which means "insiders and outsiders are different."

Oct 9, 2014

ZGBriefs - The Week’s Top Picks, October 9 Issue

by ChinaSource Team

What does it mean to be Chinese? Three articles this week highlight the complexity of being Chinese.


Oct 8, 2014

A Look at Religious Freedom in China

by Joann Pittman

On October 1, the Cornerstone Blog of The Religious Freedom Project at The Berkeley Center published two helpful posts on religious liberty in China.

Oct 2, 2014

ZGBriefs - The Week’s Top Picks, October 2 Issue

by ChinaSource Team

For this week's Top Picks, we are re-publishing a post by Joann Pittman originally posted to her blog, Outside-In, on September 30, 2014.

Oct 1, 2014

Brent Fulton Talks about Hong Kong

by Joann Pittman

On September 30, Austin Hill, host of the Austin Hill in the Morning program on Faith Radio, interviewed Brent Fulton about the situation in Hong Kong.

Sep 25, 2014

ZGBriefs - The Week’s Top Picks, September 25 Issue

by ChinaSource Team

Our top picks this week shed light on some of the less known aspects of Chinese society – ecommerce, traffic wardens, and iPhone mania.

Sep 23, 2014

My Problem with Progress

by Swells in the Middle Kingdom

I recently went to my local bank to receive an electronic bank transfer. I have been a customer at this bank for nearly 15 years, and so the idea that I have to show up with ID and fill out reams of paperwork just to "accept" a wire transfer into my account does not upset me. On this occasion, however, I was a bit anxious. Having only just returned to China, I was still waiting for my residence permit to be completed. This meant that my passport was still in the hands of the city Public Security officials—and would likely remain there for the next couple weeks.

Sep 21, 2014

Are Foreign Enterprises Being Targeted?

by Joann Pittman

The past year has seen a steady stream of stories about foreign companies in China being under investigation for regulatory violations and/or outright corruption. The offices of Microsoft were raided. Japanese, German, and American automakers are being probed. Two British nationals working for GlaxoSmithKline were recently jailed. And a Canadian couple that ran a business in the border region near North Korea has been detained on suspicion of stealing state secrets.

Sep 18, 2014

Four Freedoms, Three Observations: Stephen Lam Reflects on Deng’s Pragmatism

by Brent Fulton

Former Hong Kong Chief Secretary Stephen Lam has a unique understanding of "One Country, Two Systems," the policy whereby Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. As director of the office that oversaw the Handover ceremony and related events, Lam worked with both British and Chinese officials to write a significant chapter in China's contemporary history.

Sep 8, 2014

China’s Crisis of Faith

by Brent Fulton

The notion of social renewal is a common theme among urban church leaders as they consider what it means for the church to take its place on the stage of society. The need for social renewal is linked to the recognition that there is currently no shared belief system among China’s people.

Sep 3, 2014

Ten “Americans Really Do THAT?” from Chinese Scholars Living in the U.S.

by Amy Young

I'm sure you've done it, I know I have. Asked a Chinese friend or colleague what stood out to them if they had a chance to visit your home country. I enjoy hearing what stood out to them or to friends who have visited me in China. Their impressions help me to see afresh the places I care about.

Sep 1, 2014

ZGBriefs The Weeks Top Picks, August 28 Issue

by ChinaSource Team

To celebrate the start of a new school year, two of our top picks this week have to do with language learning. The third one is a look at China's internet censorship regime.