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Christmas crusade (December 19, 2013, Global Times)
Christmas is, without doubt, becoming increasingly popular in China.Although Chinese people may not know the origins of Christmas, this has not affected their enthusiasm for the holiday, as the real reason for its popularity is not religious beliefs but consumption. Economic factors have brought Christmas into the lives of millions of Chinese people.However, with the rapid development of Christianity in China over the past 20 years, especially with the new phenomenon of worship services held in houses, office buildings and commercial spaces emerging in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and economically developed eastern coastal cities, more and more Chinese people are, for the first time, walking into churches for Christmas.
GOVERNMENT / POLITICS / FOREIGN AFFAIRS
USS Cowpens: Why China forced a confrontation at sea with US Navy (December 13, 2013, Christian Science Monitor)
The USS Cowpens had to veer sharply to avoid colliding with a Chinese military vessel in international waters earlier this month, the US Navy has confirmed. In the USS Cowpens incident, what message was China sending?
Chinas Xi Factor (December 16, 2013, Project Syndicate)
In short, the new-style leadership, a form of managed charisma, was collectively designed to serve national needs. And it implies that Xi is unlikely to emerge as paramount leader. The Chinese presidencys authority has certainly increased; but Xi is powerful only when he has the votes. On contentious issues, he has but one of seven.
China Focusing Graft Inquiry on Ex-Official (December 16, 2013, The New York Times)
Sending tremors across Chinas political landscape, President Xi Jinping and other party leaders have authorized a corruption inquiry against the powerful former head of the domestic security apparatus, Zhou Yongkang, according to sources with elite political ties.
China Says Clash in Western Area by 'Terrorists' (December 16, 2013, ABC)
China claimed Tuesday that a clash between police and locals in a restive far western region was an organized and premeditated attack by a small terrorist group. The official Xinhua News Agency said that 16 people were killed in the Sunday night incident 14 assailants and two police officers in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang, home to a simmering rebellion against Chinese rule among parts of the Muslim Uighur population who want more autonomy from Beijing. Recent clashes, including an attack on a police station, left dozens of people dead this year.
In Tibet and Uyghur Regions, Internet Blackouts Are the Norm (December 17, 2013, Global Voices)
Stories of Internet censorship in China often focus on surveillance and social media filtering, practices that violate the rights to free expression and privacy of all users in mainland China. But those living in remote, embattled ethnic minority regions of the country face a far more bleak reality when it comes to using the Internet.
Riding the Tiger: Chinas Struggle With Rule of Law (December 18, 2013, China Real Time)
Twenty years ago, China expert Pitman Potter cited the Chinese proverb, If you ride a tiger, it is difficult to dismount (qi hu nan xia), likening the rider to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) trying to guide the state. As 2013 draws to a close, that analogy continues to hold true, particularly when it comes to legal reform. Although relative freedom has become possible in the growing private sector of the economy, the Partys version of the rule of law continues to control legal institutions. Meanwhile, public discontent has grown, fed by widening economic inequality, widespread corruption, official arbitrariness, land theft by local governments, looseness of Party discipline, the rise of privileged elites and a persistent lack of protection for private rights.
Next Year in China: Ten Stories to Watch (December 18, 2013, The New Yorker)
For the past three years, I lived in the middle of Beijings fortune-telling district. Business is booming for the soothsayers beside the Lama Temple, as Chinese customers, facing a time of extraordinary uncertainty, seek otherworldly counsel. (In the spring, one of the purveyors, Mr. Guo, analyzed my birth date, time, and other mystical factors, and then looked up approvingly. Good news, he announced. In the near future, you will begin to make considerable income on the side!)With a nod to Mr. Guoand to Jeffrey Toobins annual exercise in legal prognosticationhere are ten predictions for the stories that will define the coming year in China:
Chinese journalists face Marxist ideology exam (December 19, 2013, The Guardian)
Chinese journalists will have to pass a new ideology exam early next year to keep their press cards, in what reporters say is another example of the ruling Communist party's increasing control over the media under President Xi Jinping. It is the first time reporters have been required to take such a test en masse, state media have said. The exam will be based on a 700-page manual peppered with directives such as "it is absolutely not permitted for published reports to feature any comments that go against the party line", and "the relationship between the party and the news media is one of leader and the led".
China grants renewed press cards to several Western journalists facing expulsion (December 19, 2013, Washington Post)
Several Western journalists facing expulsion from China were given renewed press cards on Thursday by the Chinese government, allowing them to apply for visas to remain in the country.The move appears to end a weeks-long standoff between the government and journalists that included a personal appeal by Vice President Biden to Chinas president earlier this month.
The Present Condition of Christianity and Religious Regulations in China (December 4, 2013, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Huang Jianbo looks at China's basic understanding of religion which affects the formulation and execution of its religious policies. To date, the state has believed that religion is a problem although it has never explicitly stated what kind of problem. The author identifies three possible ways in which the government might perceive religion to be a problem. He then offers three suggestions for altering the thinking and implementing of policies. He concludes by affirming religious policies in China have improved greatly over the past thirty years.
Pastoring in a Registered Church (December 8, 2013, ChinaSource Quarterly)
With so much attention focused on the house churches in China, we often overlook what God is doing in the registered Three-Self churches. This lack of knowledge leads to a lack of understanding. ChinaSource Quarterly recently had the opportunity to talk with a pastor of a Three-Self church in a city in northern China.
House Church Attitudes towards Government Authorities (December 8, 2013, ChinaSource Quarterly)
ChinaSource recently asked six leaders of house churches, in various parts of the country, about the current environment that affects their practice of religion in their location. Their responses, detailing the environment as well as their attitudes towards the local authorities and the issue of registration, are expressed in this article.
A Post-80s Pastor Counsels Young People (December 16, 2013, Chinese Church Voices)
In the translated article below, from a mainland publication, a post-80s pastor offers counsel to young believers based on his own experience.
China's Illegal Detention Of Christian Pastor (December 19, 2013, Sky News)
A Chinese Christian pastor and 23 members of his congregation have been held at an unknown location illegally and without access to lawyers since mid-November. The case of Pastor Zhang Shaojie is evidence that in parts of China the violent suppression and unlawful arrests of the faithful by local government officials continues.
SOCIETY / LIFE
The End of Chinas One-Child Policy? An Interview with Mei Fong (December 11, 2013, Dissent)
Its become increasingly clear that China faces an important demographic challenge due to its graying population. The international press has long been fascinated by the birth limitation drive typically described as the One-Child Policy, so not surprisingly, much attention has been given to news that the CCP seems ready to walk back from its efforts to limit most couples to a single child. This struck me as an ideal time to send some questions to Mei Fong, a Pulitzer Prizewinning reporter who is working on a book about that policy.
Dispatches From Xinjiang: Rap vs. Folk (December 12, 2013, Beijing Cream)
In the past few decades the role of ethnic culture has shifted. It is no longer as strongly sponsored by the state as an art that serves the good feelings of the state. Instead, it is pushed by commercial viability and mainstream relevance. The tambur player is thus both feeling his age and the way cultural values are shifting. The kids these days are following different models; they are interested in futures that are not tied to a golden age of the past.
Huge Fines for Violators of One-Child Policy, but Little Accounting (December 12, 2013, Sinosphere)
Chinese provinces have begun disclosing the amounts they received last year in fines after a lawyer opposed to Chinas family planning policies formally requested the tallies in July. The 24 provinces, regions and provincial-level cities that have reported so far say they took in 20 billion renminbi, or about $3.29 billion, last year. Another seven provinces have yet to respond.
China announces principles of urbanisation plans (December 14, 2013, Reuters)
China has added details to its plans to migrate millions of its citizens from the countryside into cities, state media reported Saturday, to help restructure the economy by boosting consumer demand. The government hopes 60 percent of China's population of almost 1.4 billion will be urban residents by 2020 as the country's new leaders seek to sustain growth that last year slowed to a 13-year low of 7.8 percent.
Once a Quaint Custom, Chinas Bird Markets Threatening Wildlife (December 16, 2013, China Real Time)
Despite laws prohibiting the sale of wild songbirds without a license, its a common practice in Beijing and elsewhere in China. And what was once a quaint custom is today a practice that is cutting into a dwindling population.
Chinese migrants can register households in cities by 2020 official (December 17, 2013, Reuters)
Millions of Chinese migrants will be allowed to register their households in cities where they live by 2020, a senior public security official said, as part of China's plans to push urbanisation as it restructures its economy.
Chinese-American Descendants Uncover Forged Family Histories (December 17, 2013, NPR)
What if you discovered the last name you've lived with since birth is fake? That's what happened in many Chinese-American families who first came to the U.S. before World War II, when the banned Chinese laborers from legally entering the country. The law, formally repealed by Congress 70 years ago Tuesday, prompted tens of thousands of Chinese to use forged papers to enter the U.S. illegally. Today, their descendants are still trying to uncover the truth.
Check out these hilarious comics about China's moon landing (December 18, 2013, Shanghaiist)
Weibo artists were filled with national pride and characteristic sarcasm when China made history when its flag was displayed for the first time on the moon. Hats off to these fantastic comic-constructors.
Video: Chinas Latest Recreation Craze: Escape (December 18, 2013, China Real Time)
People in China are locking themselves in rooms, and theyre doing it for fun. Businesses inspired by an online game called Takagism have popped up around China and elsewhere in Asia in which players must escape locked rooms by solving riddles and brain teasers.
Video: Chinese investors 'buying' US green cards for $1m (December 18, 2013, BBC)
As the US debates how to reform its immigration system – and deal with roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country – wealthy foreigners already have a legal route to a new life in America. A visa programme called EB-5 offers overseas investors the opportunity to get permanent residence – a green card – in return for $1m (614,000). In areas with high unemployment, the visas are available for a $500,000 investment.
Photos: Buff bodyguards seen as new status symbol by Chinese elite (December 19, 2013, CNBC)
Chen's company Tianjiao, which he says is China's first professional academy to train former soldiers and others as bodyguards, is doing so well that he is considering a stock market listing.
EDUCATION / HISTORY
In rural China, teacher upholds Mao Thought to save the world (December 16, 2013, Reuters)
While the ruling Communist Party that Mao led holds him in esteem as the leader of the Communist Revolution, his radical policies and teachings have been largely shelved since his death in 1976 in favor of a pro-market approach that has turned China from a backwater into the world's second biggest economy. But for Xia Zuhai, a farmer-turned-educator with thick-rimmed glasses and a toothy, broad smile, there are no teachings more important than those that Mao gave the world.
China crushes India in BRICS university ranking (December 16, 2013, NBC)
China has dominated a ranking of the top BRICS universities, with 40 mainland institutions making it into the top 100, compared with just 16 for economic rival India. Tsinghua University, referred to as "China's MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology],"grabbed first place, according to a ranking by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), which is based on eight key indicators including faculty-to-student ratio, the number of staff members holding a PhD, and reputation among employers.
Chinese Woman Dies from Bird Flu New to Humans (December 18, 2013, TIME)
Chinese authorities said Wednesday that a 73-year-old woman died after she was infected with a strain of bird flu not previously found in humans. The woman in the city of Nanchang died of H10N8 bird flu virus, the Associated Press reports. Chinas Centers for Disease Control confirmed the death. The new strain is only the latest case of bird flu this year. In the spring, the H7N9 strain of the virus infected at least 140 people, killing 45 in mainland China.
ECONOMICS / BUSINESS / TRADE
China's holding of US debt tops $1.3 trillion (December 17, 2013, AFP)
China's holding of US debt surged past $1.3 trillion for the first time in October, worth nearly $1,000 per Chinese citizen, US Treasury figures showed Monday. And with Hong Kong thrown in, Chinese holdings of US bonds reached a record $1.44 trillion, up from $1.31 trillion a year earlier.
SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY / ENVIRONMENT
Chinese scientists accused of trying to steal US seed samples (December 13, 2013, The Guardian)
Prosecutors say two agricultural scientists passed trade secrets to Chinese delegation who were found to have seeds in luggage.
China's Jade Rabbit Moon rover sends back first photos (December 15, 2013, BBC)
The first robot rover to land on the Moon in nearly 40 years, China's Jade Rabbit, has begun sending back photos, with shots of its lunar lander. Jade Rabbit rolled down a ramp lowered by the lander and on to the volcanic plain known as Sinus Iridum at 04:35 Beijing time on Saturday (20:35 GMT). It moved to a spot a few metres away, its historic short journey recorded by the lander. On Sunday evening the two machines began photographing each other.
Will China restart the space race? (December 16, 2013, USA Today)
Though the landing was a big deal in China, most of the rest of the world responded with a yawn. Moon landing? Been there, done that. But October Sky author Homer Hickam was more excited. He wondered on Twitter if China might want to make a territorial claim on the moon, noting that the area the lander is exploring may contain an abundance of Helium-3, a potentially valuable fusion energy fuel that is found only on the moon.
Moon Landing Is A Major Step Forward For China (December 17, 2013, NPR)
China landed its first probe on the surface of the moon over the weekend. It's the first soft-landing on the moon's surface in nearly 40 years, and a big accomplishment for China's space program.
China's lunar rover Jade Rabbit lands on the moon video (December 16, 2013, The Guardian)
Footage released by Chinese state media shows China's unmanned Chang'e 3 lander as it touches down on the moon on Saturday. The lander carries a six-wheeled lunar rover called Jade Rabbit which will explore the moon for three months. It is the first soft landing of a probe on the moon in nearly 40 years.
ARTS / ENTERTAINMENT
Video: The New Collectors (December 17, 2013, The New York Times)
Like their predecessors across history and geography, Chinas newly rich have set out to collect the very best the world has to offer: homes, wines, cars and, with a special passion, Chinese art.
FOOD / TRAVEL / CULTURE
Deep In China, 'Cowboys' Have Skied For Thousands Of Years (December 15, 2013, NPR)
The birthplace of skis is under debate, but the ski is believed to be even older than the wheel. "So they're one of the ve Jenkins recently traveled to China, which claims to have invented skis almost 10,000 years ago. His exploration in the December issue of National Geographic.ry first forms of transportation," travel writer Mark Jenkins says.
Listening to the call of the wilderness (December 19, 2013, China Daily)
China may soon have national parks that rival world-famous attractions as the nation moves to preserve ancient wilderness areas for generations to come. "The idea behind the establishment of a national park system is to push reform in protected areas and make conservation efforts more effective," said an official from the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The decision to establish a national park system was ratified at a key Party meeting in November.
Egg rolls and fried rice: Chinese food returns to its spiritual home much changed (December 19, 2013, Globe and Mail)
The idea came to Fung Lam in a moment of desperation. The New York-born American and his business partner were in Shanghai, exhausted after nearly a year of trying to launch a new salads-and-sandwiches restaurant. Months of walking streets, identifying neighbourhoods, buying equipment and negotiating rent had produced just short of nothing. He was spent. He was in acute need of comfort food. I was really missing home, just feeling down. And I came in and said, Lets get orange chicken and egg rolls and fried rice and just drink some beers. I was craving American Chinese food. Problem was, he couldnt find it. Theres 23 million people in this city, at least 1,000 pizzerias, every variation of burger that you could think of, a hot dog shop in front of bars and youre telling me theres not one American Chinese food restaurant? he says. And then a lightbulb went off: Dude, why dont we just do that?
LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGE LEARNING
An Introduction to Criminal Law Terms in English and Chinese (+ Glossary) (December 14, 2013, carlgene.com)
The following is an introduction to commonly used terms in criminal law that I've collected over the years of translating and teaching interpreting. The focus is mainly on vocabulary common in Australian and British law. At the end of this post is a glossary of all the terms mentioned (150 in total!)
Chinese Listening Practice: Why and How to Get Started (December 15, 2013, Fluent U)
Has this ever happened to you? You proudly say something in Chinese to your friend. They reply, but you dont understand their answer. Awkward situation ensues.
Chinese Web Jargon Explained (December 17, 2013, World of Chinese)
China is a foreign country; they do things differently here. And that is very true of the internet. Imagine you want to build the next new expat (wngzhn, website) to compete with the big dogs on the Chinese Internet ( wnglu)? You could use an overseas hosting company, but you might find your site being blocked by the Great Firewall of China ( Zhnggu fnghuqing) and needing a VPN to jump ( fn qing) the wall just to see your own site.
The Surprising Empress (December 5, 2013, China File)
She has tackled Cixi, one of the significant figures of premodern China, and offers a largely newand to me, mostly convincinginterpretation.
Closing a Perception/Reality Gap (December 8, 2013, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Religious Freedom in China: Policy, Administration, and Regulation; A Research Handbook by Kim-kwong Chan and Eric R. Carlson. Reviewed by Brent Fulton
A Story of Rural Wartime China, 70 Years in the Making (December 13, 2013, China Real Time)
Isabel Crook spent most of the year from 1940 to 1941 walking the streets of a rural village in Sichuan province called Prosperity, carrying a stick to beat off guard dogs and wearing a simple blue jacket and straw sandals. She gathered extensive notes on the lives of the townspeoplewhich families were too poor to own a pot for boiling water, which establishments offered a smoke of opium. Now, 70 years later, she has finally published a book on that research. Prosperitys Predicament: Identity, Reform, and Resistance in Rural Wartime China has had a very, very long history, says Ms. Crook, who has lived in China for most of her nearly 98 years.
Interview: What 250 Years of Chinese History Shows About the Future (December 17, 2013, Asia Society)
Historian Odd Arne Westad won the 2013 Bernard Schwartz Book Award for his book Restless Empire: China and the World Since 1750. In advance of the Dec. 18 award ceremony and discussion at Asia Society's New York Center, Westad responded to Asia Blog's questions by email.
ARTICLES FOR RESEARCHERS
China's Treatment of Foreign Journalists full hearing transripts (December 11, 2013, Congressional-Executive Commission on China)
Sinology and Simon Leys (December 15, 2013, Frog in a Well)
New York Review of Books Classics has re-printed Simon Leys The Hall of Uselessness: Selected Essays. This makes him the first Sinologist to crack the NYRB Classics list as one of the masters of world literature, this despite the fact that the original book of these essays only came out in 2011. Leys write about all sorts of things, from Orwell to Cervantes to Zhou Enlai, but his chief claim to fame, at least for me, was his caustic criticism of westerners who had been taken in by the Maoist myth.
A summary of Asia's provinces by presence of Christianity, population, and the Maynard Scale (December 16, 2013, The Long View)
ZGBriefs is a free weekly compilation of the news in China, condensed from published online sources. Highlighting articles and commentary from major news sites, and blogs and other new media sites, ZGBriefs brings you not only the most important stories of the week in order to help deepen your understanding of what is happening in China today. Coverage includes domestic and international politics, economics, culture, and social trends, among other areas. Seeking to explore all facets of life in China, ZGBriefs also includes coverage of spiritual movements and the role of religious believers and faith-based groups in China. ZGBriefs is a reader-supported service. If you find this resource useful, please consider making a donation.
Image credit: obligatory traffic shot, by Michael Lowell, via Flickr