ZGBriefs

February 7, 2013

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FEATURED ARTICLE

Is Xi Jinping a Reformer? Wrong Question. (February 1, 2013, China Real Times)

Better questions are needed in order to produce more useful analyses and forecasts of Chinas political development. Such analyses should start by recognizing two facts: First, the new leaderships various initiatives and pronouncements after taking office indicate that it fully accepts the need for change. Second to quote the American political scientist Samuel Huntington, the leadership is clearly aiming at some change but not total change, gradual change but not convulsive change. In short, the leadership wants controlled reform, not revolution or regime change.

GOVERNMENT / POLITICS / FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Reformers Aim to Get China to Live Up to Own Constitution (February 3, 2013, The New York Times)

After the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, the surviving Communist Party leaders pursued a project that might sound familiar to those in the West: Write a constitution that enshrines individual rights and ensures rulers are subject to law, so that China would never again suffer from the whims of a tyrant. []Now, in a drive to persuade the Communist Partys new leaders to liberalize the authoritarian political system, prominent Chinese intellectuals and publications are urging the party simply to enforce the principles of their own Constitution.

Barbarians at the Digital Gate (February 3, 2013, Wall Street Journal)

The Middle Kingdom might once have been the center of human civilization. But in the digital world, the Chinese are the barbarians at the gate. Whatever they think they've learned about us by sneaking around our inboxes, the world has learned a great deal more about them.

Media Censorship and Its Future (February 4, 2013, The China File)

Why did all this happen, and what does it all mean for the future of the Chinese press? ChinaFile talked to Chang Ping, former news director at Southern Weekend, who was in charge of the newspapers news, opinion, and New Years editorial from 1999 to 2002.

Will Re-Education Through Labor End Soon? (February 4, 2013, China Real Time)

It has come to this: the arbitrary system of police detention known as laodong jiaoyang (often abbreviated as laojiao), or re-education through labor, has fallen so far out of favor that one China police chief cited the virtues of dissent for patriotic purposes to make a case for ending it. Growing criticism of this decades-old practice is encouraging. But if official statements arent accompanied by meaningful legal reform, police will likely keep locking up minor offenders at will under various forms of house arrest.

Chinas Senkakus operations overseen by party task force led by Xi (February 4, 2013, The Asahi Shimbun)

Chinas response to the Senkaku Islands dispute is now under the direct command and coordination of a top-level task force of the Communist Party of China, led by General Secretary Xi Jinping. A source close to the Communist Party said the creation of the new task force, said to be modeled after the U.S. National Security Council, means that the dispute has become one of the most important issues for China along with reunification with Taiwan and others.

Is China cleaning up its illegal 'black jails'? (February 5, 2013, Christian Science Monitor)

Ten men have been sentenced to prison for illegally detaining people who traveled to Beijing to appeal to the government, in a possible sign the government is trying to rein in abuses.

Not Rising, But Rejuvenating: The Chinese Dream (February 5, 2013, The Diplomat)

Many talk of China "rising." Chinese view their fortunes as a return to greatness from a "century of humiliation"and not a rise from nothing.

Tension In East China Sea Has Region On Edge (February 6, 2013, NPR)

An already tense standoff between Japan and China grew even more so Tuesday. Japanese officials said a Chinese naval frigate aimed radar used for targeting weapons at a Japanese destroyer last week. The announcement comes as the Asian giants continue to send warships and military planes toward islands both claim as their own.

China media: Pyongyang warned (February 6, 2013, BBC)

One of China's leading newspapers, The Global Times, again warns North Korea against conducting another nuclear test. The paper urges China to reduce aid to North Korea if it goes ahead with a third nuclear test in defiance of a United Nations Security Council resolution. "If North Korea insists on a third nuclear test despite attempts to dissuade it, it must pay a heavy price. The assistance it will be able to receive from China should be reduced. The Chinese government should make this clear beforehand to shatter any illusions Pyongyang may have," says a bilingual Global Times editorial.

China arrests over Tibet immolations (February 7, 2013, BBC)

At least 12 people have been arrested and dozens more have had their movements restricted for encouraging Tibetans to set themselves on fire, officials in western China say. A security official in Qinghai said police had taken action against more than 50 people since November 2012. Six Tibetans were jailed in Gansu province last week on similar charges. Nearly 100 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009, many fatally, in apparent protest at Chinese rule.

Mystery of Xi Jinping's 'fan club' blogger (February 7, 2013, BBC)

It's the biggest mystery on the internet in China today. Tens of thousands of people have been signing up to follow a Sina Weibo microblog account - China's equivalent of Twitter - that seems to have inside access to the new Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. But who exactly is the mysterious "fan" who seems to be at Xi's side recording his every step? Is it really a simple "fan"? Or is it all a cunning PR ploy to burnish Mr Xi's image? And where might it lead?

China and Japan's media in war of words over radar issue (February 7, 2013, BBC)

The war of words between media outlets and experts in Beijing and Tokyo is hotting up after a Chinese frigate reportedly put a radar lock on a Japanese navy ship. The incident, which happened near disputed East China Sea islands last month, sparked angry responses in both capitals with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling it a "dangerous act" and China asking Tokyo to stop "illegal" activities. Newspapers and experts in both countries followed suit, with leading Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun calling the incident a "dangerously provocative act".

China's new leader urges 'sharp' party criticism (February 7, 2013, AP)

China's new leader said the ruling Communist Party should tolerate "sharp" outside criticism, in comments that are being viewed skeptically by a public accustomed to pervasive censorship. State media said newly installed party General Secretary Xi Jinping made the remarks Wednesday at a gathering of non-Communist Party groups. Members of the groups "should have the courage to speak the truth, give advice even if it is unpleasant, and accurately reflect the voice of the public," the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying.

RELIGION

Chinas Christians Thrive, Despite Increase in Persecution (February 4, 2013, National Review)

Though persecution has worsened, Christians have made progress in the last year, tooa fact that many Chinese Christians want their brethren in the West to know. More and more spiritually hungry Chinese are converting.

Testimony A Tibetan Christian Doctor (February 6, 2013, Chinese Church Voices)

This post is a translation of an article that was published in The Christian Times in December 2012. It is about Dr. Luke, a member of the Tibetan Tu people who became a Christian through the witness and influence of his high school English teacher, who was from Northeast China. He now works as a doctor in southern China, using his money to support mission work among his people in Tibet and Qinghai.

SOCIETY / LIFE

Why are the Chinese so sad? (February 4, 2013, Macleans)

But despite Chinas economic miracle, recent studies suggest Chinese arent any happier than they were in the early 1990sthe result of an income-inequality gap that has grown to a chasm, and demographic trends that have created complicated new realities for millions. These have created increasingly evident pressures, and frustrations are bubbling to the surface.

Boyfriends for hire to beat China's wedding pressure (February 6, 2013, BBC)

There are just days to go before Chinese New Year, the biggest celebration on China's calendar, when the entire country shuts down for a few days of food, fireworks and family. Many enjoy the holiday, but millions of unmarried people merely endure it. [...] Luckily for some, China's most popular online marketplace, Taobao, offers a band-aid solution: the rental of fake boyfriends. For as little as $50 (32) a day, dozens of classified adverts promise to provide a male companion for the holidays, pretending to be a single woman's plus-one.

For Millions of Chinese Men, Lonely Life as Bare Branch Looms (February 6, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

By contrast, millions of his fellow rural countrymen will likely never know such splendor or even the joy of matrimony. These young males are known as bare branches, trees without leaves, involuntary bachelors demographically destined to a life without a wife or child. An estimated 40 to 50 million bare branches are scattered around the nation, and according to Quanbao Jiang and Jess Snchez-Barricarte, authors of the article Bride Price in China: The Obstacle to Bare Branches Seeking Marriage, they tend to be concentrated in rural or poverty-stricken areas.

American Woman Gives Domestic Abuse A Face, And Voice, In China (February 7, 2013, NPR)

When he brutally beat Lee, she posted a picture of her battered face, showing a huge lump protruding from her forehead. She put it on his page on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, under the heading, "I love losing my face = I love hitting my wife's face?" She followed this with pictures showing her bloodied ear and raw, injured spots on her knee. "Li Yang, you need help," she wrote. "Domestic violence is a serious problem."

Web Users Gripe as Chinese Infrastructure Groans Under Lunar New Year Travel Load (February 7, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

The Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is drawing closer, and once again the accompanying annual travel rush began weeks ahead of time. Hoping to celebrate Chinas most important holiday with their loved ones, a large number of migrant workers, students and visitors left cities around the country for their hometowns. With authorities anticipating that Chinese will take about 3.1 billion trips over a 40-day period, the Spring Festival travel rush is probably the worlds largest population migration.

Chinas rural-urban balancing act (February 7, 2013, Financial Times, via The Washington Post)

The incoming administration of Xi Jinping has identified continued large-scale urbanization as the most powerful potential driver of Chinas economy yet it is actually a partially reversible phenomenon built on shaky foundations.

EDUCATION / CULTURE / TRAVEL

Hainan Airlines to begin direct Chicago flights (January 29, 2013, China Daily)

Hainan Airlines on Monday announced that it will begin a nonstop service between Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Beijing in early September. Hainan will fly Airbus A330-200 aircraft configured for "premium" business and coach classes on the route. Starting Sept 3, there will be two flights - one in each direction - every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, for a total of eight a week. Flight 498 will depart O'Hare at 3:30 pm Chicago time and arrive at 6:40 pm the following day; Flight 497 is scheduled to leave Beijing at 1:20 pm and land at O'Hare at 1:30 pm the same day.

What we learned on our Long Ride around China (February 1, 2013, The Globe and Mail)

Photographer John Lehmann and I started out with the broad goal of retracing the storied Long March that Mao Zedong led his Red Army on in the 1930s. Instead of walking, we travelled mostly by rail, stopping at cities and towns along the way to take the pulse of the country that Maos latest successor, Xi Jinping, is inheriting.

Noble and Ignoble Ai Weiwei: Wonderful dissident, terrible artist (February 1, 2013, The New Republic)

But the problem with simply saluting Ai as a political activist is that he insists on pleading his case in the art museums.

Photos: Hot Times in a Cold Town (February 1, 2013, China Real Time)

Harbin, a city in northeast China, holds its International Ice and Snow Festival each winter, building extensive castles and sculptures out of ice and LED lights.

The Gaokao Highway to Hell (February 3, 2013, Sinostand)

Chinas Gaokao college entrance exam, which heavily tests rote memorization and decides the fate of Chinas youth, is objectively awful. Students know this, teachers know this, the government knows this, my aunt Agatha knows this. Recently though Ive gained a new appreciation for just how horrific it is.

A Glimpse of Chongqings Past, Present, and Future (February 4, 2013, Chengdu Living)

I recently spent a weekend in Chengdus neighboring metropolis of Chongqing and was lucky enough to capture a glimpse of this unique citys past, present, and future. Chongqing (previously called Chungking) is famous for all kinds of things: hot-pot, fog, having no bicycles, intense heat, and for being the industrial heart of southwest China. Chungking has a romantic sound like Peking, Soochow and Hangchow code for the mysterious Far East. But Chongqing has little of that old world feel to it left these days.

The Fear of Gifts: What, when, to whom, and how to give in China (February 4, 2013, Go Chengdoo)

We asked local Chengdu post-'80s writer and longtime CHENGDOO contributor Tan Juan to help us arm ourselves with the knowledge to avoid offending friends, family, workmates, students, bosses, teachers, and other people we might give a gift to or receive a gift from.

Zhang Bing, 81, becomes the oldest junior college student in Sichuan (February 6, 2013, Shanghaiist)

An 81 year old man from Sichuan has become the oldest student ever awarded a junior college diploma by the University of Sichuan, after beginning his studies nearly two decades ago. Zhang Bing, who used to work in the Sichuan bureau of prisons, received the qualified transcripts and graduation certificate from Sichuan Education Examinations Authority, Chengdu Business Daily reported Tuesday. He has accomplished more than 200 units of papers among over 60 exams in 20 years of college study.

Video: The importance of fireworks in Chinese New Year (February 6, 2013, BBC)

For days and nights over the coming week, cities and villages across China will echo with the sound of fireworks to see in the new lunar year of the snake. Every year, there are reports of accidents involving fireworks, only last week a truck transporting fireworks exploded killing five people and causing a road to collapse.

HEALTH

Ten Years after SARS: Five Myths to Unravel (February 4, 2013, Council on Foreign Relations)

While SARS wreaked havoc for approximately nine months from November 2002 to August 2003, it is no match for the HIV/AIDS pandemic in terms of duration, which has lasted for more than 30 years. However, SARS has had a lasting impact on our collective psyche. In September 2012, a novel coronavirus was identified in two patients from the Middle East, raising the specter of a new SARS-like outbreak. To better prepare for the next disease outbreak, it might be necessary to unravel the following myths about SARS and other infections:

Infectious diseases kill 1,167 in January (February 7, 2013, Xinhua)

A total of 488,271 cases of infectious diseases were reported on the Chinese mainland in January, leaving 1,167 people dead, the Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed on Thursday. Of these cases, 2,319 Influenza A (H1N1) cases were reported last month, leaving nine people dead, according to a statement from the MOH. Some 1,147 of the deaths were caused by Class-B diseases. Viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, syphilis, dysentery and gonorrhea accounted for 95 percent of all the Class-B cases, the statement said.

SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY / ENVIRONMENT

A week in smog-bound Beijing's 'airpocalypse' in pictures (February 1, 2013, The Guardian)

BUSINESS / ECONOMICS / FOREIGN TRADE

IMF: The era of cheap labor in China may be ending (February 1, 2013, The Washington Post)

China is on the eve of a demographic shift that will have profound consequences on its economic and social landscape, International Monetary Fund researchers write in a new paper examining whether the nations advantage in cheap labor relative to other emerging countries is on the verge of disappearing. Within a few years the working age population will reach a historical peak, and then begin a precipitous decline.

Chinas economic data draw sharp scrutiny from experts analyzing global trends (February 4, 2013, The Washington Post)

Numbers in China have long faced suspicion, from optimistic recordings of visibly hazy air to the age of its Olympic gymnasts. But the credibility of its economic data is now coming under particular scrutiny, at a time when Chinas growing global role weighs on investors, analysts and governments worldwide, even as the countrys economy is slowing after years of unbridled growth.

China unveils major tax reforms to make rich pay more (February 6, 2013, The Guardian)

China has unveiled sweeping tax reforms to make wealthy state-owned firms, property speculators and the rich pay more to narrow the gap between the urban elite and hundreds of millions of rural poor. The plans approved by the state council China's cabinet also included commitments to push forward market-oriented interest rate reforms to give savers a better return and more security. Chief among the reforms is a requirement to raise the percentage of profits contributed by state-owned firms to the government by about five percentage points by 2015.

How can China address its coming labor crisis? (February 6, 2013, CNN)

The rapid decline of China's labor supply in the coming two decades could throw a wrench into the nation's economy. How the Chinese government can respond.

LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGE LEARNING

Chinese Grammar WikiTop 10 Chinese New Years Words (February 4, 2013, Fluent U)

Seven Reasons Chinese is Becoming Easier to Learn (February 7, 2013, ChinaSource Blog)

The study of Chinese as a second language is exploding around the globe, yet few Westerners today read, write and speak Chinese fluently. No wonder native speakers often say, with a certain satisfaction, their language is tai nan xue, "too hard to learn."

Out of the Blue Vocab Trap (February 7, 2013, Laowai Chinese)

In this post I offer some data, a little rant, and then three stories all meant to encourage us lowi-s not to give up on listening comprehension.

ARTICLES IN CHINESE

宗教政策在西藏 (Pacific Institute for Social Sciences)

LINKS FOR RESEARCHERS

Chinas Rigid Stability Yu Jianrong analyses a predicament (January 27, 2013, The China Story)

Abstract: Chinas particular form of social stability is one of rigid stability that is intimately connected with its authoritarian regime. This form of rigid stability is maintained via a mechanism of stability preservation through pressure. In practice, stability preservation through pressure is confronted by many challenges, including intensified conflicts of interest, various policy flaws related stability preservation, the development of information technology and increasing rights consciousness among citizens. A new line of thinking is currently needed in regard to stability preservation, with rights protection as its precursor and foundation. Rigid stability must give way to resilient stability, static stability must yield to dynamic stability, and stability preservation must become stability creation.

Vipers and Beasts in the Year of the Little Dragon (February 7, 2013, The China Story)

A general wariness surrounds the Snake, one of the twelve zoological signs of the traditional Chinese calendar, and not only because the reptile inspires fear and repulsion. The Chinese word snake she is homophonous with she to break or lose.

BOOKS

Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China, by Biana Bosker

Image credit: by Ash Carter, via Flickr