January 3, 2014

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Thanks so much to all who made donations to ZGBriefs throughout 2013. We are grateful for your continued support. The ZGBriefs Team


ZGBriefs: Readers Top Picks for 2013 (December 28, 2013, ChinaSource Blog)

Since it's the end of the year, we decided to jump on the "Top Posts" bandwagon that is careening through the blogosphere. However, since each ZGBriefs post includes dozens of stories, we are highlighting here the top ten most clicked links of the year in other words, your favorite stories.


China corruption: aide to ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang investigated (December 29, 2013, The Guardian)

A former aide to retired Chinese security tsar Zhou Yongkang has been placed under investigation for corruption, the government said, the latest move targeting people close to Zhou who is himself subject to a corruption investigation.

Special holiday round-up (December 30, 2013, The Economist)

LIKE the rest of the staff at The Economist, Analects has endeavoured to keep the holiday spirit intact by keeping as quiet as possible. But in our special holiday double issue you will find plenty of China-related articles to hold you over until the print edition resumes publication after the new year.

Chinese police kill eight in Xinjiang 'terrorist attack' (December 30, 2013, Reuters)

Chinese police shot dead eight people during a "terrorist attack" in the western region of Xinjiang on Monday, the government said, raising the death toll from violent clashes there to at least 35 since November. The attack happened in Yarkand county close to the old Silk Road city of Kashgar in Xinjiang's south, the regional government said in a statement on its news website (www.ts.cn).

Why Is Chinese President Xi Jinpings Simple Meal a Big Deal? (December 30, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

Chinese President Xi Jinping walks into the Qing Feng Bun Shop. After lining up like everyone else, he orders steamed buns, pig innard soup, and stir-fried vegetables for about $3.50. After paying for the meal himself, he sits down at a small table.It sounds like a joke without a punch line. But Xis Dec. 28 lunchtime visit to a restaurant in western Beijing represents a striking contrast to the usual way the Communist Party presents itself to the Chinese people.

Three Predictions for Xi Jinping in the New Year (January 1, 2014, China Real Time)

Former political star Bo Xilai was publicly excoriated then thrown behind bars in 2013, while Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping found new ways to reach out to the public. Both show a party working to get its message out about corruption and its common cause with the public, even as it works to keep power for itself. What that in mind, here are some developments to watch for in the new year.

China's military presence is growing. Does a superpower collision loom? (January 1, 2014, The Guardian)

Who holds the key to the future of East Asia? As US influence recedes, arch-enemies China and Japan are flexing their muscles.

Chinese cook rescued by Japan after trying to fly balloon to disputed islands (January 1, 2014, The Guardian)

A Chinese cook who tried to fly a hot-air balloon to islands claimed by both China and Japan has been rescued by Japan's coastguard after crashing into the sea. Xu Shuaijun, 35, crashed on Wednesday after hitting turbulence as he approached the islands, known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diayou, the coastguard said.

China may face a revolution of rising expectations (January 1, 2014, The Washington Examiner)

Regime members, like French aristocrats, no longer believe in their own ideology but cling to power. The Chinese people have come to expect rapidly rising living standards, and may abandon the regime if it doesnt produce. Regime elites must be careful, like Deng in 1989, or the rulers will lose everything and chaos will be unleashed on China.

China's President Xi Jinping leads a Communist charm offensive (January 2, 2014, Los Angeles Times)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has a new years resolution for the Communist Party: Be more charming. In a nation where senior leaders have long seemed distant and remote, revealing few personal details, interacting minimally with ordinary people and enjoying privileges remote from the masses, Xi seems to be trying to loosen the stylistic straight jacket. On Saturday, he paid a surprise visit to a Beijing dumpling shop, lining up and paying for his own $3.50 lunch. News of his visit quickly went viral, and his order six steamed buns, a plate of stewed pig intestines and steamed vegetables has quickly become known as the "President's Combo."

Youre in Good Hands With the Communists (January 2, 2014, China Real Time)

Chinas Communist Party is with you along the waythats the catchphrase from a new advertisement for the party. In a three-minute video that mysteriously appeared on the Internet in recent days, the Communist Party appears to be embarking on a fresh advertising campaign. The pitch: the party as your valuable partner. On the road chasing our dreams, we walk side by side, sharing weal and woe, transcending differences and shaping the future together, the videos narrator says in English. The Communist Party of China is with you along the way.

China poll fraud: top official Tong Mingqian sacked (January 2, 2014, BBC)

A senior Chinese official has been sacked in relation to a major electoral fraud scandal, the Communist Party's discipline watchdog said. Tong Mingqian, a Hunan official, was negligent and failed to handle the cases of bribery, the watchdog said. More than 500 lawmakers in Hunan resigned last week after it emerged they had accepted bribes to elect provincial parliament members.

China's first aircraft carrier completes sea trials (January 2, 2014, The Guardian)

China's first aircraft carrier has successfully completed sea trials in the South China Sea, state media has reported. The Liaoning returned to port on Wednesday after a 37-day voyage, the official Xinhua news agency said. Citing an unnamed naval source, Xinhua said the aircraft carrier had tested its combat system and conducted a formation practice and "attained the anticipated objectives". "All tests and training programmes went well as scheduled," it said. Aircraft, naval vessels and submarines also participated in the Liaoning's tests.


Video: A Christmas Eve Service (December 30, 2013, Chinese Church Voices)

An American working in China posted a video on YouTube of a Christmas Eve service at a Three-Self Church. We thought our readers would enjoy seeing what a Christmas Eve service in China is like the choir, the preaching, and of course, the performances!! Enjoy.

Chinas Celebrity Monk (December 31, 2013, World of Chinese)

Master Yancan is not a stereotypical monk; chubby, bucktoothed, he speaks in a heavy Hebei accent, though he claims that he practices Mandarin almost everyday by talking to vegetables and dogs. He has a weibo account, which now has 21 million followers. He published 13 books, all of them rated over four stars on Amazon. He appears in popular reality shows. In short, Master Yancan may not be the greatest Buddhist monk in China, but he is definitely the most popular one.


Year in Pictures: 2103 (December 28, 2013, BBC)

China Relaxes One-Child Policy After 30 Years (December 28, 2013, Yahoo!)

China's top legislature has decided to reform the country's one-child policy for the first time in 30 years. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress - China's rubber-stamp parliament - on Saturday passed a resolution to allow couples to have two children if either parent is an only child, according to Xinhua, the state news agency.

The Chinese village with the secret to long life (December 30, 2013, The Guardian)

Tourists paying homage to Bama's centenarians are bringing in millions. But the Guangxi county's success may be its undoing.

In China, one in five children live in rural villages without their parents (December 30, 2013, Washington Post)

More than 61 million children about one-fifth of the kids in China live in villages without their parents. Most are the offspring of peasants who have flocked to cities in one of the largest migrations in human history. For three decades, the migrants cheap labor has fueled Chinas rise as an economic juggernaut. But the city workers are so squeezed by high costs and long hours that many send their children to live with elderly relatives in the countryside.

China doctor tried for trafficking babies (December 31, 2013, BBC)

A Chinese obstetrician is on trial for stealing newborn babies and selling them to child traffickers, a court and state media report. Zhang Shuxia was accused of selling seven babies. She told the parents their infants were sick, and convinced them to give them up, reports said. Ms Zhang admitted the charges in a court in Fuping, Shaanxi province. The case emerged after two parents went to the police, suspecting their child had been abducted.

 Writing For Prostitutes Jailed in China, Forced Labor With No Recourse (January 1, 2014, The New York Times)

The murky penal system for prostitutes, custody and education, is strikingly similar to re-education through labor. Centers run by the Ministry of Public Security hold women for up to two years and often require them to toil in workshops seven days a week for no pay, producing toys, disposable chopsticks and dog diapers, some of which the women say are packaged for export.


A Narrowing Path for Chinas Scholars (December 29, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

Chinese academia has increasingly had to bend to the will of the party, which on Dec. 23 publicly announced a new wave of Marxist campaigns in schools and colleges which will incorporate socialist core values in the curriculum.

Getting Educated (December 30, 2013, Sinostand)

I recently came across this documentary called Education, Education (released a year ago but new to me) exploring the hardship young Chinese are facing in leveraging their education for a decent job. It follows a college graduate struggling to find work, a poor rural girl deciding what she should do after failing the gaokao, and a recruiter touting a sham private college. The film was advertised with the question, Has higher education become a cause of poverty rather than a route out of it? This, I think, is a depressingly relevant question to be asking in China today.

The Historical Record January 1, 1912: Sun Yat-sen named president of Republic of China (January 1, 2014, Jottings from the Granite Studio)

On January 1, 1912, Sun Yat-sen was named the new president of the new Republic of China. But since Sun would hand over the presidency to an ethically-challenged power-hungry thug before the first spring thaw of 1912, this wasnt quite the new beginning everybody had been hoping for. Sun did change the calendar, which meant that January 1, 1912 was not just the start of the Minguo (Republican) era but also the beginning of Chinas use of the Gregorian calendar.


Sit the Month (December 29, 2013, World of Chinese)

When Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, or Kate Middleton as the more common oiks know her, gave birth to the royal baby, she stepped out to greet the worlds media the next day. Many Chinese looked on aghast: How can they treat her so cruelly, do they not let her sit the month? Sitting the month (zu yuzi), is a traditional postpartum custom observed in China and several other East Asian countries.


5 Things to Watch: Business in China in 2014 (December 28, 2013, Wall Street Journal)

Into this upcoming uncertain Year of the Horse, China Real Time will be watching a number of business stories as a gauge of the kind of market China is becoming.

China local government debt surges by 70% (December 30, 2013, BBC)

China has local government debts of 17.7 trillion yuan ($2.9tn), up 70% from three years ago, according to an official report. China's government asked the National Audit Office (NAO) in July to do a round-up of the debts outstanding at a local level. The report showed some local governments were using new loans to repay more than a fifth of their debt. China has a total government debt of about 58% of its economic output.

China debt: The biggest 'known, unknown' in 2014? (December 30, 2013, CNBC)

As China's local government debt levels balloon to $3 trillion, one analyst told CNBC that China's debt sentence is the biggest "known unknown" risk to global financial markets in 2014.

China factories lose some of their mojo (January 1, 2014, CNN)

China's factories lost some momentum in December, adding to worries that growth in the world's second-largest economy may soften in the new year.

Wal-Mart recalls donkey meat in China (January 2, 2014, BBC)

Wal-Mart has recalled a donkey meat product in China after tests showed that it contained DNA of other animals. Wal-Mart says it will reimburse customers who bought the "Five Spice" donkey meat and the US firm is also helping local authorities with an investigation into its local supplier. The Shandong Food and Drug Administration said the product contained fox meat.Donkey meat is a popular snack in some parts of China.


Pollution Rising, Chinese Fear for Soil and Food (December 30, 2013, The New York Times)

With awareness of Chinas severe environmental degradation rising, there has been a surge of anxiety in the last year among ordinary Chinese and some officials over soil pollution in the countrys agricultural centers and the potential effects on the food chain. In recent years, the government has conducted widespread testing of soil across China, but it has not released the results, adding to the fear and making it more difficult for most Chinese to judge what they eat and pinpoint the offending factories.

Things to Watch: Chinas Energy and Environmental Policy (December 31, 2014, Wall Street Journal)

An overhaul of Chinas energy and environmental policies will be in focus next year as the country struggles to balance economic growth with protecting the environment. In November, Chinas central government said in its landmark reform plan that it would allow markets to take a more decisive role in the economy, a signal that the era of cheap, tightly controlled energy prices might be over. Here are some major energy and environmental-policy reforms to look out for in 2014.


The 10 Chinese Movies of 2013 (January 1, 2014, China Whisper)

2013 draws to a close; this is an excellent year for Chinese movies as we`ve seen many fantastic movies. Here weve got the line-up of the 10 films by box office in mainland China.


Harbin ice-sculpture festival in pictures (December 30, 2013, The Guardian)

The Ice and Snow World in Harbin in north-east China's Heilongjiang province has opened to visitors. Some 180,000 cubic metres of ice and 150,000 cubic metres of snow were used to build the 600,000-square-metre ice wonderland.

Palace Museum to be closed on Mondays since Jan. 1, 2014 (December 31, 2013, Xinhua)

China's Palace Museum, better known as the Forbidden City, opened a fan club on Saturday and a Wechat account will go live on New Year's Day.


Chinese proficiency in 1.7 years *really*? (January 1, 2014, China Hope Live)

New Years is a great time to plan out language learning goals. But it helps to be smart about it.


China of My Mind (December 29, 2013, The New York Times)

When I tell people that I have recently published a novel set in China, one of the first questions they ask is whether I've been there. My response seems to be a letdown. The expectant look on their faces shifts as they wonder why I chose to write about a place Ive never visited. Sometimes I sense incredulity. What makes me think I can write about China?River of Dust, by Virginia Pye


Wu Jiaxiang (The China Story)

Wu Jiaxiang is a prominent mainland social commentator and author.

ARTICLES IN CHINESE (Pacific Institute for Social Sciences)

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: Joann Pittman