ZGBriefs

January 31, 2013

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FEATURED ARTICLE

China's ethnic Manchus rediscovering their roots (January 30, 2013, The Los Angeles Times)

Descended from a horse-riding nomadic people of northeastern China, the Manchus were the last imperial rulers of the country, establishing the Qing Dynasty, which lasted from 1644 until 1912. After the abdication of the last emperor, Pu Yi, his clan changed its name to Jin. The Yehenalas, related to Cixi, the empress dowager who was de facto ruler in the late 19th century, became Ye or Na. A century later, ethnic Manchus are rediscovering their roots.

GOVERNMENT / POLITICS / FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Beijing Observation: Xi Jinping the Man, by Gao Yu (January 26, 2013, Seeing Red in China)

Politically, Beijing has been shrouded in smog too, catching heightened attention inside and outside China. Last Thursday (Jan. 17), in a public lecture titled China in Transition at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Harvard professor Roderick MacFarquhar predicted that the likelihood of CCP reforming from within was very small, and reform would probably only be triggered by external, large-scale and eruptive events.

Chinas New Freight Plane Extends Military Modernization Program (January 26, 2013, Bloomberg)

China successfully tested a locally- built freight plane, two months after the debut of its fighter jet, boosting the nations efforts to use homegrown technology to expand defense capacity. The Yun-20, which had its maiden flight yesterday, can take a maximum load of 66 tons and is suited for long-distance transportation, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The plane will aid the armed forces and will help deliver disaster relief and humanitarian aid, according to the report.

Blind dissident says change is in the air in China (January 29, 2013, Washington Times)

Chinese citizens increasingly are speaking out against the repressive policies of their government, a blind Chinese dissident said Tuesday as he urged the international community to pressure Beijing to generate reforms. Chen Guangcheng, who was put under house arrest for standing up to Chinas one-child policy and forced abortions, said that more than 200,000 protests by Chinese citizens over the past few years show that change is in the air. More and more people are overcoming their fear to take action, he said.

In China, Most Politics Is Local (January 29, 2013, The New York Times)

Compared with other authoritarian regimes, the top leaders are generally perceived as having the peoples interests in mind, while the local authorities are blamed for what goes wrong in their daily lives. This regionally decentralized system has proved exceptionally effective in promoting economic liberalization and for the most part has helped maintain social stability even though it discourages political liberalization. But there is a real fear that frustration with governance will continue to increase without political reform.

Re-education Revisited (January 29, 2013, The New York Times)

How much of a reformer is Chinas new leader, Xi Jinping? The announcement in January that by years end China is going to stop using or even abolish Re-education Through Labor the notorious system instituted in the mid-1950s and modeled on the Soviet gulag could offer an important clue.

Guangdong to stop "laojiao" system in China (January 30, 2013, Xinhua)

South China's Guangdong Province is planning to end the "laojiao"re-education through laborsystem within the year, according to the provincial judicial department Tuesday. Guangdong has made preparation work to be the leading and exploratory region to stop the "laojiao" system, said Yan Zhichan, director of Guangdong Provincial Department of Justice. If the system is abolished, re-education institutions will no longer receive people. Those receiving re-education through labor will be released after expiration, Yan said. Public criticism of re-education through the labor system has grown.

China, Japan and the Islands: What Do the Tensions Mean?: A ChinaFile Conversation (January 30, 2013, ChinaFile)

How did the Diaoyu, Spratly, and Paracel islands come to replace Taiwan as the main source of tension for maritime Asia? And how are we to explain the fact that Chinas foreign policy toward its Asian neighbors has now morphed from such slogans as: Keep our heads down, and bide our time of the Deng Xiaoping era, and the notion of Peaceful rise elaborated by Hu Jintao as a way to reassure adjacent countries that Chinas ascendancy would not spell conflict, to the overtly nationalistic, even truculent, new posturing adopted by the Chinese government over a handful of uninhabited islands? To have alienated Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Borneo so thoroughly, after having expended so much earlier capital winning their hearts and minds with benevolent soft power efforts, is quite a dramatic turn-around in fortunes. Whats up?

The Role For The U.S. In The East China Sea Dispute (January 30, 2013, NPR)

On a recent visit to China, Joseph Nye, former chair of the National Intelligence Council, heard officials there describe this dispute in the context of Cold War containment policy. In a piece in The New York Times, he explains that the U.S. efforts in the region are seen as part of a campaign by the United States and its allies to isolate China and restrict its navy's access to the Pacific Ocean.

China to conduct naval drills in Pacific amid tension (January 30, 2013, Reuters)

Three advanced Chinese warships left port on Wednesday for naval drills and war games in the Western Pacific, and the fleet will likely pass through disputed waters in the East and South China Sea, state media said. The official Xinhua news agency described the maneuvers as routine, but they come as China is engaged in an increasingly bitter, high stakes dispute over maritime territory with Japan and with several Southeast Asia nations. "The fleet will carry out more than 20 types of exercises including naval confrontation, battle drills far out at sea, the protection of maritime rights and command and control," Xinhua cited the Defence Ministry as saying in a statement.

Chinese court convicts two Tibetans for 'encouraging self-immolation' (January 31, 2013, The Guardian)

Two Tibetan men in western China have received harsh sentences for encouraging other Tibetans to self-immolate, becoming the first people to be charged with "intentional homicide" in connection with the increasingly common form of protest against Chinese rule. A court in Sichuan province's Aba prefecture handed 40-year-old Lorang Konchok a death sentence with a two-year reprieve, a sentence which is frequently commuted to life imprisonment, China's official newswire Xinhua reported on Thursday. His 31-year-old nephew, Lorang Tsering, was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Chinese authorities have responded to a spike in self-immolations since the autumn by bolstering security in volatile Tibetan regions. They have only recently begun to treat abetting self-immolation as a criminal offence.

Watch: Chen Guangcheng on freedom, media, and China's future (February 1, 2013, Shanghaiist)

"If we want to have hope in China, the hope is with the people." It sounds like Chen Guangcheng has been reading some Orwell: "If there is hope, it lies in the proles." (1984) Rounding out his Washington D.C. visit with a PBS interview, Chen Guangcheng speaks about China's challenges as well as his hope for the country's future.

RELIGION

China Cuts Family Visits Of Jailed Christian (January 25, 2013, BosNewsLife)

The wife of jailed Christian house church leader Uyghur Alimujiang Yimiti has been told that she can no longer visit her husband every month in a Chinese prison, rights activists reported Friday, January 25. Instead, Gulinuer will only be allowed to see him once every three months, said advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

A Beijing Pastor Discusses the Vision of His Urban Church (I) (January 28, 2013, Chinese Church Voices)

This pastor of an unregistered urban church talks about the importance of vision and his churchs vision to serve the community. A medical professional by background, he understands the need to care for people holistically. As a result the church is active in promoting healthy marriages, providing educational opportunities, and addressing medical needs in the community. In so doing he believes they will have a positive impact on the masses of people in their midst.

SOCIETY / LIFE

Peak toil (January 26, 2013, The Economist)In the first of two articles about the impact of Chinas one-child policy, we look at the shrinking working-age population.

Photos: 40-day Spring Festival travel rush starts in China (January 27, 2013, Xinhua)

Survey of Chinas 24 most corrupt officials in 2012 (January 29, 2013, Danwei)

2012 was the annus horribilis of the trial by Weibo of government officials, their public humiliation and ultimate sacking in disgrace. More than ever before, last year witnessed multiple cases where government officials were implicated in sex videos and other corruption scandals that first appeared in full public view on the Chinese Internet and led ultimately to their dismissal. If it wasnt already before, the public image of government officials of various ranks in China was in crisis in 2012.

Why Do Chinese Billionaires Keep Ending Up in Prison? (January 29, 2013, The Atlantic)

In the last fifteen years, China has produced greater overall wealth than any other country. The number of its billionaires has gone from a mere 15 to around 250 in just six years, but for a number of these people this vaulted status is short-lived. According to one study, 17 percent of those on the list end up squealing their way to court or end up in jail. If they're lucky, those who are caught are investigated and jailed. Some are even executed.

Chinese Web Erupts With Widespread Calls for Change as Beijing Endures Airpocalypse 2.0 (January 29, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

Sina Weibo, Chinas most popular micro-blogging platform, has once again became a forum for citizens of all stripes to air their grievances. Among Sinas list of the ten hottest Weibo posts, four currently bemoan the state of Beijings air, with each author representing a different slice of Chinese society.

Top Internet phrases of the year 2012 in China (January 30, 2013, China Hush)

In December, Modern Express () published a list of the top internet words and phrases of the year 2012. Some of the most interesting are summarized below:

Car drivers in China exceeds 200 mln (January 30, 2013, Xinhua)

The number of people licensed to drive cars in China has exceeded 200 million, an increase of 26.47 million year on year, according to the Ministry of Public Security statistics on Wednesday. The statistics showed that there were 240 million automobiles on the roads by the end of 2012, and a total of 260 million license holders of all types of vehicles, including motorcycles.

An old historical hotel and the charm of Beijing that cant be buried by the smog (January 30, 2013, Lijia Zhangs Blog)

It was one of those days the capital was blanked under heavy smog. But life went on. Yesterday I explored southern Beijings Liulichang area with my Polish friend Kasia, who is a sinologist and who knows a great deal about Beijing and its rich history.

A New Way for Chinese Migrant Workers to Collect Back Pay: Go Viral on the Web (January 30, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

Millions of Chinese migrant workers fail to get paid for their work each year, in spite of ongoing government efforts to increase official monitoring of labor relations in the country. For some, however, attracting media attention and sympathy from Chinas online community has proven to be an effective method of pressuring errant employers into coughing up outstanding wages.

In China, The Government Isn't The Only Spy Game In Town (January 30, 2013, NPR)

China is becoming a surveillance state. In recent years, the government has installed more than 20 million surveillance cameras around the country. Officials use them to solve crimes, but also to monitor democracy advocates and critics of the regime in regions like Tibet. More and more Chinese people appear to be spying on each other as well.

The Southern Weekly incident, an exercise in citizen action (January 31, 2013, China Media Project)

Social harmony and peaceful social transition can be achieved in China today only through the remaking of state-society relations. The recent Southern Weekly incident, in which people from diverse social backgrounds rallied behind one of Chinas leading newspapers and called for an end to censorship, provides a constructive example of how social movements might promote such a transition.

China's smog continues to wreak havoc video (January 31, 2013, The Guardian)

The haze which has consumed much of China for weeks continues to cause major disruption to civilians. A 40-car pile-up in the northern Tianjin Municipality caused major delays, with 100 more cars being abandoned on the highway. Air pollution, which has reached 'hazardous' levels, has also caused health concerns and airport delays

EDUCATION / CULTURE / TRAVEL

Chinese island of Hainan prepares to host surfing event (January 29, 2013, BBC)

The island of Hainan in China is hosting a professional surf event this week. Surfing is still a relatively new sport in the country, but more and more Chinese people are taking it up.

HEALTH

Beijing Air Akin to Living in Smoking Lounge: Chart of the Day (January 30, 2013, Bloomberg)

Beijings air, which has exceeded the World Health Organizations healthy limit every day this year, is similar to that in an airport smoking lounge.

SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY / ENVIRONMENT

China's plan to build hydro dams over Salween river in pictures (January 29, 2013, The Guardian)

Asia's last free flowing river originates in Tibet, runs through Yunnan and flows into Burma and Thailand. The folds and bends it creates sustain millions of people and a rich biodiversity of plants and animals. A mega plan to build multiple dams threaten both local people and wildlife.

China now burning as much coal as the rest of the world combined (January 29, 2013, Washington Post)

Want a better sense for why climate change is such a daunting problem? Check out this striking new chart from the U.S. Energy Information Administration: []Chinas coal use grew 9 percent in 2011, rising to 3.8 billion tons. At this point, the country is burning nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined.

Chinas Air Pollution Problem: Whose Responsibility? (January 30, 2013, China Real Time)

With Beijing suffering its fourth bout of heavy smog this month, figures ranging from Chinese premier Wen Jiabao to real estate mogul Pan Shiyi have issued calls for the government and industry to get serious about pollution. But the governments flagship English-language newspaper China Daily is putting the onus on another group to help tackle the smog problem: regular people. In a front-page story on Wednesday, the paper said a joint effort was required to fight air pollution, arguing that citizens should do their part by taking more public transportation and driving less.

China's Insatiable Demand For Timber Destroys Cambodia's Forests (January 30, 2013, NPR)

Cambodia's forests are being destroyed at a dizzying pace, with much of the wood destined for China. Much of the logging is carried out illegally and people who get in the way of the loggers face violence and in some cases death.

China's coal conundrum as smog worsens (January 30, 2013, BBC)

Locals in Datong call it the coal capital of China - and it is not hard to see why. Outside the city you can see enormous mining towers and buildings scarring the landscape. At one coal pit the bulldozers are hard at work. They push huge mounds of coal close to the waiting trucks. The air is filthy, blackened by the coal dust. This is a dirty, grimy business but in China it is crucial work. Coal has fuelled the country's economic boom, with consumption tripling in little over a decade. Currently, China burns almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined. But that is leaving many cities, including Beijing, choking on hazardous smog.

China hackers' hit New York Times (January 31, 2013, BBC)

Hackers from China have "persistently" infiltrated the New York Times for the last four months, the US paper says. It said the attacks coincided with its report into claims that the family of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had amassed a multi-billion dollar fortune.

BUSINESS / ECONOMICS / FOREIGN TRADE

Can China keep growing? (January 28, 2013, East Asia Forum)

Yet theres nothing automatic or mechanical that guarantees the Chinese economy will go ticking along at 7 or 8 per cent over the coming decade. Quite apart from adjustment to continuing weakness in external markets, there are challenges at home that, not met, could knock it right off course.

Chinese Firm Will Run Strategic Pakistani Port (January 31, 2013, The New York Times)

Pakistan is handing management control of a strategic but commercially troubled deep-sea port to a Chinese company, the minister for information confirmed Thursday. The minister, Qamar Zaman Kaira, said that control of the port at Gwadar, near Pakistans border with Iran, would pass from the Port of Singapore Authority to a company he identified as China Overseas Port Holdings, in a move that had been anticipated for some time. Mr. Kaira said the Chinese company would inject funds into the Gwadar port, which has failed to meet the lofty goals set by the military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf on its completion in late 2006 and now lies largely unused.

ARTICLES IN CHINESE

图说天朝】宣传与现实 (Propaganda and Reality) (January 30, 2013, China Digital Times)

[a photo taken on Tiananmen Square on a particularly smoggy day]

 

2013年基督徒过春节——试说“新”语 (January 30, 2013, Gospel Times)

LINKS FOR RESEARCHERS

Photos of Tibet during the Cultural Revolution (January 26, 2013, Invisible Tibet)
This installment ofFP‘s Once Upon a Time series shows the Land of Snows from a long-forgotten period, when Tibet’s enemy wasn’t China, but itself.

China’s Rigid Stability – Yu Jianrong 于建嵘 analyses a predicament (January 27, 2013, The China Story)
Social stability’ is the most pressing socio-political issue driving the governance agenda in China today. It is generally understood to refer to the political and social security that accompanies orderly and stable social relations within communities and between individuals and the state at large. The imperative of stability maintenance stems from the anxieties and uncertainties of the party-state, which fears that destabilizing social activities may threaten not only the success of China’s economic agenda but also, more crucially, political stability and, ultimately, the very survival of the Party and the People’s Republic China as it is presently constituted. Growing social dissent has seriously called into question the capacity of the Chinese Communist Party to manage China’s society efficiently and effectively, while, at the same time, preserving control over it in a legitimate fashion.

RESOURCES

Beijing air pollution app (iTunes)

BOOKS

The 2012 Awards for the Top 10 Books in China (January 25, 2013, Inside-Out)
The annual awards competition for the 10 best books published in China was launched in 2005. It is co-sponsored by Hong Kong Phoenix TV’s book channel and Beijing’s Publishers magazine. The 2012 results, divided into five categories, are translated below. Notably, the list includes 4 foreign books (links provided) translated into Chinese, two of them I’m familiar with. It provides a glance into what kind of foreign books are catching the attention of Chinese readers.

A Protestant Church in Communist China: Moore Memorial Church Shanghai, 1949-1989 (January 29, 2013, Global China Center)
This fine historical study traces the vicissitudes of a major Protestant church in Shanghai, from its beginnings in 1887 almost to the present, with a focus on its experiences during the first forty years of the communist era. Though ostensibly limited to a single congregation, the book ranges widely, and manages to place this one institution within the broader arena of Christianity in China in the past one hundred twenty years. Though Moore Memorial Church (MMC) is unique, the author manages to use its history both to explain its particular role as a large institutional urban church and to show how it fits into the overall story of Protestantism in China.

Chinese translation of James Joyce becomes best-seller (January 31, 2013, BBC)
A Chinese version of James Joyce’s novel Finnegans Wake, which took eight years to translate, has become a surprising hit in the country. Publishers said that a modest initial run of 8,000 copies of the book sold out a little over a month after going on sale. The book was promoted on a series of billboards across Shanghai and Beijing, reportedly a first for China. A second edition is being printed to meet the demand.

LINKS FOR RESEARCHERS

Photos of Tibet during the Cultural Revolution (January 26, 2013, Invisible Tibet)

This installment ofFP's Once Upon a Time series shows the Land of Snows from a long-forgotten period, when Tibet's enemy wasn't China, but itself.

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

Social stability is the most pressing socio-political issue driving the governance agenda in China today. It is generally understood to refer to the political and social security that accompanies orderly and stable social relations within communities and between individuals and the state at large. The imperative of stability maintenance stems from the anxieties and uncertainties of the party-state, which fears that destabilizing social activities may threaten not only the success of Chinas economic agenda but also, more crucially, political stability and, ultimately, the very survival of the Party and the Peoples Republic China as it is presently constituted. Growing social dissent has seriously called into question the capacity of the Chinese Communist Party to manage Chinas society efficiently and effectively, while, at the same time, preserving control over it in a legitimate fashion.

RESOURCES

Beijing air pollution app (iTunes)

BOOKS

The 2012 Awards for the Top 10 Books in China (January 25, 2013, Inside-Out)

The annual awards competition for the 10 best books published in China was launched in 2005. It is co-sponsored by Hong Kong Phoenix TV's book channel and Beijing's Publishers magazine. The 2012 results, divided into five categories, are translated below. Notably, the list includes 4 foreign books (links provided) translated into Chinese, two of them I'm familiar with. It provides a glance into what kind of foreign books are catching the attention of Chinese readers.

A Protestant Church in Communist China: Moore Memorial Church Shanghai, 1949-1989 (January 29, 2013, Global China Center)This fine historical study traces the vicissitudes of a major Protestant church in Shanghai, from its beginnings in 1887 almost to the present, with a focus on its experiences during the first forty years of the communist era. Though ostensibly limited to a single congregation, the book ranges widely, and manages to place this one institution within the broader arena of Christianity in China in the past one hundred twenty years. Though Moore Memorial Church (MMC) is unique, the author manages to use its history both to explain its particular role as a large institutional urban church and to show how it fits into the overall story of Protestantism in China.

Image credit: Family in Lanzhou, China 1944, by Ralph Repo, via Flickr