July 18, 2013

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FEATURED ARTICLE  Seoul Commitment (July 18, 2013, Chinese Church Voices)

In June of this year about a hundred church leaders from Mainland China joined their counterparts from around Asia and beyond for the Asian Church Leaders Forum, held in Seoul, Korea. In response to the conferences reaffirmation of the 2010 Cape Town Commitment the participants from China (many of whom had planned to attend the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town but were prevented from doing so) drafted their own commitment to engage as partners with the global church in world evangelization. Their statement is here reproduced in its entirety.


Censoring the News Before It Happens (July 10, 2013, New York Review of Books)

Every day in China, hundreds of messages are sent from government offices to website editors around the country that say things like, Report on the new provincial budget tomorrow, but do not feature it on the front page, make no comparisons to earlier budgets, list no links, and say nothing that might raise questions; Downplay stories on Kim Jung-uns facelift; and Allow stories on Deputy Mayor Zhangs embezzlement but omit the comment boxes. Why, one might ask, do censors not play it safe and immediately block anything that comes anywhere near offending Beijing? Why the modulation and the fine-tuning?

China court compensates labour camp mother Tang Hui (July 15, 2013, BBC)

A court has granted compensation to a mother who was sent to a Chinese labour camp after she sought punishment for her daughter's attackers, reports say. Tang Hui was awarded 2,941 yuan ($479, 317) as compensation for "infringing against her personal freedom" and "causing mental damage", Xinhua said. She campaigned for harsher punishments for the men who kidnapped and raped her young daughter. Public outcry followed after Tang Hui spent over a week in a labour camp.

Tough Questions After Chinese Court Mishandles Execution (July 16, 2013, China Real Time)

A Chinese courts bumbling efforts to explain why it executed a convicted property developer without notifying his family have stoked public outrage and invited new public scrutiny of the case while also reviving an acrimonious debate over use of the death penalty in the country. Social media sites have been buzzing with anger ever since the daughter of businessman Zeng Chengjie went online to reveal that she hadnt been told her father was dead until after his execution on Friday.

China crackdown on corruption campaigners (July 16, 2013, The Guardian)

Three Chinese activists campaigning for officials to disclose their assets will be put on trial in a co-ordinated crackdown that underscores the limits of an anti-corruption push by the new government. China has detained at least 15 activists in recent months who were involved in a campaign pushing for officials to publicly disclose their wealth. Rights groups have described it as the first major crackdown by the new government on activists and the move has raised fears that an official campaign of reprisals has begun. Liu Ping, Li Sihua and Wei Zhongping were detained in late April in Xinyu in the southern province of Jiangxi, and accused of illegal assembly. They face a maximum of five years in prison, if convicted.

Six Chinese Megaprojects Across the Globe (July 16, 2013, Time)

The Middle Kingdom has been extending its reach far into Africa, Latin America and Europe with a variety of contentious industrial and infrastructure schemes

China detains activist Xu Zhiyong (July 17, 2103, BBC)

China has detained a lawyer known for his anti-corruption and human rights campaigns, reports say. Xu Zhiyong was detained on Tuesday on suspicion of having "gathered crowds to disrupt public order", rights groups and media report. The police also confiscated computers and phones from his home in Beijing, US-based Human Rights in China says. Mr Xu, who has campaigned for government transparency, was placed under house arrest on 12 April.


10 Troubling Tendencies in Chinese Evangelism (July 16, 2013, JacksonWu)

The Chinese know how to do multiplication. Evangelism is a trademark of the Chinese church. One cannot help but be encouraged and spurred on by Chinese brothers and sisters. Its easy then to forget that even Chinese believers may have certain weaknesses or troubling tendencies. Chinese Christians are famous for their boldness. However, boldness is not the sum total of evangelism.

A Gospel Team at West Lake (July 17, 2013, Chinese Church Voices)

The Chinese proverb Heaven above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below is an illustration of the beauty and affluence of these two cities. In Hangzhou, West Lake is a symbol of beauty that is well known both at home and abroad. And in this heaven on earth the seeds of the gospel are being sown. On May 1 at 8pm a gospel team gathered on the bank of West Lake in Hangzhou to share the love and joy of Christ through music. Their method of sharing the gospel attracted attention from the crowds at West Lake and garnered praise from the online community. Their actions also served as a reminder that the real danger lies in not proclaiming the gospel message.


Who Is Watching Chinas Left-behind Children? (July 11, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

As reports of sexual assault and even murder of children have triggered public debate in China, the safety of the countrys youth has become a recurring issue. A July 4 incident in which two left-behind children suffocated to death when accidentally trapped in a wooden box recently inspired one microblogger to call for greater care for the safety of an even more vulnerable subset of Chinas youth, the so-called left-behind children, or those who remain in rural areas while their parents earn a living as migrant workers in Chinas big cities.

China's Last Gunslingers (July, 2013, National Geographic)

Far from the hustle and bustle of China's exploding cities, residents of a village in Guizhou Province have been setting off explosions of their own. The village, Biasha (sometimes spelled Basha), is home to a population with a long history of gun ownership. Unlike in most of China, though, the men of Biasha still use the weapons. Though firearms have their roots in Chinagunpowder was invented thereguns are tightly regulated and gun ownership by citizens is prohibited.

San Francisco crash survivors return to China (July 13, 2013, Xinhua)

Thirty-one survivors of a fatal plane crash that occurred in San Francisco on July 6 returned to China on Saturday. The returnees are students and teachers from Jiangshan Middle School in east China's Zhejiang Province who traveled with a 34-member group to the U.S. to attend a summer camp.

3rd Chinese girl aboard Asiana dies (July 14 2013, Shanghai Daily)

A Chinese girl died in a San Francisco hospital on Friday, becoming the third fatality in the crash of an Asiana Airlines jet at the city's airport last Saturday, doctors and Chinese officials said. Meanwhile, authorities confirmed that a fire truck ran over one of the other victims. The girl was identified as Liu Yipeng last night by Chinese media. She went to school in the city of Jiangshan in Zhejiang Province with the other two girls killed in the crash. They were all 16 years old.

China's unfeasible plan for the 'grey tide': force people to visit their parents (June 15, 2013, The Guardian)

The growing number of elderly Chinese people is a demographic timebomb that won't be defused by a new law passed this month.

A Booming Chinatown in South Africa (July 15, 2013, China in Africa)

Another fascinating, detailed read on Africa's new Chinese migrants, by a gifted writer. Ufrieda Ho tells the inside story of Cyrildeneone of Johannesburg's two Chinatownsand the people who make their lives there.

Slideshow: Rocky transition from farm to town in China (July 15, 2013, The New York Times)

China DIY (July 16, 2013, The Talking Monkey)

I received a note in my mailbox from Shanghai Gas the local utility not the result from consuming the local cuisine saying that they needed to send a technician to change the gas lines to my stove and asking if I would be home between, I think, 9:00 a.m. Saturday and 2017 (yea, theyre not great planners at Shanghai Gas). The techno-dude came, miraculously, on the appointed Saturday morning, and did his gas magic, pronouncing his job done in 10 minutes. As I walked him to the door, he said off-handedly, Oh, when they restart the gas later this afternoon, your old stove might not work with the new gas system. Have a nice day.

Video: New Style in Old Beijing (July 16, 2013, China Digital Times)

A video at The New York Times by visual journalist Jonah M. Kessel looks at street fashion in Beijings ancient Gulou neighborhood, featuring short interviews with Beijings young and fashionable urbanites.

Video: Woman shocked to death after answering iPhone (July 17, 2013, NBC)

Chinese phone users are talking this week about the surprising death of a Chinese air stewardess after she was apparently electrocuted while answering a phone call on a charging iPhone. CNBC's Eunice Yoon in Beijing reports.

In Hong Kong, a Once Prominent Parsi Community Faces Demise (July 17, 2013, Time)

It isnt just Modys contribution to Hong Kong thats in danger of being forgotten, but the contributions of all the old Parsi families, like the Rutonjees, Shroffs, Parekhs, Powrees and many others. Together they helped forge the banking, ferry and academic systems of this Chinese city, but they are now slipping through the historical net ignored by dominant historical narratives that either focus on British colonial rule or establish the city in a broader Chinese context, but gloss over the fact that then, as now, Hong Kong has not just been British or Han Chinese but a place of many cultures and ethnic groups.

In Today's Beijing, Flash Ferraris And Fading Traditions (July 18, 2013, NPR)

Before it became China's capital in 1949, Beijing was a fairly provincial little city of 2 million people. Today, it has grown into a megalopolis of some 18 million people. I've recently returned to the city after a few years away, the first thing that strikes me is: Who the heck are all of these 20-somethings and how did they get to be driving all these Ferraris and Maseratis?

Man kills foreigner with knife in Beijing (July 18, 2013, Xinhua)

Two people, including a foreigner, were killed Wednesday by a knife-wielder in Beijing.In a message tweeted on Sina Weibo, China's popular social media platform, Beijing police said the male suspect is not a local resident and the attack occurred at around 5 p.m. near Joy City Chaoyang, a major shopping mall in the east of the city. The two victims were found dead when police rushed to the scene and the suspect was put under control.


China launches crackdown on drug industry (July 17, 2013, AP)

China announced a crackdown Wednesday on misconduct in its drug market, stepping up pressure on the problem-prone industry while it pursues a bribery investigation of GlaxoSmithKline. The six-month crackdown is aimed at stamping out unauthorized drug production, improper online drug retailing and sales of fake traditional Chinese medicines, the State Food and Drug Administration said.


Chinas Propaganda Department Rolls out Recommended Reading List, Parents Reject Brainwashing Books (July 16, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

Chinas Central Propaganda Department, Ministry of Education, and Central Communist Youth League made waves yesterday when they released a jointly developed a list of 100 books and a list of 100 movies, documentaries, and television shows that they plan to promote heavily among Chinas youth. They expounded on the purpose of the list: A magazine that covers literature in China, iRead, posted the lists on Sina Weibo, an enormously popular microblogging platform. The post was shared over 22,000 times, and drew over 6,000 comments, most calling the lists an attempt to brainwash Chinas children.


China's finance minister signals growth may fall below 7% (July 12, 2013, BBC)

China's finance minister has hinted that economic growth may fall far below 7% in the second half of the year. Speaking in Washington, Lou Jiwei thought growth for 2013 as a whole would be 7%, but said that even this may not be the "bottom line". That figure is below Beijing's official 7.5% target, and below most economists' forecasts for the country. Mr Lou's comments highlight how rapidly the country is slowing down, as Beijing seeks to rein in a construction boom.

Hiring Independent Contractors In China. Dont Do It. (July 12, 2013, China Law Blog)

We spoke with a software company the other day that has nearly fifteen independent contractors in China, who it views as part of the corporate family. This company was contacting us to see about forming a WFOE in China. They told me that they were not in any rush. The first thing I did was to ask whether they knew that what they were doing in China is completely illegal.

China 'suffers worst flight delays' (July 12, 2013, BBC)

China's major airports have the worst flight delays in the world, a report from travel industry monitor FlightStats says. According to figures from around the world in June, Beijing and Shanghai airports came bottom for on-time flights, the US-based firm said. Eight of the 10 worst-performing Asian airlines in terms of delays were Chinese carriers, the report added. The report did not explain the reasons for poor performance.

Mr Li's big idea: free trade zone for Shanghai (July 16, 2013, The Analects)

If press reports are to be believed, Shanghai's dreams of surpassing Hong Kong to become the region's leading financial centre may have a powerful supporter in Beijing. According to Xinhua, the official government newswire, the ruling State Council has approved plans championed by Li Keqiang, the newish premier, for an ambitious free-trade zone in the mainland's second city. The idea has set the country's press and local wags alight with speculation about how far such an idea could go.

Baidu buys China app store for $1.9bn (July 16, 2013, BBC)

China's largest internet search engine company, Baidu, says it has agreed to pay $1.9bn (1.25bn) to buy a major developer of app stores in China. The proposed deal is to take over 91 Wireless owned by NetDragon Websoft, a Hong Kong-list company. Baidu is looking to go beyond its search offering and compete against rivals Alibaba and Tencent.

China Asks: How Slow Can We Go? (July 17, 2013, China Real Time)

Chinas policymakers have signaled they can tolerate slower economic growth this year. But there are lots of people asking just how much tolerance there is and whether there is a line in the sand somewhere that if crossed will prompt Beijings economic top guns to pull out their arsenal of economic stimulants.


Video: Floods destroy parts of Sichuan province in China (July 12, 2013, BBC)

Torrential rain and landslides in western China have left more than 200 people dead or missing in recent days, state media and the government said. Floodwaters surging through Sichuan province have swept away bridges, houses and hillsides. It is the worst flooding in 50 years in some areas, with more than 100,000 people forced to leave their homes.

China smartphone owners swell number of internet users (July 17, 2013, BBC)

China now has 591 million internet users, according to the latest official figures from the country. The China Internet Network Information Centre added that 464 million citizens accessed the net via smartphones or other wireless devices. The headline figure marks a 10% rise on last year and indicates 44% of the country's population uses the web and other net services. The rapid growth is reflected in the valuations of some local tech firms.


Scandal in China over the museum with 40,000 fake artefacts (July 17, 2013, The Guardian)

A museum in China has a problem. It seems to have a few fakes in its vast collection. Well, as many as 40,000. Everything it owns may be nothing more than a mass of crude forgeries. Wei Yingjun, a consultant to the Jibaozhai Museum in Jizhou, about 150 miles south of Beijing, insists the situation is not that bad. He is "quite positive" that 80 or even more pieces out of tens of thousands in the museum are authentic.

Manchu underwear (July 18, 2013, Frog in a Well)

So, I was reading the 1911 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, specifically the entry on China. For those of you who dont know it, the 1911 edition is considered to be a classic because it had a higher level of really well-known contributors than any before or since. Given the date it was published, it also give you a a great picture of the late-Victorian Anglo-American mindset. And its on-line.


Highway to Heaven: Qinghai's Route S101 (July 13, 2013, Life on Nanchang Lu)

We were back in China again last week, the whole family this time, and had nine days to fill – but which road in which part of this vast country should we choose? We decided on Qinghai province's south-east corner, bordering the Tibetan Plateau. This part of the world is remote and sparsely populated, full of nomadic Tibetan yak and goat herders, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and wild natural scenery – high hills, grasslands, sparkling rivers and mountains.

Bathe Like A Beijinger: Old School Bathhouses You Can Still Try (July 15, 2013, The Beijinger)

The bathhouse is a wondrous place of braggadocio and ball-busting, of camaraderie and, above all, cleanliness. Here's the details on two of Beijing's bathhouses that have survived more than a century of bad body odor.

Chengdu to add more international flights, 72-hour visa-free visits and in-flight Wi-Fi (July 16, 2013, Go Chengdoo)

Chengdu is gearing up to get more connected internationally via some 64 international air routes. Chinas fourth busiest airport recently added a direct flight to Frankfurt and a new direct flight to London is scheduled to start in September. Shuangliu International Airport also plans to add routes to San Francisco, Istanbul, Moscow, Tokyo, Melbourne, and other major cities around the world in the coming year. In addition to the numerous new international air routes, Chengdu is preparing to launch a 72-hour visa-free policy for tourists from45 different countries.


The Chinese Learner's Toolbox (Chinese Hacks)

A selection of useful tools, websites, apps and resources for learning Chinese.


Q. and A.: Orville Schell and John Delury on Chinas Quest for Rejuvenation (July 16, 2013, NYT Arts Beat)

In a provocative new book whose ideas have already begun stirring debate among China watchers, Orville Schell and John Delury argue that the quest for national rejuvenation, or for wealth and power, , has long been at the heart of modern Chinese political and intellectual thought. On July 16, Jonathan Spence, the Yale historian, is scheduled to host a book launch event with the authors at the Asia Society in New York. From my perch in Beijing, I engaged with Mr. Schell and Mr. Delury in an e-mail conversation over the weekend about the themes in their book, Wealth and Power: Chinas Long March to the Twenty-First Century. Below are excerpts.

Top 10 Cool and Unusual China Expat Memoirs (July 17, 2013, China Whisper)

Foreigners have been living and working in China and writing about it since the old days of Carl Crow, author of Foreign Devils in the Flowery Kingdom. In the 1980s Mark Salzman wrote the first teaching memoir Iron & Silk, and Peter Hessler has become a household name for his China-themed books and columns. But what bizarre and extraordinary tales from present-day China lurk beyond the mass-market memoirs?


Appraising Xi Jinpings Politicking (JULY 12, 2013, China Brief)

At least since the politicking for Chinas leadership succession heated up last summer, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping consistently has shaped the political environment in his favor, seemingly consolidating control much earlier than many expected. The official reporting of Xi berating his colleagues in a three-day Politburo session in late June combined with the announcement of a mass line campaign to draw the CCP closer to the people suggests he is turning up the pressure on his colleagues (Peoples Daily, June 26; Xinhua, June 26). With the trip to Xibaipo in Mao Zedongs footsteps following on last Decembers Southern Tour in Deng Xiaopings, some suggest President Xi is appealing to all sides (South China Morning Post, July 12). More likely, however, Xi is cloaking his administration within CCP canonjust as Deng did during the controversial early years of reformto expand his freedom of action and deny his domestic political opponents legitimacy. 

Image credit: Urumqi, via Mi..chael, via Flickr