ZGBriefs | April 1, 2021

ZGBriefs is a compilation of links to news items from published online sources. Clicking a link will direct you to a website other than ChinaSource. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content or other features on that site. An article’s inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement by ChinaSource. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

China’s Social Credit System: Speculation vs. Reality (March 30, 2021, The Diplomat)
Today, the social credit system still remains a disjointed mix of ambitious national level targets and guidance, varying regional pilot programs, and scattered mass data collection mechanisms. Although there is a lot of information being collected, official documents frequently mention the need to “standardize credit information collection processes” and “share information” because centralization of the data has to date been limited.

Sponsored Link

Webinar Video: Confucian Shame in Christian Thinking
On Wednesday, March 24, we hosted a webinar entitled “Confucian Shame in Christian Thinking,” presented by Jackson Wu. For Confucian thinkers, shame is an essential element required for moral development. This understanding is foreign to most Westerners. Yet, does shame have a place in Christian theology? Is it something to get rid of or might it have a role in shaping our character? During his presentation, Jackson explored the diverse ways that honor and shame affect our moral decision making as well as Paul’s use of these ideas within his letters. 

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China Retaliates Against Clothing Brands After Western Sanctions (March 25, 2021, NPR)
Major online retailers in China have pulled H&M products from their sites or mobile apps. Two Chinese celebrities have already severed deals with the Swedish brand. Chinese state media outlets are now calling out other Western clothing brands — including Nike, New Balance and Burberry — for not using Xinjiang cotton.

Exclusive: Hong Kong tells foreign governments to stop accepting special British passport (March 25, 2021, Reuters)
The Hong Kong government on Thursday confirmed a Reuters report that it had told 14 countries to stop accepting a British travel document that many of its young people use to apply for working holiday visas in Europe, North America and parts of Asia.

China imposes sanctions on UK MPs, lawyers and academic in Xinjiang row (March 26, 2021, The Guardian)
China has imposed sanctions on 10 UK organisations and individuals, including the former leader of the Conservative party Iain Duncan Smith, over what it called the spreading of “lies and disinformation” about human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The sanctions are a response to Britain’s decision to implement measures against four Chinese officials on Monday and follow a similar punishment by China against a group of MEPs, European academics and thinktanks.

Zambia: Under Chinese influence (March 26, 2021, France 24)
China’s presence is visible all over Africa. But nowhere as much as in Zambia, the African nation where it invested the most money last year. The ties between Beijing and Lusaka are strong and have existed for decades. Today, China possesses one third of Zambia’s national debt. It has invested in the mining and industrial sectors, but also in agriculture. Some Zambians denounce this Chinese presence as a form of neo-colonialism.

How Beijing is tightening its grip on Hong Kong’s legislature (March 30, 2021, Christian Science Monitor)
Beijing has reduced the amount of directly elected seats in Hong Kong’s legislature, likely increasing the mainland government’s grip on the island’s politics. “The election system is completely dismantled,” said one former lawmaker.

Hong Kong: China limits parliament to ‘patriots’ (March 30, 2021, BBC)
China has passed sweeping changes to Hong Kong’s electoral rules which will tighten its control over the city. The number of directly elected seats in parliament has been cut almost by half, and prospective MPs will first be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee to ensure their loyalty to the mainland. The aim is to ensure only “patriotic” figures can run for positions of power.

China Urged To Withdraw Ships From Reef In South China Sea (March 31, 2021, NPR)
The massing of Chinese ships around a contested reef in the South China Sea is drawing unusual attention. The Philippines fired off a diplomat protest calling on China to withdraw some 180 vessels.

14 countries and WHO chief accuse China of withholding data from pandemic origins investigation (March 31, 2021, CNN)
It was supposed to offer insight into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. But since its release on Tuesday, the long-awaited World Health Organization investigation has drawn criticism from governments around the world over accusations it is incomplete and lacks transparency. In a joint statement, the United States and 13 other governments, including the United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea, expressed concerns over the study’s limited access to “complete, original data and samples.”


Seeking Shalom in a Hostile Environment (March 26, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Daniel and his companions demonstrated situational responses while they ministered within the overarching theme of creating Shalom for the benefit of both Jews and Gentiles. Similarly, the churches in Hong Kong can model prudence and wisdom. There is ample room for us to witness the love of God within religious restrictions, if we build up common good on common ground.

Rejection or Restoration? (March 29, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
During his presentation, Jackson explored the diverse ways that honor and shame affect our moral decision making as well as Paul’s use of these ideas within his letters. Was Paul’s goal rejection, or restoration?

Chinese authorities seize church property days after raiding house church (March 29, 2021, Christian Post)
Communist authorities in China removed all the belongings of a house church in China’s Chongqing municipality without showing any legal documents, days after raiding the building during a worship service, according to reports. More than 30 officials, including local police, state security and local district administration, came with trucks and took away all the property, including chairs and books, at Mt. Olive Church in Chongqing on Wednesday, the U.S.-based advocacy organization International Christian Concern reports.

Contemporary Issues For Chinese Women (March 29, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
I visited Dora’s Bible study a few times over Zoom with women she was discipling. Many of them struggled with the same issues surrounding parenting. It is expected that women will continue to work after they have children. When they don’t return to work, they often feel lonely and isolated. This group was helpful in providing community for these women during a time when they needed the emotional and relational support unavailable in other places.

Bread of Life Bakery (March 30, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
This video shares the moving testimonies of four Christian women with physical disabilities. These women share how God has used their gifts to run Bread of Life Bakery, as well as be an encouragement to others with physical disabilities.

Formed by Our Narratives (March 31, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Rather than holding stubbornly to our narratives about what ought to happen in China, we need to face what is happening, believing that it is part of the process by which Christ is forming us—along with our brothers and sisters in China—into his image.

Hebei House Church Ransacked by the Police (March 31, 2021, International Christian Concern)
A house church in Hebei province’s Sanhe city was ransacked by the local authorities on March 27. Without showing any proper document, they removed the church’s property and their lease with the landlord. Pastor Caleb Yang from Yanjiao Abundant Church shared in a Facebook post that some personnel from the local ethnic and religious affairs bureau, law enforcement, and district office jointly ransacked one of his church’s gathering places.

Society / Life

China population: plan to lift retirement age stokes workers’ anxiety as demographic crisis looms (March 30, 2021, South China Morning Post)
Speculation is running rampant among Chinese about how many years of pension income may be lost after the government announced plans to gradually increase the nation’s mandatory retirement age. The move has sparked deep concern among working and middle class citizens, many of whom may now have to work for years more than planned and are scrambling to get their finances in order. 

Economics / Trade / Business

Video: Demystifying China’s Economy: The Latest Data | Leland Miller (March 29, 2021, National Committee on US-China Relations)
The National Committee held an event on March 25, 2021 with Mr. Leland Miller, where he explored the latest developments in China’s economy and their impact on the Sino-American relationship and Biden administration policy. 

China’s economic recovery continued in March, driven by better-than-expected surge in service sector(March 31, 2021, South China Morning Post)
China’s non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) – a gauge of sentiment in the service and construction sectors – rose to a four-month high of 56.3 in March from 51.4 in February,  according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The result was above expectations, with analysts predicting a rise to 52.

Health / Environment

Beijing goes full throttle in COVID-19 vaccine production (March 30, 2021, China Daily)
Beijing has gone all out to boost the production of COVID-19 vaccines, with the combined capacity of Sinopharm and Sinovac in the Chinese capital expected to reach up to 3 billion doses within the year. “We are accelerating the construction of new vaccine production lines and aiming to achieve an annual capacity of 2 billion doses in the first half of this year,” said Liu Peicheng, director of brand and public relations at Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd.

What It Was Like Photographing China’s Extreme Sandstorm (March 31, I rolled over and pulled the curtain to one side. I peered through my half-awake eyes out onto the streets of Beijing which were shrouded by a distinctive orange haze. It was like the city had been dipped and soaked in a cup of English tea, leaving a sepia tone to everything that it had touched.

History / Culture

Unearthing China’s Other Civilization (March 30, 2021, The World of Chinese)
But mysteries over the Sanxingdui Culture remain: Who were the people living at this site, and what was their society like? How did this civilization disappear? Since no written script has been discovered, archeologists and historians are piecing together the clues—literally, as all the relics found to date have been smashed into pieces, burned, covered with a layer of ivory, and buried.

Travel / Food

Shandong’s Ancient Towns and Villages (March 27, 2021, The World of Chinese)
Urban development may have transformed cities, but there are still a few towns and villages where visitors can get a feel for the past. Dynasties came and went, but these places remained. Qingzhou (青州) in Weifang used to be an important political and cultural hub in northern China, while Zhoucun (周村) in Zibo gave rise to commercial culture in Shandong. Jingtang village (井塘古村) near Qingzhou is a well-preserved, peaceful mountain village with a history dating back 600 years.

Divine Destinations: Buddhist and Daoist Sites (March 28, 2021, The World of Chinese)
The glittering nightlife and upscale resorts of Haitang Bay and Yalong Bay may seem like temples to everything materialistic and profane, but Hainan’s religious past shines through plenty of natural and cultural destinations on the island. Centuries of Buddhist and Daoist influence have left traces in statues, shrines, and even rock formations that serve as settings for fantastical fables about immortals and deities, blurring the lines of religion and mythology.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The Hit Indie Flick China’s Film Snobs Love to Hate (March 25, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Since its belated China release, Qiu Sheng’s award-winning movie “Suburban Birds” has been relentlessly trolled online. But the director tells Sixth Tone the controversy says more about China’s film market than it does his work.

Zhang Yimou’s First Spy Thriller “Impasse” Gets New Trailer, Release Date (March 29, 2021, Radii China)
Starring Zhang Yi, Yu Hewei, Zhang Hanyu, Qin Hailu, and Zhu Yawen, Impasse is set in Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost province Heilongjiang, in the 1930s. The film tells the tale of four Chinese agents who sneaked into the puppet state of Manchukuo to investigate rumored inhumane experiments carried out by Japanese forces.

Living Cross-culturally

Beijing Officially Announces Vaccine Roll Out for Foreign Residents (March 26, 2021, The Beijinger)
While there was no specific date for the rollout to begin, the announcement stated that foreign nationals should check notices issued either by their employer or their residence. 

Expats receive COVID-19 vaccine in Shanghai (March 30, 2021, China Daily)
It took less than a minute for Van Den Broecke, a Belgian resident in Shanghai, to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Shanghai’s Tong Ren Hospital. Monday was the first day that expatriates working in Shanghai could volunteer to get the COVID-19 vaccine simply by making an appointment online.


Christianity and Confucianism: Culture, Faith and Politics – Book Review (March 30, 2021, China Global Center)
The title announces the foundation of the argument, namely, a very careful and detailed comparison and contrast of Christ and Confucius, introduced in the first two chapters and developed as the conclusion of each of the following chapters. His treatment of these two men runs altogether to about 150 pages, and could be published as a stand-alone volume. For what it is worth, I shall say that, based on my limited knowledge, the author has accurately and powerfully set Confucius and Christ before us.

Links for Researchers

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: China (Includes Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet) (March 30, 2021, U.S. Department of State)

China’s Belt and Road: Implications for the United States (March, 2021, Council on Foreign Relations)
“The Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy undertaking and the world’s largest infrastructure program, poses a significant challenge to U.S. economic, political, climate change, security, and global health interests.”

Pray for China

April 5 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
The Tomb Sweeping Festival (清明节) always falls on April 4th or 5th. On Apr. 5, 1992, Christian evangelist Cui Shaoshu (崔弟兄) was beaten to death by authorities in Yunnan Province. A quarter of a century later, house pastor John Cao Sanqiang (曹三强牧师) was arrested in Yunnan and given a 7-year prison sentence for allegedly crossing the border illegally to help establish schools for poor children in neighboring Burma. Pray for Christians to remember those who have laid down their lives or are in prison for the Risen Lord of the Empty Tomb. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:5-6

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio