ZGBriefs | April 11, 2019

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Featured Article

Chinese immigrants helped build California, but they’ve been written out of its history (April 5, 2019, Los Angeles Times)
From 1865 to 1869, as many as 20,000 Chinese laborers worked on the Central Pacific Railroad, which ran from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, Utah, where it was united with the Union Pacific Railroad in the golden spike ceremony marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Those workers accounted for as much as 90% of the Central Pacific workforce.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Podcast: Susan Thornton on a Crisis in U.S.-China Relations (April 3, 2019, China in the World)
Over three years into Trump’s presidency, U.S.-China trade and economic issues remain unresolved while security concerns are creeping into the bilateral agenda. In this podcast, Paul Haenle spoke with Susan Thornton, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, on the trajectory for bilateral ties and the potential for a crisis in U.S.-China relations.

US Lawmakers Demand Sanctions on China Over Rights Abuses of Uyghurs in Xinjiang (April 3, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the bipartisan group of lawmakers said they were “disappointed with the Administration’s failure so far to impose any sanctions related to the ongoing systemic and egregious human rights abuses in Xinjiang.”

Multi-media: How China Turned A City Into A Prison (April 4, 2019, The New York Times)

Xi Jinping’s speech shows China’s Communist Party is still haunted by the fall of the Soviet Union (April 6, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The release of a six-year-old speech by the Chinese president is significant for both its timing and its content. Xi’s warning of the long struggle ahead between socialism and capitalism is being circulated as the People’s Republic reaches its 70th anniversary – a mark the USSR never reached.

The Hottest App in China Teaches Citizens About Their Leader — and, Yes, There’s a Test (April 7, 2019, The New York Times)
Tens of millions of Chinese workers, students and civil servants are now using Study the Great Nation, often under pressure from the government. 

With Pressure and Persuasion, China Deflects Criticism of Its Camps for Muslims (April 8, 2019, The New York Times)
There were differences among the officials about what they saw at the camps. Still, they decided to close ranks because they did not want to upset China at the foreign ministers’ gathering, the advocate said.

China to use 5G technology to tackle flow of refugees, smuggled goods over North Korean border  (April 8, 2019, South China Morning Post)
A Chinese border patrol unit plans to use 5G technology to help stem the flow of refugees from North Korea and smuggled goods between the two countries, according to mainland Chinese media. 

How Should Europe Handle Relations with China? A ChinaFile Conversation (April 8, 2019, China File)
How should Europe, and various European nations, handle their relationship with China? And is Europe breaking into two spheres of influence—one American and one Chinese?

Hong Kong 'Umbrella' protesters found guilty of public nuisance (April 9, 2019, BBC)
Nine pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have been found guilty of public nuisance charges for their role in a civil disobedience movement that called for free elections in the city. Among them are three prominent activists, seen as figureheads of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement. They could be jailed for up to seven years for their part in the "Umbrella Movement" protests of 2014.


Different but the Same: Religious Persecution in China (April 4, 2019, Harvard Politics)
Its campaign of religious persecution is a not unprecedented effort to cement public recognition of the state’s authority and thereby generate political conformity. At its core, China’s rigid political system can only derive legitimacy from continuously relying on instruments of repression, which is why it fundamentally opposes religious freedom.

The Spread of Christianity in Suzhou (April 4, 2019, China Christian Daily)
The first missionary was James William Lambuth from the American Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC), who brought LIU Zhusong with him. Liu, a Chinese teacher at the American Methodist Episcopal Church in Shanghai, was baptized in 1851. He could be considered the earliest Chinese convert in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Facing criticism of China deal, Vatican’s top diplomat says ‘be patient’ (April 4, 2019, Crux)After U.S. government officials criticized the Vatican’s recent deal with China on the appointment of bishops for making religious freedom in the Asian superpower worse, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Wednesday there’s a need to be patient since the situation won’t change overnight.

Remembering the Dead (April 5, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
My maternal grandmother’s only son was the first Jesus follower in our family. While Poh Poh (as I’d call her) was a superstitious believer in traditional Chinese religions, she also couldn’t deny the transforming power of the gospel as she witnessed the life of my uncle. 

Bulldozing mosques: the latest tactic in China’s war against Uighur culture (April 7, 2019, The Guardian)
Observers have called China’s actions in Xinjiang the work of a “bulldozer state”. It is an apt way to describe the ongoing work of destruction and remodelling of the region’s landscape and its people. Mosques such as the one in Keriya were an early target of the campaign against “religious extremism.”

Seeing the Gospel from Zhuangzi’s Worldview (April 8, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
The question guiding this post is, “How might the gospel be read if we approached it through Zhuangzi’s eyes?” Just as the Chinese approached Buddhist scriptures with Zhuangzi’s value system as a starting point, perhaps can we experiment in reading the gospel with Zhuangzi’s teachings as the frame rather than Western cultural norms. 

Guangzhou Savior Church to Mark 100 Years (April 8, 2019, China Christian Daily)
Guangzhou's Savior Church will hold a worship and praise meeting and a retreat to mark its 100-year history and the 34th anniversary of its reopening. Originally established by the Church of England, the Christian Church of Our Savior is located on 184 Wanfu Road, Yuexiu District. 

Praying for a Good Harvest (April 9, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
This article from China Christian Daily describes a Three-Self Church tradition of holding a prayer and worship service in rural areas at the start of the planting season.

Christian Victims of Yancheng Chemical Plant Blast Tell of “Grace in Sufferings” (April 10, 2019, China Christian Daily)
Christian victims of a deadly explosion that killed 78 people in Jiangsu province last month told of God's grace when pastors visited them in local hospitals in Yancheng on March 27, 2019. Twelve believers were injured in the "March 21" blast that damaged nearly 30 churches in Xiangshui county. 

Dalai Lama, 83, taken to hospital in India (April 10, 2019, BBC)
The Dalai Lama has been admitted to hospital in the Indian capital, Delhi, with a chest infection, but is reported to be in a stable condition. His private aide Tenzin Taklha said he was flown to Delhi from his hill town base after complaining of discomfort.

Society / Life

The nitty gritty of the China’s social credit system. Could this happen in America? (April 3, 2019, Jackson Wu)
In this video, Antonio Hmaidi, a Ph.D. candidate in East Asian Economics discusses the impact what Chinese social credit system and its potential influence on China. Unlike many overviews we find on the web, she provides detailed background and analysis.

Meet China’s Latest Internet Celebrity: The “Vagrant Shanghai Professor”(上海流浪大师) (April 5, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
Over the past month, the popular short-video app Douyin flooded with videos of the so-called “Vagrant Shanghai Professor” (上海流浪大师), who has conquered the hearts of millions of Chinese netizens. His fans are determined to make the Shanghai drifter more famous, regardless of his own wishes.

'Can't afford to die': China embraces eco burials as plot prices outstrip housing (April 5, 2019, The Guardian)
Officials have been trying to promote “eco burials” like these as Chinese cities run out of land to bury their dead and the price of grave plots continues to soar, often surpassing the price per square metre of an apartment. There’s a common saying: “Can’t afford to die, can’t afford to be buried.”

Parks in Beijing want to blacklist 'uncivilized' visitors (April 7, 2019, CNN)
According to state media, officials at the Beijing Municipal Administration Center of Parks said that the upsurge in domestic tourists visiting the Chinese capital for the three-day holiday, also known as Qingming Festival, had coincided with "uncivilized tourist behavior," including climbing peach trees, picking flowers, damaging plants, fishing in park lakes, and selling things illegally within the city's parks.

Who’s Chinese? The Farmer-Turned-Livestreaming Star Who’s Challenging China’s Ideas of Racial Identity (April 7, 2019, Radii China)
With his viral videos of life on a dongbei farm, ethnically Russian livestreamer "Uncle Petrov" has become a star, but he's also sparking debate around what it means to be "Chinese".

‘Household’ registration restrictions relaxed (April 8, 2019, Asia Times)
A circular issued by the National Development and Reform Commission on Monday said the government will completely scrap restrictions in large cities with populations between 1 million and 3 million in 2019.

Latest crackdown on Chinese social media sees dozens of high-profile Weibo accounts silenced  (April 9, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Sina, the owner of the Twitter-style microblog Weibo, announced on Monday that “according to the relevant laws and regulations”, it had suspended or shut down more than 50 accounts which published “politically harmful information”.

The scale of ambition: China's changing landscape – in pictures (April 10, 2019, The Guardian)
Photographer Zhang Kechun travelled across China to document how urbanisation is reshaping the country’s natural landscapes. The often dreamlike images of his series Between the Mountains and Water depict tiny figures dwarfed by the immense scale of China’s economic development.

Economics / Trade / Business

China refuses to give up ‘developing country’ status at WTO despite US demands (April 6, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Beijing calls the special and differential treatment a ‘fundamental right’, says it will not cede to Donald Trump’s demands on World Trade Organisation reform.

China pledges to remove ‘unreasonable barriers and restrictions’ to help SMEs amid trade war (April 8, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Beijing plans to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to access credit through subsidies and certain bank loans, according to a comprehensive policy guidelines jointly released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Sunday. The mainland government will also seek to create a level playing field for businesses, most of which are privately-owned, in terms of market entry and regulation.

NBA Opens World's Largest Store Outside of the US in Wangfujing (April 8, 2019, The Beijinger)
The National Basketball Association shoots, but has it scored in Beijing? If we're talking purely in terms of square meterage, their new store on the Chinese capital’s touristy Wangfujing strip is certainly a slam dunk. 

China’s Voracious Appetite for Timber Stokes Fury in Russia and Beyond (April 9, 2019, The New York Times)
Since China began restricting commercial logging in its own natural forests two decades ago, it has increasingly turned to Russia, importing huge amounts of wood in 2017 to satisfy the voracious appetite of its construction companies and furniture manufacturers.


Are Confucius Institutes Good for American Universities? A ChinaFile Conversation (April 4, 2019, China File)
Do Confucius Institutes threaten academic freedom in American universities? If so, what should the United States government do? What are viable alternatives? And what is the best way for university professors and administrators to manage their relationships with Confucius Institutes?

Health / Environment

Can the world quench China’s bottomless thirst for milk? – podcast (April 8, 2019, The Guardian)
China’s leaders have championed milk as the emblem of a modern, affluent society – but their radical plan to triple the nation’s consumption will have a huge environmental cost.

No Pain, No Gain: A TCM Practitioner on Chinese Medicine’s Principles of Pain (April 9, 2019, Radii China)
To people accustomed to meeting pain head-on by popping a painkiller, these pain-relief strategies might seem a little strange. Why do these methods of pain relief seem to hurt so much?

The Cycle of Negligence at China’s Health-Check Companies (April 9, 2019, Sixth Tone)
hey hire unlicensed doctors, ignore safety regulations, and miss the warning signs of cancer. But businesses offering private health exams still turn huge profits.

Science / Technology

In China, You Can Now Ride the Subway Using Only Your Face (April 8, 2019, Radii China)
The eastern city of Jinan has introduced 3D facial scans for those wanting to ride the subway without the hassle of tickets or transport cards.

China’s astronomers helped capture photo of black hole but couldn’t use world’s biggest telescope to do it  (April 9, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The reason China did not contribute hardware to the black hole imaging project, known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), is that none of the country’s telescopes was built for the task, the Chinese astronomers involved in the project said.

History / Culture

Video: Traveling from Hong Kong to Guangzhou in 1983  (April 8, 2019, Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

23 Things to Know Before You Go to Hong Kong (April 10, 2019, Roads and Kingdoms)
Venture beyond Central and you’ll discover ornate temples, tea shops, Chinese herbal-medicine apothecaries, dai pai dongs (family-run outdoor restaurants), and astoundingly dense neighborhoods–not to mention a public transit system that leaves New York (and many other cities) in the dust.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

China’s awkward embrace of naturalised football players (April 9, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
On 25 February 2019, Norwegian-born John Hou Sæter entered the pitch at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre as a Chinese citizen. His new club, Beijing Guoan, went on to lose the Chinese Super Cup that day, but that hardly diminished the historic moment which unfolded when the 21-year-old made his debut in the 72nd minute.

Language / Language Learning

Simplified Characters and Traditional Characters: Differences, History and Use (April 5, 2019, Sapore di Cina)
Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese are the two variants of Chinese writing: so, you don’t “speak” traditional or simplified Chinese, but you write it using one of these two writing systems (you can speak Mandarin or Cantonese Chinese, which are variations of spoken Chinese).

Baffling propaganda: "black" and "evil" in contemporary Chinese society (April 7, 2019, Language Log)
I will begin by saying that, of the dozen or so highly educated Chinese friends, colleagues, and students whom I asked about the wording on this sign, not one could fully understand it, especially the last line at the bottom.  

Living Cross-culturally

Serving in a Minority Area (April 10, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
When living in a country with so many people, one may feel compelled to meet more and more people, but a challenge is that the relationships may remain superficial. Our solution was to ask a group of the same people to come to our home every two to three weeks. We had two such groups.


Who Killed Pamela Werner? (April 7, 2019, The World of Chinese)
The grisly 1937 murder of 19-year-old Pamela Werner was first “solved” by Paul French’s award-winning Midnight in Peking. Published in 2011, French’s book was a minor sensation, a lurid rickshaw ride through the fetid nether regions of Beijing society. Now a rival publication by fellow Brit and former policeman Graeme Sheppard claims to overturn that rickshaw and set the record straight. A Death in Peking: Who Really Killed Pamela Werner? eschews the sensationalist flourishes which made its predecessor an international bestseller, and instead takes a “just facts” investigative approach to solving the decades-old mystery of how the mutilated remains of the teenage Werner ended up near the Fox Tower in Beijing, outside the Legation Quarter.

Book Review: Oil and Water: Being Han in Xinjiang (April 8, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
In his theoretically engaging and richly descriptive ethnography, Tom Cliff, Research Fellow at Australian National University, examines this transformative process from the perspectives of multi-generational—as well as regionally and socially diverse—settlements of Han migrants who hold the key to CCP-led development. 

Encountering China: The Evolution of Timothy Richard's Missionary Thought (1870-1891), by Andrew T. Kaiser(Wipf and Stock)

Links for Researchers

Volume 6 (2019): Issue 1 (Apr 2019): Special Issue: Negotiations and Diversifications of China’s Christianities edited by Carsten T. Vala(Brill)


三維福音:在罪咎、羞恥和懼怕的文化中傳福音(簡體字The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (available at Logos Hong Kong)

Image credit: Wikipedia
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