ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.
Why Chinese Scientists Are More Worried Than Ever About Bird Flu (April 11, 2017, NPR)
This lab at Hong Kong University is at the world's forefront of our understanding of H7N9, a deadly strain of the bird flu that has killed more people this season — 162 from September up to March 1 — than in any single season since when it was first discovered in humans four years ago. That worries lab director Guan Yi. But what disturbs him more is how fast this strain is evolving. "We're trying our best, but we still can't control this virus," says Guan. "It's too late for us to eradicate it."
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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs
What Chinese News Reports Tell Us About Beijing’s View of Trump (April 8, 2017, The New York Times)
But what is really going on behind the scenes, and what does Mr. Xi’s government really think of Mr. Trump? China’s state-controlled news media offered some hints. We scoured Chinese news coverage of the meeting for clues about how China might portray itself in the era of Trump.
China's deadly secret: More executions than all other countries put together (April 10, 2017, CNN)
Every year, the Chinese state carries out several thousand judicial executions -- more than the rest of the world combined. For the most part, the names of those executed remain secret, known only to their families.
China Makes Cartoons To Urge Citizens To Turn in Western Spies (April 11, 2017, NBC News)
Chinese authorities are now offering rewards of up to $72,000 for Beijing residents who turn in spies, and the cartoons they created as part of the campaign show Western agents tempting locals with cash. […] The two animated videos created for the campaign — one for adults, another for kids — tell citizens what to look suspicious signs to look for. The bad guys in the videos are clearly Westerners.
Why does China pretend to be a democracy? (April 11, 2017, The Washington Post)
China is now the world’s second-largest economy, and its rulers run it with an authoritarian ruthlessness that is envied by many politicians around the world. And yet Beijing goes on insisting — despite its lack of free and fair elections, uncensored media, or an independent judiciary — that it’s a democracy.
China Rejects North Korean Coal Shipments After Missile Test and U.S. Pressure (April 12, 2017, Foreign Policy)
The decision to reject North Korean coal shipments underscores China’s delicate balancing act: it hopes to avoid the isolated nation’s total collapse but remains unwilling to support its military ambitions.
Trump, China leader talk about North Korea as U.S. carrier moves to area (April 12, 2017, USA Today)
President Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping spoke by phone in an effort to reduce tensions surrounding North Korea's nuclear threats, officials said Wednesday.
China tells military to be ready to 'move' to North Korea border (April 12, 2017, UPI)
China has ordered its military to be on nationwide alert, in addition to areas near the North Korea border, as tensions escalate on the peninsula. The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, a nongovernmental organization in Hong Kong, said Beijing has ordered troops at all five military "regions" to maintain preparedness because of the situation in North Korea, according to Oriental Daily News in Hong Kong.
10 things you should know about China’s first home-built aircraft carrier (April 12, 2017, South China Morning Post)
China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, is near the final stages of construction. Military sources have suggested that the ship may be launched as early as April 23, the anniversary of the foundation of the PLA Navy. Here are 10 key questions answered about the vessel.
The Rural Church’s Economic Crisis and its Possible Solution (April 5, 2017, China Christian Daily)
Born in the countryside, I believed in the Lord by God's grace since I was young and was inspired to serve the Lord later in life. After serving for more than a decade and going through difficult times, I understand the rural church quite well. I believe it is facing a potential danger or an economic crisis. It brings the church into a vicious circle. As a result, many lambs do not have a pastor and ministries are paralyzed.
[Interview] How Grass-root Preachers Earn Their Livelihood in Rural China (April 6, 2017, China Christian Daily)
Financially supporting pastors is a common problem in the Chinese church, especially in the northern part of China. It is not easy to solve the livelihood issue of pastors. Many Christians question whether the church leaders have made appropriate measures to guarantee the livelihood of pastors. China Christian Daily (CCD) interviewed Pastor Hu, the president of Henan Christian Council, about the current state quo of preachers' livelihood.
China’s Female-only Mosques (April 6, 2017, The World of Chinese)
China has a long, nuanced history of Islam, and one of the most surprising outcomes of centuries of cultural exchange and experimentation has been the creation of female-only mosques, led by female imams. With a dense cluster located in Kaifeng, Henan Province, and over a dozen more scattered throughout the country, these matriarchal mosque stand in stark contrast to the majority of mosques which cater to both genders, but have segregated areas and only male imams.
Jiangxi Bible School Partners with Universities to Improve Teaching (April 8, 2017, China Christian Daily)
The Jiangxi Bible School worked with experts from Minzu University of China, Renmin University of China, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Nanchang University to set up a high-quality class program for cultivating teachers. The class aims to improve the quality of theological teachers and the school's overall quality.
Another Perspective on Ministry with Returnee Chinese Christians (April 11, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
To continue listening in on voices within the Chinese church, we asked one experienced worker to share about his own experience as both a returnee and as a worker currently involved in returnee ministry.
How Taoists Found Their Way To a Young Audience (April 11, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Last month’s celebrations in Shanghai were therefore significant for two reasons. For one, it was the first time in many years that the City God Temple hosted a large-scale Taoist festival. Though Taoism is China’s only indigenous religion, its influence today pales in comparison with its past status. Many people know the City God Temple as a tourist landmark and commercial center, but few know it as an important Taoist religious site.
Ian Johnson on Religion in China, Past and Future (April 11, 2017, The Diplomat)
A key takeaway from my book is that religion and the search for values are moving back to the center of a national discussion in China. We tend to view China in stereotypical forms like as the “factory of the world” or perhaps through its political dissidents and the fight for freedom of speech. However, I think what really moves a person is this search for values.
From Solutions to Shared Innovation (April 12, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Foreign workers who still assume their role is to come up with solutions on behalf of believers in China may actually become part of the problem. Their local counterparts often see the challenges in ways the foreigner cannot understand, and they introduce new options that, while outside the foreigner’s frame of reference, make perfect sense in the Chinese context.
Society / Life
Threshold lowered for foreign graduates seeking jobs in China (March 30, 2017, China Daily)
According to a January circular issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, foreign students with a postgraduate degree or higher from Chinese or "well-known" foreign universities can be offered employment within a year after graduation. Successful applicants will be given a one-year work permit, which can be extended to no more than five years on renewal.
Big in China: Murder Villages and Scam Towns (April 2017, The Atlantic)
Remote and difficult to access, many villages in China’s interior have developed a criminal cottage industry, involving anything from drugs to internet fraud to counterfeiting. (In fact, shanzhai, the slang for counterfeit, literally means “mountain village.”)
Why Welfare Is Still Better Than Work for Some of China’s Poor (April 7, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In practice, what this means is that people work more to get less support. If they work to the point where they earn too much money to be labeled “poor,” the government strips them of their subsidies. This, in turn, breeds reluctance among a considerable number of families who, ironically, don’t want to jeopardize their incomes by earning too much money.
Taobao Town (April 8, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Defined by Alibaba, Taobao and Tmall’s parent company, a village is considered a Taobao village if more than 10 percent of its households are involved in e-commerce and bring in a total revenue of more than 10 million RMB per year. Though the phrase and its definitions were first published in 2013, there were supposedly already 20 extant Taobao villages around China by that time; the first ones, Beishan among them, had gotten their start as early as 2006. As of 2016 the total number of Taobao villages had increased exponentially to 1,311.
China’s Aged and Sick Flock to a Hamlet Known for Longevity (April 12, 2017, The New York Times)
Once a largely undisturbed hamlet hidden in the karst mountains of Guangxi Province, Bama has in recent years become a magnet for China’s sick and aged. Visitors come seeking exotic medicines, bottles of “longevity water,” visits with centenarians and advice on living healthier lives. Many leave after a few days feeling hopeful and rejuvenated.
The Rural Backwater Set to Become China’s Second Capital (April 12, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Resolving Beijing’s size problem means moving a considerable amount of administrative resources to Xiongan. I expect that aside from key Party organs and diplomatic agencies, most of the central government’s less essential departments and institutions will move to Xiongan, as will a portion of the capital’s population. Xiongan’s establishment and the decentralization of Beijing’s functions are, in fact, a covert attempt to move the capital outright.
China’s Mama Media Nurtures Next-Generation Parents (April 12, 2017, Sixth Tone)
“The living conditions for moms of our generation have greatly improved, but their sources of useful information besides their parents’ experiences are still scarce,” Li, a 32-year-old Hangzhou resident, told Sixth Tone. Dismayed at the lack of Chinese parenting books, she began sharing her notes from authoritative medical websites and Western literature with fellow moms on WeChat, China’s ubiquitous social media app.
Tales from China’s Millennials (April 12, 2017, The World of Chinese)
One of the stereotypes of this generation which offends me, both inside and outside of China, is a spoiled, coddled, materialistic generation, made up of pampered single children who have it easy somehow. I think the opposite is true in many ways because as single children, all of that pressure is heaped on their shoulders.
Economics / Trade / Business
Ford plans to launch Ranger pickup truck in China in 2018 (April 7, 2017, Reuters)
Ford Motor Co (F.N) plans to launch its mid-size Ranger pickup truck in China in 2018, hoping to draw more Chinese consumers, who generally prefer sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), towards a new segment of cars. Ford would import the Ranger to China and currently has no plans to manufacture it locally, a spokeswoman said.
Sharing Economy Blessing and Curse for China’s Bicycle Factories (April 12, 2017, Sixth Tone)
The bike-sharing hype taking over Chinese cities has turned the industry of two-wheelers upside down — suddenly, everyone’s on a bike, but nobody is buying their own.
Chinese university to open in Oxford despite ideological crackdown at home (April 6, 2017, The Guardian)
Peking University, an elite Beijing institution where Mao Zedong once worked as a librarian, will open a branch of its HSBC Business School in Oxford early next year, the respected financial magazine Caixin reported on Thursday. The school is setting up camp in Foxcombe Hall which it recently purchased for a reported £8.8m. The 19th century manor was home to the eighth earl of Berkeley.
5 Reasons Teaching English in China Will Change The Way You Think About Everything (April 6, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
Being miles away from your friends and family influences your way of thinking. To say that your loved ones will be concerned and confused by your seemingly reckless life choice of moving overseas to teach English would be an understatement. I’m sure many of you who try to do so will face similar objections.
China’s Provinces Up in Arms Over Teaching Methods (April 10, 2017, Sixth Tone)
A northern high school with a reputation for harsh discipline and high test scores has sparked debate as it opens its latest branch in an eastern Chinese province.
Institutions to stay alert against ‘incorrect’ Western thought: experts (April 10, 2017, Global Times)
Experts have called on colleges and universities in China to heighten Marxist values, help students to adopt "correct values" and conscientiously resist wrong theories, especially those suggesting the ideology should be ended or weakened.
Health / Environment
Beijing’s air quality ‘best’ among China’s northern cities despite frequent smog woes (April 6, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Beijing’s air quality was the best among 28 cities in northern China over the first three months of this year, according to the nation’s environment ministry. The capital often grabs headlines for its heavy smog, but its air quality index ranked top from January to March among 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and the neighbouring provinces of Henan, Shandong and Shanxi.
Why China’s Modern Barefoot Doctors Are Walking Away (April 8, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Despite how crucial village doctors are to the more than 600 million rural Chinese they serve, their numbers are steadily declining, and reforms have so far fallen short of properly addressing the problems village doctors face. In some counties, more than half of the villages do not even have village doctors — it’s simply not seen as a desirable job.
China slams Shanghai for environmental violations (April 12, 2017, Reuters)
China's business hub of Shanghai has slacked off in efforts to improve the environment, levying fines too small to deter polluters, hundreds of whom have flouted closure orders, authorities said on Wednesday.
Science / Technology
Chinese firm halves worker costs by hiring army of robots to sort out 200,000 packages a day (April 11, 2017, South China Morning Post)
A viral video showing an army of little orange robots sorting out packages in a warehouse in eastern China is the latest example of how machines are increasingly taking over menial factory work on the mainland. The behind-the-scenes footage of the self-charging robot army in a sorting centre of Chinese delivery powerhouse Shentong (STO) Express was shared on People’s Daily’s social media accounts on Sunday.
Arts / Entertainment / Media
Web Junkie: A Film Review (April 7, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Despair (绝望 – jue wang) is the real issue at play. Young people are turning to the internet because they see no other answer to their despair. They’re not fighting internet addiction, they’re fighting meaninglessness in their lives. The Daxing Bootcamp may have been set up to rehabilitate those with internet addiction, but what it’s really doing, is restoring families.
Travel / Food
This is America’s Best (April 4, 2017, Explore Parts Unknown)
There are some big names here that came directly from China: a chain found in the country’s big cities called 海底捞 / Hai Di Lao Hotpot, for instance, where you cook your own meat, fish, veggies, and most importantly fresh, hand-pulled noodles. Some smaller touches found in China are missing—mainly, the manicures, shoe-shining and copious snacks provided while you wait. But the level of service and the taste are the same as in the People’s Republic.
Shaolin Monastery – The Hidden Temple of China (February 26, 2017, China Geeks)
If you’re traveling a lot, you’ll start to appreciate historical marvels that every country, region, and city has to offer. China is full of tourist attractions, but there is one that isn’t visited as much and should remain hidden. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s the Shaolin temple. So what’s so special about this temple?
Top 10 free (and almost free) things to do in Shanghai (March 2017, Lonely Planet)
If you’re lucky enough to visit this dynamic city, and are willing to crowd in with a few other tourists, Shanghai’s budget sights are top-notch. Here are our picks for the ten best free (or nearly free) things to do in China's most glamorous city.
Five Surreal Landscapes in China (April 6, 2017, Wild China Blog)
A gravity-defying landscape that inspired the creation of an alien world, glistening rice terraces that form a stairway to heaven or a place that appears as if it’s been lifted straight from the canvas. Welcome to China, a country home to scenery that will push the limits of your imagination.
Live and work in Yangshuo: The complete guide (April 7, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
Do I need a permit to travel to Tibet? (April 12, 2017, I)
Organizing your travel to Tibet can seem daunting. You might be wondering, “do I need a permit to travel to Tibet? And if so, which ones? The paperwork looks as though it will mount up as high as Everest before you can so much as reach base camp.
Chinese social media continues to rage at United, and the airline may face real fallout (April 12, 2017, CNBC)
Chinese social media has exploded with outrage after a video went viral showing a passenger who appeared to be of Asian ethnicity being dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight with a bloodied nose. The topic, #UnitedAirlinesforcespassengeroffplane, has held strong as a top trending topic over the last two days on Weibo, China's answer to Twitter.
Language / Language Learning
Which Beijing University Language Course is Best? Part 1: BLCU, Peking, Tsinghua (April 6, 2017, The Beijinger)
In this blog post, we will compare the experiences of students who have been learning Chinese at Tsinghua University, Peking University, and Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). Keep your eyes peeled for part 2, which will include look at Beijing Normal University (BNU), Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), Beihang, Beijing International Studies University (BISU), and China Youth University of Political Studies (CYU).
Father Matteo Ricci and His Mission to China (April 8, 2017, National Catholic Register)
Review of The Wise Man from the West: Matteo Ricci and His Mission to China, By Vincent CroninVincent Cronin’s historical biography of the founder of the Chinese missions was first published in 1955 but remains as relevant — even more so — today, as China selectively opens to the outside.
Jennifer Lin's 'Shanghai Faithful': A Chinese Christian family's faith, courage (April 9, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer)
Lin Yongbiao, the author's great-great-grandfather, converts in the mid-19th century and becomes a cook for a Christian mission. We meet some truly stroppy Irish missionaries, especially the towering figure of W.S. Pakenham-Walsh, a central man in Chinese Christian history who plays a big role in the family's future. We also see the collision of local xenophobia with Western Christian zeal. Lin Dao'an, Lin's great-grandfather, becomes an accomplished doctor and learns English.
How's My English? (April 10, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Russell Bam Lumen and Joanna Alonzo have written a book called How’s My English? A Practical Guide to an Effective English Corner. In it, the authors not only explain how English Corners work and why they are beneficial, they provide 52 sets of questions that moderators can use to spark conversations. Some of the topics are light (adventure, eating, travel). Others are designed to lead to deeper conversations. These include building relationships, being thankful, forgiveness and patience, handling pressure, and identity.
Joann Pittman is Senior Vice President of ChinaSource. She is the editor of ZGBriefs and Chinese Church Voices, as well as a regular contributor to ChinaSource publications. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and most recently, cross-cultural trainer... View Full Bio