ZGBriefs | April 13, 2023

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Featured Article

Mayflower Church members arrive in U.S. after Thailand deportation scare (April 11, 2023, Radio Free Asia)
Dozens of members of a persecuted Protestant church in China have arrived in the United States after escaping the country via Thailand, where they were also detained by the immigration authorities amid fears of repatriation. The Mayflower Church members touched down in Dallas on Good Friday after a coordinated effort from advocacy groups and politicians to bring them to the country.

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Public Lecture | Spreading the Gospel: Christian Posters in Early 20th Century China (ChinaSource)
Between 1919 and 1949, posters were the most common Christian visual imagery in China. They were printed by the millions and hung in tea rooms, on city walls, and on temple gates. Posters were put up in houses and churches; they were unfolded for street evangelism. They were extremely popular because they were aesthetically pleasing and symbolically rich, yet easy to understand. Unlike theological treatises written by Chinese theologians, these images were designed by laypeople and intended for popular consumption. In this lecture, Daryl Ireland of Boston University will showcase some of the 700 Chinese Protestant and Catholic posters he has located and explain why they are changing the way we think about Chinese Christianity.

April 26, 2023, 7:00pm
Barrows Auditorium – Billy Graham Hall
Wheaton College
here to register for this free event 

(in-person or to receive link to post-event recording)
You can also just show up! We won’t turn anyone away! 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

In Hong Kong, Learning to Speak Like the CCP (April 6, 2023, China Media Project)
CCP buzzwords are increasingly entering Hong Kong’s official vocabulary but are sometimes applied differently than in the mainland, suggesting a lack of understanding on the part of local officials.

Macron sparks anger by saying Europe should not be ‘vassal’ in US-China clash (April 10, 2023, The Guardian)
The French president made the remarks in an interview on his plane after a three-day state visit to China, where he received a red carpet welcome by China’s president, Xi Jinping – a show of pageantry that alarmed some European China watchers.

Outcry over lengthy jail terms handed to China human rights lawyers (April 11, 2023, The Guardian)
Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi were convicted of subversion of state power after closed-door trials and sentenced to 14 and 12 years respectively. Both were leading figures in the New Citizens’ Movement, a loose network of activists who met regularly in person and online to discuss civil rights and current affairs, and had called for constitutional reform and criticised government corruption.

US and Philippines begin largest-ever drills after China exercises (April 11, 2023, BBC)
Filipino and US officials say the drills show their commitment to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region that is open and free. Washington announced last month that their annual Balikatan exercise with the Philippines would be their largest ever – involving more than 17,000 troops, including 12,000 from the US.

Carriers and precision attacks: The takeaways from China’s latest Taiwan drills (April 11, 2023, Reuters)
China’s latest military drills near Taiwan show it is serious about being able to cut off the democratically ruled island in a conflict, analysts said, as Beijing said its aircraft carriers could “shatter” defences from the east.

China says Taiwan encirclement drills a ‘serious warning’ (April 12, 2023, ABC News)
China says recent air and sea drills simulating an encirclement of Taiwan were intended as a “serious warning” to pro-independence politicians on the self-governing island and their foreign supporters


Lecture Video: New Civil Religion in China—Opportunity for Engagement? (April 5, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Drawing on the research for his book, Johnson talked about how China is using civil religion, which he defines as the government using religion and religious images to legitimize its rule. He argued that this has been most visible in the government’s more tolerant attitude towards what it considers to be indigenized religions—Buddhism and Daoism—as well as Chinese folk religions.

Stand Firm: Perseverance of the Saints from 1949-1978 (April 6, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
This article was originally presented as a speech in a 2021 pastors’ gathering in mainland China. In it, Elder Li Yingqiang divides the history of Chinese house churches into three time periods: 1949-1978, as the Chinese church stood firm in strong persecution; 1979-2008, when the church experienced great revival; and 2009-present, as the church has remained faithful through trials of money and power.

Easter and Unity (April 7, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Disunity is indeed hard to overcome, which is why Jesus prayed about it. He knows we are weak. He knows we will have conflicts, and they hurt ourselves and hurt his church. But unity is too important to allow conflicts to fester.

Tap for Karma: Chinese Youth Become Buddhists 2.0 (April 11, 2023, The World of Chinese)
China’s “Buddha-like youths (佛系青年 fóxì qīngnián),” who advocate refusing societal pressures and forgoing ambition, have been around for a while. But now, a new wave of Gen Z spirituality has come to the Chinese internet, this time involving genuine Buddhist practices like praying and temple visits.

A Love Banquet Waiting for You (April 12, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Following the rhythm and images in his poem, my poem introduces complementary and contrasting ideas as well as tones and metaphors from a Christian perspective. 

Society / Life

Faraway Family Members Use Smart Cameras to Monitor the Elderly (April 7, 2023, Sixth Tone)
While some users say the device helps them to keep an eye on older family members, others are doubtful about the technology and concerned about privacy issues.

A Year After My Father’s Death, I Finally Made It Home to Mourn (April 7, 2023, The World of Chinese)
Stories of two post-Covid homecomings to mourn loved ones and sweep the tombs on Qingming Festival

China Is Facing a Moment of Truth About Its Low Retirement Age (April 11, 2023, The Wall Street Journal) (subscription required)
China has one of the lowest retirement ages among major economies. Under a policy unchanged since the 1950s, it allows women to retire as early as at age 50 and men at 60. Now, local governments are running out of money just as a wave of retirees hits. That is leaving Beijing with little choice but to ask people to work longer—a move economists say is long overdue but one still likely to meet with resistance.

China rolls out ‘Down to the Countryside Movement 2.0′ to address youth unemployment problem (April 11, 2023, Global Voices)
According to Guangdong’s action plan, the province will send 300,000 college students to the countryside by 2025. The plan seeks to incubate at least 10,000 rural start-ups and encourage young people to pursue their careers in the countryside.

Taiwan punches back against China with Winnie the Pooh badge (April 12, 2023, NBC News)
The patches, which show a Formosan black bear punching a cartoon character associated with Chinese President Xi Jinping, are flying off shelves after Chinese military drills around the Beijing-claimed island.

Economics / Trade / Business

Australia reaches deal with China in barley dispute as trade ties improve (April 11, 2023, Reuters)
Australia has reached an agreement with China to resolve their dispute over barley imports, the two countries said on Tuesday, a latest sign of improving ties between the major commodity trade partners.


Amid Job Scarcity, College Grads Prefer Pursuing Higher Education (April 6, 2023, Sixth Tone)
About 1.24 million students enrolled in postgraduate programs in 2022, up by 5.61% year-on-year, local media reported Monday, citing the latest data from the Ministry of Education. The figure has surged dramatically since 2017, when the enrollment figure stood at 806,100.

Health / Environment

Sandstorm hits Beijing and northern China for the fourth time in a month (April 11, 2023, CNN)
A severe sandstorm has cloaked Beijing and China’s northeastern regions for the fourth time in a month forcing some residents to stay indoors to protect themselves from dense air pollution. Images showed the Chinese capital engulfed in a cloud of orange haze on Monday which hung thick in the air into Tuesday, though conditions have begun to ease.

Science / Technology

AI: China tech giant Alibaba to roll out ChatGPT rival (April 11, 2023, BBC)
Chinese technology giant Alibaba has announced plans to roll out its own artificial intelligence (AI) ChatGPT-style product called Tongyi Qianwen. Its cloud computing unit says it will integrate the chatbot across Alibaba’s businesses in the “near future” but did not give details on its timeline.

As the west tries to limit TikTok’s reach, what about China’s other apps? (April 12, 2023, The Guardian) (registration required)
With government concerns over national security growing, Beijing’s influence over platforms such as WeChat and Shein could come under scrutiny.

History / Culture

How Liang Qichao Rewrote China’s Future (April 6, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Although better known today as a reformer and activist, Liang also composed the first work of Chinese sci-fi.

Podcast: Xi Jinping and the battle over China’s memory of the Cultural Revolution (April 9, 2023, The Guardian)
Mao’s Cultural Revolution pitted children against their parents and tore at the fabric of China’s society. It’s vital to the understanding of China today, says Red Memory author Tania Branigan.

Family Records: The Story of China’s Largest Genealogy Collection (April 11, 2023, Sixth Tone)
In the 1960s, a city librarian went rogue and saved thousands of priceless documents.

Travel / Food

Six of the most beautiful sections of the Great Wall of China (April 7, 2023, CNN)
Though not a single, unbroken structure, the wall spans over 21,000 kilometers, winding through 15 provinces, 97 prefectures and 404 counties. And while certain sections have been incredibly popular among tourists, many parts have slipped into obscurity, disrepair and sometimes oblivion. Whether you’re planning to visit the Great Wall for the first time or the 50th, the following destinations are sure to make your trip to China even more worthwhile. 

China Has Reopened to Tourists. The Hard Part Is Getting There. (April 10, 2023, The New York Times) (subscription required)
Despite loosened visa rules, the number of flights into China is still a small fraction of what it was before the pandemic, fueled partly by geopolitical tensions.

Language / Language Learning

Best Schools and Universities to Study Chinese in Hangzhou (April 11, 2023, Sapore di Cina)
Hangzhou is a major second-tier city that is home to some of the top universities in China. In addition, the population of expats in Hangzhou is less than that in first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai, which creates more opportunities for Chinese learners to communicate with the local people in Chinese.


How Christian Posters Shaped Evangelism in China, 1919–1950: Visions of Salvation—A Book Review (April 10, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
On its surface, the book offers readers colorful reproductions of a vast assortment of rare Christian posters gathered in China between the 1920s and 1950. Beyond that, Ireland also advances a substantial thesis. He contends the articles challenge several established conceptions of Chinese church history.

Links for Researchers

Decoding China (DecodingChina.eu)
What does Xi Jinping mean when he talks about the rule of law? How does the Chinese leadership define multilateralism? Did you know that China’s Socialist Core Values include democracy and freedom? What is Document No. 9 and why does it reject universal values? And what is meant by “a community of shared future for mankind”? The Decoding China Dictionary seeks to answer these questions and to serve as a guide to understanding the official Chinese meaning of key terms in international relations and development cooperation.

Pray for China

April 18 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Apr. 18, 1856, Agnes Gützlaff returned to her native China from England to teach Braille at a missionary school. Agnes, a blind orphan, had been adopted by missionaries Karl and Mary Gützlaff, and sent to London for education. After her death in Shanghai in 1869, it was reported that, “She worked hard, lived sparingly, and saved money, and at her death her property was left to found a hospital called by her name.” Schools for the blind in China almost exclusively focus on providing training to work as masseurs. Pray for Bethel China—a pioneer and leader in the field of early intervention for blind children in China—and others who minister to the millions of blind in China. As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” John 9:1-11

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Image credit: Simon, via Pixabay
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