ZGBriefs | April 15, 2021

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Featured Article

‘Ping Pong Diplomacy’s’ Legacy Challenged, 50 Years Later (April 10, 2021, NPR)
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Ping-Pong diplomacy. That’s when the U.S. table tennis team went to China for exhibition games at the height of the Cold War. Their trip changed history. But half a century later, the legacy of Ping-Pong diplomacy faces challenges. 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China blasts UK for granting asylum to Hong Kong activist Nathan Law (April 9, 2021, The Guardian)
Chinese authorities have accused the UK of sheltering a “criminal suspect” after it granted asylum to Hong Kong activist and former politician Nathan Law. Law, who fled Hong Kong in 2020, said on Wednesday he had been granted political asylum by the Home Office and the warrant for his arrest under the Beijing-imposed national security law showed he was “exposed to severe political persecution”.

Blinken criticizes China’s failure to ‘provide real transparency’ earlier in pandemic (April 11, 2021, CNN)
The top diplomat added that a result of that failure was that the virus got “out of hand, faster and with, I think, much more egregious results than it might otherwise.” He did not answer whether he believes China knows the origins of Covid-19 and is withholding that information.

China launches hotline to report ‘illegal’ comments about Communist party (April 11, 2021, The Guardian)
China’s cyber regulator has launched a hotline to report online criticism of the ruling Communist party and its history, vowing to crack down on “historical nihilists” ahead of the party’s 100th anniversary in July. The tip line allows people to report fellow internet users who “distort” the party’s history, attack its leadership and policies, defame national heroes and “deny the excellence of advanced socialist culture” online, said a notice posted by an arm of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Friday.

Beijing’s foreign policy priorities (April 12, 2021, MERICS)
Building a strong military, achieving technological supremacy , and strategic independence, creating new markets and value chains through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—these goals are about stability and prosperity at home. But bound up in this guiding mission is the need to obtain the capacity to act beyond the horizon of US “interference.”

China’s Message to America: We’re an Equal Now (April 12, 2021, The Wall Street Journal)
President Xi is confronting the Biden administration with a new world view, that Beijing’s decades of not challenging the U.S. as global leader are over. (subscription required)

Beijing has a navy it doesn’t even admit exists, experts say. And it’s swarming parts of the South China Sea(April 13, 2021, CNN)
China doesn’t acknowledge their existence and when questioned, refers to them as a “so-called maritime militia.” But Western experts say the alleged militia is an integral part of Beijing’s efforts to exert its territorial claims in the South China Sea and beyond. They claim its blue-painted vessels and their crews — allegedly funded and controlled by the People’s Liberation Army — can quickly bring a Chinese presence so large around disputed reefs and islands they are almost impossible to challenge without triggering a military confrontation.

Biden’s National Security Team Lists Leading Threats, With China At The Top (April 13, 2021, NPR)
The U.S. intelligence community said Tuesday that it views four countries as posing the main national security challenges in the coming year: China, followed by Russia, Iran and North Korea. “China increasingly is a near-peer competitor, challenging the United States in multiple arenas — especially economically, militarily, and technologically — and is pushing to change global norms,” said the report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

HK Government Introduces Even More Measures to Ensure Preferred Election Outcomes (March 13, 2021, China Digital Times)
he NPCSC’s plan all but guarantees that Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition will never gain more than a handful of seats, still less the majority towards which they had been working.

Taiwan: ‘Record number’ of China jets enter air zone (April 13, 2021, BBC)
Taiwan has said a record number of Chinese military jets flew into its air defence zone on Monday. The defence ministry said 25 aircraft including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers entered its so-called air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on Monday.

CCP Slogans for 2021 (April 14, 2021, China Media Project)
In a report yesterday, CMP noted the release by the Central Office of the CCP of a propaganda blueprint for the promotion of the 100thanniversary of the Party this year. The “Notice,” which was reported on the front page of the People’s Daily, defines the key propaganda themes that will likely dominate the Chinese media in 2021.

US sends unofficial delegation to Taiwan, angering China (December 14, 2021, DW)
China has urged the US to immediately stop official interactions with Taiwan. China has been flexing its military power in the region in recent months.


China wants to make its Christians more Chinese (April 3, 2021, The Economist)“Sinification” involves a five-year plan, of course. (subscription required)

Post-Pandemic, Will China’s Church Be Changed Forever? (April 8, 2021, The Gospel Coalition)
Even while leaning into short-term opportunities, Chinese pastors see problems ahead. The pandemic likely ushered in the beginning of a new reality. […] “This is not short term,” Wang said. “Even if the pandemic is over, the public space has been squeezed very small for the churches to gather. There is no public space for people to go back to.”

Women with a Harmonious Purpose—The Missio Dei (April 12, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
In this issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, all the articles are written by women who share a common purpose—making disciples in China. Their paths may have never personally intersected, but there is harmony in their purpose. Their collective experience represents married women, married with children, single women, Chinese and Westerners. In their writings we can see what happens when women are located in the midst of the missio dei. They show us the beauty of God’s diverse peoples who make up his church, in particular the women in the body of Christ.

Women in Ministry in China: The Past 50 Years (April 12, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
In no less measure today, women not only populate China’s church but also stand as many of its pillars. This paper seeks to give a broad overview of the situation of women in the church in mainland China. It tries to confine itself to description rather than to analysis or prescription.

Women Contextualizing the Gospel in Cross-cultural Settings (April 12, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
How have women who are outsiders to a culture become effective church planters in China? Skylar Nie4 is an example of a fruitful, near-culture church planter who served among the Zhuang. She began to learn how to communicate effectively with Zhuang women.

Celebrating Easter across China (April 13, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
How did churches across China celebrate Easter? This article from China Christian Daily gives a flavor of some Easter celebrations in Three-Self registered churches in three different provinces. The sermon titles and hymns chosen are particularly interesting.

An Earlier CSQ Look at Women in China (April 14, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
When it comes to the church in China, it certainly may be said that women hold up more than “half the sky.” From a long tradition of “Bible women,” to the present-day role of female evangelists and pastors, women have figured prominently in the growth and development of China’s church.

Society / Life

Beijing now has more billionaires than any city (April 8, 2021, BBC)
Beijing is now home to more billionaires than any other city in the world, according to the latest Forbes’ annual rich list. The Chinese capital added 33 billionaires last year and now hosts 100, said the business magazine. This narrowly beats New York City, which hosts 99 and has held the top ranking for the last seven years.

In Rural China, a Marriage, a Tearful Bride, and a Debate Over Consent (April 9, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The marriage between a young woman with a severe intellectual disability and a man 35 years her senior has sparked a controversy over a common practice in rural China.

China Detains Delivery Worker Who Tried To Improve Working Conditions (April 12, 2021, NPR)
During the pandemic, food delivery work has boomed in China. The detention of the sector’s most prominent labor activist is now drawing attention to their difficult working conditions.

What if China’s Birth Rate Keeps Falling? (April 13, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Demographics aren’t always destiny, but in the likely event China can’t turn around its declining fertility rate, the country needs to prepare for the worst.

Economics / Trade / Business

China slaps Alibaba with $2.8 billion fine in anti-monopoly probe (April 9, 2021, CNBC)
Chinese regulators hit Alibaba with a 18.23 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) fine in its anti-monopoly investigation of the tech giant, saying it abused its market dominance. The probe’s main focus was a practice that forces merchants to choose one of two platforms, rather than being able to work with both. The company said in a statement it accepted the penalty and will comply with the regulator’s determination.

Trade is giving China’s economic recovery a boost (April 13, 2021, CNN)
Imports surged more than 38% last month in US dollar terms compared to a year earlier, according to customs data released Tuesday. It’s a sign that demand within China is picking up as the country moves past the worst of the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Health / Environment

China considers mixing Covid-19 vaccines to offer more protection (April 10, 2021, South China Morning Post)
China is exploring the option of mixing different Covid-19 vaccines  as a solution to the relatively low efficacy of its existing jabs, the head of the country’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has said. Gao Fu told a conference in Chengdu on Saturday that the country was examining two routes “to solve the problem that the efficacy of its existing vaccines is not high”. (registration required)

Top Chinese official admits vaccines have low effectiveness (April 11, 2021, AP)
China’s top disease control official, in a rare acknowledgement, said current vaccines offer low protection against the coronavirus and mixing them is among strategies being considered to boost their effectiveness. China has distributed hundreds of millions of doses of domestically made vaccines abroad and is relying on them for its own mass immunization campaign.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Chinese Reality Shows Censor Western Clothing Brands (April 9, 2021, The New York Times)
Online platforms that stream dance, singing and comedy shows are pixelating performers’ T-shirts and sneakers amid a nationalistic fervor. (subscription required)

How Jiang Wen Reached His Directorial Peak on “The Sun Also Rises” (April 14, 2021, Radii China)
Jiang Wen‘s The Sun Also Rises is an epic in four parts; an intense, colorful, over-acted and humorous film that lasts long in the memory after watching it. The 2007 movie, Jiang’s third as director, takes place at different times and in different places (though all within Mao’s reign as leader of China), with the four vignettes seemingly cut up like a William Burroughs novel and pieced back together at random places.

Language / Language Learning

Chinese input methods: A guide for second language learners (April 14, 2021, Hacking Chinese)
Making Chinese characters appear on the screen of a phone or computer is second nature to experienced users, and most people don’t think about input methods unless they switch to another method or something doesn’t work properly. For people who know little or no Chinese, including beginner students of the language, it’s not at all obvious how Chinese characters are entered on a computer, however.

Living Cross-culturally

It’s Easter. It’s Been a Long Time. Why Am I Still Hurting? (April 12, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
As the shops got ready for Easter and social media was full of various Lenten observances, a vague and persistent sense of sadness came over me. No, it was not sadness due to Easter, but it was triggered by Easter. I suddenly felt a deep sadness over the fact that this would be our second Easter “at home.” 

Foreigners in Guangdong can be vaccinated against COVID-19 now (April 12, 2012, China Daily)
Starting on Monday, foreigners in Guangdong province can make an appointment for vaccination against COVID-19 online under the principle of “informed, voluntary and self-assumed risk”. The vaccines for foreigners in the province, will be domestically developed ones, with two doses required, according to a statement released by the Guangdong Provincial Foreign Affairs Office over the weekend.


John Song: Modern Chinese Christianity and the Making of a New Man- A Book Review (April 9, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Daryl R. Ireland, in his colorfully descriptive and meticulously documented work, John Song, Modern Chinese Christianity and the Making of a New Man, captures the raging passions of a wronged people who, having sacrificed so many of their own men in World War I, see only more loss and humiliation in the Versailles Treaty settlement.

Christianity and the Political Religion of China (degruyter.com)

Citizens of Two Kingdoms: Civil Society and Christian Religion in Greater China (Brill)
Co-edited by Shun-hing Chan and Jonathan Johnson, Citizens of Two Kingdoms examines the complex relationships of civil society, Christian organizations, and individual Christians in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. 

Podcasts / Online Events

How Can Foreign Companies Be Successful in China in 2021? (March 26, 2021, Stars-for the Leaders of the Next Generation
In this stars webinar, Dr. Michael Barbalas, Former President of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, explained what steps foreign companies need to take to be successful in China in 2021.

China Before, Today, & Tomorrow with Ian Johnson (April 12, 2021, Ralph Bunche Institute for International Affairs)
Ian Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, formerly with the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other outlets, and recently expelled from China, discusses historical trends in China’s development and how they affect the policy choices of the Chinese Communist Party today.

Links for Researchers

A Different Kind of Army: The Militarization of China’s Internet Trolls (April 12, 2021, China Brief)
This article illuminates the shifting size and mission set of the forces behind China’s struggle to control online public opinion. It finds that, in addition to 2 million paid internet commentators, the CCP today draws on a network of more than 20 million part-time volunteers to engage in internet trolling, many of whom are university students and members of the Communist Youth League (CYL; 共产主义青年团, gongchan zhuyi qingnian tuan).


The People’s Map of Global China (thepeoplesmap.net)

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.

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