ZGBriefs | April 18, 2024

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Featured Article

Wildest Dream: What Taylor Swift Means To Her Chinese Fans (April 17, 2024, The World of Chinese)
Swift has attracted and influenced her Chinese fans for diverse reasons. TWOC talked to five Chinese Swifties to understand what Taylor Swift means to them. They explained how Swift inspired in them the confidence to travel alone, explore the world beyond their small hometowns, and reevaluate the meaning of feminism.

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2024 USCCA Book Circles (U.S.-China Catholic Association)
For April, we will read an essay written by the American comparative theologian Bede Bidlack, “Merton’s Way of Zhuangzi: A Critique.” Merton’s book The Way of Zhuangzi, published in 1965, is a great introduction to the Chinese philosopher for English-speaking readers. Since we have been thinking about Christianity’s dialogue with Chinese culture, Merton’s interpretation of Zhuangzi provides a good opportunity to see some dialogue in action. Merton believed that Chinese philosophy could benefit Christians living in the West. Bidlack’s article will help us understand why that might be the case.
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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

The German chancellor presses China on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (April 16, 2024, AP News)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Tuesday to pressure Russia to end its “insane campaign” in Ukraine, the latest in a parade of European leaders and senior officials to make such an appeal. The Chinese side gave no sign of any change in its position…


An Exploration of Islam in China: More Context from the ChinaSource Archives (April 12, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
In order to help our readers better understand how to share the gospel effectively, we’re pulling together some of the most relevant articles from the series, along with a few reflections on Ramadan.

Navigating faith and freedom in China’s house churches (April 13, 2024, East Asia Forum)
The growth of Protestantism in the post-Mao Zedong era led to the emergence of ‘house churches’, independent bodies avoiding official oversight due to stringent state regulations, creating a struggle for space, resources and unrestricted faith practice. These churches implicitly call for a re-evaluation of the state’s relationship with religious institutions, demanding the right to practice their faith as they see fit.

China in the Mirror: Challenges and Realities: Reflections on China, Part 1: The Context in 2024 (April 15, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
The 1990s and 2000s saw a substantial expansion of the space within which the Chinese church was allowed to exist. This space has shrunk considerably in the last ten years. Yet despite the challenges faced, the sovereignty of God is not restrained by human politics. In fact, over the last 40 years basic missiological principles to guide cross-cultural ministry in restrictive environments have been forged in China.

The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter (April 15, 2024, China Partnership Blog)
This pastoral letter, from February of this year, encourages and commends believers for the way they have borne up under the outward persecution of recent year. 

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind and Chinese Christianity (April 16, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
Given the significant influence of American evangelicalism on the development of contemporary Chinese Christianity, how should Chinese Christians critically study and integrate evangelical theology into our practices?

Society / Life

‘The old days are no more’: Hong Kong goes quiet as security laws tighten their grip (April 11, 2024, The Guardian)
The pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019 and 2020 feel like an increasingly distant memory. Where 2 million people once flooded the streets to oppose the government’s plans to establish closer links with mainland China, an individual can now be jailed for wearing a “seditious” T-shirt.

Chinese Women from the Countryside: Views on Marriage (April 12, 2024, China Brief)
Cultural and policy pressures, including the rising cost of raising children and traditional preferences for sons, contribute to rural women’s reluctance to have more children.

The Chinese émigrés leaving the pressures of home for laid back Chiang Mai (April 13, 2024, The Guardian)
Chiang Mai, a tourist hotspot popular with backpackers and nature-lovers, has become an unlikely second home for thousands of new Chinese émigrés. More than 110,000 Chinese nationals applied for long-term visas in Thailand between January and September in 2022, nearly the total number for 2019. 

China’s Chengdu Disney Has Massive Queues and Just One Ride (April 15, 2024, The World of Chinese)
But the park, located in the outdoor gym of a sleepy residential compound, is by far the most basic in the country. A single mundane piece of exercise equipment is its sole ride.

Herders on front line of India’s Himalayan dispute with China say they’re losing grazing land – and a way of life(April 16, 2024, CNN)
High in the Himalayas, the people of a remote northern Indian territory fear their way of life is under threat from the changing climate, looming development – and border tensions with China. At stake, they believe, is the future of Ladakh, one of the world’s highest elevation regions, where indigenous tribes maintain nomadic traditions on sprawling plains hemmed in by mountains punctuated by Buddhist monasteries.

The Not-So-Chinese Future of Europe’s Chinese Eateries (April 17, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Beginning in the 1990s, a handful of Dutch-Chinese began taking over local chip shops — restaurants serving quick and simple Western fare like fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s economy seeing ‘seismic shifts’ and imbalances like nothing Beijing predicted, senior economist says (April 14, 2024, South China Morning Post)
Prominent government adviser Liu Yuanchun says the immediate future will be marked by disequilibrium, and appropriate adjustments will take time. More non-economic risks are emerging than economic ones, he says after China reports expectation-beating GDP growth in first quarter.

China economy grows faster than expected in first quarter (April 16, 2024, BBC)
China’s economy made a stronger-than-expected start to the year, even as the crisis in its property sector deepened. According to official data, gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 5.3% in the first three months of 2024, compared to a year earlier. That beat expectations the world’s second largest economy could see growth slow to 4.6% in the first quarter.

Science / Technology

China’s gigantic telescope detects over 900 new pulsars (April 17, 2024, China Daily)
China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope, has identified more than 900 new pulsars since its launch in 2016, its operator said Wednesday. Pulsars, or fast-spinning neutron stars, originate from the imploded cores of massive dying stars through supernova explosions.

Sports / Entertainment / Media

China axes hundreds of TV dramas depicting family tensions (April 14, 2024, Radio Free Asia)
China’s internet censors have deleted hundreds of online TV dramas for portraying the negative aspects of family life amid an attempt by the ruling Communist Party to get more people to start families and rescue plummeting birth rates.

Beijing Half Marathon organizers investigate Chinese runner’s controversial win (April 15, 2024, NBC News)
He Jie, a member of China’s marathon team and a national record holder in the full marathon, had run the entire 13.1-mile race Sunday with the three African runners. As they approached the finish line, at least one of the runners appeared to wave him ahead.

Pray for China

April 19 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Apr. 19, 2002, Xu Guoyong (许国永弟兄) was baptized as a believer in Beijing. He gave up a promising secular career and took a job with a Christian publishing house. While Xu and his wife were in detention for their Shouwang Church (守望教会) membership, their young daughter died. Xu himself unexpectedly died in January 2016 at age 37 after being hit by a car while on a trip to the United States. Pray for his widow Shi Yinjuan and their second daughter, and for Christians who are being used by God to comfort them. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

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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