ZGBriefs | April 19, 2018

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Featured Article

Why Christian High Schools Are Filling with Atheist Students (February 20, 2018, Christianity Today)
Chinese parents send their children to America out of frustration with their own highly competitive and narrowly tracked education system, Vishanoff said. As the Chinese economy grew, more parents had the resources to send their child to the US for college. Soon realizing that an American high school education eases the transition to college—and perhaps makes their child’s application more attractive—parents began sending them earlier.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Here's how China deals with big social media companies (April 12, 2018, CNN)
In China, when officials are unhappy with a social media network, they don't spend time grilling the CEO in public. They come down hard, and fast.

China’s Strategy in Djibouti: Mixing Commercial and Military Interests (April 13, 2018, Council on Foreign Relations)
With the opening of the first overseas Chinese military base in Djibouti, this tiny Horn of Africa country has become a testing ground for the mixing of China's commercial and military interests abroad.

First Foreign NGO De-registers in China (April 13, 2018, The China NGO Project)
According to information on the Ministry of Public Security website, the Li Ka Shing Foundation (Hong Kong) de-registered its representative office in China, as of February 28, 2017. This is the first (and only) known organization to de-register under the Foreign NGO Law.

Carrot & Stick: How Beijing Controls its Diaspora (April 14, 2018, China Digital Times)
Since Xi Jinping became president in 2012, China has increasingly been criticized for attempting to manipulate its diaspora in order to support political objectives.

Has Xi Jinping Changed China? Not Really (April 16, 2018, China File)
In the 70 years since the establishment of the Communist regime, numerous changes have taken place in the social, economic, legal, and psychological spheres. Yet the Party’s essential political role of leading a Party-state under strict one-Party rule has not changed, whether under collective dictatorship or a personal one. 

China launches website to report foreign spies, corrupt officials (April 16, 2018, South China Morning Post)
China has stepped up its campaign against foreign espionage with a website in Mandarin and English encouraging people to report national security threats such as bids to “overthrow the socialist system”.

One Belt, One Road, One Happy Chinese Navy (April 17, 2018, Foreign Policy)
In reality, Beijing’s acquisition of more than a dozen ports across the Indian Ocean is a state-directed effort to bolster Chinese political influence and extend its military reach from Indonesia to East Africa, according to a detailed new study released Tuesday.

China Conducts War Games, and Taiwan Is the Target (April 18, 2018, The New York Times)
The war games were the first in the Taiwan Strait since 2016, Chinese state television reported. They were held in a two-square-mile area that includes two islets off the city of Quanzhou in Fujian Province. That area is about 125 miles west of the city of Hsinchu on Taiwan’s west coast.

What Xi Jinping’s extended tenure means for Africa (April 18, 2018, China Policy Institute)
For the foreseeable future, Africa’s engagement with China will be shaped by Xi’s vision. This makes it important to unpack exactly what that vision is.

The Chinese Communist Party Is Setting Up Cells at Universities Across America (April 18, 2018, Foreign Policy)
The overseas party branches are typically established by a group of Chinese exchange students or visiting scholars at the direction of their home institution’s party committee, according to articles and reports viewed by Foreign Policy. Each cohort forms its own cell, which is typically then disbanded when the group returns to China.

China's New Revolution (May/June, 2018, Foreign Affairs)
Not since Mao Zedong had a Chinese leader so directly suggested that others should emulate his country’s model. 


Interview with A Beijing Pastor - Every Disciple Is an Individual Case (March 31, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
One of the biggest challenges to discipleship training in China is being too formulaic. We could easily assume that we are done with discipleship training once we’ve completed some classes. But discipleship is far from being done.

Jailed Chinese pastor’s US family seeks mercy (April 16, 2018, Detroit News)
Cao and a teacher were on a raft returning to Yunnan province when they saw Chinese security agents waiting for them on the shore. Decades of work in China’s clandestine “house” churches and unofficial Bible schools had prepared the prominent 58-year-old Christian leader for this moment.

Pastoring Those Who Face Sexual Temptation (April 17, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
How do Chinese Christians face sexual temptation? Pastor Chen Fengsheng, a Three-Self Church pastor in Wenzhou, shares sorely needed but rare guidance on how he has pastored those who face sexual temptation. He highlights common struggles and gives practical application to combat sexual temptation.

Changing Dynamics of Church Growth in China (April 18, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Given the Chinese church’s exponential growth in past decades, predictions that China will one day have more Christians than any other nation on earth are not surprising. It is worth asking, however, whether these predictions take into account significant changes—both in China and in the church itself—that have taken place in the years following this dramatic growth.

Society / Life

China Viewed From Above (April 11, 2018, The Atlantic)
Simply a collection of some amazing recent aerial images showing the vast diversity of landscapes across China, from cities to mountains, deserts to sea shores, and much more.

Horns Honk, and Censors in China Get a Headache (April 12, 2018, The New York Times)
If you were driving in China recently, you might have gotten in trouble had you tried honking your car horn like this: Beep. (Pause.) Beep, beep. The pattern is a secret code of sorts for loyal users of two Chinese social media apps to identify themselves. Honk the signal while idling at a red light, and if you hear it in response, then you know a fellow fan is near.

China's Sina Weibo reverses gay content clean-up after outcry (April 16, 2018, Reuters)
China’s Sina Weibo on Monday reversed a decision to remove gay content after outcry among gay Chinese who say the company had smeared homosexuality by lumping it with pornography as it tried to meet government censorship directives.

‘Fake divorce’ phenomenon lands in court (April 16, 2018, The World of Chinese)
Generally speaking, though, many netizens see get-rich schemes such as fake divorces as a necessary corollary to the byzantine bureaucracy that local governments throw in the way of middle-class couples who are, in many people’s view, just trying to get ahead.

The quiet revolution: China’s millennial backlash (April 17, 2018, Financial Times)
This generation wants something new from China, and in pursuing it they are changing China, too. A quiet revolution is under way.

A Glimpse of Life Along China's Border With North Korea (April 17, 2018, Wired)
The photographs capture life along the icy river—which forms a natural 491-mile-long boundary between China and North Korea—amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

Economics / Trade / Business

U.S. ban on sales to China's ZTE opens fresh front as tensions escalate (April 16, 2018, Reuters)
The United States has banned American firms from selling parts and software to China’s ZTE Corp for seven years, potentially devastating for the telecoms equipment maker and exacerbating tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

The world is scrambling now that China is refusing to be a trash dumping ground (April 16, 2018, CNBC)
For decades, China was the world's largest importer of waste — a status that many countries took for granted, going by the reaction to Beijing's surprise decision to stop taking in 24 types of scraps starting 2018. More than three months into the ban, waste exporters are still scrambling for an alternative to China, experts told CNBC.

China posts strong growth despite trade concerns (April 16, 2018, Reuters)
China’s economy grew at a slightly faster-than-expected pace of 6.8 percent in the first quarter, buoyed by strong consumer demand and robust property investment.

In Translation: When does a China tech firm’s corporate apology become a political ‘confession’? (April 17, 2018, Hong Kong Free Press)
When does a corporate apology become a political self-confession, or jiantao (检讨), an act of submission not to social mores and concerns, but to those in power? The line can certainly blur in China. But the public apology last week from Zhang Yiming (张一鸣), the founder and CEO of one of China’s leading tech-based news and information platforms, crosses deep into the territory of political abjection.

3 Problems With Selling A Car In China (April 18, 2018, NPR)
For decades, China has been one of the most difficult places to sell a car, and one of the most lucrative. […]  Here are some of the barriers that makes selling a car in China problematic.


One Belt, One Road, One Abacus (April 17, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Chinese movies don’t do well at foreign box offices, and the country’s music isn’t heard around the world. But Shanghai’s math teaching methods have become an unlikely international hit.

Health / Environment

Chinese Couples Want Boys — Trust Me, I’m a Fertility Doctor ( April 14, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Some of my world-wearier colleagues in the obstetrics department sometimes remark, “If you fertility doctors could just help them choose their child’s sex, we could save some women the trouble of going through abortion after abortion.” In China, many women whose requests for sex screening are rejected by aboveboard hospitals later arrange illegal screenings and terminate their pregnancies at unlawful clinics. 

China cuts smog but health damage already done: study (April 16, 2018, Reuters)
China faces about 1.6 million premature deaths a year as a result of air pollution, the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute (HEI) said in a report, based on data going back to 1990, published on Tuesday.

Digital platform to link Chinese hospitals, enable remote diagnosis and reform health care services (April 18, 2018, South China Morning Post)
China’s state-run health care system can benefit from the adoption of new technologies which promise to help push down costs while also improving the quality of patient care, with the advantages of digitisation to be more fully leveraged as more hospitals come online.

Shanxi Officials Detained for Covering Up Chemical Dumping(April 18, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The detention came hot on the heels of an exposé from state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on Tuesday evening. When CCTV reporters went to Hongtong County in Linfen to investigate reports that a state-owned company was dumping chemical waste, the two officials blocked their path and threatened to take them hostage.

Science / Technology

Chinese man caught by facial recognition at pop concert (April 13, 2018, BBC)
Chinese police have used facial recognition technology to locate and arrest a man who was among a crowd of 60,000 concert goers. The suspect, who has been identified only as Mr Ao, was attending a concert by pop star Jacky Cheung in Nanchang city last weekend when he was caught.

Apps In China Survive Longer on Apple than Android App Stores... For Now (April 16, 2018, The Beijinger)
When it comes to removing apps, Apple’s China App Store seems more resistant to state criticism than Android stores, but this might be just for now as more compliance with local rules is expected. In China’s recent move to “clean the internet”, apps ordered to be taken down from app stores disappeared quickly from domestic Android stores. Their iOS versions, however, stayed up past the deadline and some still remain.

History / Culture

Hong Kong’s Jewish Governor and The Road That Bears His Name (February 28, 2018, Zolima City Magazine)
Sir Matthew Nathan was Hong Kong’s 13th governor, serving from 1904 to 1907. Nathan was Hong Kong’s only Jewish governor, and his tenure was short but influential. 

Party Youth Partner With Bilibili to Celebrate Ancient Fashion (April 10, 2018, Sixth Tone)
On Sunday, the official Weibo microblog of the Communist Youth League, a Party-run youth organization, announced the establishment of a new national day celebrating huafu, or Chinese clothing.

This Communist Life: Party Podcast Celebrates Marx Bicentennial (April 17, 2018, Sixth Tone)
So begins the first episode of “Explaining Marx to the Post-’90s Generation,” a new radio series on the father of socialism. The 19-part series, which made its debut on Monday evening, will broadcast daily until May 5 — the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth — on 15 radio stations around China and online through the app Archimedes FM.

How Long-Unpublished Press Photos Bring Life to Chinese History(April 18, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Buried in the collections of national archives and private enthusiasts lie stacks of candid shots of the country’s recent past.

Video: US documentary on the Cultural Revolution from 1967(Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Video: First Picture from Shanghai Under Red Control, 1949(Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Video:The Bells of History: How and When Beijing’s Old City Walls were torn down(Donia Zhang, via Twitter)

Travel / Food

Video: A road trip along North Korea's border with China (April 12, 2018, Reuters)
I was on the border between China and North Korea with my usual reporting partner on such stories, Sue-Lin Wong, on a week-long road trip. What we saw – from dirt-poor daily lives to clandestine economic activity on the Korean side – included scenes not yet witnessed in foreign media.

All of the World's Yeast Probably Originated in China (April 14, 2018, The Atlantic)
Baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, yeast that lives in infected toenails—they all descended from a common ancestor.

China Is Making It Easier for Foreign Tourists to Visit Hainan (April 18, 2018, Skift)
New regulations expanding the travel privileges to 59 nations come into effect in May, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the State Immigration Administration. Tourists from those countries can enter the province as individuals without a visa and stay for as many as 30 days — shift from previous rules that required people to travel in groups and stay no longer than 21 days.

Instant La: The Best of China’s Self-Heating Hot Pots (April 18, 2018, The Beijinger)
You may not have heard, but there has been a momentous development in the world of instant food. Instant noodles have now encountered a seriously bulky competitor in the battle for China’s go-to mobile meals in the form of the self-heating hot pot, literally translated from Chinese as “convenient hot pot” (fangbian huoguo).

Language / Language Learning

100 Basic Chinese Characters (July 2, 2017, Useful Charts)
Once you learn to recognize just a few of these basic characters, you'll find yourself noticing them wherever you find Chinese writing. 

A Resigned Effort: Beijing Holds Correction Contest for Signs with Poor English (April 14, 2018, The Beijinger)
Now eleven years later with yet another tenure as an Olympic Games host looming, Beijing remains stuck in the exact same spot. But as much as this may be an indication that English-language schooling efforts aren't working, we can also see this as a sign of the times that China simply doesn't want to speak English.

Living Cross-culturally

If You Sell and I Give Away—Can We Still Be Friends? (April 13, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Sell, sort, ship, give away, or leave by the curb? What do we do with our stuff when it is time to move? I have spent over twenty years going in and out of Asia—changing schools, apartments, teammates, and even countries. At one time I held the questionable distinction of having storage boxes in three countries. 

Who are the expats in China? The case of Suzhou(April 17, 2018, China Policy Institute)
Due to increasingly growing demand for English education, a lot of Americans, mostly young singles, are found in Chinese cities. However, more precise details about who the expats are is still unknown in cities where most foreign nationals are found.


Out of China: How the Chinese Ended the Era of DominationA Book Review (April 11, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
While certainly not a book for the faint-hearted in terms of breadth and detail; it is definitely for those with an interest in China’s modern history both as it played out and in how it has been variously understood and portrayed. 

China’s Great Wall of Debt (April 12, 2018, China File)
Debt, entrenched vested interests, a frenzy of speculation, and an aging population are all pushing China toward an economic reckoning. China’s Great Wall of Debt unravels an incredibly complex and opaque economy, one whose fortunes—for better or worse—will shape the globe like never before.

Teaching with Faith and Professionalism: A Book Review (April 16, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
The views Baurain presents are diverse and highly relevant to the Chinese context. The fact that he is describing varied opinions rather than adjudicating between them actually makes the materials more valuable, as a resource both for individuals formulating their own approaches and for organisations supporting teachers. Indeed, the changing Chinese environment makes a focus on professionalism even more important for such organisations.

Protestant Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America (Reading Religion)
Hollinger provides a detailed accounting of a small but influential group of Americans whose firsthand knowledge of China, Japan, India, and Palestine influenced foreign policy leaders and academic institutions in the United States.

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource 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