ZGBriefs | April 26, 2018

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Featured Article

Five ways China's past has shaped its present (April 20, 2018, BBC)
The country is perhaps more aware of its own history than any other major society on earth. That remembering is certainly partial - events like Mao's Cultural Revolution are still very difficult to discuss within China itself. But it is striking how many echoes of the past can be found in its present.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China's Xi says internet control key to stability (April 21, 2018, Reuters)
China must strengthen its grip on the internet to ensure broader social and economic goals are met, state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday citing comments from President Xi Jinping, underlining a hardening attitude towards online content.

Tensions mount as Beijing sends navy on Pacific drills south of Taiwan (April 21, 2018, South China Morning Post)
People’s Liberation Army naval forces passed through waters south of Taiwan and carried out military exercises in the western Pacific, the latest in a series of military drills that self-ruled Taiwan has criticised as amounting to “intimidation”.

The myth of a kinder, gentler Xi Jinping (April 23, 2018, China Policy Institute)
In January 2013, The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof predicted the newly anointed Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping would spearhead political and economic reform, remove the body of Mao Zedong from its hallowed mausoleum, and release the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo from prison. His “hunch,” Kristof added, “may be wrong entirely.”

The Corrections Needed in the U.S.-China Relationship (April 23, 2018, China File)
Discussing U.S. leadership more broadly, Hadley advocated for a realistic approach that strikes a balance between advancing U.S. ideals and accounting for the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and other emerging security threats.

Framing the Australia–China relationship (April 24, 2018, The Strategist)
But CCP interference is real, not mere rhetoric, and it’s the central reason for bilateral tensions. Mistakes in how the China–Australia relationship has been managed shouldn’t lead us to lose sight of that crucial fact. 

The Rise and Rise of the United Front Work Department under Xi (April 24, 3028, Jamestown China Brief)
Much of the rationale for the shift in policy seems to revolve around Xi Jinping’s rise and his analysis of what the Party must do to both survive and to achieve his vision of national rejuvenation.

Xinjiang: China’s Growing Dilemma (April 25, 2018, Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies)
Although the province has developed steadily since the mid-1980s the prosperity of the province was mainly focused on the areas populated by the Hans in the north of Xinjiang, such as Urumqi and Turfan, compared to the south such as Kasghar and Hotan, which are majority Uyghur. The locals have been bypassed economically.


Protestant five-year plan for Chinese Christianity (April 20, 2018, UCA News)
Translated document outlines strategy for Sinicization that will adapt religion to China's socialist society.

Story of Church in Zhangjiajie’s Remote Mountainous Area, South-central China (April 20, 2018, China Christian Daily)
A Gothic-style church sits in a remote mountain town of Zhangjiajie, a prefecture-level city in northwest Hunan Province. Wangjiaping Church, the second oldest church in Zhangjiajie, has a history of about twenty years. 

Religion in China—By the Numbers (April 23, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
There is a lot to digest in the paper, but for now here are some of the statistical highlights that give us a glimpse of the current religious situation in China.

The Church Can Only Be Built on The Rock Of Jesus Christ (April 24, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
The thoughts he shares here represent one common perspective among house church pastors on the Three Self Church; however, there remains a wide diversity of views among house church pastors on the topic.

Chinese Christians and the Arts (April 24, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
Many Christians view art in this way: art is fine as a hobby but, if it is held as a profession, it may cause people to become overly invested in art, and they may even fall into a state of idol worship.

Catholic church seized as China ramps up Henan crackdown (April 25, 2018, UCA News)
Beijing has extended its crackdown on religion in Henan province — a key center of Christianity in China — by seizing an unregistered Catholic church managed by an official priest. The parish priest in charge of the seized church was registered with the government but the church was not, a source told ucanews.com. "The government will not allow the church to register or to open," he said.

Society / Life

A Ban on Gay Content, Stopped in Its Tracks: A ChinaFile Conversation (April 18, 2018, China File)
 What does the Sina Weibo incident say about gay rights in China? How much of a factor was the protest against the initial ban? And what, if anything, does it portend for the relationship between public protest and government censorship?

The Waning History of Russians in Xinjiang (April 19, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Cultural and ethnic fusion takes place along the borders between nations. In northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, these boundaries are blurrier than in most other parts of the world: Where China meets Russia and the Central Asian nations, a wide variety of peoples have intermingled for centuries.

Rural exodus leaves a shrinking Chinese village full of ageing poor, and only three children (April 19, 2018, South China Morning Post)
A mountainous farming region in one of China’s poorest provinces feels the drain as young parents migrate to the cities, and those left behind struggle.

The Peculiar Past and Present of a Socialist Skyscraper (April 19, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The Anhua Building was once a marvel. When it was completed in May 1960, the apartment block’s nine floors towered over the neighborhood’s single-story houses. Locals whispered about its elevators, private bathrooms, and other unheard-of luxuries.

Video:The Nomadic People Caught in the Crosshairs of China’s Economic Boom (April 19, 2018, Narratively)
As huge Chinese-populated cities spring to life here, can the voiceless herders endure the transformation of their land from vast and beautiful grassland to modern, industrialized territory?

Dragon boat disaster leaves 17 dead in China (April 22, 2018, The Guardian)
Sixty paddlers practising for a race fall into river in southern city of Guilin as two boats capsize in strong current.

Urban Officials Are Spoiling the Cities They Should Be Improving (April 23, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Urban managers don’t want their cities referred to as zangluancha — a colloquial term used for anything substandard that comprises the characters for “dirty,” “messy,” and “inferior.” Anything that does not meet aesthetic standards is often derided as zangluancha and quickly becomes subject to a government-orchestrated “targeted cleanup campaign.”

Final Stop on the Great Brickening Shows Beijing Hutongs Have Become Sterile, Tepid Alleys (April 23, 2018, The Beijinger)
Underneath the headline "Old Beijing resident hutongs have returned," the Beijing Daily displayed through a series of photos that the new government-standard renovated hutongs have been duly stripped of their personality.

China's behavior monitoring system bars some from travel, purchasing property (April 24, 2018, CBS News)
By 2020, China plans to give all its 1.4 billion citizens a personal score based on how they behave. Some with low scores are already being punished if they want to travel. Nearly 11 million Chinese are not allowed to fly and 4 million are barred from trains. Next week, the program will start expanding nationwide.

The “Other” Ethnic Minorities in China (April 24, 2018, Institute for Asia Pacific Studies)
The minority ethnic groups (shaoshu minzu 少数民族) are just under eight percent of the national population (2010 census). The two most populous are the Zhuang, most living in Guangxi, which borders Vietnam; and the Hui, who are ethnically Chinese but Muslim by religion. Most of the minorities have their own language and culture.

Hong Kong's 'cardboard grannies': the elderly box collectors living in poverty (April 24, 2018, The Guardian)
Inadequate support for Hong Kong’s ageing population means for some older citizens, scavenging and selling boxes and scrap is the only way to scrape by.

Girl’s Suicide Spurs Questions About School Bullying (April 24, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Three months after her daughter’s death on campus, Yuan Yuan still believes the school didn’t do enough. She blames bullies for driving her child to despair, and says the school turned a blind eye.

Video: China's Lisu minority guards a culture of crossbows (April 24, 2018, Reuters)
For Zhang and many other Lisu, a mostly Christian minority who inhabit the border region, the crossbow is an indispensable part of their culture dating back to 200 BC.

Wanted at Chinese Start-Ups: Attractive Women to Ease Coders’ Stress (April 24, 2018, The New York Times)
China’s vibrant technology scene is searching for people like Shen Yue. Qualifications: Must be attractive, know how to charm socially awkward programmers and give relaxing massages.

China karaoke bar fire kills 18 in Yingde (April 24, 2018, BBC)
The fire broke out inside the three-storey building in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Police have arrested a 32-year-old man for suspected arson. Reports allege he blocked the bar's only exit with a motorbike before starting the fire.

Dreams of Imperial Descent Drive Chinese to DNA Testing (April 25, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Most Chinese are interested in discovering whether they are related to famous historical figures — for instance, Confucius, some emperor, or an eminent warlord.

Economics / Trade / Business

Podcast: The Belt, The Road And The Money (April 20, 2018, NPR)
Patrick Ho runs a think tank, and one of his favorite subjects to think about is China's entry onto the global stage. In April of 2017, Ho made a speech about the world's need for a dramatic reorganization of power, and his mission to make it happen.

A brave new world: Xi’s Xiong’an (April 20, 2018, Brookings)
President Xi has played a pivotal role in launching the Xiong’an New Area. Just as Shenzhen and Pudong are considered gems of the Deng era, Xi aspires to see his name associated with a new urban miracle, write Cheng Li and Gary Xie. However, the ambitious project will need to address key issues in urban planning, socioeconomic considerations, and ecological vulnerabilities.

Is Time Up for China’s Official ‘Time-Honored Brands’? (April 20, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Colloquially, these companies are known as laozihao. Many such enterprises have histories going back several hundred years, while others sell products and services passed down through generations and are held in high esteem by Chinese society. 

China’s New VAT Rates: Prepare for May 1 Transition (April 24, 2018, China Briefing)
China recently announced that it would lower its value-added tax (VAT) rates and expand the criteria for businesses to qualify as small-scale VAT taxpayers, as part of an RMB 400 billion tax cut package.

After sorghum spat, U.S.-China trade fears halt soybean imports (April 25, 2018, Reuters)
China’s purchases of U.S. soybeans have come to a grinding halt, trade and industry sources say, as fears of further action by Beijing to curb imports of U.S. crops following last week’s anti-dumping move on sorghum rattles the agriculture industry.

Video: 'Small-town kids' shape future of China's consumption (April 25, 2018, Reuters)
Until now, China’s consumption has been led by residents of the capital and free-spending coastal cities. But the hinterland has been catching up fast, transformed by industrialization and rapid urbanization in the last 10 years.

China's ZTE will take 'certain actions' against U.S. ban (April 25, 2018, Reuters)
China’s ZTE Corp said on Wednesday it planned to take “certain actions” under U.S. laws following a ban by the U.S. government on American firms doing business with the company.

China Is Opening Its Car Market. But Not Enough, Say Auto Companies. (April 25, 2018, The New York Times)
As details are emerging, foreign auto executives attending China’s annual auto show in Beijing this week said Mr. Xi’s initiative was too narrow and vague to change business on the ground. That means the initiative may not be a strong enough starting point for talks to stave off the Trump administration’s threats to impose tariffs on $150 billion in Chinese-made goods.

Following the Belt and Road (April 25, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
In this informative podcast from the National Bureau of Asian Research, Rolland details the multi-pronged purpose of what she describes as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “organizing foreign policy principle,”…


What’s The ‘Dirty Secret’ Of Western Academics Who Self-Censor Work on China? (April 21, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Critics say academics are increasingly censoring themselves to avoid criticising Beijing out of a fear they could lose access to the country. While Beijing’s hand in this process is not always overt, its critics say this is just one way in which China suppresses criticism and exerts its influence abroad.

Student says Peking University trying to silence her over rape claim petition (April 24, 2018, The Guardian)
Yue said she has been called in for several meetings with school officials, often lasting until late into the night. She accused administrators of suggesting she might not be able to graduate and asking what her mother and grandmother would think of her behaviour.

Health / Environment

Chinese Scientists Unlock Key to Anti-Malaria Drug (April 24, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Tang Kexuan and his team have identified the wormwood genes responsible for producing artemisinin, a potent cure for malaria.

How We Help Bring Medicine to China’s Remote Mountain Areas (April 25, 2018, Sixth Tone)
A chronic lack of health care infrastructure in the country’s hilly hinterland is putting children at risk.

History / Culture

Pastor Shao (Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity)
Pastor Shao of Yanshan was a graduate of the London Missionary Society’s theological seminary in Tianjin, which had been founded in the early 1870s.

Video: A visit to Tientsin(Tianjin) in northern China, on June 19, 1935 (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Travel / Food

Holidays, History, and Dumplings with a Hui Muslim Family (April 22, 2018, Radii China)
I was on my way to Zhengzhou to spend time with my Hui family. Hui (回族) are one of China’s 55 ethnic minority groups, and practice the Muslim faith. For this reason pork, which is the filling for most jiaozi in China, is off the menu. So I was about to try a new type of jiaozi, and a slightly different experience.

China's scariest outdoor attractions (April 24, 2018, CNN)
As the world's most populous nation with the world's second-biggest economy, the self-styled Middle Kingdom is finding new and increasingly nerve-racking ways to attract and entertain tourists. 

Top Destinations in China for Science Lovers (April 25, 2018, Wild China Blog)
They continue to seek excellence across the various fields of science and have many different attractions for science lovers of all ages. Here are our top destinations in China for science lovers.

Language / Language Learning

100 Chinese History Keywords(April 19, 2018, Sinosplice)

Living Cross-culturally

Have You Eaten? (April 20, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
One of the first phrases I learned in Chinese was “Ni chi guo le ma?” This question “Have you eaten?” is more a greeting than an inquiry into your food intake. Something like “how are you?” is in English. The cashier may be friendly but hardly interested in the details of your physical condition.


Israel and China: From the Tang Dynasty to Silicon Wadi (April 19, 2018, China Rhyming)
a history of the Jews in China from Kaifeng, and all that, through Harbin, Shanghai, emigres, refugees, and all that, to the current state of Sino-Israeli relations…

Best 30 Books to Understand Modern China (Recommended by What’s on Weibo) (April 19, 2018, What’s on Weibo)
There are many great books out there on modern China, and a lot of them are written in Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, Dutch, and many other languages – but for the scope of this particular list, we have chosen just to focus on the books that have come out in the English language.

Sold People: Traffickers and Family Life in North China (April 24, 2018, China File)
Ransmeier draws from untapped archival sources to recreate the lived experience of human trafficking in turn-of-the-century North China. Not always a measure of last resort reserved for times of extreme hardship, the sale of people was a commonplace transaction that built and restructured families as often as it broke them apart.

Links for Researchers

China Philanthropy Law Report (China File)
The last decade has seen the rapid growth of more independent grassroots nonprofit organizations and community-based organizations, along with a gradual shift away from a nonprofit landscape dominated by government-organized NGOs.

Corralling the People’s Armed Police: Centralizing Control to Reflect Centralized Budgets (April 24, 2018, Jamestown China Brief)
This article demonstrates, through a close analysis of PRC domestic security spending, that the recent PAP reforms have sought to align unit command structures with existing spending distribution patterns.

Image credit: guido da rozze, via Flickr
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