ZGBriefs | April 27, 2023

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Featured Article

Video: Enjoying Jet Lag: Resuming In-Person Travel and U.S.-China Relations (April 17, 2023, Center for Strategic and International Studies, via YouTube)
A discussion on the role of in-person travel and direct communication in increasing mutual understanding and stabilizing U.S.-China relations.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China disowns ambassador’s remarks questioning Ukrainian independence (April 24, 2023, BBC)
China has distanced itself from the remarks of one of its envoys who questioned the sovereignty of Ukraine and other former Soviet countries. Paris ambassador Lu Shaye’s comments last week caused widespread outrage, leading on calls to Beijing to clarify. On Monday, China’s foreign ministry said it respected the independence of all post-Soviet republics.

China’s shrinking population and constraints on its future power (April 24, 2023, Brookings)
Thus, a more compelling interpretation is that China’s presumed future dominance is not preordained on any timetable. The PRC is, and will be, formidable, to be sure. And it is dangerous. But it is not poised to establish hegemony in either the first or second half of the 21st century as some kind of historical inevitability.

China’s planned changes to espionage law alarm foreign businesses (April 25, 2023, Nikkei)
China is preparing to restrict transfers of any information related to national security under an updated counterespionage law, raising fears of a stepped-up crackdown on foreign individuals and companies here.

China Accepts US Envoy’s Credentials More Than a Year After His Arrival (April 25, 2023, VOA)
U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns presented his credentials to Chinese President Xi Jinping this week, more than one year after Burns arrived in Beijing. While the U.S. State Department downplayed the implication of the delay, some analysts said it reflects “the frozen nature” of current US-China diplomatic ties.

Can China replace the US in the Middle East? (April 25, 2023, Al Jazeera)
Despite its fast-rising clout, China still does not have the ability to replace the US in the Middle East, where Washington has dozens of military bases and allies it has committed to defending. But Beijing might not want to take on that responsibility yet in any case, experts say. For now, China can benefit from expanded diplomatic and economic influence while letting the US continue leading on the region’s security concerns.

Zelensky holds first war phone call with China’s Xi (April 26, 2023, BBC)
Ukraine’s Volodymr Zelensky says he has had a “long and meaningful” phone call with China’s Xi Jinping, their first contact since Russia’s war began. He said on Twitter he believed the call, along with the appointment of an ambassador to Beijing, would “give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations”. China confirmed the call, adding that it “always stood on the side of peace”.

China detains Taiwan-based man who published books critical of Communist Party (April 26, 2023, CNN)
A Taiwan-based book publisher has been placed under investigation in China on suspicion of “endangering state security,” Beijing said Tuesday amid mounting concern over his disappearance. Li Yanhe, better known by his pen-name Fu Cha, was reportedly detained by police in Shanghai in March, shortly after he arrived to visit his family and deal with residency-related issues, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA).

US, Filipino forces show firepower at sea amid China tension (April 26, 2023, AP)
American and Filipino forces sank a ship with a barrage of high-precision rockets, airstrikes and artillery fire in their largest war drills on Wednesday in Philippine waters facing the disputed South China Sea which are likely to antagonize China.


What’s behind Boom of Christianity in China? (April 22, 2023, China Christian Daily)
Over the past four decades, Christianity has grown faster in China than anywhere else in the world. Daryl Ireland, a Boston University School of Theology research assistant professor of mission, estimates that the Christian community there has grown from 1 million to 100 million. What led to that explosion, centuries after the first Christian missionaries arrived in China? The BU scholars behind the China Historical Christian Database aim to find out.

Jesus Longs for More: A Letter of Encouragement (April 25, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
In 2023, we will be periodically publishing letters of encouragement to the church in China from the global church. We hope these letters will remind Chinese Christians that they are not alone or forgotten, but that around the world, their brothers and sisters in Christ care and pray for them regularly.

Society / Life

China’s Small-Time Influencers Search for a Hit (April 24, 2023, Sixth Tone)
They might just have a few hundred followers, but these “nano-influencers” still believe they can strike it rich.

Holiday Hustle: In China, Most Resent Trading Weekends for Time Off (April 25, 2023, Sixth Tone)
A new survey launched before the Labor Day holiday shows many in China find working weekends for longer holidays “exhausting.”

Hong Kong: some schools face closure as birthrate and exodus take toll (April 25, 2023, The Guardian)
Hong Kong schools are being forced to merge or prepare for closure as a decade-long decline in the birthrate and a recent exodus of residents from the city has led to a plunge in student numbers. Local media have reported that at least five schools face closure in coming years after they failed to reach the minimum 16 enrolments in the first grade. There have been two recent cases of schools merging with each other due to insufficient student numbers.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s Shanghai to ramp up high-tech investments (April 25, 2023, Reuters)
China’s financial hub of Shanghai will promote investments in specialized technology including chip design, circuitry and artificial intelligence as the country pushes forward with a move toward tech self-reliance.

Science / Technology

China Says Chatbots Must Toe the Party Line (April 24, 2023, The New York Times) (subscription required)
The Communist Party outlined draft rules that would set guardrails on the rapidly growing industry of services like ChatGPT.

China unveils plan to build satellite system for space exploration (April 26, 2023, Reuters)
China will start building relay satellites that by 2030 will act as a communication bridge between missions to the moon and beyond, and ground operations on Earth, Chinese state media reported on Wednesday.

History / Culture

Something to Celebrate: Little-Known Chinese Festivals for Spring (and Other Seasons) (April 24, 2023, The World of Chinese)
The tropical island of Hainan offers a plethora of ancient and modern holidays not often celebrated in the rest of the country.

Remembering the Yellow Flower Mound Uprising against the Qing (April 27, 2023, The China Project)
The Yellow Flower Mound Uprising, also known as the Second Guangzhou Uprising, may have failed, but its legacy is now celebrated in mainstream Chinese culture. Here’s how it happened.

Travel / Food

Xiamen! (April 21, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
While the history of the city dates back to the Song Dynasty, it began its rise in 1842 when it was included as one of the five treaty ports ceded to the British following the First Opium War. Xiamen, which was referred to by its name in the local Hokkien language—Amoy—became one of the main centers of both foreign trade and western Protestant missionary activity.  

All Aboard the Yunnan Express (April 25, 2023, The World of Chinese)
Riding the rails of southern Yunnan province, where “internet celebrity” tourism and French colonial legacy collide.

China to scrap PCR test requirement for inbound travellers (April 26, 2023, The Hindu)
Travellers entering China will no longer need to provide a negative PCR test result starting from Saturday, in another easing of China’s “zero-COVID” policies. Travellers can instead show a negative antigen test result taken within 48 hours before boarding, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters Tuesday.

Hong Kong, mainland China’s Urumqi to launch first direct flight route from next week in bid to connect businesses with Xinjiang region (April 26, 2023, South China Morning Post) (subscription required)
The new flight, which will be run by Urumqi Air, a unit of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, will operate every Wednesday from May 3 and is expected to shave at least three hours off previous routes between the two cities. The route’s opening was first announced by the China News Service agency and other news outlets in Xinjiang earlier this week, with further details published on the Urumqi government website on Sunday.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

‘Eat Bitter’ personalizes China’s relationship with the Central African Republic (April 21, 2023, The China Project)
Co-directors Sun Ningyi and Pascale Appora-Gnekindy offer a depoliticized, if at times dismissive, look into the lives of a Chinese construction manager and a Central African laborer.

Language / Language Learning

Beyond tīng bu dǒng, part 5: Becoming a better listener as a student of Chinese (April 24, 2023, Hacking Chinese)
The reasons why listening comprehension is hard can loosely be sorted into three categories: the listener, the passage that is listened to, and the situation in which the listening takes place. In this article, we’re going to have a closer look at the first category to try to identify what a good listener is like and how we can become one.


Chinese Migrants in the Stew Pot of Dubai: A Book Review of Chinese in Dubai (April 24, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
The research was designed to provide a sociological study of the Chinese community in Dubai: how they see themselves, are seen, and develop a sense of belonging while retaining pride in their Chinese identity.

Links for Researchers

Podcast: Dr. Easten Law-Interdisciplinary Research in World Christianity (April 23, 2023, Voices of World Christianity, via Spotify)
“In this episode we chat with Easten Law, OMSC, about the field of World Christianity, the joys and challenges of interdisciplinary research, and whether or not World Christianity is the answer to all of theology’s problems (listen to find out Easten’s tactful answer!)”

Pray for China

April 29 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Apr. 29, 1968, Christian dissident Lin Zhao (林昭姐妹) was executed before a firing squad in Shanghai’s Tilanqiao Prison at age 35. A graduate of Peking University, Lin was arrested in 1960 and given a 20-year sentence. While in prison she wrote using her own blood as ink, and her parents did not learn of her death until presented with a bill for the bullet used to kill her. Pray for Christian prisoners to cherish the truth that they have been ransomed by the precious blood of the Lamb. Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19

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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