ZGBriefs | April 4, 2019

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Featured Article

Tax Residency in China: Six-Year Rule Clarified (March 29, 2019, China Briefing)
The announcement clarifies, among other things, when tax authorities will begin counting days spent in China for the purposes of determining the tax residency status of foreign workers. In other words, the announcement details how the so-called “six-year rule” will be enforced.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

What Does the Punishment of a Prominent Scholar Mean for Intellectual Freedom in China?  (March 28, 2019, China File)
We asked contributors for their thoughts on the significance of Xu’s suspension and its possible consequences for political and intellectual life in China.

‘I felt like a slave:’ Inside China’s complex system of incarceration and control of minorities (March 31, 2019, The Globe and Mail)
In Kazakhstan, former detainees recount brutal treatment, political indoctrination, forced labour and surveillance. Nathan VanderKlippe reports ahead of human-rights group’s visit to Ottawa seeking action.

Chinese Dissidents Feel Heat of Beijing’s Wrath. Even in Canada. (April 1, 2019, The New York Times)
She thought she would be safe in Toronto. Then she began speaking out against the Chinese government and became the victim of a lurid smear campaign.

China Stops Human Rights Lawyer From Traveling to Study in The US  (April 2, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
Chen Jiangang was prevented from boarding flight DL128 at Beijing's International Airport on Monday by border guards, who said they had instructions from the Beijing police department not to allow him to leave China, he said in a statement published by the ChinaChange website.

China-Taiwan tensions grow after warplane incursion (April 2, 2019, BBC)
The incursion by Chinese warplanes on Sunday, crossing a maritime line separating Chinese and Taiwanese waters, is the most serious such incident for years. The duration of the incursion – some ten minutes – suggests it was no mere navigational mistake. Taiwan scrambled aircraft to intercept the intruders. Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen has called for Chinese warplanes that cross the maritime line to be "forcefully expelled".

Hong Kong's push to allow extraditions to China prompts protests (April 3, 2019, The Guardian)
The Hong Kong chief executive, Carrie Lam, defended the proposal, which would give her the power to order the transfer of suspects to China. Current Hong Kong law bars any renditions to China or other jurisdictions of the People’s Republic of China.

Ain’t no party like a Communist Party: Chinese cadres told how to celebrate political ‘birthdays’ (April 3, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The Chinese Communist Party has published a step-by-step guide for its nearly 90 million members on how to celebrate their “political birthdays” – including a suggestion they meet their superiors to discuss their shortcomings.


Chinese city offers US$1,500 reward to help snare foreign religious leaders (March 29, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Guangzhou has become the first major city in China to offer financial rewards to people who report “illegal religious activities”, as authorities continue to crack down on underground gatherings.

Interview With a Foshan Pastor – a Gospel Vacuum (March 30, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
Located next to Guangzhou, Foshan is a fairly big city with 8 million people. Idol worship is rampant, with Foshan being the only Chinese city named with the word “Buddha.” The central district is even called “Zen” City.The city is full of idol worship, as well as the worship of money. 

Important Themes in Zhuangzi's Teachings (April 1, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
In this second of three parts, I present some famous passages from the teachings of Zhuangzi, highlighting three key themes within them. These themes are 1) the mystery of transformation, 2) effortless skillfulness through unity with the Dao, and 3) the limitations of human reason and utility. I conclude by summarizing the ways Buddhism resonated and built upon these themes to slowly transform Buddhism into a Chinese faith. 

The Gospel in Pictures (April 2, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
This year is the 100th anniversary of the publication of the Chinese Union Version (CUV) of the Bible. The Wechat blog Micro Bible recently shared several early 20th century Chinese Christian gospel paintings and tracts that give a look at contextualization of Bible passages to a Chinese context. While some are paraphrases, most are direct citations from the CUV. 

Society / Life

China’s “social credit” scheme involves cajolery and sanctions (March 28, 2019,The Economist)
For now the data being collated nationally are being put to use in two main ways. The first is to aid the development of a financial credit-rating industry. This will probably result in a financial scoring-system similar to those widely used in other countries. The second is to tighten the enforcement of existing laws.

How We Can Improve the Lives of China’s Delivery Drivers (March 30, 2019,Sixth Tone)
They pick up our packages and deliver our food; they’re the engine that powers China’s complex logistics chain. But thanks to brutal schedules, unresponsive yet overbearing management, and a lack of advancement opportunities, many of them feel as though they’re running on borrowed time.

Marriage rate declines to fresh low (April 1, 2019, China Daily)
Last year, the marriage rate nationwide dipped to 7.2 newly wedded couples per 1,000 people, dropping for the fifth consecutive year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The rate stood at 9.9 per 1,000 in 2013, and was 7.7 in 2017.

How this boy's funny faces made him a China star (April 1, 2019, BBC)
How does an eight-year-old from Minneapolis become so famous in China that he gets mobbed every time he visits? By pulling faces. The expressions of Gavin Thomas are used as memes in China where people are sometimes too polite to say what they really think.

Southwestern China Forest Fire Contained After Killing Over 2 Dozen Firefighters (April 2, 2019, NPR)
A forest fire in southwestern China that killed more than two dozen firefighters has been contained, local authorities said. The fire broke out on Saturday evening local time in a remote area of the country's Sichuan province and killed 30 people in total, according to the state news agency Xinhua. The blaze took place at over 12,000 feet.

Jiangsu Company Rewards Employees for Having More Kids (April 3, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Scholars question whether the scheme might encourage people to violate China’s two-child policy, while netizens say they’d need far greater incentives to afford additional kids.

Three held over Chinese chemical plant blast that killed 78 (April 3, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Three employees from Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical, whose facility was involved in the blast, had “significant responsibility” for the accident, according to a statement on the Yancheng government’s official Weibo account.

Spring greens craze in China picks holes in public parks (April 3, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Beijing’s elderly residents are wreaking havoc on the city’s parks in pursuit of wild spring vegetables, a traditional favourite in China at this time of year.

Economics / Trade / Business

China launches widespread safety probe after deadly chemical blast (March 27, 2019, Reuters)
In a new round of inspections, safety departments had been told to investigate “poor, chaotic and small” enterprises and to ensure that unqualified companies are shut down. They are also under pressure to crack down on other violations, including the illegal or excess storage of dangerous chemical materials.

China in Transition – From Manufacturer to Consumer (March 29, 2019, BBN Times)
The one child policy has now been relaxed but, as yet, only a tiny percentage of parents have applied to have a second child. What does that mean for the prospects for Chinese assets and what might be the implications for the asset markets of its trading partners?

China's factories are now defying the economic slowdown (April 1, 2019, CNN)
The country's huge manufacturing industry unexpectedly rebounded in March, government figures showed Sunday. The official purchasing managers index for the month jumped to 50.5, compared to 49.2 in February. A reading above 50 indicates growth from the previous month.

China to curb all types of fentanyl, following US demands (April 1, 2019, BBC)
All fentanyl-related substances will be added to China's list of controlled narcotic drugs from 1 May, officials said. It follows a pledge Beijing made during US-China trade talks in December. The powerful painkiller, much of it believed to be made in China, is said to be driving a huge rise in drug addiction in the US.

Belt and Road in 2019: Recalibration or Retrenchment? (April 1, 2019, China Business Review)
Despite stressors, the most likely course for the Belt and Road this year seems to be one of recalibration. Economic growth in China is not the only engine driving expenditures on the Belt and Road; the program’s political support and significance to Xi Jinping and the CCP could be just as important, if not more so than its economic rationale.

Video: Nicholas Lardy on Economic Reform in China: Past, Present, and Future (April 2, 2019, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, via YouTube)
As the Chinese state—under the leadership of President Xi Jinping—continues to exert more control over China’s economy through its policies, prospects for future reforms seem uncertain. Dr. Nicholas R. Lardy of the Peterson Institute explains why economic reform has been so important to Chinese society over the past 40 years and shares his perspective on whether the country’s reform period has indeed ended. 

Economic Reform in China: Current Progress and Future Prospects (April 3, 2019, China Briefing)
In 2018, China’s economy grew at the slowest rate since 1990, and the country became embroiled in a trade war with the US. At the same time, the economy has developed to a point where its established growth model is no longer tenable. At this crossroad in China’s economic development, we ask which way are reforms heading?

Ford to launch more than 30 new models in China over next three years (April 3, 2019, Reuters)
Its China operations chief Anning Chen said the automaker is committing itself to improving its relationships with Chinese joint-venture partners and localizing its management teams by hiring and promoting more Chinese nationals and global talent with Chinese expertise, among other initiatives.


Why It’s Time to Reform China’s Academic Publishing Databases (March 29, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Academics and students alike have accused the country’s largest, most powerful academic publishing database, Zhiwang, of leveraging its near monopoly over the domestic market to extort sky-high subscription fees from students and public institutions. 

The Inclusive School Fighting China’s Stigma Against Autism (April 2, 2019, Sixth Tone)
 Its integrated education model aims to provide greater support for special-needs children and their families than they would receive at other public-sector preschools. Regardless of their ability, all the kids in Duan’s class take the same basic classes in literacy, music, and games. 

Chinese Students in Limbo as Wait for US Visas Stretches for Months (April 3, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Student visa applications are stuck in ‘administrative processing.’ What does this mean for current scholars?

Health / Environment

These Chinese cities depend on dwindling resources. Can they survive? (March 28, 2019, National Geographic)
Their growth was fueled by mining, logging, and other resource-dependent industries. Now that fuel is running out.

Most northern China cities fail to meet winter smog targets – data (March 31, 2019,Reuters)
But Reuters calculations based on online monitoring data show 30 out of 39 cities in the key northern pollution control zones of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and the Fenwei Plain failed to meet air quality targets over the autumn-winter period to end-March, despite imposing special restrictions.

China sees improved elderly care system (April 1, 2019, China Daily)
China saw improved elderly care system, with 163,800 elderly care institutions and facilities offering 7.46 million beds for senior citizens as of the end of 2018.

Science / Technology

Beijing’s Fight for the Final Frontier (April 2, 2019, Foreign Policy)
While the eyes of the world were focused on China’s Chang’e 4 lunar lander this January, Beijing was also quietly establishing a beachhead in America’s booming commercial space sector. 

History / Culture

How Japan Tried to Save Thousands of Jews from the Holocaust (March 28, 2019, China Channel)
Japan’s campaign to populate Manchuria with Jewish refugees, many of whom were fleeing the Nazis, was marketed as a humanitarian project, but many of the officials behind it would be executed as war criminals after Japan’s 1945 surrender. Its backstory is even more bizarre than the premise suggests.

Imperial Chengyu (March 29, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Today is the 2,106th anniversary of the death of the Han dynasty Emperor Wu. Considered one of the greatest rulers in Chinese history, Wu, whose title translates as “Martial Emperor,” was known for his administrative talent, hot temper, and bold ambition, which contributed to his success expanding the Han empire’s southern reaches and establishing the beginning of what would become the Silk Road.

A Chinese City’s Subway Hits a Roadblock: History (April 1, 2019, Inkstone)
On top of avoiding water pipes and geological formations, Xian’s tunnelers have been forced to navigate a maze of historical artifacts. In late February, construction of a new subway line in the city was delayed after workers discovered Fei Qiu, a Qin dynasty town that dated back to more than 200 BC.

Travel / Food

Traveling in Jilin, the Province at the Border with North Korea (March 29, 2019,Sapore di Cina)
Are you fed up with the “usual” China? In this article I will present to you one of the most unique provinces in the Middle Kingdom: The Province of Jilin.

A Stink Over Fermented Tofu in Shaoxing (April 2, 2019, Roads and Kingdoms)
The ancient city of Shaoxing, about an hour-and-a-half southwest of Shanghai by train, is known in China for a number of things—its literary heritage, its distinctive opera, a system of slender canals to rival Amsterdam’s. It’s also known for its most prized delicacy: stinky tofu.

Sports / Entertainment / Media

Patriot games: Xi Jinping’s dream of Chinese World Cup begins with thousands of footballing toddlers  (April 2, 2019,South China Morning Post)
President Xi Jinping has vowed to make China a world footballing force and is prepared to go to great lengths to do it, sending thousands of toddlers to “football-focused” kindergartens. […]  Xinhua news agency, quoting education ministry officials, said that “each provincial-level region” will have 50 to 200 football-focused kindergartens.

How New England Patriots had a 'monumental' year in China (April 2, 2019, CNN)
Naturally, one of the most successful teams in NFL history will have a global appeal. But there is more to the Patriots' Far East breakthrough than a steady stream of on-the-pitch triumphs and the pulling power of Tom Brady. The franchise has conquered China's digital sphere and it has done so by being present and by being original.

People’s Daily Rides Boom in Censorship for Hire (April 2, 2019, China Digital Times)
The growing burden of Chinese authorities’ increasingly stringent censorship demands has fueled expansion not only of domestic tech companies’ own in-house content monitoring workforces, but also of outsourced censorship services.

Language / Language Learning

English names for Chinese babies (March 29, 2019, Language Log)
t's amazing that so many Chinese want their children to have English names.  Yet, when I reflect that virtually all of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students who are studying abroad have an English name, it's not so surprising after all.

Studying Chinese in Suzhou: A Complete Guide (April 2, 2019, Sapore di Cina)
This article is a guide for people who want to study Chinese in Suzhou. Whether you already live in Suzhou and don’t know where to study or want to know if Suzhou is the right city for you, this article might be useful for you.

Chinese reading challenge, April 2019 (April 2, 2019, Hacking Chinese)
Reading is one of the most important skills when learning a language. It’s an excellent way to expand vocabulary, learn grammar and improve your 语感/語感. Yet many students don’t read enough, and when they do it, they do it in the wrong way.

Things you can do with "water" in Cantonese (April 2, 2019, Language Log)
One of my favorites, used in particular in restaurants, is guon sui (not sure of the proper system for rendering Cantonese [VHM: gwan2 seoi2]), lit., “boiled/boiling water” (kāishuǐ 開水in Mandarin), used to warn someone to get out of the way, something hot is behind you (often quite literally).


The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental Railroad (April 2, 2019, China Rhyming)
This landmark volume shines new light on the Chinese railroad workers and their place in cultural memory. 

Seeing God’s Grace at Work – A Book Review (April 3, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Grace Jacob’s account of her family’s 29 years in China made me jealous! She was so good at speaking Mandarin that at times she mispronounced English. She had a boldness about opening spiritual conversations even in a closed country that put me, who works in an open country, to shame. 

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