ZGBriefs | April 4, 2024

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Featured Article

How we got to ‘Made in China’ (April 2, 2024, NPR)
In a new book, Made in China, historian Elizabeth O’Brien Ingleson explains how corporate America began reconceptualizing trade with China in the 1970s, the factors that led to this change and how “what had once been a fantasy of 400 million customers slowly started to become one of 800 million workers instead.”

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Free Lecture | Human Flourishing in Confucian Thought: A Christian Response
by I’Ching Thomas
If you are in the Twin Cities, please join us at the historic Nazareth Chapel on the campus of the University of Northwestern-St. Paul for this exciting event. I’Ching Thomas will explore the notion of human flourishing in Chinese thought, focusing especially on Confucius’ teaching on self-cultivation and benevolence as keys to achieving the ideal of the Noble Man. Then, drawing on parallels with the biblical faith, she proposes that the Christian Gospel holds relevance to the aspirations of Cultural Chinese concerning human flourishing as defined by Confucian ideals. 
Date: April 5, 2024
Nazareth Hall, University of Northwestern-St. Paul, 3003, N. Snelling Ave, Roseville, MN 55113
6:15 pm – light refreshments and a chance to meet the speaker and ChinaSource staff
           7:00 pm – lecture

NO RSVP required.
Please, grab some friends and just show up!

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Blank Slates for the Two Sessions (March 21, 2024, China Media Project)
During political meetings in Beijing earlier this month, China made a show of its openness to foreign journalists. A closer look at its efforts to cultivate invited guests, particularly from the Global South, suggests what the government really wants is to have less experienced China reporters who arrive as tabula rasa — ready to be imprinted with the government’s message.

Ex-Taiwanese President Ma visits China to help build social and cultural links (April 1, 2024, NBC News)
Ma left Taipei on Monday with a student group on an 11-day trip that underlines continued interactions in education, business and culture despite Beijing’s threat to use military force against the self-governing island democracy to achieve unification.

Video: Has U.S. engagement with China failed? (April 2, 2024, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, via YouTube)
In this new era of U.S.-China relations, “engagement” has become a target for criticism in American political circles. Does it deserve this reputation? In an interview recorded on December 12, 2023, Diana Fu and Yun Sun discuss the legacy of engagement policy and what lessons Americans can learn from the past five decades of relations with China. 

Biden and Xi discuss US-China cooperation and conflict (April 2, 2024, BBC)
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a call on Tuesday in an effort to keep tensions between the two countries at a simmer. They discussed avenues of co-operation, including recent shared efforts to combat climate change and narcotics, according to summaries of the call. But there was significant disagreement on Taiwan and economic issues.


Not a Shred of Peace: Testimony of God’s Grace and Call (March 21, 2024, China Partnership Blog)
Shortly after Covid-19 began to spread across the world, Wu Jinyang, a Chinese missionary serving in eastern Europe, contracted the virus. He eventually died of the virus, leaving behind his wife and young children. His widow and children have now returned to China, where the local Chinese house church supports and cares for them.

From Auspicious Dragon to Christian Devil: The Metamorphosis of Myth into Faith (April 1, 2024, ChinaSource Quarterly)
In his reflection on cultural heritage, Rev. Chow acknowledges that while no one has physically seen a dragon, it stands as a potent spiritual symbol for the Chinese, embodying a complex and profound mix of emotions—a reverence filled with honor and dignity. 

Churches in China Celebrate Easter (April 2, 2024, China Christian Daily)
On March 31, TSPM churches in China conducted Easter services to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. In the second service at Centennial Church in Ningbo, Zhejiang, Pastor Zhou preached a sermon titled “This Is a Fact!”, citing 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. He said that Jesus’ resurrection had been seen, recognized, and preached by people, and was declared an undeniable historical fact.

Rising Strong: A Journey of Faith and Growth Amidst the Pandemic (April 2, 2024, Chinese Church Voices)
During the pandemic, God had been helping and teaching us. It became a testing ground for the faith of our local church, especially as most of the foreign missionaries had to leave. We realized this as a moment of faith testing.

Official Protestant Groups Plan Next Five Years of Sinicization (April 3, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
What are we to make of last year’s announcement that the official Protestant group leadership, the national Three-Self Patriotic Movement association together with the China Christian Council, gathered to discuss a five-year plan for 2023–2027? Do China’s official churches typically have five-year plans like any other Communist Party organization? What is new about this five-year plan?

Society / Life

How China’s People With Disabilities Are Confronting the Future of Work (April 1, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Can a social enterprise dedicated to employing people with disabilities point the way to a better future for all workers?

China’s ageing population: A demographic crisis is unfolding for Xi (April 2, 2024, BBC)
Mr Cao belongs to a generation that witnessed the birth of Communist China. Like his country, he has become old before he has become rich. Like many rural and migrant workers, he has no choice but to keep working and to keep earning, as he’s fallen through a weak social safety net. A slowing economy, shrinking government benefits and a decades-long one-child policy have created a creeping demographic crisis in Xi Jinping’s China.

Nanchang: Four Killed, 10 Injured as Freak Storm Ravages City (April 2, 2024, Sixth Tone)
The storm’s winds were powerful enough to blow residents out of their apartment windows. Local police are investigating whether the quality of housing played a role in the tragedy.

Photos: See the aftermath of the Taiwan earthquake (April 3, 2024, NPR)
Taiwan has been hit by the strongest earthquake in a quarter of a century. In Taiwan, at least 9 people are dead and hundreds are injured after a strong magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit the east coast during morning rush hour. More than 100 strong aftershocks have occurred.

Economics / Trade / Business

China removes tariffs on Australian wine as relations improve (March 29, 2024, BBC)
China has announced it will remove significant tariffs on Australian wine in another key sign of improving relations between the two countries. Beijing imposed taxes of more than 200% in 2020 amid a string of economic blows to Australian exports. That year Beijing targeted Australian coal, barley, timber and lobsters as part of a wider political falling-out.

China’s new factory data shows a bright start to the year (April 1, 2024, CNN)
China’s manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in 13 months in March, with business confidence hitting an 11-month high, driven by growing new orders from customers at home and abroad, a private survey showed on Monday.

How Tesla and its Chinese competitor compare, in 4 charts (April 3, 2024, CNN
In 1995, metallurgy graduate Wang Chuanfu founded BYD, a small Chinese company focused on producing rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries more cheaply than Japanese competitors. Nearly 30 years later, the Shenzhen-based firm has become the world’s leading manufacturer of electric vehicles (EVs), even surpassing American giant Tesla (TSLA) in global sales of pure-play electric cars in the last quarter of 2023.

Freight increases on China-Europe railways (April 3, 2024, China Daily)
Railway freight lines connecting China to Europe via northeastern land ports recorded 1,443 inbound and outbound trips in the first quarter of the year — a year-on-year increase of 7.6 percent — according to China Railway Harbin Group.


How Chinese Students Experience America (April 1, 2024, The New Yorker) (subscription required)
COVID, guns, anti-Asian violence, and diplomatic relations have complicated the ambitions of the some three hundred thousand college students who come to the U.S. each year.

China’s universities just grabbed 6 of the top 10 spots in one worldwide science ranking – without changing a thing(April 2, 2024, The Conversation)
Where once the list of universities with the highest scientific impact would have been dominated by U.S. and U.K. schools including Cambridge, Stanford, Harvard and MIT, the new top 10 list of universities with high scientific impact includes six universities from China.

Travel / Food

Guangzhou airport improves tourist services (April 2, 2024, China Daily)
The airport recently launched its first optimized payment service demonstration zone, offering foreign visitors easier access to currency exchange and electronic payment options upon arrival. The initiative, a collaboration between Guangzhou’s commerce bureau, financial committee and the central bank, aims to streamline the arrival process for business people and tourists.

Seven foods for Qingming Festival (April 3, 2024, China Daily)
Qingming Festival, or Tomb-Sweeping Day, is a traditional festival where Chinese pay respects to their ancestors and the dead. People in different regions of the country consume different foods on the day according to local customs.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

What a Hit Chinese TV Show Tells Us About China Today (March 29, 2024, NPR)
“Blossoms Shanghai” is A 30-part TV series directed by acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, set in the 1990’s that has become a huge hit in China. Our China correspondent tells us the nostalgia unleashed by the show tells us a lot about how people in China are feeling these days.

Netflix’s 3 Body Problem is sci-fi. But beyond the alien threat lies the trauma of modern China (April 3, 2024, The Guardian)
The show takes liberties with the author’s text, replacing key characters with multiracial friends who studied physics together at Oxford to make it more “global” (read: more western). That’s annoyed many in China, despite Liu’s blessing. But the show is strikingly faithful to the historical scenes – and those scenes point to the lasting impact of this pivotal moment in China’s history.


EASC Lecture: Fenggang Yang, “The Rise of Christianity in Modernizing China and Its Challenge to Sociological Theories” (The East Asian Studies Center)
But secularization theories fail to explain the surprising rise of Christianity in rapidly modernizing China. This talk will discuss modern mass conversions to Christianity in China and then examine some of the social, cultural, and political factors in favor or disfavor of Christian growth. 
April 16, 2024
2:20PM – 3:40PM
Zoom (Registration Required)

Pray for China

April 4 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Apr. 4, 1869, pioneer missionary William C. Burns (宾惠廉) went to be with the Lord from China. He was born in Scotland and moved to China in 1847. For 20 years, he traveled widely as an itinerant evangelist before moving to Niuzhuang (now Yingkou) to become the first Protestant missionary to take up residence in Liaoning. Burns died just six months later. His prayer life had a great impact on Hudson Taylor and, in turn, Taylor’s method of wearing Chinese clothing while evangelizing was adopted by the older Burns. Pray for Christians in Liaoning to emulate Burns by always being ready to share their faith. But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…1 Peter 3:15

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Image credit: Glsun Mall, via Unsplash
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