ZGBriefs | August 10, 2017

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

'China has conquered Kenya': Inside Beijing's new strategy to win African hearts and minds (August 7, 2017, The Los Angeles Times)
As a digital infrastructure provider, StarTimes is helping African states transition from analog television — a technology akin to FM radio, rife with snow, static and dropped signals — to digital, which ensures high-quality image and sound. As a pay-TV company, it is stacking its networks with pro-China broadcasts. As both, it is materially improving the lives of countless Africans, then making China’s role in those improvements impossible to ignore.

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Overseas NGO Law

Updated Data Visualizations for January-July (August 3, 2017, The China NGO Project)
We’ve crunched the numbers and updated our suite of data visualizations to include the month of July. Let us know if there are other ways we could analyze the data that would be useful for you or your organization.

Ministry of Public Security WeChat Posts—July 21-August 1, 2017 (August 3 2017, The China NGO Project)

We Need Your Input: How Much Does It Cost to Carry out a Temporary Activity? (August 3, 2017, The China NGO Project)
We’re hoping to speak with a range of NGOs with temporary activity experience and get a sense of how much it costs, on average, for groups to complete the process. If your NGO has filed for a temporary activity, please reach out and let us know how your costs broke down. 

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Chinese leaders head to the beach for secretive summer gathering (August 3, 2017, South China Morning Post)
The secretive annual gathering at Beidaihe beach resort, 280km east of Beijing on the Bohai Sea, is particularly sensitive this year, with the Communist Party’s national congress around the corner and coming just weeks after a Politburo member was taken away for investigation.

Chinese Court Sentences Activist Who Documented Protests to 4 Years in Prison (August 4, 2017, The New York Times)
Mr. Lu, a migrant worker from Guizhou Province in southwestern China, began using the internet to research and publish information about some of the tens of thousands of strikes, protests and riots across China each year.

The ‘Enforced Disappearance’ of Liu Xia (August 4, 2017, China Digital Times)
Liu Xia’s U.S.-based counsel Jared Genser has filed a formal complaint to the United Nations this week condemning the Chinese government for her “enforced disappearance,” while calling on the international community to intervene. 

This Is the Achilles’ Heel of China’s Soft Power Projection Towards Developing Countries (July 31, 2017, The Diplomat)
China must make a concerted effort to equip Chinese citizens with the necessary sociocultural tools to build respectful and long-term people-to-people relations.

What to expect from Xi Jinping’s Communist Party congress power play (August 7, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Through rounds of reshuffles and a relentless war on corruption that has felled more than 200 senior officials, Xi has managed to place loyalists or associates of close allies in key positions in central and provincial government and powerful party departments. Many are now poised to be elevated to the Central Committee and some to the Politburo.

China’s Latest Marketing Craze: Impoverished African Children (August 7, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Short videos of African kids advertising Chinese goods and services raise ethical and legal concerns.

Diplomacy fails to defuse India, China border crisis: sources (August 8, 2017, Reuters)
India's diplomatic efforts to end a seven-week military standoff with China have hit a roadblock, people briefed on the talks said, prompting Chinese state-run media to trumpet rhetoric of "unavoidable countermeasures" on the unmarked border. China has insisted that India unilaterally withdraw its troops from the remote Doklam plateau claimed by both Beijing and Indian ally Bhutan.

Why Are China and India in a Border Standoff? A ChinaFile Conversation (August 8, 2017, China File)
What’s behind this new border dispute involving a third country, Bhutan, and how can these two giants and little Bhutan start to talk about getting past this dangerous dispute?

China willing to 'pay a price' for stronger North Korea sanctions (August 8, 2017, CNN)
China's willingness to support the new sanctions sends a strong message to North Korea, said Patrick Cronin, an Asia specialist at the Washington-based think tank Center for a New American Society. "North Korea's economy is not so large that it can afford to forgo stiff economic sanctions on exports like coal, one of the mainstays of (the country's) economy," he said.

China marks 70 years of Inner Mongolia's founding, activist complains of curbs (August 8, 2017, Reuters)
China's Communists set up Inner Mongolia in 1947, two years before seizing power at the end of the country's civil war. It has served as a model for other "autonomous regions" with large minority populations, like Tibet and Xinjiang. The regions are meant to have a high degree of self-government, but dissidents and rights groups say in practice the majority Han Chinese run the show, keeping a tight rein, fearful of unrest in the strategic border locations.

North Korea Frees Ailing Canadian Pastor Serving Life Sentence (August 9, 2017, Christianity Today)
After more than two and half years, North Korea has released a Toronto megachurch pastor the regime imprisoned and accused of attempting to establish a religious state. Though Hyeon-Soo Lim was issued a life sentence to hard labor, his health suffered and North Korea agreed to release the Christian visitor on “sick bail” for “humanitarian reasons” on Wednesday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.


Sinica Podcast: China’s great spiritual revival (August 4, 2017, Sup China)
Pulitzer Prize–winning author and journalist Ian Johnson returns to the Sinica Podcast to introduce his new book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao. It tells the stories of different religious groups and the relationship of their beliefs and practices with consumer society and a government that is officially atheist.

Pakistan Cancels Registration for Firm Whose Chinese Missionaries Were Abducted and Killed by ISIS (August 4, 2017, The Gospel Herald)
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior said that, as a first step, the ministry has canceled visas for all foreign nationals associated with ARK Info Tech, a Korean Company, and they have been asked to leave the country. It has also been decided to cancel the registration of the company," notes the report.

Keeping the faith with Chinese characteristics: state-run Catholicism turns 60 (August 5, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Retiree Auntie Wang, 61, doesn’t see eye to eye with state-appointed bishops but she attends mass daily at the officially sanctioned church in Beijing.

Massive Church Building Project Underway in Ningbo (August 8, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
Last November, construction crews broke ground on a new TSPM church facility in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province. The massive project to build “Ningbo International Church” is slated to be completed within three years. 

Society / Life

Photos: Life on the old Silk Road: the Uighurs of Kashgar – in pictures (August 2, 2017, The Guardian)
Tensions have long been high over the Chinese government’s influence and continued crackdowns on the cultural identity of the Uighur ethnic group.

The Power of Ageing in China: Implications of the End of “One Child” Policy (August 4, 2017, China Policy Analysis)
Coupled with this, the Xi administration views the relationship between ageing populations and labour force participation with panic and recognises important public policy challenges, including the need to reverse recent trends toward decreasing labour force participation of workers in late-middle and old age. 

The Eagle-Eyed Elderly Keeping Beijing Safe (August 4, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Her red armband says it all: “On duty.” From her perch behind the window of a small guard post, 71-year-old Wang Aiqing keeps a careful eye on the comings and goings at the apartment complex where she lives in the capital city’s Chaoyang District. For the past decade or so, Wang has belonged to a vigilante group that Chinese netizens have nicknamed the “Chaoyang Qunzhong,” or “Chaoyang Masses.” 

Why Chinese People Aren’t Getting Married (August 5, 2017, BBC)
After a whole decade of increases in the national marriage rate, China witnessed its second year of decline in the number of newly registered unions in 2015, with a 6.3% drop from 2014 and 9.1% from 2013. This was accompanied by a rise in the age of marriage, which has increased by about a year and a half in the first ten years of this century.

Wheel Life China: Daily Express (August 5, 2017, The World of Chinese)
China’s delivery industry is now the largest in the world. According to the State Post Bureau, courier companies—kuaidi (快递, literally “quick delivery”)—processed around 31 billion packages in 2016, a number that’s grown more than 50 percent every year for the last six years. An estimated 1.2 million people work as express deliverymen, also called kuaidi

China's ethnic Yi struggle against poverty (August 7, 2017, Reuters)
Jisi belongs to the isolated Yi ethnic community. They have a distinct language and culture, and are among the poorest in China. Most live in Liangshan, a mountainous district in the southwestern province of Sichuan and one of 14 areas of "concentrated poverty" identified by the central government. Average incomes in Liangshan are just 27 percent of the national average, official data shows.

Photos: Upgrading the Power Grid in Remote Tibet (August 7, 2017, The Atlantic)
In Tibet’s Hengduan Mountains, workers are hauling thousands of parts over challenging terrain by mule and by hand to build huge transmission towers for the Tibet Electric Power Networking Project. The complex power transmission project is designed to join and upgrade Tibet’s current disconnected and underpowered power transmission systems.

Sichuan Asks Its Elderly to Live With Their Children (August 8, 2017, Sixth Tone)
With a shortage of beds in nursing homes, the province has proposed a plan to make sure it can support its aging population.

The architect charged with bringing China's former capital back to life (August 9, 2017, CNN)
As rampant development unfolds across urban China, the country's former capital has retained much of its old charm. Many historic buildings still stand in Nanjing amid the steel and glass. And over 100 of them owe their longevity to Zhou.

China earthquake: Sichuan tremor leaves least 19 dead (August 9, 2017, BBC)
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake has killed at least 19 people and injured 247 in China's south-western province of Sichuan. Six tourists are thought to be among the dead, with up to 45,000 people evacuated from the area. A separate 6.6-magnitude tremor struck the remote area of XinJiang, injuring 32 people.

Drunk Chinese Spend Billions Getting Their Cars Home (August 9, 2017, Sixth Tone)
With ride-hailing apps already deeply entrenched in the lives of many urban Chinese, the country is now witnessing the growth of chauffeur services, which last year generated 15.4 billion yuan ($2.3 billion), according to a white paper published Tuesday.

Economics / Trade / Business

Photos: Sea Change: Chinese Fishing in Africa (August 7, 2017, China File)
The teeming waters off the coast of West Africa have been a key target in a government-subsidized and rapidly expanding foray into the industry known as “distant water fishing.” Chinese companies now captain a flotilla of nearly 3,000 industrial fishing vessels in international waters, the majority in the oceans off of Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea Bissau. 

China's crackdown on money fleeing the country looks like it's working (August 7, 2017, CNBC)
China's giant cash pile is increasing — and it's a sign that the government's industry-spanning crackdown on money fleeing the country is working. On Monday, official data showed that China's foreign exchange reserves in July hit $3.081 trillion, the highest in nine months.

McDonald's aims to open 2,000 more restaurants in China by 2022 (August 8, 2017, Chicago Tribune)
The plan to add 2,000 new restaurants to the country's existing 2,500 would make China the burger giant's second-largest market after the United States. Japan is currently McDonald's biggest market after the U.S., with almost 3,000 restaurants. McDonald's has 14,000 restaurants in the U.S. and 36,000 worldwide.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Dwarves Kingdom: A Film Review (August 4, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
The World Ecological Garden of Butterflies and Little People Kingdom in Kunming, Yunnan, China is a theme park where over 100 dwarves live and work. Days are filled with putting on performances of song and dance, and interacting with park visitors, including posing for lots of photos. The first and natural response to this theme park, is that it must be exploitative and derogatory.

China's Few Investigative Journalists Face Increasing Challenges (August 6, 2017, NPR)
In recent years, though, Luo and other members of the influential "Hunan gang" of investigative journalists — which, in its heyday, brought down powerful political figures and exposed human rights abuses — have quit the business. To find out why, I recently met Luo at the Yuelu Academy, a 1,000-year-old school in Hunan's provincial capital, Changsha, which is near where he works.

Podcast: Cooking the News: Xi’s Digital Future (August 7, 2017, Little Red Podcast)
Louisa and Graeme are joined by David Bandurski and Qian Gang of the China Media Project to discuss innovations in news production and control in China. Also the question of Xi: he is no longer Xi Dada, but will President Xi be defined by a Theory, a Thought, or an Ism?

Flag-waving Chinese blockbuster Wolf Warriors 2 smashes cinema records (August 8, 2017, The Guardian)
The wildly popular Wolf Warriors 2 boasts the ominous tagline “whoever offends China will be hunted down no matter how far away they are”, and millions of Chinese cinemagoers have lapped it up since the movie’s release less than two weeks ago.

China’s Pretty Boys Find a New Gig: Propaganda Films (August 8, 2017, The New York Times)
But when it came time to find actors to play some of the Communist Party’s most venerated military commanders, the filmmakers behind “The Founding of an Army” made an unusual — some say disrespectful — casting decision: They piled on the “little fresh meat.” Known in Chinese as xiao xian rou, “little fresh meat” refers to Chinese teenage idols and boy band members, famous mostly for their manicured good looks and sculpted physiques.

History / Culture

Remembering Igor — our secret history (August 3, 2017, China Heritage)
This essay was written shortly after the death of Igor de Rackewiltz on 30 July 2016. It was initially circulated among friends and former colleagues. This is a revised version of that memoir and it should be read in tandem with Of Tartar Princesses, Poetry and Mongol Khans, also published by China Heritage.

Revealed: In 1939, China Planned to Settle Persecuted European Jews in Remote Part of Country (August 5, 2017, Haaretz)
Recently unearthed documents in Chinese state archives reveal a national plan to take in large numbers of European Jews, believing it was the right thing to do.

How the ‘Home of Overseas Chinese’ Is Memorializing Emigrants (August 7, 2017, Sixth Tone)
The Haikou Pier, built in 1853, ferried Taishanese to larger ports, including Hong Kong, from which they would continue their journeys abroad. By 1901, around 200,000 Taishanese people — then one-quarter of the city’s population — resided abroad, with 60 percent living in North America. 

Looking back on the Great Leap Forward (August 8, 2017, History Today)
Frank Dikötter explains how the gradual opening of Chinese archives has revealed the appalling truth about Chairman Mao’s genocidal rule.

Ancient Cat Facts (August 9, 2017, The World of Chinese)
From adoption rituals to the reason why cats aren’t in the Chinese zodiac, here’s how ancient Chinese received our feline overlords.

Travel / Food

Chinese tourists are everywhere, but why are foreign visitors shunning China? (August 5, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Visitors from China may have become the biggest contributors to the global tourism market, but the Asian giant with a 5,000-year history apparently is not that attractive to foreign travellers.

Chinese Tourists Seeking Out the Wild West Are Heading to Wyoming (August 5, 2017, Skift)
Buses carrying perhaps 50 tourists making one-night stopovers or lunch-time pauses make up the majority of Chinese tourists to Cody, but more families are flying to large regional cities such as Salt Lake City or Denver, renting cars and touring on their own.

“Big Plate Chicken” DaPanJi (盘鸡): Xinjiang’s Best Food (August 6, 2017, Far West China)
Anybody who has ever spent any significant time in China’s far western region of Xinjiang knows that one of the best foods you can eat here is known as “DaPanJi” or “Big Plate Chicken”. What is 大盘鸡? Well, I’m glad you asked and I can’t wait to show you 🙂

China warns tourists to behave after two fined for Nazi salutes in Berlin (August 7, 2017, CNN)
The Chinese embassy in Berlin has warned its nationals to respect local laws after two Chinese tourists were detained for performing a Nazi salute in front of the city's parliament building. The tourists were arrested after posing for photos while making the Nazi gesture in front of the historic Reichstag building, a popular tourist destination, on Saturday.

The Titanic rises again: China makes history by remaking it (August 9, 2017, CBC)
In China's southern province of Sichuan, more than 1,000 kilometres from the nearest ocean, work is well underway on a near-exact replica of one of the biggest and most famous ships ever made. […]   The project is meant to attract up to 10 million tourists a year. But this isn't just an attraction — it will be a real ship, with a steel hull designed to support it, floating in a land-locked basin in Daying.

Language / Language Learning

Get to know your own Chinese voice (August 3, 2017, Hacking Chinese)
Recording yourself provides a convenient, enlightening and cheap way to improve your spoken Chinese, including pronunciation, which is hard to get at in any other way if you don’t hire a professional teacher to do it for you (but even then I would recommend listening more to your own voice).

What Does "Ju" Mean? (August 7, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
When I was living in China, newcomers, especially those who had been around for a few weeks or months and had started to pick up some new words and phrases, would often ask me, “what does ju (or some other word) mean?” The fact that Chinese is a character-based language means that this question is unhelpful, to the point of being almost meaningless.

Get Well Soon With These Over-the-Counter Chinese Medications (August 7, 2017, The Beijinger)
Instead, any regular old Beijing pharmacy, usually situated right around the corner at any given point, should house simple and cheap over-the-counter remedies to cure minor ailments that arise this time of year and, in turn, keep your summertime blues at bay. Below we've rounded up our top five favorites. We've also listed their names in Mandarin and approximate prices (which might vary depending on the pharmacy).


Great Expectations (August 7, 2017, The World of Chinese)
John Pomfret’s highly anticipated new book, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China 1776 to the Present, opens with the voyage of the Empress and concludes as the effects of China’s 2015 stock-market stumble ripple through the New York Stock Exchange. It is a sweeping and ambitious book, one which, Pomfret has admitted in interviews, “cost me one very good job and two equally good job opportunities.”

Too Quickly to Be Astonished (August 9, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Surveying China’s extraordinary rise over the past decade, Graham Allison, in his book Destined for War, paraphrases former Czech President Vaclav Havel when he says, “It has happened so quickly, we have not yet had time to be astonished.” Allison, a Harvard professor and security advisor to multiple US presidents, is referring primarily to China’s growing economic might, which, according to some statistics, put China over the top in 2014 as the world’s largest economy. 

Links for Researchers

Song Meiling (Soong Mayling, Madame Chiang Kai-shek), 1897 ~ 2003 (Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity)

From Chinese missiles to US warships, the South China Sea is heating up (August 7, 2017, China Policy Analysis)
Now the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), a US think tank, has warned that China was building new military facilities on the disputed Spratly archipelago, off the coast of Phillipines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Image credit: by Ninara, via Flickr
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