ZGBriefs | August 13, 2020

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Featured Article

China’s Days as World’s Factory Are Over, IPhone Maker Says  (August 12, 2020, Bloomberg, via Yahoo! News)
A key supplier to Apple Inc. and a dozen other tech giants plans to split its supply chain between the Chinese market and the U.S., declaring that China’s time as factory to the world is finished because of the trade war. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Chairman Young Liu said it’s gradually adding more capacity outside of China, the main base of production for gadgets from iPhones to Dell desktops and Nintendo Switches. 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China sentences Canadian to death on drugs charge  (August 6, 2020, BBC)
A Chinese court has sentenced a Canadian citizen to death on charges of producing the drug ketamine. A court notice in the city of Guangzhou said Xu Weihong was found guilty after a trial. His alleged accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, was given a life sentence.

US angers China with high-profile Taiwan visit  (August 10, 2020, BBC)
A US cabinet member met Taiwan’s president on Monday – a move that has angered China and increased tensions between Washington and Beijing. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is the highest-ranking US politician to hold meetings on the island for decades.

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai swarmed by crowd after release on bail  (August 12, 2020, Fox Business)
Crowds swarmed Hong Kong media tycoon and democracy activist Jimmy Lai after he was released on bail following his Monday arrest. Authorities arrested Lai, the founder of Hong Kong media company Next Digital, plus 10 others, including pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow, on Monday for “colluding with foreign powers,” activist Samuel Chu tweeted at the time.

Is it time for China to leash its Wolf Warrior diplomats?  (August 12, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The ideological conflict between China and other countries has intensified rapidly since the coronavirus pandemic  and the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong,  leading to a global coalition against Beijing, according to a source close to the government. He noted that there was some disagreement in the Chinese diplomatic community about the virtues of the approach, with some saying it risked alienating the country from the rest of the world.

“Songs And Tears” for China’s Pandemic Heroes  (August 12, 2020, China Media Project)
COVID-19 continues to be a propaganda boon at home for the Chinese Communist Party, particularly in light of the poor response in the US and other countries. 

Luxury Homes Tie Chinese Communist Elite to Hong Kong’s Fate  (August 12, 2020, The New York Times)
Three top leaders of China’s Communist Party have relatives who own assets in Hong Kong, including more than $51 million in luxury real estate, a New York Times investigation shows.


‘Sheep without a shepherd’: Hong Kong churches torn by politics  (August 5, 2020, Reuters)
When Hong Kong’s largely peaceful pro-democracy protests turned violent last summer, it drove a wedge through every section of society, dividing friends, families and also worshippers at its more than 1,500 churches.

Video: The Blessing—China  (August 7, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)

Seeking to Understand Church Growth in China  (August 10, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
During 2017 and 2018, I started a survey to better understand some fundamental questions about the state of the church and church members in today’s China. The scope of the research focused specifically on Han Chinese churches in the Chinese mainland including both Three-Self, traditional house churches, urban emerging churches, and rural and migrant churches. 

Two Pastors Discuss the Impact of Media on the Church (2)  (August 11, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
The coronavirus has pushed many churches in China to rethink and expand their online ministries. In this article from Good News Today, Franklin Wang, a pastor in Beijing, and Huang Lei, senior pastor of Xia-Shang Christian Church in Wuhan, share their thoughts on why Christians must begin to use media in their ministry.

The Impact of Buddhism: Even When It Is More Cultural than Belief  (August 12, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
My initial ministry goal in Asia was to present the gospel message by clearly explaining the way of salvation making sure I covered each essential point. I believed that if the gospel message was clearly presented, people would recognize the truth and reject Buddhism and other religions. It didn’t take long to realize that this method did not work. People with a family identity don’t focus on facts or truth but on relationships. 

Society / Life

Roads Become Rivers: Nearly 4 Million Chinese Evacuated Or Displaced From Flooding  (August 9, 2020, NPR)
First China was hit by the novel coronavirus. Now it is dealing with the worst flooding in more than 20 years across vast swaths, from its southwestern interior to its east coast. Zeng Hailin is one of an estimated 3.7 million people displaced or evacuated because of floods in China largely since June.

In Rural China, Villagers Say They’re Forced From Farm Homes To High-Rises  (August 10, 2020, NPR)
After building some of the world’s largest cities, erecting entire districts of gleaming high rises in the span of a few years, China is now kicking plans into high gear to overhaul tens of thousands of its rural villages.

How one man and his cellphone in Canada rescued a group of Africans stuck in China because of the coronavirus pandemic  (August 11, 2020, CNN)
Even for 2020, with its once-in-a-generation global pandemic and the countless travel bans that have followed, this rescue mission seems a bit far-fetched. To get around 100 South Africans and a couple of dozen Zimbabwean students out of China, it would take Air Zimbabwe’s only functioning aircraft, and diplomatic channels in embassies across the world — all orchestrated from a dining room table in Canada by one man, armed only with a cellphone.

Life returns to Wuhan – in pictures  (August 12, 2020, The Guardian)
Wuhan’s 76-day quarantine was lifted in April, bringing life and traffic back to its streets.

How China Controlled the Coronavirus  (August 17, The New Yorker)
A few days before my return to classroom teaching at Sichuan University, I was biking across a deserted stretch of campus when I encountered a robot. The blocky machine stood about chest-high, on four wheels, not quite as long as a golf cart. In front was a T-shaped device that appeared to be some kind of sensor. The robot rolled past me, its electric motor humming. I turned around and tailed the thing at a distance of fifteen feet.

Economics / Trade / Business

U.S. ban on China’s TikTok could cut it off from app stores and advertisers, White House document shows (August 11, 2020, CNBC)
The White House document shows the U.S. government is considering disrupting key aspects of TikTok’s operations and funding, amid concerns over the safety of personal data that the app handles.

Hong Kong goods for export to U.S. to be labelled made in China  (August 11, 2020, Reuters)
The move follows China’s imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong and a U.S. decision to end the former British colony’s special status under U.S. law, escalating bilateral tensions that were already rising over trade war tariffs and the handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The latest step will see Hong Kong companies subject to the same trade war tariffs levied on mainland Chinese exporters, should they make products subject to these duties, said the U.S. Customs and Border Protection notice.


Podcast: China’s Education Ambitions  (August 11, 2020, Barbarians at the Gate, via China Channel)
In this new episode of the Barbarians at the Gate podcast, Jeremiah Jenne and David Moser delve into the Chinese education system, focusing on the evolution of China’s universities.

Health / Environment

Patient in Inner Mongolia dies from plague  (August 8, 2020, China Daily)
North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region confirmed one case of bubonic plague in Baotou city after a resident who caught an intestinal type of plague died, according to the local health authority.

Inside the Chinese lab central to the search for the coronavirus’ origin  (August 10, 2020, NBC)
On the neatly manicured grounds beside a small man-made lake is a newer structure with silver sidings and few windows. This, the institute’s BSL-4 lab — the first in China to receive the highest level of biosafety clearance — stands at the center of an international firestorm of recrimination over China’s role in the coronavirus pandemic.

Science / Technology

Google deletes 2,500 China-linked YouTube channels over disinformation  (August 6, 2020, The Guardian)
Google says it has deleted more than 2,500 YouTube channels tied to China as part of its effort to weed out disinformation on the video-sharing platform. The Alphabet-owned company said the channels were removed between April and June “as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China.“

China is now blocking all encrypted HTTPS traffic that uses TLS 1.3 and ESNI  (August 8, 2020, ZDNet)
The Chinese government has deployed an update to its national censorship tool, known as the Great Firewall (GFW), to block encrypted HTTPS connections that are being set up using modern, interception-proof protocols and technologies.

China Launches Beidou, Its Own Version of GPS  (August 12, 2020, Spectrum)
The final satellite needed to complete China’s own navigation and positioning satellite system has passed final on-orbit tests. The completed independent system provides military and commercial value while also facilitating new technologies and services.

Travel / Food

Tofu Isn’t “Bland.” It’s Just Misunderstood  (August 8, 2020, Radii China)
Bland. Chewy. Humble. Niche. Many people in the US and Europe would find no fault in describing tofu with these words. But in China, where the tofu market revenue reached 24 billion USD in 2019, the foodstuff is a commonplace and fundamental part of both cuisine and culture. And if you’ve ever had Chinese food, you’ll know that it is anything but bland.

Yangtze cruises resume, but with fewer passengers  (August 10, 2020, China Daily)
A cruise ship set sail on Friday from Chongqing’s Chaotianmen port to Yichang, Hubei province, marking the restart of cruise tours on the Yangtze River. Because of the pandemic, cruises were suspended on Jan 22. On Friday, the cruise ship Yangtze Gold 2 of Chongqing Yangtze Gold Cruises made the industry’s first voyage after the resumption of inter-provincial tourism.

Jiankou: China’s Remote and Dangerous Great Wall  (August 10, 2020, BBC)
The Jiankou section of the wall ribbons over the top of jagged green mountains for 20km. From the valley below, it looks like icing piped onto each peak. It is located just 100km north of Beijing. But it is completely different from its better-known neighbours, like Badaling or Mutianyu. There is no souvenir shop or Starbucks, no cable car or gondola. No one is waiting to sell you tickets. No one is there to make your visit easier, either: to access this section of the wall, you must hike 45 minutes up a mountain.

When it comes to chilis, Guizhou is king  (August 12, 2020, China Daily)
If you’re not yet wowed by China’s chili trade, you will be. Look no further than Zunyi, Guizhou province, where during the first half of this year Xiazi town, the country’s premier distribution and trading center known as China Chili City, sold 100,000 metric tons valued at 2 billion yuan ($288 million).

Hong Kong airport plans to temporarily resume transit flights serving mainland China, source says (August 12, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) could temporarily resume transit flights from mainland China to help Chinese students caught in limbo  during the coronavirus crisis, a source with knowledge of the plan has said.

China eases travel restrictions for visitors from Europe  (August 12, 2020, South China Morning Post)
China has eased entry restrictions for visitors from 36 European countries, months after thousands were left stranded when the country closed its borders and slashed flights to slow the spread of the coronavirus . Almost all foreign nationals were forbidden from entering the country when Beijing imposed the measures in March, even those with Chinese work or residence permits or family living in the country.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Targeting WeChat, Trump Takes Aim at China’s Bridge to the World  (August 7, 2020, The New York Times)
The all-purpose app, which the administration is restricting along with TikTok, is how many Chinese living abroad stay in touch with one another, and with people back home.

Bilibili vs. Bilibili: The Culture Clash Dividing China’s YouTube  (August 7, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Once a niche community for anime and gaming fans, Bilibili is reinventing itself as a mainstream video platform for Gen Z. But its veteran users aren’t happy.

Links for Researchers

Repression of Religious Institutions in China Under Xi Jinping  (August 11, 2020, Religious Freedom Institute)
China in recent years has been on a spree of issuing new regulations that impose harsher restrictions on religious institutions than at any time since the Cultural Revolution. What are these regulations, why has Beijing issued them, and how significant are they? Answering these questions requires an awareness of the social and political context within which these regulations have come about, and an understanding of the power structures regulating religion in Communist China generally. What follows is an outline and preliminary analysis of the public-legal ways in which China aims to control religion and, in particular, subjugate religious institutions in the country. 

Pray for  China

August 14, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Aug. 14, 1900, the armies of the Eight Nation Alliance (八国联军) seized Beijing from the Empress Dowager’s government. This effectively ended the Boxer Uprising (义和团运动) during which over 32,000 Chinese Christians had been killed—mostly Roman Catholics. Following a great influx of missionaries, the number of Protestant Christians increased ten-fold to about 700,000 during the next half century. After foreign missionaries were expelled and the Cultural Revolution ended, the Lord brought about another revival in China that Operation World has called “without precedent in history.” Pray for the Lord Jesus Christ to be glorified as Chinese missionaries raise up a church among unreached minority groups. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! Revelation 5:1

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
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