ZGBriefs | August 19, 2021

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Featured Article

Shanghai Bans English Exams Amid Calls For Less English Teaching (August 12, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
Authorities in Shanghai have canceled primary school English exams in a bid to lighten the burden on children and parents, amid growing calls for English to be de-emphasized in China’s state schools.

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Webinar | Learning about China: Sipping from a Fire Hose (ChinaSource)
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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

How will China seek to profit from the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan (August 18, 2021, Brookings)
In recent days, many analysts have stepped forward to provide predictions on how America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan will impact China’s regional and global standing. Some argue the withdrawal will free up American resources to focus on China and the Indo-Pacific. For others, the withdrawal opens a vacuum for China to exploit. Still others assert that Taiwan is now more vulnerable because Beijing has taken the measure of America’s resolve and competence and found it lacking.

Meng Wanzhou extradition case wraps up but verdict will take months (August 18, 2021, The Guardian)
After two and a half years of legal wrangling, an extradition hearing over Meng Wanzhou has wrapped up, leaving the fate of Huawei’s chief financial officer – and potentially that of two detained Canadians caught up in a geopolitical tussle – in the hands of a British Columbia judge.

PLA warplane enters Taiwanese military target zone minutes before drill begins (August 18, 2021, South China Morning Post) (registration required)
Cross-strait tensions escalated on Tuesday with 11 PLA warplanes  entering Taiwan’s  air defence zone minutes before the island’s military was about to start a flight-level drill in the same area. The six fighter jets, two bombers and three surveillance aircraft flew into Taiwan’s southwest air defence identification zone (ADIZ) between 9.30am and 10.22am.


Fate of Imprisoned Chinese Bishop Still Unknown (July 16, 2021, Persecution.org)
Police detained Bishop Zhang at the seminary in Cangzhou alongside the other men who were arrested. At the time of the arrest, authorities allegedly invited the bishop and the priests “for tea.” The other detained men have all been released and sent home, but Bishop Zhang is still held in custody.

Video: The Many Faces of Sin (August 12, 2021, CantoSense)
Is sin defined merely as the wrongdoings that violate a moral code or is there more to it than that? This episode, we look at the various dimensions of sin and importance of communicating it with relevance when sharing with cultural Chinese people. 

Why Practice Evangelism? (August 12, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
Preacher Yang today shares about how he and his church community live out Christ’s command to make disciples in the rapidly changing urban Chinese environment.

James O. Fraser: A Missionary Ahead of His Time But in God’s Time (August 13, 2021, Missions Box)
James Outram Fraser had an engineering degree and was a talented concert pianist. He was also a faithful follower of Christ who was obedient to God’s calling on his life. He ministered among the Lisu people in China’s Yunnan province from 1908 until his death in 1938.

Jesus in Little Africa (August 13, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Reporting on a lecture given by Dr. Gerda Heck, Assistant Professor at the American University of Cairo, and posted to the Asian Religious Connections YouTube channel, the article is a fascinating look at the rise of Congolese Pentecostal churches in Guangzhou.

It Takes Time (August 16, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
Christians must constantly study their own culture in order to share the gospel in a way that remains faithful to the core of Christian faith, while simultaneously speaking to the needs of society. Today, Simon Liu talks about some of the issues the Chinese church faces as they share their faith, and of opportunities believers are finding to evangelize within their communities.

In China, ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ Is the Only Accepted Religion (August 17, 2021, The Diplomat)
Rather than viewing these violations of freedom of religion as localized attempts to stifle potential political threats, it is arguably more fruitful to view the tactics of repression employed in these cases as part of a larger project of weakening faith systems that can challenge the CCP’s monopoly on ideology and Xi Jinping’s unique position as the ultimate arbiter of the Party’s ideology and “faith.”

Chinese Churches Serving Those with Disabilities (August 17, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
Among Chinese Christian charity and social services, wheelchair donation has been an ongoing ministry in supporting the disabled in recent years. Caring for people with disabilities has long been a tradition of Christian charity and social service. This article from Christian Times shows how Chinese churches and Christians should care for and serve this group.

An Encounter with Spirituality in the Dalian Christian Community (August 18, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Is it possible that the created is given the option of free choice? Can man’s action or behavior be used to assess his spirituality? These questions prompted me to look for signs indicative of spirituality in the Dalian Chinese Christian community in China.

Society / Life

On the Road With the Nomads of Inner Mongolia (August 13, 2021, Sixth Tone)
For the past 13 years, I have been traveling the grasslands of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as an independent photographer. My aim is to document the lives of herders living in this remote region, so that their unique culture isn’t lost to history.

‘Can we ever return?’ Tears and heartbreak as Hongkongers leave for a new life in the UK (August 13, 2021, The Guardian)
A surge in withdrawals from the city’s mandatory pension fund due to permanent departure also suggested many were leaving for good. According to official figures, in the first quarter of this year, Hong Kong residents planning to leave permanently applied to withdraw HK$1.93bn (£180m) from their MPF accounts – a surge of 49% year-on-year.

KTV Crackdown: China Bans ‘Harmful’ Karaoke Songs (August 16, 2021, Radii China)
China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has announced that it would create a list of off-limits songs at karaoke establishments. Songs that contain references to gambling, violence, drugs, criminal acts or obscenities, promote cults and superstitions, violate the country’s religious laws, or endanger China’s sovereignty will be scrubbed from song databases at venues, according to the ministry. 

Chinese Millennials Aren’t Having Babies, Picking Pets Instead (August 18, 2021, Radii China)
“The pet market in China is booming. With more and more people choosing to have children later, they have pets they treat like family, and this is only expected to accelerate in the years to come. Like everyone, we want only the best for our family members, or in this case, fur kids, and that comes at a price.”

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s pricey ultimatum (July 29, 2021, World Magazine)
Along with H&M, a string of Western companies have faced the same ultimatum: Either discard their values to follow China’s party line or lose China’s 1.4 billion-strong market. 

China says crackdown on business to go on for years (August 12, 2021, BBC)
The Chinese government has unveiled a five-year plan outlining tighter regulation of much of its economy. It says new rules will be introduced covering areas including national security, technology and monopolies in the world’s second largest economy.

China growth forecasts slashed as Delta variant spreads across the country (August 13, 2021, CNN)
China has implemented “strict individual mobility restrictions” to better enforce its “zero tolerance” policy, analysts at JP Morgan wrote in a research note earlier this week.They forecast economic growth to halve to 2% in the current quarter,compared with a previous estimate of 4.3%.They also cut their 2021 GDP growth forecast to 8.9%from 9.1%.

China port congestion worsens as ships divert away from Ningbo (August 18, 2021, Al Jazeera)
The partial closure of the world’s third-busiest container port is worsening congestion at other major Chinese ports, as ships divert away from Ningbo amid uncertainty over how long virus control measures in the city will last.

China calls for curbs on ‘excessive’ income and for the wealthy to give back more to society (August 18, 2021, CNBC)
Chinese President Xi Jinping led a meeting Tuesday that emphasized how the country would focus on moderate wealth for all, rather than just a few, state media said. Planned measures included curbs on “excessive” incomes and encouraging the wealthy to give back more to society.


Beijing Bans Foreign Textbooks in Primary and Middle Schools (August 12, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Beijing has become the latest city to heed calls from the central government to ban the use of foreign textbooks during compulsory education from grades one through nine. […] Officials said the move aims to “highlight the political orientation, and reinforce teaching materials serving the state.”

What Happens to U.S. Colleges After China? (August 15, 2021, The China Wire) (subscription required)
After a surge in Chinese student enrollment, American colleges and universities are grappling with what a drop in Chinese applicants means for their bottom line.

China kills almost 300 partnerships with elite foreign universities in places like New York, London and Hong Kong, after private tutoring ban (August 16, 2021, South China Morning Post)
While the authorities did not elaborate on the reason for the closures, the move has sparked public concern as it comes less than a month after a government crackdown on the private tutoring industry . Many see the tutoring bans and the foreign programme closures as part of a wider effort to reform China’s education industry.

US-Bound Chinese Students Face Costly Tickets and Crowded Airports (August 17, 2021, Sixth Tone)
As the U.S. relaxes travel restrictions and universities start in-person classes after months of pandemic-related uncertainties, Chinese students who were either stuck while visiting home last year or those starting fresh are finally flying to their destinations. In 2020, 372,532 Chinese students enrolled at universities across the U.S., according to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.

History / Culture

Rare 19-second footage, how the centuries-old city walls of Beijing were pulled down, 1958. (August 16, 2021, Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

The Lasting Trauma of China’s Wenchuan Earthquake Survivors (August 17, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Fan Jian’s devastating new documentary “After the Rain” explores the enduring pain of families who lost children during the 2008 disaster.

Travel / Food

The Tastes of a Ningbo Summer (August 13, 2021, The World of Chinese)
Minute snails, stinky water melon, and “ghost buns,” are just some of the tasty treats in this seaside Chinese city.

Podcast: A Chengdu Way of Life (August 17, 2021, Wild China)
Located in the heart of eastern Sichuan, Chengdu is the capital of this southwestern province. Geographic and political remoteness have always contributed to the free-spirited nature of the Sichuan people, and the modern cosmopolitan nature of Chengdu reflects this.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

How “Mr. Donkey” Became One of the Best Chinese Films of 2016 (August 12, 2021, Radii China)
Mr. Donkey falls into the cinematic genre of black humor and tells the story of three faculty members at a village school who try to pass off a donkey as an English teacher to get more funding from the local government. When government officials come to visit Mr. Donkey and audit candidates for a fellowship, the school recruits a coppersmith to stand in for the jackass.

Language / Language Learning

Skritter review: Boosting your Chinese character learning (2021 edition) (August 9, 2021, Hacking Chinese)
The good news is that by combining the best learning methods with the best learning tools, learning to read and write in Chinese is easier than ever. In this review, I will introduce the only learning tool I use on a daily basis, Skritter, but before doing so, I will go through the basic principles of learning.

The building blocks of Chinese, part 1: Chinese characters and words in a nutshell (August 16, 2021, Hacking Chinese)
Most characters are not simple pictures, though. Instead, they are combinations of other characters, which means that a very large majority of those 3,500 characters we might be our long-term goal aren’t actually unique symbols you need to memorise, but are rather combinations of a smaller set of components.

The Hu Line: The significance of geography for historical linguistics (August 17, 2021, Language Log)
First let’s dispose of the name of the line.  Instead of asking “What’s Hu?”, we need to ask “Who’s Hu?”  Hu Huanyong was a Chinese population geographer who perceived the line in 1935.  The main takeaway from this “geo-demographic demarcation line” is that it divides the territory of China as follows (going by 1935 statistics):…


China and the True Jesus: A Book Review (August 16, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
When I saw the new book China and the True Jesus: Charisma and Organization in a Chinese Christian Church by Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye I was immediately curious. After three decades in China, I had never come across this group before and had never met anyone in China who was part of one of their fellowships. I picked up the book to see what I could learn and was not disappointed.  I have a whole new set of questions to ponder.

Links for Researchers

Religions and Christianity in Today’s China (August, 2021, China Zentrum)


16 Short Ideas For Your Growth (Global Trellis)
Sometimes the screws that hold a trellis together loosen over time and you don’t need a massive overhaul, but you do need to a little bit of maintenance. Do 10 of these 16 short ideas from the Global Trellis Team in the next 7 days as quick life trellis tune-up and get a free workshop or past challenge!  

Pray for China

August 25 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Aug. 25, 1984, Christiana Cai Sujuan (蔡苏娟姊妹) went to be with Lord. Cai wrote Queen of the Dark Chamber, a book recounting her amazing transformation from pampered daughter of a high government official in Jiangsu to nearly-blind Christian prayer warrior and ministry partner with missionary educator Mary Leaman (李曼姊妹). Cai wrote, “How can we (disabled) still be useful? Maybe you think people only pay attention to the educated – those with Ph.D.’s? Never mind. The Lord loves us. We can have a degree, too – a P.D. – a doctorate in prayer. If we will be faithful in our corner, praying for those who are on the front lines of battle, we will have a reward, too. …There is not a day that I have not prayed for China, my homeland, and the millions there who need Christ.” After leaving China, Cai and Leaman played key roles in the ministry of Ambassadors for Christ (基督使者协会-AFC). Pray for people with disabilities to see the Lord Jesus in His beauty and His kingdom that has no end. Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches afar. Isaiah 33:17

Image credit: E-ren Chow, via Flickr