ZGBriefs | August 24, 2017

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Featured Article

Should Publications Compromise to Remain in China? - A ChinaFile Conversation (August 21, 2017, China File)
Freedom of expression may have won this battle against state censorship, but if state interference continues what compromises is it permissable for academic institutions and publications to make to stay inside China?

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Chinese Nobel laureate's widow makes first appearance since funeral (August 18, 2017, Reuters)
The widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has appeared for the first time since her husband's funeral in an online video in which she said she was recuperating and asked for time to mourn.

China’s deepening institutional decay (August 20, 2017, East Asia Forum)
China is in transition. And not in a good way. The partially institutionalised political norms of China’s reform era are buckling. Beijing is steadily sliding away from collective authoritarian rule by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) elite towards a more personalised variant wielded by President Xi Jinping alone.

Thousands march in Hong Kong for release of pro-democracy leaders (August 20, 2017, The Guardian)
Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Hong Kong – some clad in prison uniforms – to demand the release of three of the former British colony’s best-known pro-democracy leaders. Alex Chow, Nathan Law and Joshua Wong – key leaders of 2014’s umbrella movement protests – were jailed for between six and eight months on Thursday for their involvement in an “unlawful assembly” that helped launch those historic demonstrations.

On the way to Mr Xi’s second term in China (August 21, 2017, East Asia Forum)
As Xi Jinping’s first term as China’s Communist Party Secretary General and President of the People’s Republic draws to a close, China watchers are sharply divided about what his tenure at the top means for China’s political development.

No More Drinking on the Job for Guizhou’s Government Employees (August 22, 2017, Sixth Tone)
The upcoming ban, dubbed the “Complete Prohibition of Alcohol in Guizhou,” applies to all government bodies, state-owned enterprises, and staff employed at those institutions, the announcement said. The southwestern Chinese province, which is home to the famous Moutai liquor brand, will also crack down on using public funds to gift alcohol, as well as on drinking during office hours and on lunch breaks.

Chinese activist Jiang Tianyong's subversion trial dismissed as sham (August 22, 2017, The Guardian)
Human rights activists have denounced as a sham the trial of a leading Chinese civil rights lawyer who authorities claim tried to topple China’s one-party state. Jiang Tianyong, 46, was put on trial in the central city of Changsha on Tuesday morning having vanished into the custody of security services last November during a crackdown on lawyers described as China’s “war on law”.

U.S. targets Chinese, Russia entities for helping North Korea (August 22, 2017, Reuters)
The United States on Tuesday imposed new North Korea-related sanctions, targeting Chinese and Russian firms and individuals for supporting Pyongyang's weapons programs, but stopped short of an anticipated focus on Chinese banks.


Coming Alongside (August 18, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Elements of the Chinese church are passionate about participating in the great commission. There is a freshness, an enthusiasm, an excitement about taking the gospel of Christ to unreached parts of the world. To what extent should the international church, an older, more experienced church, undergird these efforts? Come alongside in a supportive role?

How to Minister to Seniors, Part 1 (August 22, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article from the journal ChurchChina, the author gives just such an example of how Chinese Christians can care for and minister to the senior population. She describes her own ministry to the elderly in senior centers, as well as makes useful recommendations for how to minister to seniors.

US religious freedom report provokes backlash from Chinese public (August 22, 2017, Global Times)
If you want to take a look at a snapshot of what young Chinese people think about religion, just browse through the comments they made on the recent US International Religious Freedom Report. What you find might be startling.

Society / Life

The Story of “China’s PhD Village”: A Small Village with 41 Doctors (August 18, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
A small place by the name of Baisha Town West Village, located in Guangdong’s Taishan city, is now jokingly called a hot site for house buyers by Chinese netizens. The village, that has produced 41 academics with PhD degrees and a Hollywood filmmaker, is now known as a fruitful breeding ground for talent.

1.3 Million People Along Flood-Prone Yellow River Will Be Moved (August 18, 2017, Sixth Tone)
More than 1.3 million Chinese living in flood-prone areas near the Yellow River, China’s second-longest waterway, will be relocated to improve their livelihoods, the central government announced Tuesday. According to the relocation plans, some 600,000 people will be relocated in Shandong province, in eastern China, and 776,000 people will move in Henan, a neighboring province in central China.

Bear bites man in China 'tiger death' wildlife park (August 22, 2017, BBC)
Despite park warnings, the two men decided to try their luck after seeing other visitors feeding the bears through their car windows without incident, he said in an interview with the Beijing Evening News. A bear went up to their window and Mr Chen tried to roll it up, but the window malfunctioned and rolled down instead. The bear then lunged in and bit Mr Chen's left shoulder.

Typhoon Hato kills 10 in Macau, Hong Kong and southern China (August 23, 2017, The Guardian)
Hato triggered Hong Kong’s most severe typhoon 10 warning, only the third time a storm of such power has hit the financial hub in the past 20 years.

Visually Impaired Student Denied College Dorm Room (August 23, 2017, Sixth Tone)
A university in northeastern China is under fire for denying on-campus housing to a student who is visually impaired, sparking discussion on the rights of people with disabilities.

Economics / Trade / Business

China targets Alibaba's Taobao, other e-commerce sites, in VPN crackdown (August 17, 2017, Reuters)
Chinese authorities have issued a warning to the country's top e-commerce platforms, including Alibaba Holding Group Ltd's Taobao.com, over the sale of illegal virtual private networks that allow users to skirt state censorship controls.

China to limit overseas investments in real estate, sports (August 19, 2017, The Los Angeles Times)
China's government is moving to curb domestic companies' investments abroad in property, sports, entertainment and other fields, following a series of high-profile, multibillion-dollar acquisitions by Chinese firms. A document released Friday by the State Council, China's Cabinet, was the latest move by regulators to tap the brakes on a string of foreign acquisitions, citing concerns that the companies involved may be taking on too much debt.

Chinese cities are saying “enough already” to bike-sharing services run rampant (August 22, 2017, Quartz)
For over a year, China’s city streets have been flooded with bicycles as dozens of startups vie to become the country’s “Uber for bikes.” For a while, local governments appeared powerless (or unwilling) to stop the mass of rubber and aluminum from blocking pedestrian walkways and piling up beside office complexes. But now, some cities are saying “no more.”

Joint Ventures in China: Learning from Starbucks and McDonald’s (August 22, 2017, China Briefing)
Yet, two global fast-food giants – McDonald’s and Starbucks – continue to expand their operations in China. In this article, we discuss how the two companies have pursued and expanded their operations, and why China is still seen as a valuable market.

China, Like U.S., Struggles to Revive Industrial Heartland (August 22, 2017, The New York Times)
There are too many unproductive, debt-laden factories that are losing business as China’s growth slows. If Beijing fails to overhaul those crumbling industries and revive the communities that rely on them, Shenyang and the surrounding area — and other similar regions — could weigh heavily on the country’s economic progress.

China’s Robot Revolution May Affect the Global Economy (August 22, 2017, Bloomberg)
Automation may drive productivity gains and export competitiveness, but the rising use of robots also threatens to exacerbate domestic income inequality, undermining consumption. And that could spill out beyond the country’s borders, economists said.


Chinese enrollment at Israeli universities skyrockets (August 14, 2017, Jerusalem Post)
From beaches to high-tech expertise, Israel's institutions of higher education offer Chinese students a package they can't resist.

'China Quarterly' Publisher Restores Articles Following Backlash From Scholars (August 22, 2017, NPR)
The British publisher of an academic journal has reversed a decision to take down hundreds of articles from its Chinese website. In a statement released Monday, Cambridge University Press said it's reposting the more than 300 articles to "The China Quarterly." […]  The announcement came days after the publisher initially complied with a request to remove 315 articles from its Chinese website at the request of authorities. The articles covered topics including Tibet, Taiwan and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Science / Technology

Alipay and WeChat Prove That China’s Future Is Cashless (August 22, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Accessible, intuitive mobile platforms have made China an unlikely frontrunner in the race toward becoming a cash-free society.

Some secrets of China’s terra-cotta army are baked in the clay (August 22, 2017, Science News)
China’s first emperor broke the mold when he had himself buried with a terra-cotta army.  Now insight into the careful crafting of those soldiers is coming from the clays used to build them. Custom clay pastes were mixed at a clay-making center and then distributed to specialized workshops that cranked out thousands of the life-size figures, new research suggests.

New Bullet Trains To Put China Out Front On High-Speed Rail (August 22, 2017, NPR)
Six years after a fatal crash caused China to throttle back its high-speed rail service, the country is relaunching the world's fastest inter-city lines, including one between Beijing and Shanghai that cuts an hour off the current travel time. The operating speed of the new bullet trains, known as "Fuxing," or "Rejuvenation," will be 217 mph, according to Chinese media.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Silk-Bamboo: Traditional Chinese Music and the Confucian Heritage (August 23, 2017, China Policy Institute)
The sizhu ‘silk-bamboo’ traditions, on the other hand, are performed on instruments with silk strings and flutes of bamboo, in diverse venues such as teahouses, music clubrooms and in homes. Sizhu is chamber music in that it typically involves between five and eight musicians, and functions as a genre for social entertainment, identification with regional ideals and self cultivation.

History / Culture

Burn the Books, Bury the Scholars! (August 22, 2017, China File)
Chinese censorship has come a long way. During his rule in the second century B.C.E., the First Emperor 秦始皇 of a unified China, Ying Zheng 嬴政, famously quashed the intellectual diversity of his day by ‘burning the books and burying the scholars’ 焚書坑儒. He not only got rid of troublesome texts, he deleted their authors and potential readers as well.

The Wedding Planner Reviving Naxi Traditions in Lijiang (August 22, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Though traditional wedding ceremonies are still common in remote villages, the custom has faded in the city of Lijiang since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), when cultural influences from the Han ethnic majority began to overwhelm the area. But now, a local wedding planning company called Xihe is reviving interest in the tradition — partly at the behest of tourists.

Old Hong Kong Mahjong (Roads and Kingdoms)
Known locally as ‘Sister Mei,’ Ho is the only female mahjong tile carver left in Hong Kong. She has been carving mahjong tiles for more than 40 years, and is one of the last mahjong sifus, or masters, left in the city. With no one new joining the trade, it looks like the craft may die with her generation.

Travel / Food

Traveling to Qinghai: China’s Ethinc Melting Pot (August 18, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
This article is a practical travel guide for visiting the Qinghai province, one of the most interesting provinces in China due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity.

Memory of Deng Xiaoping strong in Shenzhen (August 22, 2017, The World of Chinese)
And from museums to public squares to shopping malls, Deng’s presence is still strong. On his 113th birthday today, there’s probably no better place than Shenzhen to brush up memories of both the great man and his history.

Language / Language Learning

9 Language-Learning Resources Online (August 21, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Today there are almost unlimited resources for learning Chinese, and many of them are available online for free. Herewith is my list of nine recommended online resources. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of others out there. This list includes only those that I engage with on a regular or semi-regular basis.

Chinese Grammar Wiki: it’s a print book now! (August 23, 2017, Sinosplice)
It’s hard to believe I’ve been working on converting the Chinese Grammar Wiki ebookinto a print book for almost a year, but the work is finally done! You can buy the new print version on Amazon. It’s a hefty 2.2 pounds, and has 400 pages. And that’s just beginner and elementary (A1-A2)!

Slow Chinese: Cultural Podcast for Chinese Learners
慢速中文 Slow Chinese is a cultural podcast for Chinese learners. If you are learning Chinese and are curious about China, you’ve come to the right place! They are personal narratives by native Chinese people, they are read in Mandarin at a slow speed (2~3 characters per second). Topics vary from language, knowledge, tradition and culture to opinions on social phenomena.


China’s Banking Transformation: The Untold Story (August 21, 2017, China File)
In this timely and provocative book, James Stent, a banker with decades of experience in Asian banking and fluency in Chinese language, explains how Chinese banks work, analyzes their strengths and weaknesses, and sets forth the challenges they face in a slowing economy. 

Chinese Theology: Text and Context: A Book Review (August 23, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Most books on Chinese Christianity try to trace its history, focusing on key people, events, and movements. While Chloë Starr does not neglect these, she highlights something that most historians neglect: the theology that arose from different contexts expressed the thought and struggles of influential leaders, and shaped the ways that Christians responded to their situation.

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource 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