ZGBriefs | August 26, 2021

ZGBriefs is for those who want and need to keep up on what is happening in China, but don’t have the time to monitor and track it all. We monitor more than 50 different news sources and curate the most relevant and interesting stories out of China each week. Topics include government, religion, society, economics, education, travel, and language, and books.


Featured Article

U.S. granted Chinese student visas at pre-pandemic levels in June (August 24, 2021, Sup China)
The U.S. issued nearly 34,000 F1 visas in June for Chinese students, about the same level as 2019. It’s not yet clear if the total number of Chinese students for the fall semester will be higher or lower than before the pandemic.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Jack Ma’s Costliest Business Lesson: China Has Only One Leader (August 20, 2021, The Wall Street Journal)
The billionaire entrepreneur matched the heights of America’s tech legends but failed to heed warnings that Chinese leader Xi Jinping still called the shots.

The party’s over: China clamps down on its tech billionaires (August 21, 2021, The Guardian)
The startling rise to wealth of the nation’s entrepreneurs has been an affront to Beijing’s political philosophy and increasingly, a threat to the communist party.

An ‘Early Test Case’ for a China-Led World (August 24, 2021, The Atlantic)
Why China would want to wade into an Afghan morass may at first seem bewildering. To a certain extent, it has little choice, with the mess perched precariously on its western border and the Americans no longer around to do the job of maintaining security. But the U.S. withdrawal also presents Beijing’s leaders with an opportunity: to solidify their dominance in a region they consider their backyard and, even more, to play the role of hero by succeeding where Washington failed.

Going after the private sector: Xi on a mission (August 24, 2021, SOAS China Institute)
Mao Zedong waged war, so to speak, against the capitalist class in China. Deng Xiaoping and later leaders marched to a different tune, allowing people and private firms under the ‘reform and opening up’ slogan to get rich. Xi Jinping looks to be turning the clock back. Under the slogan of ‘common prosperity’, he is looking to emphasise the ‘socialism’ in ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’. This is language that until now many saw as little more than rhetoric because China is, after all, the epitome of state capitalism, which everyone knows, right? Well, maybe not, after all.

‘Picking quarrels and provoking trouble’: how China’s catch-all crime muzzles dissent (August 25, 2021, South China Morning Post)
The broadly worded criminal charge has been widely criticised for its potential to be used to muzzle dissent. Known as a catch-all offence or a “pocket crime”, the charge has been used by Chinese authorities against human rights activists and dissidents for a wide range of behaviours.

Rejecting Covid Inquiry, China Peddles Conspiracy Theories Blaming the U.S. (August 25, 2021, The New York Times) (subscription required)
A new wave of disinformation follows President Biden’s order for the United States to investigate the origin of the pandemic, including the possibility of a lab leak in Wuhan.

Coronavirus origins: US intelligence report ‘inconclusive’ (August 25, 2021, BBC)
A US intelligence report requested by President Biden into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic is inconclusive, US media reports say. Agencies are reportedly divided on whether the virus – first seen in China – was the result of a natural spillover from animals to humans or was caused by a laboratory accident.An summary of the report is expected to be published in the coming days. China’s foreign minister has dismissed the report as “anti-science”.

China seeks to expand influence in Africa with more digital projects (August 25, 2021, South China Morning Post)
China said it would step up digital cooperation and investments in African, as Beijing seeks to deepen its influence on the continent alongside its pledges for trade, infrastructure and Covid-19 vaccines.

Analysis: Xi’s leftward shift to a socialist China is for real (August 26, 2021, Nikkei)
One cannot overstate the shock that has rippled through Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, as well as across China. On Saturday, China’s top anti-graft agency said the city’s top official, Chinese Communist Party Secretary Zhou Jiangyong, is under investigation for suspected serious violations of party disciplinary rules and laws.


Video: Need We Fear the Hungry Ghosts? (August 19, 2021, CantoSense)
Should we be extra concerned about the spiritual realm during Hungry Ghost Festival? In this episode, we are talking about what ghosts really are and what this festival means for cultural Chinese Christians.

Podcast: Andrew Ong—The Chinese American Church (August 20, 2021, Voices of World Christianity
In this episode, Nuam and Chao interview a recent graduate of New College, Dr. Andrew Ong. We discuss Andrew’s thesis “Toward a Chinese American Evangelical Theology: The Promise of Neo-Calvinism” as well as his pastoral role at a multiethnic church in northern California. 

Reaching Those Who Aren’t Interested (August 20, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
In Christianity, pre-evangelism is the arduous work of removing objections that hinder the reception of the gospel message. It is a critical first step in reaching unbelievers whose minds are blocked and not able to claim the Christian faith. What might that look like for reaching the Chinese community in America?

Encountering the Legacy of James O. Fraser in Unexpected Places (August 20, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Fast forward a hundred years and many thousands of miles away to Forest Lake, MN, a small town on the northern edges of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. There you’ll find an unexpected glimpse of Fraser’s legacy…

Building a Bridge to Christ: Working with Chinese Students in the States (August 23, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
Despite the difficulties of this season, God continues to work in the hearts of those he has prepared. Sam and Aili’s insights into the current realities of international student work offer both encouragement and direction for those seeking to love their Chinese neighbor in a Western context.

From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom (3) (August 23, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
How did the Hui become China’s second largest and most widely dispersed minority? Why do they simultaneously act superior and inferior to the Han majority? We find our first clues in the times of the Yuan.

Two Jailed After Raid on Early Rain Church Meeting in China’s Sichuan (August 24, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
Police in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan detained several minors and jailed two members of the Early Rain Covenant Church following a police raid on a gathering in the provincial capital, Chengdu, RFA has learned.

A Young Man’s Testimony (August 24, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
There are few things more powerful or encouraging than the testimony of someone who’s life has been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this video from 7G-TV, a young man who was homeless in Beijing tells the story of what brought him to the point of being destitute and how God changed his life and restored his relationship with his family through the ministry of a church who cared for those in need.

Society / Life

Revealed: How Floods Turned a Chinese Subway Into a Death Trap (August 20, 2021, Sixth Tone)
A subway train carrying hundreds of commuters. A violent flash flood. A desperate struggle for survival. Sixth Tone investigates how extreme weather sowed terror in a Chinese megacity.

China NPC: Three-child policy formally passed into law (August 20, 2021, BBC)
China had announced back in May that it would allow couples to have up to three children, in a major policy shift. That decision has now been formally passed into law, along with several resolutions aimed at boosting the birth rate and “reducing the burden” of raising a child, said Xinhua news agency.

The population exodus that will change Hong Kong forever (August 25, 2021, East Asia Forum)
A back-of-the-envelope calculation using UK government forecasts and destination preferences (which indicate that a quarter of potential migrants would choose to move to the United Kingdom) suggests that total emigration from Hong Kong may reach 1.2 million people, or 16 per cent of the population. While the estimate is subject to large uncertainties, emigration at such a large scale would have enormous implications for Hong Kong’s economy.

China wants families to have three children. But many women aren’t convinced (August 25, 2021, CNN)
The formal passing of the country’s new three-child policy into law on Friday was met with widespread skepticism and criticism on Chinese social media, with many women expressing anxiety over the rising cost of living and entrenched gender inequality in the workplace.

What Does it Mean to Be ‘Chinese’? Education and National Belonging in Contemporary China (August 25, 2021, The China Story)
For the research, I wanted students to reflect upon the country and their place in it. But asking people direct questions about abstract concepts such as “national identity” or “national belonging” often leads to bewilderment. 

Economics / Trade / Business

China Reopens Terminal at World’s Third-Busiest Port (August 25, 2021, Bloomberg)
The Meishan terminal at China’s second-busiest port reopened Wednesday following a two-week shutdown that further snarled already stressed shipping routes in Asia. The terminal will start the resumption of normal operations Wednesday, a port official said at a press conference in the city of Ningbo. 


China schools: ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ introduced into curriculum (August 25, 2021, BBC)
China will introduce the political ideology of the Chinese President in its national curriculum. “Xi Jinping thought” will help “teenagers establish Marxist beliefs”, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) in new guidelines. The ideology will be integrated from primary school up to university.

Science / Technology

China launches twin radar satellites for 3D mapping (August 24, 2021, Space)
Little information about the satellites was released prior to nor following launch. Chinese state media said the pair were for “scientific experiments and research, land and resources surveying, and geographic surveying and mapping.”

History / Culture

Video: Street interview in China, 1995. Expectations of China in 21st century (August 23, Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Qianlong Emperor: The Worst Poet in Chinese History? (August 25, 2021, The World of Chinese)
The longest-lived ruler of the Qing dynasty wrote 43,000 poems in his lifetime, most of them bad.

The last meeting of Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek (August 25, 2021, Sup China)
In This Week in China’s History, we look back to the meeting of these three men on August 28, 1945, to begin talks aimed at resolving China’s leadership crisis in the wake of the Second World War. Mao and Chiang, once formal allies but long mortal enemies, spent weeks together discussing and negotiating China’s future and the relationship between the two parties they led. Under duress and with everything at stake, it was the last time the two would meet.

Travel / Food

US Slashes Inbound Chinese Passenger Flights to 40% Capacity (August 19, 2021, Sixth Tone)
U.S. aviation authorities have forced four Chinese carriers that fly to the country to slash their passenger capacity by 60%, after Beijing imposed a similar restriction on four United Airlines routes to China.

The Legendary Lao Gan Ma: How Chili Sauce Billionaire Tao Huabi Became a ‘Chinese Dream’ Role Model(August 21, 2021, What’s on Weibo)
You might know the chili sauce Lao Gan Ma, a household name in China. But perhaps you’re less familiar with the story behind the sauce and its founder, which has inspired millions of people and has made ‘Old Godmother’ Tao Huabi a notable figure in Chinese contemporary culture today. For many, the successful businesswoman and ‘chili sauce queen’ is an embodiment of the ‘Chinese dream.’

Arts / Entertainment / Media

What Does the Future Hold for China’s ‘Little Fresh Meat’ Idols? (August 19, 2021, Sixth Tone)
A spate of public allegations have brought down several young male celebrities, denting not just their image but also billions of dollars worth of brand endorsements.

Language / Language Learning

The building blocks of Chinese, part 2: Basic characters, components and radicals (August 23, 2021, Hacking Chinese)
In this article, we will look at the most basic level of the Chinese writing system, meaning the smallest, meaningful units. These characters that are not themselves composed of smaller, meaningful parts and can’t be broken down. We can call these the basic building blocks of Chinese.

Podcast: Between Languages 016: How to Translate China’s Cultural Heritage into English (August 25, 2021, Carl Gene’s Blog)
In this week’s podcast on Chinese-English translation, I discuss some of the tricky terminology you’ll encounter when dealing with texts on China’s cultural heritage.

Just Launched ARC (Advanced Readings in Chinese) (August 25, 2021, Sinosplice)
Each newsletter consists of roughly 5 short pieces (excerpts of longer articles, which are cited and linked). The 5 pieces typically consist of: a news item, a “social trends” item (less time-sensitive, more focused on modern China and “the buzz” currently en vogue), a visual piece, an alternative piece related to art, poetry, music, propaganda, or something else, a joke.

Pray for China

August 26, 2021 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Aug. 26, 1854, Wang Tao (王韬先生) was baptized as a Christian in Shanghai after working as a Bible translator. Wang traveled to Scotland to assist James Legge (理雅各) with his masterful five-volume Chinese Classics, work which convinced Legge that the ancient Chinese worshiped the God of the Bible. Wang Tao returned to Hong Kong to found the first Chinese-language daily newspaper and wrote prolifically on behalf of modernization and political reform. He died in Shanghai in 1897 at age 70. Pray for the lost in Shanghai to read God’s Word and know that apart from the Lord there is no savior. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. Isaiah 43:11

Image credit: Vicuna R, via Twitter
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