ZGBriefs | August 29, 2019

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Featured Article

How Basketball Became China’s Most Beloved Sport (August 27, 2019, Radii China)
As China gears up to host the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup from August 31, here’s a look at how the country became so enamored with a game that has only been around for a little over a century. (We’ll give you a hint: it started well before China’s most famous 7-foot-6 player ever set foot in America.)

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Taking Down Deng (August 26, 2019, China Media Project)
In some media, the birthday was an occasion to revisit Deng’s ideas and writings. But a discussion soon bloomed across social media that the authorities found unacceptable, and a hasty wave of deletions across WeChat, Weibo and other platforms ensued.

United Front Work Department’s Austrian Chapter Registers as a Foreign NGO in China (August 27, 2019, China File)
According to information on the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) website, the Association’s office in China works to “unite Chinese in Austria with Austrians friendly to China and promote the peaceful reunification of the motherland.”

'Now or never': Hong Kong protesters say they have nothing to lose (August 27, 2019, Reuters)
Exasperated with the government’s unflinching attitude to escalating civil unrest, Jason Tse quit his job in Australia and jumped on a plane to join what he believes is a do-or-die fight for Hong Kong’s future.

Hong Kong protests: Carrie Lam rejects claims she has lost control (August 27, 2019, The Guardian)
Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, has condemned renewed violent protests that erupted over the weekend but insisted that she would not give in to activists’ political demands. As the former British colony’s biggest political crisis since the handover to China continued into its 12th week, Lam denied on Tuesday that she had lost control of the situation and vowed to tackle the unrest and restore law and order.

China Arrests Australian Writer On Espionage Charges (August 27, 2019, NPR)
A Chinese-born Australian writer detained for months in China has been formally arrested on charges of espionage, officials in Canberra confirmed on Tuesday. Yang Hengjun, a former Chinese diplomat who reportedly became an Australian citizen in 2002 but retains a Chinese passport, has also lived and worked in the United States.

The Chinese model in Africa and its wider challenge (August 27, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
The Beijing Consensus represents the most successful aspect of China’s soft power offensive, which has enhanced the appeal of Chinese initiatives in the African states and the developing world.

Can China’s Government Replace Hong Kong?  A ChinaFile Conversation  (August 27, 2019, China File)
How much does Hong Kong matter to the economic health of mainland China, and how has that changed recently? What economic benefits do Hong Kong’s relatively free and independent media, court system, and financial markets bring to the rest of the country? In what ways might Shenzhen and Shanghai supplant Hong Kong?

How China Regulates Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations (August 27, 2019, China File)
The many, many hoops that foreign groups have to jump through to operate in China—and why Beijing changed the laws in 2017.

China’s Government Wants You to Think All Mainlanders View Hong Kong the Same Way.They Don’t.  (August 27, 2019, China File)
Over the past two weeks, I have spent dozens of hours exploring reactions to the protests on Chinese social media. But instead of finding uniform antipathy for the Hong Kong protesters or support for the government’s reaction, I came across a range of opinion running the gamut from admiration to disdain, confusion, and even indifference.

Amid Tensions, Beijing Denies U.S. Navy Request To Call At Chinese Port (August 28, 2019, NPR)
China has said that it won't allow a U.S. Navy warship to visit its northeastern port of Qingdao, marking the second time in recent weeks that Beijing has rebuffed what is a routine request and underscoring trade tensions with Washington and accusations that the U.S. is behind unrest in Hong Kong.

Police In Hong Kong Are Caught Between Protesters And The Government (August 28, 2019, NPR)
Hong Kong's police force was once known for its professionalism and impartiality, but now protesters accuse officers of brutality and demand an independent investigation.

City on Edge: Photographs From Hong Kong’s Summer of Protest (August 28, 2019, The New York Times)
The photographer Lam Yik Fei has spent the past 12 weeks on the sweltering summer streets of Hong Kong, dodging tear gas canisters and pepper spray to document each step of the movement for The New York Times. 

'A nuclear option': Hong Kong and the threat of the emergency law (August 28, 2019, The Guardian)
The Hong Kong government’s hint that it may use a draconian law to quell its biggest crisis in decades has sparked widespread concern, with analysts saying it would plunge the city into a worse crisis.

Liberal Beijing-based Institute Announces Closure (August 28, 2019, China Digital Times)
This week, the Beijing-based Unirule Institute of Economics announced that it would close after years of official pressure including the deletion of social media accounts and an eviction last summer during which the doors of its offices were welded shut, temporarily trapping staff inside.


The Story of an American Missionary and Her ‘Paper Gods’ (August 23, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Anne Swann Goodrich’s collection provides a comprehensive window into early 20th century Beijing folk religion.

Fair Name of Jesus (August 23, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
One of the most famous and popular traditional Chinese folk songs is “Jasmine Flower” (茉莉花), which dates to the 1700s. It’s probably not too much of an exaggeration to say that any Chinese person you meet knows this song. […]  The New Chinese Hymnal includes a hymn set to this traditional melody, under the name 耶稣美名歌—“Fair Name of Jesus.”

The Importance of First-Hand Faith (August 27, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article, Pastor Chen Shengfeng emphasizes the necessity of personal, living faith. He points out that some people who calls themselves Christians do so because Christian faith is simply something they have inherited from people around them.

Chinese Catholic bishop ordained with Pope's approval (August 28, 2019, BBC)
A bishop has been ordained with the blessing of both the Pope and the Chinese state for the first time under a new deal. […] Yao Shun received the papal mandate for his ordination as bishop in China's Inner Mongolia region.

God’s Work among the Lisu (August 28, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Perhaps of greater importance than the identities of the missionaries is the way that they taught the Christian faith to the Lisu and encouraged them to take it to others. Their stress on prayer, itinerant evangelism, learning the Bible in their mother-tongue, hymnody, and three-self principles all played a major part in the spectacular expansion of Christianity within this tribe.

Society / Life

Bizarre Buildings & Ambitious Architecture of Rural China: Here’s Chinese Vlogger ‘Schlieffen’  (August 25, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
“Making Hebei great again” is one of his slogans. Schlieffen is China’s first self-proclaimed ‘agritourism’ vlogger, showing Chinese netizens the unexpected sides of Hebei, an “almost invisible” province in Northern China.

Chinese shoppers love napping at Ikea. Ikea says that’s fine (August 26, 2019, Inkstone)
After years of ambivalence over what to do with the many people who nap in its stores, Ikea has effectively given a green light to the popular Chinese past-time. “We are very happy to welcome many customers to visiting our stores, for using our stores to sleep, as well,” said Anna Pawlak-Kuliga, the head of Ikea in China, as she announced Thursday an expansion in the company’s fastest-growing market.

Cleaning up Guangzhou’s African enclave: A historical perspective (August 28, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
By the mid-1990s, the residents of Dengfeng found themselves occupying a prime location between the city’s central business district and the trading hub, making Dengfeng Village extremely attractive to various groups within the city.

Economics / Trade / Business

Repeat After Me: There Will be No US-China Trade Deal (August 24, 2019, China Law Blog)
If the US-China trade war/cold war were really about trade imbalances, it would have ended long ago with China buying more soybeans and Boeing airplanes from the United States. But from the very beginning, the U.S. has demanded China stop stealing IP and open its markets for foreign companies, and there is just no way China will agree to either of these things. 

Chinese censorship laws could prompt foreign book publishers to look elsewhere for printers  (August 25, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Publishers from Australia and New Zealand are looking for printers outside China after falling foul of censorship laws that require maps to be vetted. A number of businesses have been hit by delays or cancellations – even if the books in question are not intended for local distribution or do not contain China-related content.

US exports to lobster-loving China go off cliff amid tariffs (August 26, 2019, AP)
U.S. lobster exports to China have fallen off a cliff this year as new retaliatory tariffs shift the seafood business farther north. China, a huge and growing customer for lobster, placed heavy tariffs on U.S. lobsters — and many other food products — in July 2018 amid rising trade hostilities between the Chinese and the Trump administration.

Ghost Trains to Europe (August 27, 2019, Echo Wall)
Empty container cars heading home on the China Railway Express have long symbolized for some the lack of reciprocality in trade with China, which exports more to Europe than it buys. But what does it mean when most of the trains coming from China are empty? 

Hasbro CEO says moving out of China has ‘gone very well for us’ (August 27, 2019, CNBC)
Although Hasbro feels confident that it will be able to move most of its business out of China in the near future, it still expects to be hit with the 10% tariffs that Trump announced earlier this month but later delayed.

The end of China’s labour reform? (August 27, 2019, East Asia Forum)
The optimism for more labour reforms from a decade ago now seems extinguished. Labour reforms have either stalled or lost momentum altogether. There has been no major labour legislation for several years and union reforms have stopped.

U.S. Companies In China Get Caught In The Trade War Crossfire (August 27, 2019, NPR)
The growing importance of China's consumer market is often overlooked in U.S. political debate, which tends to focus on the huge number of jobs lost as U.S. companies have shifted overseas in search of low-wage labor, says Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management, who taught in China for years.

Angering China Can Now Get You Fired (August 27, 2019, The Atlantic)
Sy’s dismissal is just the most glaring example of a new stage in Beijing’s clampdown on widespread protests in the former British colony—arm-twisting Hong Kong companies to do the dirty work to ensure that their staff don’t take part in the demonstrations that have gripped the city through the summer. 

‘American Factory’ stirs mixed feelings in China over working conditions and culture (August 27, 2019, South China Morning Post)
For American viewers, the Netflix documentary American Factory reveals the life of US workers on Chinese-owned production lines. But for Chinese viewers, the film serves as a reminder of the human costs behind China’s rise as a manufacturing superpower – and it has generated strong interest in the country as the US-China trade warintensifies.

Opening-day frenzy at first Costco store in China – video (August 28, 2019, The Guardian)
The US retailer Costco has said it will limit the number of shoppers at its first store in China after overcrowding forced it to shut early on the opening day. Large crowds caused traffic jams as they flocked to the store in Shanghai on Tuesday, and shoppers jostled to grab products off the shelves before joining the huge queues at checkouts 


Randomized School Admissions Rattle Shanghai’s Rat Race (August 23, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Parents cry foul as sudden policy shift favors the simply lucky instead of the painstakingly prepared.

Going to School in China — The Stories of 3 Asian TCKs (August 26, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
I have known the following three Asian third culture kids (TCKs) since they were young. They all grew up in China and have now graduated from university. As you read these stories, you may glimpse some of the challenges parents, as well as these TCKs, have had to face as they went to school in China.

Chinese parents say intense competition forces them to send children to after-school classes (August 27, 2019, South China Morning Post)
More than 40 per cent of those surveyed in an online poll say they feel they have no other choice, while just a quarter think the extra tutoring is necessary. It reflects widespread anxiety over getting places at the top schools, according to researcher.

The Chinese Students Stuck in Fake Majors (August 27, 2019, Sixth Tone)
As China’s private vocational schools struggle to attract students, some are using unscrupulous methods to fill classrooms.

Science / Technology

Facing US Sanctions, Huawei Unveils World’s Fastest AI Chip (August 23, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The product launch marks Huawei’s emergence in the field of artificial intelligence amid the US’s ongoing crackdown on the telecom giant and its subsidiaries.

History / Culture

Class of 1977 (August 27, 2019, The World of Chinese)
For most Chinese, the national college entrance exam (gaokao) is a universal—if not exactly fondly remembered—summer memory, indelibly associated with baking heat or monsoon rain. Yet for one unique generation, this annual rite of passage is associated with another season and time entirely—the “winter gaokao” of 1977, the first after a decade-long hiatus.

Sidney Rittenberg obituary (August 28, 2019, The Guardian)
Sidney Rittenberg, an American from South Carolina, was one of the few non-Chinese people to become a senior member of the Chinese Communist party. Known in China, and still revered, as Li Dunbai (which sounds like Rittenberg to Chinese ears), he was an active participant in the communist revolution of the late 1940s and its aftermath.

Wang Guodong, Who Painted Mao Year After Year, Dies at 88 (August 28, 2019, The New York Times)
Mr. Wang, who was 88 when he died on Friday at a hospital in Beijing, was chosen in 1964, when he was in his early 30s, to be the official painter of the 15-by-20-foot oil portrait of Mao that hangs steps from the party’s central seat of power, at the Gate of Heavenly Peace.

Travel / Food

Chinese soft power and outbound tourism to Africa (August 26, 2019, East Asia Dialogue)
We found that the most active African government in luring Chinese visitors appears to be South Africa. In fact, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia and Morocco are the only African countries that have set up promotion agencies in China. After all, China cannot wield its influence unilaterally.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

It's Official! Jeremy Lin Announces His Deal With the Beijing Ducks (August 28, 2019, The Beijinger)
Raised in the United States by parents from Taiwan, he now wants to return to China, not only for his own stardom but to share his knowledge of the game with Chinese children. "I’ve always known that my journey in some ways would end in China, that I would come back here and take the experiences that I had growing up in America," he said in the interview.

‘A Little Reunion’ Dives Headlong Into China’s Thorniest Themes (August 27, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The popular drama series has been well-received by viewers, who appreciate that it hasn’t shied away from weighty social issues.


The Present and Future of the Catholic Church in China and How the American Church Can Respond: A presentation at the America Media headquarters, hosted by the US-China Catholic Association.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019 | 6:00 p.m.​ | America Media Headquarters

Image credit: franchise opportunities, 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