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The Elderly Are Becoming the New Self-Governing Subjects in China (August 2, 2017, China Policy Institute)
Senior citizens, now retired from decades of public and productive life contributing to the nation’s GDP and nation-building, are now private citizens with ageing bodies and often declining health. […] This shift of their social identity from productive worker to individual consumer puts elderly individuals in China at a moral and ethical crossroads, caught between traditional, family-oriented values of personal sacrifice and new individualistic practices.
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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs
Inside the struggle for China’s “two systems” in Hong Kong (July 27, 2017, Brookings)
The “two systems” in the “one country, two systems” governing model guarantees the continuation of Hong Kong’s market economy as well as the rule of law and political and civil rights for all Hong Kong’s residents. Since the Umbrella Movement in 2014, however, Beijing has been increasing its influence in and control over Hong Kong.
Britain's new aircraft carriers to test Beijing in South China Sea (July 27, 2017, The Guardian)
Boris Johnson has committed the UK’s two brand new aircraft carriers to freedom of navigation exercises in the fiercely contested waters of the South China Sea. In a pointed declaration aimed squarely at China, whose island-building and militarisation in the sea has unnerved western powers, the British foreign secretary said that when the ships came into service they would be sent to the Asia-Pacific region as one of their first assignments.
China's New Media Strategy: The Case of Liu Xiaobo (July 28, 2017, The Diplomat)
Instead of hushing up issues it find embarrassing, China is now aggressively manipulating the public discourse.
Xi Jinping orders army to ‘unswervingly follow Communist party leadership’ (July 30, 2017, The Guardian)
Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has presided over a spectacular display of military and political might, ordering members of his 2.3 million-strong armed forces to “unswervingly follow the absolute leadership of the Communist party of China”. Xi donned camouflage fatigues for the hour-long Sunday morning parade, which marked the 90th anniversary of the creation of China’s People’s Liberation Army, on 1 August 1927.
Music video released on PLA's 90th founding anniversary commemorative parade (July 30, 2017, People’s Daily, via YouTube)
Widow of late dissident Liu Xiaobo back in Beijing, relative says (August 1, 2017, South China Morning Post)
The widow of late Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo has returned to Beijing but it’s unclear where she is, a family member said on Tuesday, about three weeks after her husband’s death.
China formally opens first overseas military base in Djibouti (August 1, 2017, Reuters)
China formally opened its first overseas military base on Tuesday with a flag raising ceremony in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, the same day as the People's Liberation Army marks its 90th birthday, state media said.
Xi Jinping: China Won't 'Swallow The Bitter Fruit' Of Attacks On Its Interests (August 1, 2017, NPR)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and many of the country's highest officials gathered Tuesday in Beijing to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army — and to offer two strongly worded reminders to watchers at home and abroad: China's armed forces serve at the will of the Communist Party, Xi said, and those armed forces are prepared to protect the country's territorial interests.
China targets Muslim Uighurs studying abroad (August 1, 2017, Financial Times)
More than 100 have been detained in Egypt after failing to obey Chinese demands to return, according to activists and fellow Uighur students. While the campaign has mainly targeted Uighurs studying in Muslim-majority countries, China has also pressed at least one student in the US to return.
Chinese Officials Crank up Pressure to Close Vacation Bible Schools (July 26, 2017, CBN)
China is turning up the heat on churches and parents to keep the nation's youth from learning about Christianity. Children in Zhejiang province won't be allowed to attend vacation Bible school (VBS), and other religious events this summer.
Towards More Effective Youth Ministry (July 31, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
This priority speaks to the needs of youth in China and the urgent need for the church to reach and minister to them or risk losing the next generation of believers. This will not just be the loss of individual believers but also the potential loss of Christian families and church leaders.
A Dying Chinese Shaman Encounters Jesus (July 31, 2017, China Christian Daily)
In a rural village in Northwest China where there is active Christian persecution, a famous shaman who openly consults demons, gets born again.
Reformation 500 for the Chinese Church (July 31, 2017, The Gospel Coalition)
Wenhong remembers house-church meetings in living rooms, with the curtains pulled tight. She remembers walking past a group of people exercising in a Shanghai park in the 1990s and realizing they were actually a house church disguising their fellowship time. So when Wenhong walked into the auditorium of the Reformation 500 conference in Hong Kong this spring, and saw more than 3,500 attendees (most from mainland China) gathering and worshiping in the open, she could not stop her tears.
Why China Needs a Higher Righteousness (August 1, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article from the journal Territory, Pastor An analyzes the incident and comments that a cold wave of self-righteousness has swept through Chinese society. This wave threatens to drown all sense of self-sacrifice and inhibits Chinese from extending grace towards other broken souls.
China’s Church and Its Future (August 2, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
China’s youth comprise the most privileged generation in China’s history, but perhaps the most conflicted generation as well. The future of China’s church hinges upon its ability to engage effectively with its next generation.
Three Reasons Why Few Children of Chinese Christians Accept Jesus (August 2, 2017, China Christian Daily)
Some said that children of Chinese Christians rarely believe in the Lord. The majority of them act against the Bible. What is the cause of this harsh phenomenon?
Society / Life
Reflections from the Rustbelt: A Laid-off Worker’s Story (July 27, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Once the heart of industrial China, Fularji paints a desolate picture of state-owned enterprises racked with debt.
The Last of the Oroqen Hunters (July 28, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In the frozen wilderness of China’s Hinggan Mountains, an ethnic minority group watches its heritage slip away amid tightening gun control.
China's metro station in the middle of nowhere (July 28, 2017, CNN)
Opened in October 2015 to connect the rural suburb of Caijiagang with the city center, Caojiawan Station has become legendary throughout China because of its bizarre appearance in the middle of nowhere. The station's three exits -- only one of them is in use now -- are all hidden among overgrown weeds on barren land.
Growing old in China without falling into poverty (July 31, 2017, China Policy Institute)
What can be done to both improve the sustainability of China’s pension system and provide economic security in old age?
Population ageing in China (August 1, 2017, China Policy Institute)
With the growing new middle-class, the need for good quality care institutions for ageing parents is increasing and in major cities people struggle to win a place at the most popular old people’s homes (there is one in Beijing with a waiting list of 100 years).
China's Restive Xinjiang Province Changes Family Planning Rules to 'Promote Ethnic Equality' (August 1, 2017, TIME)
A restive region of northwestern China has just altered its family planning policy to no longer allow ethnic minorities to have more children than other residents, in what the state-run media says is a testament to the government's commitment to "ethnic equality."
Migrant tensions simmer in Beijing (August 1, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Tensions have long been high between “real” Beijingers and the migrant workers who moved to the capital to build its malls and share the wealth, but a recent move by one village government has taken things to a new extreme by fining migrants—not for any offence, but for not being a hukou-holding registered Beijinger.
China’s Middle Class Comes With New Characteristics (August 1, 2017, Sixth Tone)
There’s now an alternative answer to the question of what constitutes “middle class” in China. The country’s emerging middle class is urban, well-educated, born in the 1980s, and — most importantly — living an indulgent, modern lifestyle, according to a report published Monday on Channel Wu, a WeMedia account run by financial writer Wu Xiaobo that arrived at this definition after surveying more than 20,000 people.
Essay on Beijing migrants' plight fuels online debate in China (August 1, 2017, Reuters)
A sharply worded essay by an obscure Chinese author on the plight of Beijing's migrants has stirred intense online debate over its polemical style, prompting the ruling Communist Party's official newspaper to accuse him of writing "fantastically".
Single Chinese women want to freeze their eggs and enjoy life (August 2, 2017, BBC)
In China, there is a growing rank of unmarried women who are choosing to freeze their eggs overseas. These women are educated, middle class and often opt for a single life. They are the hallmarks of fast-changing Chinese society.
9 Ways China Expats Offend on U.S. Soil (August 2, 2017, Lost Laowai)
I try to remember how to act American, I really do. But so much of behavior runs on a subconscious autopilot setting, and mine stays set to “China mode” even after landing in the States. Yours, too? It takes a while to flip all those switches.
Economics / Trade / Business
China Needs More Foreigners (July 30, 2017, Bloomberg)
If China wants more foreign tourists -- and their hard currency -- it should make it easier for them to get there.
A Crackdown on Unfettered Internet Access Is Jeopardizing China’s Pro-Business Credentials (July 30, 2017, TIME)
But shutting off all access to prohibited foreign websites would have a tremendous chilling effect on China’s credentials as an international business hub. Already, business executives arriving for meetings in China must deal with the shocking reality that they cannot access Gmail — the world’s most popular email service — by virtue that it is run by the banned Google.
While Other U.S. Companies Flee China, Starbucks Doubles Down (July 31, 2017, The New York Times)
Amid last week’s busy news cycle — filled with company earnings reports and chaos in Washington — Starbucks made a momentous deal that was largely overshadowed. It bought out its longtime partner in its Chinese operation (making it the sole owner) and detailed its huge expansion plans for China.
Inside China's booming sharing economy (August 1, 2017, CBS News)
But nowhere in the world is the sharing economy more popular than in China. Last year, 600 million Chinese people used a sharing service. Some are asking if it's too much of a good thing.
Video: The Chinese economy in 60 seconds -- July 2017 (August 1, 2017, Financial Times, via YouTube)
China Bans Uyghur Language in Xinjiang Schools (July 28, 2017, Radio Free Asia)
Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang region have issued a directive completely banning the use of the Uyghur language at all education levels up to and including secondary school, according to official sources, and those found in violation of the order will face “severe punishment.”
Failing Undergrads Downgraded to Vocational Diplomas (July 31, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Under the new system, students at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, capital of central Hubei province, will be eligible to transfer to a vocational course of study if their academic performance does not meet the school’s requirements, or if they are “unable to continue their studies for any other reason.” The measure will go into effect this September.
Education Charity Struggles to Soar Amid Rural Brain Drain (July 31, 2017, Sixth Tone)
China is a notoriously top-down society. For nonprofit and for-profit businesses alike, relationships with the authorities can spell doom or boom — and Adream has understood this since day one.
Science / Technology
Playing Around with Tencent: Chinese Parents are Losing a Fortune on Mobile Games (August 1, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
With China’s tech giant Tencent being a huge player in both the online gaming and online payment market, making in-app purchases for mobile games has never been easier. Oblivious to the dangers of children playing online, many Chinese parents are losing thousands of renminbi to virtual weapons and armor.
Joining Apple, Amazon’s China Cloud Service Bows to Censors (August 1, 2017, The New York Times)
A Chinese company that operates Amazon’s cloud-computing and online services business there said on Tuesday that it told local customers to cease using any software that would allow Chinese to circumvent the country’s extensive system of internet blocks.
In China's hotel lobbies, small gaps in 'Great Firewall' are closing (August 1, 2017, Reuters)
A notice from the Waldorf Astoria in Beijing, circulated online, said the hotel had stopped offering VPN services. A Waldorf official declined to comment, but several staff said the hotel no longer offered VPN services. "(VPNs) don't accord with Chinese law," one staffer told Reuters. "So we don't have this anymore."
Arts / Entertainment / Media
Here are all the words Chinese state media has banned (August 2, 2017, SUP China)
A full translation of the style guide update from Xinhua, and why it matters.
History / Culture
How the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge changed China forever (August 7, 2017, CNN)
China may be home to both the longest and highest bridges in the world, but neither is as pioneering as the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. Built during China's tumultuous Cultural Revolution, the double-decked bridge was considered groundbreaking when it was unveiled in 1968. But more importantly to some, it was also the first modern bridge to be designed and built by China without help from foreign architects.
Travel / Food
Take a look at how construction work is going on the world's largest airport terminal in Beijing (July 26, 2017, Shanghaiist)
Work appears to be progressing rather well on the new Zaha Hadid-designed airport being built in southern Beijing with some pretty photos emerging online of what will soon become the world's largest aviation hub.
New 144-Hour Visa-Free Entry to Be Introduced in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei (July 31, 2017, The Beijinger)
The vice-mayor of Beijing, Cheng Hong, made the announcement late last week, saying that Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei province will provide 144-hour visa-free entry, doubling the previous 72-hour length, in an effort to modernize and improve the area's service industry.
Sleeping under yak hair: life with Gansu's Tibetan nomads (Lonely Planet)
Gannan nomads live on the vast region of lush, high grasslands that occupy the southern part of Gansu province. This is an area also known as Amdo, one of the three traditional regions of Tibet. With a way of life that has endured for centuries, their activities follow the seasons and they move to different grasslands throughout the year, according to the condition of the grass.
Language / Language Learning
Matteo Ricci: The First Western Chinese Language Learner? (July 31, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Many people go to China with the hope and/or intention of learning the language, but soon give up. The tones, the unfamiliar sounds, the complexity of the characters quickly form themselves into a whirling mass that overwhelms the motivation and desire to learn. The task seems too big.
The Grammar of an Ode to Stinky Tofu (August 1, 2017, Sinosplice)
I never imagined that collaborating with a musician to create a fun song for learning Chinese grammar would result in a love song to stinky tofu (臭豆腐), of all foods! But that is indeed what happened last week.
Recommended Read—Shanghai Faithful (July 28, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
When a Catholic Chinese-American journalist discovers that her grandfather was a prominent Anglican church leader in China in the 1940s and that her granduncle was none other than the famous house church leader, Watchman Nee, she did what every good journalist does—she set out to tell the story.
Links for Researchers
Harvard-Yenching Library of 4200 Chinese Rare Books (Harvard Library)
Harvard-Yenching Library Chinese Rare Books Digitization Project-Christianity (Harvard University)
Image credit: Asian Development Bank
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