ZGBriefs | August 3, 2023

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Featured Article

Beijing records heaviest rainfall in at least 140 years, causing severe flooding and 21 deaths (August 2, 2023, AP)
Beijing and the surrounding province of Hebei were hit by severe flooding because of the record rainfall, with waters rising to dangerous levels. The rain destroyed roads and knocked out power and even pipes carrying drinking water. It flooded rivers surrounding the capital, leaving cars waterlogged, while lifting others onto bridges meant for pedestrians.

Sponsored Link

Online Book Club (ERRChina)
On August 9, Joann Pittman will facilitate an online book club discussion for ERRChina/CAC. The book is Beyond East & West, by C.H. Wu.  The author John C.H. Wu, one of the most influential Chinese intellectuals of the twentieth century and drafter of the constitution of the Republic of China, reveals in this book his growth towards the love of God on a path through all of China’s traditions, from Confucian thought, Taoism, and Buddhism…. The book was a best seller when originally published in 1951.

Click here to join the discussion on August 9, 2023 at 7:00pm (US CDT).

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Qin Gang’s Removal Puts the Focus on Xi Jinping’s Leadership (July 26, 2023, Council on Foreign Relations)
Qin’s departure will mean little to China’s foreign policy; foreign ministers are career civil servants who carry out decisions made by the party. Rather, the key point is that Xi Jinping has suffered yet another embarrassingly public setback, one in a string that calls into question his judgment as he now rules alone at the top of the party.

China may be planning overseas naval bases in Asia and Africa, say analysts (July 27, 2023, The Guardian)
Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Bata in Equatorial Guinea and Gwadar in Pakistan are the three most likely locations for a Chinese naval base to be established in the next two to five years, according to an analysis by AidData, a US-based research institute, published on Wednesday.

China, UAE set for joint air force training in military first, as Beijing forges closer Middle East ties (July 31, 2023, South China Morning Post)
The air forces of China and the United Arab Emirates will train together for the first time next month, according to the Chinese defence ministry. The “Falcon Shield 2023” exercises will take place in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the ministry said in a brief statement on Monday.

Hong Kong’s Legal War on a Protest Anthem (August 1, 2023, The Diplomat)
The attempt fits into a longer tradition of using injunction orders to check free speech – and pressuring the courts to follow political directives.

Xi Jinping replaces generals in charge of China’s nuclear arsenal (August 2, 2023, The Guardian)
Two of China’s top generals overseeing its nuclear missiles have been replaced with scant explanation in the biggest shake-up of the country’s military leadership in a decade, underlining Xi Jinping’s commitment to tightening control over the armed forces.


Chinese Mission at the Crossroads (July 28, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Now as China’s church reengages in mission, the question of how the gospel will be conveyed cross-culturally and what kind of churches will result is central to the long-term success of the Chinese mission movement. The current missionary church narrative unfortunately seems to overlook this larger concern, focusing instead on the immediate tasks of training and sending workers and building platforms for witness overseas.

China Releases Administrative Measures for Religious Activity Venues (August 1, 2023, China Christian Daily)
According to its official website, the National Religious Affairs Administration recently promulgated the “Administrative Measures for Religious Activity Venues” by Order No. 19, which will come into effect on September 1, 2023. The “Measures for the Examination, Approval, and Registration of the Establishment of Venues of Religious Activities” issued by the National Religious Affairs Administration in 2005 were abolished at the same time.

New Opportunities as the Narrative Changes (August 2, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
The narrative of China-related work has changed and is changing as I write. After thirty years of mainly receiving, China is not only sending workers, they are also becoming a much-needed voice and stakeholder in shaping the new narrative.

Spiritual Formation in the House Church Seminary (The Center for House Church Theology)
Theological education is not only the transmission of knowledge and the acquisition of skills, but also the formation of people and the transformation of life. In this paper, a female leader discusses the challenges facing house church seminaries and offers suggestions for how seminaries can better prepare leaders in any context.

Society / Life

China’s graduates unconvinced by calls to toil in countryside (July 29, 2023, The Guardian)
Amid record youth unemployment, the government wants young people to ‘go to the farmland’ – but the prospect is unappealing for many.

Inside the Secret Files China Still Keeps on Every Worker (July 31, 2023, The World of Chinese)
Everything had hinged on Zhu’s dang’an, the mysterious personnel file that every Chinese worker has, but few have ever seen. The file is typically created in primary school, and then transferred to a person’s high school, university, and employer.

Young Chinese Obsess Over Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, the 60s American Personality Test (July 31, 2023, Sixth Tone)
In the past year, MBTI has been appearing in more and more areas of Chinese society, from recruitment to consumption. It remains unclear what is driving the popularity of this test, published by American mother and daughter Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers in 1962. 

China wants to mobilise entire nation in counter-espionage (August 1, 2023, Reuters)
China should encourage its citizens to join counter-espionage work, including creating channels for individuals to report suspicious activity as well as commending and rewarding them, the state security ministry said on Tuesday. A system that makes it “normal” for the masses to participate in counter-espionage must be established, wrote the Ministry of State Security, the main agency overlooking foreign intelligence and anti-spying, in its first post on its WeChat account, which went live on Monday.

See Inside a Ghost Town of Abandoned Mansions in China  (August 1, 2023, Architectural Digest)
Located around the hills of Shenyang (about 400 miles northeast of Beijing), the development was originally planned by Greenland Group, a Shanghai-based real estate developer, and broke ground in 2010. But as AFP reports, within two years the project had come to grinding halt, leaving the half-formed skeletons of imitative royalty in its wake. Today the crumbling estates are still abandoned, left in an eerie series of rows appearing like an architectural cornfield. 

Collage: Floods in Beijing and Hebei (August 2, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Unprecedented rainfall in northern China has destroyed vehicles, damaged infrastructure, and wreaked havoc on people’s lives.

Economics / Trade / Business

As China’s Economy Wobbles, Its Rust Belt Is Having a Moment (July 31, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Ever since the northeast China-set drama “The Long Season” became one of the biggest TV shows of 2023, critics and audiences have once again found themselves debating whether China is in the midst of a “Dongbei Renaissance.”

Insight: World battles to loosen China’s grip on vital rare earths for clean energy transition (August 2, 2023, Reuters)
The West’s push to develop independent supplies of critical minerals took on greater urgency after Beijing imposed export controls last month on the strategic metals gallium and germanium, raising global fears that China could block exports of rare earths or processing technology next.

Gallium and germanium: What China’s new move in microchip war means for world (August 1, 2023, BBC)
China has started restricting exports of two materials key to the semiconductor industry, as the chip war with the US heats up. Under the new controls, special licences are needed to export gallium and germanium from the world’s second largest economy. The materials are used to produce chips and have military applications.


China’s new Patriotic Education Law reveals Xi’s deepest fears for the future (August 1, 2023, The China Project)
The new law codifies existing practices, but more importantly, it expands its scope to include Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, overseas Chinese, and the internet. In short, it indicates what the Chinese Communist Party feels are its biggest vulnerabilities for the future control of China: the youth, cyberspace, and Chinese communities beyond the mainland.

Health / Environment

China Seeks Cure for Ailing Health System (August 2, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Can restructuring the medical insurance system stave off a reckoning for the public insurance fund?

Science / Technology

China looks to limit children to two hours a day on their phones (August 2, 2023, Reuters)
China’s cyberspace regulator said on Wednesday children under the age of 18 should be limited to a maximum of two hours a day on their smartphones, sending shares in tech companies tumbling. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said it wanted providers of smart devices to introduce so-called minor mode programmes that would bar users under 18 from accessing the internet on mobile devices from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Language / Language Learning

Is Chinese difficult to learn? (July 24, 2023, Hacking Chinese)
In short, learning Chinese is difficult, but not in the way people think.  Learning Chinese doesn’t require talent, high intelligence, a good ear for tones or anything like that, but it does require persistence. 

Living Cross-culturally

Healthy Disagreements With Cross-Cultural Teams (July 20, 2023, Global Trellis)

I’ve found that helping teams to establish a team communication playbook is a great way to build this transcendent culture that navigates conflict in healthy ways. Begin with understanding where each team member falls on this grid. Then, no matter the cultures involved, every team can implement communication and conflict ground rules. 


Beijing Rules by Bethany Allen review – a new world order (August 2, 2023, The Guardian)
Bethany Allen, a Tapei-based reporter for Axios, documents how China has wielded extraordinary power beyond its own borders, exploiting western naivety and greed, and weaponising its own fast-growing economy in a bid to reshape the world order.

Pray for China

August 8 (Pray for China; A Walk Through History)
On Aug. 8,1928, Liu Jingwen (刘景文女士), a pastor’s daughter, married Wang Mingdao (王明道先生) in her father’s church in Hangzhou. In 1955, following accusation meetings organized by the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, they were arrested at gunpoint in Beijing. During their years in separate prisons and labor camps, they were tortured repeatedly. She was released in 1973, blind in one eye, and he in 1979, nearly blind and deaf. They lived in Shanghai with their son, and regularly held meetings with Christians in their small apartment until Mr. Wang went to be with the Lord on July 28, 1991. Mrs. Wang joined him on April 18, 1992. Their ashes are buried in the Dongshan Cemetery beside Lake Tai, about 30 miles southeast of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. Pray for pastors in Beijing and Suzhou to stand firm in Christ—living by faith, working through love, and escaping the snare of legalism. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Galatians 5:6

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Image credit: Hermann Traub, via Pixabay
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