ZGBriefs | August 31, 2017

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

My Private Space (August 25, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
After a night of baking, students were packing up their cookies to take home to the dorms. For several it was their first experience with an oven, measuring cups, and following a recipe. Vanilla had spilled, fingers had been burned, and the recipe had been seen as a good suggestion. They tasted their creations and rated their success. The general consensus? “Can we do it again?” Of course.

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Overseas NGO Law

Our Registration Story: The Ford Foundation (August 21, 2017, Ford Foundation, via WeChat)

Professional Supervisory Unit Releases Filing and Application Procedures for Potential Foreign NGO Partners (August 24 2017, The China NGO Project)
The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development issued two documents on August 22 outlining the procedures for foreign NGOs seeking to register a representative office or file a temporary activity in conjunction with the Office.

Ministry of Public Security WeChat Posts—August 18-24, 2017 (August 24, 2017, The China NGO Project)

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

The Arithmetic of Party-Speak (August 28, 2017, Medium)
The 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is just around the corner — and that means the machine of political discourse is humming away at high speed.

China’s Insecure Nationalism: The Roots of Xi Jinping’s Foreign Policy (August 28, 2017, IAPS Dialogue)
At the root of the present Doklam crisis is China’s intrusion into Bhutanese territory for its road building projects. These connectivity projects are integral to President Xi Jinping’s dream project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). India and Bhutan were the only two countries that did not participate in the first forum on BRI held in Beijing in May this year.

Who blinked in the China-India military standoff? (August 30, 2017, The Washington Post)
Both sides withdrew troops to end the stand-off. Crucially, military sources told Indian newspapers that China has also withdrawn the bulldozers that were constructing a road on the plateau. That road, built on land contested between Bhutan and China, had been the reason Indian troops had entered the disputed area in the first place, in defense of its ally Bhutan.


In Tibetan Buddhist heartland, Communist Party takeover threatens religious academy’s soul (August 25, 2017, South China Morning Post)
But today the academy is facing an existential threat – it will soon to be taken over by a Communist Party committee headed by a local police officer. Observers say the move will allow the party to exert greater control and surveillance over the academy and is just the latest attempt by Beijing to get a tighter grip on religion.

How to Minister to Seniors, Part 2 (August 29, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
Some seniors find opportunities for renewed employment after retirement, but as their strength and bodies fail, they also gradually withdraw from further employment. 

Society / Life

How Much Should You Pay for Your Kid’s Summer Enrichment? (August 25, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Middle-class parents shell out more than a month’s salary to educate and entertain their children on holiday, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Chinese government advisor says more Mandarin needed to fight poverty (August 26, 2017, Reuters)
Not enough effort is being put into teaching China’s ethnic minorities standardized Mandarin Chinese during Beijing’s fight to eradicate poverty, a top advisor to the government said on Saturday.

Young people in China have started a fashion movement built around nationalism and racial purity (August 29, 2017, Quartz)
Hoping to make the Han great again, movement participants promote the public wearing of an ethnic outfit that purports to revive a clothing style that is millennia old.

Chinese return from Africa as migrant population peaks (August 28, 2017, Financial Times)
Wen is one of hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers — both private entrepreneurs and employees of state-run companies — to have returned from Africa in recent years, as lower commodity prices hit many of the continent’s economies.

China bans anonymous comments as crackdown deepens (August 29, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Though lacking specifics, the order seemed to indicate that those wishing to interact with any Chinese website, anywhere, will need to register their real name and personal details with the site (and by extension the authorities if they ask the site for that information).

Rural life live-stream an online hit for young Chinese farmer (August 30, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Liu Jinyin’s broadcasts of everyday life – including feeding chickens and working in the fields – have helped him attract nearly 100,000 followers, paper reports

Economics / Trade / Business

Exclusive: In China, the Party’s push for influence inside foreign firms stirs fears (August 24, 2017, Reuters)
Late last month, executives from more than a dozen top European companies in China met in Beijing to discuss their concerns about the growing role of the ruling Communist Party in the local operations of foreign firms, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions. 

China's SOEs to shed hospitals and schools in bid to streamline (August 25, 2017, Reuters)
Hospitals and schools run by China’s government-owned firms will be revamped, closed or transferred to local authorities by the end of next year, regulators said late on Friday, as part of efforts to reform the country’s state sector.

China is Investing $57 Billion Into Pakistan (August 27, 2017, Fortune)
Numbering in the thousands, this second wave of Chinese arrivals are following in the wake of workers on Belt and Road projects. Some are opening restaurants and language schools, while others are working out what products they could sell to a market of 208 million people, or what goods they could make cheaply in Pakistan to sell around the world.

What's yours is mine in China but is sharing at a peak? (August 30, 2017, BBC)
China has embraced mobile phone based payment technology like nowhere else on the planet and it has led to the spectacular take-off of the so-called "sharing" economy. Some of it involves genuine peer to peer sharing schemes, like matching drivers with unused capacity in their cars to passengers going the same way.


Chinese universities tighten ideological control of teaching staff (August 28, 2017, South China Morning Post)
A group of China’s top universities have set up Communist Party departments to oversee the political thinking of their teaching staff after the colleges were criticised amid the government’s tightening ideological control on campuses.

Chinese Textbooks Get a Few Shades Redder (August 29, 2017, Sixth Tone)
New liberal arts textbooks will appear on the desks of all first-year primary and middle school students across the country this September — with a fortified dose of patriotic flavor. Written by the Ministry of Education, the new national editions will replace a number of different versions on the market for three subjects — Chinese language, history, law and ethics — with added focus on traditional culture, revolutionary history, and ideology.

Our universities are a frontline in China's ideological wars (August 30, 2017, Australian Financial Review)
Last year the Ministry of Education issued new instructions to its counsellors at diplomatic missions around the world: "Build a multidimensional contact network linking home and abroad – the motherland, embassies and consulates, overseas student groups, and the broad number of students abroad – so that they fully feel that the motherland cares." And nowhere are the challenges greater than at our universities.

Health / Environment

Train Delivers Eye Surgery to China’s Rural Poor (August 24, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Parked on an unused track outside a grain depot overlooking the barren hills, a rainbow-colored train is bringing a medical miracle to China’s impoverished countryside: Inside the train, doctors restore the eyesight of those who can’t afford treatment. Like a farmer eagerly anticipating the first rain of the season, Dingxi City resident Gou Shuyu had anxiously awaited the arrival of the Lifeline Express, an ophthalmic hospital on wheels that journeys through rural China providing free surgery.

Science / Technology

Chinese National Arrested in Connection with U.S. Cyberattacks (August 24, 2017, The New York Times)
The Justice Department on Monday charged a 36-year-old Chinese national, Yu Pingan, with conspiring with two other Chinese nationals to hack the computer networks of three unnamed companies in the United States.

Why you should care about China’s VPN crackdown (August 29, 2017, China Policy Institute)
While the restrictions on VPN services in China and Russia may be temporary in nature, they do form part of the increasing appetite of governments the world over to monitor and limit the activities of internet users. If Western governments begin to see VPNs as a threat to their own internet regulation, there’s a real chance they could follow the lead of China and Russia and introduce their own bans.

History / Culture

A View of “Sinkiang” in 1943 from Life Magazine (April 18, 2017, Far West China)
Last week a good friend and fellow Xinjiang-enthusiast loaned me a copy of LIFE magazine dated December 13, 1943. I get excited about these type of things (it’s weird, I know) and even after a quick glance I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed.

The TWOC Guide to Wedding Gifts (August 25, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Many Chinese feel anxious about being invited to weddings. The issue is not merely money, but also the relationship and mianzi (面子, face, prestige, reputation) of both sides. At weddings, guests present fenziqian (份子钱, “one’s share of money to be presented”) in the form of a hongbao to the new couple that expresses their good wishes.

Orthodox Churches, Unorthodox Histories in China’s Far Northeast (August 28, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Here, in the vast wilderness of northeastern China, Russian immigrants built churches, led pious lives, and buried their dead.

Memories to cherish (August 28, 2017, Global Times)
Shanghai and overseas dignitaries marked the publication of a book last week detailing the experiences of Jewish refugees in the city during World War II. The event took place at the Shanghai Exhibition Center where the Shanghai Book Fair was held. The book, Jewish Refugees in Shanghai (Chinese foreign language versions), is published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press.

Travel / Food

China’s Yunnan Cuisine Is About to Sweep the U.S.—Here’s Where to Try It (August 22, 2017, Vogue)
Like Southeast Asian cuisine, the food balances spicy, sweet, and sour, punctuated by fresh herbs and fermented sauces and pickles. In Little Tong’s cucumber appetizer, the fire of the bang bang sauce is offset by cooling mint.

Xinjiang in 360 Degrees | Virtual Reality Travel (August 28, 2017, Far West China)
There is nothing that trumps the ability to personally travel to a distant location and soak in the atmosphere of a busy market, endless sand dunes in a desert or an ancient structure along the Silk Road. The only thing that might come close is a 360 degree video, a quasi-virtual reality that has the ability to transport you to far away places.

Smoked-duck sliders? White Castle opens in China (August 30, 2017, Columbus Dispatch)
The menu in China is almost identical to that at U.S. stores, including basic sliders and cheeseburgers and grilled chicken sandwiches, all on the same type of buns and available by the case (30) or even crate (100). New items just for Shanghai include a spicy tofu slider and a smoked-duck slider with sweet cherry sauce.

Delicious Local Snack in a tiny Uyghur Village Outside Turpan (Xinjiang, China) (August 30, 2017, Far West China, via YouTube)
Most people have never heard of Uyghur "Sangza" or 馓子, but it's an amazingly delicious snack that you'll find everywhere in Xinjiang, especially during the Qurban festival.

Living Cross-culturally

An Expat Husband’s Manifesto (August 29, 2017, The Culture Blend)
Our systems protect us.  They have us playing good, solid defense but the best case scenario in any ALL defensive endeavor is that you break even . . . and breaking even only happens when your defense is perfect.  Ours is not. We want more than a break even marriage AND we want more than a so-so life abroad.

Language / Language Learning

The Chinese numeric system (August 25, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
According to my personal experience, the Chinese numeric system is one of the most complicated aspects of the Chinese language, especially when it comes to numbers greater than 10,000.

Chinese Word Order and English Word Order: How Similar? (August 30, 2017, Sinosplice)
I get a lot of questions from absolute beginners about Chinese word order. “I heard it’s almost the same as English. Is it??” It’s not an easy question to answer, but the short answer is: “fairly similar for simple sentences.” And what does “fairly similar” mean exactly? Well, I recently made this video to answer that question!


Chinese Theology, Part I (August 20, 2017, Global China Center)
Dr. Chloe Starr has written a brilliant and insightful book with many virtues and several major, though perhaps not entirely fatal, flaws.

Photography Book 'People of Beijing' Captures the Spirit of the Hutongs (August 26, 2017, The Beijinger)
These are times of dramatic change for Beijing’s famous hutongs. Now a new book by a Beijing-based filmmaker preserves in photographs the historic alleys as they were before the bricklayers arrived.

The Souls of China and Shanghai Faithful reviews (August 26, 2017, The Irish Times)
Nowadays, China has roughly 200 million Buddhists and Daoists, with another 50-60 million Protestants, 20-25 million Muslims and about 10 million Catholics, by Johnson’s reckoning, which adds up to about 300 million people.

From Christ to Confucius (August 28, 2017, Syndicate)
In From Christ to Confucius: German Missionaries, Chinese Christians, and the Globalization of Christianity, 1860-1950 the historian Albert Wu tells the story of how German Protestant and Catholic missionaries to China underwent a radical reversal in their thinking about Confucianism. 

Putonghua: Uniting a Linguistically Fractured China (August 28, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
But what exactly is Putonghua, and where did it come from? Is it just another regional dialect or a new “dialect” imposed on the linguistic landscape by the central government? These are just a few of the questions that David Moser tackles in his great book A Billion Voices: China’s Search for a Common Language.

Flying against the Wind (August 30, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Zhou’s poetry provides a prisoner’s-eye view of the turbulent events taking place outside the labor camp. Interspersed with Zhou’s commentary is his hope that he would one day be released, tempered by his insistence that he would not bow to official pressure in order to win his freedom. (The Faithful Dove Flies Against the Wind by Br. Peter Zhou Bangjiu)

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