ZGBriefs | August 5, 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

Is This the End For China’s American Education Craze? (July 20, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The past year has shaken the foundations of China’s church-like devotion to American higher education, but a full reversal seems unlikely.

Sponsored Link

ChinaSource Quarterly: Student Ministry in China (Summer Issue, 2021)
In this edition of ChinaSource Quarterly, we hear from several writers who have been intimately involved in the campus ministry there. Two of the writers (including myself) are foreigners who have lived in mainland China for many years, partnering with local believers in the campus ministry there. The other three writers are all mainlanders who are key leaders within campus ministry networks there. For security reasons, all the writers have used pseudonyms. I am grateful that these writers have shared their perspectives about the campus ministry that has been happening in mainland China for more than one hundred years. 
(downloadable PDF version available)

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

Will Beijing Invade Taiwan? – A ChinaFile Conversation (July 30, 2021, ChinaFile)
What, precisely, are Beijing’s plans for Taiwan? In recent years, there has been no small amount of saber rattling, with aggressive naval drills, aerial incursions, and warnings that force would be used for reunification if necessary. But given the steep domestic and international costs of war, how likely is it that Beijing will attempt to force reunification militarily?

A New Tunnel Is Spotted At A Chinese Nuclear Test Site (July 30, 2021, NPR)
China appears to be expanding its sprawling nuclear weapons testing complex in the nation’s western desert. Satellite imagery shared exclusively with NPR shows a possible new tunnel being dug and fresh roads added at the site, known as Lop Nur, where China has tested its nuclear weapons in the past.

Xi Jinping only wants the most devoted Chinese Communist Party members. His tough membership rules could backfire (July 31, 2021, CNN)
Those who still aspire to join face tighter rules and more requirements once they become members, as the party aims to weed out applicants joining for self-interested reasons, leaving only the most devoted members — like Hu.

What If China Never Reopens? (August 1, 2021, The Wire China) (subscription required)
Keeping the borders closed may make it easier to govern China near-term, but the broader consequences would be tragic and potentially dangerous.


From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom: The Hui, an Introduction (August 2, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Who are the Hui Muslims of China? Where did they come from, what are they like, and how are they being reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ? To bring real hope for their eternal future, it helps to learn something of the Hui people’s past.

How Sharing the Gospel in China Impacted My Attitude Toward Evangelism (August 2, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
I arrived in China speaking zero Mandarin, and incredibly inexperienced in sharing my faith. By the end of my three-hour hike with Wang that day, I learned that the Holy Spirit is more than sufficient to cross cultures, break through language barriers, and make up for any inadequacies I felt in my ability to effectively share my faith.

Pray for the People of Henan (August 3, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
Henan province was hit by torrential rain last month resulting in widespread flooding that resulted in loss of life, dramatic rescues, and extensive damage. As reported in China Christian Daily, Christians in the area responded with pleas for prayer.

I Met Love during the Pandemic (August 4, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
I spent most of last year sitting in front of a screen in a three-meter-square living space in the basement of a row house near my university in the US. As for most people, it was an exceptionally challenging year for me. I was separated from my parents in China, experienced many significant relational changes, and my research was severely hindered. Yet, painful as it was, what happened last year taught me about the most valuable thing: love.

Society / Life

When a Canadian Swimmer Lit Up Chinese Social Media (July 30, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
McNeil’s win lit up social media in China, not because she defeated Zhang Yufei but because she was born in China and is ethnically Chinese. She is one of thousands of Chinese girls who were adopted as infants or young children in part because of the stringent one-child policy that went into effect in 1979.

Watching the Watchers (July 30, 2021, Sixth Tone)
For years, Ge Yulu had been constantly aware of the fact he was being watched by the surveillance cameras installed all over Beijing. One day, the young artist decided to turn the tables. He erected a makeshift scaffold next to a camera near his home, clambered on top of it, and sat down directly in front of the bulbous white security device. Then, he started staring.

Less Than Eden: China’s Rural Returnees Face an Uncertain Future (July 30, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Lost amid the fantasies of a rural utopia is the reality — and diversity — of life on the ground in the countryside.

China flood death toll rises sharply to over 300 (August 2, 2021, BBC)
The death toll from the floods in China’s central Henan province last month has risen sharply to at least 302, officials have confirmed. About 50 people remain missing after the region was engulfed by severe flooding caused by heavy rainfall. Almost 13 million people were affected and nearly 9,000 homes were damaged.

Tokyo Olympics: Chinese nationalists turn on their athletes (August 2, 2021, BBC)
As nationalist fever continues to sweep the country, racking up the Olympic medal tally has become much more than just sporting glory. For the ultra-nationalist crowd, losing an Olympic medal is akin to being “unpatriotic”, experts told the BBC.

Economics / Trade / Business

China stocks see biggest slump in US since 2008 financial crisis (July 27, 2021, CNN)
The slump comes after a series of crackdowns by Beijing on its technology and education industries. This has led to around $770bn (£556bn) being wiped off the value of US-listed Chinese stocks in the last five months alone.

Pressure grows between African mineworkers and their Chinese bosses (August 3, 2021, South China Morning Post)
Observers say that while China and Africa enjoy strong economic and diplomatic relations at the state-to-state level, person-to-person relations seem to have been ignored. Recent cases of conflict between locals or workers at mining sites with Chinese owners have been blamed on a combination of cultural differences, management style and poor working conditions.

China’s biggest private companies are in chaos. It’s all part of Beijing’s plan (August 4, 2021, CNN)
The government wants to make clear to its corporate champions that tapping capitalist markets is fine — as long as it is on the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s terms.


For Young Chinese Academics, It’s Either Get Promoted, Or Else (August 2, 2021, Sixth Tone)
China’s early-career scholars are under intense pressure to prove their worth, and some are starting to crack.

China’s crackdown on tutoring leaves parents with new problems (August 3, 2021, The Guardian)
Public largely sceptical about effectiveness of move last month aimed at reducing pressure in hyper-competitive education field. 

Tianjin offers new incentive to overseas students (August 4, 2021, China Daily)
Tianjin has announced a preferential residency policy for students returning from overseas. Chinese who have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher from an overseas universities can be granted hukou, or permanent household registration, in Tianjin, without conditions. Overseas Chinese students with a foreign citizenship can obtain Tianjin hukou by showing proof that the foreign citizenship has been dropped. 

Health / Environment

Panic-Buying And Transport Lockdowns. In Wuhan, It Feels Like Early Pandemic Again (August 3, 2021, NPR)
In a dramatic move reminiscent of the first days of the coronavirus in China some 19 months ago, flights and trains in and out of Wuhan have been halted amid a rise in COVID-19 cases linked to the highly infectious delta variant of the virus.

China shuts down transport routes as it battles worst Covid outbreak in months (August 4, 2021, The Guardian)
The latest outbreak has so far infected more than 400 people in 25 cities, including the capital city, Beijing, and in Wuhan for the first time since it contained the initial Covid-19 outbreak last year. Cases have been reported in 17 of the 31 provinces. […] On Wednesday afternoon China announced it would tighten cross-border movement, and temporarily suspend issuing entry and exit documents for non-essential, non-emergency travel, state media reported.

Science / Technology

China nuclear: Taishan reactor shut down over damaged fuel rods (July 31, 2021, BBC)
A Chinese nuclear plant has shut down one of its reactors for maintenance after minor damage to fuel rods. The plant operator said in a statement it had shut Unit 1 at the Taishan nuclear plant in Guangdong province after “lengthy” talks with technicians. Taishan is the first site in the world to have this kind of reactor.

History / Culture

How China Ended 30 Years in the Olympics Wilderness (August 4, 2021, The World of Chinese)
The Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 are regularly referred to as China’s “coming out party,” where the formerly impoverished and closed communist country announced itself as a powerful nation to the world, but the PRC’s Olympic appearance in 1984 was arguably more significant. It ended a hiatus that had begun when the PRC formally withdrew from the International Olympic Committee in 1958 in protest at the continued inclusion of the Republic of China, which controlled Taiwan but claimed authority over all Chinese territory.

Travel / Food

China’s tourism industry post-COVID – an interview with Mei Zhang (July 29, 2021, Dao Insights)
Confidence in the government’s handling of COVID-19 has led to a steady recovery in China’s domestic tourism sector. Meanwhile, international destinations have had to adapt digitally as Chinese tourists remain confined to the country’s borders. Emily Riddell spoke to WildChina’s Mei Zhang about trends within China’s domestic tourism industry and how it has been affected by the pandemic.

New terminal ready to open at Lhasa’s Gonggar Airport (August 4, 2021, China Daily)
After three years of construction, Terminal 3 at Lhasa Gonggar Airport in the Tibet autonomous region is expected to be put into operation on Saturday, the Tibet bureau of the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Tuesday. Lhasa Gonggar Airport is the largest aviation hub in Tibet. Constructing Terminal 3 was a key project for the region during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

For China’s Most Beloved Team, It’s the End of an Era (August 1, 2021, Sixth Tone)
he country’s women’s volleyball team was unceremoniously ousted in the group stage of this year’s Olympics, but they’re still the popular favorites.

Kris Wu Gets Cancelled on Chinese Social Media, Streaming Sites (August 2, 2021, Radii China)
Multiple social media platforms have deleted accounts and content belonging to Chinese-Canadian pop idol Kris Wu after he was detained for suspected rape. Wu’s accounts have been removed from social networking sites such as Twitter-like Weibo, online culture community Douban, and TikTok’s domestic version, Douyin. He previously had roughly 50 million followers on Weibo and 16 million fans on Douyin.

Will Taiwan’s Olympic win over China herald the end of ‘Chinese Taipei’? (August 2, 2021, The Guardian)
In a post on Facebook, Lee dedicated the win to “my country, Taiwan”. President Tsai Ing-wen congratulated the team for “winning the first badminton gold medal in our country”. Both phrases were deliberate, and fed into a reignited debate over a decades-old rule that has forced the island’s team to compete at the Olympics under “Chinese Taipei”, a name that exists on no map.

Chinese State Media Censor Images of Gold Medalists’ Mao Badges (August 4, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has asked the Chinese team for a report on why cyclists Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi wore badges featuring the head of China’s late supreme leader Mao Zedong when they appeared on the podium for the medal ceremony. A Maoist blogger with the handle Red Soldier took aim at the investigation as a form of “Western arrogance,” but also complained bitterly that Chinese state media had censored the images of the Mao badges from footage and photos of the medals ceremony for audiences inside China.

How female Olympians became the beacon of hope for gold medals in China (August 4, 2021, Dao Insights)
Yin sheng yang shuai (阴盛阳衰), or femininity is surging while masculinity is declining, has been a phrase to describe the landscape of sports in China for a long time. Some suggest it is the result of the “Gold Medal” strategy designed by the General Administration of Sport of China for its “Olympic Glory” Program initiated in 1995.

Living Cross-culturally

The Ultimate Guide to the PU Invitation Letter (June 1, 2021, Chengdu Expat)
PU letter is an invitation letter issued by China Foreign Affairs Office. With the PU letter foreigners can apply for a new visa and enter China. This is a new policy since the global epidemic. • Only certain specific reasons meet the requirements for applying for a PU Letter, however there are exceptions to these categories. 


The long game: China’s grand strategy to displace American order (August 2, 2021, Brookings)
This introductory chapter summarizes the book’s argument. It explains that U.S.-China competition is over regional and global order, outlines what Chinese-led order might look like, explores why grand strategy matters and how to study it, and discusses competing views of whether China has a grand strategy. It argues that China has sought to displace America from regional and global order through three sequential “strategies of displacement” pursued at the military, political, and economic levels. 

Shades of Gray in the Changing Religious Markets of China (Brill)
This volume is a collection of studies of various religious groups in the changing religious markets of China: registered Christian congregations, unregistered house churches, Daoist masters, and folk-religious temples. The contributing authors are emerging Chinese scholars who apply and respond to Fenggang Yang’s tricolor market theory of religion in China: the red, black, and gray markets for legal, illegal, and ambiguous religious groups, respectively. 

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 

Image credit: by 1778011, via Pixabay