ZGBriefs | August 6, 2020

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Featured Article

For Wuhan’s COVID Mourners, Little Has Been Laid to Rest  (July 30, 2020, ChinaFile)
As the outbreak began to recede in the city this spring, many angry relatives of the disease’s first victims found themselves looking for outlets for their feelings of loss and sense of injustice. As they have tried to organize online, seek legal assistance, and talk to the media, their efforts have been thwarted again and again, with pressure from government authorities to abandon the cause.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Hong Kong: China says it will not recognise UK overseas passports  (July 30, 2020, The Guardian)
China will not recognise the British national (overseas) passport as a legal travel document, raising the prospect that the 3 million Hong Kong citizens eligible for the passport will be banned from leaving Hong Kong by the Chinese government.

‘China is powerful now’: Beijing’s aggressive global stance sparks wave of nationalism  (July 31, 2020, The Guardian)
As China finds itself under attack abroad as a result of its increasingly aggressive global stance, nationalist sentiment at home appears to be growing stronger. Officials have honed support with the usual tools of propaganda and patriotic education, as well as new tactics, such as “wolf warrior” diplomacy, characterised by aggressive attacks on the country’s foreign critics.

U.S. imposes sanctions on Chinese company over abuse of Uighurs  (July 31, 2020, Reuters)
The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement it blacklisted the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, also known as XPCC, along with Sun Jinlong, former party secretary of XPCC, and Peng Jiarui, XPCC’s deputy party secretary and commander, over accusations they are connected to serious human rights abuse against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

Shocked Hong Kong in a new era under ‘white knuckle’ China grip  (July 31, 2020, Reuters)
A Hong Kong government source familiar with Beijing’s thinking said the law may have shocked many people but it had spelt out China’s limits on what is tolerable and not: a political reality people must accept. “It’s no longer the old era,” the government source said. “The bottom line is much worse than we expected and people are shocked. But in terms of China’s political bottom line, the situation is clearer now. No one has to guess any more.”

‘Clean Up This Mess’: The Chinese Thinkers Behind Xi’s Hard Line  (August 2, 2020, The New York Times)
Chinese academics have been honing the Communist Party’s authoritarian response in Hong Kong, rejecting the liberal ideas of their youth.

A Diplomatic Bow to Xi Jinping  (August 3, 2020, China Media Project)
China faces a growing list of setbacks internationally that might suggest its turn in diplomacy away from a more “cautious and passive” approach in favour of active assertiveness is backfiring. Nevertheless, China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi (王毅), declares in the latest edition of the official Seeking Truth journal that his country’s new model of diplomacy is not just an unqualified success but an historically significant contribution to international relations.

U.S. health chief to be highest-ranking official in decades to visit Taiwan, angering China  (August 4, 2020, Reuters)
During his visit, Azar will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said, which may infuriate China further.

What Now? A ChinaFile Conversation  (August 5, 2020, ChinaFile)
The past several months have been a particularly volatile period in U.S.-China relations. After last month’s closures of the Chinese consulate in Houston and the American consulate in Chengdu, we asked contributions to give us their assessments of recent U.S. policy toward China and where they think relations between the two countries are going and ought to go.

The Panopticon Is Already Here  (September, 2020, The Atlantic)
Xi Jinping is using artificial intelligence to enhance his government’s totalitarian control—and he’s exporting this technology to regimes around the globe.


Cultivating Chinese Missionaries Faithfully and Realistically  (July 31, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Growing trees and growing missionaries takes three things: adequate time, a suitable environment, and intentional nurturing. Below are reflections and comments related to these three aspects in response to reading the recent ChinaSource Quarterly on the indigenous missions movement from China.

Unanswered Questions  (August 3, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
In my previous blog I discussed prior national surveys and particularly the China Religion Report 2010 (“Religious Blue Book”) which focused on Christianity. There I highlighted some questions about its possible biases as seen from an academic point of view.

Two Pastors Discuss the Impact of Media on the Church (1)  (August 4, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
The coronavirus has pushed many churches in China to rethink and expand their online ministries. In this article from Good News Today, Franklin Wang, a pastor in Beijing, and Huang Lei, senior pastor of Xia-Shang Christian Church in Wuhan, share their thoughts on why Christians must begin to use media in their ministry.

Society / Life

China’s biggest beer festival goes ahead as coronavirus cancels out Oktoberfest  (August 3, 2020, South China Morning Post)
This time, though, visitors will have to present a green health QR code to show they are free of the virus, according to the organisers. They will also have to wear masks, have their temperature taken on entry and observe social distancing rules. In addition, the festival, which attracted more than 7.2 million people last year, will run at half capacity.

Economics / Trade / Business

NBA re-evaluating training programme in China after abuse allegations  (July 30, 2020, Reuters)
The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches saying Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said.

Samsung to halt PC production in China in latest blow to manufacturing sector  (July 31, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Samsung’s last remaining overseas computer manufacturing facility in the Chinese city of Suzhou will halt production to instead focus more on research and development. The South Korean giant has decided that its Samsung Electronics Suzhou Computer plant will no longer focus on assembly and manufacturing “due to fierce market competition”.

What Is The Future Of Chinese Tech Companies In The U.S.?  (August 5, 2020, NPR)
NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks with Adam Segal, a digital and cyberspace policy expert, about the future of Chinese technology companies in the U.S. amid the Trump administration’s push to ban TikTok.

HSBC bet the bank on China. It’s in big trouble if tensions escalate  (August 5, 2020, CNN)
HSBC’s business in China has long been a boon for the bank. But it’s fast becoming a liability as relationships between Beijing and the West continue to fracture. And if China follows through on veiled threats to rein in HSBC, the bank will struggle to contain the fallout. HSBC (HSBC) is headquartered in London but traces its roots to China and makes most of its money in Asia.

Health / Environment

China sends first Covid-19 medical testing team to Hong Kong  (August 3, 2020, BBC)
Seven health officials have arrived in Hong Kong from mainland China, the first members of a 60-person team that will carry out Covid-19 testing. This is the first time Chinese health officials have assisted in Hong Kong and comes as Hong Kong sees a sharp rise in new infections.

WHO says China team interviewed Wuhan scientists over virus origins  (August 4, 2020, Reuters)
A World Health Organization team in China to probe the origins of COVID-19 had “extensive discussions” and exchanges with scientists in Wuhan where the outbreak was first detected, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The talks included updates on animal health research, he said. China shut down a wildlife market in Wuhan at the start of the outbreak, a day after discovering some patients were vendors or dealers.

Beijing Health Kit App Gets New Functions for Foreigners  (April 4, 2020, The Beijinger)
The Beijing Health Kit app for foreigners has finally been updated to include QR code scanning and nucleic acid test confirmation – features that have been available in the Chinese version of the app for weeks.

What Might Have Caused The Worst Flooding In More Than 2 Decades In China  (August 5, 2020, NPR)
The worst flooding in more than two decades has engulfed large swaths of China. Water management experts say China’s dam-building spree has exacerbated these seasonal floods.

Science / Technology

US–China scientific cooperation faces an uncertain future  (August 4, 2020, East Asia Forum)
Geopolitical tensions between the two largest scientific knowledge producers in the world are intensifying, and the Trump administration is now scrutinising scientific collaboration with China as a potential threat to US national security and economic prosperity. Chinese researchers and graduate students are being portrayed as potential spies who may steal intellectual property, while China’s ‘Thousand Talents’ program is characterised as a scheme allowing China to acquire US technology, intellectual property and know-how.

China positions itself for ‘vaccine diplomacy’ push to fight Covid-19  (August 4, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Vaccines being developed in China are among front-runners in the hunt for safe and effective immunisations to counter the pandemic. China’s diplomats are saying, if successful, the vaccines will be a “global public good ”, a pledge made by President Xi Jinping  at a meeting of the World Health Organisation’s  governing body in May.

History / Culture

Uncommon Sounds  (August 4, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Five rare traditional Chinese instruments with thousands of years of history

Travel / Food

Savour Presents: The Chilis of Sichuan  (August 4, 2020, The Beijingner)
As more people visit the region and as more locals migrate to larger cities, the world feels the presence of Sichuan spice: authentic Sichuan restaurants lined down the streets of Chinatown, broad bean paste spicing up supermarket aisles, “Sichuan sauce” resting in the condiment caddies of fast-food chains. For Xu, a migrant from Sichuan, the company of her hometown flavor is evocative, bringing her comfort and reassurance as she settles in another city.

Shake Shack Grand Opening Announced for Aug 12  (August 5, 2020, The Beijinger)
Burger fans found themselves chewing on a bit of welcomed news today: the opening of Beijing’s inaugural Shake Shack store has been slated for next Wednesday, Aug 12. The announcement, released via the brand’s official WeChat account, comes almost seven months after we spotted signs for New York’s famed burger joint pop up in Sanlitun’s Taikoo Li.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

China continues to exert damaging influence on Hollywood, report finds  (August 5, 2020, The Guardian)The 94-page study, from the literary and human rights group Pen America, details the many ways that studios and film-makers continue to change “cast, plot, dialogue and settings” in an “effort to avoid antagonising Chinese officials” in films including Iron Man 3, World War Z and the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick.

Language / Language Learning

Boring Bangongshi is up to 40 Strips!  (August 5, 2020, Sinosplice)
If you’re an intermediate learner, hopefully you’ve heard of Boring 办公室 (Boring Bàngōngshì), the office-themed intermediate-level Chinese comic strip. 

Chinese translation challenge, August 2020  (August 5, 2020, Hacking Chinese)
When I talk about translation as a learning method, I’m including both translation from Chinese to your native language, and from your native language to Chinese. 

Living Cross-culturally

Saving Face  (August 5, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
For someone with an individual identity, a person’s face is what they want it to be. They want other people to know what they like and what they don’t like. However, people with a family identity reflect what the family or group thinks.


Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions: Book Review  (July 18, 2020, Global China Center)
Honestly, I was sad when I came to the end of the biographies, for they had opened my eyes, enlightened my mind, and stirred my heart. Though published more than twenty years ago, this massive compendium of information remains an essential resource for all students of Christian missions, world Christianity, and world history.

2020 China Books (Part 4): History, Art, Literature  (August 5, 2020, China Channel)
Art and culture in various forms features prominently in this list: from the literature of Yan Lianke to the global spread of Chinese antiquities; Chinese cinema to Maoism’s influence on modern and contemporary art; before ending with historical fiction on Ming courtesans, and literary nonfiction on China’s youth. 

Links for Researchers

Religious Heterogamy and the Intergenerational Transmission of Religion in China  (July 18, 2020, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion)
Using data from the 2007 Spiritual Life Survey of Chinese Residents, this study shows that despite China’s atheist education system and strict religion policies, having at least one religiously affiliated parent is associated with increased religiosity compared to having two nonreligious parents. Whereas religious heterogamy in the West has a secularizing effect on the next generation, religious heterogamy in secular nations, such as China, has a religionizing effect and contributes to religion’s rise.

Pray for China

August 7 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Aug. 7, 1582, pioneer Roman Catholic missionary Matteo Ricci (利玛窦) landed in Macao. Ricci lived in China for 27 years until his death in 1610; he lived the last 9 years in Beijing. Ricci adopted the dress of a Confucian scholar and went to great lengths to indigenize his faith, serving in many ways as a model for Hudson Taylor (戴德生) in the 19th century. Pray for the sound teaching of God’s Word to produce spiritually mature disciples among Catholics in Macau and Beijing. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…Colossians 1:9