ZGBriefs | August 9, 2018

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Featured Article

Remaking China’s Civil Society in the Xi Jinping Era (August 2, 2018, China File)
I would argue instead that we should see Xi’s ascendancy, together with previous policies carried out during his last five years as General Secretary, as advancing an ambitious effort to remake civil society in the Party-state’s image. Whether he succeeds will depend to a large measure on civil society’s response to this transformed political landscape.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Australia’s China reset (August 2018, The Monthly)
The children of the party elite at Harvard, Oxford and Sydney have not returned to liberalise China, because their parents have made sure of it. They made sure that China’s ever-expanding interactions with the outside world could not lead to democratisation in China.

‘Everyone was silent, endlessly mute’: Former Chinese re-education instructor speaks out (August 2, 2018, The Globe and Mail)
For months, Sayragul Sauytbay worked inside, teaching Mandarin and propaganda to Muslim detainees swept up in a broad Chinese campaign to eradicate what Beijing calls extremism.

Worries Grow in Singapore Over China’s Calls to Help ‘Motherland’ (August 5, 2018, The New York Times)
As a young country made up mostly of immigrants, Singapore has for decades walked a fine line between encouraging citizens like Mr. Chan to connect with their cultural heritage and promoting a Singaporean national identity. 

How Taming the Mekong Could Give China Unprecedented Power (August 6, 2018,Bloomberg)
Greater control over the Mekong -- known as Lancang in China -- through to southern Vietnam gives Beijing a bigger say over the use of the river’s key resources, and leverage to press countries to fall into line on its politics.

More Xinjiang Residents Sent to Re-Education Camps (August 6, 2018, China Digital Times)
While Chinese officials have reportedly denied the existence of Xinjiang’s re-education camps, state-affiliated tabloid Global Times has justified the system as improving social stability, employability, and cultural integration for 461,000 “poverty-ridden” residents via career and Mandarin language training. 

Is Xi Jinping’s Bold China Power Grab Starting to Backfire? (August 7, 2018,Bloomberg)
By that gauge, signs of upheaval are reverberating around Beijing during what is fast becoming Xi’s summer of discontent: articles from prominent academics and pundits questioning his overall policy direction; an embarrassing rebuke of his top economic adviser by Trump; and a rare public spat over policy between the central bank and Ministry of Finance.

Worrying about Xi Jinping (August 7, 2018, Inside Story)
Despite the party’s efforts to construct a Great Wall between the economy and the rest, the economy will always have a strong political dimension. Xi Jinping and the party are servants of this new China, and their frenetic activity and anxiety partly reflect this understanding.

Chinese intellectuals urged to toe the party line after pushbacks on policy  (August 8, 2018, South China Morning Post)
An extensive campaign to “enhance patriotism” among intellectuals is being rolled out in China amid an escalating trade war with the US and a rising tide of discontent from its liberal thinkers.


China Blows up US$2.6 million Church (August 1, 2018, Christian Scroll)
The Golden Lampstand Church, built by an evangelistic couple- Wang Xiaoguang and Yang Rongli as a permanent home for followers was demolished by Chinese authorities yesterday, as China continues its crackdown on Christianity.

Wang Ming-Dao (1900–1991): Faithful amid Political Coercion (August 3, 2018,The Gospel Coalition)
Wang shows us that even when we cave to pressure and are unfaithful, God can still faithfully use weak men for his glory.

China tightens screws on Muslims by sinicizing Islam (August 3, 2018, UCA News)
The Chinese Communist Party's crackdown on Islam is extending beyond western Xinjiang province, home to the repressed ethnic Muslim Uyghurs, and across the country to 10.5 million ethnic Hui Muslims, as well as to other minorities who have lived in China for millennia.

Chinese man was ‘invincible’ to his kids. In KC he’s shot steps from them, wife says (August 3, 2018, Kansas City Star)
A man devoted to charitable deeds, Christianity and his home country of China was mere steps away from returning to his family when gunshots rang out Wednesday evening. Xindong Hao had arrived in Kansas City the day before with his wife, Laura, and their four young children. They were staying with friends at a house on Bridge Manor Drive near the International House of Prayer.

Dialectical view of the social role of religion (August 6, 2018, Global Times)
The question "Is religion good or bad?" has confronted human civilization since the birth of religion. The controversy over religion is mainly the result of people's doubts about the existence of an unknown power. 

Christian heartland opens window into fight for China’s soul (August 7, 2018, AP)
Without warning, Guo and his neighbors in China’s Christian heartland province of Henan had found themselves on the front lines of an ambitious new effort by the officially atheist ruling Communist Party to dictate — and in some cases displace — the practice of faith in the country.

Map: distribution of Catholic Churches in China. (August 7, 2018, CRCS, via Twitter)

Providing a Refuge from the Red Light District (August 7, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
This article from the journal Territory details the difficult but powerful work of one Christian ministry in China’s red light districts.

Society / Life

Why Chinese NGOs Are Still Struggling to Build Capacity (August 2, 2018,Sixth Tone)
Despite the undisputed progress that social organizations have made in the last three decades in terms of capacity building, it is now becoming increasingly difficult for new and small-scale groups to grow in scope.

It’s Complicated: Chinese Millennials and Marriage (August 3, 2018, Sixth Tone)
A generation or two ago in China, marriage was nearly universal, and arranged unions were quite common. But now it is increasingly normal to remain unwed: In 2016, more than 200 million adults in China were single, and divorce rates are ever on the rise.

Drones, facial recognition and a social credit system: 10 ways China watches its citizens (August 4, 2018, South China Morning Post)
From tracking the activity of mobile app users to setting up a social credit scorecard, the world’s most populated country is taking surveillance technology to new heights.

Do China’s Year of the Pig stamps signal an end to country’s family planning rules? (August 8, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The China Post stamps have two designs, one featuring a hog running towards a better life, and the other showing a happy five-member pig family.

Chinese Social Enterprises Try to Make Money, but Not for Profit (August 8, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Education in Sight is not the only NGO to turn to business to pay its bills. Huiling, founded in 1990, has become China’s biggest charitable organization for adults with disabilities and operates over 40 community centers in 21 provinces. 

Economics / Trade / Business

Shanghai’s New Startup Visa (August 2, 2018, China Briefing)
In May 2018, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau updated the policies for a new “Private Residence Permit (entrepreneurship)”, commonly referred to as the “business startup visa” (创业签证) , which offers foreigners a chance to establish a new and innovative startup business within Shanghai.

Why American credit card companies can't break into China (August 3, 2018, CNN)
The struggle is emblematic of what many Western companies must contend with when trying to break into the world's second-largest economy. Government regulation is often opaque and the state itself in many cases backs Chinese companies in the same industry.

Shijiazhuang to Moscow Freight Express Train Service Commences (August 6, 2018, China Briefing)
China Railway Express has launched a freight service running from South-Central Hebei Smart Port in Gaoyi County, Shijiazhuang through to Moscow as part of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Coordinated Development Programme.

Trump’s Tariffs Are Changing Trade With China. Here Are 2 Emerging Endgames (August 8, 2018, The New York Times)
Both would deliver trade wins for President Trump and his more moderate advisers, while also letting President Xi Jinping of China push ahead with his ambitious industrial plan to build national champions in cutting-edge technologies.

China’s Booming ‘Anti-Foreigner’ Business (August 8, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
To borrow a famous Godfather quote – to many Chinese, there’s nothing personal about hating Japan or cursing America. It’s only business.

China Doesn’t Want to Play by the World’s Rules (August 8, 2018, Foreign Policy)
Many Americans agree that solving the distorted U.S.-China economic relationship is critical. But the answer isn’t to be found in trade alone. The root of this problem is not the deficit, but China’s deeply held belief that it is not beholden to the same rules as other nations.

The Chinese Smartphone Upstarts Taking on Apple and Samsung (August 8, 2018,Bloomberg)
Apple and Samsung’s domination of the smartphone world is being challenged like never before, with Chinese companies muscling in with cheaper and just as innovative devices.


Henan Authorities Investigating Possible ‘Gaokao’ Fraud (August 7, 2018, Sixth Tone)
On Monday, education authorities from the central Chinese province announced that discipline watchdogs were investigating fraud allegations from parents who say their children’s answer sheets were swapped.

Health / Environment

Chinese Health Authority Investigates New Expired Vaccine Claims (August 6, 2018,Sixth Tone)
China’s central health authority is investigating a case in Shaanxi following accusations that children in the northwestern province may have been inoculated with expired vaccines.

China’s Latest Vaccine Scandal: What You Need to Know, and What to Watch Going Forward (August 7, 2018, NBR)
In this Q&A, NBR’s senior associate for international health Benjamin Shobert analyzes the key factors at play in the scandal and assesses China’s way forward to address the problem.

Science / Technology

A Generation Grows Up in China Without Google, Facebook or Twitter (August 6, 2018, The New York Times)
And, accustomed to the homegrown apps and online services, many appear uninterested in knowing what has been censored online, allowing Beijing to build an alternative value system that competes with Western liberal democracy.

China is building a big advantage in the race for 5G (August 7, 2018, CNN)
As both countries prepare for the next generation of super-fast wireless networks, China has built about 350,000 cell sites since 2015, while the United States has built fewer than 30,000, according to a study released Tuesday by Deloitte. China's economic commitment to 5G makes it a formidable competitor, the report said.

History / Culture

Lucky numbers in Chinese culture (August 3 2018, The World of Chinese)
Today we talk about numbers in Chinese. They bare a very important resemblance to many Chinese people with superstition perhaps running deeper than you’d expect.

Beijing's crumbling Olympic legacy – in pictures (August 7, 2018, The Guardian)
A decade after Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympics, signs of the event, most in disrepair, can be seen around the Chinese capital.

We’re a Long Way from 2008: A ChinaFile Conversation (August 7, 2018, China File). The country’s leadership was intent on staging an Olympics that would leave no doubt about China’s rise and the Communist Party’s legitimacy. 10 years later, how do we evaluate China’s Olympic performance and legacy?

Travel / Food

Xiamen: More Than Just a Gateway to Taiwan (August 5, 2018, The Beijinger)
The ancient port of Xiamen is better known to history by its name in the local dialect: Amoy. It was one of the five “Treaty Ports” established after the First Opium War, and became a center of international trade. As a result, Amoy dialect gave the word “tea” to the English language, as well as several others, including “ketchup.” 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Plastic China: A Film Review (August 3, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Plastic China gives viewers a closer look at one particular plastic recycling business that is run by a family with a second family that is employed to help. Most of the film takes viewers through the daily lives of these two families. 

China's football future: The mountain school producing prodigies (August 5, 2018, BBC)
The stakes are high. Wang Chun has an important audition coming up that could help her escape poverty in this remote, dusty corner of China. In two months, she'll try out at one of China's top football academies - Evergrande, in China's southern Guangdong province - more than 2,000km (1,200 miles) away.

Video: Ai Weiwei fans mourn as Beijing studio destroyed (August 5, 2018, BBC)
The dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei says the authorities in Beijing have demolished his studio there. The 66-year-old has lived in Germany since leaving China in 2015. He is a strong critic of China's government.

China bans Winnie the Pooh film after comparisons to President Xi (August 6, 2018, The Guardian)
It started when Xi visited the US in 2013, and an image of Xi and then president Barack Obama walking together spurred comparisons to Winnie – a portly Xi – walking with Tigger, a lanky Obama. 

Living Cross-culturally

I’m Off to Fix Something (August 6, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Finally, one of my colleagues hit the nail on the head. “It’s the way an American walks,” she said.  “The walk says one of two things:  ‘I own this place.’ or ‘I’m off to fix something.’” We all laughed in agreement, instinctively knowing the truth of what she said.


3 Questions: Migration and Public Theology in China (August 8, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Wipf and Stock Publishers has just released Li Ma’s The Chinese Exodus: Migration, Urbanism and Alienation in Contemporary China. The product of a decade of research on China’s internal migration, Ma’s book combines sociological inquiry with penetrating theological reflection. Here she offers some background about her project, the plight of migrants today, and the church’s response.

The Mind of a Missionary, by David Joannes (themindofamissionary.com)
The Mind of a Missionary takes you on an odyssey from first-century ministry to present-day outreach, and connects your passion to God's global missions narrative.

Image credit: by Simon Bak, via Flickr
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