ZGBriefs | December 14, 2017

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Featured Article

O Holy Night, The Disco Ball is Shining (December 12, 2017, Small Town Laowai)
Rather than a traditional song, a new pulsating dance song started blaring through the loudspeakers. Out ran the teachers, all dressed as cavewomen. I wish I was making this up. […] It was now very clear to me why the head teacher had not liked my ideas of softly glowing candles or quiet hymns. My version of Christmas Eve didn’t fit her version of Christmas Eve, just like her version was not fitting mine. This is the sort of thing that happens to one when one lives in another culture.

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Overseas NGO Law

Registered Foreign NGO Offices Interactive Map and Sortable Table (China File)

What Is Considered a “Temporary Activity”? (December 8, 2017, The China NGO Project)
However, officials with specific knowledge of the law’s implementation say that three factors may determine whether or not a given activity counts as a “temporary activity”:

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

The Charity Law and the mainstreaming of philanthropy and civil society (sort of) in 2016-17, Part 2 (December 9, 2017, NGOs in China)
Whether we like it or not, Chinese (and here I mean citizens and non-governmental actors and not just the government) are driving social change. Below are two more trends we should be keeping an eye on.

China’s foreign influence operations are causing alarm in Washington (December 10, 2017, The Washington Post)
Beijing’s strategy is first to cut off critical discussion of China’s government, then to co-opt American influencers in order to promote China’s narrative.

Fearing the Worst, China Plans Refugee Camps on North Korean Border (December 11, 2017, The New York Times)
A Chinese county along the border with North Korea is constructing refugee camps intended to house thousands of migrants fleeing a possible crisis on the Korean Peninsula, according to an internal document that appears to have been leaked from China’s main state-owned telecommunications company.

China’s state security strategy: ‘everyone is responsible’ (December 11, 2017, Australian Strategic Policy Institute)
In addition, state security isn’t simply about managing external threats or obvious internal issues like social unrest. It’s also about managing the party itself, in terms of both its relationship with society and its internal power dynamics.

Chinese authorities collecting DNA from all residents of Xinjiang (December 12, 2017, The Guardian)
Chinese authorities are collecting DNA samples, fingerprints and other biometric data from every resident in a far western region, Human Rights Watch has said. Officials are also building a database of iris scans and blood types of everyone aged between 12 and 65 in Xinjiang, adding to controls in a place some experts have called an “open-air prison”.

Russia and China in East Asia in the next 20 years (December 12, 2017, China Policy Institute)
In the case of the Russo-China partnership, there are the three dimensions that can be extracted. Here bilateral relations should be looked at through the lens of East Asia’s geopolitical landscape. 

Australian lawmaker to resign amid global allegations of Chinese meddling (December 12, 2017, The Washington Post)
Australia’s attempt to curb China’s growing influence in its political system claimed its first scalp on Tuesday, as a prominent opposition lawmaker pledged to quit over allegations that he was bought by Chinese money. Relations between Australia and China have nosedived in the past week, since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government moved to ban foreign political donations, citing “disturbing reports about Chinese influence” on Australian politics. 


Century-old Church in Liaoning (December 8, 2017, Gospel Times)
Adjacent to a local railway station and business district, Beijing Street Church is located in Changjiang Road No. 605, Xigang District, Dalian, a major city in Liaoning Province.
Founded in 1909, it was the first church built by the Danish Lutheran Mission (DMS) in China, named "Cheng-en Church" (literally "Receiving Grace Church").

The Story of a Deaf Ministry (December 8, 2017, Gospel Times)
This is the story of Sister Cong and the deaf ministry she leads. Located in Shandong, the ministry not only evangelizes, it also provides handicraft jobs for the deaf.

International Students in China–The Road Ahead? (December 8, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
The global church outside China could send experienced ISM workers to China, though some may struggle sending people to minister to those who are not of that place. These workers might be able to encourage and train other international students and indeed Chinese Christians with this vision.

CCC&TSPM Issues Five Year Plan for Sinicization of Christianity (December 9, 2017, Gospel Times)
The outline urged continual theological construction for the sinicization of Christianity, standardizing theological education, expressing the Christian faith in the form of Chinese culture, and doing philanthropy and charity. Related rules for the implementation of the plan were made.

The 3 great pillars of Chinese Catholicism (December 11, 2017, Aleteia)
Jesuits began to arrive in the subsequent Ming Dynasty, bringing Western science and mathematics. They studied Chinese culture thoroughly and took pains to respect social mores, assuming local hairstyles, clothing and etiquette. Chinese intellectuals appreciated this and were eager to learn from the missionaries.

Looking Back on an Emerging Missions Movement (December 11, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Talk to a supporter of the Back to Jerusalem (BTJ) movement and you will hear that this is an exciting movement of God among the China church[1] that is sending tens of thousands of missionaries as an "army of worms" across Central Asia all the way to Jerusalem. Talk to other seasoned observers of the China church and they will say that the original BTJ vision has been "hijacked" and the current Western bandwagon is not a true representation of reality. 

The Joy of Preparing for Christmas (December 12, 2017, China Source Blog)
Everyone is busy rehearsing the praise program, preparing Christmas gifts, inviting friends to church, and selecting the most suitable programs. In short, the day of the Savior's birth is a major holiday for us. Of course, we know that these are all preparations for evangelism; we do this so that more people will come to know the lead actor of Christmas—the Savior Jesus.

When “Apolitical” Is Not an Option: Echoes from the Church’s Past (December 13, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
The Communist Party’s renewed emphasis on “Sinicization” of religion portends a more hands-on approach in dealing with matters of faith. Current rhetoric from President Xi on down highlights what are viewed as contradictions between the socialist worldview espoused by the Party and certain aspects of religious life and doctrine. 

Society / Life

The gentrification of Beijing: razing of migrant villages spells end of China dream (December 7, 2017, The Guardian)
 “I’ve no idea what the China dream really means,” the 40-year-old says. “My nights are sleepless. How can I possibly dream?”

Welcome to China’s Florida: Sun, Sand and Retired Snowbirds (December 9, 2017, The New York Times)
Nearly every corner of the promenade was occupied by older snowbirds looking to escape the dreary, bone-chilling winter of the north. And here, in this seaside city on Hainan island, the southernmost edge of China, was their wintertime paradise. Welcome to China’s Florida.

Campaign to Drive Out Migrants Slams Beijing’s Best and Brightest (December 11, 2017, The New York Times)
As Beijing has launched its most aggressive drive in decades to rid itself of unwanted migrants, the brunt of the crackdown has fallen on laborers from the countryside. But it has also hurt a different kind of migrant: educated and ambitious white-collar workers drawn to the city’s new economy of tech, finance and hospitality industries.

How Patriarchal Customs Undermined My Feminist Wedding (December 12, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Perhaps the renowned Chinese anthropologist Fei Xiaotong best captured the traditional Chinese view of marriage when he wrote that love is about mutual spiritual growth, but marriage is about raising a child together. To Fei, who researched Chinese family structures in the mid-20th century, the objectives of love and marriage were fundamentally different, and you didn’t need to love somebody to marry them.

China’s new way to drown out the Christmas message? A sea of tat (December 16, 2017, The Spectator)
The party’s policy is to simultaneously tolerate and complain about Christmas’s materialistic trappings, in the hope that they suppress (or at least disguise) genuine religiosity. 

China’s Selfie Obsession (December 18 edition, The New Yorker)
“Selfies are part of Chinese culture now, and so is Meitu-editing selfies,” she said. In nine years, the company—whose motto is “To make the world a more beautiful place”—has almost literally transformed the face of China. There’s a name for this new kind of face, perfected by the Meitu apps, which you now see everywhere: wang hong lian (“Internet-celebrity face”).

Why Christmas Is Huge in China (December 24 edition, The Atlantic)
The Western religious festival is so trendy, in fact, that it may be the second-most-celebrated festival in China after the Spring Festival among young Chinese, according to research conducted by the China Social Survey Institute (CSSI), which found that 15- to 45-year-olds are the most likely to observe it.

Economics / Trade / Business

Why Foreign Firms in China Are Losing Out to Homegrown Rivals (December 6, 2017, Sixth Tone)
As perverse as it may sound, foreign firms often lose out in China precisely because they play by all the rules.

Recycling Chaos In U.S. As China Bans 'Foreign Waste' (December 9, 2017, NPR)
The U.S. exports about one-third of its recycling, and nearly half goes to China. For decades, China has used recyclables from around the world to supply its manufacturing boom. But this summer it declared that this "foreign waste" includes too many other nonrecyclable materials that are "dirty," even "hazardous."

Doing Business in China's New Era (December 10, 2017, APCO World)
The overarching message and the prevailing attitude at the Party Congress is that China is a country that is confident about where it sits in the world and where it is headed. As this “new era” unfolds, government and enterprises around the world must keep a close watch on the opportunities and obstacles that will emerge. 

Belt and road infrastructures: modernist dreams, local dilemmas? (December 13, 2017, University of Nottingham)
If the BRI is to promote “sustainable” development, questions must go beyond addressing energy access and economic development to consider who/what will capture the benefits and bear the (often environmental) costs of these massive projects and when.


Worries Grow In Hong Kong As China Pushes Its Official Version Of History In Schools (December 11, 2017, NPR)
The new proposed curriculum for city schools is missing key parts of modern Chinese history, like Hong Kong's 1967 pro-Communist riots against British rulers and the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, when Chinese troops killed hundreds of unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.

Inside China's 'virtue schools' for women (December 12, 2017, BBC)
Centres training women to be "virtuous" have sprung up across China in recent years, telling women that career and femininity do not mix and forcing them to do menial work. But what are these institutes really about?

Chinese, Studying in America, and Struggling (December 12, 2017, The New York Times)
survey released in 2013 by Yale researchers found that 45 percent of Chinese international students on campus reported symptoms of depression, and 29 percent reported symptoms of anxiety. 

Outlaw Educators: China’s Growing Homeschooling Movement (December 13, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Despite the misgivings from the Chinese government, a growing number of parents are embracing homeschooling. A 2017 nationwide survey by the 21st Century Education Research Institute showed that the number of parents who express interest in alternative education grew at an annual rate of 30 percent between 2013 and 2017.

Health / Environment

Chinese province admits homes left freezing after overzealous coal ban (December 13, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Hebei, which is responsible for over half of the target set by Beijing’s plan to phase out coal heating, confessed it had pushed the programme too aggressively and far exceeded the target set by the provincial government at the beginning of the year.

China’s growing footprint threatens to trample the natural world (December 13, 2017, China Policy Institute)
But a close look reveals that China’s international agenda is far more exploitative than many realise, especially for the global environment. And the Chinese leadership’s claims to be embracing “green development” are in many cases more propaganda than fact.

Science / Technology

China – Big Data Empire (December 7, 2017, China Policy Institute)
But the creep of big data is to be traced not from China’s past to its present but from digitization’s’s origins in 1930s Europe and North America. IBM —which today is alloyed with Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and China’s leading data companies Tencent and Lenovo— is its ancestor.

How Silicon Valley Kowtows to China (December 8, 2017, Fast Company)
By paying homage to the world’s largest internet censor, did the Apple CEO—like Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump—go too far?

The “revolutionary” new feature in WeChat is actually quite mundane (December 12, 2017, Quartz)
Though WeChat has long provided voice calls on its app, it’s now overhauled the feature so incoming calls made on its platform are nearly indistinguishable from regular calls.

Google is opening an artificial intelligence center in China (December 13, 2017, CNN)
Despite many of its services being blocked in China, Google has chosen Beijing as the location for its first artificial intelligence research center in Asia.

History / Culture

The traditional Chinese dance troupe China doesn’t want you to see (December 12, 2017, The Guardian)
It’s easy to dismiss Shen Yun as a campy curiosity, but Falun Gong practitioners have become some of the most outspoken opponents of the Beijing government. And so a kitschy dance show has become a preoccupation for the Chinese government – one of the battlegrounds on which the fight for the hearts and minds of westerners and overseas Chinese will be won, one ribbon dance at a time.

Travel / Food

Traveling to Qufu – The city of Confucius (December 8, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
In China, Qufu is considered a small to mid-size city, with “only” about six hundred thousand inhabitants. It is located in the western part of Shandong, far from the region’s coast, where you can find the main cities of (Qingdao and Yantai), and south of the region’s capital Jinan.

Language / Language Learning

General characteristics of Chinese language and grammar (December 7, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
With this article I want to give you an extremely succinct idea of the general characteristics of Chinese lnaguage and grammar. The objective is to provide you with a starting point for studying this wonderful language.

Living Cross-culturally

The 10 Craziest Questions I’ve Been Asked in China (December 7, 2017, Small Town Laowai)
Here are the weirdest questions I’ve gotten, in no particular order, along with a pair of answers: what my snarky self was really hoping I’d answer, and what my polite self actually answered.

‘Wo Ting Bu Dong’: Rap Video Portrays Foreigners’ Life in China (December 8, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
The song is dominated by text and lacks instrumental energy. Although the people in the video dance vigorously to the chorus, it never really takes off – which makes the whole video slightly awkward, but nevertheless, fun to watch.

Links for Researchers

Conversations with Zhou Enlai: New Additions to the Collection (December 12, 2017, Wilson Center)
Transcripts of Zhou Enlai’s meetings with Ho Chi Minh, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Kim Il Sung among new items added to DigitalArchive.org

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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