ZGBriefs | December 15, 2016

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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

Lost lives: the battle of China's invisible children to recover missed years (December 14, 2016, Reuters)
Ending the one-child policy has left people like Li scrambling to make up for lost years, resentful as they fear this recognition may have come too late and unsure what the government is going to do to help them make up for those years. Li missed out on an education and struggled to learn everything by herself, using library books borrowed under her elder sister's name with her family unable to afford a tutor.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

US Ambassadors to China at a Glance (December 9, 2016, The World of Chinese)
A look at the five most recent ambassadors to China and what shaped their tenure.

Five myths about U.S.-China relations (February 9, 2016, The Washington Post)
Anyway, a whole mythology has emerged about the most consequential relationship in the world. Here are a few myths that could use busting.

Reports: Tibetan sets himself on fire in western China (December 9, 2016, South China Morning Post)
The unidentified man set himself alight on a road outside the town of Machu in a traditionally Tibetan area of Gansu province at around 7pm on Thursday, Radio Free Asia and London-based Free Tibet reported. Police arrived shortly after and took the man away and there was no immediate word on his condition, the reports said.

Xinjiang, Tense Chinese Region, Adopts Strict Internet Controls (December 10, 2016, The New York Times)
The regional government of China’s far western region of Xinjiang, which has grappled with ethnic violence, has put into effect strict regulations that punish people for spreading “false information” online. The regulations appear to be aimed at criminalizing people living in Xinjiang who make online postings about ethnic conflict or tensions, as well as related violence and terrorism.

How Xi Jinping Can Avoid Becoming a Dictator (December 12, 2016, The New York Times)
Mr. Xi’s best option for extending power is to overhaul the Communist Party’s system of governance. Over the past year, think tanks and constitutional scholars are said to have conducted secret studies on how to legitimately prolong Mr. Xi’s rule. Some scholars, including Cao Siyuan, have suggested adopting an electoral presidential system tailored for China.

Too big, too Leninst – a China crisis is a matter of time (December 12, 2016, Financial Times)
Xi Jinping, recently granted the title of “core leader” of China, is a man with two missions. The first is to purge the Chinese Communist party of corruption. The second is to reform the economy. These goals will, however, prove incompatible if he continues to focus his main efforts on purifying and strengthening the corrupted Leninist party-state.

Trump, China And A Long History Of Misunderstandings (December 12, 2016, NPR)
Donald Trump appears to have moved away from the U.S.'s longstanding "one China" policy. Writer John Pomfret talks to NPR's Robert Siegel about the significance of this apparent shift in policy.

China's defense spending to double to $233 billion (December 12, 2016, CNN)
China's defense spending will balloon to $233 billion in 2020, up from $123 billion in 2010, according to a new report by IHS Jane's. Regional power India is also on a spending spree. This year, $4 billion in additional defense funding pushed it ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia to rank among the top five global spenders for the first time.

China: Trump's One China comments 'risk Taiwan peace' (December 14, 2016, BBC)
Beijing has warned the incoming US administration that any attempt to challenge the "One China" policy could affect peace in the Taiwan Strait. Interference may also damage developing US-China relations, a spokesman said.

Exclusive: China installs weapons systems on artificial islands – U.S. think tank (December 14, 2016, Reuters)
China appears to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported on Wednesday, citing new satellite imagery. The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said its findings come despite statements by the Chinese leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarize the islands in the strategic trade route, where territory is claimed by several countries.

U.S. ready to confront Beijing on South China Sea: admiral (December 14, 2016, Reuters)
But Beijing continues to act in an "aggressive" manner, to which the United States stands ready to respond, Admiral Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said in a speech in Sydney. "We will not allow a shared domain to be closed down unilaterally no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea," he said. "We will cooperate when we can but we will be ready to confront when we must."


The Challenges of Localization: Why Localize Now? (December 9, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
Like many organizations working in China, we have all along stated our desire “to work ourselves out of a job.” For the most part we have used this phrase as a handy way to express our desire to pass on our skills and vision to local believers, a noble goal and a sure sign of a healthy approach to cross-cultural discipleship.

Haidian Christmas Tree (December 13, 2016, Chinese Church Voices)
If you happen to find yourself in Beijing this Christmas, be sure to stop by the Haidian Christian Church to see the Christmas Tree in the square in front of the church.

The Challenges of Localization (2): Culture (December 14, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
Despite our twenty-five years of experience working together in an intentionally cross-cultural organization, questions related to culture were some of the first to be raised when we began the transition to local leadership.

Society / Life

A New Highway Links China’s Capital to a Hoped-For Future (December 12, 2016, China Real Time)
Locally known as the Seventh Ring Road and officially as the G-95 national highway, the roadway spans nearly 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) and links a dozen existing highways in a chain that circles the far outskirts of Beijing. 

Photos: China’s Huge, Eerie Tower Blocks That Will Soon House Millions (December 12, 2016, Wired)
Venture to the outskirts of China’s biggest cities and you’ll find soaring towers and a barren landscape. One day, these futuristic high-rises will house the 250 million or so people the government hopes to move from villages into cities. For now, though, they remain all but empty. “They look like ghost towns,” says photographer Aurelien Marechal. “They’re suburbs in the middle of nowhere.”

The Legacy of China’s One-Child Policy (December 13, 2016, TIME)
In the end, it turned out that nature works; populations naturally taper as a society grows wealthier. But for the 13 million or so unregistered Chinese, most of whom were born in contravention of family-planning regulations, the one-child policy’s devastating effects still endure.

China rescues 36 'infants' from child traffickers (December 14, 2016, The Telegraph)
Police in China have rescued 36 children who were being held in a huge trafficking ring, the latest swoop on a crime that is thought to involve tens of thousands of victims. More than 157 people were arrested for their involvement in the ring, which spanned across several Chinese provinces, police said. 

Economics / Trade / Business

Photos: Nursing An Old Flame — Northeast China’s Last Match Factory (December 8, 2016, China File)
The Yanbian Lucky Star Match Factory in Dashitou township outside the city of Dunhua still has its original equipment, and its walls still display slogans from the 1970s

China Seeks Recognition as Market Economy (December 13, 2016, VOA)
China just marked 15 years since it became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). But on Monday, China launched a complaint at the WTO. Chinese officials are protesting the way the United States and European Union calculate prices for exported goods in trade disputes with their country.

10 Best Employers in China (December 13, 2016, World of Chinese)
Previously, TWOC introduced areas of employment for those wishing to forgo the standard expat practice of teaching English (which has suffered through its share of controversies over the years). And if job satisfaction is an important criterion when considering employers, then a recent report released by Zhaopin (one of China’s top employment websites) and Peking University may be of help. They have drawn up a list of the top 10 employers in China.

GM China venture said to be under anti-trust probe (December 14, 2016, The Detroit News)
General Motors Co.’s joint venture in China with SAIC Motor Corp. is being investigated by the government for possible anti-trust violations, according to people familiar with the matter.

Health / Environment

China riot police seal off city centre after smog protesters put masks on statues (December 12, 2016, The Guardian)
An environmental protest in China was aggressively put down at the weekend, with a large police presence continuing for days to prevent further demonstrations in an unusually heavy-handed response. The protests started after the south-western city of Chengdu was shrouded in thick smog, with some residents placing pollution masks on statues. An unknown number were taken away by police, with security forces in riot gear seen in the city’s downtown shopping area.

Experts Warn Against Beijing Defining Smog as Natural Disaster (December 13, 2016, Sixth Tone)
Beijing’s latest draft of the regulations that determine how the city handles extreme weather events is a recipe for disaster, experts say. At the heart of the issue is the classification of smog as a natural disaster, which activists fear could mean neither emitters nor regulators will end up taking responsibility for what is in the end a mostly man-made problem.


China’s president takes campaign for ideological purity into universities, schools (December 12, 2016, The Washington Post)
Universities must be strongholds for the Communist Party, President Xi Jinping says, while schools are on the front line of the battle against the infiltration of “hostile” foreign forces and their “subversive” ideas.

Med Students Protest at Shandong University, Fear Unemployment (December 12, 2016, Sixth Tone)
Shandong University has promised to find a solution after more than a hundred medical students protested on campus Thursday, saying the school’s out-of-date curriculum will render them unemployable.

Expensive Foreign Degrees Lose Edge in Competitive Chinese Job Market, Study Finds (December 14, 2016, Caixin)
Nearly 70% of Chinese students who returned after studying abroad said they were "unsatisfied" with job opportunities at home because an overseas degree no longer guarantees them better pay than those who studied in China, a recent survey found.

Olympic-Sized Problems for Pint-Sized Students (December 14, 2016, Sixth Tone)
What began as an international competition for teenagers has become China’s latest way to assess children’s academic aptitude.

History / Culture

Cheap fixes to Forbidden City put heritage in peril, grinding massive renovation to halt (December 12, 2016, South China Morning Post)
Curator Shan Jixiang said a price-focused government tendering process for the repairs ­resulted in inexperienced and untrained workers using cheap ­materials on buildings of irreplaceable historical significance at the museum, also called the Forbidden City, the Beijing Youth Daily reported on Sunday. Because of this, Shan suspended the museum renovations in 2014 until all the projects could be approved and undertaken more professionally, according to the report.

Art / Entertainment / Media

Should Chinese Opera Westernize to Find Global Audience? (December 12, 2016, Sixth Tone)
In a similar way, globalizing Chinese culture has been at the heart of the nation’s soft-power push over the past decade. However, a clear dilemma arises when it comes to promoting Chinese opera overseas. First, folk opera’s appeal is much stronger at home than abroad. Second, new opera lacks outstanding, globally minded works.

Mr. Bean Comes to China in 'Top Funny Comedian: The Movie' (December 14, 2016, The Beijinger)
Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean character is getting a new lease of life in a movie alongside some of China’s top comedians and crosstalk actors. Atkinson’s character, which is known as 憨豆先生 Hān Dòu Xiānshēng, or “Mr Foolish Bean” in Chinese, will star in Top Funny Comedian: The Movie or 欢乐喜剧人 Huānlè Xǐjùrén, which premieres on January 28, the first day of the Spring Festival.

Podcast: Edward Wong on the state of journalism in China (SupChina)
In this week’s episode, Kaiser and Jeremy talk to Ed about the state of foreign correspondence in China: the differences in today’s reporting environment compared with a decade ago, and how media companies deal with censorship and hostility from the Chinese government.

Travel / Food

Kunming’s 100-year-old Restaurants (December 14, 2016, Wild China Blog)
The capital of Yunnan province, Kunming has served as a gateway for Southeast Asian countries for centuries and a number of the city’s restaurants have been in business for nearly as long! 

Language / Language Learning

Tongue-Tied? Blame Your Affective Filter (December 8, 2016, Taking Route)
If you’ve been living overseas for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced this already. You might do just fine in class or at work in a foreign language, but you go to buy bananas and BAM! you plummet down to beginner-level grammar for some odd reason. Or you have spoken the language comfortably for years but then you have to introduce yourself in front of a big group of people and WHAM! you can barely put together a sentence.

The use of the particle 了 (le) in Chinese grammar (December 13, 2016, Sapore di Cina)
According to many students of the Chinese language, the particle le (了) is among the most difficult Chinese grammatical particles to master. 了is not an element to represent the past tense (like many think); it is a particle that does not have a meaning or a concrete term. In structural terms, 了 can show up in two different positions within a phrase.


3 Questions: Hannah Lau (December 12, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
Hannah Lau oversees marketing and communications for ChinaSource. She is also the author of Wherever You Go: A Conversation about Life, Faith, and Courage. […]   The format of the book is unique—the back and forth emails between Corrie and Keiko. As their friendship deepens, we get a glimpse of the joys and struggles of cross-cultural service.

For Taiwan, a Dilemma Over Identity, Economy and China (December 13, 2016, The New York Times)
Syaru Shirley Lin, a native of Taiwan, is a political economist who teaches at both the University of Virginia and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Previously she was a partner at Goldman Sachs, where she was responsible for private equity and venture capital investments in Asia and spearheaded the firm’s investments in technology start-ups, including Alibaba. Her new book, “Taiwan’s China Dilemma,” published by Stanford University Press, focuses on the emergence of Taiwanese national identity and how it has influenced the island’s economic policy toward China over the past three decades.

Training Laborers for His Harvest: A Historical Study of William Milne’s Mentorship of Liang Fa (December 14, 2015, Global China Center)
Everyone interested in the history and practice of Christian witness in any culture should read this short book. Andrew Song, himself from China, provides us with a careful description of the origins of Chinese Protestant Christianity, a powerful case study of how to mentor the next generation of Christian workers, and a model for effective cross-cultural missionary work – and all in only eighty-two pages!

Religion and Media in China: Insights and Case Studies from the Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong (Routledge)

Image credit: Webber Huang, via Flickr
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