ZGBriefs | December 16, 2021

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Featured Article

The building blocks of Chinese, part 5: Making sense of Chinese words (December 15, 2021, Hacking Chinese)
You do need to know characters, but you also need to know how they fit together into words. 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Party Spirit (December 12, 2021, China Media Project)
Assertions of “party spirit” are generally iterated when the concern is to protect the regime and the position of the CCP. Under Xi Jinping, it has returned as a term of importance also in emphasizing CCP controls on information.

Nicaragua receives China vaccines after cutting ties with Taiwan (December 12, 2021, BBC)
Nicaragua has received one million Covid vaccines from China, days after it cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favour of Beijing. Government representatives returned to the Central American state on Sunday with news of the donation. Local media broadcast clips showing an Air China plane landing with the first 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.

Hong Kong: Media tycoon Jimmy Lai gets 13 months jail for Tiananmen vigil (December 13, 2021, BBC)
Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 13 months in jail for participating in a vigil marking the 1989 Tiananmen massacre in Beijing. The 74-year-old was found guilty last week of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly. He was among thousands who defied a ban to attend last year’s vigil marking the killings in the Chinese capital. 

How Beijing Influences the Influencers (December 13, 2021, The New York Times)
The Barretts are part of a crop of new social media personalities who paint cheery portraits of life as foreigners in China — and also hit back at criticisms of Beijing’s authoritarian governance, its policies toward ethnic minorities and its handling of the coronavirus.

Early Warning Brief: All-Out Defense of “Chinese-Style Democracy” Exposes Cracks in Xi Jinping’s Armor (December 14, 2021, China Brief)
Despite the outward projection of confidence, the assertion that Chinese-style socialism is superior to representative democracy could boomerang on the CCP’s so-called “leader for life”, President Xi Jinping…

China’s troll king: how a tabloid editor became the voice of Chinese nationalism (December 14, 2021, The Guardian)
Hu Xijin is China’s most famous propagandist. At the Global Times, he helped establish a chest-thumping new tone for China on the world stage – but can he keep up with the forces he has unleashed?

Hong Kong elections: How China reshaped the city (December 14, 2021, BBC)
Hong Kong’s unique freedoms have been removed one by one by Beijing through a national security law and an electoral “patriots” rule. Ahead of the Legislative Council (Legco) elections on 19 December, and as more people have been sentenced to jail, we explain how Hong Kong’s global identity has changed forever.

Why China Raged Over America’s “Summit For Democracy” (December 14, 2021, China Digital Times)
A United States-led democracy summit elicited a ferocious Chinese propaganda campaign aimed in part at redefining democracy in the Party’s own terms. 

China’s Big New Idea (December 14, 2021, The Atlantic)
His latest catchphrase, “common prosperity,” has been adopted by journalists, scholars, and corporate executives in China with a fervor only a dictator can ignite. 

Lithuanian diplomats leave China as relations sour over Taiwan (December 15, 2021, Reuters)
Lithuania’s diplomatic delegation to China left the country on Wednesday in a hastily arranged exit, diplomatic sources said, as relations soured further over Taiwan, which opened a de facto embassy in Vilnius last month.

Tensions with China has U.S. working to strengthen ties with Southeast Asia (December 15, 2021, NPR)
In Indonesia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined how the U.S. plans to deepen its economic engagement in Southeast Asia. The U.S. has focused more on security in the region up to this point.

Britain receives over 88k visa applications from Hong Kong residents seeking to leave after China’s crackdown (December 15, 2021, Fox News)
The U.K. has received over 88,000 visa applications from Hong Kong citizens after rolling out a resettlement program in Jan. 2021, labeling the strong numbers as a sharp rebuke of China’s efforts to crack down on dissent. Britain opened applications for the more than five million residents of the former British colony after Beijing imposed a sweeping security law that some say aims to cut off dissent in the city. 


Christmas Music in Chinese (December 10, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Things have tightened in recent years, and the celebrations scaled back; however, the music of Christmas remains popular.

120 Years of Hard Soil: Part One (December 13, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
A house church pastor wrote and shared the following reflection in a private group with other house church Christians. To the author’s surprise, he discovers that the horrors of the Boxer Rebellion are perhaps not quite so far in the rearview mirror as he had hoped. 

China’s Reforming Churches Rising to Today’s Challenges (December 13, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
The winter 2021 issue of China Source Quarterly comes out this week. It focuses on the history and current ministry of Reformed churches in China. In his editorial below, Dr. Bruce P. Baugus, reflects on the ways Reformed churches are facing and embracing the current challenges confronting churches throughout China. 

China’s Reforming Churches, Continued (December 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
China’s reforming churches make up a relatively small, but surprisingly diverse, portion of China’s unregistered congregations. In one dimension, China’s reforming churches reflect the diversity found in the global Reformed community. Some bodies within China’s family and reforming churches carry a more Continental aspect, others a more Presbyterian aspect. Among the more Presbyterian-appearing bodies there are both American and Korean currents, and their confluence often creates choppy waters. There is also a vibrant Reformed Baptist community.

Rising on a New Tide (December 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Given all of this, and the profound complications generated by COVID-response measures on top of it all, this winter’s issue of ChinaSource Quarterly may surprise some readers; it offers clear evidence that the work of the ministry among the diversity of China’s reforming churches not only continues but in some respects is thriving in ways that continue to defy Western expectations. 

Reformed Churches and Church/State Relationships (December 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Because of the special political situation in mainland China, people within Reformed churches formed a unified view regarding this relationship, which is the “separation of church and state.”

A Pastor Talks about Sharing the Gospel Effectively (December 14, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
On September 27, 2020, the CMC Global was held online. Pastor Cheng, one of the speakers, spoke about how Christians can and should use new media to share the gospel effectively. The Christian Times provides the main points of his talk.

Society / Life

Out Without a Bang: With New Ban, Beijing Closes the Door on All CNY Fireworks (December 15, 2021, The Beijinger)
Beijing is officially banning fireworks in all parts of the city from Jan 1, bringing to a close a decades-old Lunar New Year tradition for the capital. That means not only a ban on lighting them off but also a full ban on all fireworks retailing in all parts of the city for Spring Festival 2022. The only exception to the city-wide ban is at Universal Studios Resort, which will be permitted to hold fireworks displays over the holiday.

Chinese Mothering, From One Generation to the Next (December 15, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Changes in mothering styles are often attributed to external forces, but we shouldn’t overlook the importance of women’s personal lived experiences.

Hong Kong: Fire at World Trade Centre leaves hundreds trapped on roof (December 15, 2021, BBC)
Around 300 people were trapped on the roof of Hong Kong’s World Trade Centre on Wednesday after a fire broke out. Local media reported that 13 people were injured and taken to hospital, with one woman in a critical condition. Police said the fire broke out in the machine room and moved to the scaffolding surrounding the building, which is currently under renovation.

Economics / Trade / Business

China housing market slumps again as another developer runs into trouble (December 15, 2021, The Guardian)
China’s giant housing market has continued to decline in the past month and another major developer showed signs of financial distress as state-owned enterprises began carving up the carcass of the failing property giant Evergrande. House prices, sales, investment and construction data released on Wednesday all showed renewed signs of the crisis in the market, which accounts up to 30% of the country’s output and which appears certain to drag on the world’s second biggest economy.

It’s ‘game over’ for U.S.-listed Chinese companies, global asset manager says (December 15, 2021, CNBC)
Chinese companies listed on Wall Street will likely to be cut off from U.S. capital markets in the next three years as tensions between Beijing and Washington persist, according to David Loevinger from the TCW Group. He predicted that by 2024, most Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges are no longer going to be listed in the United States.


China Blocks Apps Helping Students With Their Homework (December 15, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The Ministry of Education said Monday that the so-called snap-for-answers apps can only operate after receiving relevant approvals for helping primary and middle school students. The ministry said students relying on those apps “skip their own thinking process when facing problems, which harms their intellectual development.”

Health / Environment

China Finds Omicron Cases in Tianjin, Guangzhou (December 14, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The Chinese national arrived in the northern city of Tianjin from the Philippines on Dec. 8 and tested positive for the virus four days later, local authorities said Monday. Gene sequencing showed the patient was infected with the Omicron variant and was transported to an isolation center at a designated hospital.

Travel / Food

Snack Attack: A Roubing Worth Waiting in Line For (December 14, 2021, The Beijinger)
One bite into the still piping hot flaky crust yields a soft interior filled with tender slices of beef, cabbage, and spices, joining together to create a masterpiece of snacking if there ever was one.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The Musicians Plucking Heartstrings Across Cultures (December 14, 2021, The World of Chinese)
How the spontaneous music of a Chinese-Syrian duo fuses the sounds of traditional instruments across cultures.

Language / Language Learning

Chinese Christmas Quiz (December 16, 2021, Sinosplice)
So how much do you know about Christmas in China, and Christmas and Chinese? Take this little AllSet Learning quiz and find out…


Saving God’s Face – Book Review (November 22, 2021, Global China Center)
Rather than repeating these competent summaries of his argument, in this review I shall only comment upon what I consider to be some of its significant strengths, and then mention what seem to me to be major weaknesses.

Cross-Cultural Encounters: China and the Reformed Church in America: A Book Review (December 8, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
In her new book, Cross-Cultural Encounters: China and the Reformed Church in America, Gloria Shuhui Tseng has compiled six accounts of past RCA mission work that demonstrate similar stories of interactions between missionaries and their Chinese partners.

Links for Researchers

White Paper: Full text: China: Democracy That Works (December 4, 2021, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States)


CMC Global 2021 Online Conference, December 28-29, 2021
CMC is dedicated to empowering individuals and churches to reach the world for Christ. Since its beginning in 1983, CMC has been attended by over 45,000 people. Numerous churches, organizations, and individuals have been empowered and mobilized for God’s mission.

Pray for China

December 16

On Dec. 16, 1832, Zhu Qing (朱清老师) was baptized by Robert Morrison (马礼逊). Zhu was one of the first Chinese scholars to come to Christ, and he was the last of the four persons baptized by Morrison, the first Protestant missionary to China. Zhu Qing was around 42 at the time and had been working for over a decade as a Chinese teacher to missionary colleagues of Morrison in Malaysia. Though he had been reading the Bible and hearing the gospel during that time, he had not become a Christian. However, during a severe storm on the voyage back to China, he gave his life to Christ. When the boat landed in China, all the passengers except Zhu Qing offered sacrifices at the local temple. He instead sought baptism from Morrison. After Morrison’s death in 1834, Zhu Qing worked at various times for other missionaries as a Chinese teacher and cultural mentor, providing invaluable help for them in understanding Chinese culture and customs. Pray for those now far from God to be brought near by the blood of Christ. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13

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