ZGBriefs | December 17, 2020

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Featured Article

Is China About to Introduce a “Three-Child Policy”?  (December 10, 2020, Radii China)
Chinese authorities have made no secret of their desire for more babies in the country, but do the people really want them? That debate has been awoken again this week due to reports that some experts have suggested a further relaxation of China’s birth restrictions — what’s been dubbed a new “three-child policy.” That term has gone viral online, as citizens discuss such measures and the pressures of having a family.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

The Next Stage of the Ideological Struggle Between the U.S. and China  (December 9, 2020, The New Yorker)
During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed the ideological competition between the U.S. and China, the complicated history of American companies doing business in the country, and how the Biden Administration’s approach to China might differ from that of the Trump Administration.

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai charged under national security law  (December 10, 2020, Reuters)
Lai, an ardent critic of Beijing, would be the highest profile person charged under the sweeping new law imposed on the Chinese-ruled city in June. He was due to appear in court on Saturday, according to Apple Daily, a popular tabloid known for its feisty and critical coverage of China and Hong Kong.

China’s bold new Five Year Plan  (December 13, 2020, East Asia Forum)
The fifth plenum of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, which concluded on 30 October 2020, laid out the guidelines for China’s 14th Five Year Plan (2021–25). It signalled a major strategic shift in China’s approach to economic and social development. Four areas of change are particularly significant: autonomous technologies; a new way of urbanisation; equal provision of public goods; and greener production. They will define China’s economic future in the next 10–15 years.

A new way for the highway as Africa struggles with Chinese debt  (December 13, 2020, South China Morning Post)
In the Kenyan capital Nairobi, a new four-lane highway is taking shape. Funded and built by China at a cost of US$600 million, it will cut right through the heart of the city in a bid to reduce traffic jams. The 27km (17-mile) highway also marks a slow shift away from public debt finance to a new way of funding infrastructure like roads and power plants in Africa: through public-private partnerships.

I.C.C. Won’t Investigate China’s Detention of Muslims  (December 15, 2020, The New York Times)
Prosecutors in The Hague said on Monday that they would not, for the moment, investigate allegations that China had committed genocide and crimes against humanity regarding the Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, because the alleged crimes took place in China, which is not a party to the court.

Revealed: China suspected of spying on Americans via Caribbean phone networks  (December 15, 2020, The Guardian)
The findings paint an alarming picture of how China has allegedly exploited decades-old vulnerabilities in the global telecommunications network to route “active” surveillance attacks through telecoms operators.

China warns of interference over Bloomberg journalist arrest  (December 16, 2020, BBC)
China has said the arrest of a journalist working for the newswire Bloomberg is an “internal affair”, warning others not to interfere. Chinese citizen Haze Fan was detained last week, accused of endangering national security by authorities. It is the latest in a string of arrests or expulsions of journalists in China.


The “Model Minority” Myth in the Chinese American Church (December 7, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Asian Americans, including Chinese Americans, have been labeled the “model minority” in the United States. They are presented as sterling examples of those who arrived from distant shores and ascended through the ranks to achieve the American dream. How did this common script develop? Do Chinese Americans indeed see themselves as the “model minority”? How has being the “model minority” impacted their faith and church life?

Short-Term Missions in Africa with Chinese Diaspora Mission  (December 7, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
At 2:00 am on June 21, 2019, three short-term mission (STM) teams from the United States arrived at the office of Chinese Diaspora Mission (CDM) in Kenya after a journey of nearly 30 hours. It was the Chinese lunar summer solstice, the longest day of the year, but for the country on the equator, there was no difference in day length. As I (Joey) set foot in Africa for the first time, I had a feeling of returning to my hometown.

Chinese Christians of Chicagoland: The Experience of One American City—Chicago  (December 7, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The year 2015 marked a historic milestone for the Chinese Christian community in Chicago as they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the start of the first Chinese church in the city.  A glowing report appeared in a 1915 local publication about that first, exclusively Chinese church service held in October with fifty-five members. Although several other informal gatherings of Chinese Christians had occurred in the city previously, Chicago Chinese churches observed the centennial year with special meetings and celebrations. That community has steadily grown and flourished over the last century.

Interview with Rev. Yoman Man: The Experience of One American City—Chicago  (December 7, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
So, when we look at the Cantonese-speaking church in America, we are talking mostly about the Cantonese from Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, and southern China. Most came here to reunite with their families. I have heard that Chicago is the only place in America that has an expanding Chinatown. This is because of family reunions with people from southern China. Since their English language skills are not very good, they have to stick to living in the Chinatown locale.

Gaining Perspective on the Chinese American Christian Diaspora  (December 14, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
As I read, I could not help but reference the reality that we are all part of the kingdom of God diaspora. Like Immanuel in John 13:3, we know we are from God and we are going back to God. We are strangers in a strange land, aliens, and sojourners en route to the heavenly city. When we identify this larger, eternal reality we can better understand and embrace the immigrant stories of every race and culture.

Chinese Jews celebrate Hanukkah in secret amid gov’t crackdowns – report  (December 15, 2020, Jerusalem Post)
The community in China is very miniscule, consisting of around 1,000 people of which experts say only 100 are actually practicing, and have lacked a rabbi for well over a century. However, it goes back over a thousand years, having settled in Kaifeng. 

Hope in the Sunset Years  (December 15, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
This article from Tianfeng, a journal of the Three-Self Church, discusses how God cherishes the older generation. The writer describes why those in the “sunset years” of their life ought to live with a great hope because of who God is.

Shanghai Church Resumes English Service (December 16, 2020, China Christian Daily)
After more than a month’s efforts, the English Sunday service resumed in the Grace Church in Qingpu District of Shanghai on the afternoon of December 13, in accordance with the requirements of the Shanghai Ethnic & Religious Affairs Bureau. According to Shanghai CC&TSPM, this was the first service for foreign believers in the city since the outbreak of COVID-19. A total of 64 persons attended the service, following the guidelines given by the local government.  

Society / Life

Photo: Wuhan: from lockdown to the new normal – in pictures  (December 11, 2020, The Guardian)

Chinese Birth Certificates to Include Parents’ Facial Data  (December 11, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The digital birth certificates will include the facial data of both parents, stored by the country’s public security organs, to deter the manipulation or fabrication of such documents, according to the National Health Commission. 

Ahead of Communist Party Centenary, Jilin Plans ‘Red Villages’  (December 15, 2020, Sixth Tone)
According to the statement, the central government has already earmarked funds to support building nine red villages in Jilin, though the amount hasn’t been disclosed. The purpose of such villages will be to “pass on red genes and promote revolutionary tradition.” 

Economics / Trade / Business

Xinjiang: more than half a million forced to pick cotton, report suggests  (December 15, 2020, The Guardian)
More than half a million people from ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang have been coerced into picking cotton, on a scale far greater than previously thought, new research has suggested.

Yiwu Christmas Sellers Not Having Most Wonderful Time of the Year  (December 15, 2020, Sixth Tone)
According to state news agency Xinhua, four-fifths of the world’s Christmas decorations are exported from Yiwu. Sales last year were worth some 1.92 billion yuan (then $277 million), up nearly 24% compared with the previous year, city customs statistics show. Though most manufacturers haven’t finished this year’s sales reports, vendors tell Sixth Tone very few have reached even half of the previous year’s numbers.

Australia ups ante in China trade row with WTO challenge of barley tariffs  (December 15, 2020, Reuters)
Australia launched a formal appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Wednesday seeking a review of China’s decision to impose hefty tariffs on imports of Australian barley. […] A WTO official confirmed the Geneva-based body had received Australia’s request for consultations, starting a formal 60-day period for Australia and China to talk before an adjudicating panel can be formed.


More Chinese students return to China after obtaining degrees overseas  (December 14, 2020, China Daily)
The number of overseas students returning home after graduation totaled 580,300 in 2019, up 11.73 percent from the previous year. The growth rate last year was up by 3.7 percentage points from 2018, the ministry said.

Health / Environment

Anti-Coronavirus Measures Leading to Unusually Low Flu Rates  (December 14, 2020, Sixth Tone)
In the first week of December, less than 1% of people who visited hospitals in China for flu-like symptoms tested positive for influenza, compared with 19% last year.

China Secures 100 Million Doses of BioNTech Vaccine  (December 15, 2020, Bloomberg)
A Chinese drugmaker has secured 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine co-developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, as the country seeks overseas shots in addition to home-made ones to ensure immunization for the world’s most populous nation.

WHO to investigate virus origins in China’s Wuhan  (December 16, 2020, BBC)
A team of 10 international scientists will travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan next month to investigate the origins of Covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. Beijing has been reluctant to agree to an independent inquiry and it has taken many months of negotiations for the WHO to be allowed access to the city.

Helping Chinese Families Prepare for Birth  (December 16, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Working with pregnant women and newly delivered mothers in the UK, The Netherlands, and China, made me realize that women all over the world have the same needs: They need support and good care; someone who prepares them for the birth of their baby, for breastfeeding, and for taking care of a new life. It is such a privilege to support families during a special, new, exciting time in their lives.

Science / Technology

China’s Drive to Make Semiconductor Chips Is Failing  (December 14, 2020, Foreign Policy)
The stunning success of U.S. efforts to hobble Huawei shows the fragility of Beijing’s highly centralized tech sector.

China’s Chang’e 5 capsule lands on Earth with the 1st new moon samples in 44 years  (December 16, 2020, Space)
For the first time in more than four decades, humanity has brought moon rocks down to Earth. A capsule loaded with lunar dirt and gravel landed in Inner Mongolia today (Dec. 16) at 12:59 p.m. EST (1759 GMT), capping China’s historic and whirlwind Chang’e 5 mission. 

History / Culture

Video: Hong Kong in 1968 Part 1  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

Subway line to Terracotta Warriors about to open  (December 15, 2020, China Daily)
The new 25.3-kilometer Xi’an Metro Line 9 has 15 stations, and will take passengers to Qinlingxi Station, near the Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, home of the Terracotta Warriors, within 39 minutes from downtown Xi’an. Authorities said there would be a shuttle bus to ferry tourists from the metro station to the museum.

COVID penalties get tougher for incoming flights  (December 17, 2020, China Daily)
China’s circuit breaker arrangement for international passenger flights was tightened on Wednesday to contain the spread of COVID-19. According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, if there are five passengers on a flight who test positive, the airline’s flights will be suspended for two weeks, starting on Wednesday. The earlier regulation-introduced in June-suspended the airline’s flights for one week if five passengers on a flight tested positive.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The Tibetan Filmmaker Fighting to Put Minority Stories on Screen  (December 10, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Pema Tseden is known for producing gritty movies about the lives of Tibetans in China. His latest project, “Balloon,” is no exception. Set in a remote pastoral community in the ’90s, the film follows the story of Drolkar — a woman from a shepherding family whose life is thrown into crisis by an unwanted pregnancy.

Zhang Yimou to Direct First TV Series  (December 13, 2020, Radii China)
The famous Chinese director’s adaptation of the story of a Shaanxi opera performer is expected to start filming soon.

Language / Language Learning

2020 in Words  (December 16, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Noted dictionary-maker and arbiters of Chinese language usage (and TWOC’s parent company) Commercial Press has unveiled the nominees for 2020’s Chinese Pandian, its 15-year-old annual competition to select the year’s most representative words, characters, and phrases on both the domestic and international stage.

9 answers to questions about Pinyin and pronunciation  (December 16, 2020, Hacking Chinese)
In this article, however, I’m going to focus on questions about pronunciation. In recent years, I’ve been fairly diligent when it comes to answering questions about Pinyin and pronunciation on Chinese Language Stack Exchange, so I thought I’d write about it here…


America for Americans: A Book Review  (December 7, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Authored by Erika Lee, chair of Immigration History and director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States, delves into the long and complicated record of hostility, racism, and violence toward immigrants in American history and attempts to offer an answer to this contradiction.

Shandong: The Revival Province – Book Review  (December 9, 2020, China Global Center)
This volume on Shandong inaugurates a second series, The China Chronicles, which is projected to cover the history of Christianity in each of China’s provinces. As of this date, three other books in the series have appeared, treating Guizhou, Zhejiang, and Tibet.

Links for Researchers

Year 2019: Statistics and Major Events of the Catholic Church in China (Holy Spirit Study Centre)


A Calendar to Help You Pray for China  (December 11, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
This beautifully illustrated 46-page calendar has 366 prayer items, most tied to a specific event in the history of China or the Chinese church. A daily Bible verse helps us root our prayers in God’s Word. And it arranged so it can be used every year. It is available from our friends at Ambassadors for Christ.

Pray for China

December 18
On Dec. 18, 1919, Wu Hongyu (吴虹玉牧师) died in Shanghai at the age of eighty- five. Wu was born into a farming family in Jiangsu in 1834. He was one of the first students at the school established in Shanghai by pioneer Episcopal missionary William J. Boone (文惠廉); he became a Christian in his second year in the school. In 1854, Wu sailed to the U.S. on Commodore Perry’s ship. He became a U.S. citizen and served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Wu Hongyu returned to China in 1865 and was ordained as an Episcopalian priest in 1873—one of China’s first three. Wu developed an effective evangelistic ministry using medical clinics and relationships with village schools near Shanghai, avenues that he saw could overcome Chinese hostility to the gospel. In 1886, he and Daniel J. MacGowan (玛高温) started a clinic in Shanghai that grew into Tongren Hospital. For many years, Wu held senior positions in the church, often concurrently with hospital duties. Pray for the Spirit of Glory to bring joy and wisdom to God’s people as they seek ways to bring the gospel to the marketplace. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:14

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