ZGBriefs | December 21, 2017

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Featured Article

The Confucian Fundamentalists Who Want to Boycott Christmas (December 18, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Many Confucian extremists see their philosophical beliefs as a form of cultural purism. To them, any tolerance toward purportedly non-Chinese religions is tacit acceptance of spiritual and cultural pollution, one that is usually decried as “Westernization.”

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Overseas NGO Law

Registered Foreign NGO Offices Interactive Map and Sortable Table (December 15, 2017, China NGO Project)
The following interactive graphics display information about foreign NGOs’ representative offices in China as provided by the Ministry of Public Security website.

United States and China Hold Consultation about Foreign NGO Law (December 18, 2017, China NGO Project)
Though the State Department’s press release does not detail which entities and individuals from the Chinese side participated in the consultation, reference to the Ministry of Public Security’s (MPS) commitment to meet with foreign NGOs next year suggests that it was a key participant.

Italian NGO Emphasizes Localization, Communication in Interview with CPRI (December 19, 2017, China NGO Project)
On December 14, the Charity Philanthropy Research Institute (CPRI) at Beijing Normal University published an interview with OVCI la Nostra Famiglia (OVCI Our Family) about their registration process under the Foreign NGO Law.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

South Korea’s Leader, Meeting Xi Jinping, Seeks ‘New Start’ With China (December 14, 2017, The New York Times)
The two leaders moved to repair ties that had soured over China’s anger at the deployment of an American antimissile system on South Korean soil. China fears the antimissile system, meant as protection against North Korea, threatens its own security.

China Is Still Building on Disputed Islands in the South China Sea (December 15, 2017, TIME)
Tensions over China’s island-building in the South China Sea may have eased in the past year, but Beijing has kept busy. New satellite imagery shows China has built infrastructure covering 72 acres (28 hectares) in the Spratly and Paracel islands during 2017 to equip its larger outposts to be air and naval bases.

Digital police state shackles Chinese minority (December 17, 2017, AP)
USA Today)
Nobody knows what happened to the Uighur student after he returned to China from Egypt and was taken away by police. Not his village neighbors in China’s far west, who haven’t seen him in months. Not his former classmates, who fear Chinese authorities beat him to death.

'I live like a plant': Nobel winner's wife 'going mad' under Chinese detention (December 17, 2017, The Guardian)
Liu Xia, poet and widow of democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo, suffering deep depression after living under house arrest without charges since 2010.

China is still angry over the last Taiwan crisis (December 18, 2017, China Policy Institute)
Thus, a direct line can be drawn between the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis and China’s current efforts to displace the U.S. as the hegemon in the Asia-Pacific. The repercussions of this national trauma reverberate through time and are inarguably part of Beijing’s rationale for creating a new naval architecture all the way to the South China Sea, which it is busy militarizing, and beyond into the West Pacific.

China shows military strength with drill held over Sea of Japan (December 18, 2017, Christian Science Monitor)
China sent several warplanes on a long-range drill to the Sea of Japan on Monday and also conducted drills around rival Taiwan, a move that prompted South Korea to scramble fighter jets and could raise concerns about Beijing's growing military presence in the region.

China's trying to gain political influence abroad, and the West isn't happy (December 18, 2017, CNBC)
Officials in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Germany are questioning the extent of political interference by Beijing in their home countries. Experts say China's Communist Party is using education, spying, political donations and people-to-people diplomacy to gain a greater say in decision-making within these countries.

Trump's National Security Strategy Angers China (December 19, 2017, NPR)
The report accuses China of seeking to "displace the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reach of its state-driven economic model and reorder the region in its favor."


Understanding the Times to Facilitate Chinese Missionary Sending (December 15, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Chinese missionary sending happens in a broader social context. Understanding that social context could provide keys that would help undergird and facilitate the movement. 

Wenchuan Quake Survivor Liao Zhi Shares Testimony on State TV Broadcaster (December 16, 2017, China Christian Daily)
Christian dancer Liao Zhi shared her life-changing story in a TV show broadcast on CCTV-3. What was more, she played a popular Christian hymn, Footsteps, sung by Amy Sand.

A Question for Christians at Christmas – Am I Really Ready? (December 19, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article from China Christian Daily, Pastor Patrick Yang reflects on how Christians can at times get distracted from the Christian significance of the holiday. Yang warns of the secular distractions and even the conflict that can stir up in churches during this season. 

Holding Up Half the Church (December 20, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Chairman Mao famously said that “women hold up half the sky.” They certainly make up more than half the church in China. How are we preparing ourselves and our people to work in this environment? It is a question the sending community needs to grapple with. 

Society / Life

Video: Live-Streaming Dancing Grandad (Sixth Tone, via Facebook)
Dancing grandpa finds fame in China through his nightly live-streams.

Inside China's vast new experiment in social ranking (December 14, 2017, Wired)
The State Council has signaled that under the national social credit system people will be penalized for the crime of spreading online rumors, among other offenses, and that those deemed “seriously untrustworthy” can expect to receive substandard services.

In Beijing, Who Is and Isn’t a ‘Low-end Person?’ (December 14, 2017, China Change)
Firstly, “low-end population” in the Chinese sense refers exclusively to those from other regions. It is an identification status created by the household registration system (戶籍), as opposed to a class formed by market forces. 

Are China’s Millennials Already Over the Hill? (December 18, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Now snarky seniors are trying to get their revenge. Sixth Tone highlights some of the key stereotypes peddled about the post-’90s generation as its members supposedly approach their quarter-life crises.

'Dream Town': China's Charming Villages (December 20, 2017, The Diplomat)
There’s already “Sock Town,” the world’s largest producer of socks, a “Sweet Town,” named after its recently opened chocolate factory, and eventually there will be a “Happy Town,” which hopes to be known for its sex toy market and other adult offerings. Thanks to a new initiative, China will soon be home to a thousand of these government-approved “charming towns.”

Economics / Trade / Business

Why Once-Loved McDonald’s Now Has an Image Problem in China (December 13, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Today, the word ‘McDonaldization’ is often used to criticize the homogeneity of brand-saturated cities. But back in the ’90s, the Chinese loved McDonald’s for its safe food, tidy environment, and specialized service.

Are China's cars finally going to make inroads in Western markets? (December 14, 2017, Reuters)
After a decade of development, often through buying or benchmarking foreign technology and know-how, Chinese automakers are looking with greater ambition at selling their cars in major Western markets.

Abducted, Sold, Lost: A Lifetime in Search of Family (December 16, 2017, Sixth Tone)
It was 1983, and the kidnapping marked the beginning of a life spent wandering around China, from the countryside of Anhui province, Yang’s adoptive hometown in eastern China, to Sichuan, more than a thousand kilometers away, where he believes he lived as a child. Yang doesn’t know his exact age or where he used to live.

Internet giants told: Accept cyber curbs to be welcome in China (December 18, 2017, Reuters)
Google and Facebook will have to accept China’s censorship and tough online laws if they want access to its 751 million internet users, Chinese regulators told a conference in Geneva on Monday.

Google's China Bid Won't End Well (December 18, 2017, Bloomberg)
In Beijing, it's opening an AI research center; online, it's launched a new social media account to support AI developers who use Google's software tools. Compared to the politically sensitive search business, this is a subtler approach to succeeding in China's tech universe. But like its previous efforts, Google's latest venture will almost certainly fall short.

How to Save on Your China Legal Fees, or Not (December 19, 2017, China Law Blog)
But to stick with the clichés (but throw in a new currency), there is also such a thing as being penny-wise and pound foolish. To put it bluntly, trying to save money on your China legal fees is usually not the right call.

China Shrugs Off Debt Worries as Xi Takes Firmer Economic Grip (December 20, 2017, The New York Times)
Labeled “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialist Economy With Chinese Characteristics,” the statement called for trimming industrial overcapacity, controlling the supply of money and other moves that have been staples of China’s other recent declarations.


China's Class of 1977: I took an exam that changed China (December 14, 2017, BBC)
Forty years ago China reinstated its all-important college entrance exam after a gap of more than a decade when the country was plunged into the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. More than five million people sat the exams in the hope of securing a university place. The BBC's Yuwen Wu describes what it was like to be among them. 

What’s Behind China’s Spate of Murdered Teachers? (December 18, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In a system that prides grades and results above all else, teacher-student relationships are fraught with tension and conflicts are allowed to fester.

Science / Technology

The High-Speed Train at the Heart of Hong Kong's Political Future (December 20, 2017, City Lab)
China is building a new train to cut travel time significantly between Hong Kong and Guangzhou. But pro-democracy activists are uneasy about mainland’s intentions.

History / Culture

Imperial-Era Tombs Discovered on Site of New Beijing Mega-Airport (December 17, 2017, The Beijinger)
Workers building Beijing’s mega-airport of the future have stumbled over a bit of the city’s past. Over 200 tombs from the Qing era (1644-1912) have been excavated in the maintenance and repair facilities for the new Beijing Daxing Airport currently under construction to the south of the capital.

Photos: China through the Years (December 18, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)

Travel / Food

4 Things to Know about Camping in China (Travel China Cheaper)
Over the years I have received a number of questions from people asking about camping in China. Most people are drawn to the adventure of it all but are scared away by the unknowns. Can it be done? Is it safe? Since there aren’t any official camping grounds in China, how is it possible to set up your tent here?

Noodle In China Measures Just Under 2 Miles (December 18, 2017, NPR)
The Guinness record people verify that a Chinese food company cooked the longest noodle in the word. In the end, the extremely long noodle was divided up and eaten.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Cultural Revolution movie 'Youth' tops China's box office as Pixar's 'Coco' continues its surge (December 20, 2017, The Los Angeles Times)
Feng's latest work is a nearly two-hour coming-of-age story about a military art troupe during China's Cultural Revolution. Adapted from Geling Yan's novel of the same name, the story focuses on two characters, Liu Feng (Huang Xuan) and He Xiaoping (Miao Miao), as they navigate love, lust and violence against the backdrop of Mao-era song and dance. The film also includes scenes from the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979.

Language / Language Learning

Top 10 Apps for Studying Chinese (iOS/Android) (December 16, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
Some of the 10 apps in this list are Chinese apps meant for a Chinese audience, and not necessarily meant for Chinese language learners – but they are nevertheless excellent learning tools.

Top 10 Internet Phrases of 2017 (December 18, 2017, The Beijinger)
China's most popular internet phrases this year incorporate everything from old Stephen Chow movies to street dance battles as seen by a recent list published by People's Daily. 

Living Cross-culturally

Debriefing before the Final Goodbye (December 4, 2017, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Debriefing creates space to reflect, remember, and name both gains and losses. It allows time to acknowledge and grieve the end of a year in your life.

Opportunities and Challenges When Foreign Workers Leave China (December 4, 2017, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The reflections of any writer are based on the circumstances and experiences of his or her own life. In my case, my contact with overseas cross-cultural workers has been relatively limited, so my reflections may be quite individual.

Kids in Transition (December 4, 2017, ChinaSource Quarterly)
All that to say, the situation for third-culture kids in 2017 is generally much better than it has ever been. We thank God for his provision in these things; nevertheless, transition can still be perilous. Here are a few things that our family has learned in our transition back to the United States.

9 Ways to Make the Most of Christmas Abroad (December 18, 2017, A Life Overseas)
Christmas abroad can be lonely. It can also be delightful. Here are some things my family has learned over the years that help to make our holiday season special.


Transitions Made Easier (December 4, 2017, ChinaSource Quarterly)
In the book Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service, Amy Young writes about these transitions from her experience having lived in Asia for over 20 years.

Image credit: Yangshuo, China, by Chris Goldberg, via Flickr
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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