ZGBriefs | December 21, 2023

ZGBriefs is a compilation of links to news items from published online sources. Clicking a link will direct you to a website other than ChinaSource. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content or other features on that site. An article’s inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement by ChinaSource. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

The Chinese Migrants of Chiang Mai (December 14, 2023, The Dial)
All throughout my travels in Chiang Mai, I’ve been meeting Chinese people. From the bar stool of one of Chiang Mai’s infamous jazz bars, where an older Chinese man enthusiastically recommends me a beer, based on his seven years of living here; to the Chinese mom and her kid in the back of a shared taxi, riding into a suburban neighborhood that looks like it was lifted out of California;  to the uncle and his adult cousin at the weed bar, faces pink, nervous but excited to try weed for the first time. People who have left China — to make a new life or to escape an old one — are everywhere.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

‘I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic’ about state of China relations, says US ambassador to Beijing Nicholas Burns(December 16, 2023, South China Morning Post)
Burns’s comments follow recent signals from both sides that they plan to address some of the deep divisions that have destabilised the US-China relationship. Calling China a ‘systemic rival,’ Burns says that because Washington is both competing and engaging, the relationship ‘doesn’t render into simple analysis’.

The Grand Experiment (December 17, 2023, The Wire China) (subscription required)
Two decades on, China’s social credit system is more dysfunctional than dystopian.

China is subtly increasing military pressure on Taiwan. Here’s how (December 18, 2023, NPR)
Security experts call this “gray zone” tactics, a strategy of intimidation and daily harassment designed to gradually wear Taiwan down, without drawing the United States and its Asian allies, like Japan and South Korea, into a wider conflict. Here’s what you need to know about China’s gray zone tactics.

Hong Kong media tycoon and democracy activist Jimmy Lai goes on trial (December 18, 2023, NPR)
Lai was arrested in 2020. The newspaper he started, called Apple Daily, was shut down the following year. China’s prosecuting Lai under the country’s sweeping national security law. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

China tries activist Li Qiaochu for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ (December 20, 2023, BBC)
Chinese activist Li Qiaochu has been tried for “inciting subversion of state power” in a case seen as part of China’s sprawling crackdown on dissent. Ms Li’s lawyer Li Guobei said she was denied entry to the closed-door trial held in Linyi, Shandong on Tuesday. The 32-year-old faces a possible jail term of five years or more.

Debating Whether China Is Getting Stronger or Weaker Won’t Make U.S. Policy More Sound (December 20, 2023, China File)
Debating whether a powerful China has an expansive window in which to realize commensurate ambitions or a shrinking one in which to achieve narrow objectives is more likely to generate analytical whiplash than prudent policy.


Prayer First (December 15, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Sometimes God keeps graciously nudging our hearts as we pray, gifting us discomfort or a lack of peace until we make things right. Thank God for this nudging so our hearts can be set free, and relationships set right.

How Asian Artists Picture Jesus’ Birth From 1240 to Today (December 18, 2023, Christianity Today) (subscription required)
The artists in this photo essay bring him back to Asia—but not to ancient Israel. They make the birth a local event, translating the story into their own cultural contexts.

Society / Life

Housing a Megacity (December 15, 2023, Sixth Tone)
The living conditions of Shanghai residents have transformed massively in the past few decades, from mostly crude dwellings to the many high-rise apartment buildings we see today.

Beijing to Promote ‘Migratory Bird’ Retirement Among Elderly Residents (December 15, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Like their counterparts in Europe and the United States, elderly Chinese — mainly from the country’s north — also prefer retiring to warmer climates for large parts of the year.

Beijing’s Snowy Spell in Photos (December 15, 2023, The World of Chinese)

NPR’s John Ruwitch reflects on the changing mood in China (December 18, 2023, NPR)
In the first of a series of stories about China, NPR’s John Ruwitch examines shifts in public perceptions about the country’s economic future.

Beijing’s Elderly Residents Increase as Reforms in the Works (December 19, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Municipal officials have rolled out several initiatives to attract top talent as high costs of living push people to relocate to neighboring cities.

Gansu earthquake: Over 120 killed in China’s deadliest quake in years (December 19, 2023, BBC)
At least 127 people have been killed in north-west China in the country’s deadliest earthquake for years. The 6.2 magnitude quake hit mountainous Gansu province around midnight on Monday (16:00 GMT), also shaking neighbouring Qinghai. Fatalities may rise, with more than 700 reported injured in icy conditions.


Hong Kong’s universities shrivel in Beijing’s grip (December 13, 2023, BBC)
“The free atmosphere that existed is gone and people are worried,” says Stephan Ortmann, a political scientist at the Hong Kong Metropolitan University. He says many of his colleagues have left and those that remain are wary – he has heard of teachers who have removed all Hong Kong and China-related material from their courses.

CCP Ideological Indoctrination, Part 1: The PRC’s New “Patriotic Education Law” (December 15, 2023, China Brief)
This first article deals with a new law intended to promote “patriotic education” among the general public. The follow-up article will analyze a revised CCP plan revealed in autumn 2023 for the ideological training of Party officials.

Health / Environment

Rare snowfall in southern China as deep freeze grips the north (December 18, 2023, Reuters)
he cold weather sweeping China brought rare snowfall on Monday as far south as the province of Guangdong, while temperatures in the chilly north plunged to near historic lows for the month. In a week of unexpectedly frigid weather, temperatures have fallen to lows below zero in northern areas, disrupting road, rail and air transport and even causing a brake failure in a commuter train in the capital Beijing.

History / Culture

Who Gets to Tell China’s Story? (December 19, 2023, Foreign Affairs) (subscription required)
Fang accurately described China as it was in the early 1990s. But starting a few years later, this pattern of historical erasure began to break down. The key reason is the rise of a movement of citizen historians who are successfully challenging the party’s control of history. Underpinning their efforts are two basic digital technologies that we often take for granted: PDFs and digital cameras.

Language / Language Learning

China’s top internet buzzwords of 2023 (December 18, 2023, Sinocism)
What Chinese people are thinking about in 2023, according to three year-end lists of popular buzzwords and internet catchphrases.

How to best use flashcards to learn Chinese (December 18, 2023, Hacking Chinese)
In this article, my goal is to help you figure out whether or not you should use flashcards for learning Chinese, how much you should rely on them and for learning what things.

Living Cross-culturally

Silent Nights, Resilient Lights: Christmases in China (December 18, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
I have spent 17 Christmases in China. I still remember my first one. I was in Shanghai, and I played the stereotypical Christmas playlist as I eagerly opened a Christmas care package full of mint chocolates, books, and love from my parents. A lot has happened since those early years, and my Christmas celebrations have evolved several times over.  

Pray for China

December 21 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Dec. 21, 1862 Lin Zhenzhen (林振珍牧师) was baptized in Fuzhou. Lin was an opium addict from Nanri Island in nearby Putian (then known as Xinghua). He stopped to rest outside a Methodist chapel in Fuzhou and heard the gospel being preached there. A month later he was baptized, and within five years he planted the first church in Putian. He was often beaten, as he did itinerant preaching around Putian and on his home island, but his ministry bore fruit before and after he went to be with the Lord in 1877. In 1901, a son was born in Putian to a fellow Methodist pastor. The boy became the greatest Chinese evangelist of the 20th century, Dr. Song Shangjie (宋尚节博士- John Sung). Pray for pastors not to grow weary in well doing but to trust the Lord for a harvest in due time. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10

Share to Social Media
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