ZGBriefs | December 22, 2016

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Featured Article

Attempts to ‘Clean Up Beijing’ Target Low-Cost Migrant Homes (December 15, 2016, China File)
Amid worsening pollution and traffic woes, the municipal government last year said it wants to cap Beijing’s population at 23 million by 2020. At the end of 2015, the Chinese capital had 21.7 million residents, including migrant workers who stay in the city for at least six months. Each of its districts has also set its own targets for curbing population growth. For example, Haidian, where Li is living, wants to reduce its population from 3.71 million in 2015 to 3.13 million by 2020, a 16 percent cut, according to a government plan released in January.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China police confirm detention of human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong (December 16, 2016, ˆ)
Police in China have confirmed that a respected human rights attorney was detained, his lawyer said, nearly a month after he disappeared under mysterious circumstances amid a widening crackdown on lawyers and activists. But despite a police claim that Jiang Tianyong has since been released, he has not contacted his family or lawyer, and they doubt claims made by officials.

China live-fires aircraft carrier group amid Taiwan tensions with US (December 16, 2016, The Guardian)
China’s first and only aircraft carrier led large-scale exercises in the Bohai Sea, the navy of the People’s Liberation Army announced late on Thursday. The drills involved dozens of ships and aircraft in the carrier group and more than 10 air-to-air, anti-ship and air defence missiles were tested, it said. The group also performed reconnaissance exercises, tests of early warning systems, aerial interception and missile defence.

Former Ambassador Locke On The Future Of U.S.-China Relations (December 19, 2016, NPR)
As Donald Trump's administration is about to take over from the Obama White House, David Greene talks to former Ambassador to China Gary Locke about U.S.- Chinese relations.

Norway, China normalize ties after Nobel Peace Prize row (December 19, 2016, Reuters)
Norway and China on Monday normalized diplomatic and political ties, frozen since 2010 when Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende said the two countries would immediately resume negotiations on a free-trade deal.

China Returns U.S. Navy Drone Seized In South China Sea (December 20, 2016, NPR)
China's Defense Ministry says it has returned a U.S. underwater drone seized last week in the South China Sea. The handoff followed what China termed "friendly" talks between the two countries. The U.S. acknowledged receipt of the drone but criticized China for seizing it in the first place. A statement from the Pentagon said the Chinese action was "inconsistent with both international law and standards of professionalism for conduct between navies at sea."

China details operating areas for foreign NGOs under new law (December 21, 2016, Reuters)
Having on Tuesday issued a list of government bodies that will act as a go-between with the ministry and foreign NGOs, the ministry has now issued further clarification giving the activities they will be allowed to carry out under the law. Potentially sensitive legal services such as legal aid and legal education will be allowed, but NGOs will have to be supervised by the Justice Ministry, the Public Security Ministry said.

Follow up on the Overseas NGO Law – the list of Professional Supervisory Units has been issued (December 21, 2016, NGOs in China)
The critical issue is whether these PSUs will be willing to supervise overseas NGOs. In the past, the difficulty of finding a willing PSU was the main obstacle to overseas NGOs seeking to register a representative office. This was the main reason that, of the hundreds of overseas NGOs that had offices in China, only around 29 were able to register a representative office with the Ministry of Civil Affairs between 2004 to 2016.  

Setting Up a Foreign NGO as an RO in China: Navigating the New Procedures (December 21, 2016, China Briefing)
For foreign NGOs currently operating in or looking to establish an RO in China, it is essential to understand the new procedures and requirements outlined by the Ministry of Public Security for the application and notarization process, particularly in light of the intense government scrutiny given to the sector.

These three major China themes will be pivotal in 2017 (December 21, 2016, South China Morning Post)
China’s economic growth target, the depreciation of the yuan and a looming change in several senior Communist Party positions will be important factors in the year ahead.


The Challenges of Localization (3) – Authority (December 19, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
At one point during the transition we all agreed that any new leader—Chinese or otherwise—may well need to adjust our organization’s leadership structure.  This began a yearlong examination of where authority lies in our organization.  Who makes decisions?  Who advises the leaders who make those decisions?

Christmas and Chinese New Year Have Their Differences, But They’re Also Quite Similar (December 19, 2016, World Religion News)
There are many differences in the ways in which Chinese New Year and Christmas are celebrated, however, they are two of the most important holidays around the world so they are bound to have something in common too. Here are some of the differences and similarities between Christmas and Chinese New Year.

WeChat closes all links to donations for religious purposes (December 20, 2016, Global Times)
Links to donations for so-called religious purposes will be banned on WeChat, a Chinese social media platform, to protect users' legitimate rights and interests, Tencent's WeChat team said in a statement on Monday. A statement on WeChat's official website said some public accounts created by groups posing as religious bodies were seeking "donations," which has damaged the rights and interests of legitimate religious groups and users. 

Christmas and Evangelism (December 20, 2016, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article, originally published in Gospel Times, a Christian openly wonders about the effectiveness Christmas evangelistic services.

Society / Life

In pictures: Drone shots of the year (December 15, 2016, China Daily)

Why China's parents tackle bullies on their own (December 21, 2016, BBC)
A shocking video of a young boy being assaulted by his schoolmates is the latest in a slew of bullying incidents to spark outrage in China. While bullying is not unique to China, some parents feel the system leaves them with no choice but to take matters into their own hands.

China’s ‘Social Credit’ System: Turning Big Data Into Mass Surveillance (December 21, 2016, China Real Time)
The Chinese government is taking the first steps in an evolving plan to employ big data to establish a nationwide system of mass surveillance of the entire population. This “social-credit system” would mobilize technology to collect information on all citizens and use that information to rate their behavior, including financial creditworthiness and personal conduct. The local experiments have provoked mixed reactions.

Economics / Trade / Business

To stash their cash outside of China, middle-class Chinese are funding gentrification in Brooklyn (December 14, 2016, Quartz)
It’s not just the Chinese fat cats that are driving up New York City real estate prices anymore. Now, thanks to a network of global crowdfunding platforms, regular middle-class households in China are getting in on the gold rush. Or, more appropriately, the greenback rush.


Mother’s Outcry Sparks Discussions on China’s School Bullying Problem (December 17, 2016, What’s on Weibo)
Recently a Chinese mother of a 10-year-old boy posted online about her son’s severe bullying at school. Despite her outcry, the boy’s school remained indifferent, claiming it was just ‘children’s play’. The mother’s story has triggered heated online discussions about the problem of school bullying in China.

Are China's Schools Failing? (December 19, 2016, Bloomberg)
At a time when China's leaders are trying to transform the economy from one reliant on factories to one based on services and knowledge-work, the country's social and educational policies are blunting the ambitions of rural children. One survey found that 77 percent of urban children aspire to college, while only 59 percent of rural kids do. That's a recipe for developing another generation of unskilled rural workers.

China's Tiger Moms Are Spending Big on Tech Classes for Their Kids (December 20, 2016, Bloomberg)
It starts with the idea that kids must be trained early to prevail over robots in the workforce. Then it snowballs from there—$3,000 a year for tuition, $350 for a Lego robotics set, and $7,300 to test the newly acquired engineering skills in a competition in the U.S. That’s what Zhuo Yu is spending on her 10-year-old son for a so-called STEM education in China—a problem-based approach to learning that combines knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Beijing still graduates top choice (December 21, 2016, China Daily)
Researchers at the Center for China and Globalization and education consultancy MyCOS analyzed responses from 20,000 graduates. They found that the Chinese capital was the preferred choice for finding work based on social environment, economic development, infrastructure, consumption habits and internationalized atmosphere. Shenzhen, Shanghai and Guangzhou were their next choices.

Health / Environment

Residents of China's capital getting out of town to escape smog (December 20, 2016, Reuters)
Residents of China's capital were wearing face masks and using air purifiers to try to avoid heavy pollution blanketing the city for a fifth day on Wednesday, but others were giving up the fight and joining a rush of "smog avoidance" travel. Beijing led the country for searches on the travel website Qunar.com for "avoid smog", "wash your lungs" and other terms related to traveling to escape pollution, said Michelle Qi, a spokeswoman for the site's parent company, Ctrip.com.

Beijing Denies US Claim That China Is Synthetic Drug King (December 19, 2016, ABC News)
U.S. assertions that China is the top source of the synthetic opioids that have killed thousands of drug users in the U.S. and Canada are unsubstantiated, Chinese officials told the Associated Press. Both the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy point to China as North America's main source of fentanyl, related drugs and the chemicals used to make them.

History / Culture

What China claims to have invented (December 24, 2016, The Economist)
Eight is a lucky number in China. How fortunate it was, then, that a team of more than 100 scientists was able, after three years of research, to declare that ancient Chinese had achieved no fewer than 88 scientific breakthroughs and engineering feats of global significance. Their catalogue of more than 200 pages, released in June, was hailed as a major publishing achievement.

Travel / Food

Traveling to Hunan: The Province Where Mao Was Born (December 16, 2016, Sapore di Cina)
Hunan “湖南” province is located in southern central China to the south of Dongting Lake (the second largest freshwater lake in China). That is where the name Hunan is derived from, literally meaning “to the south of the lake.” To the south, east, and west, it is surrounded by mountains, and to the north, it borders on the Yangtze River.

Chinese, Spending Freely, Become Ever-Larger Tourism Force in New York (December 19, 2016, The New York Times)
Chinese tourists, who have been flocking to New York in rising numbers for a decade, accounted for nearly one million of the record 60.3 million visitors to the city in 2016, city officials said. But some, like Li Chen, a retired bureaucrat from Beijing, are far from awed by the scale of America’s biggest city.

WATCH: A trip to Shanghai's new Taco Bell (December 20, 2016, Shanghaiist)
In case you were somehow unaware, yes, your prayers have finally been answered, Taco Bell has returned to Shanghai. To check and see how this outlet's taste and ambiance measures up to the high standards that Taco Bell has set back in the United States, The Shanghai Show, the city's newest comedy troupe, decided to make a there trip last week and see for themselves.

Language / Language Learning

Looking up how to use words in Chinese the right way (December 18, 2016, Hacking Chinese)
So, what do most students do when they, in the process of writing a text in Chinese, stumble on something they don’t know how to express? They enter the word they want to express in English into a dictionary, look for the corresponding Chinese and finish their sentence. The problem is that this method almost never works, except for very simple nouns (and sometimes not even then).

On The Character: (December 18, 2016, The World of Chinese)
From its early, pictorial form, we know this character emphasizes the human element in causing change. The top half of the character is a complicated pattern, consisting of a pair of hands trying to sort through a mess of silk threads. This is the radical , which means “chaos”. The bottom half is a hand holding a stick, which later evolved into the radical 攴. So essentially, our ancestors wanted to use a stick to bring order to a mess.


The Betrayed Ally: China in the Great War (December 16, 2016, China Rhyming)
The Great War helped China emerge from humiliation and obscurity and take its first tentative steps as a full member of the global community. In 1912 the Qing Dynasty had ended. President Yuan Shikai, who seized power in 1914, offered the British 50,000 troops to recover the German colony in Shandong but this was refused. In 1916 China sent a vast army of labourers to Europe. In 1917 she declared war on Germany despite this effectively making the real enemy Japan an ally. The betrayal came when Japan was awarded the former German colony. This inspired the rise of Chinese nationalism and communism, enflamed by Russia.

Image credit: by Matt@PEK, 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