ZGBriefs | December 22, 2022

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Featured Article

Expatriates Serving in China’s New Era: Recent Developments, Future Prospects (December 12, 2022, ChinaSource Quarterly)
It is important to recognize that China today is not closed to expatriates. On the contrary, China still needs, and indeed welcomes, foreigners to work in many sectors of Chinese society. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, China has, however, adjusted its regulatory processes and shaped the worldview of its officials in order to ensure that only the “right” kinds of expatriates are allowed to reside in China.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Will a Successor to Xi Jinping Emerge from the Party’s Seventh-Generation Leadership? (December 16, 2022, The Jamestown Foundation China Brief)
The fact that Xi’s prestige has been dented by his repeated bending of CCP conventions for self-serving purposes—as well as his poor handling of the economy—means that his authority might be challenged even before his fourth term as general secretary runs out by the year 2032.

Video: Accidental Conflict: America, China, and the Clash of False Narratives (December 19, 2022, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
Stephen Roach’s new book, Accidental Conflict: America, China, and the Clash of False Narratives, examines the ominous trajectory of conflict escalation between the United States and China and offers suggestions for resolution. […]  In an interview conducted on December 19, 2022, Stephen Roach argues that much of the rhetoric on both sides is dangerously misguided, more a reflection of each nation’s fears and vulnerabilities than a reasonable assessment of the risks they face.

Russia and China unite for live-fire naval exercises in waters near Japan (December 19, 2022, CNN)
China and Russia will begin a weeklong joint live-fire naval exercise in the East China Sea on Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, as the two partners step up cooperation in an increasingly tense western Pacific.

Reporting Achievements (December 19, 2022, China Media Project)
Perhaps more definitively than at any point in China’s reform era, the mission of CCP media today is about whitewashing the record of the general secretary and the top leadership, building the case that a “great transformation” has been underway in China.

Olaf Scholz’s China Gamble (December 21, 2022, The Diplomat)
The German chancellor’s trip to China was driven by pragmatic calculations – and it seems to have paid off.

China accused of new territorial grab in South China Sea (December 21, 2022, Japan Times)
China is building up several unoccupied land features in the South China Sea, according to Western officials, an unprecedented move they said was part of Beijing’s long-running effort to strengthen claims to disputed territory in a region critical to global trade.


Chinese Christian Nonprofits and Reshaping Perceptions of Evangelism (December 12, 2022, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Looking at the development of Chinese Christian nonprofits, as well as all Chinese nonprofits, there are two dates that stand out—the years 2008 and 2016. These two important milestones separate the recent development of nonprofits into three periods.

An Interview with a Missions Leader in China (1) (December 12, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
This post is the first of a three-part series looking at the current state of China’s missions movement, its relationship to Western missions structures, and how the church in the West can work with the church in China to effectively train and mentor Chinese missionaries.

Planting the Flag in Mosques and Monasteries (December 13, 2022, China File)
Over the last few years, the Chinese Communist Party has physically remade places of religious worship in western China to its liking. This includes not only the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, but also other areas with mosques or Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries.

Café Encounters (December 16, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
If you’re willing to push past the most onerous travel restrictions imaginable, set foot on Chinese soil, and humbly place yourself alongside everyday urban residents racked with the inarticulate ache for life. . . Then amidst a society increasingly strained to the breaking point, you will find the harvest that awaits you as white as it has ever been.

Christians Respond to Nationalists’ Call to Boycott Christmas in China (December 19, 2022, Christianity Today)
As Christmas approaches this year, just weeks after the Chinese government revised its pandemic policies, Christians feel the weight of suspicion and persecution. They wonder what the holiday—and the evangelistic outreach that typically goes with it—will look like in the changing political context.

An Interview with a Missions Leader in China (2) (December 19, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
In this post, TT addresses several ways foreign workers can continue to do kingdom work among Chinese Christians and cross-cultural workers. Some foreigners may be able to return to China in a few years, while others can be teachers and mentors in online classes or other countries.

Holy Trinity Church in Shanghai Reopens After 56 Years’ Closure (December 20, 2022, China Christian Daily)
In the worship service celebrating the reopening last Sunday, Rev. Wu Wei, president of China Christian Council (CCC), preached a sermon titled “Build the Body of Christ”, citing Ephesians 2: 19-22 and 4: 2-7.

Four Theological Seminaries Release Admission Plans in 2023 (December 21, 2022, China Christian Daily)
Several theological seminaries issued admission guidelines for 2023, with detailed introductions to the academic system and curriculum, entry requirements, registration methods, and admission examinations.

Society / Life

Winding Down ‘Zero-COVID’: The View From an Urban Village (December 20, 2022, Sixth Tone)
Her role was part of the most basic unit of China’s epidemic prevention and control system. From her vantage point, BeichuanKafka first saw the stringent “zero-COVID” policy up close, and then the last three days before the policy was wound down. This is her story.

The generation gap at the heart of China’s protests (December 20, 2022, East Asia Forum)
China’s political system is designed for the elderly. The ruling elites rise as a cohort one step at a time. By the time they reach the top, they are generally in their sixties or seventies. With each step, they gain greater power and freedom to practice their ideals, which were formed in the previous era, unconsciously bringing back an idealised past. This problem of the past leading the present underpins the generational gap in Chinese politics.

China wants Covid patients to go to work. The public isn’t so sure (December 21, 2022, CNN)
The central government’s decision earlier this month to step away from zero-Covid will undoubtedly bring relief to the struggling economy and frustrated residents. But the abrupt U-turn was seemingly carried out with little advance warning or preparation, causing a sense of whiplash and confusion among many.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s economy plunged before major Covid policy shift. A rebound may be months away (December 15, 2022, CNN)
The end of pandemic restrictions in China will eventually usher in a strong economic rebound as the country learns to live with the Covid virus, according to economists, even as a slew of data showed business activity plummeting in November. Retail sales declined 5.9% last month from a year ago, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. It was the worst contraction in retail spending since May, when widespread Covid lockdowns pummeled the economy.


Shanghai schools to go online as Covid spreads in China (December 17, 2022, BBC)
China’s largest city, Shanghai, has ordered most of its schools to take classes online as Covid cases soar. Nurseries and childcare centres will also shut from Monday, according to Shanghai’s education bureau.

Health / Environment

China’s screeching U-turn on Covid will not be an instant fix (December 20, 2022, The Guardian)
If Beijing is expecting an immediate economic boost from abandoning its tough controls it is mistaken. There will be a growth dividend from the policy shift but the state of the world’s second biggest economy will get worse before it gets better, and it will be next spring at least before the easing of restrictions starts to pay off.

WHO says China may be struggling to keep a tally of COVID cases (December 21, 2022, Reuters)
China may be struggling to keep a tally of COVID-19 infections as the country experiences a big spike in cases, a senior World Health Organization official said on Wednesday, amid concerns about a lack of data from the country. Official figures from China have become an unreliable guide as less testing is being done across the country following the recent easing of the strict “zero-COVID” policy.

China limits how it defines COVID deaths in official count (December 21, 2022, NPR)
China only counts deaths from pneumonia or respiratory failure in its official COVID-19 death toll, a Chinese health official said, in a narrow definition that limits the number of deaths reported, as an outbreak of the virus surges following the easing of pandemic-related restrictions.

Shanghai Races to Vaccinate Older Residents as COVID Runs Wild (December 21, 2022, Sixth Tone)
The country’s top health officials have said that people over the age of 60 were at a greater risk of severe illness from COVID, with those in the over-80 demographic facing even more complications. China is home to an estimated 260 million people over the age of 60, who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus. As of November, some 25 million people over the age of 60 hadn’t been vaccinated against COVID and only about 40% of those over 80 had received a booster, according to official data.

Language / Language Learning

Learn Chinese efficiently, not quickly (December 19, 2022, Hacking Chinese)
While learning quickly, as measured in months or years, makes for great marketing material, it misses the more important point: efficiency. Learning quickly requires efficiency and huge time investments, which means it’s only possible for a lucky few. In contrast, learning efficiently should be a goal for all learners.

The Chinese Online Slang That Took Over the Internet in 2022 (December 20, 2022, Sixth Tone)
This year’s online buzzwords were mostly associated with COVID-19, and the others reflected the state of mind of the digital masses and the state of society.


Through the Valley of the Shadow – Book Review (December 15, 2022, Global China Center)
One of three volumes by this husband-and-wife team in the Studies in Chinese Christianity series, this book tells five stories of seven Australian women who served in China from the last decade of the nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth century.


China’s New Civil Religion: A Challenge and Opportunity for Engagement 
(U.S.-China Catholic Association)
Presented by: Ian Johnson 
Journalist, Author, Professor 
When outsiders think of religion in China, they tend to focus on persecution–for example Muslims in Xinjiang or Christians in many big Chinese cities. While that is true for some faiths, China is also in the midst of a religious boom, which the government is trying to use to further its grip on power. That includes rebuilding ancient temples, subsidizing pilgrimages to holy mountains, and endorsing Confucian philosophers.  But can authoritarianism and religious life coexist? What are the risks as the government in Beijing embraces some religions while opposing others?
Wednesday, January 25, 2023 
Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus 
113 W 60th Street 
New York, NY 10023 

Go here to register.

Pray for China

December 26 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Dec. 26, 1936, the Xi’an Incident (西安事变) ended with Chiang Kai-shek (蒋介石先生) being freed by his friend and captor, Zhang Xueliang (张学良先生). In his youth, Zhang played a prominent role in China’s political affairs and lived the life of a patriotic playboy; however, for his last 37 years, he was a devoted soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ. After the Xi’an Incident, he was placed under house arrest for 49 years. In this long captivity, Zhang first studied Ming history and collected art, but he found his Buddhist faith left him empty. He began to read the Bible, trusted Christ, and in 1964 was baptized. That same year he married his long-time companion Zhao Yidi (赵一荻女士) in a Christian ceremony, and the couple lived for Christ for the remaining three decades of their lives. At his 90th birthday party, Zhang said, “I live by the love of Jesus Christ and the grace of God. I never thought I would live to be 90. Apart from thanking God, what can I say?” Mrs. Zhang once told visitors from China, “We both are Christians. Every day we pray, read the Bible and worship.” Pray for Christians in Liaoning to forget what lies behind and press on toward the Lord’s better prize. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…Philippians 3:13

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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