Patrick Wack’s Photographs of Xinjiang (December 16, 2021, China File)
Craving a change of scenery and a desire to witness a region at the “crossroads” of history, in 2016 he set out on what would be the first of six trips to photograph China’s far western region of Xinjiang.
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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs
Podcast: China’s Overseas NGO Law (December 15, 2021, Center for the Study of Contemporary China)
In this episode, Neysun Mahboubi discusses with Mark Sidel, one of the preeminent authorities on the nonprofit sector and philanthropy in China, why and how the Overseas NGO Law was drafted, and how to situate the law in the larger story of China’s engagement with foreign nonprofit and educational institutions from the late Maoist period onward.
The Island Paradise Near the Front Line of Tensions Over Taiwan (December 16, 2021, The New York Times) (subscription required)
New missile batteries planned for the Japanese island of Ishigaki reflect a drastic shift in Japan’s views on China.
Lithuania closes embassy in China after last diplomats leave amid Taiwan spat (December 16, 2021, NPR)
Lithuania said Wednesday that it has closed its embassy in Beijing and pulled its last diplomat out of the Chinese capital, a move that came amid a spat over the European Union nation allowing Taiwan to open a representative office in its capital, Vilnius.
Good Bye Hu Xijin (December 16, 2021, China Media Project)
After serving for more than 15 years as the controversial editor-in-chief of the Global Times, China’s most outspoken newspaper on foreign affairs, Hu Xijin announced his retirement on Weibo today. Other sources say his departure has been compelled—and that there are moves underway to strengthen “political guidance” at the newspaper.
Pro-Beijing candidates sweep Hong Kong elections (December 20, 2021, NPR)
Pro-Beijing candidates dominated Hong Kong’s legislative elections, beating out moderates and independents in the city’s first public poll after Beijing passed a resolution to amend the city’s election laws. Candidates loyal to Beijing won a majority of the seats in Sunday’s election after the laws were changed to ensure that only pro-Beijing “patriots” could run the city.
US appoints new Tibet coordinator amid tensions with China (December 20, 2021, Al Jazeera)
The Biden administration has announced a new special coordinator for Tibetan issues, saying the office will “promote substantive dialogue” between China and the Dalai Lama and push to protect the human rights and “fundamental freedoms” of the Tibetan people. The State Department announced on Monday that veteran diplomat Uzra Zeya would serve as the new coordinator while remaining in her position as undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights.
Harvard professor found guilty of lying about Chinese government ties (December 21, 2021, CNN)
The jury found that Lieber had lied about his affiliation with the Wuhan University of Technology in China and a contract he had with a Chinese talent recruitment plan to attract high-level scientists to the country. He was being paid $50,000 per month by the Chinese university and given $1.5 million to establish a nanoscience research lab at WUT, the Justice Department said in a news release.
China bans entry to 4 US religious freedom advisors in retort to Xinjiang sanctions (December 21, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
China on Tuesday slapped an entry ban on four members of a U.S. federal commission on religious freedom, in retaliation for U.S. sanctions on its officials over rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.
Cyprus: The Next Stop of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (December 22, 2021, The Diplomat)
Cyprus’ geographical location, EU membership, and importance as a transshipment hub have drawn interest from Beijing.
Recent Characteristics of Reformed Churches in China (December 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The 2018 Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs and the 2020 pandemic have almost completely changed everything about the existence of China’s house churches. Right now, the gathering of any house church of a reasonable size is almost impossible. Under such circumstances, the gatherings of Reformed churches are taking on a few new characteristics. The following five trends are particularly notable.
Thoughts on Culture and Contextualization (December 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Other challenges include beliefs and practices related to science, technology, entrepreneurism, atheism, and materialism. How should house churches respond to these challenges? There are at least three practices of contextualization among China’s house churches.
An Updated Report on the State of Reformed Theological Education in China (December 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
hat said, the tide of religious repression in China has turned, and a once rising civil society is now, at least for a time, retreating. This has impacted the current state and future prospects of Reformed theological education across China.
Parents and Children Under the Same Roof: Living in Multigenerational Homes (December 20, 2021, China Partnership)
Many Chinese families live in multigenerational homes, with the grandparents actively involved in raising their grandchildren. Chinese culture also places a premium on filial piety and giving elders the proper dignity and respect which they have by virtue of their position. Managing all this can be difficult. Here, three families discuss the challenges and opportunities they have faced as they live together with their parents or in-laws.
Following the Footprints of Early Missionaries to Yunnan (1) (December 21, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
Nine Christians from several cities in China traveled to Nujiang, Yunnan Province to find the places where early foreign Christians proclaimed the gospel among the Lisu. During the trip they met people who knew those early workers and were impacted personally by their conversations and simply being in those places. The faith of those early workers and those still serving continues to speak to us today.
China’s latest crackdown on religion bans foreigners from spreading church and spiritual content online(December 22, 2021, South China Morning Post) (subscription required)
China’s Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services banning unlicensed online groups or ceremonies comes into effect in March. Beijing has said the move is necessary to safeguard national security and it follows a call by Xi Jinping to ‘strengthen the management’ of religious affairs.
How Dongzhi spirit, Christmas-related exports are bringing cheer back in China (December 22, 2021, The Print)
As 2021 comes to an end, people across China are finding ways to celebrate amid Covid-19 restrictions. Though Christmas doesn’t hold much significance in China, people spend time shopping elsewhere in the world. The traditional Chinese calendar is based on the lunar cycle, and the Chinese New Year falls in February.
Defying Western Expectations (December 22, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Rather than pointing to the church in China and saying, as many in the West are prone to do, “Look, they’re doing it just like us,” we would do better to look deeper and have the humility for some ecclesiastical head scratching: “Hmmm, that’s different; I wonder why. Perhaps they’re onto something. What can we learn here?”
Society / Life
Square dancers in China may face fines for causing noise pollution (December 17, 2021, China Daily)
According to a draft amendment to the law, individuals or organizations who violate the law and refuse to rectify their misconducts after being warned shall be liable for fines of up to 1,000 yuan (around $157) and 20,000 yuan, respectively
The Chinese Farmers Taking to the Skies in Their Own Aircraft (December 17, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Xu Bin spent over a decade building his own gyrocopter out of scrap and spare parts. Now, he’s helping people across China do the same thing.
The Life of a Female Bus Driver in China (December 19, 2021, The World of Chinese)
“I’ve spent two-thirds of my life on the road”: A female tour bus driver speaks about working away from home and being a minority in a male-dominated field.
China Is Making Its Cities ‘Smarter.’ Can it Make Them Wiser? (December 20, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Since 2012, China has embraced the concept of “smart cities” in a bid to improve governance and urban officials’ decision-making, but more tech isn’t always the answer.
Oldest person in China dies at 135 (December 20, 2021, China Daily)
In 2013, the Uygur woman topped the list of China’s oldest living persons issued by the China Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, formerly known as the Gerontological Society of China.
Can China’s Communist Party defuse its demographic time bomb? (December 21, 2021, Atlantic Council)
The trend of an aging population and shrinking numbers of young people is challenging on multiple fronts. The loss of tax dollars will drain resources from already cash-strapped local governments—which are responsible for providing social welfare benefits, including education, health care, and pensions. And fewer working age people will need to support more non-working relatives.
Living with zero Covid in China: 2 years on with no end in sight (December 21, 2021, South China Morning Post) (subscription required)
From traders to professionals and schoolchildren, coronavirus curbs have upended lives across the vast country. While strict border controls and quarantine have kept the majority safe, zero-Covid strategy suggests restrictions are not likely to be lifted any time soon.
Beijing offers pensions to certain foreigners (December 22, 2021, China Daily)
Foreigners who have gained permanent resident status in China, as well as residents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan currently in Beijing, are eligible for the capital’s basic pension plans, according to a notice released by Beijing’s social security fund management center.
Photos: Beijing’s Haidian district welcomes Winter Games (December 22, 2021, China Daily)
More than 1,000 residents from Beijing’s Haidian district participated in ice and snow sports recently as part of a community activity welcoming the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics. On Tuesday morning, residents of Haidian’s Beixiaguan community got together for a simulated torch relay in the community stadium. When the residents were given the order, they followed a route of the torch relay run, and spectators cheered the torchbearers.
Economics / Trade / Business
The Slow Meltdown of the Chinese Economy (December 20, 2021, Wall Street Journal) (subscription required)
China is experiencing a slow-motion economic crisis that could undermine stability in the current regime and have serious negative consequences for the global economy. Despite the many warning signs, Western analysts and policy makers are optimistic that Xi Jinping is up to the task of managing the crisis. Such optimism is misplaced.
A water diversion project that China is funding in Thailand is raising eyebrows (December 21, 2021, NPR)
Plans for a new water diversion project in Thailand are alarming environmentalists. And a Chinese state-owned firm offered to finance it, raising flags with those who fear China’s growing influence.
China’s economic growth will slow sharply in 2022, World Bank says (December 22, 2021, CNN)
The bank now expects China’s GDP to expand 8% in 2021 compared with a year ago — that’s lower than its previous forecasts. (In October, the World Bank expected China to grow 8.1% this year. In June, it projected a growth of 8.5%.). It also cut its 2022 forecast from 5.4% to 5.1%, which would mark the second slowest pace of growth for China since 1990…
University president warns Chinese students not to harass other Chinese on campus (December 17, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
A U.S. university president who is a former governor of Indiana has condemned Chinese nationalist students in his state who harassed a Chinese pro-democracy graduate student for openly praising Tiananmen Square protesters. Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University, a public land-grant research university in West Lafayette, Indiana, sent an email to members of the campus community on Wednesday, saying that the treatment of the student, Kong Zhihao — whom Daniels did not name in the message — was “unacceptable and unwelcome.”
Health / Environment
Living With HIV in Northeast China (December 21, 2021, Sixth Tone)
It’s a freezing late November day in Shenyang, and I’m prepared for a difficult conversation as we knock on the door. I’m following Ma Tiecheng, the founder of a local HIV prevention organization in the capital of China’s northeastern Liaoning province, to visit patients he’s been tracking for many years. It’s part of his daily job.
Xi’an Residents Report Health App Crashes Amid Virus Surge (December 22, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Xi’an has emerged as the latest coronavirus hotspot in China, with the historic city logging 52 of the 57 confirmed local infections reported nationwide on Tuesday, according to the National Health Commission. The city has recorded 143 confirmed local cases since the first infection in the latest wave that was identified on Dec. 9.
Science / Technology
Tech Regulation in China Brings in Sweeping Changes (December 21, 2021, The Diplomat)
Relations between Beijing and China’s tech giants have been complex and in flux for many years. But recently the government has taken a much clearer approach.
Chinese surveillance tech in Africa, with Jili Bulelani (December 22, 2021, MERICS)
Today, African governments are among the top customers for Chinese surveillance tools, from “smart cities” to media monitoring.
History / Culture
Video: Zhou Enlai’s funeral in 1976 (Everyday Life in Maoist China)
Travel / Food
Chifa Workers of Peru (December 17, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Chifa (pronounced chee-fah) refers to Peruvian Chinese food. Brought to the country by early migrants, today chifa is part of the national cuisine of Peru. In fact, one of the so-called national dishes of Peru is a chifa dish, as is explained in the video below.
Arts / Entertainment / Media
Short Take on China’s Short Video Rules (December 20, 2021, China Media Project)
The most recent rules elaborate and adjust the restrictions put in place on short video platforms back in 2019, and define “harmful content” across 21 categories…
Language / Language Learning
The building blocks of Chinese, part 6: Learning and remembering compound words (December 21, 2021, Hacking Chinese)
There are many different types of compound words in Chinese, and there is in fact a whole area of study called “morphology” that deals with words, word forms and word formation. The goal here is not to help you write a term paper in Chinese linguistics, however, but to help you learn Chinese effectively and efficiently.
Theoretical Theology with Practical Application: A Book Review (December 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Wilhelmus à Brakel (1635–1711) was a pastor and theologian who ministered during the Dutch “Further Reformation,” which was a Puritan-like movement in the Netherlands during the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-centuries. His major systematic work, The Christian’s Reasonable Service (CRS), combines theoretical theology with practical application and is presented with warm pastoral affection for his readers.
On the Road—The Catholic Faith in China (US China Catholic Association)
From 1992 to 1996, Lu Nan photographed On the Road—The Catholic Faith in China. This photo essay sprang almost spontaneously from an earlier project begun in 1989: The Forgotten People—Living Conditions of China’s Psychiatric Patients. As Lu Nan himself relates, “The final photograph in The Forgotten People was taken in a church, showing a priest as he gave a blessing to a mentally ill church member. The moment I took that photo, I knew that my second project would be Catholicism…”
CMC Global 2021 (December 20, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
CMC started in 1983 as a triennial convention to “challenge and mobilize Christians—Chinese and non-Chinese—of the calling to be ambassadors for Christ in all walks of life, locally and globally, to reach Chinese, non-Chinese, and unreached people groups.”
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