ZGBriefs | December 27, 2018

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Featured Article

Beijing Expats Decry “Click-bait-y” Reports About a Christmas Crackdown (December 26, 2018, The Beijinger)
He went on say that: “media companies probably need to get their facts straight." He concedes that anti-Christmas measures might be "happening in some small cities, but it's not happening everywhere. Every mall and store I went to in Beijing was full of workers dressed as Santa, decorations and Christmas songs. It was almost too much!”

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

The CCP’s model of social control goes global (December 20, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
The advancement of the PRC’s global interests, in particular through Xi’s ‘Belt and Road’ and other geopolitical initiatives, includes the extraterritorial expansion of social control mechanisms once mostly reserved to the PRC. 

Post-Peace Prize, Norway and China swap human rights for Olympic medals (December 20, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
As China aims to improve the scoreboard from Pyeongchang in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics, Beijing is looking to Norway for expertise on how to quickly grow a generation of Chinese winter sports gold medalists. Some see these bonds as a positive consolidation of warming Sino-Norwegian friendship. 

A Look Back at China in 2018 (December 21, 2018, ChinaFile)
But China, which in recent years has been masterful in playing geopolitical offense abroad, appears to lack the same sure-footedness now that the United States and other nations are finally making it play defense too.

China refuses to release detained Canadians, despite demands (December 24, 2018, the Guardian)
China on Monday lashed out at Canada and the US for demanding the release of detained Canadians and accused Western countries of double standards.

Beijing must face up to a loss of public faith (December 24, 2018, Nikkei)
The combination of pressures has highlighted Beijing's difficulties with stage-managing the economy and given people license to vent economic frustrations. The reality is that keeping up the confidence of the Chinese public is now as much of a challenge for Beijing than dealing with actual economic pressures.

Leading Chinese Marxist student taken away by police on Mao's birthday (December 26, 2018, Reuters)
Qiu Zhanxuan, head of the Peking University Marxist Society, was grabbed and forced into a black car outside the east gate of Peking University by a group of heavy-set men who identified themselves as police, a student told Reuters.

Wang Quanzhang: China human rights lawyer trial begins (December 26, 2018, BBC)
China has placed a prominent human rights lawyer on trial for subversion. Wang Quanzhang went missing in a crackdown on hundreds of lawyers and activists in 2015, and is one of the last to be tried or released. He defended political campaigners and followers of the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong, and worked with a Swedish human rights activist.

High-profile China prison rapped for lack of ideological zeal(December 26, 2018, Channel News Asia)
A Chinese prison for high-profile detainees, including the wife of former top Communist Party official Bo Xilai, has come under fire for its lack of programmes to educate inmates on "Xi Jinping thought". Yancheng prison in northern Hebei Province, about 40 kilometres from Beijing, holds former government officials, foreigners and ordinary criminals, the state-run Global Times reported.


Red Lines (December 21, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
In late November, I was talking with a Chinese friend and scholar about these red lines in relation to the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. Given the fact that Early Rain clearly existed beyond each of these lines, and that Pastor Wang Yi was increasingly vocal in challenging the Party-State, we were puzzled as to the government’s tolerance of the church.

A Pair of Socks (December 25, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
For churches, Christmas Day is coming soon and is a big day to be celebrated. Churches are decorated with Christmas ornaments and with a big Christmas tree covered with lights, on which stands a star symbolizing Jesus Christ, the Savior. Under the tree lie gifts from church members to others. They buy and wrap the gifts and put them under the tree for those in most need to take away. When I see this, I am reminded of Christmas one year while I was studying theology.

Crisis of faith: Tibetan Catholics face modernity in China village (December 25, 2018, Reuters)
Cizhong – a six-hour drive from the tourist magnet of Shangri-la in Yunnan province – has been predominately Catholic since the 19th century when French missionaries built a church and converted Tibetan Buddhist residents.

As China Cracks Down on Churches, Christians Declare ‘We Will Not Forfeit Our Faith’ (December 25, 2018, The New York Times)
Fearing that he and his friends might be arrested, Mr. Gu used encrypted chat apps to share information about surveillance and harassment by the police. “We will not forfeit our faith because of suppression by the authorities,” Mr. Gu said.

Society / Life

5 killed, 21 injured in bus hijacking in China's Fujian province (December 25, 2018, Reuters)
At least five people were killed and 21 others injured after a man carrying a knife hijacked a bus in the southeastern Chinese city of Longyan in Fujian province on Tuesday, police said. Longyan police said in a statement that the bus was hijacked mid-afternoon and hit pedestrians along the way as it careened down the street.

China birth rate: Mothers, your country needs you! (December 25, 2018, BBC)
After decades spent trying to curb the population, state propaganda slogans now exhort couples to "Have children for the country", prompting criticism on social media that government policy is intrusive and insensitive. Measures now being discussed range from extending maternity leave to encouraging people to have a second child with straight cash incentives or tax breaks. 

China's migrant population drops in 2017 (December 25, 2018, China Daily)
China's migrants numbered 244.5 million in 2017, 820,000 less than in 2016, according to an official report. China's migrant population, people who leave their hometown to seek employment or education elsewhere, continued to grow for decades but began a slow decline starting in 2015, said an annual report on migrants released by the National Health Commission.

This is “Chinese Santa”: Weibo Launches Lei Bao ‘Santa Claus’ Emoticon for Christmas(December 26, 2018, What’s on Weibo)
On Christmas day, Sina Weibo released a new emoticon in the image of a character named Lei Bao (雷豹, literally ‘thunder leopard’) from the 1990s comedy movie Hail the Judge (九品芝麻官), for his costumes, beard, and impressive eyebrows, that bear some resemblance to Santa Claus.

Photos: Meet the only tribe in China that breeds reindeer (December 26, 2018, China Daily)
The Aoluguya, a tribe of the Ewenki ethnic group in Genhe city in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, is the only tribe that still breeds reindeer in China. At any given time, they're raising about 1,200 reindeer, which provided the most popular mode of transport for locals until the 1950s. 

Economics / Trade / Business

Ofo, Pioneer of China’s Bike-Sharing Boom, Is in a Crisis  (December 20, 2018, The New York Times)
Its founder is on a government blacklist for unpaid bills. Millions of riders who placed deposits are demanding their money back. And the business model used by many of China’s tech firms — spend furiously to acquire new users, worry about profits later — is showing its limits.

New Laws in China to Impact Business, Trade from January 1, 2019 (December 20, 2018, China Briefing)
To ensure your business stays compliant in 2019, this article lists out the most important regulatory changes that you should pay attention to.

What a New Law Could Mean for China’s ‘Daigou’ (December 21, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Li is a so-called daigou — which literally translates to “buying on behalf of someone else.” She’s one of an estimated 1 million small-time business operators who shop overseas, then sell the goods over messaging app WeChat or Chinese e-commerce platforms. 

The China-US Trade War: What’s Next? (December 22, 2018, China Law Blog)
This trade situation is not going to change any time soon no matter which party is in power.

How’s Your China WFOE? Please Check (December 26, 2018, China Law Blog)
Check your WFOE. Now. And if you are going to form a WFOE, make sure you do it right. Please. Oh, and one more important thing: many times foreign companies would be better off not forming a WFOE at all and not having any of their own people on the ground in China at all.


Science vs. the state: a family saga at the Caltech of China (December 19, 2018, MIT Technology Review)
Three generations of personal and political history show the tensions between the Communist Party’s need for knowledge and its need for ideological control.

Sinicization: China Only for the Chinese (December 26, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
It is critical for those who love China, especially educators, to consider the three-fold CCP sinicization offensive and its impact on education.

Health / Environment

Chinese Town Still Seething Over Water Pollution Scare (December 25, 2018, Sixth Tone)
An art exhibition exposed Xiaohaotu’s contaminated water earlier this year. Months later, the town’s residents remain concerned.

China finds African swine fever virus in some animal feed products (December 25, 2018, Reuters)
China has detected the African swine fever virus in some protein powders made using pork blood and manufactured by a Tianjin-based company, the General Administration of Customs said in a statement on Tuesday.

Science / Technology

Chinese tech under the microscope: US agencies step up reviews of research activity on American campuses (December 21, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The FBI, Department of Education, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Association of American Universities are some of the bodies now coordinating efforts to learn which faculty members at research universities and medical centres are receiving financial support from Chinese entities.

China Is Achieving AI Dominance by Relying on Young Blue-Collar Workers (December 21, 2018, Motherboard)
To remain the world leader in artificial intelligence, China relies on young “data labelers” who work eight hours a day processing massive amounts of data to make computers smart.

For China’s Web Platforms, the Future Is Sanitized (December 26, 2018, Sixth Tone)
In 2018, China’s cyberspace — and social media platforms in particular — was a battleground not only for clicks, but also for a campaign waged against “vulgar and illegal” content, which included anything deemed violent, pornographic, or insulting. 

History / Culture

The Chinese Doctor Who Beat the Plague (December 20, 2018, China Channel)
n the winter of 1910, Dr. Wu Lien-teh stepped onto a frigid train platform in the northern Chinese city of Harbin. He was there to solve a medical mystery, at great personal risk. Over the past few months, an unknown disease had swept along the railways of Manchuria, killing 99.9% of its victims.

Shanghai and Beijing in 1971  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

High-speed railway starts operation in Heilongjiang (December 25, 2018, China Daily)
High-speed train No D8511 left Harbin railway station in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province for Mudanjiang city at 8:58 am on Tuesday. It was the first trip with passengers after a month-long test, marking the start of the line's operation. The 300-kilometer high-speed rail line, designed for trains running at speeds of up to 250 km per hour between the two cities, cuts travel time to 88 minutes from five hours.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Film and TV in 2019: What Will China Be Watching? (December 25, 2018, Radii China)
As of this writing, there are at least 13 major films scheduled to hit theaters on February 5, the first day of the coming Year of the Pig.

Language / Language Learning

How to Use Chinese Paper Dictionaries – Our Guide (December 20, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
Which are the best Chinese language dictionaries? What type of dictionaries are available? How do you use them?

'Hardwork' chosen as 'hot' word of the year (December 22, 2018, China Daily)
Fen, the Chinese word for "hardwork", was chosen as the hottest character related to domestic topics in 2018, while the hottest character related to international topics is tui, meaning "withdraw", according to a news release from the Ministry of Education on Friday.

Living Cross-culturally

5 Things I Loved about Christmas in China (December 24, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Outside glowed of consumerism Christmas, but we made sure our home warmed those who entered with the love and coming of Christ. During the years my husband taught English, we invited students into our home to celebrate Christmas by learning about its traditions, meaning, and the hope it declares.


Chairs’ Statement on Religious Crackdown in China Targeting Christian Churches (December 19, 2018, Congressional-Executive Mission on China)
Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith, the chair and cochair respectively of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), issued the following statement regarding the escalating crackdown on Protestant Christian believers in China, including the targeting of Zion Church in Beijing, Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, and Rongguili Church in Guangzhou. 

Image credit: by Lawrence Wong, 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