ZGBriefs | December 28, 2017

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Featured Article

China Visas Explained (December 27, 2017, China Briefing)
Here, we provide details on all of the different types of visas and their applications and permitted uses. Summaries of the Z Visa, China’s main work visa, and the M Visa, China’s business visa, and the required supporting documentation for both are also provided.

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Overseas NGO Law

You’re Registered. Now What? (December 21, 2017, China File)
With almost 300 foreign NGO representative offices registered this year, implementation of the Foreign NGO Law has entered a new phase: management. For foreign NGOs that were operating informally or under a different status before, formal registration under the Foreign NGO Law may come with additional administrative requirements that they hadn’t had to consider before.

Can a Foreign NGO pay for services from a for-profit Chinese entity? (December 21, 2017, China File)
The Ministry of Public Security has not issued official written guidance on this point. According to officials with specific knowledge of the law’s implementation, foreign NGOs may purchase “reasonable” services from for-profit Chinese entities. This might include, for example, hiring a company to help make arrangements for an upcoming meeting. However, the foreign NGO may not use this mechanism to make “covert grants.”

Are Foreign NGOs Allowed to Generate Income? (December 21, 2017, China File)
This means income or revenue is allowed as long as the foreign NGO keeps its not-for-profit nature, namely, will not distribute dividends or profit to its shareholders [or] owners.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Zimbabwe and the Rise of an Interventionist China (December 21, 2017, China Policy Institute)
Possibly the murkiest aspect of the November coup that ousted over three decades of Mugabe’s rule in Zimbabwe has been the role of China, the African state’s biggest economic and military partner. 

How I almost became a Chinese spy – reflections on China's Age of Anxiety (December 21, 2017, Financial Review)
The offer to become a Chinese spy was made over a lunch of Sichuan fish, spicy tofu and stir-fried green beans. It was September 2013 and the trade was to be a simple one – money in exchange for information.

Beware Chinese Influence but Be Wary of a China Witch Hunt (December 22, 2017, Council on Foreign Relations)
My personal observations suggest that there are some fairly straightforward challenges that Chinese influence presents to U.S. political integrity and, in some cases, equally straightforward measures that the United States government as well as private institutions and actors can undertake to respond.

China’s Politburo holds two-day self-criticism session as Xi Jinping garners fresh pledges of fealty (December 27, 2017, South China Morning Post)
The two-day event was the first such gathering since the 19th party congress in October. Members of the party’s decision-making body had to deliver a speech following in-depth discussions with unspecified party officials who had been assigned to them before the “democratic life meeting” started on Monday, official news agency Xinhua reported.

China brings People’s Armed Police under control of top military chiefs (December 27, 2017, South China Morning Post)
The 1.5 million-strong paramilitary police force previously came under a dual command structure of the CMC and the State Council, or cabinet, via the Ministry of Public Security. 

China says part of Hong Kong rail station to be subject to mainland laws (December 27, 2017, Reuters)
China’s parliament on Wednesday said part of a high-speed railway station being built in Hong Kong would be regarded as mainland territory governed by mainland laws, an unprecedented move that critics say further erodes the city’s autonomy.

China hands down harsh sentence to rights activist (December 27, 2017, AP)
A prominent activist who calls himself the “Ultra Vulgar Butcher” for mocking and pressuring Chinese officials was given an eight-year prison sentence on charges of subversion, the harshest punishment in a sweeping crackdown on rights campaigners.


It is the Advent Season Now: A Bilingual Liturgy for an Advent Worship Service (December 21, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
It is a good resource for helping Chinese friends, seekers, and young Christians understand many of traditional meanings and symbols they encounter at Christmas, and can help connect them to the historic global church.

Christmas in China (December 23, 2017, World Magazine)
As Christmas arrived, it seemed that Wang Yi’s church might not be able to hold a service. This was usually the high point of the year and a key chance to recruit followers; many Chinese are curious about the Western holiday but don’t really understand it—who is the fat guy in the red suit, and what does it have to do with Jesus? The Christmas service was an opportunity for the congregation to invite friends to a fun evening, and maybe win over a few people.

In 'China's Jerusalem', Christians say faith trumps official Sunday School ban (December 23, 2017, Reuters)
When authorities in China’s southeastern city of Wenzhou outlawed Sunday School earlier this year, Christian parents determined their children must still learn about Jesus and the Bible. Churches in Wenzhou started teaching children in private homes or at other venues. Some billed Sunday School classes as daycare, not education, or moved them to Saturdays, more than a dozen local Christians told Reuters.

Wishing You a Balanced Christmas (December 25, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Some things are just too good to keep to yourself, and Christmas is at the top of my list! But how do you make the most of Christmas while teaching in China, when some people love and some hate foreign holidays? “Balance” is the word that comes to mind.

Christmas in Shanghai (December 25, 2017, The Global Times)
The true meaning of Christmas is best represented at buildings used for Christian religious worship services, such as churches, where there are Christmas Eve gatherings, choir performances and Christmas Day Masses. 

Chinese Christians Look Back, Part 4 (December 26, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
For your church or the ministry you participate in, what is available and vital now for ministry that was not available or not important 20 years ago? All six of these brothers and sisters highlight how biblical teaching has grown in importance and impact today. For these Chinese Christians, a focus on sound teaching and biblical exposition is more a focal point of the church today than in the past.

Serving a New Generation (December 27, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Serving today means coming alongside this generation in a mutually supportive way. The challenge for the future is learning together how God will use his global church to further his transformational mission in and through China.

Prosecutors drop corruption charges against former pastor of China's largest official church (December 27, 2017, The Christian Times)
The former senior pastor of China's largest official church has been released from prison after prosecutors dropped the corruption charges leveled against him. Gu Yuese, who previously served as the senior pastor of Chongyi Church, returned home from prison on Friday, nearly a year following his formal arrest on Jan. 7.

Society / Life

2018 China Public Holiday Calendar [Infographic] (Travel China Cheaper)
Not only does it provide all of the public holidays including the 2018 Chinese New Year dates, 2018 Dragon Boat Festival dates and 2018 Chinese Tomb Sweeping dates, it also gives you the public “make-up” dates for those working in China.

Fresh Skills, Old Fears for Villagers in New Chinese Megacity (December 20, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Around 1 million residents will be forced to relocate to develop Xiongan, and the toy industry will likely be pushed out as well. An agreement between Beijing and Hebei province signed in August proposes limiting the New Area to high-end industries such as biopharmaceuticals and technology-driven services, and cutting out low-skilled manufacturing and service industry jobs.

How I Help Chinese Couples Get ‘Fake’ Divorces (December 21, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Temporary separations allow wealthy couples to sink more money into the urban property market.

The Performers Behind China’s Much-Derided Livestreaming App (December 21, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Young, disadvantaged users of Kuaishou, China’s rapidly growing social media platform, see middle-class condemnation as a badge of honor.

China’s real-life magic realism of 2017, according to Chinese netizens (December 22, 2017, Quartz)
On top of everyone’s list of worries is the sense of deep insecurity in dealing with a repressive government, no matter whether they’re working class, middle class, or even upper class in China. That sentiment deepened over the year each time another controversial political or social event took place…

China’s New Christmas Traditions (December 23, 2017, The World of Chinese)
There’s a quote that no Chinese media has figured out the origin of, but repeated repeated all each year as wisdom from a “well-known Beijing performance artist”: “[In China], we actually don’t care what Christmas symbolizes in other countries; we like Christmas because it gives us an opportunity to connect with friends and relax.”

China through a glass, darkly (December 24, 2017, China Law Translate)
If you carefully read foreign coverage of Social Credit in China, you may notice that it either outright conflates or blurs the line between Social Credit and a number of private programs- especially Sesame Credit.

Reusing ‘Mega Events’ Venues Requires a Smart Strategy (December 24, 2017, Sixth Tone)
For municipal officials, mega events are great opportunities for revitalizing the city. But too often, the vitality of the host city is undermined by a lack of long-term strategy and, in China at least, draconian demands that citizens change their behaviors to make their urban areas interesting to outsiders.

China's Shanghai to battle 'big city disease' by limiting population to 25 million (December 27, 2017, Reuters)
China’s financial hub of Shanghai will limit its population to 25 million people by 2035 as part of a quest to manage “big city disease”, the cabinet has said. The State Council said on its website late on Monday the goal to control the size of the city was part of Shanghai’s masterplan for 2017-2035, which the government body had approved.

A Picture of China in 2017 (December 27, 2017, China File)
“When I look back at 2017 in China, I see faces,” Muyi says. “Some are ambitious, some are earnest, some are upset, some are lost, and some wear expressions I can’t put in words; their fates are intertwined with that of their nation, often beyond their control.

Economics / Trade / Business

What Happened On China's New Silk Road In 2017 (December 20, 2017, Forbes)
In 2017, in addition to being able to start to see what the Belt and Road really is, the world also got a good glimpse of who it’s for: shadowy state-owned firms with ambiguous acronyms that start with the letter C: COSCO, CREC, CRCC, CNGC, CMG.

China’s New Lenders Collect Invasive Data and Offer Billions. Beijing Is Worried. (December 25, 2017, The New York Times)
Mr. Bai, a 30-year-old Beijing deliveryman, has borrowed heavily from China’s growing ranks of online cash lenders. In a country that lacks reliable ways to tell who might be a good borrower, these lenders use artificial intelligence and oddly personal data — like tracking how fast prospective borrowers type on their phones — to determine who will pay them back.


The Changing Academic Tastes of China’s Young, Wealthy Students (December 26, 2017, Sixth Tone)
For those who are wealthy enough and academically capable, colleges beckon in the United States or other Western countries. And more and more of today’s youngsters are choosing majors that buck the historical trend of Chinese college students abroad.

Health / Environment

Could AI Be the Cure for China’s Medical Crisis? (December 26, 2017, Sixth Tone)
IBM’s Watson is among a number of AI systems in China aimed at reducing doctors’ workloads and improving the quality of medical treatment. In total, there are over 100 medical AI companies in the country, all united by a single belief: AI will drastically change China’s health care system.

Science / Technology

China closes more than 13,000 websites in past three years (December 24, 2017, Reuters)
China has closed more than 13,000 websites since the beginning of 2015 for breaking the law or other rules and the vast majority of people support government efforts to clean up cyberspace, state news agency Xinhua said on Sunday.

WeChat's Christmas Hat Craze Shows the Success of WeChat Mini Apps (December 26, 2017, The Beijinger)
If you’re surrounded by excited WeChat friends sending out greetings chances are that you might already be sporting a Santa Clause hat on your WeChat profile photo. Behind the Santa hat craze on WeChat lies the success of WeChat mini apps and HTML5 pages.

WeChat poised to become China’s official electronic ID system (December 26, 2017, South China Morning Post)
WeChat, the popular mobile application from Tencent Holdings, is set to become more indispensable in the daily lives of many Chinese consumers under a project that turns it into an official electronic personal identification system.

History / Culture

Fading Notes: The Slow Demise of Yunnan’s Epic Songs (December 22, 2017, Sixth Tone)
There are only a handful of people left who can sing the creation myths of the Yi people, one of China’s 55 official ethnic minorities, from start to finish. The myths form the centerpiece of meige, a style of sung storytelling that has been passed down among Yunnan province’s Yi communities for centuries.

Travel / Food

Transiting in Beijing? You can now stay visa-free for six days (December 27, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Visitors from 53 nations who stop in China while in transit to a third country will be able to stay for up to six days in the capital, Tianjin and Hebei province.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Beijing Builds Its Influence in the American Media (December 21, 2017, Foreign Policy)
The American daily serves up mostly Beijing-friendly news to more than 100,000 Chinese readers in at least 15 major cities in the United States, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Houston, Boston, and Washington.

9 Chinese Films of 2017 You Need to Know About (December 23, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
From patriotic to banned – these are the Chinese releases that moviegoers have been talking about this year.

Living Cross-culturally

A Better and Broader Understanding of China (December 22, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
When my wife and I adopted a baby girl from China in 1996, we had virtually no knowledge about China. We didn’t know a single Chinese person. The adoption agency that helped us strongly suggested that we learn as much as possible about China and its people and culture.

5 Challenges Every China Expat Faces (and How to Beat Them) (December 23, 2017, Adventures Around Asia)
Having lived in China for over a decade, I’ve seen some expats thrive and other expats crash and burn. What’s the difference? Sometimes it has to do with temperament and the ability to withstand culture shock. More often than not, though, it’s the stressors of the challenges that they weren’t expecting to face. I’d like to offer 5 of the most common challenges I see expats face in China and provide ideas on how to overcome the challenge.

A China Christmas Story: Christmas In Xinjiang (December 27, 2017, Sup China)
And yet, we try. My wife and I have set up a fake tree with lights in the living room of our apartment, with stockings on the wall by the door. We put presents under the tree for our boys and set up a nativity scene on the table. But these decorations are just that: decorative. In my family, Christmas represents something deeper: It is a traditional celebration of community.


HKFP Interview: Author Gordon Mathews on multiculturalism and ethnic stereotypes in Guangzhou (December 25, 2017, Hong Kong Free Press)
Mathews has just published The World in Guangzhou: Africans and Other Foreigners in South China’s Global Marketplace, co-written with Linessa Dan Lin and Yang Yang. The new title examines traders from Africa and beyond who arrive in Guangzhou to buy items to send back to their home countries.

Ma and Li, “Surviving the State” (December 26, 2017, Law and Religion Forum)
Relying mainly on an oral history method for data collection, the authors allow the narratives of Chinese Christians to speak for themselves. Identifying the formative cultural elements, a sociohistorical analysis also helps to lay out a coherent understanding of the complexity of religious experiences for Christians in the Chinese world.

Links for Researchers

Review of Religion and Chinese Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2017 (Brill Online)


Free Chinese e-book: “What is a Healthy Church?”  by Mark Dever (9 Marks)

INFOGRAPHIC: How Cultures Clash (B/W version) (HonorShame)
Since many people use it as a teaching resource, I developed this black/white version that is easier to print and distribute. (You may share freely, no permission required)

Image credit: Flight to Kunming, by Alexander Savin, 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