ZGBriefs | December 28, 2023

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Featured Article

Has China Reached Peak Spice? (December 22, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Historically, outside of a few inland regions, Chinese food was mildly flavored, with more emphasis on highlighting an ingredient’s natural taste than overpowering it with the numbing spice of Sichuanese mala or its fierier Hunanese counterpart. It was only with the vast migration of the 1990s and 2000s that spicy dishes became widespread along the country’s coast.

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Building Bridges in 2024 (December 26, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Would you prayerfully consider making a financial gift to ChinaSource this year to help continue the momentum for kingdom advancement? We are raising US$255,900 by the end of December to fuel this work for the year ahead and still need to raise US$121,104. Thank you for your heart for God’s work in China and for the joy and privilege of partnering with you.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

What Does It Really Mean for Europe to ‘De-Risk’ Its Relationship with China? (December 21, 2023, China File)
Even as many EU member states broadly agree on the challenges posed by contemporary EU-China relations, their post-pandemic approaches to re-engaging with Beijing have taken very different forms. 

Xi vows to prevent anyone ‘splitting Taiwan from China’ (December 26, 2023, Reuters)
At a symposium commemorating the 130th anniversary of the birth of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who in 1949 defeated the Republic of China government in a civil war which then fled to Taiwan, Xi said “the complete reunification of the motherland is an irresistible trend”. “The motherland must be reunified, and inevitably will be reunified,” Xinhua cited Xi as telling senior officials from the Communist Party.

5 Predictions for China in 2024 (December 26, 2023, Foreign Policy)
From a small crisis with Taiwan to growing youth disillusionment, here’s what China likely faces next year.

Wives of Detained Chinese Dissidents Continue Advocacy from Abroad (December 26, 2023, VOA News)
Christmas hasn’t been an easy time for Luo Shengchun. Instead of celebrating the holiday season with family in China, the wife of prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi has spent the last four years advocating for her detained husband and other Chinese dissidents.

Chinese Spy Agency Rising to Challenge the C.I.A. (December 27, 2023, The New York Times) (subscription required)
The ambitious Ministry of State Security is deploying A.I. and other advanced technology to go toe-to-toe with the United States, even as the two nations try to pilfer each other’s scientific secrets.


Can I Still Get a Bible in China? (December 22, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
The reality is obtaining a Bible in China is more difficult now than it was several years ago. To assess the current situation, we will attempt to answer a few key questions.

China’s Christian groups told to ensure ‘strict’ oversight of religion as Communist Party controls tighten(December 24, 2023, South China Morning Post)
Call from top political adviser Wang Huning comes as China’s state-sanctioned Protestant groups meet to elect new leaders in twice a decade conference. Leaders should ‘adhere to the direction of sinicisation of Christianity’, core values of socialism and traditional Chinese culture, Wang says.

Christmas Bliss (December 25, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Every year at Christmas, Christians always prepare a lot of evangelistic programs with great fervor. As a pastor, I have preached numerous sermons urging people to embrace the birth of Jesus Christ and believe in him. For me, Christmas is an evangelistic festival, and it is always one of my busiest working days.

A Strategy Forged in Bethlehem (December 27, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Perhaps in the glow of Bethlehem’s star we can begin to see the sheer incongruity of the China narratives we had come to take for granted. The reliance on cultural or political influence, the ability to project power through financial resources, the desire to win, the need to make ourselves relevant—these belie our core identity as followers of Christ, “who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Society / Life

China’s Security Ministry Targets Major Source of Online Misinformation: Influencers (December 25, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Several controversies involving influencers spreading misinformation have grabbed headlines recently, including after the Gansu earthquake.

Christmas in China brings glittering decor and foreign influence concerns (December 25, 2023, Reuters)
Giant Christmas trees adorned with lights, tinsel and gift boxes greet shoppers at glittering malls in big Chinese cities like Shanghai and Chongqing, but in many parts of China, extending season’s greetings is out of the question. In southwest Yunnan province, a property management company issued a notice to shopping mall tenants urging them not to sell Christmas cards and presents and to even refrain from hanging decorations, saying foreign traditions should not be “blindly” followed, and one should be confident in one’s own culture.

The 21-year-old ‘retiree’ who left China’s rat race for life in the rural mountains (December 26, 2023, CNN)
Perched up against the edge of a cliff in China’s southwest Guizhou province is the bamboo shack 21-year-old “retiree” Liu Youwen built from scratch. Three years ago, Liu left his rural hometown Xiaxixiang, Guizhou, for the city of Shantou in Guangdong, China’s richest province, joining a decades-long nationwide migration of workers from the countryside that has fueled the country’s enormous growth and created some of the world’s largest megacities.

Economics / Trade / Business

Australia and China turn a new leaf in economic relations (December 23, 2023, East Asia Forum)
But as the end of 2023 approaches, the economic picture looks radically different, even if the military sketch has stayed familiar. Most of the trade barriers have been removed and the rhetoric has been toned down. The two sides have also resumed annual leader-level meetings. While the Albanese government has avoided explicit use of the term ‘reset’, other commentators have been happy to adopt this description.


Meet the Mature Chinese Students Ditching Deadend Jobs to Study Abroad (December 21, 2023, The World of Chinese)
Wang is just one example of a growing trend in recent years—an increasing number of middle-aged Chinese people are defying societal norms by pursuing further education overseas.

Health / Environment

Beijing shivers through coldest December on record (December 25, 2023, BBC)
The Chinese capital, Beijing, has experienced its coldest December since records began in 1951. Temperatures in the city have frequently fallen below -10C this month. It has been a year of extremes in the capital: six months ago, Beijing recorded its hottest ever June day, at just over 40C.

China’s Most Elderly Province Expands Subsidies for Graduate Elderly Care Workers (December 26, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Liaoning’s subsidy program for graduate elderly care workers is to also include those who studied degrees such as counseling and public relations.

How Shanghai Is Redefining Aging With In-Home Care (December 27, 2023, Sixth Tone)
To cater to its aging population, the city has launched a pilot program to deliver in-house care services for the elderly.

History / Culture

What a New History Museum Means for the Future of Chinese Architecture (December 21, 2023, The World of Chinese)
The winning design for an expansion to the Sanxingdui Museum shows that Chinese architecture doesn’t have to be all eaves and courtyards.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Year in Review: 2023 on the Screen (December 27, 2023, The World of Chinese)
From box office success to the rise of crime drama series, here is a roundup of big happenings in Chinese cinema and TV in 2023.

Pray for China

December 29 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Dec. 29, 1973, Wang Zhiming (王志明牧师), a Miao (Hmong) pastor, was executed in Wuding County, Yunnan, before a crowd of 10,000. Although Wang was little known outside his home area at the time of his execution, in 1998 he was memorialized with a statue above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey as one of ten 20th century Christian martyrs. Wang was born in 1907, the year after Christian missionaries began work in Wuding. The work among minority people—especially the Miao in Wuding—saw much fruit. By 1949, 130,000 Protestants, nearly 20% of the total for China, were found among Yunnan’s minorities. Wang was educated in Christian schools, taught in one for ten years, and then was ordained in 1951. Although Wang signed the Three Self Manifesto, he refused to participate in denunciation meetings of those he had baptized and was declared a counter-revolutionary. When he was arrested in 1969, there were 2,795 Christians in Wuding; now there are over 30,000 Christians and more than 100 places of worship. Wang’s last words included, “You should follow the words from above and repent.” Pray for Christians in Yunnan to stand in awe of God’s Word and not fear persecution. Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. Psalm 119:161

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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