ZGBriefs | December 3, 2015

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Featured Article

Amid Smog Wave, an Artist Molds a Potent Symbol of Beijing’s Pollution (December 1, 2015, The New York Times)
For 100 days, Brother Nut dragged a roaring, industrial-strength vacuum cleaner around the Chinese capital’s landmarks, sucking up dust from the atmosphere. He has mixed the accumulated gray gunk with red clay to create a small but potent symbol of the city’s air problems.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s President Praises Hu Yaobang, a Fallen Party Reformer (November 20, 2015, Sinosphere)
China’s staunchly traditionalist Communist leader, Xi Jinping, paid tribute on Friday to a predecessor, Hu Yaobang, who was in many ways his opposite in temperament and politics.

HK 'umbrella soldiers' win seats in district council vote (November 23, 2015, BBC)
Candidates from Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement have won seats in district elections – the first vote since the 2014 "umbrella" protests. At least seven "umbrella soldier" candidates won seats, but the balance of power was unchanged with pro-Beijing candidates retaining their majority.

As More Chinese Fall Victim to Terrorism, Beijing Fumbles for a Response (November 26, 2015, TIME)
China usually hews to a foreign policy of nonintervention in other countries’ affairs. Terrorism could change that.

Chinese Journalist Gao Yu’s Sentence Cut in State Secrets Case (November 26, 2015, China Real Time)
A Chinese appeals court reduced the prison sentence for an elderly journalist accused of leaking a Communist Party document to foreign media, in a case that has drawn international condemnation.

Xi Jinping Announces Overhaul of China’s Military Forces (November 26, 2015, The New York Times)
President Xi Jinping of China has announced a major reorganization of the nation’s military, state-backed news media reported on Thursday, laying out plans to create new command systems intended to integrate and rebalance land, air and sea forces into a more nimble People’s Liberation Army.

We’re not having this discussion (November 26, 2015, China Media Project)
The term, “improper discussion of [the policies] of the central Party,” or wangyi zhongyang (妄议中央), kicked up a storm online after being included in the Party’s new Disciplinary Regulations, released on October 21.

China to Build Naval Hub in Djibouti (November 27, 2015, China Real Time)
China plans to build its first overseas naval installation in the East African nation of Djibouti, expanding the geographical reach of its armed forces as Beijing seeks to protect its growing economic and security interests around the globe.

China democracy activist Guo Feixiong jailed for six years in Xi crackdown (November 27, 2015, The Guardian)
Guo and fellow protester Sun Desheng were imprisoned for their part in an anti-censorship protest outside a newspaper office in Guangzhou.

For Chinese leader Xi Jinping, it's all about the Communist Party (+video) (November 30, 2015, Christian Science Monitor)
For three years President Xi's priority has been to restore the heart and soul of China's ruling party. Is that goal now causing harm to its economy? 

More Comments on the Charity Law Draft (November 30, 2015, NGO’s in China)
In my earlier post, I noted that the Charity Law draft, on the whole, provides a positive, enabling environment for charitable organizations.  The Overseas NGO Management Law draft, in comparison, looks stifling and draconian.

China’s Criminal Law Once Again Used as Political Tool (December 1, 2015, China Real Time)
Once again, the absurdly broad crime of “picking quarrels” has been linked with “gathering crowds to disrupt order in public places,” resulting in the conviction of a rights activist. In another case, a well-known lawyer and human rights activist is awaiting trial on the charge of “picking quarrels.”

China Calls Hacking of U.S. Workers’ Data a Crime, Not a State Act (December 2, 2015, The New York Times)
China has acknowledged for the first time that the breach of the United States Office of Personnel Management’s computer systems, which the Obama administration said exposed the personal information of more than 21.5 million people, was the work of Chinese hackers. But China insisted that the breach was the result of criminal activity, not a state-sponsored cyberattack.


Senior Care in China: Will the Church Step Up? (November 25, 2015, From the West Courtyard)
This challenge for Chinese society presents an opportunity for Chinese Christians to demonstrate God’s love. There is a growing need for Chinese Christians to serve as caregivers for seniors.

Conversation between a Taxi Driver and a Pastor (December 1, 2015, Chinese Church Voices)
A taxi driver was driving a pastor when he suddenly realized that, even though he'd heard over and over about the "gospel of the savior Jesus" in the past several decades, he still did not understand what it was all about. It just so happened he had a pastor at his side. So, he decided today was the day he would get to the bottom of the matter.

The Last Dalai Lama? (December 1, 2015, The New York Times)
At 80, Tenzin Gyatso is still an international icon, but the future of his office — and of the Tibetan people — has never been more in doubt.

3 Questions: Mentoring Chinese Leaders (December 2, 2015, From the West Courtyard)
Here Rod shares some lessons he has learned as he has engaged in mentoring leaders.

Society / Life

The Launch of Tsinghua University’s Institute for Philanthropy (November 22, 2015, NGO’s in China)
For those steeped in the history of NGO studies in China, the opening of the Institute is an important event because of the place Tsinghua occupies in NGO studies. Tsinghua established one of the earliest NGO Research Centers back in the late 1990s.

Rise of solo living in China: 58 million one-person households (November 23, 2015, Xinhua)
A report by China National Radio has focused on the country's skyrocketing number of people living alone, highlighting more than 58 million one-person households. According to census results, one-person households accounted for more than 14 percent of all households in 2013. One out of four households in Shanghai and one out of five in Beijing had a single dweller.

Chinese media fights social exclusion of those born outside one-child policy (November 25, 2015, The Guardian)
China Daily says children are innocent of any wrongdoing and ‘should be granted the legal status that would enable them to access social resources’.

Seeing Trees for the First Time (November 27, 2015, From the West Courtyard)
It was not the first time someone told me that I am the first Westerner to visit a place. Such realizations always humble me.

Video: Tibetans Fight to Salvage Fading Culture in China (November 28, 2015, The New York Times)
The shift away from teaching Tibetan has been especially contentious. It is most noticeable outside central Tibet, in places like Yushu, about 420 miles northeast of Lhasa, in Qinghai Province.

China’s pension problems will not be solved by more children (November 29, 2015, Brookings)
However, the new two-child policy is not likely to have a big impact on the worker-retiree ratio, so China’s retirement system will remain under stress. To sustain social security, China needs to implement other reforms — moving from a local to a national system and expanding the permissible investments for Chinese pensions.

Sending Winter Clothes on Single’s Day (December 1, 2015, Outside-In)
During my time in China last month, two “holidays’ coincided, one that represents old China and one that represents new China.

China Road Rage Cases Top 17 Million So Far in 2015 (December 2, 2015, China Real Time)
Road rage – a term that originated in the U.S. in the late 1980s to describe often-violent anger behind the wheel – is now becoming a serious problem in China, the world’s most populous country and the No. 1 car market.

Economics / Trade / Business

Aging China gives rise to new business opportunities (November 21, 2015, China Daily)
China's fast growing aging population has prompted fresh business chances concerning old-age financial services, health care, housing and cultural industries, an official said on Saturday. Wu Yushao, deputy head of the office of the China National Committee on Aging, said at a forum in Beijing that there were 212 million people over 60 years old in China, about one third are 60-65.

China's Shanghai Composite drops more than 5% (November 27, 2015, BBC)
China's main share index closed down by more than 5% after several major brokerage firms announced they were under investigation.

‘White Gloves,’ ‘VIP Boxes:’ How It’s Done at China’s Underground Banks (November 27, 2015, China Real Time)
Since Beijing in April declared war on these illicit money-handlers, the official Xinhua News Agency has begun to showcase intriguing underground-banking cases rife with terminology relatively new to the Chinese financial world, like “audit hedge,” “white glove” and “VIP box.”

Chinese Yuan Added to World’s Leading Currencies (November 30, 2015, TIME)
The IMF announced that the yuan “met all existing criteria” to be included with the U.S. dollar, euro, Japanese yen and the British pound as one of the currencies used for the global organization’s Special Drawing Rights, which is used as the standard for dealing with its 188 member governments.

China factory indicator at three-year low (November 30, 2015, The Guardian)
Purchase Managers’ Index dips to 49.6, pointing to a manufacturing slowdown and prompting predictions of a further easing of monetary policy by Beijing.


China punishes university chiefs for driving 'fancy cars' and partying (November 25, 2015, The Guardian)
Three Beijing academics accused of ‘hedonism’ and breaching party discipline to become latest victims of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive.

The Changing Face of America’s Chinese Schools (November 30, 2015, The Atlantlic)
Non-Asian students are increasingly spending their Saturdays immersed in China’s language and culture.

Health / Environment

How China Can Prevent the Apocalypse (November 23, 2015, Bloomberg)
Last week scientists announced they’d discovered a gene spreading among bacteria in China that renders them resistant to some of the world’s most powerful, “last resort” antibiotics. If such invulnerable bugs spread, doctors may soon lack the tools needed to combat infections, whether contracted through chemotherapy, surgery or even simple cuts. Indeed, the post-antibiotic “apocalypse,” as this scenario has been known for a decade, may already be upon us: There’s evidence that the resistant genes have made their way to Laos and Malaysia.

Rise in H.I.V. Among China’s Youth Draws Attention for World AIDS Day (November 30, 2015, The New York Times)
As China prepares to observe World AIDS Day on Tuesday, health officials and researchers are raising alarms over an increase in new infections among high school and college students.

China to Have Over 800,000 Lung Cancer Patients a Year by 2020, State Media Says (December 1, 2015, TIME)
China will likely see an increase in the prevalence of lung cancer among its population over the next five years, the state-run China Daily reports. Medical experts told the paper that over 800,000 annual diagnoses and 700,000 annual deaths can be expected by 2020.

Smog chokes cities in China – video (December 1, 2015, The Guardian)
Factories in Beijing have been ordered to shut and children allowed to stay away from school as choking smog exceeds safe levels..

50 Shades of Gray: Instagram's Most Depressing Photos of the Airpocalypse (December 1, 2015, The Beijinger Blog)

China says it will cut power sector emissions 60% by 2020 (December 2, 2015, The Guardian)
As Paris climate talks enter negotiation phase and smog blankets Beijing, China says it will cut CO2 emissions from coal power by 180m tonnes by 2020.

History / Culture

Red Guards attack St. Nicholas Church in Harbin on August 23, 1966 (November 23, 2015, Everyday Life in Mao’s China)

Cultural Chop Suey (November 30, 2015, From the West Courtyard)
I once heard someone say that “Mao set out to destroy Confucianism and succeeded; Deng set out to destroy Maoism; and succeeded. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to replace it with anything.”

A collection: Little Red Guards of 1966 (December 2, 2015, Everyday Life in Mao’s China)

Arts / Entertainment / Media

How long can Beijing's biggest artist colony survive? (November 27, 2015, The Guardian)
Politics and urban development are suffocating Songzhuang, China’s biggest artist colony – and now Beijing’s city government has decided to move in down the road.

The Last Reservoir of Glamour From China’s ‘Four Great Actresses’ (November 30, 2015, The New York Times)
Ms. Qin is the last surviving member of a group once known as the “four great actresses.” Their glamour onstage and on screen stirred audiences during the turmoil at the birth of modern China, nearly 70 years ago.

Travel / Food

Beijing's Winter Vegetables: Three Sweet Potato Recipes You Can Follow At Home (November 20, 2015, The Beijinger Blog)
Sweet potatoes are everywhere during Beijing in winter, and if you get sick of just eating them off the street vendors, why not get some and try a new recipe at home?

Video: Shanghai's American Chinese restaurant (November 23, 2015, BBC)
Egg foo yong, chicken chow mein and beef and broccoli – in many places, food like this would be a typical Chinese takeaway meal. But in China, most people have never heard of any of these western favourites, which have not been served in local restaurants before. One restaurant called Fortune Cookie is trying to change that. It's the first to serve American-style Chinese food in Shanghai.

China Is Now the Top Source of Foreign Tourists to Japan (December 2, 2015, China Real Time)
China has surpassed South Korea to become the largest source of foreign tourists to Japan, according to recent data from the Japan National Tourism Organization. About 4.3 million mainland Chinese tourists visited Japan from January to October this year, comprising about 25% of all tourists to Japan during that period, the agency said.

Happy Birthday, MacDonald’s (December 2, 2015, Outside-In)
MacDonald’s opened its first restaurant in China 25 years ago. To commemorate that event, they rolled out a new sandwich called the Power Recharger Burger: 2 all beef patties, topped with 2 hot dogs, slathered with mustard.

Language / Language Learning

How to learn to hear the tones in Mandarin (November 26, 2015, Hacking Chinese)
Some people are very good at hearing the differences between new speech sounds and quickly form categories resembling those of a native speaker. But what about the rest? Can your ability to hear sounds be systematically trained? If so, how? What factors influence our ability to establish new categories for speech sounds as adult learners?


Be A Better Dad Today: A Book Review (November 20, 2015, From the West Courtyard)
Absentee fathers now dot China’s landscape leaving family casualties in their wake. Many of the traditional values which once undergirded the family have been abandoned; China’s moral fabric has begun to unravel. In the face of these mounting difficulties, Be A Better Dad Today offers practical and proven solutions to fathers. 

Articles for Researchers

Master of Translation: Simon Leys’ Confucius (December 3, 2015, The China Story)
We continue our commemoration of a great mentor with this review-essay by John Minford of Simon Leys’ translation of The Analects of Confucius (Norton 1997).


ChinaFile Presents: The New Yorker on China (China File)
Join ChinaFile and five writers—Orville Schell, Peter Hessler, Evan Osnos, Zha Jianying, and Jiayang Fan—for a look back at their four decades of reporting on China for The New Yorker. Moderated by David Remnick, Editor of The New Yorker.
17 December 2015
6:30pm – 8:00pm
725 Park Avenue, New York, NY

Image credit: Joann Pittman, 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