ZGBriefs | December 30, 2021

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Overseas organizations, individuals not allowed to operate online religious info services within the Chinese territory: regulations (December 21, 2021, The Global Times)
The measures stipulated that online preaching should be organized and carried out by religious groups, temples and churches and religious colleges that have obtained the Internet Religious Information Service Permit. With the Permit, they could preach religious doctrines online that are conducive to social harmony and civilization, and guide religious people to be patriotic to the country and abide by the law, only via their own specialized internet websites, applications or forums that are approved by law. Participants shall register using their real names.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

US and Japan draw up joint military plan in case of Taiwan emergency – report (December 23, 2021, The Guardian)
Under the plan, the US marine corps would set up temporary bases on the Nansei island chain stretching from Kyushu – one of the four main islands of Japan – to Taiwan at the initial stage of a Taiwan emergency and would deploy troops, Kyodo said on Thursday, citing unnamed Japanese government sources.

Three Questions for China’s Neighbors (December 28, 2021, China File)
China remains the top trading partner throughout much of Asia, but many individual Asian states seek to counterbalance China’s influence with stronger relations with the United States and, in some cases, with other regional powers. Some strive for a balance, and don’t want to be forced to choose one side or another.

Denise Ho: the Cantopop star and pro-democracy activist arrested in Hong Kong (December 29, 2021, The Guardian)
The arrest of Cantopop star Denise Ho in a raid on reporters and prominent figures linked to the Hong Kong media outlet StandNews has shocked her many fans in the city and around the world. The artist, who is also a Canadian citizen, was taken from her home in Hong Kong on Wednesday for allegedly conspiring with five others to publish seditious materials in her role as a former director of the independent news provider.

What can we expect from Xinjiang’s new Party boss Ma Xingrui? (December 29, 2021, Sup China)
As global pressure on Beijing mounts because of its repressive policies in Xinjiang, the Communist Party has brought in a new man to lead the region.

And Then There Were Five (December 29, 2021, China Media Project)
For the past five years the “Four Confidences” formula affirming the strengths of CCP rule has been firmly in place, finally added to the Party Charter in 2017. But eh so-called “confidence doctrine” now looks to be upgraded with a fifth addition – “historical confidence.” 

Even in secret, China’s leaders speak in code (January 1, 2022 edition, The Economist) (subscription required)
China has published many volumes of excerpts from his speeches. Only recently, however, has a rare leak of secret versions offered a glimpse of how Mr. Xi communicates behind the scenes at a time of crisis, and how the bureaucracy responds.


New Media, New Direction (December 27, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
In doing these things, I believe we are equipped to provide believers in China—as well as the Chinese church globally—with quality resources that are relevant, challenging, and forward-looking in the midst of this challenging moment.

Following the Footprints of Early Missionaries to Yunnan (2) (December 28, 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 still speaks to us today. Society / Life

WATCH: Here’s How People in China Celebrate Christmas (December 23, 2021, Radii China)
The short video (embedded below) explores China’s relationship with Christmas from multiple angles, tackling the government’s crackdown on the holiday, Christmas consumerism in the country, and even introducing ‘the real Santa’s workshop,’ Yiwu city, where most of the world’s Christmas decorations are produced. 

Do Chinese really not celebrate Christmas? (December 24, 2021, Dao Insights)
This year, the message is unchanged, with another reason to say no to Christmas, Covid 19. But the western tradition has survived in China regardless, and even still seems to be a popular festival observed by, understandably, China’s young people.

Forgotten Lives in a Leprosy Colony (December 26, 2021, The World of Chinese)
You may have heard of leprosy, an infectious disease that has almost vanished in today’s society. It once afflicted countless people, leading to varying degrees of disability. Due to its infectiousness, China once constructed many villages specifically to isolate patients of leprosy.

Without Apps or Algorithms, a Rural Matchmaker Thrives (December 26, 2021, Sixth Tone)
A rare male matchmaker in rural Shaanxi for almost 20 years, Zhang Guoqing reminisces on three couples he brought together.

As Xi’an Goes Hungry, Propagandists Praise “Noodles Helping Noodles” (December 28, 2021, China Digital Times)
In response to the crisis, the Wuhan Catering Association loaded three trucks with 300,000 masks and 12,800 portions of hot and dry noodles, a local delicacy, and sent them to Xi’an. They hung a banner from one of the trucks that proclaimed: “Hot and Dry Noodles Fight for Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles,” the latter a Xi’an staple.

This Photographer Captures the Essence of China’s Wandering Youth (December 29, 2021, Radii China)
In March of 2020, the 28-year-old photographer moved to the city of Hangzhou to escape his anxieties and develop his career. There, he decided to launch a personal photo project titled “New Comer,” an exploration of the emotional void among young people like himself who have moved away from home and relocated to different cities — “to see their faces as well as examine my own deep self-doubt.”

2021: The year in censored terms on the Chinese internet (December 29, 2021, Sup China)
Below is a list that we’ve curated: terms (and apps and websites) that were censored on the Chinese internet, presented chronologically.

With 53km of New Track, Beijing Subway Continues Expansion (December 29, 2021, The Beijinger)
Beijing’s epic subway system added 53 kilometers of new track in 2021, raising the total track length to 780 km, meaning the capital retains its title of second longest subway system in the world – second only to Shanghai.

Photos: Harbin Ice and Snow World (December 29, 2021, USA Today)

China’s Reform Generation Adapts to Life in the Middle Class (December 29, The New Yorker)
My students from the nineteen-nineties grew up in rural poverty. Now they’re in their forties, and their country is unrecognizable.

Economics / Trade / Business

Intel apologises to China over Xinjiang products and labour directive (December 23, 2021, The Guardian)
Intel, which derives more than a quarter of its $80bn (£60bn) in annual revenues from the Chinese market, apologised to the people of China and its local partners on Thursday for telling suppliers to avoid the region in accordance with restrictions imposed by “multiple governments”.

Deng Xiaoping and the Communist Party Don’t Deserve Credit for Chinese Economic Power (December 26, 2021, Reason)
Ordinary people, not Deng, began the reform of China’s economy. Real change arose organically from below; it was not, contra CCP myth, the result of Deng’s genius.

From economic miracle to mirage – will China’s GDP ever overtake the US? (December 28, 2021, The Guardian)
China’s economy may fail to overtake the US as it succumbs to the proverbial middle-income trap. This is where the relative development progress of countries in relation to richer nations stalls, and is normally characterised by difficult economic adjustment and often by unpredictable political consequences. 


What is the Future of China’s Vocational School Drive? (December 28, 2021, The Diplomat)
China’s technical schools cannot fulfill the government’s target of training a skilled workforce without much-needed reform.

Health / Environment

Xi’an Tries to Contain Surging COVID-19 Cases and Swelling Rumors (December 29, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The capital of Shaanxi province has logged nearly 1,000 confirmed local cases since the first infection was detected on Dec. 9, of which 631 were reported between Saturday and Tuesday, according to the provincial health commission. The outbreak has resulted in China’s highest COVID-19 cases since the country largely stamped out the virus in early 2020 and vowed a “zero-COVID” policy.

Public shaming returns amid Covid fears (December 29, 2021, BBC)
Police in southern China have been captured on camera parading four alleged offenders through the streets in a public shaming exercise. The four men were accused of smuggling people across China’s borders, which are largely sealed because of Covid. They were paraded through the streets of Jingxi city in Guangxi province in hazmat suits. 

The shaming drew mixed reactions online, including in state-owned media.

Science / Technology

Elon Musk criticised after China space complaint to UN (December 28, 2021, BBC)
Elon Musk is facing a social media backlash after China complained that its space station was forced to avoid collisions with satellites launched by his Starlink Internet Services project. The country’s space station had two “close encounters” with Starlink satellites this year, Beijing claimed. The incidents behind the complaints, lodged with the UN’s space agency, have not yet been independently verified.

2 taikonauts complete 2nd spacewalk mission (December 28, 2021, Shanghai Daily)
TAIKONAUTS Zhai Zhigang and Ye Guangfu have completed their extravehicular activities and returned to the space station core module Tianhe, the China Manned Space Agency said yesterday. This was the fourth time that the taikonauts conducted EVAs during the construction of the country’s space station and the second by the Shenzhou-13 crew. The CMSA has declared the EVAs an unqualified success.

History / Culture

Traffic Laws in Ancient China (December 23, 2021, The World of Chinese)
According to the Rites of Zhou (《周礼》), a work on Zhou dynasty politics and culture, scholars of that time were required to learn charioteering as one of “six arts” which formed the basis of an education for a Confucian junzi (君子, noble man), along with rites, music, archery, calligraphy, and mathematics.

Why Long Fingernails Were All the Rage in Ancient China? (December 29, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Both men and women from the upper classes, especially literati, grew their nails long as a symbol of wealth: Long nails indicated that their owners did not have to do manual labor.

Travel / Food

The birth of China’s most famous beer (December 22, 2021, Sup China)
That first beer was similar to what the brewery makes now: a pilsner (pale lager), though other breweries in the city produced hefeweizen and dark lagers. From that time until now, beer has been an important component of the city’s identity. Needless to say, there is not a straight line from 1903 to today.

Life at North Pole, China (December 24, 2021, The World of Chinese)
Those looking at a tourism map of Heilongjiang province for the first time might be forgiven for thinking that Santa Claus has relocated to China. At “North Pole” or Beiji town (北极镇), formerly known as the township of Mohe (漠河) in the county and city of the same name, residents have developed a tourist economy based on their location in the extreme northeast of China.

Delta turned flight around mid-air, saying China’s new Covid cleaning rules are unworkable (December 28, 2021, CNN)
A Delta Air Lines flight originating in Seattle and heading to Shanghai last week turned around midair because of a change in cleaning rules at the China airport, the airline said. If it had landed in Shanghai, Delta said the new rules would have caused substantial delays. “The new cleaning procedures require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta,” a spokesperson said of the December 21 flight. Details of the new cleaning rules remain unclear.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

As Olympics Near, China Tightens Rules and Athletes Invent Their Own (December 23, 2021, The New York Times) (subscription required)
With the Omicron variant spreading only weeks before the Beijing Games, Olympians and organizers are navigating a stretch run marked by isolation, inoculation and worry.

Living Cross-culturally

Remember and Hope this Christmas (December 24, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
I remember what life was like before the pandemic when we could easily travel in and out of the country. I remember the joy it was to celebrate Christmas with people who had never known a reason to celebrate before. I remember the friends whom we loved celebrating with and the traditions our family made in our small apartment. I also look forward with hope. I hope to one day soon be back with those friends and revive those traditions. I hope to celebrate Christmas again with people who have never done so before. And I hope that viruses will cease, and borders reopen so that travel once again can resume.


You Heard My Prayer: A Bi-lingual Story in English and Mandarin (Theotots.com)
The story begins with a pregnant mom praying Scripture over the life of her child. Without giving too much of the story away, let me just say that one highlight is when Dad leads the son to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Links for Researchers

A Collection of NYRB articles written by Jonathan Spence (China File)

Social organizations hit by new regulations (December 29, 2021, China Development Brief)

The 2022 Red Paper (Sup China)
We all read the headlines, but what really happened in China in 2021? And what’s on deck for 2022? This is our annual guide to the China issues we all need to know about.

Pray for China

December 1
On Dec. 1, 1875, Li Shuqing (李叔青医生) was born in what is now Shanghai’s Nanhui District. Although his father was a pastor and Li made a profession of faith at age 13, he did not truly commit his life to Christ until he was a student at the Beiyang Medical College in Tianjin. After graduation, he taught English at the Anglo-Chinese College in Shanghai. Until his untimely death at age 33, Li tirelessly proclaimed the gospel to students and became a well-known itinerant revivalist. Pray for the Father to be glorified by the children of pastors and elders who come to faith and live for Him. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

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Image credit: Sigmund, via Unsplash
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