ZGBriefs | December 8, 2022

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Featured Article

China abandons key parts of zero-Covid strategy after protests (December 7, 2022, BBC)
China is lifting its most severe Covid policies – including forcing people into quarantine camps – just a week after landmark protests against the strict controls. People with Covid can now isolate at home rather than in state facilities if they have mild or no symptoms. They also no longer need to show tests for most venues, and can travel more freely inside the country. Citizens have expressed relief but also concern about the sudden changes.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Jiang Zemin, 1926-2022 (December 2, 2022, China File)
We asked ChinaFile contributors for their thoughts on Jiang’s legacy, and on the significance of official and unofficial remembrance.

Jiang Zemin: China says goodbye to former leader (December 6, 2022, BBC)
China has bid its farewell to former leader Jiang Zemin in a state memorial service in Beijing. Jiang, who took power after the 1989 crackdown of the Tiananmen Square protests, will be remembered for leading the country through a decade of burgeoning economic growth and prosperity. He oversaw notable events like China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, and the handover of Hong Kong from the British to the Chinese.

Perspective: Jiang Zemin’s passing marks the end of an era for China (December 6, 2022, NPR)
The passing of Jiang has both Chinese and foreigners who lived in China in the 1990s pondering how much the country has changed in the intervening quarter century. Despite the smog and the chaotic crowds, I loved living in Beijing back then. Jiang was no political reformer, but China was a dynamic, optimistic country where many things seemed possible and there was at least some space for free expression.

China’s Information Problems Are Only Getting Worse (December 7, 2022, The Diplomat)
Xi’s insistence on personal loyalty risks a climate of sycophancy and rigid unanimity in the ranks of China’s top leaders.


Big Church or Small Church? Pastor Calls for Better Appreciation of Micro Church (November 28, 2022, China Christian Daily)
Is a big or small church better? It has always been a hot debate. Now, in the post-pandemic era, Pastor W intends to transform and abandon the argument between big churches and small churches, while focusing on the micro church. He also mentions that the one-room church model, which is currently emerging in Europe, America, and other parts of the world, is a manifestation of the global micro church movement.

Beijing Churches Launch Android App to Live Stream Sunday Services (December 7, 2022, China Christian Daily)
Beijing launched an application for Christians to directly get access to live-streaming church services and Christian resources. According to the requirements of the newly released China’s religious information law, Beijing CC&TSPM launched the ‘Beijing Church’ APP successfully after the review, in which believers can view Sunday services live stream and pastoral information of various churches in Beijing.

Society / Life

Podcast: The anti-COVID lockdown protests: The view from Beijing (December 1, 2022, The China Project’s Sinica Podcast)
In a special bonus episode this week, David Moser and Jeremiah Jenne, co-hosts of the Barbarians at the Gate podcast, offer an on-the-ground account of what happened at the protests in major Chinese cities over the weekend, and what it all means.

After 3 Years of COVID, China’s Gen-Z Are Mourning Their Lost Future (December 6, 2022, Sixth Tone)
For young Chinese, the pandemic hasn’t just brought years of lockdowns; it has fundamentally altered their expectations for the future — and their understanding of their place in society.

China’s Restive Middle Class Will Be Xi’s Greatest Test Yet (December 6, 2022, Foreign Policy) (subscription required)
Middle-class people, it turns out, have limited patience for things like intrusive social monitoring and censorship of personal expression.

The Twitter User Taking on the Chinese Government (December 6, 2022, The Nation)
“Teacher Li” has become a one-person news outlet and a crucial source of information about the protests in China for those both inside and outside the Great Firewall.

China and Covid19: The End to Zero Covid: China’s New 10 Covid Rules Are Here (December 7, 2022, What’s on Weibo)
Now, central authorities have announced more measures that basically end the ‘zero Covid’ policy as we knew it. The ‘ten new rules’ became top trending on Weibo.

Economics / Trade / Business

U.S. manufacturing orders from China down 40% in unrelenting demand collapse (December 4, 2022, CNBC)
“The unrelenting decline in container freight rates from Asia, caused by a collapse in demand, is compelling ocean carriers to blank more sailings than ever before as vessel utilization hits new lows,” said Joe Monaghan, CEO of Worldwide Logistics Group.


Why China’s Rural Students Can’t Go Home (December 7, 2022, Sixth Tone)
For so many rural children, myself included, education is a race. Our families spend fortunes they don’t have to keep us in the lead, but at each stage, whether elementary school, middle school, or high school, more runners drop out or are pushed to the back of the pack.

Health / Environment

China’s COVID Testing Complex Complains of Paper Profits and Real Losses (December 6, 2022, Sixth Tone)
Four years into the pandemic, how are China’s COVID testing companies faring? As many companies have released their interim reports for 2022, The Paper’s data team looked into their finances and had three key findings.

China Needs Better COVID-19 Vaccines (December 7, 2022, Slate)
The country rolled out the first inhalable COVID vaccine recently. It’s cool, but it’s not enough.

Science / Technology

China’s Shenzhou 14 astronauts begin recovery on Earth after 6-month mission (video) (December 7, 2022, Space)
Three astronauts who helped finish the construction of China’s space station are back in Beijing to start the recovery process after spending half a year in orbit. Astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe landed in their Shenzhou spacecraft return capsule at Dongfeng in the Gobi Desert in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Sunday (Dec. 4), just hours after leaving the Tiangong space station. 

History / Culture

A cross-cultural dive into Hani traditions in Yunnan (December 1, 2022, The China Project)
There are at least 25 ethnic minority groups in Yunnan Province, including 16 that are indigenous to the region. One of those is the Hani, whose people — as our author learns in her trek through a traditional village — are constantly striving to balance traditions with modern living.

The River That Birthed an Empire: How the Han River Shaped Ancient and Modern China (December 2, 2022, Sixth Tone)
The Han River inspired the rise of the Han Dynasty and Taoism in the past, and keeps northern China hydrated today.

We Built This City: A Look at Four Beijing City Planners From Empire to Modern Capital (December 3, 2022, The Beijinger)
The list of people who played a role in building Beijing could fill volumes, never mind the countless people whose labor was essential to the city’s evolution but whose names sadly have gone unrecorded. Here are just a few of the people whose legacy lives on in the streets, structures, and the cityscape of Modern Beijing.

Travel / Food

Four Winter Snacks That Beijingers Can’t Live Without (December 1, 2022, The Beijinger)
When colder weather hits the capitals, Beijingers love to spend long winter days filling up their bellies with a plateful of winter snacks. These snacks not only satisfy every craving the stomach ever has, but also evoke childhood memories of enjoying them.

Language / Language Learning

Chinese vocabulary challenge, December 2022 (December 6, 2022, Hacking Chinese)
This month’s challenge is about learning vocabulary, which includes Chinese characters, words and expressions. Without words, you can’t do anything in a language. It doesn’t matter how good your grammar or pronunciation is if you don’t know the words.

Living Cross-culturally

Fragmentation (December 2, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
Isn’t it strange? Those who are supposed to be the closest to you haven’t the slightest inkling of what it’s like to live in your shoes. They’re friendly enough. They mean well. But below the surface, they simply can’t understand why you’re still single, still transient, and still working for peanuts for an overseas employer who can’t get their act together enough to send you a visa. “When is he finally going to grow up?! Hasn’t he gotten this ‘China bug’ out of his system?”


Talking about Souls of China: January Book Club (December 7, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
In 2023, we will be teaming up with our friends at ERRChina/CAC to host a series of online book clubs. While many of us long to be in China, we can continue being life-long learners of the land and people that God has put on our hearts. The first book that we will read and discuss is The Souls of China: The Revival of Religion after Mao, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ian Johnson.

Links for Researchers

China Leadership Monitor, Winter 2022 

Pray for China

December 12 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Dec. 12, 1948, Mei Yiqi (梅贻琦先生) resigned after 17 years of service as a university president, first at Tsinghua University and then, during World War II, at National Southwest Associated University. Mei was born in Tianjin and studied there under renowned Christian educator Zhang Boling (张伯苓先生). He earned an engineering degree in the U.S. on a Boxer Indemnity Scholarship. (This program was started in 1906 when long-time China missionary Arthur Smith (明恩溥) helped persuade Pres. Theodore Roosevelt use China’s indemnity payments for the education of Chinese students.) Mei became a Christian while studying in the U.S. and worked for a year with the YMCA in Tianjin after returning to China. Mei left China again in 1948 and spent several years in the U.S. He then moved to Taiwan to become the president of National Tsinghua University, and lived there until his death in 1962. Pray for staff and students at the Tsinghua campuses in Beijing and Taiwan to become mature followers of the Lord. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
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