ZGBriefs | February 2, 2017

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Featured Article

It's Lunar New Year, and China's Young People Are Sick and Tired of It (January 29, 2017, Global Voices)
However, the traveling trend has shifted slightly in recent years, as more and more people decide to travel abroad during the holiday, in order to avoid seeing relatives altogether. Among the younger generation in particular, many find the Near Year's greetings and conversation among extended family members about their marriage and income status to be annoying.

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Overseas NGO Law

The Origins of China’s New Law on Foreign NGOs (January 31, 2017, China File)
But another intent of the law is to require more transparency and accountability on the part of the implementing authorities, and the Ministry of Public Security in particular. By providing a detailed framework, procedures, and responsibilities for regulating foreign NGOs, the law seeks to limit the discretionary power of the Ministry of Public Security even while it expands its administrative authority and resources.

The “Why” Behind China’s New Overseas NGO Law (February 1, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Several aspects of President Xi Jinping’s “new normal” (新常态) have direct implications for faith-based organizations engaged in China:

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

At Hong Kong New Year Fair, Defiance Gives Way to Resignation (January 27, 2017, The New York Times)
“I feel so helpless that as a Hong Konger, as a citizen, I don’t even have a vote,” said Priscilla Pang, a 22-year-old student, frowning at a wheel of fortune featuring the faces of several potential candidates for the leader, or chief executive. Given a choice, she would pick none of them, she said. “We’re like chickens having food forced down their throats. There’s no use fighting.”

China's second aircraft carrier 'takes shape': media (January 31, 2017, Reuters)
China's second aircraft carrier is "taking shape" after two years and nine months of construction, local media reported, a move likely to further unnerve Taiwan and other neighbors about Beijing's growing military assertiveness. Construction of The Shandong, named after a province in China's east coast, began in 2014, the APP of Shandong television and radio said in a report seen on Tuesday.

China is Getting Ready for a US-China Trade War (February 1, 2017, China Law Blog)
Below I discuss how the Trump Administrations early trade actions may benefit China the most, instead of benefitting America “first.” I also discuss how China is not standing idly by, but rather is positioning itself to defend or retaliate against U.S. trade actions that target China.

No One Knows What Happened to a Chinese Billionaire Who Vanished in Hong Kong (February 1, 2017, TIME)
The uncertain fate of Xiao Jianhua, a China-born billionaire who was last seen at a luxury Hong Kong hotel a week ago, has raised fresh fears about the city's autonomy amid media reports he may have been abducted by Chinese agents.

China Steps up Opposition to US Missile Defense System (February 1, 2017, VOA)
China is stepping up its efforts to stop South Korea from deploying a U.S. missile defense system on its soil, turning up the pressure on the economic front, while warning of the impact on diplomatic relations if the system is put in place this year.The missile system and China’s objections are likely to be a hot topic this week during newly appointed U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ first trip to Asia.


Spring festival belongs to us: a house church pastor’s reflections (January 26, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
Brothers and sisters, does Spring Festival belong to them or does it belong to us? In the final analysis, it belongs to us. Among a Jesus-resistant people group, the highest ideal can only be fragmentation. If we do not eradicate the root problem, the country cannot be saved. If Spring Festival does not undergo a rebirth, it will become a great tragedy in Chinese culture.

Responding to the Smog (Part 2) (January 31, 2016, Chinese Church Voices)
Earlier this month we posted the first part of an article of reflections on pollution in China that was published in the journal Territory. The focus of the article is how Chinese Christians reflect on the recent waves of heavy pollution in north China. This week we post the rest of the reflections.

Society / Life

Shanghai Migrant Workers Told to Vacate ‘Urban Village’ (January 26, 2017, Sixth Tone)
“Urban villages” are once-rural communities that have been surrounded by urbanization. In recent years, many such villages in cities around China have been transformed into cheap housing for migrant workers, but municipal governments have been demolishing them at a steady pace to replace the ramshackle houses with more modern, and more valuable, buildings.

Chinese New Year: Inside the World’s Largest Trek (January 26, 2017, The New York Times)
In the days before the holiday, big cities, like Beijing, and the coastal industrial regions exhale tens of millions of workers who head back to their hometowns and villages by train, plane, bus, car and motorbike for this family holiday of marathon eating, fireworks and paying respects to relatives. This year, the festivities start on Friday evening, when the country says goodbye to the Year of the Monkey and welcomes the Year of the Rooster.

As Chinese New Year Approaches, Shanghai's Bustling Streets Grow Quieter (January 27, 2017, NPR)
"All the outsiders have left for home," says Yuan, leaning over to peer down the narrow lane. This is the time of year when hundreds of millions of Chinese workers return to their hometowns. Nearly half of Shanghai's 26 million people weren't born in Shanghai, and many of them have already left. "It's much quieter this time of year — less crazy," Yuan says.

Visitor mauled to death by tiger in Ningbo zoo in China (January 30, 2017, BBC)
A man has been mauled to death by a tiger after he entered its enclosure at a zoo in eastern China. The tiger was then shot dead by a special forces unit from the local police, in the Sunday incident at the Youngor Zoo in the city of Ningbo. The man was rushed to the nearest hospital where he was pronounced dead. He had climbed over the zoo's walls to avoid paying for a ticket, and landed in the tiger enclosure, local tourism authorities said in a statement.

Yunnan Village Turns ‘Grapes of God’ Into Big Bucks (January 31, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Decorated with Tibetan art and images of Jesus and Mary, the homes of villagers of Cizhong, in southwestern China’s Yunnan province, are distinctively different from others in the region. A small Catholic church stands in the center of the village, and along Cizhong’s main road, a sign mounted to the exterior wall of a house reads, in both Mandarin and English, “French-style wine available here.”

Navigating China’s Temporary Driving License (February 1, 2017, China Briefing)
Driving in China can be a difficult road to navigate as using a license issued by a foreign country is not legal in the country. In addition, the country does not either recognize international driving licenses or any other documentation that has been issued outside Chinese territory. It is therefore essential for foreigners living in China to get through the application process for a Chinese driving license if they have any plans to drive a car themselves. This norm applies to all Chinese cities and provinces.

Economics / Trade / Business

Six Hugely Common China Law Problems AND Their Solutions (January 25, 2017, China Law Blog)
Very briefly, the below are six of the most common problems our China attorneys see, all of which can almost always cost-effectively be avoided by doing “the right thing’ early on. If you are doing business in China or with China, this post is for you!

Made in China — and straight to your Amazon box (January 26, 2017, USA Today)Amazon's own programs, plus a growing number of shippers, translators, marketers and trainers who help Chinese merchants sell on the site and apps, are opening a new way for Chinese factories and vendors to easily get their products to the U.S. or other markets.

For Couriers, China’s E-Commerce Boom Can Be a Tough Road (January 31, 2017, The New York Times)
The Chinese e-commerce industry has been built on the backs of couriers — called kuaidi, or express delivery, in China — like Mr. Zhang. They number 1.2 million, by one survey, and online retailers like Alibaba use them to zip packages to customers by scooter or three-wheeled electric cart. Across China, the world’s largest market for package delivery, a courier shouting “kuaidi!” through a door or a phone signals your package has arrived.

China’s global takeover deals even scare the Chinese government (February 1, 2017, The Telegraph)
hinese companies are spending more money than ever before to buy up other businesses around the world, scaring Western governments and even worried the Chinese authorities, according to dealmaking lawyers at Clifford Chance.


Why a Crackdown on Private Tutoring Will Benefit Students (January 25, 2017, Sixth Tone)
“Shut them all down,” a friend of mine who has a 10-year-old son posted on WeChat, the most popular mobile messaging app in China. He was commenting on a report by the Party paper People’s Daily on why Shanghai’s Party Secretary Han Zheng — the city’s highest ranking official — was so critical of private tutoring.

Why I Quit My Job at a Language Training Company (January 27, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Training organizations, under the guise of working in the noble sphere of education, are not doing all they can to help students pass language tests in as little time as possible. Rather, they aim to make students heavily reliant on their courses, encouraging them to sign up for ever-longer series of classes in order to gain the most benefit from their services. In essence, it is akin to cultivating a psychological dependency on the courses so that students believe the only way to attain their desired grades is to buy more class time.

Health / Environment

W.H.O. Warns of Worrisome Bird Flu in China (January 25, 2017, The New York Times)
Several strains of avian flu are spreading in Europe and Asia this winter, but the most worrisome at present is an H7N9 strain that has circulated in China every winter since 2013. China has reported over 225 human cases since September, an unusually high number. The nation’s Lunar New Year vacation starts soon, and as it does, live poultry shipments increase, and holiday travelers often spread the flu.

'Tuberculosis-resistant' cattle developed in China (February 1, 2017, BBC)
Scientists in China say they have produced cloned cattle with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis. Twenty calves were born, of which 11 survived for more than three months. Bovine TB is a risk to cattle in many countries, including parts of the UK, Africa and Asia. Researchers in China used a genome editing tool to change the genetic code of cattle. They say the technology could have widespread uses in agriculture.

Science / Technology

Best VPN for China: Our 5 top choices (February 1, 2017, Tech Radar)
Dealing with this level of censorship of the net is far from easy, but some VPNs are willing to tackle the problem, having proven methods of maintaining uptime in a difficult online climate. Obviously you need to look for a capable service in this respect, and pick out a reliable VPN, too.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The Best and the Worst of CCTV New Year’s Gala 2017 (January 29, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
The CCTV New Year’s Gala aired on Friday night and triggered thousands of netizens to comment on its best and worst performances. What’s on Weibo gives you a summary of the show’s highlights and its low points.

History / Culture

Sidney Rittenberg on solitary confinement and more (January 26, 2017, Sinica Podcast)
Sidney Rittenberg is a labor activist from Charleston, South Carolina, who went to China as a translator for the U.S. Army in 1945 and stayed until 1980. In this episode, Sidney talks about the conditions he endured during his two periods of solitary confinement, Sino-American relations, the behavior of Russian advisers sent to China by the Soviet Union, and much more. 

Why Do We Call it Spring Festival?: The Origins Behind the Name (January 27, 2017, The Beijinger)
For thousands of years it was simply called the New Year, at least according to the lunar-solar calendar. So what changed? Well, the calendar for one.  

Ancient Porcelain Arts Thrive Again in a Chinese River Town (January 31, 2017, The New York Times)
Now that tradition is being revived at the roots. Young people are moving to study in Jingdezhen, a river town in the southern Chinese province of Jiangxi. Studios and workshops have popped up around town and in the surrounding valleys. Some of the new artisans hope to profit from their skills, since the country’s middle-class boom of recent decades has meant a greater demand for porcelain.

Chinese New Year (Indiana Public Broadcasting)
This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly shows a Buddhist family in the US observing the rituals of Chinese New Year. The Chinese tradition of celebrating the New Year began more than 4,000 years ago, and has evolved into a holiday that includes a combination of rituals from Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. Also known as Spring Festival, it is celebrated by Chinese communities throughout the world at the end of winter.

Travel / Food

The traditional dishes of the Chinese holidays (January 27, 2017, Sapire di Cina)
No panettone for Christmas, no Easter cake, and definitely don’t expect lentils for New Year! We’re not crazy, we’re in China. But don’t worry, even here there are typical holiday dishes, so let’s discover these culinary traditions for the Chinese holidays together!

Language / Language Learning

Learn the First Online Viral Phrase of 2017 (January 30, 2017, The Beijinger)
Over the years, many counterfeit products have been made in China, so it's finally time for counterfeit culture to make something of its own. For example, China's newest funny way of making lame excuses comes in the form of this phrase: It‘s possible I may have (verbed) a fake (object). In Chinese and pinyin this would read: 我可能 (verb) 了假 (object) and Wǒ kěnéng (verb) le jiǎ (object).

Why Trump Has Two Different Names in Chinese (February 1, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
It is confusing even for Chinese netizens and journalists: why does Donald Trump have multiple names in Chinese? And which is the right one to use?


The Little-Known Role of Western Economists in Building a Post-Mao China (January 25, 2017, The New York Times)
The influence of Western economists on Chinese experiments at that time is a little-known aspect of the history. Julian Gewirtz’s “Unlikely Partners: Chinese Reformers, Western Economists, and the Making of Global China,” published this month by Harvard University Press, looks at some of the ideas and relationships that paved the way for China’s transformation.

History Matters Today (January 27, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Faithful cross-cultural service requires at least some understanding of the local context. During my years in Shanxi I have invested a sizable portion of time and energy into helping my colleagues here—Chinese and expatriate—better understand local history, particularly as it pertains to ministry. I have been impressed over and over again by the striking degree to which the words and deeds of our spiritual ancestors relate directly to our present circumstances. 


Bell Talk and Book SigningJoann Pittman will talk about her book “The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China” on February 4, 2017 at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
Address: 720 13th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN
Time: 7:15PM (following the evening service)

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource 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 of Northwestern-St. Paul …View Full Bio