ZGBriefs | February 20, 2020

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Featured Article

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling Into and Out of China Right Now  (February 19, 2020, The Beijinger)
Amid growing uncertainty as to what faces both foreigners returning to China and those trying to leave, China's National Immigration Administration recently released details on what Chinese and foreigners can expect when dealing with immigration.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Exclusive: How the FBI combats China's political meddling  (February 12, 2020, Axios)
There is a growing body of evidence that China devotes massive resources to influencing the political environments of foreign countries, including the United States.

China's new Hong Kong chief a hardliner known for crusade against Christian churches  (February 13, 2020, The Guardian)
A hardliner notorious for the demolition of thousands of Christian crosses on churches has been appointed the new head of China’s office in Hong Kong, a sign that Beijing aims to further tighten control over the semi-autonomous city, analysts say.

The theater of state power  (February 13, 2020, Andrew Batson’s Blog)
They are the product of a mindset that perceives the virus outbreak as a challenge to the power and authority of the Chinese party-state, to which the only appropriate response is to demonstrate that the Chinese party-state indeed has the power and authority to overcome it.

The coronavirus crisis is raising questions over China's relationship with the World Health Organization (February 16, 2020, CNN)
Perhaps one of the most overt examples of China's sway over the WHO is its success in blocking Taiwan's access to the body, a position that could have very real consequences for the Taiwanese people if the virus takes hold there.

China’s Coronavirus Reaction: Law Trumps Medicine, Part 2  (February 17, 2020, China Law Blog)
The CCP are continuing to prioritize maintaining social stability by concealing the truth about what is actually happening on the ground rather than over controlling the disease or providing comfort to the public. 

U.S. imposes new rules on state-owned Chinese media over propaganda concerns  (February 18, 2020, Reuters)
The Trump administration said on Tuesday said it will begin treating five major Chinese state-run media entities with U.S. operations the same as foreign embassies, requiring them to register their employees and U.S. properties with the State Department.

In Coronavirus Fight, China Sidelines an Ally: Its Own People  (February 18, 2020, The New York Times)
The outbreak has exposed the powerlessness of private charities, civic groups and others who could help the effort but whom the Communist Party considers rivals.

The Li Wenliang Storm  (February 18, 2020, China Media Project)
The death of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang (李文亮) earlier this month set off a wave of anger in China that has presented a major challenge to the leadership in its efforts to control public opinion. 

Coronavirus outbreak: Three questions on China’s response  (February 18, 2020, Christian Science Monitor)
Outbreaks create fear – not just of disease, but sometimes of the places they originate and the people who live there. Taking a step back gives some perspective on China’s crisis.

China to expel WSJ journalists over 'malicious’ coronavirus column (February 19, 2020, The Guardian)
The Chinese foreign ministry said it had ordered the reporters to leave within five days after their paper declined to apologise for an opinion piece calling China the “real sick man of Asia”, which was widely seen as racist. None of the trio had any role in writing the article, editing it or writing the headline.


Wuhan and Psalm 31  (February 14, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
In response she drew this sketch. We pray that it is an encouragement and reminder to all of us to pray for the city and surrounding areas of Wuhan and all those affected by the coronavirus outbreak. God does hear our voices. 

Video: Interview with Wuhan Pastor - English - Part 1 of 2 (From the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak) (February 15, 2020, Ambassadors for Christ, via YouTube)
Exclusive interview with Pastor Huang Lei, lead pastor of Root & Fruit Christian Church in Wuhan, Hebei, China – the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

Interview with Wuhan Pastor - English - Part 2 of 2 (From the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak)  (February 15, 2020, Ambassadors for Christ, via YouTube)
Exclusive interview with Pastor Huang Lei, lead pastor of Root & Fruit Christian Church in Wuhan, Hebei, China – the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

Pope Francis ‘initiated talks’ on bishops deal between Chinese and Vatican foreign ministers  (February 17, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The Pope was “eager” to use the talks to explore “renewal or formalisation” of a provisional deal reached in 2018 to allow the Vatican to appoint bishops pre-approved by Beijing, one of the sources said. The agreement is said to be expiring in August.

Interview of Pastor in Hubei: Despite Hard Reality, Faith Never Lost  (February 18, 2020, China Christian Daily)
Recently, Brother X, a non-ordained pastor in Huangshi, joined an interview by the Chinese Christian newspaper Gospel Times on the pastoral care adjustment of the church and the status of its followers in the face of the outbreak.

When You Can't Gather for Worship  (February 18, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
As authorities and health workers continue to fight the spread of the coronavirus in China, most churches remain temporarily closed. Government authorities have ordered churches and other regular public gatherings to suspend activities until further notice. Yet, many Christians continue to minister via online platforms to their congregants. Many churches have taken to holding Sunday worship services online.

Society / Life

After the Lockdown, Wuhanese Struggle to Return Home  (February 6, 2020, Sixth Tone)
On Jan. 23, the megacity at the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak sealed itself off from the rest of China. Two weeks later, thousands of residents are still stuck outside

China Declares 'People's War' On COVID-19 — Including Reporting Family And Friends (February 13, 2020, NPR)
China is using all available means to stop the spread of coronavirus, including encouraging people to report loved ones and neighbors. China's leader Xi Jinping has declared a "people's war."

Film Crew Documents Life in Wuhan Amid COVID-19 Epidemic  (February 17, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The film they had planned to shoot in Hubei was derailed by the coronavirus, so instead they’re creating a visual chronicle of a city under lockdown.

The city that sees it all  (February 17, 2020, Fortune)
Shenzhen is at the vanguard of China’s “smart city” movement. The trains run on time—and the sensors and cameras run all the time. Is that a tradeoff the world can live with? 

Live in the time of coronavirus: sleeping man, farmers ride wave of streaming popularity in China (February 19, 2020, South China Morning Post)
With millions staying home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, live-streaming in China is more popular than before. One man made money streaming his sleep, while farmers facing trouble selling produce through traditional means are hawking their goods online instead

Economics / Trade / Business

The Age Of Cooptation: The High Cost Of Doing Business In Xi’s China  (February 12, 2020, Sup China)
A former Apple executive — and China bull — writes about the dark days ahead for multinationals in the People’s Republic, and tells a revealing story about how Huawei developed its facial recognition technology.

U.S. firms in China report staff shortages, say coronavirus hitting global operations: AmCham  (February 17, 2020, Reuters)
Some 78% of the respondents also said they do not have sufficient staff at their Chinese plants to resume full production, as public health restrictions make it harder to workers to return to their jobs after an extended holiday. The survey polled 109 companies with manufacturing operations in Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing and the wider Yangtze River Delta.

Apple warns coronavirus will hurt iPhone supplies  (February 17, 2020, BBC)
Apple has warned that disruption in China from the coronavirus will mean revenues falling short of forecasts. The tech giant said production and sales were affected, and that "worldwide iPhone supply would be temporarily constrained".

Chinese Police Track Down Dissident Xu Zhiyong Using Facial Recognition  (February 17, 2020, Radio Free Asia)
Police in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou have detained dissident Xu Zhiyong -- who had been on the run for seven weeks -- using facial recognition technology and big data analysis, RFA has learned.

China races to contain job losses as coronavirus batters economy  (February 18, 2020, Reuters)
Just 34% of nearly 1,000 small and medium-sized firms said they could survive for a month on current cashflow, a recent survey by Tsinghua University and Peking University showed. A third said they could last for two months, while 18% said they could stick it out for three months.

Coronavirus and China Employee Layoffs? Think Again  (February 18, 2020, China Law Blog)
With China’s economy significantly damaged and pressure coming from the central government to maintain stability, China employers are finding it difficult to strike a balance between employee protections and maintaining the profitability or even existence of their China businesses. Though different locales are handling their coronavirus related employment issues differently, none of them want to see employees getting laid off now.

Coronavirus Is Devastating Chinese Tourism  (February 19, 2020, The Atlantic)
Countries have closed off their borders with China, airlines have slashed flights, and hotels have seen a big drop-off in bookings.


Online Classes Get Mixed Reactions From Students, Teachers  (February 18, 2020, Sixth Tone)
As students in urban areas complain of slow internet connections, many in remote places are finding it difficult to log into their courses at all.

New coronavirus spreads more like flu than SARS: Chinese study  (February 19, 2020, Reuters)
Scientists in China who studied nose and throat swabs from 18 patients infected with the new coronavirus say it behaves much more like influenza than other closely related viruses, suggesting it may spread even more easily than previously believed.

Chinese Students Worried Over Foreign University Deadlines  (February 19, 2020, Sixth Tone)
International exams for language proficiency and specific graduate paths have been canceled in China because of the coronavirus epidemic.

Health / Environment

IMAGES: What New Coronavirus Looks Like Under The Microscope  (February 13, 2020, NPR)
These images were made using scanning and transmission electron microscopes at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont. NIAID is part of the National Institutes of Health.

China’s Coronavirus Figures Don’t Add Up. ‘This Never Happens With Real Data.’  (February 15, 2020, Barrons)
A statistical analysis of China’s coronavirus casualty data shows a near-perfect prediction model that data analysts say isn’t likely to naturally occur, casting doubt over the reliability of the numbers being reported to the World Health Organization. 

Hospital Director in China's Wuhan Dies of Coronavirus: State TV  (February 18, 2020, Radio Free Asia)
Liu Zhiming, director of Wuhan's Wuchang Hospital, died at 10.10 a.m. onTuesday at the age of 50. He was the seventh reported healthcare worker to die from the virus since the epidemic first emerged in the city in December.

105 People Were Infected With COVID-19 by Dec. 31, Study Says  (February 19, 2020, Sixth Tone)
From an analysis of over 72,000 coronavirus cases, researchers from the Chinese CDC determined there were serious delays in detecting and reporting infections in the early stages of the epidemic.

Are China’s Coronavirus Figures Reliable?  (February 19, 2020, Foreign Policy)
Taken at face value, the government’s containment strategy appears to be working. But that raises the question: How reliable are China’s official numbers?

Travel / Food

Traveling to Zhejiang Province: The Complete Guide  (February 14, 2020, Sapore Di Cina)
Located on the Eastern Coast of China, Zhejiang is a populous province wedged between Shanghai and four other provinces. It’s the home to many historical cities, where Hangzhou and Ningbo stand out the most.

Chinese Bars are Delivering Drinks to Stay Afloat Through Coronavirus Quarantine  (February 19, 2020, Radii China)
With many people holed up indoors due to the outbreak of Covid-19, a growing number of bars are taking to the streets to deliver drinks. As the New York Post reports, some bars are even sticking to their usual happy hour deals. 

Language / Language Learning

Dwindling measure words in Mandarin  (February 13, 2020, Language Log)
When I began the study of Mandarin more than half a century ago, I learned and regularly used about fifty different measure words, but my impression is that people nowadays use fewer of them than before.

Machine Non-Learning: The Chinese Words That Trip Up Google Translate  (February 17, 2020, The Beijinger)
It may not surprise you to hear that Google Translate has problems interpreting slang, but more concerning is the fact that it seems to have trouble with even simple words and phrases. Below are a few examples that we've found along the way.

Living Cross-culturally

Thousands of Americans voluntarily self-quarantine after returning from China  (February 19, 2020, NBC News)
Instead, they simply traveled in China within the past few weeks and have since been flagged by health officials at one of the 11 airports nationwide through which all U.S. citizens and their families flying from China are being routed.


Another Look at the Life of Eric Liddell: A Book Review  (February 17, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Given his sporting interest, Hamilton naturally gives in-depth coverage of Eric Liddell’s sporting years and almost meteoric rise to fame. However, he goes on to consider his subsequent years to, giving justice to his motivation in serving Jesus Christ and the people of China, as his parents had done. 

Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink  (February 18, 2020, China File)
Jeffrey Wasserstrom draws on his many visits to the city, and knowledge of the history of repression and resistance, to help us understand the deep roots and the broad significance of the events we see unfolding day by day in Hong Kong. The result is a riveting tale of tragedy but also heroism—one of the great David-versus-Goliath battles of our time, pitting determined street protesters against the intransigence of Xi Jinping, the most ambitious leader of China since the days of Mao.


This is a rapidly evolving situation. International SOS is monitoring closely and updating this website as more information becomes available. 


Honor-Shame Conference 2020: Reconciling the Nations
The 2020 Honor-Shame Conference will be held June 8–10, 2020 at Wheaton College. The conference will explore how honor and shame influence the gospel, the church, and various other disciplines, including theology, missiology, pastoral ministry, and counseling. 

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... View Full Bio