ZGBriefs | February 21, 2019

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Featured Article

China’s Demographic Crisis Is a Reality (February 14, 2019, Sixth Tone)
From a global perspective, China’s population shrinkage is very significant. If China drops all family planning restrictions but does nothing to encourage births, China’s share of the world’s population will decline rapidly.

Sponsored Link

ChinaSource Connect in Seattle
We invite you to join us for an evening with members of the ChinaSource team where we’ll share updates on our recent activities as well as ways that you can partner with us in serving with the church in China.Date: Thursday, March 21, 2019
Time: 6:00-7:00pm dinner, 7:00-8:30pm program
Venue: North Creek Presbyterian Church, Fellowship Hall
Address: 621, 164th St. SE, Mill Creek, WA. 98012
As dinner will be provided, we would appreciate it if you can RSVP to www.surveymonkey.com/r/SeattleConnect2019by March 7, 2019 so we can prepare food accordingly.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Sweden Replaces China Envoy After Article by Detained Bookseller's Daughter (February 14, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
Sweden's foreign ministry has recalled its ambassador to China after she was accused of holding a meeting with the daughter of detained Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai without official authorization. Ambassador Anna Lindstedt returned to Sweden to face an investigation after Angela Gui published an account of the meeting on the blogging platform Medium.com. An interim envoy has been sent to Beijing in her stead, the ministry said in a statement.

New Zealand Fears China Might Give It the Cold Shoulder (February 17, 2019,Bloomberg)
Any cooling of the friendship could have significant ramifications for the tiny South Pacific nation, which is in the process of negotiating an upgrade of its free-trade agreement with China. 

What to Watch at China’s Biggest Meeting of the Year (February 18, 2019, Bloomberg)
Some 3,000 of the most powerful officials in China are preparing for the annual parliamentary pageantry known as the National People’s Congress. Although it’s China’s main legislature, the ruling Communist Party ensures that important decisions are made long before any proposals reach the floor. 

China Releases New Draft List of Encouraged Industries for Foreign Investment (February 19, 2019, China Briefing)
Beijing has released the 2019 Draft Encouraged Catalogue for public comments. It provides direct insight into the industries that are considered a growth priority for the government and where foreign knowhow and investment is welcome.

Facing an aggressive Beijing, Taiwan's president issues a warning to the world (February 20, 2019, CNN)
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Tsai said the military threat posed by China was growing "every day" in line with a more assertive foreign policy under its President Xi Jinping. "If it's Taiwan today, people should ask who's next? Any country in the region — if it no longer wants to submit to the will of China, they would face similar military threats," said Tsai.

China’s Growing Role in Southeast Asia Reopens Old Wounds (February 20, 2019, Radii China)
I’ve become accustomed to being lectured — and not without good reason — for the sins of my ancestors in China, but in Southeast Asia, it is the Chinese who are the historical villains almost as often as are the European colonialists. It is a narrative which has taken on greater stridency as China looks to assert its hegemony over its smaller neighbors to the south. China’s economic clout, hunger for resources, and military power all cast a long shadow into Southeast Asia.

In death as in life, Li Rui, aide to Mao turned critic of China’s Communist Party, makes cadres uncomfortable (February 20, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The official funeral of Li Rui, Mao Zedong’s former secretary turned Communist Party critic, took place amid tight security on Wednesday, with no biography pamphlets, no media access and no banner to announce whose life was being commemorated.

Former top Chinese general Fang Fenghui jailed for life for corruption (February 20, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Fang Fenghui, former chief of joint staff of the People’s Liberation Army, was convicted of giving and receiving bribes, and obtaining huge sums of money of unknown origin, state-run news agency Xinhua reported, citing a military court.


Re-Thinking Technology's Impact (February 15, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
In a recent article about internet addiction, including video games and social media, it states this addiction is an identifiable psychological condition, along with addictions to cocaine, alcohol, and pornography. China now has boot camps to help young people break their internet addiction. We may ask, “How are Chinese pastors and lay leaders addressing this issue?”

African Evangelical Christians converting China (February 18, 2109, Asia News)
Up to a million Chinese workers and 10,000 Chinese-owned companies are present in Africa. African Evangelical Churches and missionaries from Taiwan and other parts of the world are converting them to Christianity.

A New Year, a New Building (February 19, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
A new year, a new building for Fuyin Church in Tengtian, Jiangxi Province. This article from China Christian Dailyhighlights this historic church originally started by missionaries and the China Inland Mission.

Spanning the Gap for Returnees (February 20, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Less than twenty percent of returnees, Chinese students who come to faith overseas and then return to China as new believers, continue going to church for worship and Bible study.[1] A daunting statistic. The majority of new believers are lost in the gap between overseas campus fellowship groups and churches and the churches in China. The reasons for the gap are many; misunderstandings and unmet expectations on both sides of the gap often contribute.

Society / Life

China's most popular app brings Xi Jinping to your pocket (February 15, 2019, The Guardian)
Government directives have been issued telling members of the Chinese Communist Party to download the app. This week, Henan province, officials instructed party members to “move quickly and effectively” in promoting the app and announced a plan to deploy a team of “correspondents” and commentators to provide material for the app.

Watch: Chinese ‘left behind’ sisters cry when parents head back to city for work (February 15, 2019, South China Morning Post)
A video clip of three young Chinese girls begging their migrant worker parents not to leave as they were preparing to return to their jobs in the city has touched hearts online. […]  The girls refused to release their mother’s hands. They cried and yelled: “Don’t go, Mum.”

‘It’s Hopeless But You Persist’: An Interview with Jiang Xue (February 19, 2019, New York Review of Books)
The forty-five-year-old investigative journalist Jiang Xue is one of the most influential members of a group of journalists who came of age in the early 2000s, taking advantage of new—if temporary—freedoms created by the Internet to investigate pressing social issues. […]  Jiang talked about how Mao’s Great Leap Forward famine shaped her family, the heyday of independent media in China, and her faith as a devout Buddhist, which sustains her in what she feels is a hopeless cause.

Viral ‘Cherry Freedom’ Meme Critiques China’s Cost of Living (February 19, 2019, Sixth Tone)
“Cherry freedom” — a new term about the ability to purchase pricey imported cherries without a second thought — has been widely discussed on the Chinese internet since the Lunar New Year earlier this month. The fruit has become a popular choice for festive gifting in recent years, but following a cost increase, netizens have advanced it as a new standard for wealth and a way to playfully lament their own poverty.

China’s social credit system shows its teeth, banning millions from taking flights, trains (February 19, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Millions of Chinese individuals and businesses have been labelled as untrustworthy on an official blacklist banning them from any number of activities, including accessing financial markets or travelling by air or train, as the use of the government’s social credit system accelerates.

Chinese tourist arrested in US for fighting in public accused of domestic violence (February 19, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Chinese visitors to New York have been advised not to quarrel or fight while in the United States after a man was arrested outside his hotel for getting into a “tussle” with his wife. The Chinese consulate in New York issued the alert on Saturday in an article on social media app WeChat reminding travellers from China that physical fighting in the US was not regarded as a small thing.

Beijing to provide delivery men with rental housing (February 21, 2019, China Daily)
Beijing unveiled several measures Tuesday to better serve the delivery industry, which includes providing 2,400 rental houses for delivery men. The service package consists of nine measures and is expected to promote the standardized operation and healthy development of the courier industry, according to the municipal bureau of commerce.

Economics / Trade / Business

How Huawei went from small-time trader in Shenzhen to world’s biggest telecoms equipment supplier (February 18, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Before 2004, few mobile network operators in Europe had heard of Huawei Technologies, much less considered it a potential supplier. But that changed after Richard Yu Chengdong, who now heads Huawei’s consumer business, proved to a small Dutch operator the lengths to which the Chinese company was willing to go to serve its customers.

China to expand agriculture reforms to bolster rural economy (February 19, 2019, Reuters)
Known as the “No. 1 document”, this year’s policy reiterated a rural rejuvenation strategy first laid out in 2017 to improve income levels and living standards in China’s countryside. 


University Protests Raise CCP Influence Concerns (February 15, 2019, China Digital Times)
This week Uyghur activist Rukiye Turdush gave a presentation at Ontario’s McMaster University about the current conditions in Xinjiang, where more than one million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have been detained in re-education camps, at the invitation of the Muslim Students Association and Muslims’ for Justice and Peace. During the talk, Chinese students organized on WeChat to videotape her and later communicate with the Chinese Consulate about the talk, providing information about Turdush and other attendees and organizers.

How Chat Groups Shape the Experiences of China’s Moms-to-Be (February 17, 2019,Sixth Tone)
Far from being limited to a single chat group, intensive mothering is increasingly prevalent among China’s middle class. For example, according to an Excel spreadsheet kept by one of my friends during her pregnancy, she spent around 80,000 yuan ($11,800) on over 200 products for her unborn baby.

Chinese province bans app-based homework to save pupils' eyesight (February 19, 2019, The Guardian)
Zhejiang, in the east of the country, issued a draft regulation last week and sought public comment. It is one of several provinces considering such measures. Along with barring app-based homework assignments, the regulation would limit the use of electronic devices to 30% of total teaching time and encourage the issuing of paper homework to be completed by hand.

Health / Environment

My Life as an AIDS Nurse at a Shanghai Hospital (February 20, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The stigma surrounding the disease remains, even among staff at some hospitals, but there is still progress.

China confirms African swine fever hits Shandong province as national outbreak spreads (February 20, 2019, Reuters)
China’s agriculture ministry said on Wednesday it has confirmed the country’s ongoing African swine fever outbreak continues to spread across the nation, hitting the major livestock production province of Shandong in the east for the first time.

The Search for the River Goddess (February 20, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Researchers on the Yangtze haven't given up hope of finding the possibly extinct baiji dolphin.

Science / Technology

Chinese surveillance company tracking 2.5m Xinjiang residents (February 18, 2019, The Guardian)
A Chinese surveillance company has been tracking the movements of at least 2.5 million residents in a province where Muslim minorities have been the target of a far-reaching security clampdown, internet experts have found.

History / Culture

Video: When did Chinese start wearing Western-style suits? Meet the Shanghai tailor who's one of the very first to make suits after China's market reforms in 1978(February 17, 2019, Sixth Tone, via Twitter)

China's Forbidden City lights up for lunar new year show – in pictures (February 19, 2019, The Guardian)
For the first time in its history, Beijing’s famous landmark is bathed in light as part of the Lantern festival marking the end of the lunar new year celebrations.

Jewish museum in Shanghai to be expanded (February 20, 2019, China Daily)
The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum will be expanded later this year, according to Chen Jian, director of the museum. Following the completion of the expansion project next year, the museum will occupy 4,000 square meters, up from the current 900 sq m, and include new function halls and educational facilities. Two neighboring historical buildings will also become part of the museum complex.

Peiping(Peking) in 1930s, Courtesy of Stanley O. Gregory's Collection of photographs of China.(February 20, 2019, Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Travel / Food

China is restricting access to Everest base camp until human bodies and waste are cleaned up (February 15, 2019, Matador Network)
The base camp on the Chinese side of Everest is now officially closed to visitors who don’t have the proper climbing permits. People can still visit the Rongbuk monastery just below base camp but won’t be able to reach the 17,060-foot base camp itself.

Traveling to Jiangsu: The Complete Guide (February 15, 2019, Sapore di Cina)
The region is currently among the richest and most developed; because of this, it’s the destination for migrants and internal movements of the poorer bordering regions, such as Anhui. Just think in terms of dimensions – it’s the smallest region but most densely populated of them all.

Chinese Takeout: The Last Days of Tangyuan (February 18, 2019, Radii China)
As bulldozers descend on Shanghai's Laoximen area, a couple carries on serving rare artisinal tangyuan.

China bans foreign travellers from Tibet as 1959 uprising anniversary looms (February 20, 2019, South China Morning Post)
China is barring foreign travellers from Tibet over a period of several weeks that includes a pair of sensitive political anniversaries questioning the legitimacy of Beijing’s rule over the Himalayan region. Travel agencies contacted on Wednesday said foreign tourists would not be allowed back into Tibet until April 1.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Is China’s Influence on the Oscars Growing? (February 17, 2019, Radii China)
China hasn't had an Oscar nomination since Zhang Yimou's Hero. But that doesn't mean the country has been entirely absent from the Academy Awards.

The Trouble With Obedience(February 18, 2019, China Media Project)
The media, as constructors and communicators of the Party’s “mainstream” ideology, are absolutely core to this mission, and so we have seen not just a consolidation of controls over traditional media but a renewed push to exploit digital technologies in order to ensure the Party is enmeshed with daily life.

China Is Now Censoring What Movies Come Out in OtherCountries, Too (February 19, 2019, Slate)
Artists working under authoritarian governments often face a heart-wrenching choice between three not-so-appealing options: Cooperate with the censors, defy them, or flee to a country with a more permissive political climate. For Chinese filmmakers, the third may no longer be an option: The Communist Party’s censorship extends beyond the country’s borders.

The deterioration of China’s media freedom in the Xi Jinping era (February 20, 2019, China Journal)
In this article we shall briefly discuss the development of China’s media from the period of commercialization and relative liberalization to the growing crackdown on journalism and independent public opinion in the Xi Jinping era.

Living Cross-culturally

Deciding to Adopt a Child with Special Needs (February 18, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
The wide range of children with special needs can be easily viewed on any international adoption agency’s website. As our family began the process to adopt, we immediately went to the waitlisted special needs children, and quickly felt completely overwhelmed. What we didn’t know was that we’d be confronted with deciding which need we could adequately support while living in China. 

Links for Researchers

AAR 2019: Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers(Alexander Chow)
American Academy of Religion, 2019 Meeting | Chinese Christianities Seminar CfP | Deadline for proposals: 4 March 2019 | This seminar provides a collaborative forum for scholars of different disciplines to engage in an academic discourse about the field of Chinese Christianities.

Social Credit MOU breakdown (BETA) (China Law Translate)
In the primary mechanism of the ‘Social Credit System’ government agencies pledge to take limited enforcement action against organizations and individuals ‘blacklisted’ (or redlisted) by certain other agencies through targeted MOU’s. These ‘joint enforcement mechanisms’ (and rewards) are the main function of social credit beyond normal administrative punishments for misconduct.

Image credit: tania_huiny, via Flickr
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