ZGBriefs | February 22, 2018

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Featured Article

China’s Hui Muslims fearful Chinese New Year education ban a sign of curbs to come  (February 16, 2018, Reuters)
For some in China’s ethnic Hui Muslim minority, a ban on young people engaging in religious education in mosques is an unwelcome interference in how they lead their lives. Their big fear is the Chinese government may be bringing in measures in this northwestern province of Gansu that are similar to some of those used in the crackdown on Uygur Muslims in the giant Xinjiang region further to the west.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

A Weapon Without War: China’s United Front Strategy (February 6, 2018, Foreign Policy Research Institute)
Not as benign as the name might sound, united front work aims to influence the policies of foreign states toward Chinese ends, through means that may be legal, illegal, or exploit gray areas.

Is American Policy toward China Due for a ‘Reckoning’?: A ChinaFile Conversation (February 15, 2018, China File)
What should a newly clear-eyed U.S. policy entail?

Waking up to China’s infiltration of American colleges (February 18, 2018, The Washington Post)
With more than 100 universities in the United States now in direct partnership with the Chinese government through Confucius Institutes, the U.S. intelligence community is warning about their potential as spying outposts.

How The U.S. Ambassador To China May Have Xi Jinping's Ear (February 18, 2018, NPR)
One of the biggest payoffs of this special relationship, according Branstad, is access. "I've been given access to more Chinese leaders in key positions, I think, than anybody here in recent weeks, and I'm hopeful that by directly and frankly conveying the concerns of our country, that will have some impact," Branstad says.

China’s South China Sea islands won’t stop lawful patrols, US Navy says (February 17, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Lieutenant Commander Tim Hawkins said the US Navy had carried out routine patrols at sea and on air in the strategic waters for 70 years to promote regional security and guarantee the unimpeded flow of trade crucial for Asian and US economies.

A Dance for Tibetan New Year, Then 17 Hours in Custody (February 18, 2018, The New York Times)
For the Chinese, though, it was a self-inflicted embarrassment. We had traveled high into the mountains of the Tibetan plateau last week to write about holiday traditions in that part of China. By detaining us, and ultimately expelling us from the region, the authorities succeeded in preventing that. So I am writing this instead.

Chinese warships enter East Indian Ocean amid Maldives tensions (February 20, 2018, Reuters)
Eleven Chinese warships sailed into the East Indian Ocean this month, a Chinese news portal said, amid a constitutional crisis in the tiny tropical island chain of the Maldives now under a state of emergency.

China's polar ambitions cause anxiety (February 20, 2018, Straits Times)
This increasing Chinese presence in the poles has drawn mixed responses from other parties, whether those with direct stakes like the Arctic states and claimant states to Antarctica, or those with no direct claims but which want a piece of the action.


Sacred Tibetan monastery catches fire, no reports of casualties (February 17, 2018, Reuters)
One of the most sacred locations in Tibetan Buddhism, the Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa, caught fire on Saturday but there were no reports of any casualties and the extent of the damage was unclear.

China and the Church in China, Part 1: Genesis (February 20, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
I will use my story, the details of my personal experience, to give you a lens to look at what China is, and what the church in China is.

Serving Those Away from Home (February 20, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
Beimen Church’s Chinese New Year outreach is an example of how the church in China continues to bless others in society.

Society / Life

Loneliness: the latest economic niche opening up in China (February 17, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The “empty nest youth” is an emerging theme in the Chinese economy, according to the first Economy of Loneliness report released in January by Momo, a dating application and operator of the mainland’s largest video streaming platform, and Xiaozhu, a home-sharing app similar to Airbnb. 

As China's Year of the Dog begins, imperial Pekingese breed is scarce (February 19, 2018, Reuters)
For centuries, owning the flat-faced Pekingese dog was a luxury to be enjoyed only by China’s royal family.

Chinese State Media Launch ‘Hold Your Mother’s Hand’ Campaign with Xi Jinping at Forefront (February 20, 2018, What’s on Weibo)
With the online ‘hold your mother’s hand’ campaign, various Chinese state media stress the idea of ‘homecoming’ and the importance of family ties. President Xi Jinping is represented as the perfect ‘family man’ leader.

Very Superstitious: Why China’s Divination Fad Is Mere Escapism (February 20, 2018, Sixth Tone)
As divination spreads deeper into mainstream youth culture, it encourages fatalistic views of failure instead of helping people overcome what’s holding them back.

Do Parents Own the ‘Lucky Money’ Gifted to Their Children? (February 20, 2018, Sixth Tone)
A collection of court cases involving “lucky money,” which children are gifted every Chinese New Year by their relatives, has social media users discussing who owns the small fortunes — the children, or their parents?

China Dropped Its One-Child Policy. So Why Aren’t Chinese Women Having More Babies? (February 20, 2018, The New York Times)
Because a critical mass of women appears to be in no rush to have babies, particularly urban, educated women — just the category that the C.C.P. is counting on to produce and raise a new generation of skilled, knowledge-based workers.

Economics / Trade / Business

Mapping out China's Belt and Road Initiative (February 15, 2018, CNBC)
China's Belt and Road Initiative aims to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a vast logistics and transport network, using roads, ports, railway tracks, pipelines, airports, transnational electric grids and even fiber optic lines.

S.E.C. Blocks Chinese Takeover of Chicago Stock Exchange (February 15, 2018, The New York Times). The Securities and Exchange Commission said it blocked the deal because of a lack of transparency in the details, including an inability to identify who exactly would control the exchange.

Chinese farming town becomes piano-making base (February 17, 2018, China Daily)
It is rare to see farmers playing pianos, but even more rare that in a small town in east China's Zhejiang Province, farmers can earn a fortune making pianos. Luoshe, a town with a population of less than 20,000, has more than 60 piano factories, and over 50,000 pianos were produced there in 2017. Local residents started making pianos more than 30 years ago.


What it’s like being an English Kindergarten teacher in China (February 16, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
I found the children’s energy infectious and the satisfaction and joy I felt on a daily basis was my driving force for creativity and motivation. In this post, I am going to outline exactly what it’s like being a kindergarten teacher in China. Starting with…

Waking up to China’s infiltration of American colleges (February 18, 2018, The Washington Post)
With more than 100 universities in the United States now in direct partnership with the Chinese government through Confucius Institutes, the U.S. intelligence community is warning about their potential as spying outposts.

Health / Environment

China’s Pediatricians Left Holding the Baby (May 12, 2018, Sixth Tone)
While in the U.S. there are fewer than 700 children for each doctor, in China there’s one pediatrician for every 2,300 children, and the ratio is growing worse.

Easing Their Pain: The Center Providing Hospice Care to Orphans (February 18, 2018, Sixth Tone)
We believe what [the children] need most in the remaining days of their lives is probably not to be isolated in the intensive care unit of a hospital.

Doctors In China Lead Race To Treat Cancer By Editing Genes (February 21, 2018, NPR)
"China is starting to pull ahead of other parts of the world — maybe for the time — in regards to biomedicine," says Hallam Stevens, an anthropologist at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore who studies Chinese bioscience.

Science / Technology

China is building the world's largest facility for robot ship research (February 20, 2018, Popular Science)
Wanshan will test technologies like autonomous steering and obstacle avoidance, which are already seen on swarming robot boats developed by Chinese universities and defense contractors. 

The App That Launched a Thousand Memes (February 20, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Micro video app Douyin — literally “shaky sound,” or a trill in music — has taken China by storm in the last year, becoming one of the top free iOS apps in the country.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

China’s Race Against History (February 20, 2018, China Media Project)
The Belt and Road theme figured strongly in this year’s Spring Festival Gala, and it directs us to a second controversy, one that has gotten far less air time outside China.

History / Culture

Spring Festival in Videos (February 8, 2018, Transparent Language)

7,000 Years of the Dog: A History of China’s Canine Companions (February 14, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Whether they’re guard dogs, house pets, or even nutritious meals, the Chinese share a long history with man’s best friend.

The Secret Jewish History Of The Chinese New Year (February 15, 2018, Forward)
But the similarities between Chinese New Year and Passover aren’t merely those of calendric quirks. The holidays share rituals and practices that bear striking and provocative resemblances.

Fire, Noise, and Red! Happy New Year! (February 16, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
You see, there was this monster, named 年 (nian) who was terrorizing villagers at the lunar New Year; that is, until a wise man showed up and told them that the silly monster was afraid of fire, noise, and red. If they would use these three things, then the monster would flee and leave them alone.

Reinventing ‘Nianhua,’ a Faded Chinese New Year Tradition (February 16, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Taohuawu is known nationally as the home of woodcut-printed nianhua — artwork that people traditionally hang inside their homes or on their doors to ward off evil spirits and deliver good fortune in the lunar new year. But days before the Year of the Dog, few people, even here, still uphold the tradition.

American Is Charged With Stealing Terra-Cotta Warrior’s Thumb (February 19, 2018, The New York Times)
The man, who was attending the museum’s after-hours ugly-sweater party on Dec. 21, entered the terra-cotta warrior exhibition room and used his cellphone’s flashlight to view the displays. Then, according to an affidavit by Jacob B. Archer, a special agent assigned to the F.B.I.’s art crime team, the man put his arm around the statue and took a selfie.

10 Things Ya Gotta Love About Chinese New Year (February 19, 2018, Small Town Laowai)
It’s the biggest human migration in the world to celebrate the biggest holiday of the year. Sure, there are lots of annoyances, but let’s think positive.

Video: Watch how a firework is made (February 20, 2018, CNN)
But before fireworks can take over the skies, each one must be carefully and meticulously crafted. The process — which can take days to complete — is an art in its own right, according to Wu Hongyong, director of production and technology at one of China's biggest firework companies.

Travel / Food

The meanings behind Lunar New Year's 'fortune' candies (February 12, CNN)
Hosts have to make sure each of the boxes' trays — there are usually three to nine detachable compartments — are stocked with specific "fortune" candies, which symbolize wealth, happiness and luck.

Let he who has turned down a delicious jianbing first call me fatty (February 15, 2018, Roads and Kingdoms)
While studying abroad in Beijing this past summer, I gained 18 pounds in a little more than two months. Jianbing, Beijing’s street food of choice, was almost single-handedly responsible for this.

Harbin: opera and ice sculpture in China’s frozen megacity (February 16, Financial Times)
Meanwhile, come and see Harbin for yourself — the ghosts of Russia’s past and the newly confident Chinese present, overflowing with change. Marvel both at the bold new neon skyscrapers and the city made of ice, but spare a thought for the tigers, who need to get back their territory if they are going to have a future.

How to Connect In China Without a Visa (February 16, 2018, The Points Guy)
But what if you purchase a connecting flight through Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, all airports with lots of international connections? Will a US or European citizen be allowed to transit the airport? Can they access airport hotels? The short answer is yes.

Language / Language Learning

Mandarin Chinese Phonetics Table (lost-theory.org)
Click on any syllable to hear how it is pronounced. 

Living Cross-culturally

Expat Life In China | 5 Biggest Changes Over The Past Decade (February 13, 2018, Living a Dream in China)
When I first arrived in China in 2006, blogs like this were a novelty. Most of us early China writers used services like Blogspot or MySpace, which tells you a lot about how things have changed.

Don’t Forget the Things You Know Are True (February 21, 2018 A Life Overseas)
There are some things you know to be true. These things will be challenged to their very deepest core in your first few months abroad. You’ll forget them. You’ll call people liars (even if just in your head) when they remind you of them. You’ll wonder how you ever could have been foolish enough to believe them.


China’s Sociopathy, and its Cowardly Watchers (February 19, 2018, The Journal of Political Risk)
Paul Midler’s What’s Wrong With China doesn’t disappoint. Anecdotes, theories, and historical curiosities fall from its pages in answer to its titular question. Midler’s stories of caution are current, enjoyable, accessible, historically grounded, and witty. But the deeper importance of the book is that Midler, as a sharp and knowledgeable outsider to academic China studies, can criticize, revive, and develop theories in a way that staid academics would never dare.

'A Call to Mission': New book on Jesuits in China (February 20, 1028, UCA News)
Essential reading for an informed perspective on current Vatican-China negotiations, the singular merit of this work is the comprehensive nature of its coverage of the life of the Jesuits and the Catholic Church in the most convulsive century in Chinese history.

How Christian Faith Led a Single Woman to Defy Chairman Mao (February 20, 2018, Christianity Today)
Lian began researching the life of Lin Zhao in 2012, and he received a copy of her prison writings the following year. The resulting book, Blood Letters: The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, a Martyr in Mao’s China, draws from those prison writings, years of interviews and correspondence with those who knew Lin Zhao intimately, and extensive field research in Suzhou and Beijing.


Partnering in China: A new resource from visionSynergy and ChinaSource (February 21, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Partnerships take place in a particular cultural context. Therefore, success in partnerships involves learning the culture, seeing the local worldview as valid, and being willing to submit and participate in the local culture.

Image credit: by Joann Pittman, via Flickr