ZGBriefs | February 23, 2017

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Featured Article

After being James, Peter, and William, I decided to stick with my Chinese name (February 14, 2017, Quartz)
Should Chinese people adopt English first names when interacting with Westerners? The benefits of doing so are obvious. Going by a conventional English name—but not weird names like “Candy,” “Promise” or “Devil“—makes everyone’s life easier. But my experiences studying and working in English-speaking multicultural environments in the past few years have made me realize that sticking to your Chinese name is better if you want foreigners to know who you are—and if you want to feel good about yourself.

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Overseas NGO Law

Who’s In? (February 22, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
According to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, as of February 9, thirty-two organizations have successfully registered, with all of them being in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong province.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Navigating China’s New Improved Green Card Scheme for Foreigners (February 17, 2017, China Briefing)
With reform deepening and fastening in today’s China, it is not only existing green card holders who should keep up with China’s immigration policies. Foreigners working in China or those who are considering business opportunities should also examine the ongoing reform to be equipped for future immigration decisions.

Chinese Security Forces Rally in Xinjiang in a Show of Power (February 20, 2017, The New York Times)
Chinese officials in the western region of Xinjiang, an area troubled by occasional acts of ethnic violence and domestic terrorism, ordered paramilitary units and police officers to attend large rallies in the past week as a show of force. The rallies were the biggest in recent years, if statistics cited by official websites are accurate.

Chinese police to track cars in Xinjiang in terror crackdown (February 21, 2017, BBC)
Chinese authorities in part of the western Xinjiang region have ordered all vehicles to be installed with satellite tracking devices as part of a crackdown on terrorism. The government wants an end to sporadic attacks in the province, which it blames on Islamist militants. A police statement said cars are the main means of transport for terrorists. Drivers in the Bayingol area who refuse to install the system will not be allowed to buy fuel.

How America Can Avoid a War with China (February 21, 2017, The National Interest)
The root causes of bilateral friction outnumber the sources of cooperation, though a U.S.-China military conflict is by no means inevitable. This essay suggests that the new administration can maintain a balance in the Western Pacific if it actively engages China in a few key areas of mutual interest.

China finishing South China Sea buildings that could house missiles – U.S. officials (February 22, 2017, Reuters)
The development is likely to raise questions about whether and how the United States will respond, given its vows to take a tough line on China in the South China Sea. China claims almost all the waters, which carry a third of the world's maritime traffic.

How the Communist Party Guided China to Success (February 22, 2017, The New York Times)
I’m not sure that the party can achieve everything it’s set out to do. It’s tried to keep a lid on all changes in society, but I doubt this can work over time. There are different lifestyles and forces in society. I’m not sure they can be unified. I’m very skeptical.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has vowed to lead the “new world order” (February 22, 2017, Quartz)
Chinese president Xi Jinping has vowed for the first time that China should take the lead in shaping the “new world order” and safeguarding international security, one of the latest moves putting him in stark contrast to Donald Trump and the US president’s “America First” policy.

China opposes U.S. naval patrols in South China Sea (February 22, 2017, Reuters)
China said on Tuesday it opposed action by other countries under the pretext of freedom of navigation that undermined its sovereignty, after a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group began patrols in the contested South China Sea. The U.S. navy said the strike group, including the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson, began "routine operations" in the South China Sea on Saturday amid growing tension with China over control of the disputed waterway.


Chinese Missionaries—Being Filial and Faithful (February 17, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Chinese parents want their children to bring them pride, to be the ones to “lift up their heads.” In the face of a Chinese missionary’s faith-based sacrifices, relatives may purposefully set themselves against the gospel, which they view as the cause of their children’s disappointing life choices.

The Relational Journey of Indigenous Ministry (February 20, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
“What if we won't be able to minister together again?” she questioned. “After all that we have been through, how can our team operate without you?” These, of course, were rhetorical questions to which she herself knew the answer. I knew that Zhenmei was strong enough to continue the call of ministering in the final frontier of the unreached world. She knew this too. She also knew that our team of local trailblazers was God-ordained to take the gospel to places it had not gone before.

Chinese Pastor Who Protested China's Cross Demolition Campaign Fears He Will Be Re-Arrested (February 20, 2017, Gospel Herald)
The pastor of a house church in China's coastal Zhejiang province has asked the international community to pray for him amid fears he may be re-arrested. According to persecution watchdog China Aid, Huang Yizi, the pastor of Fengwo Church, was released on bail a year ago after he protested the Communist government's cross demolition campaign. 

Why the Urban Church Needs to Care for Migrant Workers (February 21, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
Rev. Hong Shuyong, a CCC/TSPM pastor in Jiangxi province, writes of the need for Christians to care for migrant workers in the city. He describes the unnoticed lives many migrants live and argues that this lack of attention is not a healthy situation for the church. Hong notes how urbanization has brought new challenges to the church, but also new opportunities.

Christian rock band Rainbow taking Chinese millennials by storm (February 21, 2017, Christian Daily)
The Rainbow members' faith in Jesus inspired them to shift to contemporary Christian rock, which they are now using to spread the Gospel to their young fans in China. Anchoring on the popularity of secular rock music, the Christian band believes that their own genre can help bring many people to Christ.

Noah’s Ark-Inspired Mega-Church Ignites Firestorm (February 21, 2017, Sixth Tone)
The curious and the devout had flocked to this corner of Changsha County — often referred to by its former name, Xingsha, and located on the outskirts of the provincial capital — to witness for themselves the steel-and-glass church that more closely resembles an airport terminal than a house of God. Topped with a colossal 80-meter-tall steeple, the church is set among parklands totaling 150,000 square meters that also include an institute for biblical studies and a lake.

Cardinal Zen says ‘naïve’ Pope and bad advisors are betraying underground Church in China (February 21, 2017, Life Site News)
Cardinal Zen, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong and China's highest-ranking prelate, is pleading with the Vatican not to "sell out" China's Catholics by striking a deal with the Communist government. Such a deal would allow the Chinese government to nominate bishops for the pope to accept or reject. It would essentially mean Vatican acceptance of the government-controlled Church in China.

Society / Life

China's Hedge Fund Elite Live in Their Own Private Village (February 14, 2017, Bloomberg)
Hedge funds didn't exist in the world's second-largest economy five years ago. Now they have their own private village.

Chinese Dating Show Puts Veto Power in Parents’ Hands (February 16, 2017, The New York Times)
You are a young Chinese man whose father tells you the most important skill his future daughter-in-law must have is caring for her home and family. Your mother rejects a 40-year-old woman as your potential mate because she may be too old to bear children. This is not prerevolutionary China, but a new TV dating show.

Living in Xinjiang | One Foreigner’s Perspective (February 16, 2017, Far West China)
For most people who want to study in China, moving and living in Xinjiang is not one of the first things that comes to mind. Why is that? For one, it’s a place that is full of stereotypes, including stereotypes people have about China as well as prejudice directed toward Xinjiang, which can even be found within China.

China’s Social Credit System: Black Mirror or Red Herring? (February 16, 2017, China Digital Times)
Over the past two years, China has seen a proliferation of state-endorsed experiments representing early stages towards a national social credit system. These pilots evaluate citizens based on opaque formulae reportedly incorporating financial, social, behavioral, and legal data; and reward or penalize them by, for example, facilitating or restricting travel, credit, and shopping. (China Law Translate is currently translating a series of related government documents.) The final system, officials hope, will “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”

Red Alert for China's pollution protesters (February 20, 2017, Al Jazeera)
In a country that lacks a free media space, protests can even be used to gauge public opinion. If a project is unpopular, people will protest and their concerns can be addressed. If there are no protests, the project is allowed to go ahead. Protests against smog are different. Everyone in China suffers from catastrophic air pollution. They can see it day in and day out, all over the country. A protest against smog in one city has the potential to spread like wildfire on national social media.

Mirror of Time: Chinese Weddings Through the Decades (February 21, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
Changing wedding customs are the mirror of a rapidly changing China. Over the past 50 years, China has seen drastic changes in the process of getting married and how weddings are celebrated. What’s on Weibo gives an overview of Chinese weddings since the 1950s.

Scammers in China Fake Road Injuries, but Cameras Capture the Truth (February 21, 2017, The New York Times)
The scam may be as old as the automobile itself: A fraudster throws himself in front of a vehicle and demands that the driver pay for his self-inflicted (or nonexistent) injuries. But in an age of ever-present cameras, it’s getting a lot harder to pull off. There are scores of videos online that capture these scams, known in China as “pengci,” or “porcelain bumping.”

China's Aging Population Becoming More of A Problem (February 21, 2017, Forbes)
China's getting old. In fact, they are getting older faster than anywhere else in the world. And the Chinese government has a very weak safety net to cover for them all.

'We The Workers': On the front lines of China's record-level labor unrest (February 22, 2017, CNN)
Zhang is one of a shrinking number of Chinese labor activists helping workers in the world's second largest economy fight for their rights — an ongoing crackdown has seen dozens detained and slapped with heavy prison sentences.

Sterilization Quotas Endure in Two-Child Policy Era (February 22, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Sterilization quotas are still a common population control technique in the area where, earlier this month, a father of four said he was forced to undergo a vasectomy. On Feb. 14, the Health and Family Planning Commission of Yunnan Province directed local authorities to investigate the case, which took place in Zhenxiong County, in China’s southwest.

Cost of Marrying One of China's Outnumbered Women Continues to Skyrocket (February 22, 2017, The Beijinger)
Do you fancy marrying a Chinese wife? Well, get ready to open your wallet: The average cost of a betrothal gift in China has skyrocketed as women become a rarefied commodity in a country dominated by men. A recent study published by the People's Daily says the average cost of the cash gift that a son-in-law is expected to give to the bride's parents has continued to climb at an alarming rate. The study gives the example of a man wishing to marry a Beijing bride is expected to pay an average 200,000 yuan (USD 29,000) cash gift up front.

Economics / Trade / Business

China's economy doesn't look so wonderful when you look at the really big numbers (February 16, 2017, CNBC)
The supposed stability being portrayed in China's recent economic reports doesn't look so rosy in the scope of the big picture. For example, less money appears to be fleeing the country than only a month or two ago — but looking back 12 months, the trend is still worrying. 

Hiring Employees in China (February 22, 2017, China Law Blog)
Hiring employees in China (the right way) is almost as difficult as terminating them. If you do not do your due diligence on your new employees, you find yourself losing lawsuits.


Net Users, Parents Question Regulations on Student Discipline (February 22, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Should teachers physically discipline their students? What constitutes corporal punishment? Questions like these are once again on parents’ minds following the recent release of new regulations for schools in Qingdao, eastern China’s Shandong province.

Health / Environment

Where the wind blows: how China's dirty air becomes Hong Kong's problem (February 16, 2017, The Guardian)
While Hong Kong’s air pollution rarely commands the attention of the toxic cloud that frequently covers northern China, dubbed the “airpocalypse”, the air is anything but clean here. Levels of cancer-causing pollutants have exceeded World Health Organization standards for over 15 years, rising to more than five times acceptable levels at its peak.

The Burning Problem Of China's Garbage (February 20, 2017, NPR)
Trash is piling up in China — more than 520,000 tons a day. China's government has concluded the best way to get rid of it is to burn it at incinerators like this one, the Gao'antun incinerator power plant run by the Chaoyang district of Beijing.

Bird flu strain hitting China may be getting more dangerous (February 21, 2017, New Scientist)
Another bird flu is on the rampage in China. Already this winter there have been 424 cases in humans, more than a third of all those identified since the virus emerged in 2013. And it is spreading. This week it was announced that it seems poised to acquire mutations that could make it a much worse problem.

Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world's most dangerous pathogens (February 22, 2017, Nature)
A laboratory in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The move is part of a plan to build between five and seven biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs across the Chinese mainland by 2025, and has generated much excitement, as well as some concerns.

Science / Technology

China’s Artificial-Intelligence Boom (February 16, 2017, The Atlantic)
The country’s universities and tech giants are starting to surpass American ones when it comes to researching and implementing AI.

Can the Chinese government really control the Internet? We found cracks in the Great Firewall. (February 21, 2017, The Washington Post)
Although extensive, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) system of control over online social interaction is quite diffuse — and at times incoherent. New moves by Beijing, however, may be in line to shore up the Firewall.

Why China wants to go to Mars (February 22, 2017, The Economist)
Reaching Mars would demonstrate that China’s long march into the ranks of the world’s leading space powers is finally complete. 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Six Flags Coasts into Chongqing (February 22, 2017, Caixin Global)
Leading U.S. operator Six Flags could become one of the first with multiple parks in the market, announcing it has just inked a deal to open its second location in the interior city of Chongqing. Six Flags Entertainment Corp. said on Tuesday the new complex will include a traditional theme park and a water park in the city’s Bishan district.

History / Culture

A large collection: Everyday Life in Hong Kong in 1955 (February 19, 2017, Everyday Life in Maoist China)

The Man Restoring Eastern China’s Iconic Circular Homes (February 22, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In Lin Lusheng’s childhood years, the expansive courtyard in the middle of his towering circular home was a world in itself, a place where he whiled away the hours playing with the children next door and swimming in the pond. Now 34 years old, Lin has returned to his childhood home in eastern China’s Fujian province to restore it to its former glory. The building is one of the province’s legendary tulou, round structures built with clay and soil that encircle a central courtyard. 

Sinophobia Through the Ages (February 22, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Historically speaking, Chinese as well as other Asian immigrants to the US and Canada have been subject to discriminatory immigration policy, as well as racist treatment when they did make it in. In the United States, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited the immigration of Chinese people into the States.

Language / Language Learning

Where to Learn Chinese in China – What’s the Right City for You? (February 17, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
China is a big place. Everyone knows this – you just need to look at it on a map. There’s a huge wealth of different climates, cuisines and age-old customs across this one land, just waiting to be discovered. But if your main reason for travelling to China is to immerse yourself in the Chinese language, where should you go? In this article I will discuss factors that Chinese language students should consider when choosing their study location.

How to Order From a Chinese Menu Using Chinese Characters (February 20, 2017, The Beijinger)
If you’re keen to conquer ordering in Chinese but you’re still stuck seeking out restaurants with picture menus, check out our list of 25 basic characters you’ll need to get started. These characters won’t automatically direct you to the best items on the menu, nor will they allow you to understand every menu item, but they will allow you to start confidently identify ingredients you enjoy without needing pictures or English translations.

Links for Researchers

Social Credit Documents (China Law Translate)

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