ZGBriefs | February 28, 2019

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Featured Article

How Coca-Cola Came to China, 40 Years Ago (February 6, 2019, China Channel)
In part, Coke succeeded because they turned their talent for government relations toward China. Piqued by losing out to Pepsi in the quest to sell sugary soda to the USSR in 1972, Coca-Cola Chairman J. Paul Austin became fanatic about beating Pepsi to the PRC.

Sponsored Link

New e-Book: 
View from the Wall, by Huo Shui

The essays in this ebook, written by a Chinese scholar, were originally published in the ChinaSource Quarterly.Writing from a sociological perspective, Hou Shui offers a unique perspective on the church in China and its role in society, as well as its relationship to the Party-State. Written over a period of time from 1999 to 2011, they provide a fascinating look at the issues and challenges that society in general, and Christians in particular, faced.

Special Link

Greetings from Kerry Schottelkorb, New President of ChinaSource(February 25, 2019,ChinaSource Blog)
Warm greetings to you in our Lord’s name! I am honored and thankful to join the ChinaSource team in this vital season. I would never have considered the possibility of taking on the leadership of ChinaSource without the blessing of my dear and longtime friend Dr. Brent Fulton. For the past twenty years Brent and his wife Jasmine have lovingly and wisely stewarded ChinaSource—one of our Father’s gifts to Christ’s church in China and throughout the world.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Podcast: Chinese Influence: Real or Perceived? Responses to the Hoover Institution/Asia Society Report  (February 14, 2019, Shorensteitn APARC, via Sound Cloud)
A diverse spectrum of speakers gathered to discuss and debate "Chinese Influence and American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance", a report jointly issued on November 29, 2018 by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society.

China says 'preventive' work in Xinjiang detention camps should be applauded (February 24, 2019, The Guardian)
China’s counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation efforts in its far western region of Xinjiang should be applauded for creating a new method of tackling the problem, a senior diplomat told foreign envoys last week. China is stepping up its diplomatic outreach over controversial detention camps in the heavily Muslim region, inviting more foreign diplomats to visit as it seeks to head off criticism from Muslim-majority nations and at the United Nations.

How Xi Jinping became a networked authoritarian thanks to his little red app (February 24, 2019, The Guardian)
The app (“Xi Study Strong Nation” is the English translation of its name) has reportedly become the most popular smartphone app in China. In essence, it’s a study platform created by the party’s central committee for use by party members and cadres and covering all members and office workers across the country.

How China Exports Repression to Africa (February 23, 2019, The Diplomat)
China’s “techno-dystopian expansionism” is undermining democracy in African countries.

U.S. Navy ships pass through strategic Taiwan Strait, riling China (February 25, 2019, Reuters)
The two ships were identified as the destroyer Stethem and Navy cargo and ammunition ship Cesar Chavez, the statement said. The 180 km-wide (112 miles) Taiwan Strait separates Taiwan from China. China expressed anger at the move.

2019 Is a Sensitive Year for China. Xi Is Nervous. (February 25, 2019, The New York Times)
China’s leader, Xi Jinping, abruptly summoned hundreds of officials to Beijing recently, forcing some to reschedule long-planned local assemblies. The meeting seemed orchestrated to convey anxious urgency. The Communist Party, Mr. Xi told the officials, faces major risks on all fronts and must batten down the hatches. Whether dealing with foreign policy, trade, unemployment, or property prices, he declared, officials would be held responsible if they slipped up and let dangers spiral into real threats.

Exclusive: HSBC probe helped lead to U.S. charges against Huawei CFO (February 26, 2019, Reuters)
An internal investigation by HSBC Holdings PLC into Huawei Technologies’ connections to a suspected front company in Iran found that the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker maintained close financial ties to the firm years after purportedly selling the unit, documents reviewed by Reuters show.

Australia’s China Debate (February 26, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
Australia’s China debate is frequently cast in terms of ‘doves’ versus ‘hawks’, with the former also receiving the tag of being ‘pro-China’ and the latter designated ‘anti-China’. In fact, the common ground between these two groups is expansive.

Rising Chinese political star Wang Junzheng confirmed in Xinjiang security role (February 27, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Wang Junzheng, one of the Chinese Communist Party’s rising stars, has officially taken over as the party secretary in charge of law and order in Xinjiang. Xinjiang Daily reported on Tuesday that the former party chief of Changchun city had presided over a meeting of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission – the top political body responsible for law and order in the region – in Urumqi on Monday.

Donald Trump, human rights activist? Meet the Chinese dissidents rooting for the US president (February 28, 2019, South China Morning Post)
But the pro-Trumpers include some of Beijing’s most prominent and outspoken liberal critics, activists with first-hand experience of a government’s zero-tolerance approach to dissent – and who know well the dangers of any government that is intolerant of criticism, throttles the press and revolves around the wishes of one man.

The U.S. Rethink and Reset on China(Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development)
Gradually, however, a reasonably coherent set of overarching policies—if not an overarching strategy—is taking form. American policy towards China is no longer “engage but hedge,” but rather “hedge and hedge some more.” 


Podcast: Keeping the Faith? (February 19, 2019, Little Red Podcast)
To explore what’s behind this sudden rapprochement and what it could mean for China’s 12 million Catholics, Louisa and Graeme are joined by Jeremy Clarke, a former Catholic priest who has researched China’s historical relations with the Holy See.

A Letter to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang (February 26, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
How should Christians respond in this situation? One Chinese Christian who grew up in Xinjiang shares his thoughts and prayers for his Xinjiang brethren. In this article, “Andy” writes an open letter to his Uyghur friends in Xinjiang who are experiencing this repression.

Society / Life

Why China Is Reactivating Its ‘Work-Unit People’ (February 21, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The return of work-unit people to community management is part of a broader push to strengthen the reach of Party organizations and improve awareness of conditions on the local level. Reporting to local Party organs, work-unit people are expected to directly participate in all kinds of community management-related activities, everything from neighborhood patrols and trash pickup to teaching midday classes and offering medical, legal, or financial advice.

China's street-dancing stilt walkers risk safety in exchange for thrills (February 21, 2019, CNN)
Hebei stilt walkers stand a meter or so above the ground, dressed as one of a dozen spirits, including the big-headed ghost, the medicine man or the king of evil. The troupe travels from town to town, announcing their presence with the crashing of drums and cymbals. The traditional routine involves dancing, jumping over increasingly high benches and balancing on one leg in a kind of sideways split.

Is China’s social credit system as Orwellian as it sounds? (February 25, 2019, MIT Technology Review)
But rarely do we hear about the other narrative, in which it is a governance mechanism welcomed by many citizens who are fed up with rampant fraud, counterfeit products, and public health failures.

Living by the Rivers – A Roundup of China’s Best Photojournalism  (February 25, 2019, China File)
If the stories in this edition of Depth of Field share a common thread—apart from their distinguished photographic storytelling—it’s their interest in the flux and churn of life in China in 2019, where nothing seems fixed and pressure of constant movement reshapes the contours of institutions and of individual lives.

Could this be the end for China’s notorious household registration system?  (February 26, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Sun Lijun, deputy minister of public security, said on Thursday that his ministry is considering changes in policy to make it easier for the migrant workers to become the urban residents. But any changes to the system would not apply to congested the megacities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen that the authorities deem overpopulated, Sun said.

Young People Left Behind in China’s Snowbound Rust Belt (February 26, 2019, The New York Times)
Ronghui Chen’s photographs of young people in Northeastern China capture a loneliness he recognized in his own trek from village to city.

The Scammer Next Door: Why Villagers Protect Pyramid Schemers (February 26, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Despite the upheaval of relocation, I found that village community governance structures and values largely survived the transition to the city.

Economics / Trade / Business

Raise the Red Flag (February 24, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Hongqi is now the standard transport provided for most foreign leaders visiting Beijing, leading to a proliferation of the auspicious autos on Beijing’s roads during events like the 2017 Belt and Road Summit and the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

Chinese firm behind the 'Amazon Coat' hits jackpot in U.S., eschews China (February 24, 2019, Reuters)
When Kevin Chiu left his job in 2012 to try his luck at starting an online apparel business in a rural Chinese city, his main goal was to carve out more time to spend with his wife and newborn child. It never entered his mind that his Orolay puffer jacket would become a huge hit, celebrated as the ‘Amazon Coat’ in U.S. social and traditional media – and held up as a budding rival to premium brand Canada Goose.

Trump Suspends China Tariff Hike, Citing Progress In Trade Talks (February 24, 2019, NPR)
Tariffs had been scheduled to jump from 10 to 25 percent next Saturday. But Trump agreed to postpone that increase in hopes of negotiating a more comprehensive trade agreement.

China Cuts Red Tape, Seeks to Better Engage with Business Community (February 25, 2019, China Briefing)
China will continue to cut administrative red tape with an eye to improve the country’s business environment in 2019, the State Council recently announced. […]  More immediately, the government will cut 25 administrative approval items and reform the review system for construction projects.

Hot-rolled mess: China's steelmakers hit the skids as car sales slow (February 26, 2019, Reuters)
China’s steel mills may have taken a wrong turn by adding millions of tonnes of new high-end capacity just as the country’s car sector, a key steel consumer, undergoes its first contraction in decades, cutting metal demand.

China’s City-Tier Classification: What They Are and How Are They Defined (February 27, 2019, China Briefing)
Consequently, the city-tier classification system offers foreign investors a practical tool to navigate the 613 (officially recorded) cities that make up China. Businesses use the tier categorization to track city development, market trends, and tax policies and incentives, among other things. However, despite the popularity of the city-tier system, little is known about the precise criteria that determine the classification of a city in a specific tier. 

China Shifts, and Detroit’s Big Bet Goes Sour (February 27, 2019, The New York Times)
Chrysler, Ford and General Motors saw a booming Chinese driving culture and cheap labor. Now the market is slowing, competition is rising and the Trump administration wants limits.


Chinese-funded institutes on U.S. college campuses condemned in Senate report (February 27, 2019, Politico)
A scathing Senate report released Wednesday says that without major changes, so-called Confucius Institutes paid for by the Chinese government and operating on dozens of American college campuses should shut down.

Health / Environment

Depression and Anxiety on the Rise in China, Study Shows (February 24, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Based on the results of the survey, the researchers estimated that 16.6 percent of Chinese adults had experienced mental illness at some point in their lives, a much higher rate than in previous surveys, which were limited in scope. Anxiety disorders were the most common. Also on the rise was depression, which had affected 6.9 percent of those surveyed over the course of their lives and 3.6 percent in the previous 12 months.

Health Experts Debunk China’s ‘Blood Cleaning’ Beauty Fad (February 25, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Cosmetically conscious netizens say ozone-enriched blood cleanses the body of toxins, but medical professionals warn that it could be doing just the opposite.

Science / Technology

China’s censors are purging the internet of millennial angst (February 26, 2019, Tech in Asia)
China is known for its tough stance towards undesirable content, so that’s nothing new. But there’s also a new target: the so-called “sang” culture. It loosely translates to funeral or mourning, but it can also mean hopeless or dispirited. 

Travel / Food

Seasons of China Episode 1: Beginning of Spring (February 12, 2019, I’m in China, via YouTube)
Lichun (Chinese: 立春),or the Beginning of Spring as it is known, is the first of the 24 Solar Terms. It marks the starting point on the wheel of the four seasons when the world is all revived. Nowadays it was included on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Let’s go together with Dominic Johnson-Hill and experience the incredible Beginning of Spring in Shiqian, Guizhou province of China.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Animation About a Baozi Wins Oscar, Proves Love for Steamed Buns is Universal (February 25, 2019, The Beijinger)
An animated short about a baozi that comes to life has won Best Short Film at the Oscars 2019. The film, simply titled Bao, was released alongside Incredibles 2 and was written and directed by Chinese-Canadian Domee Shi for Pixar, making her the first female to direct a film for the animation giant.

Living Cross-culturally

Finding the One (February 25, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Our new dilemma was that we felt strongly called to adopt a Chinese child with HIV, but didn’t know how that could happen. At this time we were aware of five HIV-related adoptions from China. One was Dr. Julie’s daughter, two were children from Elim Kids, and the others we’d heard about through rumor. It wasn’t clear how God would fulfill this call.


Yuan Shikai: A Reappraisal (February 27, 2019, China Rhyming)
Yuan Shikai (1859–1916) has been both hailed as China’s George Washington for his role in the country’s transition from empire to republic and condemned as a counter-revolutionary. Yuan Shikai: A Reappraisal sheds new light on the controversial history of this talented administrator and modernizer who endeavoured to establish a new dynasty while serving as the first president of the republic, eventually declaring himself emperor. 

Links for Researchers

VIDEO: Stephen Orlins & Elizabeth Economy on the Future of U.S.-China Relations (February 19, 2019, National Committee on US-China Relations)
The Council on Foreign Relations' inaugural C.V. Starr & Co. Annual Lecture on China featured NCUSCR President Stephen Orlins and Director Elizabeth Economy, as well as Ely Ratner and Nicholas Kristof for a panel discussion on the future of U.S.-China relations amidst ongoing trade frictions, tensions in the South China Sea, and political, demographic, and economic developments within China itself.

Religions & Christianity in Today’s China, Vol. IX 2019, No. 1(February 2019, China Zentrum)


New Video Series Featuring ‘Calvin’s Beatles’ (February 26, 2019, Back to God Ministries)
A new video series is available featuring four great Christian thinkers, all of whom have taught at Calvin College. Collectively known as “Calvin’s Beatles,” they are philosophers Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff, historian George Marsden, and theologian/philosopher Richard Mouw. The videos were produced by the Chinese ministry of Back to God Ministries International and were released on the Chinese social media platform, WeChat, at the end of 2018.

Image credit: Coca-Cola, by WabbitWanderer, 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