ZGBriefs | February 4, 2016

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

Light government touch lets China’s Hui practice Islam in the open (February 1, 2016,  The New York Times)
Throughout Ningxia and the adjacent Gansu Province, new filigreed mosques soar over even the smallest villages, adolescent boys and girls spend their days studying the Quran at religious schools, and muezzin summon the faithful via loudspeakers — a marked contrast to mosques in Xinjiang, where the local authorities often forbid amplified calls to prayer.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

3 Rights Advocates Are Sentenced to Prison in China (January 28, 2016, The New York Times)
Three civil rights advocates were sentenced to prison in southern China on Friday, with the terms ranging from two and a half to five years, after a judge declared them guilty of inciting subversion.

China Indicts Canadian Kevin Garratt on State Secrets Charge (January 29, 2016, China Real Time)
China has indicted a Canadian citizen on charges of stealing state secrets, the country’s official Xinhua News Agency reported late Thursday night.

Hurting the feelings of the “Zhao family” (January 29, 2016, China Media Project)
Earlier this month on state television in China, Swedish national Peter Dahlin, the co-founder of a non-governmental organisation assisting Chinese rights lawyers, admitted to having assisted criminal activities in a “confession” that was almost certainly coerced. “I have caused harm to the Chinese government, and I have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” said Dahlin. The Swede joins a long list of parties who have offended Chinese “feelings” over the past six decades. But what does this phrase really signify?

China Is Said to Force Closing of Women’s Legal Aid Center (January 29, 2016, Sinosphere)
The Chinese authorities have ordered a leading women’s legal aid center in Beijing to shut down operations, the center’s founder said on Friday, another sign of a continuing crackdown on civil society.

Why China hacks the world (January 31, 2016, Christian Science Monitor)
Can aggressive espionage fuel the innovation that Beijing needs to reinvent its global role?

China Detains Three Journalists Amid Growing Calls For Their Release (February 21, 2016, Radio Free Asia)
Authorities in the western Chinese province of Gansu have detained three journalists on suspicion of "extortion," prompting growing calls for their release.

Crackdown on Dissent Reaches Across Borders (February 2, 2016, China Digital Times)
Following apparent cross-border police actions which led to detentions of several Chinese activists and publishers in Hong Kong and Thailand, concerns have been raised about the Chinese government overextending its reach in cracking down on dissenting voices.

How Close Was the Latest Close Call in the South China Sea? (February 2, 2016, China File)
China claims the sailing of a U.S. Navy warship on Saturday into what it calls its territory was needless provocation and an attempt at causing trouble amongst China’s neighbors. What precedent is there for these close calls in disputed maritime territories to escalate? How close was this close call?

RAAF now being routinely challenged by Beijing in South China Sea (February 3, 2016, Sydney Morning Herald)
Australian air force patrols flying over the South China Sea are now being routinely challenged by the Chinese military in a sign of the growing stranglehold Beijing has over the strategically vital waters. The Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, said on Wednesday that Australian surveillance patrol flights over the regional flashpoint had increased "slightly" and the RAAF would continue doing so as was its right under international law.

U.S. says open to patrols with Philippines in waters disputed with China (February 3, 2016, Reuters)
The United States is open to the possibility of joint naval patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea, a U.S. diplomat said on Wednesday, stressing it would continue to exercise "freedom of navigation" in the disputed waters.

China’s challenges in 2016 (February 3, 2016, East Asia Forum)
2016 will be dominated initially by China figuring out how to achieve the great `rebalancing’ that is central to delivering its first Centenary Goal in 2021 — middle income status.


"Partakers in the Suffering”: Recent events in China’s hopeful Church (January 27, 2016, Catholic World Report)
The situation in China is far more complex than a simple chronicle of antagonism, suspicion, and persecution; progress and hope also punctuate the narrative.

Hebei's Catholics stand out amid wider crackdown (January 28, 2016, UCA News)
Church members describe delicate balancing act in maintaining good relations with party officials.

CP Conference: interview with a pastor from Mainland China (January 28, 2016, China Partnership Blog)
During the course of the CP Conference 2016, we had the opportunity to interview a variety of attendees and hear from their experiences. The following interview is with a Mainland Chinese pastor and his wife.

Expansion of Christian Church in the Birthplace of Confucius Creates Controversy in China (January 28, 2016, TIME)
Now, the presence of a Christian church near Confucius central is sparking debate as to whether the ancient philosopher — or, more accurately, his descendants — can handle an influx of Western spirituality in a nation yearning for fulfillment.

Making It Safer for Seniors to Stay Active: Raising Up Trained Caregivers (January 29, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
The church of China can help raise up caregivers to serve seniors. There are churches and companies who can train Christian caregivers and connect them with seniors in need.

Church unity attracts little enthusiasm in China (January 29, 2016, UCA News)
When preparing a booklet for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Joseph Chen, a Catholic in eastern Zhejiang province, learned that the path for ecumenism in China is not easy. 

Leader of Government-Sanctioned Mega Church in Hangzhou Held in Secret Detention for Opposing Cross Removal Campaign (January 30, 2016, China Change)
About a fortnight ago, the two government-controlled Christian organizations in Hangzhou—the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the Christian Council—removed the lead pastor of the Hangzhou-based mega church “Chong-yi Church” (崇一堂), acting at the behest of the government and exceeding their jurisdiction. On January 27, Pastor Gu Yuese (顾约瑟, or Joseph Gu) was taken away by police and has since been placed under the notorious “residential surveillance at a designated place,” the Chinese government’s euphemism for secret detention.

In China, rise of Salafism fosters suspicion and division among Muslims (February 1, 2016, Los Angeles Times)
The growth in the Salafi movement here has rattled China's officially atheist communist government, which finds any expression of religious fervor to be unnerving, especially when it carries associations with foreign extremists.

Photos: Strongholds for China’s Hui Muslims (February 1, 2016, The New York Times)

3 Questions: G. Wright Doyle: Church Growth in the Chinese Church (February 1, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
You have had the opportunity over the years to observe church developments both in Taiwan and in mainland China. How would you compare the growth of the urban church in these two environments?

China officials remove 18 crosses in Zhejiang province (February 2, 2016, UCA News)
Christians in Zhejiang said it remained unclear whether the new removals "were just crosses that were not removed as scheduled last year or if this is a new round of persecution."

Video: The Violin Church (February 2, 2016, Chinese Church Voices)
While officials in Zhejiang province are busy demolishing church buildings they deem to have been illegally built and removing crosses from the tops of churches, in Guangdong province a congregation has built itself a new church building in the shape of a violin! 

Sinicizing Christianity: Bible Player in Local Chinese Dialect Gets Issued (February 2, 2016, China Christian Daily)
On January 30, 2016, the Xiuyu District CCC&TSPM of Putian held the thanksgiving worship for releasing the Bible and hymn player in dialect spoken in Putian, Fujian. On that day, 2000 players were sold.

China, Vatican negotiate further on bishop appointments (February 3, 2016, UCA News)
Italian publication says Pope Francis has given approval for three candidates.

Society / Life

Photo essay: Married Young (January 28, 2016, China File)
In the fall of 2014, a website affiliated with the city government in Kunming, capital of the southwest Chinese province of Yunnan, ran a story about a 13-year-old girl and her 18-year-old husband in Jinping county in the southern part of the province. According to the article, “early marriage” was a common phenomenon in the area and the government found it difficult to control because the parents of the young husbands and wives preferred their children to marry before migrating to the cities to work.

Video: Corpses stolen in rural China to accomplish "ghost marriages" (January 29, 2016, New China TV)
Rural villages in north China are still dealing with the issue of corpse theft, in which female bodies are stolen to be buried with deceased single men. This superstitious custom of "ghost marriages" remains prevalent in some places, although it has been banned by Chinese authorities.

Chinese miners rescued after 36 days trapped underground (January 30, 2016, Christian Science Monitor)
The mine collapsed on Christmas Day, killing several miners and trapping survivors more than six hundred feet below the surface.

China’s Workers Fall Back on the Countryside They Left (February 1, 2016, China Real Time)
As workers across China have started returning to their families in recent days to celebrate the Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb. 8, a palpable anxiety has shrouded the festivities. Jobs are drying up in the cities, and workers are returning to rural homes that offer even worse prospects.

China officials punished over wrongful execution of teen (February 1, 2016, BBC)
Twenty-seven Chinese officials have been penalised for the wrongful execution of a teenager, state news agency Xinhua said. Huugjilt was 18 when he was convicted of the rape and murder of a woman in a factory's public toilet in 1996.

Weddings from hell: the Cambodian brides trafficked to China (February 1, 2016, The Guardian)
Foreign ministry spokesman Chum Sounry says that in 2015 the Cambodian government facilitated the return of 85 trafficked brides who had managed to reach a Cambodian consulate. Many others who are unaccounted for are thought to be trapped and unable to return home.

Chinese officials arrest 21 people over $7.6bn 'scam' (February 1, 2016, BBC)
Chinese authorities have arrested 21 people involved in an online finance scheme which is suspected of defrauding 900,000 investors of about 50bn yuan ($7.6bn; £5.3bn). The 21 people worked for Ezubao, a peer-to-peer lender widely described in Chinese state media as a Ponzi scheme.

How China's One-Child Policy Led To Forced Abortions, 30 Million Bachelors (February 1, 2016, NPR)
Fong explores the wide-ranging impact of what she calls the world's "most radical experiment" in her new book, One Child. She says that among the policy's unintended consequences is an acute gender imbalance.

Photos: Scenes From 21st-Century China (February 2, 2016, The Atlantic)
This collection offers only a small view of people and places across the country over the past few months.

China sends 6,000 police to quell new year train station chaos (February 2, 2016, The Guardian)
Tens of thousands still waiting for transport at Guangzhou main rail depot as residents attempt to get away for a lunar new year celebrations.

Picture China: Lunar New Year Rush, Snowfall in Xi’an (February 3, 2016, China Real Time)

Six Reasons to Live in Kunming, South of the Clouds (February 3, 2016, The Beijinger)
The city is easily one of the most interesting cities in China, and one of the most underrated places to live. Hopefully after exploring just a few of the reasons why Kunming is the king of choices, you'll realize the aforementioned statements are more than just cheap clichés.

‘Eyes on China’: Illuminating Life Across a Changing Country (February 3, 2016, Sinosphere)
Two photographers living in China, Kevin Frayer of Getty Images and Fred Dufour of Agence France-Presse, set up a collective Instagram account in June that displays photographs and short videos taken across China. They called it “Eyes on China.”

China goes home for new year holidays – in pictures (February 3, 2016, The Guardian)
China’s transportation system will carry a record number of passengers, with an expected 2.9bn trips during the 40-day annual spring festival period between 21 January and 3 March.

How China's celebration of the Year of the Monkey breaks down by the numbers (February 3, 2016, Los Angeles Times)
According to traditional Chinese belief, babies born this year — “monkey babies” — will be smart, curious, cute and perhaps a bit condescending. Here’s a further look at the celebrations and some more related numbers

Economics / Trade / Business

Chinese-Made Cars Arrive in U.S. Showrooms (January 28, 2016, The New York Times)
A PEEK under the hood of three new cars from Volvo, Buick and Cadillac will not reveal a Made in China label. But those cars are breaking new ground in the auto industry, becoming the first to be manufactured in the People’s Republic and exported to the United States.

Another Type of Factory-Gate Indicator: Dumpling Sales (January 31, 2016, China Real Time)
Whether it is the cold drizzle, factory economics or the annual exodus of migrant laborers ahead of Lunar New Year, Lin Xinge is selling fewer dumplings.

China manufacturing shrinks for sixth month in a row (February 1 2016, BBC)
Activity in China's manufacturing sector contracted for the sixth month in a row in January – and hit its lowest level since 2012.

As China's growth cools, the real worry in Beijing: unemployment (+video) (February 1, 2016, Christian Science Monitor)
The legitimacy of the Communist Party is closely linked to its ability to deliver a good life to China's hundreds of millions of workers. 


The Big Winner in China’s Philanthropy Game: Schools (January 28, China Real Time)
As China’s rich get more used to philanthropy, educational institutions are the big winners, according to a new study.

Health / Environment

Exploitation of Endangered Species Feared as China Revisits Wildlife Law (February 1, 2016, Sinosphere)
A proposed revision to China‘s Wildlife Protection Law is being criticized by conservationists who fear it could legitimize the commercial exploitation of endangered species, such as tigers, bears and pangolins.

Science / Technology

China sold almost 500m smartphones in 2015, and other crazy data (January 28, 2016, Tech in Asia)
How big is China’s smartphone market? Absolutely massive, according to the latest report released by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). China sold 457 million smartphones in 2015, up 17.7 percent year-on-year, according to the Ministry. That means around 35 percent of China’s population bought a new smartphone last year.

China Just Released a New Set of True Color Photos of the Moon’s Surface (February 1. 2016, Petapixel)
The China National Space Administration, China’s NASA equivalent, has just published a new set of high-definition true color photos of the Moon’s surface. They were captured by cameras on the Yutu rover, which traveled to the Moon on the Chang’e 3 spacecraft back in December 2013.

History / Culture

Fascinating Tradition of Uyghur Paper Making in Hotan (January 28, 2016, Far West China)
The tradition of Uyghur paper making in Hotan (Khotan), Xinjiang has been around for more than 2,000 years, and yet somehow it rarely gets a mention in most travel guides or tour packages. The truth is, if it weren’t for government subsidies, this local tradition of making paper from mulberry trees probably would have died off decades ago.

Chinese New Year Hongbao and Gift-Giving Etiquette (January 31, 2016, The Beijinger)
One of the Chinese traditions that as a foreigner you have to grasp quickly, is the concept of the Chinese red envelope. Whether you’re in China for business or pleasure, you’ll encounter situations in which you’re expected to give a hóngbāo (红包).

A large collection: Beijing in color in 1975 (January 31, 2016, Everyday Life in Mao’s China)

Badass ladies of China: Ah Toy (January 28, 2016, The World of Chinese)
Chinese society features a lot of phenomenal women, from badass Princesses to female astronomers and political leaders. This week, to reintroduce the “Badass Ladies” series, we’re focusing on Ah Toy, America’s first Chinese Madame in the wild, wild West.

If You Love Your Uncle, Avoid These Chinese New Year Taboos! (February 1, 2016, The Beijinger)
Believe it or not, it’s better to show some respect to these taboos; for Chinese people, it's how we try to keep the tradition alive.

Mourning Zhou Enlai at Tiananmen in 1976 (February 1, 2016, Everyday Life in Mao’s China)

Memories of May Fourth in downtown Beijing (February 1. 2016, The World of Chinese)
Hong Lou (“The Red Building”) is the original campus of Peking University, and inside its classrooms and corridors, dusty and shabby with neglect, are the echoes of an educational revolution that transformed a decrepit and corrupt academy into China’s most famous institution of higher learning.

A collection: Everyday Life in Shenzhen in 1979 (February 1, 2016, Everyday Life in Mao’s China)

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Video: What is the game Go? (January 28, 2016, BBC)
Go is a board game thought to date back to ancient China more than 2,500 years ago.

Imagining Hong Kong’s Future, Under China’s Tightening Grasp (January 29, 2016, Sinosphere)
“Ten Years” has become a surprise hit across theaters in Hong Kong, tapping into fears in the semiautonomous Chinese territory over the erosion of local culture and civil liberties, fears fed most recently by the disappearance of five people connected to a Hong Kong company that publishes political books banned in the mainland.

Netizens Clamor for More Monkeys, Fewer Armored Tanks in CCTV Gala (February 2, 2016, China Real Time)
Many took to Chinese social media platform Weibo to protest ringing in the Year of the Monkey with a review of China’s store of armaments. They also agitated for China’s most famous fictional monkey – the Monkey King, played in the TV show by actor Liu Xiao Ling Tong – to make an appearance instead.

China's music listening habits revealed (February 2, 2016, BBC)
More than 977 million people in China – 72% of the population – listen to music every week, according to a new survey of the country's listening habits. The average Chinese consumer enjoys 16 hours of music per week, with 66% of listeners using a streaming service.

When Push Comes to Shove—Movies, China, and the World (February 2, 2016, China File)
The moviemaking dance the United States is doing with China is picking up pace. The Asian giant’s audience influence is soaring as estimates show that Chinese box office returns could overtake American ticket sales this year or next. Parity in audience size is one thing, but the know-how to make movies that travel is another story.

American Football Catches On In China; League Champion Crowned (February 3, 2016, NPR)
In advance of Sunday's Super Bowl, we're going to look at another football championship game. A grass roots football league in China is gaining fans. The title game was held between 2 Shanghai teams.

Travel / Food

8 Traditional Spring Festival Foods and Where to Find Them (January 29, 2016, The Beijinger)
Fireworks aside, the next best thing (or maybe the best thing actually) about Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) is all the scrumptious traditional foods that go along with it. But what should you eat/gift and why during this more festive of Chinese festivals?

10 Ways You Can End up on China’s Latest Air-Travel Blacklist (February 2, 2016, China Real Time)
An announcement carried in state media chronicled 10 behaviors that can get you on the blacklist (in Chinese). For those worried they might be in danger of transgressing, here they are in translation with examples where available:

Translation: 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit Policy for Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang (February 3, 2016, US & China Visa Law Blog)
The State Council has approved, effective January 30, a visa free policy at each public port in Shanghai, Nanjing (Jiangsu Province) airport, and Hangzhou (Zhejiang Province) airport.

Chinese woman becomes 'world's luckiest passenger' (February 3, 2016, BBC)
Plenty of leg room, personalised service and no crying babies or unruly fellow passengers. That was what one lucky traveller in China experienced while flying home to Guangzhou for the New Year holiday. Delays meant all other passengers had swapped to an earlier flight, leaving Ms Zhang to enjoy the "rockstar" trip.

Language / Language Learning

Simplified Chinese Characters Celebrate 60th Anniversary (January 31, 2016, The Beijinger)
Still controversial 60 years their adoption, native and non-native learners of written Chinese may have reason to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the adoption of simplified Chinese characters (简体字, jian ti zi)


At Home in This World: A China Adoption Story (February 3, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
Jean Macleod’s At Home in this World was an “Adoption Day” gift for my youngest daughter at the start of her third grade year. It’s a beautiful book, both in its literary content and in its delicate watercolor illustrations.

Image credit: Tongxin Mosque, Ningxia, by Joann Pittman, via Flickr
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement 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