ZGBriefs | January 11, 2024

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Featured Article

How China Became a Car Country (January 9, 2024, Sixth Tone)
In 2022, Chinese bought more than 26 million light cars, nearly double the total of the United States. The country is even exporting aspects of its car culture abroad, thanks in part to a world-leading new-energy vehicle sector.

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Online Book Club (ERRChina)
Join us for our quarterly online book club to discuss Jennifer Lin’s book Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Family“Through the 150-year saga of a single family, this book vividly dramatizes the remarkable religious evolution of the world’s most populous nation. Shanghai Faithful is both a touching family memoir and a chronicle of the astonishing spread of Christianity in China. Five generations of the Lin family—buffeted by history’s crosscurrents and personal strife—bring to life an epoch that is still unfolding.”
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
5:00 pm EST
Online, via Zoom

Go here to register.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s 2024 Priorities Tucked in Xi Jinping’s New Year Speech (January 8, 2024, The Diplomat)
The president’s speech has a clear goal of boosting Chinese people’s declining confidence amid the past difficult years.

China tells US it will ‘never compromise’ on Taiwan (January 9, 2024, BBC)
China has said it will “never compromise” on the issue of Taiwan, in its first military talks with the US since 2021. It urged the US to “stop arming Taiwan” and take its concerns “seriously”. This comes just days ahead of pivotal elections in Taiwan, which could push the island further towards – or away – from Beijing.

China satellite launch triggers air raid alert in Taiwan ahead of election (January 9, 2024, BBC)
Taiwan issued an islandwide air raid alert after a Chinese satellite flew over its southern airspace days before a crucial presidential election. Mobile phone users across the self-ruled island received a message warning them to “be aware for your safety”. The “presidential alert” underlined jitters ahead of pivotal presidential and legislative elections on Saturday.

Enforcing the CCP’s Media Leadership (January 9, 2024, China Media Project)
At this year’s gathering of top propaganda officials in China, held last week, the emphasis was once again on the CCP’s dominance of the message — in the media, propaganda, and culture more broadly. The prominent use of a new Xi Jinping catchphrase made clearer than ever who is in charge of the national narrative.

China’s Public Image Actually Getting Worse (January 9, 2024, Council on Foreign Relations)
Recent polling by the Pew Research Center, which has historically closely tracked global views of both China and the United States, suggests that China’s public image globally remains poor, and is possibly getting worse.

As election nears in Taiwan, many young voters say China isn’t their biggest concern (January 10, 2024, CNN)
While almost everyone identified as Taiwanese, not Chinese, the majority told CNN they did not view China as the most important factor in this election – because they did not think the status quo will change in the short term.

The Taiwan that China wants is vanishing (January 10, 2024, BBC)
The island’s burgeoning identity is once again being tested as Taiwan votes in a new government on Saturday. And with each election, China is more troubled by the assertion of a Taiwanese identity – one that thwarts the chances of what it calls “peaceful reunification” with the mainland.

Podcast: Why are China and India rivals? (January 10, 2024, Chinese Whispers, via Player.fm)
India is the fifth largest economy in the world, and now has a population larger than China’s. It’s no surprise, then, that officials in Washington often see India as a powerful non-western bulwark to growing Chinese power. On this podcast, I look at where China and India’s rivalry comes from. How much have long-lasting skirmishes on the China-Indian border damaged relations?


A Year of Praying for Chinese Cities (January 1, 2024, China Partnership Blog)
China has changed. Its cities have changed. But the importance of prayer has not changed. Nor has our desire to help support the effort of the church in China to live in and minister to China’s cities.

China’s Xinjiang region says all new religious buildings must ‘reflect Chinese characteristics’ (January 5, 2024, South China Morning Post)
The far-western region is home to large numbers of the mainly Muslim Uygur majority, and the regulations say specifically that any mosque renovations that would change the existing layout or functions must be approved by the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region authorities.

Engaging with Chinese Muslims, Part 1 (January 5, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
The majority of Muslims worldwide are products of collective societies. These cultures find storytelling, regional proverbs, and music to be very efficient means of communication. The use of stories to share the gospel with Muslims makes perfect sense. 

A Crucial Time to Reach Chinese Cities (January 8, 2024, China Partnership Blog)
his year, we are praying for cities in China. We recently spoke to a key Chinese Christian leader about why praying for cities is so important, and why this is a crucial season of ministry for urban churches in China.

Taking Our Pain to the Cross (January 8, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
Xin Chen experienced trauma, but she was not alone! The local church members ministered to her—safely and carefully. She experienced God’s presence in a new and deeper way. Initially, she was most concerned about the safety of her family and team. But after she learned they were fine, she settled into her safe house to be still before God and wait out the intense search for her by the security bureau.

The Price of Discipleship (January 10, 2024, Chinese Church Voices)
These trials forced us to confront the true cost of discipleship, echoing the wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He reminded us that following Jesus meant abandoning our old selves, embracing a life free from materialism and societal comforts. These challenges were not mere misfortunes; they were the universal cost of our faith.

Society / Life

The ‘walking route’: How an underground industry is helping migrants flee China for the US (January 8, 2024, CNN)
They come with backpacks carrying a few spare changes of clothes and whatever money and phones they weren’t robbed of by criminals or cartels along the way, arriving at the United States-Mexico border exhausted from the stress of the journey north. Like the hundreds of thousands of people around them who have also trekked weeks to reach the US, they’re driven by a desperation to escape and make a new life, despite the uncertainty of what’s on the other side.

Economics / Trade / Business

Is China’s consumption story over? Here’s what experts are saying (January 9, 2024, CNBC)
Experts believe there could be a shift in China’s spending patterns, where more consumers are choosing to spend on quality goods rather than higher quantities. Market players are now looking towards the services and consumption side to propel China’s growth in the next year.

Science / Technology

In the race for AI supremacy, China and the US are travelling on entirely different tracks (January 8, 2024, The Guardian)
Despite the success of ChatGPT, the past year has made it clear that it’s perhaps time to shift our focus away from the perceived “AI race” between the west and China, and instead focus on their different approaches.

History / Culture

In Winter, 9 Is the Magic Number (January 6, 2024, Sixth Tone)
China’s ‘counting the nine’ concept emerged almost 1,500 years ago and remains a gem of its traditional folk culture.

Travel / Food

Podcast: Analyzing China’s Travel Reopening, Exactly A Year In (January 52024, Skift)
What’s the state of Chinese tourism? It is one of the biggest questions facing the travel industry and we are looking for answers on the one-year anniversary of China’s reopening.

China says it’s easier than ever for Americans to visit the country (January 9, 2024, CNN)
Now, Americans who want to get a Chinese tourist visa (L-visa) no longer have to submit proof of a round-trip flight booking, a hotel reservation, an organized itinerary or a letter of invitation. The Chinese embassy in Washington announced the newly relaxed guidelines on December 29, 2023, citing the desire “to further facilitate people-to-people exchanges.”

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Shanghai on Screen: A Hit TV Show Helps a City Find Its Voice (January 10, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Amid a national push to standardize Mandarin, experts say TV dramas in local dialects are not just a form of entertainment but also a valuable means of cultural preservation.


Online Courses for those working with Chinese students (Thriving Turtles)
22nd January to 2 February 2024.  These courses are asynchronous (not in real time) running for 6-10 hours over a 2-week period.  They are NOT webinars so you are free to work in your own time and timezone. Courses contain a variety of interactive activities including (written) discussion forums.  Early bird closes on 12 January and registrations close on 19 January.  
For more information see https://www.thrivingturtles.org/online-courses/

Links for Researchers

U.S.-China Relations in 2024: Managing Competition without Conflict (January 3, 2024, Center for Strategic and International Studies)
The United States and China both wanted the meeting to be successful, but their leaders arrived in San Francisco on very different trajectories.

CCP Ideological Indoctrination, Part 2: The New Plan for Training Party Cadres (January 5, 2024, China Brief)
On December 29, 2023, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping addressed a gathering of People’s Republic of China (PRC) diplomatic personnel in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. He instructed his audience to compose a “diplomatic iron army (外交铁军)” representing China’s interests. Notably, Xi emphasized the need for correct political thinking: asserting that they must “persist in our revolution (坚持自我革命),” “be steadfast in political conviction (政治信念坚定),” and “build a sturdy ideological line of defense (筑牢思想防线)” about themselves in the performance of their work (Yang Guang Wang, December 30, 2023).

Pray for China

January 11 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Jan. 11, 1941, Zhang Yongsheng (张永生弟兄), the Apostle of the Dabie Mountains, was born in Jinzhai County, Anhui. His father was a local farmer who instilled a great love for learning into his son. Zhang was also a resistance leader allied with the Guomindang during World War II. He was imprisoned by the new communist government, and the family lived a difficult life for three decades. During the three famine years (1959-62), young Zhang prayed to the unknown God for help and promised he would serve him after age 45 if his family survived. The call came earlier. In 1981, Zhang dreamed that a book from heaven fell into his hands; he thought it might be a Buddhist scripture. Then he met an old Christian woman who had a Bible, and he realized this was God’s call to him. He became a Christian and began to study the Bible and listen to gospel programs on the radio. Soon he was evangelizing throughout Jinzhai and other areas in the Dabie Mountains, where the gospel had never been preached. Then he began to preach and train others. Within a decade, he had planted over 400 fellowships. His son, Zhang Yuanlai (张远来牧师), graduated from seminary and became a pastor and prolific author. Pray for Christians in the Dabie Mountains to follow the Lord, who contends with their foes and saves their children. …for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children. Isaiah 49:25b

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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