ZGBriefs | January 12, 2017

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Featured Article

China’s Rural Poor Bear the Brunt of the Nation’s Aging Crisis (January 4, 2017, Bloomberg)
The outlines of China’s demographic challenge are well-known: By 2050 almost 27 percent of the population will be 65 or older, up from around 10 percent in 2015, according to projections by the United Nations and the China Research Center on Aging. Less recognized is that the crisis will hit hardest in villages like Shangxule, which are suffering the twin effects of China’s one-child policy and decades of migration to the cities.

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Special Section: Foreign NGO Law

Group of Chinese lawyers offer legal help to foreign NGOs as new law kicks in (January 6, 2017, Hong Kong Free Press)
The 36 lawyers founded the Lawyers’ Legal Services Group on Tuesday in response to the NGO law. A statement released by the group said they will provide services including consultation and legal advice, aid in preparing legal documents and legal representation, as well as legal training and talks. The statement said that the new law is indicative of a shift in the state’s policy of non-recognition, non-prohibition and non-intervention on foreign NGOs.

More FAQs on the Overseas NGO Law: Reading the Fine Print (January 8, 2017, NGOs in China)
The more I speak to people about the Overseas NGO Law, the more I realize how much misunderstanding there is about the law. I think it is safe to say that this misunderstanding exists both among NGOs and among the Public Security officials who are charged with implementing this law. One source of misunderstanding comes from confusion about what different terms mean. Another source comes from the law itself being unclear on some points.

The Foreign NGO Law: An Infographic (January 9, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
On Sunday, January 1 China’s new law governing foreign NGOs in China went into effect. The good folks at China Development Brief have put together a helpful infographic covering the basic information about the law. Some of the dates on the infographic reflect information as of mid-December; however, the information it conveys is still extremely useful.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Party Rules: China’s Communist Party Goes for Quality Over Quantity (January 5, 2017, China Real Time)
China’s Communist Party, one of the world’s largest political organizations, is inching closer to President Xi Jinping’s goal of becoming a more selective, elite group. Recent membership data show that the admission process for the 89-million-strong party has become more stringent over recent years, as fewer applicants get shortlisted to undertake the yearslong effort of becoming a full-fledged member, according to an essay by a senior party academic.

Three terrorism suspects shot dead in Xinjiang (January 9, 2017, South China Morning Post)
The three were suspected of carrying out an attack two years ago in Pishan county in Hotan prefecture, but no details were given. Pishan has experienced some of the heaviest levels of attacks in the region.

China aircraft carrier crosses Taiwan Strait amid tension (January 11, 2017, BBC)
The Liaoning was returning from drills in the South China Sea. It did not enter Taiwanese waters but did cross its air defence identification zone (ADIZ), the ministry said. It is the latest escalation amid tensions between the two neighbours, and Taiwanese authorities have asked the public to remain calm.

China's Xi to promote globalization at Davos, not 'war and poverty' (January 11, 2017, Reuters)
China's President Xi Jinping will promote "inclusive globalization" at this month's World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos and will warn that populist approaches can lead to "war and poverty", Chinese officials said on Wednesday.

China to seal border with Pakistan to curb terror (January 11, 2017, Times of India)
Foreign ministries of China and Pakistan talk of all-weather friendship. But there has been growing concern among politicians in Xinjiang, the target of Islamist terrorism, about close links between local terrorists and Taliban camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.


The Challenges of Localization (5): Pride (January 6, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
While it is easy to find reasons to stay in positions of authority, or rationales for waiting just a little bit longer before transferring control to local coworkers, these excuses often mask the real reason why expatriates put off localization: What about me?

Making Christmas Chinese: “a yellow Christmas for yellow skin” (January 7, 2017, China Hope Live)
Could Christmas ever become Chinese? It’s complicated. For starters: What does that question even mean? And then there’s Christmas’ thorny and conflicted association with Western culture and imperialism, which this translated article lays it out well enough:

Top 10 Christian News Stories in China in 2016 (January 10, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
China Christian Daily recently posted a list of the most popular news stories from the China Christian Times. Some may be surprising.

Supporting China’s Indigenous Missions Movement (January 11, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
As the sending of cross-cultural workers from China gains momentum, many international sending organizations see China as a rich source of potential new workers for the harvest. Yet when it comes to agencies recruiting workers from China, the advice from those involved in the emerging movement is: “don't.”

Why Spiritualism is China’s Newest Celebrity Fad (January 11, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Authors are not the only ones practicing spirituality, either: Healing therapies are currently a craze among the social elite more generally. Company executives, entrepreneurs, and high-level managers are signing up in ever greater numbers to a wide range of spiritual classes and workshops.

Society / Life

China: Anti-pollution cops to take on Beijing's smog (January 8, 2017, CNN)
Officials in Beijing are taking steps toward tackling the city's long-standing smog problem with the creation of an environmental police force, according to state media. Spearheaded by Beijing's acting mayor Mayor Cai Qi, the political crackdown on burning fossil fuels comes amid a flurry of concern over the country's choking air pollution.

China’s Elite Bodyguards Are Struggling to Find Enough Rich People to Protect (January 9, 2017, TIME)
Training bodyguards has been big business in China for years. Now, however, a slowing economy and an anticorruption drive are putting the brakes on the private-security industry.

The secret lives of urban waste pickers (January 10, 2017, The Guardian)
Chinadialogue interviews two sociologists who have documented the hidden lives of waste pickers in recycling communities on the outskirts of Beijing.

Why Public Intellectuals Have Become Targets of Online Abuse (January 10, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Chinese public intellectuals have traditionally taken on the responsibility of acting as whistleblowers who call out egregious faults in the system. However, they are no longer as highly respected as they used to be, at least in cyberspace. Today, they are commonly referred to as gongzhi on Chinese social media — a term that has recently become thought of as derogatory.

Economics / Trade / Business

Apple Pulls 'The New York Times' From Its App Store In China (January 5, 2017, NPR)
Citing local regulations, Apple has removed The New York Times news app from its app store in China. The incident is the latest in the long history of media restrictions in the country, but also in the ongoing pattern of tech companies getting involved in the efforts.

5 maps that explain China's strategy (January 6, 2017, Business Insider)
There is a gap between what is generally expected of China and what China actually does. To understand what China’s actual national strategy is, it is helpful to follow the logic inherent in the following five maps. 

China’s Cybersecurity Law and Employee Personal Information (January 8, 2017, China Law Blog)
Article 35 of the law states that “personal information and other important data gathered or produced by critical information infrastructure network operators during operations within the mainland territory of the People’s Republic of China, shall store it within mainland China.” Our clients keep asking what this will mean for them.

How Chinese Super App Wechat Plans To Lock Out Foreign App Stores In China (January 9, 2017, Forbes)
Since its launch on January 21 2011, WeChat has established a solid track record in pushing forward big game changing innovations within China’s mobile ecosystem. Their relatively small Guangzhou-based team holds an incredibly deep understanding of the needs of Chinese mobile users.

China’s New Silk Road Is Getting Muddy (January 9, 2017, Foreign Policy)
Under OBOR, China is loaning hundreds of billions of dollars to fund infrastructure construction in foreign countries during an economic slowdown at home — a recipe that could spell disaster if it fails to stimulate the Chinese economy or leaves poor countries hopelessly in hock to Beijing.

China's 2% Inflation Feels More Like 20% to Big-City Renters (January 10, 2017, Bloomberg)
Project manager Yuan Fang says she’s cutting spending and working overtime after a 20 percent surge in the cost of both her Beijing room rent and her favorite Japanese lunch boxes. Civil servant Neo Zhu, who bought an apartment in the eastern city of Hangzhou 10 years ago, feels costs of everything from gas to food are stable.

Shanghai Tower: how China’s tallest skyscraper was built (January 10, 2017, Financial Times)
Gensler, the US company that designed the tower, hired photographer Noah Sheldon to document its construction. While producing architectural photos to satisfy his client, Sheldon took advantage of his access to the site to capture other kinds of images.

Edifice Complex: China Is the World’s Largest Skyscraper Factory, Again (January 11, 2017, China Real Time)
China’s love for megatowers has hit another high. For the ninth year running, China topped the world last year for the largest number of new skyscrapers 656 feet tall (200 meters) or taller.


Hunan School Demands Wedding Presents From Teachers, Otherwise Penalties Will Follow (January 5, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
A local school in China’s Hunan province stirred controversy when they issued a formal announcement saying that teachers are required to give out presents to the school staff in case of weddings or funerals, or else they will be penalized.

Beijing Schools to Install Air Purifiers After Parents’ Outcry (January 6, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In response to numerous complaints from parents worried about the health effects of their children breathing severely polluted air, the Beijing Municipal Education Commission said late Thursday night that air purifiers will be installed in the city’s schools.

Non-native English teachers may soon be prohibited from teaching in China (January 9, 2017, Shanghaiist)
Back in October, China infamously began testing out a brand new work permit system that would neatly classify foreign workers into three distinct categories: A, B and C expats. That system is currently being rolled out in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and other places first, before it expands farther afield in April. Apparently, one part of this new system is a rule that mandates all foreign English teachers must be native English speakers -- along with holding a bachelor's degree from their home country and having two years of teaching experience.

China is rewriting textbooks so its “eight-year war of resistance” against Japan is now six years longer (January 10, 2017, Quartz)
On Jan. 3, the Chinese education ministry issued a notice to its regional offices that every single mention of the “eight-year war of resistance” must be replaced by the “14-year war of resistance” in official textbooks used by school kids from six to 15 years old, starting from the new semester in February.

Chinese professor sacked after criticizing Mao online (January 10, 2017, Reuters)
The Shandong government said on its website Deng had been dismissed for breaking provincial and national rules on government work, without providing details, and that local discipline bodies had been informed. The university's party committee said Deng had made "false remarks", according to images of a statement from it, shared on social media and seen by Reuters.

Health / Environment

After One-Child Policy, Outrage at China’s Offer to Remove IUDs (January 7, 2017, The New York Times)
“We shouldn’t even have had this in the first place, and now the government wants to use it as a form of state benefit for people,” Ms. Lu, 36, scoffed in a phone interview from her home in the eastern city of Linyi. “It’s like they are slapping themselves in the face.”

China Wants to Be a Climate Change Watchdog, but Can It Lead by Example? (January 10, 2017, The New York Times)
China has indicated that it wants to take on a leadership role to promote the Paris Agreement. But if Washington withdraws or lets up on its demands, the incentives for Beijing to do that through greater transparency will be greatly reduced.

The filth they breathe in China (January 11, 2017, The Week)
Pollution in China is at an unsustainable level. The cost in lives and the cost of cleaning up China's ruined rivers, lakes, skies, and soil are staggering. Just as significant will be the economic cost of changing the way business is done in China to prevent further environmental destruction.

Science / Technology

The surprisingly cutthroat race to build the world’s fastest elevator (January 4, 2017, The Washington Post)
China is experiencing an elevator boom. Over the past decade, the vast majority of elevators installed around the world have been placed in China, where rapid urbanization has met with a desire for ambitious “super-tall” skyscrapers. It has been estimated that by 2020, 40 percent of all elevators will be in China. And when it comes to speed, the rest of the world can’t keep up.

Startup Apps in the New Year (January 10, 2017, The World of Chinese)
For those who live in Beijing, there are a few startups making enough noise that you might have already noticed in the New Year. Will they survive and continue to transform our city and our lives, or will they be among the majority that fall into oblivion when they run out of money? That’s a question only users and time will answer. 

The humble ballpoint pen has become a new symbol of China’s innovation economy (January 11, 2017, Quartz)
China has grown by leaps and bounds during its quest for greater domestic innovation, becoming a world leader in sectors like robotics-based manufacturing and consumer software. But one of its most recent accomplishments is in an area that’s considerably more basic: ballpoint pens.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The TV network at the forefront of Beijing's foreign propaganda offensive (January 9, 2017, Christian Science Monitor)
In establishing the China Global Television Network, President Xi sees as an opening to take advantage of the crises facing Western liberal democracy and reshape global opinion in favor of China's political values.

Warriors, Wolves to play two preseason games in China (January 9, 2017, ESPN)
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors will meet in two preseason games in China next season as part of the NBA's 2017 Global Games, Wolves owner Glen Taylor confirmed to ESPN on Monday. Games will be held in Shenzhen and Shanghai in October.

History / Culture

Fabled 'lost' road explores China's forgotten wartime history (January 6, 2017, CNN)
No longer in active use save for a handful of tourists and the occasional local on a motorbike, today the road stands quiet. But it once must have felt like a hair-pinned super highway. During World War II, convoys of fully loaded US GMC military trucks snaked up the road transporting 15,000 tons of supplies each month to China's wartime capital Chongqing. In the opposite direction, it carried people fleeing Japanese troops.

A collection: Beijing’s first metro line circa 1969 (January 7, 2019, Everyday Life in Mao’s China)

How Mixed Chinese-Western Couples Were Treated A Century Ago (January 10, 2017, Asia Society)
Emma J. Teng, a professor of Asian Civilizations at MIT, is author of the book Eurasian: Mixed Identities in Hong Kong, China and the US during the Treaty Port Era, 1842-1943, which looks at Chinese-Western mixed-race families in the United States, China, and Hong Kong from the mid-19th to mid-20th century, and how the social and legal dynamics influenced their identities.

Travel / Food

China's Great Wall filmed by drone (January 5, 2017, BBC)
British geographer, conservationist and author William Lindesay has had a lifelong obsession with the Great Wall of China. Three decades ago, he left his home on Merseyside to live near the wall so he might better be able to study it. In 2016 he and his family travelled 15,000km (9,320 miles) around the wall network, filming it from the air with a drone. Mr Lindesay and his sons, Jim and Thomas, spoke to the BBC about their epic journey and how they shot it.

Oops, I went home for Christmas — How to readjust to life abroad after a quick trip “home” (January 9, 2017, The Culture Blend)
This post is specifically for the masses who have been transitioning to a new life abroad and thought that a quick trip home for the holidays might be exactly what they needed to crush their culture shock and get rid of that pesky homesickness.

Eat, pray, love the Communist Party: a road trip through Tibetan lands, guided by China (January 9, 2017, The Los Angeles Times)
It was a road trip through one of China’s most tightly controlled regions. We drove uphill and deeper into the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, an area of southwestern China’s Sichuan province, adjacent to Tibet, where more than half the residents are Tibetan. There were five of us foreign journalists, packed into two minibuses along with camera crews, interpreters and scores of Chinese journalists, all seated shoulder to shoulder with the people in control: party officials from Sichuan and Shanghai. We passed scattered villages, high-altitude grasslands and towering peaks. 

Harbin 2017: In China, a city made of ice (January 9, 2017, CNN)
The Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival, famed for its gigantic illuminated sculptures, has officially kicked off in northern China. The annual event, held in the capital of Heilongjiang Province, is now in its 33rd year. The festival is made up of several themed zones. The main attraction is the Harbin Ice and Snow World, which covers more than 750,000 square meters and features up to 180,000 cubic meters of ice.

Taco Bell Returns to China After a Decade-Long Absence (January 10, 2017, Eater)
The menu at this new Taco Bell is different from the one fans in America are used to, with some of the well-known favorites getting “adapted to local tastes.” Diners in China can expect to see some new sauces (like spicy Sriracha) alongside items like a shrimp and avocado burrito, spicy fried chicken, and Mexican fries.

4 Thrilling Mountains to Easily Summit in China (January 10, 2017, Wild China Blog)
f your idea of a thrilling holiday is conquering mountains so high that you can look down on the clouds, then China has got you covered. Discover four iconic mountains that you can easily summit in one day from Sichuan to Hubei.

Noodles or Peanut Butter? (January 11, 20107, Outside-In)
Everyone needs to have take  comfort food with them when they travel. According to this story, the comfort food of choice for Chinese travelers is instant noodles.

Language / Language Learning

What Languages Are Spoken in China? (January 9, 2017, Outside-In)
Even though I have a fairly high level of fluency in Mandarin Chinese, there are still numerous places in China where I can travel to and not be able to understand a word of what is being spoken by the locals.


The Fall Of The Han (January 7, 2017, The World of Chinese)
His most recent tome, 1988: I Want to Talk with the World, is not an edge-baller and is devoid of any direct political content. Instead it is a road trip— 1988 refers to the year of the narrator’s car—musing on loss, memory, and that old chestnut: the meaning of life. These are big themes and Han’s novel falls short of saying anything particularly substantial about them, yet avoids becoming an absolutely terrible book.

Image credit: Elderly Sailor, by Stanley Zimny, 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... View Full Bio