ZGBriefs | January 13, 2022

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Featured Article

Video: Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Christian Faith (January 6, 2022, CantoSense)
As Christians, should we be wary of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)? This episode, we are joined by Dr. Lai Pak Wah to discuss TCM and whether the principles and religious elements should be cause for concern. 

Thank You

The Final Number Is In!
Thank you all for the exciting December finish to the 2021 fundraising effort. As you may have heard, we finished the year with a matching challenge of US$100,000, put forward by two different friends of ChinaSource. The final tally is done, and together, you, our community of support, provided US$136,761.03 toward the challenge and succeeded in meeting and exceeding the match!

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

A Long Road to the CCP Congress (January 6, 2022, China Media Project)
Buckle your seatbelts for an extended tour this year through the official discourse of power and succession. 2022 has hardly begun, but for the propaganda ministers of the CCP there can be no doubt that the year’s biggest news story – the Beijing Winter Olympics notwithstanding – will be unfolding ten months from now. 

China’s foreign minister visits Kenya amid unease over rising debt (January 6, 2022, Reuters)
China has lent African countries billions of dollars as part of the BRI, including $5 billion for the construction of a modern railway from the Kenyan port of Mombasa. That model has been evolving, partly under the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout and partly because of a backlash from African critics against rising debt levels.

The 14th Five Year Plan for Social Organizations: Opportunities for NGOs (January 6, 2022, NGOs in China)
While the FYP instills little optimism for the development of an independent civil society, it does identify areas in which NGOs in China can contribute to the development of the sector, and to sustainable and inclusive development in China and globally. 

Video: Is China a Communist Country? (January 7, 2022, National Committee on U.S-China Relations)
Meg Rithmire (Harvard Business School) gives an updated summary of China’s unique political and economic system, describing its changing relationship towards Chinese businesses, citizens, and even the United States.

Will China’s Railway in Laos Help Bolster Its ‘Soft Power’? (January 11, 2022, The Diplomat)
The inauguration of the long-promised rail line offers Beijing a chance to burnish its image in mainland Southeast Asia.

China appoints former paramilitary chief as new Hong Kong garrison commander (January 11, 2022, CNN)
China has appointed a former paramilitary chief, Peng Jingtang, as the new commander of the People Liberation Army’s (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing the PLA’s spokesman. Peng, who holds the rank of major general, was previously the deputy chief of staff of China’s paramilitary police force, the People’s Armed Police. His appointment was signed into order by Chinese President Xi Jinping, CCTV said.

China steps up construction along disputed Bhutan border (January 12, 2022, Reuters)
The images and analysis supplied to Reuters by U.S. data analytics firm HawkEye 360, which uses satellites to gather intelligence on ground-level activities, and vetted by two other experts, provide a detailed look into China’s recent construction along its frontier with Bhutan.


Recovering an Asian Perspective of Grace (January 10, 2022, Sola Network)
Many Asian Americans churchgoers struggle to accept the concept of grace. In presentations of the gospel message, we hear that God’s gift is free and without obligation: There is nothing we need to do but accept the gift. However, in East Asian cultures, gifts largely come with reciprocity. Whether it is a present or favor, an act of giving invites a relationship—gifts are to be reciprocated.

Expatriate Ministry in China during the Age of COVID (January 10, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
One small group of expats in a second-tier Chinese city—they now half-jokingly refer to themselves as “the remnant”—recently had a “party” to distribute all the imported food, medicine, and cosmetics left behind by various foreigners over the last few years. Far from excited by the bounty (those able to attend left with suitcases full of imported treats and treasures), the entire event was a depressing reminder of loss and absence.

Christmas Was Different for Chinese Churches (January 11, 2022, Chinese Church Voices)
Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the Christian faith and churches in China celebrate in many ways. However, because of COVID-19, there was potential for traditional celebrations to be cancelled at the last moment. This article from Gospel Times provided practical suggestions for successful celebrations even during a pandemic.

Society / Life

The messy cost of China’s Covid lockdown playbook (January 6, 2022, BBC)
Local authorities are determined to snuff it out so that it will not mar the prestige of the Winter Olympics next month, and to avoid turning the upcoming Spring Festival – where millions will be moving across the country – into a super spreader event. But it has also shown how China’s standard playbook of enforcing a hard lockdown combined with mass testing can exact a messy, harsh human cost.

Chinese women unlikely to fulfill their government’s desire for more babies (January 7, 2022, Radio Free Asia)
“I can’t have another kid. Raising one child is like putting your money in a shredder,” a service industry employee surnamed Li from the central city of Changsha told RFA. “There’s no way I can have another one.”

The Army of Millions Who Enforce China’s Zero-Covid Policy, at All Costs (January 12, 2022,  The New York Times) (subscription required)
The government has the help of a vast army of community workers who carry out the policy with zeal and hordes of online nationalists who attack anyone raising grievances or concerns. The tragedies in Xi’an have prompted some Chinese people to question how those enforcing the quarantine rules can behave like this and to ask who holds ultimate responsibility.

Economics / Trade / Business

The ‘Mother of All’ Supply Shocks Lurks in China’s Covid Crackdowns (January 12, 2022, Bloomberg)
The world economy could be headed for the “mother of all” supply chain stumbles. That’s the warning from HSBC economists who caution that if the highly infectious omicron variant which is already swamping much of the global economy spreads across Asia, especially China, then disruption to manufacturing will be inevitable.


China Wants Students Working Less. So It’s Asking Teachers to Do More. (January 12, 2022, Sixth Tone)
The country’s “double reduction” reforms have already overturned the afterschool tutoring industry. Now schoolteachers are being asked to fill in the gap.

Health / Environment

Doctor charged for treating fever patient (January 11, 2022, BBC)
A doctor in China’s Zhoukou city has been charged with a crime for allegedly treating a fever patient while working at a hospital without a fever clinic. Patients with possible Covid symptoms in China can only get treatment at specially designated hospitals.

China locks down 3rd city, raising affected to 20 million (January 11, 2022, AP)
The lockdown of Anyang, home to 5.5 million people, was announced late Monday after two cases of the omicron variant were reported. Residents are not allowed to go out and stores have been ordered shut except those selling necessities.

Covid-19: Chinese woman stuck in lockdown with blind date (July 12, 2022, BBC)
“I’m getting quite old, so my parents arranged more than 10 blind dates for me,” she said in this post. She wrote that her fifth date had said “he was good at cooking, and invited me to his house so he could cook a meal”. However, during the meal, she discovered that her date’s community had gone into swift lockdown due to cases of Covid-19, and ended up being unable to leave his house for several days. Ms Wang told media on Sunday that she had been stuck for four days at her date’s house, and that the situation was “not ideal”.

China’s Tianjin orders more testing on 14 million after omicron reaches city (January 12, 2022, NPR)
The northern Chinese city of Tianjin ordered a second round of COVID-19 testing on all 14 million residents Wednesday following the discovery of 97 cases of the omicron variant during initial screenings that began Sunday. Residents were asked to remain where they are until the results of all the nucleic acid tests are received, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

History / Culture

Aerial view of Shanghai – taken on September 19th 1945. (January 10, Jonathan Chatwin, via Twitter)

Make ’Em Laugh: How a Northeast Folk Performance Escaped Decline (January 12, 2022, The World of Chinese)
By blending tradition with modern pop culture, northeastern “errenzhuan” was catapulted into the big leagues of Chinese showbusiness—but at what cost?

Travel / Food

6 Food and Drink Trends in China to Watch for in 2022 (January 7, 2022, Radii China)
From plant-based products and various dietary fads to non-alcoholic drinks, here are our 2022 predictions for food and drink trends in China.

3 Places in Macau to Enjoy Stunning Street Art (January 11, 2022, Radii China)
Macau is a colorful and creative city, especially when you walk away from the luxurious hotels, fancy shopping malls, and extravagant casinos and instead look toward the city’s historic districts. Make your way to the little streets or hidden allies, and you’ll see old neighborhoods of Macau beautifully mixed with modern art.

US airlines blame China for some flight cancellations as restrictions tighten ahead of Olympics (January 12, 2022, USA Today)
American Airlines said Tuesday that six of its flights from Dallas-Fort Worth to Shanghai in late January and early February have been canceled. United Airlines said it was forced to cancel six flights from San Francisco to Shanghai later this month. Delta Air Lines said it canceled one flight last week and another this Friday to Shanghai.

Special Section: Olympics

China Hits the Slopes Ahead of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics (January 10, 2022, Radii China)
Whether you credit government promotion, Olympic hype, or the rising star of Chinese-American skier Eileen Gu, the fact still stands — interest in skiing is growing in China.

China makes a show of opening up the internet for the Olympics (January 11, 2022, Axios)
The Chinese government has promised Olympic athletes free access to social media platforms and other websites in the Olympic Village in Beijing, but internet use may still be fraught with restrictions and risks.

The Inspiring Backstory of Pro Freestyle Skier and Model Eileen Gu (July 11, 2022, Radii China)
Beijing 2022 medal favorite Eileen Gu is a world champion freestyle skier, model, cultural ambassador, and so much more.

What is China’s Covid policy and does it work? (January 12, 2022, BBC)
Beijing says it’s adopting all necessary coronavirus safety measures for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which start next month. So what is being planned for the Games, and how successful has China’s policy of “zero Covid” been? 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Top Ten ZGBriefs Links for 2021 (January 7, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
Below is a list of the ones that you, dear readers, liked the best in 2021. I note that, unlike 2020, only two are COVID-related.

Living Cross-culturally

Social media and the challenge of living where you are (July 6, 2020, OMF International)
Social media makes it too easy to live someplace else and not really live where we are. Social media brings great benefits, but for Christians serving overseas it can make truly investing in the place they are serving a challenge, as Karl Dahlfred relates.

China’s expat tax system: who pays and how does it work? (January 9, 2022, South China Morning Post)
Recent plans by Beijing to reform tax exemptions on expatriate employee allowances have thrown the spotlight on China’s tax regime for foreigners. Individuals who are domiciled in the mainland, or have been living in the country for a total of 183 days in a tax year, are considered tax residents


Book review: Christianity in East and Southeast Asia (January 5, 2022, OMF International)
He simply reminds his readers that “Christianity is not foreign to Asian Christians anymore.… Though with Western features, Asian Christianity need not be ashamed of the faith we have fathered or mothered” (19).

Links for Researchers

The Pulse: Chinese Public Opinion (U.S.-China Perception Monitor)
China’s staggering transformation from fractiousness and impoverishment into a leading superpower has placed the nation at the forefront of American public consciousness. As competition steepens between the world’s two greatest super powers, a slew of reputable polls paints a gloomy picture— Americans and Chinese citizens increasingly possess unfavorable and mistrustful views of one another.


Video: LeaderTrek Southwest 2022! (in Chinese)
February 28-March 3, Big Bend, Texas
contact leadertrek777@gmail.com

Navigating Your Family Through the Pandemic (Family First Global, via Zoom)
A global Webinar on Jan 14th at 9:30 pm EST (10.30 am HK time) entitled HELPING YOUR FAMILY NAVIGATE THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC. It’s a free event with outstanding speakers that is designed to encourage, help and bless Moms & Dads/Husbands & Wives in the face of the on-going challenges we all face. We have 1,000 seats on Zoom for this event – but people must register here: 


Pray for China

January 16 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Jan. 16, 1837, Maria Jane Dyer (玛莉亚) was born into a pioneer missionary family in Malaysia. Her parents, Samuel Dyer (台约尔) and wife Maria Tarn Dyer (谭玛莉), died before she was 10. At age 16, she moved to China to work in a school for girls. She married Hudson Taylor (戴德生) in 1858 over the opposition of her school principal. Before her death in 1870 in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu at age 33, Maria played a key role with her husband in the founding and growth of the China Inland Mission They had nine children, three dying at birth and two in childhood. The four surviving children all became missionaries with the CIM. Pray for Christian women to desire, as Charles Spurgeon did, “to paint upon the eyeballs of [their] soul[s] the image of God’s Son.” For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16

Image credit: H.K.Tang, 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