ZGBriefs | January 17, 2019

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Featured Article

WeChat Knows You Really, Really Well (January 10, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The Chinese social app’s 2018 report includes detailed profiles of five generations of users, impressing some and creeping out others.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Poland calls for 'joint' EU-Nato stance on Huawei after spying arrest (January 13, 2019, The Guardian)
Poland’s internal affairs minister has called for the EU and Nato to take a “joint stance” on Huawei after an employee of the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker was arrested on spying charges. Huawei on Saturday sacked the Chinese employee, Wang Weijing, following his arrest and that of a former Polish security official on Friday. The two men could be held for three months.

Podcast: Inside China's audacious global propaganda campaign (January 14, 2019, The Guardian)
Beijing is buying up media outlets and training scores of foreign journalists to ‘tell China’s story well’ – as part of a worldwide propaganda campaign of astonishing scope and ambition.

Podcast: China’s Shift to a More Assertive Foreign Policy (January 15, 2019,China File)
For the fourth episode in this series, Haenle spoke with Shi Yinhong, Director of the American Studies Institute at Renmin University and the Academic Committee of the School of International Relations.

Huawei Founder Denies His Firm Spies For China (January 15, 2019, NPR)
In a rare public appearance at the tech company's campus in Shenzhen, Ren Zhengfei told reporters he would refuse to share user data with the government if asked, and he said he misses his daughter, who is in Canada facing possible extradition to the U.S.

China brushes off international concern over death sentence for Canadian (January 16, 2019, Reuters)
China said on Wednesday that it was “not worried in the slightest” by mounting international concern over the death sentence handed to a Canadian for drug smuggling.


Top 10 Christian News Stories of Chinese Church in 2018 (January 11, 2019, China Christian Daily)
Based on the coverage from the Gospel Times and the Christian Times, two online Chinese Christian newspapers reporting about the registered and unregistered church respectively, we have selected the top 10 Christian news stories of 2018 based on the number of views, keyword searches, shares, and prominence of articles.

The Nature of the Church (January 15, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article from the journal ChurchChina, Jiang Dengxing sketches what that boundary should look like in China and argues the future of the church in China depends on holding that line. 

China's Muslims fear crackdown in ancient city of Xi'an (January 15, 2019,The Guardian)
“You can’t be too careful,” says one Chinese Muslim Hui I meet through a former colleague, and who does not want to be named in the international media. “You know the situation in Xinjiang? We don’t want that in Xi’an!”

Top 10 Rumors about Christianity in 2018 (January 17, 2019, China Christian Daily)
Amongst this year's rumors that were widespread, some were existing ones (eg. CCTV's evangelizing) or others had the content changed (e.g: false celebrity's testimonies) but had similar patterns. Some, on the other hand, appeared for the first time. They were not only jokes during meal times but severely affected the faith life of churches and believers.

Society / Life

China’s Social Credit System: Less Than Meets the Eye?  (January 11, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
One of the mantras that I have been using for years in helping others (and myself) understand the complexities of China is “nothing is as it seems.” After listening to the Sinica Podcast episode titled “Myth-busting China’s Social Credit System,” I realize this is true when it comes to technology, surveillance, and the social credit system in China.

Why 1984 Isn't Banned in China (January 13, 2019, The Atlantic)
Censorship in the country is more complicated than many Westerners imagine.

21 Dead in Shaanxi Coal Mining Accident (January 14 2019, Sixth Tone)
Saturday’s incident comes just months after another 21 miners died in Shandong, though authorities say industry fatalities are declining overall.

Shanghai home to largest foreign worker population in China (January 16, 2019, China Daily)
Shanghai has topped the country in terms of the number of foreign workers, with its population of foreigners accounting for 23.7 percent of the national total of more than 900,000, said the municipal administration of foreign expert affairs at a symposium on Tuesday.

Economics / Trade / Business

Podcast: China’s Economy is Slowing and That’s Really Bad News for Africa (January 11, 2019, China File)
Beijing-based economist Jeremy Stevens closely studies the Chinese economy and its impact on African risk for his clients at Standard Advisory China, a unit of Africa’s largest bank Standard Bank. He joins Eric this week to discuss the Chinese economic outlook for 2019 and what the implications are for Chinese trade and investment with Africa.

China powers up electric car market (January 11, 2019, BBC)
For a decade, the Chinese government has coaxed buyers and manufacturers into the electric vehicle market through subsidies and other incentives. The numbers suggest the strategy worked: the International Energy Agency says China buys more than half of the world's new electric cars.

Competing Against Chinese Loans, U.S. Companies Face Long Odds in Africa (January 13, 2019, The New York Times)
In Africa, American businesses have been largely absent while Chinese companies have put down roots, nurturing powerful allies through both legitimate and illegal means. 

Five Things to do to Avoid Getting Arrested in China (January 13, 2019,China Law Blog)
There is no one way to calculate the risk of getting arrested in China, but the following are what can change that calculus one way or the other.

3 International Businesses that Must Stay in China (January 15, 2019,China Negotiator)
You’re hearing, “Last one out, TURN OUT THE LIGHTS!” – but 3 groups are going to be left behind.

China unleashes tax cuts in bid to halt economic slowdown (January 15, 2019, The Guardian)
Officials said they would cut taxes “on a larger scale” in order to boost business activity, announced against a backdrop of disappointing industrial production figures and the first drop in car sales for almost three decades.

Trade war sees China’s provinces slash growth forecasts for 2019 (January 16, 2019, South China Morning Post)
As of today, 12 of China’s 31 province-level divisions had published their annual growth targets, with eight of them reducing their growth targets for the year, according to the South China Morning Post’s review of local government reports.

New CFIUS Rules Shut Down Chinese Investment in U.S. Technology (January 16, 2019, China Law Blog)
Chinese companies did not lose interest in the United States. What happened is that the U.S. government’s security review system has made Chinese investment in any form of technology company virtually impossible. […]  These restrictions will survive any trade “deal” made on the current Section 301 tariff dispute with China. The investment restrictions have become part of the “new normal” in US-China economic relations.


Number of student returnees on the rise: report (January 15, 2019, China Daily)
Data shows the number of Chinese students in other countries now totals 5.19 million, with 608,400 Chinese students going overseas to study in 2017, an increase of 11.74 percent over 2016. At the same time, more Chinese students have chosen to return to work in China after graduation. According to the Ministry of Education, since 2014 the return rate of overseas Chinese students has remained above 78 percent.

The Problem With Chinese Universities? Not Enough Dropouts (January 15, 2019, Sixth Tone)
At many Chinese universities, the graduation rate is over 90 percent, and the guarantee of a degree has led to an epidemic of student slacking.

Health / Environment

How Chummy Are Junk Food Giants and China’s Health Officials? They Share Offices (June 9, 2019, The New York Times)
China’s fitness-is-best message, as it happens, has largely been the handiwork of Coca-Cola and other Western food and beverage giants, according to a pair of new studies that document how those companies have helped shape decades of Chinese science and public policy on obesity and diet-related illnesses like Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Why China’s Young Doctors Want Out of the System (January 11, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Low pay, long hours, and conflict with patients are pushing once-idealistic medics out of public hospitals.

China Investigates Latest Vaccine Scandal After Violent Protests (January 14, 2019, The New York Times)
Local officials in eastern China are investigating complaints that more than 100 children received expired polio vaccines after aggrieved parents protested violently over the weekend, the latest in a string of such vaccine scandals that have provoked anger nationwide.

China has culled more than 900,000 pigs due to African swine fever (January 15, 2019, Reuters)
The disease has reached 24 provinces and regions since the first outbreak in August, roiling trade in the world’s top pork market and related sectors. China slaughtered almost 700 million pigs in 2017.

Another Chinese Health Product Company Investigated for Quackery (January 16, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Authorities in Huanghua, a city in the northern Chinese province of Hebei, are investigating a locally registered health product company on suspicion of deceiving customers and operating as a pyramid scheme, according to a statement posted Tuesday on the city government’s website.

Science / Technology

Just Revealed: WeChat Creator Shares 4 Jaw-Dropping Statistics in 4 Hour Speech (January 11, 2019, Radii China)
For the first time ever, WeChat’s user login volume exceeded 1.08 billion people (a first for Chinese apps). And that billion is pretty diverse — 63 million of their active users are 55 years old and up. 

Giant leaf for mankind? China germinates first seed on moon (January 15, 2019, The Guardian)
A small green shoot is growing on the moon after a cotton seed germinated onboard a Chinese lunar lander, scientists said.

History / Culture

One Photographer's Mission to Find the Last Women in China With Bound Feet (January 15, 2019, The Beijinger)
Given that the practice of foot binding – a "beautifying" method that involves breaking the bones of a young girl to slowly mould them into a point, and in doing so, minimizing mobility – was officially banned 108 years ago, these women are truly an emblem of a bygone era.

Spring in the Forbidden City (January 15, 2019, The World of Chinese)
The Palace Museum gives an inside look on how emperors celebrated the lunar new year.

Why a 1,200-year-old calligraphy piece angered China (January 16, 2019,BBC)
A decision by Taiwan's National Palace Museum to lend a rare calligraphy to Japan's Tokyo National Museum has sparked outrage across China. On paper it seemed like a straightforward cultural exchange, so why has this prized masterpiece created 1,200 years ago caused so much anger today?

Film clip: Transportation in Shanghai, 1973 (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Film clip: Accommodations in Shanghai, 1973 (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Film clip: A Family’s Life in Shanghai, 1973 (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Travel / Food

Beijing subway to launch one-day pass (January 14, 2019, China Daily)
The one-day pass, valid for 24 hours of unlimited metro rail travel, will be convenient for visitors to Beijing and benefit the development of tourism in the city.

License to Nil: Why China’s Tourists Aren’t Able to Drive Abroad (January 16, 2019, Sixth Tone)
According to data compiled by Derek Yang, a Chinese-born blogger based in the U.S., just 29 out of the 50 U.S. states accept Chinese driver’s licenses. The remaining 21 either don’t or don’t have a clear policy in place.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Angel of Nanjing: A Film Review (January 14, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
“Every person, every citizen, every life doesn’t have the right to destroy oneself. Only to protect this precious life.”  That is what Chen Si believes. He believes it so much that he has spent every weekend since September 19, 2003 patrolling the Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing, China to prevent people from committing suicide. In his 13 years of volunteer service he has saved over 300 people from jumping to their deaths.

Language / Language Learning

Choosing a Chinese Name 101 (So as to Avoid Sounding Like a Weirdo) (January 14, 2019, The Beijinger)
Choosing a Chinese name that sounds good, and which you also like and can pronounce, can be a bit of a minefield, but it can also be lots of fun and a good learning opportunity.

Basic Spoken Chinese – Lesson 3: 请qǐng, “please” (January 14, 2019, Carlgene.com)
Listen and download Lesson 3 of Basic Spoken Chinese

Living Cross-culturally

“I’m not breaking my kids” and other things expats would like to say (January 10, 2019, The Culture Blend)
I like it here. Not just in a “nice to visit” kind of way either. This is more than a vacation and I am more than a tourist. In fact (are you still sitting down?) sometimes I call this place . . .HOME

The Need for Professional Help (January 16, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Having to leave your home in China suddenly is not just difficult, it is a trauma and should not be taken lightly. Receiving member care from teammates or from the sending organization are both good, and play important parts in the healing process. But no matter how well it is done, it is still not enough. It is important that we treat this for what it is, trauma, and know where to find professional help.


Gods of China Past and Present (January 14, 2019, China Channel)
From Kuan Yin to Chairman Mao: An Essential Guide to Chinese Deities, by Guangzhou-born author Xueting Christine Ni is a mystery tour of mythical figures from China’s long past. It serves as a reference book on the deities Chinese people have worshipped through the country’s long history, how they have changed and evolved, and how this relates to present-day China.

Links for Researchers

微信数据报告(WeChat 2018 Annual Report) (Weixin)

2019 World Watch List: China (Open Doors) (registration required)

Assessing U.S.-China relations 2 years into the Trump presidency (January 15, 2019, Brookings)
U.S. policy toward China now appears animated by a judgment that the past trajectory of the bilateral relationship favored China and disadvantaged the United States in a long-run competition for global leadership. 


Witnesses to the Faith: A Catholic Pilgrimage in a Changing China, April 23 – May 2, 2019 (United States China Catholic Association)This pilgrimage sponsored by the USCCA affords a unique opportunity to visit China, experience its contemporary vibe, and visit famous cultural and historical sites. 

Image credit: Baidu
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