ZGBriefs | January 18, 2018

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Featured Article

Tea if by sea, cha if by land: Why the world only has two words for tea (January 11, 2018, Quartz)
With a few minor exceptions, there are really only two ways to say “tea” in the world. One is like the English term— in Spanish and tee in Afrikaans are two examples. The other is some variation of cha, like chay in Hindi. Both versions come from China. 

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Overseas NGO Law

Has the Foreign NGO Law Changed the Work of Foreign NGOs in China? (January 10, 2018, The China NGO Project)
Historical data about foreign NGOs operating in China is spotty: estimates for the number of foreign NGOs that had been working in China before 2017 range from 1,000 to 7,000. We have even less information about where these thousands of NGOs had been working—or in which sectors. Thus we have little quantitative basis to assess how the Foreign NGO Law might be affecting international groups’ work in China.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Podcast: What’s Next for Commercial Diplomacy with China? (January 9, 2018, China File)
In the 99th episode of the China in the World Podcast, Paul Haenle spoke with Penny Pritzker, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce under the Obama administration and founder and Chairman of PSP Capital, to discuss how the Department of Commerce impacts U.S. foreign policy.

China’s modern Silk Road hits political, financial hurdles (January 11, 2018, AP)
From Pakistan to Tanzania to Hungary, projects under President Xi Jinping’s signature “Belt and Road Initiative” are being canceled, renegotiated or delayed due to disputes about costs or complaints host countries get too little out of projects built by Chinese companies and financed by loans from Beijing that must be repaid.

Phrase of the Week: Hurt Feelings (January 12, 2018, China Digital Times)
shānghài Zhōngguórén de gǎnqíng 伤害中国人民的感情 Invocation used by Chinese ​authorities when another country, ​organization, or individual​ offends Party officials.

Foreign Firms Under Fire Over Taiwan, Tibet References (January 12, 2018, China Digital Times)
The past week has seen a series of moves by the Cyberspace Administration of China and other official bodies to police sensitive political references on foreign companies’ websites, in part based on national security provisions in the country’s new cybersecurity law. 

All eyes on Xi in 2018 (January 15, 2018, East Asia Forum)
China’s ruler Xi Jinping needs local leaders to implement his policies. The recent congress emphasised one thing above all others — that Xi wants to secure this collective effort through his image, ideology and through the Party rather than by leading a team using policy and the government.

Party paper swears loyalty to lingxiu Xi (January 16, 2018, Global Times)
The People's Daily, the Communist Party of China's (CPC) flagship newspaper, published an article on Monday swearing allegiance to General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping and calling on the nation to grasp a historic opportunity facing China. […]  The word lingxiu means "leader" with a positive political connotation and refers to highly revered state leaders. 

China rights lawyer Yu Wensheng loses licence (January 16, 2018, BBC)
A Chinese human rights lawyer says his licence has been revoked three months after he wrote an open letter criticising the ruling Communist Party. Yu Wensheng, 50, received the news in a letter from Beijing's Bureau of Justice on 15 January, a photo of which he has since tweeted (in Chinese). 

Amid tension, China carrier group sails through Taiwan Strait (January 16, 2018, Reuters)
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said a group of Chinese ships led by the Liaoning aircraft carrier entered the southwestern part of the Taiwan Strait in the early hours of Tuesday, though it stayed on the Chinese side of the waterway.

With all eyes on North Korea, China is securing the South China Sea (July 17, 2018, China Policy Institute)
Earlier this month, CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI)—which closely tracks China’s island-building campaign using satellite imagery—reported that 2017 has been a productive year for Beijing. After completing most of its dredging work to create the artificial islands in previous years, China has turned its attention to transforming these into operational military outposts. 

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong jailed for second time over 2014 protest (January 17, 2018, The Guardian)
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was jailed for three months on Wednesday for obstructing the clearance of a major encampment during mass pro-democracy protests in 2014, the second time he has been imprisoned over the rallies.

Chinese-American journalist says China kidnapped his wife (January 17, 2018, The Washington Post)
A Chinese-American journalist who extensively interviewed an exiled businessman says his wife has been kidnapped and held for months by Chinese security forces, adding a subplot to the high-stakes drama that has transfixed followers of Chinese politics.

Ex-CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee held 'for spying for China' (January 17, 2018, BBC)
A former CIA officer has been arrested in the US on charges of retaining classified information in a case thought to be linked to the crippling of the agency's spy operation in China. Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a naturalised US citizen, was held at New York's JFK airport on Monday, the US justice department said.


Chinese Catholics protest demolition of church (January 5, 2018, UCA News)
Nearly 100 Catholics protested the demolition of a church in China, shouting "Give back my church" and "Freedom of belief."Authorities demolished the church in Zhifang village of Lauyu district of Xian city in Shaanxi province on Dec. 27 after claiming it was occupying land illegally.

China to draft online religious information regulation (January 9, 2018, Global Times)
China will draft a regulation on the management of online religious information in 2018, a move that experts believe necessary to combat illegal online activities held under the guise of religion. 

Chinese bishop released from detention after more than seven months (January 10, 2018, National Catholic Reporter)
Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou has been released by Chinese authorities after being detained for more than seven months, reported ucanews.com. The bishop, who has not joined government-approved associations for church officials, was released Jan. 3 and was expected to return to Wenzhou, one of China's biggest Christian cities, in late January.

3 Observations: A Reader Responds to "Missions from China—A Maturing Movement" (January 12, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Having observed the growing missions movement from China during my years in China, I was interested in the recent ChinaSource series, “Missions from China—A Maturing Movement.” Three things caught my attention in particular as I read through the articles.

The Linfen Church Demolition: What We Know and What We Don’t Know (January 15, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
While this may not be a popular thing to say, we probably won’t know which of those two contexts and factors is the main driver of this incident. I suspect it is a combination of both.

The Chinese Church Prepares for Missions (January 16, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
The WeChat blog “Good Tidings” recently interviewed several experienced missions workers at the annual assembly of the Chinese Pastors’ Fellowship. These missions workers reflect on the pressing opportunities and challenges for the Chinese church.

10 Hot Issues Christians Should Follow in 2018 (January 16, 2018, China Christian Daily)
As we enter the 2018, many churches and Christians are making new year plans. What will be the hits for Chinese Christians in 2018? Here are ten hot issues for reference.

Chinese ‘witches’ band together after rural communities ostracise them (January 16, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Belief in witches runs rampant in some rural Chinese communities, a new study shows – and those who are accused of witchcraft are having to band together to survive.

Muslim county in China bans children from religious events over break (January 17, 2018, Reuters)
School students in Linxia county in Gansu province, home to many members of the Muslim Hui ethnic minority, are prohibited from entering religious buildings over their break, a district education bureau said, according to the notification. 

Society / Life

Comrade, meet Cupid: China’s Communist Party plays matchmaker to millennials (January 11, 2018, The Washington Post)
Concerned that the gender imbalance could create instability, the ruling party first tried to shame single women into marriage, calling them “leftover” and comparing them to yellowed pearls. Now it has settled on a more robust market intervention: mass matchmaking.

Seats, Squats, and Leaves: A Brief History of Chinese Toilets Seats, Squats, and Leaves: A Brief History of Chinese Toilets (January 12, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Going to the toilet in China can be a grueling experience. Besides the lack of toilet paper, overpowering odors, and the somewhat laissez-faire attitude toward personal privacy, the need to squat instead of sit frequently poses a challenge to foreign visitors hurrying to answer the call of nature.

The Price of China’s Haphazard Urbanization (January 16, 2018, The New York Times)
The migrants’ struggles also reflect China’s urban-planning crisis: The country’s cities have grown too big, too quickly. Their metamorphosis from drab factory towns into dizzying metropolises in just a few decades has been propelled by a crude mixture of political and economic objectives, resulting in a wrecked environment, gaping inequality and broken family ties.

What’s Next for China’s #WoYeShi movement? (January 16, 2018, The World of Chinese)
Since TWOC reported on the various obstacles to the widespread #MeToo sex abuse discussion in China, Beihang University’s firing of a professor, accused of harassing students, and ongoing investigations of another at the University of International Business and Economics are have started rumblings as to whether a Chinese “WoYeShi” campaign could finally be underway.

Supreme Court Clarifies Debt-After-Divorce Rulings (January 17, 2018, Sixth Tone)
China’s supreme court released a new interpretation of the country’s marriage law on Wednesday detailing how courts should handle debt dispute cases that usually involve divorced couples.

Economics / Trade / Business

Why Contracts with Your China “Friends” Are So Necessary (January 16, 2018, China Law Blog)
But to us as lawyers, that you are friends with your Chinese counter-party or that you have a great relationship is legally irrelevant. We have been trained to ask the what ifs…

E-Commerce Giant Seeks Influential Elderly Dancers (January 17, 2018, Sixth Tone)
China’s elderly square dancers may face ridicule from their younger family members, but two nimble-footed seniors are about to get the last laugh thanks to an old folks-only job ad from the country’s titan of e-commerce. On Tuesday, internet giant Alibaba posted a job ad on its website for two positions to research the elderly users of its e-commerce website, Taobao.

Unzipping China’s Lingerie Capital (January 17, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The farmland is now dotted with workshops — the luxury cars of their young millionaire owners parked out front beside old tractors — and everyone has friends or relatives working in lingerie.

What we can expect from China’s economy in 2018 (January 17, 2018, China Policy Institute)
A first and overriding priority will be managing and preventing major financial risks within the Chinese economy. China will continue to clean up and tighten controls over its financial sector.


How China Infiltrated U.S. Classrooms (January 16, 2018, Politico)
That so many universities have welcomed the Confucius Institute with open arms points to another disturbing trend in American higher education: an alarming willingness to accept money at the expense of principles that universities are ostensibly devoted to upholding.

Health / Environment

Chinese doctors use virtual reality tech to help with operation 3,700km away (January 12, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Doctors performed the surgery on a bone fracture at a hospital in Bortala in the Xinjiang region of northwest China on Monday, the Xinjiang Morning Post reported. The chief doctor Ye Zhewei was, however, in a hospital in Wuhan in central Hubei province, about 3,700km (2,300 miles) away.

Science / Technology

Do VPN Still Work in China? (as of January 2018) (January 11, 2018, Travel China Cheaper)
Do VPN still work in China? This is one of the most common questions I have been getting from people who are looking to travel or move to China in 2018. A lot of the concern stems from reports last year that China would be cracking down on VPN usage, specifically on January 11, 2018. So what has happened? Do VPNs no longer work in China or what?

History / Culture

Which was more technologically advanced, the Roman Empire or Han China? (Quora)
Thanks for the A2A Mike Jen, the short answer is that when viewed objectively from afar, the Roman Empire (27 BC-1453 AD) along with its Eastern counterpart, the Han Dynasty of China (206 BC-220 AD) were roughly equal, with regards to their respective technological levels of attainment.

Who gained the most from Hong Kong’s colonial era: Britain, China or the city? (January 13, 2018, South China Morning Post)
It’s hard to imagine something along the lines of the recent controversy over the “ethics of empire” project at Oxford, even less a demand to demolish statues or rename roads and buildings. But that has not stopped colonialism from appearing in local political discourse, more than 20 years after the return to Chinese sovereignty.

The Rich Islamic History of China’s Coastal Trading Hub (January 14, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Here, Buddhism, Taoism, and a number of folk beliefs form an inextricable part of the local culture. Fujian’s coastal location also allowed Islam to take root here as early as the 7th century, brought by the seafaring merchants of southern Asia and the Middle East.

“Nestorianism” in China (January 16, 2018, Alexander Chow)
I have read many historical studies and essays about the encounter between Christianity and China, including in the last few months, and a great many of them begin by discussing the arrival of Nestorianism into China in the seventh century. While I also held this position for many years—and even used the term in my PhD—it was not until I was preparing my first book for publication that I decided to look into the literature on the matter. After much reading, I was convinced that I was wrong.

Recent Articles about Reputation and Shame in Chinese Culture (January 17, 2018, Jackson Wu)
Here are a few recent articles about the influence of honor and shame in contemporary China. 

Travel / Food

Why Shenzhen needs to be on your 2018 China travel list (January 3, 2018, CNN)
Whether you have two days or two weeks, here's how to make the most of a visit to this UNESCO Creative City:

Great Wall of China to Receive Repairs Just North of Beijing (January 11, 2018, The Beijinger)
Called "Jiankou" (箭扣), the named zone lies directly north of the capital and sits between the Badaling portion of the Great Wall and just west of Mutianyu, two areas that have been well-developed as local tourist attractions.

Snowboarding (and Face Planting) in Remote Western China (January 12, 2018, Far West China, via YouTube)
I just punched some new holes in my MAN CARD...I learned how to snowboard out here in China's far western region of Xinjiang!

Traveling to Dali: The complete guide (January 12, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
Located in the heart of Yunnan, Dali (大理) is a picturesque town mainly inhabited by the ethnic Bai, who settled here millenniums ago. Or better, this is the Dali Old Town, the original heart, surrounded by a city wall and characterized by typical Bai homes and architecture.

Sichuan to Inject $100 Million Into ‘Cliff Village’ Tourism (January 15, 2018, Sixth Tone)
A small village in southwestern China whose deadly cliffside path attracted wide media attention in 2016 is set to undergo a radical transformation, with the local government hoping to cash in on what it hopes will become a popular tourist attraction, local media reported Sunday.

Avoid the Crowds at Hunan's Zhangjiajie, China's Avatar Mountains (January 16, 2018, The Beijinger)
The UNESCO world heritage listed national park, officially known as Wulingyuan Scenic Area, is a vast, prehistoric warren of sandstone peaks and troughs, with thin monoliths piercing the sky like razors. Shrubs and stunted trees cling to the cracks within the peaks, and an impenetrable forest obscures most of the park’s floor. 

Three New Subway Lines Open on Beijing’s West Side (January 17, 2018, The Beijinger)
Beijing’s ever-expanding subway system has welcomed three more lines on the city’s west side. Line S1, the Yanfang Line (燕房线), and the Xijiao Line (西郊线) started operation last December 30, bringing the number of Beijing Subway lines to 22, with a total line length of 608 kilometers.

Language / Language Learning

Adverbs 只 (zhǐ), 就 (jiù) and 才 (cái) in Chinese (January 11, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
To out emphasis on a small quantity, you can insert one of the following three adverbs: 只(zhǐ), 就 (jiù) and 才(cái), translatable as “only”.

Whom should you trust for advice about learning Chinese? (January 16, 2018, Hacking Chinese)
I would also like to say something about learning Chinese as a second language. This is a field which is young compared to, say, learning English as a second language. That means that most of the research you will find for various topics is not actually about learning Chinese, but learning some other language. If studies have been conducted focusing on Chinese, they are usually very limited.

Living Cross-culturally

Cross-Cultural Dinner Fail (January 16, 2018, Smalltown Laowai)
“They’re going to love this!” ← Famous last words of a naïve cross-cultural chef, preparing food that’s totally unlike anything the guests have ever tasted. Has anyone else been there? I sure have. Lots of times.


I Stand With Christ (January 8, 2018, China Global Center)
(Review of I Stand With Christ: The Courageous Life of a Chinese Christian. Zhang Rongliang, with Eugene Bach. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2015)
The former leader of one of the five largest house church networks in China has penned a story that gripped and moved me greatly. Endorsed by prominent Chinese Christians who know the author, this fast-paced narrative covers the decades from the dark days of the Cultural Revolution, to the continued outreach, even to foreign countries, along with government pressure, of recent years.

Understanding China’s globalization through a softer lens: a journalist’s family (January 11, 2018, KPCC Air Talk)
In his new book, “A Village with My Name: A Family History of China’s Opening to the World,” Tong reconnects with extended relatives and traces key events embedded in their lives – from the end of the Qing dynasty, to the Great Leap Forward, to China’s One Child Policy and today’s factory and export boom – to help shape a refreshing, disparate understanding of modern-day China.

The Best books on Religion in China (January 16, 2018, Five Books)
China is a religious country with all kinds of faiths being practised across its vast territories—despite Mao's attempts to eradicate them. The Chinese Communist Party tolerates a variety of religions but continues to grapple with the potential challenge they pose to its authority. Prize-winning journalist Ian Johnson introduces the best books on the complex topic of religion in China.

3 Questions: A New Look at Chinese Christians (January 17, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Our friends Mary Ma (Li Ma) and Jin Li recently published a new book, Surviving the State, Remaking the Church: A Sociological Portrait of Christians in Mainland China. Using the tools of ethographic research and their unique perspectives as insiders, they provide an insightful look at the lives and faith of Chinese Christians today. Here Mary responds to three questions about the book and about Christians in China today.


Historical Photographs of China (University of Bristol)
This project aims to locate, digitalize, archive, and disseminate online photographs from the substantial holdings of images of modern China held mostly in private hands outside the country. 

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