ZGBriefs | January 18, 2024

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Featured Article

China population decline accelerates as birthrate hits record low (January 17, 2024, The Guardian)
The total number of people in China dropped by 2.75 million – or 0.2% – to 1.409 billion in 2023, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday. The drop surpassed that recorded in 2022, of about 850,000 – the first time the recorded population had declined since the mass deaths of the Mao-era famines.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

William Lai: Taiwan just chose a president China loathes. What now? (June 13, 2024, BBC)
Beijing called him a “troublemaker” and a dangerous “separatist”. Now he will be Taiwan’s next president. China’s claims over Taiwan are not new – it sees the island as part of its territory and Xi Jinping has made unification a goal. But the threats have ramped up in the past year. And yet, despite renewed warnings from China against voting for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), millions of Taiwanese headed to the polls under warm, sunny skies on Saturday to do just that.

Video: What do Taiwan’s election results mean?(January 16, 2024, National Committee on U.S.-Foreign Relations)
As the world closely monitors the Taiwan Strait to discern the implications of these election results, it is crucial to gain insights directly from Taiwan to understand the issues that influenced the outcome and anticipate what comes next within the Taiwan-China-United States triangle. In an interview conducted on January 14, 2024 in Taipei, Margaret Lewis delves into the details of Taiwan’s 2024 election results with Yu-Jie Chen and Brian Hioe.

Weibo Censors Hashtags “Taiwan Election,” “Frozen Garlic,” More (January 16, 2024, China Digital Times)
Over the weekend, discussions of Taiwan’s general election were both censored and drowned out on Weibo. Censors removed the hashtags “Taiwan Election,” “Taiwan General Election,” and “2024 Taiwan General Election,” as well as another one relating to a popular Taiwanese political chant. 

China’s Big Gamble in the South China Sea (January 17, 2024, The Diplomat)
Heightened China-Philippines tension around Second Thomas Shoal could escalate to military skirmishes – and that’s a chance Beijing appears willing to take.


Reconciling a Church Split (January 15, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
Thank you for joining me on this “Peacemaking in China” blog journey throughout 2023. My hope is that this series has provided helpful insights as well as whetting your appetite for more. The blog posts in this series have consisted of excerpts from my new book, Changing Normal: Break Through Barriers to Pursuing Peace in Relationships which is now available on Amazon. 

Imaginations Awakened: Part 1 (January 15, 2024, China Partnership Blog)
For many American Christians, China may seem a niche interest. But recently, PCA pastors and theologians have had a growing interest in Chinese house churches.

Xi Jinping Is Not Trying to Make Christianity More Chinese (January 16, 2024, Christianty Today) (subscription required)
The primary goal of Zhongguo hua is not cultural assimilation but political domestication. Yet I’m more confident than ever that house churches will survive.

Online pastor in China’s Dalian gets 14 years for ‘superstition (January 16, 2024, Radio Free Asia)
Kan came to the attention of the authorities after he and Wang went to live in Dalian from their home city of Wuhan in 2018, setting up an online preaching platform called the Home Discipleship Network. They were initially arrested by Dalian police along with the four other church members in October 2021.

Society / Life

Why foreigners who endured China’s Covid lockdowns are now leaving (January 15, 2025, South China Morning Post, via Yahoo!)
Foreigners living in China who stuck it out through three years of strict Covid controls have spoken about why they finally decided to leave the country last year despite efforts to reopen to the outside world. Some spoke of an increasing wariness, even hostility, towards foreigners while others said they were worried about a repeat of their lockdown experiences.

China’s millennial and Gen Z workers are having to lower their economic expectations (January 16, 2024, NPR)
Reared by a generation of Chinese who made their wealth during nearly four uninterrupted decades of explosive economic growth, they face much lower expectations for economic dynamism and their own prospects going forward. “China’s golden years, the two decades or so after our country’s reform and opening-up policies, are over. There’s nothing I can do about this. I can only accept it,” says 20-year-old Jeffrey An, who is starting a master’s degree.

About 1,000 tourists trapped in China’s Xinjiang after avalanches (January 16, 2024, NBC News)
Road access to Hemu village, a scenic destination near the borders of Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia where the tourists were trapped, has been cut off by avalanches for several days now. The village is situated in Xinjiang’s Altay Prefecture where continuous snowfall in some areas has lasted 10 days, it said.

At Xiamen Marathon, China’s ‘Smoking Big Brother’ Runs Into a Ban (January 17, 2024, Sixth Tone)
In 2022, Chen Bangxian shot to fame for chain-smoking his way to the end of a marathon. His repeat of the act at the Xiamen International Marathon in early January has now led to disciplinary action.

Affluent Chinese have been moving to Japan since the COVID lockdowns (January 17, 2024, NPR)
Chinese already made up the largest group of foreign nationals in Japan overall. Recent news reports suggest that the number of Chinese citizens entering Japan on business manager visas hit a record of more than 2,000 last year.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s economy expanded 5.2% last year, hitting the government’s target despite an uneven recovery (January 17, 2024, AP)
Official data released Wednesday showed that the Chinese economy grew 5.2% for 2023, surpassing the target of ‘about 5%’ that the government had set. The growth for 2023 is likely helped by 2022’s GDP of just 3% as China’s economy slowed due to COVID-19 and nationwide lockdowns during the pandemic.

China starts publishing youth jobless data again, with new method and a lower number (January 17, 2024, ABC News)
China announced a 14.9% jobless rate for people between 16 and 24 in December, using the new method, which excludes students. The statistics bureau stopped publishing the politically sensitive figure last year, after it reached 21.3% in June.

Health / Environment

Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS drugs get market approval in China (January 17, 2024, China Daily, via Asia News Network)
China’s medical regulators recently approved two foreign drugs, bringing new hope to patients with Alzheimer’s disease and groups at risk for HIV/AIDS. The National Medical Products Administration announced last week that it had granted market approval for the injected drug Leqembi, developed by Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company Eisai, to treat minor dementia and cognitive dysfunction triggered by Alzheimer’s.

History / Culture

A City in Bloom: Shanghai Through the ’90s (January 12, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Since its Dec. 27 release, ‘Blossoms Shanghai’ has led TV ratings. Directed by Wong Kar-wai and set during the city’s economic boom in the 1990s, the show has sparked a social media frenzy and fueled a travel boom to iconic Shanghai landmarks.

Cook’s Skeleton Map to Peking, 1920s (January 16, 2024, China Rhyming)

Travel / Food

A Snowball Effect: How Cold Harbin Became the Hottest Place in China (January 11, 2024, What’s on Weibo) (subscription required)
There is one topic that has been dominating Chinese social media recently: Harbin and its remarkable influx of tourists. How can the buzz surrounding this frosty city be explained?

Rice Soup: A Splash of Shanghai Culture (January 17, 2024, Sixth Tone)
The classic breakfast, which recently featured in the hit TV show “Blossoms Shanghai,” has been fueling working families in the city for generations.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

A New Movie Takes Aim at China’s Corporate Culture (January 17, 2024, The World of Chinese)
“Johnny Keep Walking!” has struck a chord with young Chinese workers who relate to its biting satire of pointless bureaucracy, lazy bosses, and the tradition of annual galas at Chinese companies.

Pray for China

January 18 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Jan. 18, 1929, Wang Shijing (王世静校长) was installed as the first Chinese president of her alma mater, Hwa Nan University (华南女子学院-The Women’s College of South China). In the 1920s, as anti-Western and anti-Christian sentiment grew in China following China’s perceived betrayal at the Versailles Peace Conference, schools founded by missionaries were required to turn control over to Chinese nationals. Wang served as president until the new communist government abolished Christian education in 1951. She was labeled an anti-rightist and suffered severe depression until her death in 1983. Pray for Christians suffering from mental illness to find professional help and to know that the Lord hears and answers their prayers. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer. Psalm 6:9

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Image credit: Amo, via Unsplash
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