ZGBriefs | January 19, 2017

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

Have you rented a boyfriend for the Spring Festival? (January 18, 2017, China Daily)
The price of renting a boyfriend to take home with you is surging to as high as 1,500 yuan ($219) a day as Spring Festival approaches, chinanews.com reported on Wednesday. Some single women, who are pressured by their parents to marry, choose to rent a boyfriend for home to soften or dispel parents' dissatisfaction with their singledom. Catering to the market, men are advertising their availability at higher prices on social networking platforms.

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Foreign NGO Law

Professional Supervisory Unit or Partner—Which Is Right for You? (January 17, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
We’ve written before about the requirement in the new Foreign NGO Law that requires approval from a “Professional Supervisory Unit” or “Chinese Partner” in order to conduct activities in China. Shawn Shieh, writing at NGOs in China provides a helpful explanation about the distinction between those two entities:

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s Chief Justice Rejects an Independent Judiciary, and Reformers Wince (January 18, 2017, The New York Times)
“We should resolutely resist erroneous influence from the West: ‘constitutional democracy,’ ‘separation of powers’ and ‘independence of the judiciary,’” Chief Justice Zhou, the head of the Supreme People’s Court of China, said in a speech to a group of legal officials in Beijing. “We must make clear our stand and dare to show the sword.” The speech was widely seen as a bow to the strict political climate that President Xi Jinping has established in China, as a major Communist Party conclave approaches this year.

No longer welcome? American companies fear China's turning its back on them (January 18, 2017, Chicago Tribune)
American companies don't feel welcome in China any more. And while Chinese President Xi Jinping defended globalization at the World Economic Forum in Davos, U.S. companies say his government is not practicing what he preached. An annual survey of business conditions by the American Chamber of Commerce, or AmCham, in China found that 4 out 5 companies feel less welcome in China than before.

An 'Old Friend Of China' Prepares To Bridge Differences At A Fraught Time (January 18, 2017, NPR)
Branstad's relationship with China goes back to 1985, when he was in his first term as governor and a young agricultural official from Hebei Province named Xi Jinping visited Iowa. The two hit it off. In the ensuing years, Branstad and Xi kept in touch, as the latter slowly ascended to China's top leadership position and Branstad was elected back into the governor's office in 2011, managing billions of dollars worth of the state's pork, soybean and other exports to China.

A Scar on the Chinese Soul (January 18, 2017, The New York Times)
Half a century has passed since Mao Zedong plunged China into the “10 years of chaos,” as the Cultural Revolution is often called here, wrecking the Communist Party apparatus and upending the lives of ordinary people like Ms. Zhang. Mao’s obsession with ridding the country of enemies brought public humiliation, political exile and starvation upon countless individuals. Perhaps more than a million lost their lives.


China again arrests prominent pastor on suspicion of embezzlement (January 13, 2017, Reuters)
One of China's highest profile former pastors, Gu Yuese, has been formally arrested for the second time on suspicion of embezzling funds, people close to his family said on Friday. Police sent an arrest warrant to Gu's family on Jan. 7, saying he was being detained on suspicion of misappropriating funds, according to China Aid, a Texas-based Christian nonprofit that advocates for freedom of religion in China.

Revision of Religious Affairs Regulations To be Implemented in 2017 (January 14, 2017, China Christian Daily)
The 2017 National Religious Bureau Conference was held in Beijing from Jan 7th to 10th. The new religious affairs regulations released in 2016 was the highlight of the conference.

New Wineskins for Cross-Cultural Workers from China (January 16, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
In the latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, two Christians in China offer their thoughts on the future of Chinese mission sending structures. Both have extensive experience in working with international organizations, and this experience has helped shape their notions of what is needed for the church in China to successfully send and support its own workers.

Contextualizing Christmas in China (January 17, 2017, Jackson Wu)
If you are interested in contextualization in China, you might want to check out Ruth Wang’s article, “Yellow Christmas.” She points out that many Chinese people complain that Christmas is a “Western” holiday, so it shouldn’t be celebrated in China.

Responding to the Smog (Part 1) (January 17, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
How have some Chinese Christians responded? The journal Territory put together several reflections from Christians on varying contrasting themes related to pollution.  

Presence of Legitimacy (January 17, 2017, Silk Road Catalyst Blog)
Over two years, he befriended several Muslim elders and shared the Gospel many times. He recruited local language students, taught English, and charged tuition. After two years, the Muslim elders approached and challenged him. They discovered his business was only a front. It was making no profits, and his lifestyle did not match someone having no apparent income. In one conversation, he lost his witness and legitimacy with this local community. 

Society / Life

Shenzhen Closes Door on Blind Migrants (January 12, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Xiao Guangting became a qualified masseur, found a job, married the woman he loved, and became the father of a son, all during his nearly two decades in Shenzhen, southern China. But the 39-year-old still can’t call the city home. His application to become an official resident was rejected by city authorities again and again because of his disability: Xiao is blind.

Service With a Smile in Xi’an (January 12, 2017, China Real Time)
In China’s ancient capital Xi’an, police are taking charm lessons from high-end innkeepers. The Public Security Bureau in the city’s Chang’an district sent more than 20 officers to a nearby luxury hotel to study “Smiling Services” on Sunday, a few days after a local TV news program aired footage criticizing police and other local bureaucrats for poor customer service.

What happens when all of China goes on vacation at once (January 13, 2017, CNN)
But it's when millions of Chinese people go home for the Chinese New Year Spring Festival during "chunyun" -- the annual spring migration -- that China's flair for organization on a gargantuan scale really comes into its own. In 2017 -- the Year of the Rooster -- Chinese authorities expect holidaymakers to make 2.5 billion trips by land, 356 million by rail, 58 million by plane and 43 million by sea over the 40-day period, which starts on January 13 and lasts until February 21.

Rich Chinese, Inspired by ‘Downton,’ Fuel Demand for Butlers (January 14, 2017, The New York Times)
Mao once said that a revolution was not a dinner party. But with the communist revolution turning into opulent capitalism, China’s rich are now making sure the dinner party settings are immaculate and the wine is poured just right. Inspired in part by the “Downton Abbey” television drama, the country’s once raw and raucous tycoons are aspiring to old-school decorum, fueling demand for the services of homegrown butlers trained in the ways of a British manor.

How Weibo Reflects China’s National Pride and Shame (January 17, 2017, Sixth Tone)
While Weibo posts cannot be boiled down to give a single overarching image of China, two key themes still emerge. First, Chinese Weibo users often display an acute sense of shame, which mainly stems from their previous failures to respond to news of global issues in acceptable ways. Second, netizens often take to Weibo in order to express national pride, especially when the Chinese government responds swiftly and reliably to humanitarian disasters in foreign lands.

Parking in China Can Be a Long March (January 18, 2017, China Real Time)
Once known as the land of the bicycle, China is now the world’s largest automotive market. While the rapid expansion of car ownership has created millions of jobs and helped drive the economy, with it has come congestion, pollution and a shortage of at least 50 million parking spaces in a country where 180 million vehicles ply the roads.

Economics / Trade / Business

People’s Daily & XinHua: Required Reading for International Business (January 17, 2017, Chinese Negotiation)
As we enter a new period of increasing tension and trade barriers, individual decision-makers will once again have to scramble for real, actionable news about China. I want to point you in an unexpected direction: the Xinhua News Agency / People’s Daily.

The 10 most powerful Chinese export brands (January 17, 2017, Business Insider)
While many huge Chinese brands are unknown outside of China, several are now competitive on the world's stage. 

China's Yuan Woes Get Worse (January 17, 2017, Bloomberg)
In the first week of 2017, the offshore yuan surged by a record amount against the U.S. dollar over two days, interbank borrowing costs soared and volatility intensified. The following week, pretty much everything reversed. It's a familiar pattern that exemplifies the contradictions bedeviling China's currency.

The Chinese government finally admitted that its economic data was made up (January 18, 2017, Quartz)
As China is set to release fourth-quarter GDP figures on Jan. 20, China’s economic growth looks right on track to hit the government’s target growth rate of no less than 6.5% for the full year. But China’s northeastern Liaoning province, which relies on steel production as its growth engine, had inflated its GDP figures from 2011 to 2014, said province governor Chen Qiufa on Jan. 17 in his annual work report, according to the state newspaper People’s Daily. It is the first time the Chinese government has publicly admitted to faking official statistics at any level.

All aboard the China-to-London freight train (January 18, 2017, BBC)
It's not on a boat, it's not on a plane, it's on a train. The newest way to send your freight from China to Europe involves spending 15 days on a train that doesn't have a buffet car in sight.

China Cancels 103 Coal Plants, Mindful of Smog and Wasted Capacity (January 18, 2017, The New York Times)
China is canceling plans to build more than 100 coal-fired power plants, seeking to rein in runaway, wasteful investment in the sector while moving the country away from one of the dirtiest forms of electricity generation, the government announced in a directive made public this week.

One Chinese factory is making a fortune out of Donald Trump masks (January 18, 2017, Sydney Morning Herald)
It was a tough year in 2016 for China's exporters due to tepid global demand, but some Chinese firms bucked the trend thanks to US president-elect Donald Trump. […]  Trump masks – one with natural skin tone and another with a redder hue – outsold all other celebrity masks made at Zhou's factory, including masks of Clinton and US President Barack Obama.


China Revises University Entrance Exams to Get the Emoji Generation to Read More Classics (January 14, 2017, The Beijinger)
The Gaokao is going back to the past in a bid to force a generation of emoji users to embrace their Classical Chinese roots. Beijing students will have to break out (or download) a copy of the 18th-century classic Dream of the Red Chamber, (红楼梦 Hónglóu mèng), to prepare for the 2017 university entrance exam.

China’s Disappearing Rural Schools: Teacher Keeps School Open for Two Students (January 15, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
In a rapidly urbanizing China, small rural schools are slowly disappearing. As children move out to the cities with their parents, some schools – once lively village institutions – have now become empty buildings. In the mountainous region of Youyang County, one teacher keeps his school open for two remaining students.

Foreign graduates with master's degree no longer need work experience to work in China! (January 17, 2017, Shanghaiist)
International graduates with master's degrees from Chinese universities or from "well-known" foreign universities (which universities qualify as "well-known" is not yet known) are now eligible for a Z (working) visa immediately after graduation, waiving the previous requirement of two years of postgraduate work experience, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS)

Study Buddies: Investing in Sino-Foreign Higher Education in China (January 17, 2017, China Briefing)
According to the Catalogue of Industries for Guiding Foreign Investment, entry into the Chinese higher education industry is still restricted. Foreign institutions still require a Chinese partner whose stake and administration comprise over half in the venture. There are three main methods of establishing a Sino-foreign joint institution, with increasing levels of integration and commitment. The three partnerships all require the approval of both the provincial education department and the Ministry of Education before a Chinese-Foreign Cooperative Education License can be issued.

School commute: Teacher takes students by boat for 10 years (January 18, 2017, China Daily)
Besides teaching, Li Congshu, 60, also spends two hours rowing a boat to take students to and from school at the Xiangshuitan Reservoir in Dazu district, Southwest China's Chongqing municipality. Li has been doing this everyday for 10 years, and thanks to Li's wooden boat, it only takes students about half an hour to cross the reservoir. Otherwise, it would take the students over two hours to walk around the reservoir to reach their elementary school in the farthermost end of the body of water.

Health / Environment

NGOs Predict Poor Air in Beijing for 30 More Years (January 18, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Air pollution levels in many Chinese cities may be improving, but it will still be years until they meet national and international standards, say two NGOs. Beijing will meet national standards for PM 2.5 — tiny particles in the air that are especially harmful if they enter the bloodstream — in 2027, and the World Health Organization standard by 2046, according to a joint report released Tuesday by environmental groups Greenpeace East Asia (GPEA) and Shanghai Qingyue Environmental Protection Center.

China's fake food problem: Soy sauce and spice mixes (January 18, 2017, CNN)
China's problem with fake goods even includes the condiments and seasonings that people sprinkle on their food. Authorities in northern China say they have busted several underground factories that were churning out counterfeit versions of products like soy sauce and spice mix. The fake goods were being made in a district of the industrial hub Tianjin and passed off as real brands owned by major companies.

Diabetes causes loss of 9 years of life in Chinese patients: study (January 18, 2017, China Daily)
People in China diagnosed with diabetes in middle age lost an average nine years of life, according to a new study published Tuesday. The study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), said that inadequate treatment, particularly in rural areas, was mainly to blame for that loss.

Science / Technology

China orders app stores to join register (January 16, 2017, BBC)
China's internet regulator has ordered mobile app stores to register themselves with it immediately. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said the move would help "promote the healthy and orderly development of the mobile internet". Most smartphones in the country run Android, but Google does not operate its Play Store locally, meaning users go elsewhere to add software. A report last year linked this to the spread of malware.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

What it's really like for Americans playing basketball in China (January 17, 2017, ESPN)
It wasn't too long ago that outsiders considered the Chinese Basketball Association one of the great unknowns in professional sports. But in recent years, especially since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the CBA has emerged as a viable option for borderline NBA players or veterans looking to extend their careers.

History / Culture

The Chinese zodiac says Jan. 20 is not an auspicious day to inaugurate anything (January 18, 2017, The Los Angeles Times)
The Chinese astrological calendar, which dispenses daily life guidance, warns against starting a business or launching a “maiden voyage” on this Jan. 20, when Trump embarks on his new job.

Travel / Food

What to order in a restaurant in China – Our guide (January 13, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
In this guide you’ll find descriptions of the most famous – and delicious – dishes in Chinese cuisine, with the name in English and Chinese (both in characters and in pinyin).

Thailand’s Crackdown on Cheap Chinese Tours Cuts Lunar New Year Holiday Numbers (January 14, 2017, Skift)
Zero-dollar tourists pay everything up front. Operators cut any cost they can while tourists are sometimes cajoled into buying over-priced souvenirs so the company earns a commission. Those are the practices Thailand wants to stop. But the government’s insistence on a minimum 1,000 baht ($28) per night charge for package tourists had made Thailand uncompetitive for many Chinese visitors, tour operators say.

6 Unbelievable Historic Sites You Never Knew Existed in China (January 16, 2017, Wild China Blog)
Sights like the Great Wall outside Beijing and the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an are classic destinations for the history buff. But for those who think of themselves as more of an Indiana Jones type, rare treasures of Chinese history rest just off the beaten path. With thousands of sights to thrill the history buff, we dug up some of the best places around the country that will give you the Chinese history lessons you never took.

Chinese Travelers Prioritize Food More Than Shopping When Choosing Destinations (January 17, 2017, Skift)
With over 100 million Chinese travelers going abroad every year now, and with that number potentially reaching 200 million by 2020, addressing their drinking and eating preferences is of great importance to those hoping to welcome them. One simple example. is boiled water. Most Chinese, especially older Chinese, do not drink cold drinks, and carry bottles of boiled hot water as their beverage of choice. Kettles for boiling water or making tea are provided in almost every hotel room in China and on Chinese airlines, and the availability of boiled water also allows for the quick preparation of instant noodles or other portable meals.

Chinese tourists seek ‘lung cleansing’ trips to Antarctica and Iceland as smog worsens (January 17, 2017, The Telegraph)
The Seychelles, the Maldives and Iceland are among the destinations residents think will offer the freshest air, according to Ctrip, while Phuket in Thailand, Bali, Jeju Island in South Korea and the city of Sanya on Hainan Island in south-east China are among the most popular island getaway spots sought by Chinese tourists.

The Great Wall by Drone (January 18, 2017, Outside-In)
When I lived in Beijing, one of my favorite things to do was go to take visitors to the Great Wall in the mountains outside of the city. There are a few designated Great Wall tourist sites, but I also enjoyed exploring some of the unrestored and undeveloped sites as well.

Language / Language Learning

What you should know about China's Zhou Youguang, inventor of pinyin (January 15, 2017, Christian Science Monitor)
Zhou Youguang, who in 1958 invented pinyin, the romanized spelling system that linked ancient Chinese writing to the modern age, died Saturday in Beijing. The system forever changed how the world learns and types Chinese.


The Church in China (January 11, 2017, Global China Center)
Christopher Hancock, editor, “The Church in China,” special issue of The International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church, Volume 15, Number 4, December 2015, 259–377.
This special issue of a prestigious academic journal contains ten major articles (including the editorial preface by Dr. Hancock) and seven substantial book reviews. The articles and reviews span both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism from the sixteenth century to the present, and they touch upon history, theology, evangelism and social action, the impact of Christianity upon Chinese society, and challenges facing the Chinese church today.

China’s Church Bells: The Window in the Steeple (January 13, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
As Joann Pittman skillfully conveys in her new book, The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China. the church bells of China provide a valuable—and until now, largely neglected—window into the life of China’s church.

How's My English?: A Practical Guide to an Effective English Corner (Volume Book 1), by David Joannes (via Amazon)
Do you want to start an English Corner of your own, but you’re not quite sure where to begin or what to do? Or do you already have one of your own, but are looking for ways to make it better? Or maybe you’re just someone who’s been at this for a while and you’re just running out of discussions and want a fresh resource to pull from? 

Image credit: Chinese Countryside Wedding, by Peng Zhang, 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