ZGBriefs | January 24, 2019

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Featured Article

Engineers of the Soul: Ideology in Xi Jinping's China by John Garnaut (January 16, 2019, Sinocism)
At some point, given the reach that China has into Australia, we will have to make a serious attempt to read the ideological road map that frames the language, perceptions and decisions of Chinese leaders. If we are ever going to map the Communist Party genome then we need to read the ideological DNA. 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Podcast: Adrian Zenz on re-education camps in Xinjiang (January 11, 2019, MERICS Experts)
The CCP wants long-term generational change and younger Uighurs to forget their religious and cultural roots, Zenz says in the latest MERICS Experts podcast.

The fight for Chinese rights (June 17, 2019, World Magazine)
A network of lawyers in China has led a bold effort to enforce the rule of law, but Communist opposition is formidable.

As Shaanxi Saga Shows, Even Xi Hits China’s Bureaucratic Brick Wall (January 19, 2019, South China Morning Post)
A scandal over illegal villas suggests even China’s most powerful leader since Mao struggles with a bureaucracy that has spent centuries ignoring its leaders. After all, “the sky is high and the emperor is far away.”

Xi warns China to maintain political security against 'black swans' of economic volatility (January 22, 2019, The Guardian)
He stressed the campaign would be focused on training the next generation to uphold “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, the Chinese Communist party’s adaptation of Marxism-Leninism.

First Case of an Administrative Detention Linked to the Foreign NGO Law? (January 22, 2019, China NGO Project)
This case raises several important questions for international groups seeking to work in China. Does this case represent a period of stricter enforcement of the Foreign NGO Law? If so, some groups may have to rethink what types of activities they are comfortable attempting in the mainland.

'I'm being watched': Anne-Marie Brady, the China critic living in fear of Beijing (January 22, 2019, The Guardian)
But since the publication of her 2017 paper Magic Weapons, which details the extent of Chinese influence in New Zealand, Brady’s life has been turned upside down, becoming the target of a campaign of intimidation and “psy-ops” she believes is directed by Beijing towards her and her family.

143 former China diplomats and academics write to Xi Jinping demanding Canadian detainees be freed  (January 22, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The signatories of the letter, who said they were “deeply concerned” about the detention of the two Canadians, include former ambassadors to China from Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia, Germany, Sweden, and Mexico, two former US deputy assistant secretaries of state, and former foreign ministers from Britain and Australia.

Could Americans be caught in the crossfire of an extradition request for Huawei’s Sabrina Meng Wanzhou?  (January 23, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Beijing warned Washington on Tuesday against proceeding with its formal extradition request for Meng, chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies, which US officials are expected to file before the January 30 deadline. If Canada extradites Meng to the US to face charges, Americans could face repercussions, albeit to a lesser degree, according to observers.

China has a special passport for its elites—and Huawei’s detained executive has one (January 23, 2019, Quartz)
The public affairs passport is mainly issued to people closely related to the government, such as “officials below the level of deputy division-director, personnel of public institutions, state-owned enterprises or enterprises with the state having the controlling interest, and financial institutions where the state has controlling interest or is a shareholder,…”

China Arrests Democracy Advocate Yang Hengjun Following Flight From New York (January 23, 2019, NPR)
Friends of Yang say he was taken into custody immediately after flying from New York to China on Saturday, and since then, the democracy advocate's normally active Twitter feed has fallen silent.

China’s Greatness and Taiwan’s Vulnerability (January 23, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
While previous CCP supreme leaders have made similar threats in the past, this time is different because the PRC state’s quest for greatness now includes the capacity to deliver on an agenda of territorial expansion.

Hong Kong moves to criminalize 'insulting' China's national anthem (January 23, 2019, CNN)
Lawmakers Wednesday began discussing the legislation which sets standards for playing and singing "March," and makes it a crime punishable by up to three years in prison "to insult the national anthem."

Antagonistic Competition Marks U.S.–China Relations 40 Years after Normalization (January 23, 2019, National Review)
The atmosphere of disappointment and distrust that pervades amid a trade war between the world’s two most powerful countries shows few signs of dissipating, and portends an extended period of instability that will require a fundamental rethinking of how to maintain stability in Asia and beyond.


The Kingship of Christ (January 22, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
When he was crucified on the cross, Jesus willingly suffered, not attempting to argue what’s right and wrong here on earth. Because we believe that God has his righteous judgements, we too should suffer willingly.

‘Reeducating’ Xinjiang’s Muslims (February 7, 2019 issue, New York Review of Books)
How did the PRC come to this? I see two broad reasons: an official CCP misunderstanding of what Islam means to most Uighurs and other Muslim groups, and a recent CCP embrace of Han-centric ethnic assimilationism, an idea that runs counter to traditional Chinese modes of pluralism.

Society / Life

Chinese Police Are Vying for Viral Videos (January 18, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The wildly popular meme-making app TikTok has become an officially endorsed battleground for China’s law enforcement arms.

Modern China's birth rate falls to lowest ever (January 21, 2019, Reuters)
China’s birth rate last year fell to its lowest since the founding of the People’s Republic of China 70 years ago, official data showed on Monday, with looser population controls failing to encourage couples to have more babies. 

Congrats Beijing! You're China's Chubbiest City (January 22, 2019, The Beijinger)
The China Center for Disease Control recently determined that 25.9 percent of Beijingers are 肥胖 (féipàng), or obese (read more about that in Chinese here). That's the highest ranking of 31 provinces covered in the survey and far above the national average.

Rise of the Red Retirees? China’s ‘Dama’ Are No Red Guards (January 22, 2019, Sixth Tone)
China’s square dancing grannies aren’t a legacy of Maoism, socialism, or collectivism, but rather a product of the country’s reform period.

Inside China's leading 'sponge city': Wuhan's war with water (January 23, 2019, The Guardian)
Known as ‘the city of a hundred lakes’ until most got paved over, Wuhan has a flooding problem. Can permeable pavements and artificial wetlands soak it up?

World's largest annual human migration now underway in China (January 23, 2019, CNN)
The country's annual Spring Festival rush — the biggest human migration on the planet — is now officially underway and set to be bigger than ever, with close to 3 billion trips expected to be made between January 21 and March 1.

Economics / Trade / Business

In China industrial heartland city of Chongqing, a painful economic transition is on full display (January 18, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Chongqing is hooked on expensive government infrastructure projects. The city’s dominant car sector is weakening, raising fears for the wider private economy

After Decades Of Double-Digit Growth, China's Economy Is Slowing Down (January 22, 2019, NPR)
China reports its economy for 2018 grew at its slowest pace since 1990. The slowdown has economists worried about the impact on the global economy.

China could completely cut off investment into Silicon Valley amid Huawei bust-up (January 23, 2019, CNBC)
"I can tell you, after the Huawei events, all the Chinese money into Silicon Valley stops. And no U.S. money will want to invest into China either."

China will overtake the US as the world's biggest retail market this year (January 23, 2019, CNN)
Retail sales in China will reach more than $5.6 trillion this year, about $100 billion more than in the United States, according to research published Wednesday by consulting firm eMarketer.


U.S. Universities Shut Down Confucius Institutes  (January 16, 2019, China Digital Times)
Amid rising concerns of curtailed academic freedoms, U.S. universities are increasingly closing down Confucius Institutes, which are Chinese government-funded centers offering Mandarin-language and cultural courses that at one point numbered over 100 in North America alone. 

At a top Chinese university, activist 'confessions' strike fear into students (January 21, 2019, Reuters)
The private screening was part of efforts by Chinese authorities to stem a groundswell of activism on China’s university campuses, with students taking up causes from #MeToo to the rights of migrant and factory workers.

Health / Environment

Scientist Who Edited Babies’ Genes Is Likely to Face Charges in China (January 21, 2019, The New York Times)
A Chinese scientist who claimed to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies “seriously violated” state regulations, according to the results of an initial government investigation reported on Monday by Chinese state media. 

Science / Technology

China deletes 7 million pieces of online information, thousands of apps  (January 23, 2019, Reuters)
China’s cyber watchdog said on Wednesday it had deleted more than 7 million pieces of online information as well as 9,382 mobile apps, and it criticized tech giant Tencent’s (0700.HK) news app for spreading “vulgar information”.

History / Culture

Amateur musicking in urban Shaanbei (January 23, 2019, Stephen Jones: A Blog)
I’ve written a series of posts on ritual activity around the Shaanbei countryside (starting with this, recently-updated), but here I enter the regional capital Yulin to outline a recreational form of vocal music with ensemble, now moribund.

Photos: props in Chinese photo studios, 1950s.  (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Film: Attractions in Peiping(Peking), 1938. (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Film: Color Peking, 1947, Life Magazine.(Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Travel / Food

Video: 300-year old “Long Life Noodles” (National Geographic Travel, via Facebook)
Travel to Nanshan village to see the mesmerizing, intricate process of making Suomian noodles—a recipe that only 300 people in the world know.

Shanghai! (January 18, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Last November I had the opportunity to make a trip back to China with some friends. We spent a couple days in Shanghai, which was long enough to remind me of what a fabulous city it is, something that isn’t always easy for this Beijinger to admit.

Hot pot and hip-hop in China's most chilled city (January 18, 2019, The National)
So, how to do the ’Du? The best advice was penned 1,100 years ago by a man raised near Chengdu, the renowned bard Li Bai: “Life in the world is but a big dream. I will not spoil it by any labour or care.” This is a city where tea is not served by the cup but by the flask, so take it slow.

China plans major cut in number of people allowed to climb Everest (January 21, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Fewer than 300 people will be allowed to climb the world’s highest mountain from the north side as part of a major clean-up operation.

Jewish Tours of China (January 22, 2019, Wild China Blog)
With a history of Jewish immigration spanning to the days of the Silk Road, there has been a presence of Judaism in China since the imperial times of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). 

China proposes ‘child-only train cars,’ and people are divided (January 22, 2019, The Matador Network)
People are mainly fed up with what the Chinese call “bear children” — a not-so-polite term for spoiled children who misbehave in public.

How the Chinese fell in love with the Highlands (January 23, 2019, The Guardian)
 Edinburgh is now the second most-visited city in the UK by Chinese tourists, after London, and last summer direct flights began between the Scottish capital and Beijing.

Living Cross-culturally

After Living Abroad, Kids Struggle With American Overparenting  (January 21, 2019, Reason)
I asked children and parents who'd lived both abroad and here in the States what struck them as the biggest difference. They all said it was the lack of childhood independence in America.

The Impact of Leaving on the Kids (January 23, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
I think it is safe to say that most of us are aware that children feel the stress and emotions of their parents. Unless they are careful they can project their stress and fear onto their children. And even when they are aware of the possibility, they may still impact their children in ways they don’t realize.

Beijing opens two new foreigner exit-entry service centers (January 23, 2019, China Daily)
The two centers, in the city's Shijingshan and Tongzhou districts, accept applications for residence permits, permanent residence permits, and the issuance and replacement of foreigners' permanent resident identity cards.


A Conversation among Reviewers: A Book Review (January 21, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
From Christ to Confucius is the first monograph of Albert Monshan Wu, currently Assistant Professor at American University of Paris. The book has been reviewed on syndicate.network, a website dedicated to discursive reviews of academic books in the humanities. 

Links for Researchers

The Uyghurs in Modern China (Oxford Research Encyclopedia)

Image credit: Wikimedia

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