ZGBriefs | January 25, 2024

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Featured Article

They flocked to build China’s cities. Now builders are aging with little retirement (January 18, 2024, NPR)
Now, these workers are approaching retirement age, and China must deal with the costs of supporting an aging workforce. Although they built much of the country’s infrastructure, migrant workers remain the most vulnerable in the country’s fast-aging workforce. 

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s muted reaction to Taiwan’s election result may signal a waiting game (January 18, 2024, The Guardian)
Taiwan says China has launched significant joint air and sea patrols, but analysts say Beijing’s reaction to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s election win has so far been relatively quiet.

China’s human rights record criticised at UN as it faces rare scrutiny of policies (January 23, 2024, The Guardian)
The UK called on China to “cease the persecution and arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and Tibetans and allow genuine freedom of religion or belief and cultural expression without fear of surveillance, torture, forced labour or sexual violence”, while the US said China should “release all arbitrarily detained individuals” and cease the operation of “forcible assimilation policies including boarding schools in Tibet and Xinjiang”.

China vows to open immigration ‘at stable pace’, more policies to lure foreign talent (January 24, 2024, South China Morning Post)
China’s immigration agency has pledged to further open up the country “at a stable pace” while calling for more efforts to fend off what it called infiltration by “hostile forces”. It comes a year after the nation’s tough Covid-19 border controls were lifted, and as authorities try to encourage foreigners to travel to China.

China formally restores diplomatic relations with Nauru after Pacific island nation cut Taiwan ties (January 24, 2024, AP)
China and Nauru formally restored diplomatic relations Wednesday after the tiny Pacific island nation cut its ties with Taiwan earlier this month, in a further move by Beijing to isolate Taipei’s democratic government.

China seals closer Uzbek ties, pushes railway route bypassing Russia (January 24, 2024, Reuters)
China said it was ready to expand cooperation with Uzbekistan across the new energy vehicle industry chain, as well as in major projects such as photovoltaics, wind power and hydropower.


Sinicising Islam in China: The Story of a Mosque (January 18, 2024, Made in China Journal)
Snapshots of Laohuasi taken by Han Chinese tourists in the summer of 2023, however, reveal that those domes are gone. Instead, a large hip-and-gable roof with corners projecting beyond the walls now sits atop the mosque’s prayer halls. Two minarets standing by the gate to the courtyard have also lost height. 

Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church Dashi Branch Raided by Armed Police During Prayer (January 19, 2024, China Aid)
On January 7, local special police, auxiliary police, national security agents, religious affairs bureau personnel, and community workers jointly conducted a raid against Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church Dashi branch while Christians were gathering in a farm and praying during mealtime in Shunde district of Foshan City.

Homeschooling in China: A Growing Movement (January 22, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
This decision is a step of faith, and one that families do not take lightly. Homeschooling is illegal for locals, yet the number of believers choosing to educate their children at home is growing. Many want to because they desire to teach the Bible alongside other subjects—something that is not available in local public schools. These parents long to influence their children and teach them gospel hope, in addition to writing, math, English, Chinese, and more. 

Reassessing Digital Engagement, Part I (January 24, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
Lest readers of my critiques in later posts brand me as a Luddite, I do believe there are good uses to newly developed digital technology, and some of the best uses are for information transfer, some forms of education—particularly where more personal modes of education are not possible or practical—and establishing relationships in new geographical contexts where they might otherwise be difficult to find.

Society / Life

Thirteen children die in Chinese boarding school fire (January 20, 2024, The Guardian)
Thirteen pupils have died after a fire broke out in dormitories at a primary school in central Henan province, Chinese state media have reported. A teacher at the school told the state-run Hebei Daily that all the victims were from the same third-grade class of nine- and 10-year-olds.

Guangdong Villages Seek Matchmakers’ Help to Marry Off Single Men (January 24, 2024, Sixth Tone)
A widening gender imbalance and soaring marriage costs have left many rural Chinese men unable to marry.

Take a Hint! How Chinese Officials Are Subtly Promoting Having Children (January 24, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Compared to the more direct implementation of the one-child policy, Chinese people are finding that the three-child policy is being promoted in more subliminal ways.

China’s political shakeup in 2023 (January 24, 2024, East Asia Forum)
 On the political front, the year was marked by changes in key leadership roles, alleged corruption scandals within the nuclear weapons programme and shifting international relations — particularly involving Russia’s war against Ukraine and tensions with the United States, despite attempts to restore dialogue.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s attempts to lift confidence in economy fall flat (January 24, 2024, Reuters)
Chinese Premier Li Qiang went to the World Economic Forum in Davos last week with a mission to present a positive image of the economy and schmooze financial elites: “Investing in the Chinese market is not a risk, but an opportunity.” The message fell flat.

China cuts bank reserves to defend markets, spur growth (January 24, 2024, Reuters)
China’s central bank announced a deep cut to bank reserves on Wednesday, in a move that will inject about $140 billion of cash into the banking system and send a strong signal of support for a fragile economy and plunging stock markets.


China’s ruling party takes direct control of country’s universities (January 18, 2024, Radio Free Asia)
While the ruling party already has branches and committees embedded in universities and other academic institutions, commentators said it has never actually merged itself with administrative structures before, not even during the political turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.

Travel / Food

How China is making the burger its own (January 18, 2024, The Economist) (subscription required)
If duck isn’t your thing, other options include fish-fragrant shredded pork and mapo tofu. Though not technically a hamburger, Tastien’s ads declare, “The Chinese hamburger is here!”

How China Fell in Love With Cantonese Cooking (January 24, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Southern cooking has captured the country’s middle class, says food historian Zhou Songfang.

Living Cross-culturally

Crossing Cultures: Table Manners (January 19, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
Ministering cross-culturally is critical for fruitful missionary engagement. As the Chinese missionary movement matures and expands and goes where no man or woman of the gospel has gone before, cross-cultural ministry praxis will become increasingly critical.

Links for Researchers

Surveying the Experts: U.S. and Taiwan Views on China’s Approach to Taiwan in 2024 and Beyond (January 22, 2024, China Power)

Pray for China

January 26 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Jan. 26, 1948, Evangelical Covenant Church missionaries Dr. Alexis Berg, Esther V. Nordlund, and Martha J. Anderson were buried in Hankou after being killed in rural Hubei by communist soldiers. Decades later, Hubei police officers seized 27-year-old Yu Zhongju (余中菊姊妹) and other members of the South China Church in May 2001. Yu died from torture on July 18 after refusing to testify against church leaders, leaving behind a husband and 6-year-old son. Pray for Christians in Hubei to persevere in trials. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

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Image credit: Taha, 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