ZGBriefs | January 26, 2023

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Featured Article

Frontline Wuhan: the first city struck by Covid-19 learns its lessons (January 25, 2023, South China Morning Post)
Emergency doctor Ai Fen was one of the first in the world to see the effects of the new coronavirus and has just coped with latest wave. The city’s healthcare system was better prepared this time and handled the rising cases with ease, but there is still room for improvement.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Podcast: China’s chaotic COVID re-opening (January 19, 2023, Sinica Podcast)
Deborah Seligsohn, assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, talks about her time spent in Shanghai and Beijing between October 2022 to early January 2023. She shares her firsthand experience with quarantine, testing, and lockdowns — as well as witnessing the protests and China’s sudden reopening.

Podcast: Xi Jinping’s Charm Offensive in Southeast Asia (January 19, 2023, China File)
In this episode of the China in the World podcast, Paul Haenle speaks with Hoang Thi Ha, Senior Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, about Xi’s recent diplomacy, China-ASEAN relations, U.S.-China competition in Southeast Asia, and environmental issues in the Mekong subregion.

A group of friends attended a vigil in Beijing. Then one by one, they disappeared (January 23, 2023, CNN)
When one by one, the friends of a young woman living in Beijing began disappearing — detained by the police after attending a vigil together weeks earlier — she felt sure that her time was nearing. “As I record this video, four of my friends have already been taken away,” the woman, age 26, said, speaking clearly into the camera in a video recording from late December obtained by CNN.

China’s Economic Model Is in Crisis (and Xi Knows It) (January 24, 2023, New York Magazine)
To get a better understanding of what’s ailing the Chinese economy — and what could plausibly heal it — I reached out to Michael Pettis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A former Wall Street trader, Pettis is a longtime critic of China’s growth model.


Podcast: Learn to Suffer from the Chinese Church (January 20, 2023, The Gospel Coalition)
During a panel discussion at TGC21, Hannah Nation, Ryan Zhang, and S. E. Wang from China Partnership discuss the experience of the Chinese church and how the American church can learn from its suffering and kingdom mindset.

Opportunities and Challenges During Chinese New Year (January 20, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
The celebration of Chinese New Year is upon us, with most of China shutting down for at least a week as people return to their ancestral homes to celebrate with their families. For Chinese Christians, the holiday brings with it the excitement that everyone else experiences coupled with instances of their faith clashing with cultural expectations. I recently had the chance to interview a mainland Chinese pastor about the opportunities and challenges faced by Christians during this holiday season. 

Peacemaking in China (January 23, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
As I heard story after story of what God made possible in their relationships because of their reliance on God and obedience to him, I felt compelled to share their testimonies with a broader audience. They have demonstrated that conflict resolution and relational restoration in face-saving cultures is possible!

Society / Life

The Last Generation: Why China’s Youth Are Deciding Against Having Children (January 20, 2023, Asia Society)
Aside from the long-term consequences of the One Child Policy, the looming demographic collapse is driven largely by an increasing unwillingness to have children among young Chinese.

Lunar New Year: Chinese families meet for bittersweet reunions (January 22, 2023, BBC)
Some families are eager to gather around the table just like they always have, while others are not celebrating because they are mourning the loss of a loved one, or caring for a sick relative. And then there are those who are celebrating, but with a heavy heart, well aware of the empty seats.

China’s shrinking population: what it means for the rest of the world – expert panel (January 23, 2023, The Guardian)
The ongoing shift in demographics could have a profound effect on everything from how the economy operates to Xi Jinping’s legitimacy. The Guardian spoke to experts about the implications for everything from climate change to the Chinese Communist party.

China’s northernmost city just saw its coldest day ever (January 23, 2023, CNN)
Temperatures in China’s northernmost city plunged to minus 53°C (minus 63.4 degrees Fahrenheit) – its coldest ever recorded, meteorologists said. Located in the northeastern Heilongjiang province and nestled near Russian Siberia, Mohe is widely known as “China’s North Pole” and is one of the few places in the country to have a subarctic climate.

China Covid: Coffins sell out as losses mount (January 24, 2023, BBC)
The coffin makers of northern Shanxi province have been busy. We watched the skilled craftsmen as they carved elaborate decorations into the freshly-cut wood. Over recent months, they say, they haven’t had time to stop.

Women Balk at Chinese Government Plans to Raise Birth Rate (January 24, 2023, China Digital Times)
Last week, the Chinese government announced that the country’s population had declined for the first time in decades, setting off a cacophony of alarm bells among those concerned about China’s demographic destiny. Chinese women, by contrast, have largely ignored the hoopla. As demonstrated in numerous commentaries over traditional and social media this week, women have little interest in participating in the state’s latest pro-natalist project. 

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s Global Mega-Projects Are Falling Apart (January 20, 2023, The Wall Street Journal) (subscription required)
Many of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure projects are plagued with construction flaws, including a giant hydropower plant in Ecuador, adding more costs to a program criticized for leading countries deeper into debt.

China tells U.S. to fix its own debt problems after Yellen Africa remarks (January 24, 2023, Reuters)
After U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called China a “barrier” to debt reform in Africa this week, Chinese officials in Zambia had a pointed response – get your own house in order.

Health / Environment

Eight in 10 people in China caught Covid since early December, say official (January 23, 2023, The Guardian)
The figure, which would equate to about 1.2 billion people but cannot be confirmed by outside bodies, prompted some pandemic experts to estimate that more than 1 million may have died – far more than the government’s official tally of about 72,000.

China says COVID deaths, severe cases have fallen over 70% since peak (January 25, 2023, Reuters)
Critically ill COVID-19 cases in China are down 72% from a peak early this month while daily deaths among COVID-19 patients in hospitals have dropped 79% from their peak, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

History / Culture

The epic songs of the Dong people (January 19, 2023, The China Project)
The Dong people of Southwest China have been singing epic songs for millennia. That intangible heritage is fading — but one villager is fighting to keep it alive.

How the TV Stole Spring Festival (January 21, 2023, The World of Chinese)
First airing live in 1983, CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala didn’t just change TV—it changed the way China celebrates the Lunar New Year.

A Bunny Hop Through Centuries of Chinese Art (January 21, 2023, The World of Chinese)
For centuries, rabbit hair was believed to produce the finest ink brushes. Chinese literati repaid their debt to the humble creature in poetry, prose, and paintings.

Digging Into the Shang Dynasty’s Empire of Bones (January 23, 2023, Sixth Tone)
For centuries, the rulers of China’s first dynasty practiced a brutal form of human sacrifice. What did it mean? And more importantly, why did they stop.

Photo of a man posing with a Coca-Cola bottle in 1981 symbolized a cultural shift in China (January 24, 2023, CNN)
Today, Coke is the world’s most famous soft drink and can be found just about anywhere. But back in 1981, when the image was shot by Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Liu Heung Shing, it was only just getting into the hands of ordinary Chinese people.

Travel / Food

China’s Tourist Sites Welcome Huge Holiday Crowds (January 25, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Hundreds of millions of Chinese travelers have hit the road this holiday season, the first after COVID-19 restrictions were largely lifted last month. Authorities have forecast more than 2 billion passenger trips during the 40-day travel rush, up 99.5% from 2022.


A New Song of the Wanderer for Today (January 25, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
This post is the preface to 《万有之上——基督教与科学的奇缘》基甸 小灶 著 (Above All Things: The Romance and War between Christianity and Science by Jidian and Xiao Zao), which was written in Chinese and has been recently published by ReFrame Ministries.

Pray for China

January 29 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Jan. 29, 1956, Shanghai authorities raided the Nanyang Road Christian Assembly and detained several co-workers of Ni Tuosheng (倪柝声弟兄-Watchman Nee). Elder Yu Chenghua (俞成华长老), who was a highly skilled doctor, was subjected to round-the-clock interrogations until his health broke, and he passed away on April 13 at age 55. Peace Wang Peizhen (汪佩真姊妹)and Ruth Li Yuanru (李渊如姊妹) remained silent and were punished with life imprisonment in Tiqiaolan Prison. Despite relentless pressure and torture, they remained faithful until the end, both going to be with the Lord in 1969. Pray for Christians in prison to be steadfast, immoveable and abounding in the works of the Lord. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

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