ZGBriefs | January 28, 2021

ZGBriefs is for those who want and need to keep up on what is happening in China, but don’t have the time to monitor and track it all. We monitor more than 50 different news sources and curate the most relevant and interesting stories out of China each week. Topics include government, religion, society, economics, education, travel, and language, and books.


Featured Article

8 Things To Know About The New Requirement For A Negative Covid-19 Test To Fly To The U.S.  (January 26, 2021, View from the Wing)
As of today the U.S. now requires a negative Covid-19 test within 3 days prior to departure, or documentation of having already recovered from Covid-19, for all air passengers flying to the country (citizens and non-citizens alike).

Sponsored Link

Speaker Series Online Event: The Vessel Overturned: Current Views on Hong Kong Christian Civic Life (US-China Catholic Association)
In Hong Kong beginning in March 2019, yet another movement gained momentum, this time to protest a bill that would allow extradition of suspects to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong did not have an extradition agreement, including Mainland China. The U.S. media portrayed this unrest from an angle that lionized young people on a tiny island enclave struggling against an overbearing Goliath. However, on the ground, the perspectives were more nuanced. Within the Christian community, opinions varied regarding how far to take the protests, and how much support churches should lend. The divisions left a lasting mark. Sociologist Lida Nedilsky, who has followed the involvement of Catholics and Protestants in Hong Kong’s civic life of throughout her career, will step back to lend insightful perspective regarding the contributions of Hong Kong Christians to the territory’s civic culture, the impact this involvement has had on the churches, and the unfolding implications of the current crackdown pursued by Beijing.
This event is presented by The US-China Catholic Association, ChinaSource and ERRCHINA. Go here to register for this free event.

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China authorises coastguard to fire on foreign vessels in disputed waters of East China and South China Seas  (January 23, 2021, ABC News (Australia))
China has passed a law that for the first time explicitly allows its coastguard to fire on foreign vessels, a move that could make the contested waters around China even more volatile. […] According to draft wording in the bill published earlier, the coastguard is allowed to use “all necessary means” to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels.

New Covid infections pose challenge to China’s growth and Xi’s leadership  (January 23, 2021, The Guardian)
A spiral of cases in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, has dented President Xi Jinping’s claim that the virus was beaten last year and only the west mishandled events to allow a second wave. Xi has gambled on rural migrants being tested before returning home, and on local officials being able to deal with isolated outbreaks via a mix of threats and modest compensation payments.

China’s Leader Attacks His Greatest Threat  (January 25, 2021, The Atlantic)
More than a decade later, Xi, now the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, has launched a broadside against private business in China. Along with tightening regulations governing firms—mandating that companies have Communist Party committees, which can have significant input in their direction, for example—he is also targeting entrepreneurs themselves, as a collective and as individuals.

Deep-sixing poverty in China  (January 25, 2021, Brookings)
In 2021, the Chinese government will do the developing world a great disservice. It’s not what you probably think; my prediction has nothing to do with the coronavirus. It is about what the Communist Party of China (CPC) is planning to do in July. As part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of its founding, the CPC intends to publicize that despite the pandemic and global economic turmoil, poverty has been eradicated in China—a decade ahead of schedule.

A Look Back at Foreign NGOs in China in 2020  (January 25, 2021, China File)
Despite the major upheaval in global commerce, travel, supply chains, and basic human interaction caused by COVID last year, the patterns of permitted foreign NGO activity in China remained clear. Industry associations and trade groups continue to make up half of all registered foreign NGOs in China.

US Carrier Strike Group Sails Into South China Sea Amid Heightened Tensions  (January 25, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
The United States has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the South China Sea, just days after President Joe Biden took office, drawing a rebuke from China against Washington for the display of force. But over the weekend, China was engaged in its own show of military might, as it flew an unusually high number of warplanes in airspace south of Taiwan. 

China to conduct military drills in South China Sea amid tensions with U.S.  (January 25, Reuters)
China said on Tuesday it will conduct military exercises in the South China Sea this week, just days after Beijing bristled at a U.S. aircraft carrier group’s entry into the disputed waters.

China sends Guangdong anti-corruption chief to take on similar role in Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office  (January 26, 2021, South China Morning Post)
Shi Kehui had previously worked under the current head of the HKMAO, Xia Baolong, in Zhejiang province. Shi, described as ‘efficient’ and a ‘workaholic’, has also served in the party’s top graft-busting agency under current Vice-President Wang Qishan

China Will Never Renounce Using Force Against Taiwan, Warplanes a Warning: CCP Official  (January 27, 2021, Newsweek)
The Taiwan Affairs Office, which is established under China’s State Council, returned to familiar rhetoric on Wednesday when spokesperson Zhu Fenglian blamed Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for destabilizing the Taiwan Strait. It was Zhu’s first press conference since two large groups of People’s Liberation Army warplanes buzzed the skies near Taiwan over the weekend, drawing a statement from the State Department expressing “concern” at Beijing’s actions and reaffirming the Biden administration’s “rock-solid” support for Taipei.

The US has accused China of carrying out genocide. Will it now boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics?  (January 27, 2021, CNN)
The United States’ determination that China is committing genocide in Xinjiang presents a rare moral predicament for athletes and countries preparing to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Philippines files protest over China’s new coastguard laws in South China Sea  (January 27, 2021, ABC News (Australia))
The Philippines Foreign Minister said a diplomatic protest had been filed over China’s passing of a law allowing its coastguard to open fire on foreign vessels, describing it as a “threat of war”. 


Fervent Faith and Audacious Hope: Reflections on China Today and God’s Purpose  (January 22, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
We should look at how our Chinese brothers and sisters are reacting to crisis with “fervent faith” and learn from their long-term experience living with uncertainty and oppression, which has taught them to expect the unexpected.

Passing the Faith to the Next Generation: Reaching American-Born/Second-Generation Chinese  (January 25, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
In my review, I would like to consider how Chinese American churches might pass the Christian faith to the next generation. In my suggestions towards reaching American-born Chinese (ABC) or second-generation Chinese, I will highlight the tensions of living in two cultures, the importance of parents living the faith, the necessity of providing opportunities of purposeful church leadership, and the need of mentoring love.

A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor: Continue to Pray with Us  (January 26, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
The following is a letter from the pastor of a church in Wuhan written to brothers and sisters in Christ. We originally published this letter almost one year ago today. And, yet around the world, we all continue to experience the severity of COVID-19. As we enter another year, this pastor’s call for all of us to be united in prayers, seems as pertinent today as it was then.

Looking Back on KL2020: An Amazing God Was With Us  (January 27, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
KL2020, a gospel conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was the last major Christian conference to be held before the COVID-19 pandemic. A year later, we look back and reflect with one participant on how God used the conference to prepare him for the events of the last year. 

When Our China Stories Ring Hollow  (January 27, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Most foreign Christians serving in China understand the need to leave their politics at the door. They lead not with partisan loyalties but with a genuine love for China’s people. Their China stories speak of the real power of the Gospel to change lives. When students or colleagues seek to draw them into political conversations they wisely resist. 

Society / Life

Life In Wuhan, 1 Year After The COVID-19 Outbreak Began  (January 23, 2021, NPR)
One year after start of the pandemic triggered a lockdown the Chinese city of Wuhan, life has largely returned to normal — at least, for some.

All Roads Lead Back to Hainan  (January 24, 2021, The World of Chinese)
According to the village elders, the community had been sending emigrants overseas since the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644). “The village used to be poor, and everyone said it was easier to go abroad to get a bite to eat,” Wu said.

Running Out of Food in Lockdown, Jilin Residents Give Viral Plea  (January 25, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Government officials in Tonghua, a city in China’s northeastern Jilin province, apologized Sunday for the “delayed delivery of living necessities” after residents who had been forced to shelter in their homes since Jan. 21 because of a local coronavirus outbreak launched an online campaign to alert authorities that they were running out of food.

Chinese Countryside Better Off Than Ever Before, While Some Reforms Stagnate  (January 26, 2021, China Digital Times)
In early December, President Xi Jinping declared that China had eliminated absolute poverty. His announcement was the culmination of a years-long campaign that sought to raise the annual income of every person in China’s countryside above 4,000 yuan.

The Fixie Fix: How China Loved, Then Abandoned, Its Hipster Bikes  (January 26, 2021, Sixth Tone)
A decade ago, one of the hottest fashion accessories in China wasn’t an accessory at all, but a bike. Fixed-gear bicycles, or fixies — known in Chinese as sifei — emerged from obscurity to obtain a cult-like following on the country’s streets and in its fashion magazines. 

China mine rescue: Miners saved after knocking on pipe  (December 27, 2021, BBC)
Two Chinese miners rescued after being trapped underground for two weeks have described how they made contact with rescuers – by knocking on a pipe. They also spoke of their relief at being free, with one saying he “feels reborn”, in their first comments since their dramatic rescue. They were among 11 people pulled out alive after a 10 January blast in their gold mine in China’s Shandong province.

Economics / Trade / Business

Past, Present, and Future: McGregor Shares His Perspectives on US-China Relations  (January 22, 2021, AmCham China)
James McGregor, the recipient of the most recent AmCham China Pioneer award, spoke to the AmCham China Quarterly about what it means to him to receive the award, his involvement in AmCham China over the years, the current state of US-China relations, and what he’s keeping an eye on for 2021.

Health / Environment

China pushes conspiracy theories on COVID origin, vaccines  (January 25, 2021, AP)
Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials indicating it is safe. A government spokesperson has raised the unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab, giving it more credence in China.

China’s Zero-Tolerance Covid Tactics Now Include Anal Swabs  (January 27, 2021, Bloomberg)
While there’s no nationwide policy on use of the technique, some residents in China’s northern regions — where more than 1,700 cases have emerged — have been subjected to the swabs with little warning. 

China’s daily COVID-19 testing capacity hits 15 million samples  (January 27, 2021, China Daily)
China’s daily testing capacity for COVID-19 has surpassed 15 million samples, the National Health Commission (NHC) said Wednesday. “Our testing capacity is even stronger when we conduct pool testing, for example, five or 10 samples in one batch,” said Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the NHC, at a press conference.

Science / Technology

India permanently bans TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps  (January 26, 2021, Nikkei Asia)
India’s ministry of electronics and information technology has issued fresh notices to make permanent a ban imposed on video app TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps in June, Indian media reported late on Monday.

Chinese tech giants were winners during the pandemic  (January 27, 2021, Inkstone News)
The coronavirus accelerated the digitalization of China’s economy, which turned into a boon for the country’s tech giants. 

History / Culture

Video: Three Days that Stopped the World (January 18, 2021, Al Jazeera)
Mid January, 2020. Two Chinese journalists were sent to Wuhan to investigate a mysterious virus outbreak. This is their account of the three days before Wuhan entered lockdown. 

Travel / Food

China’s peak Lunar New Year air travel season fizzles as COVID cases rise  (January 25, 2021, Reuters)
To limit the spread of COVID-19, the government has discouraged travel in what is normally the busiest time of the year. Those who are going anyway must to present a nucleic acid test with negative results taken in the seven days before returning home. 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

76 Days review – raw account of the incubation of the coronavirus  (January 24, 2021, The Guardian)
This moving fly-on-the-wall documentary from Wuhan conveys the terror – and heroism – that the unknown virus engendered.

Chinese Audiences are Reacting to Netflix’s “Bling Empire”  (January 26, 2021, Radii China)
And when a show comes with added relevance for the Chinese market, you can bet social media will be talking about it. That’s the case with Bling Empire, the real life Crazy Rich Asians that “follows a wildly wealthy group of Asian and Asian-American friends (and frenemies) in Los Angeles,” per the official blurb.

A Show About Poverty Alleviation Is Getting Historically High Reviews  (January 26, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Critics and casual viewers alike appreciate how “Minning Town” doesn’t shy away from some of the common missteps associated with government relocation projects.


Why a Silk Road Travelogue Is Taking China by Storm  (January 25, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Despite China’s massive investment in Central Asia, the region remains an enigma to most ordinary Chinese. But a hit new book aims to change that.

What We Talk About When We Talk About China  (January 26, 2021, China Channel)
Drawing on a wide range of journalism and scholarly research, he traces contemporary political flashpoints in China – sovereignty, territory, race, language – to their modern origins in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. In so doing, he argues that the country, language, people and culture that we now call “Chinese” were artificially constructed – or invented – by intellectuals and political figures barely more than a hundred years ago.

Links for Researchers

Eye on 2022 (Part 1): Rising Stars in the Provinces  (January 26, 2021, MacroPolo)
Xi Jinping may rule supreme in Chinese politics, but he does not rule alone. The huge attention devoted to Xi is understandable but it can obscure important personnel shifts that will shape the next cohort of national leaders, set to be unveiled at the 20th Party Congress in 2022.


Equalearning Missions Package (Equalearning.com)
Equalearning’s Missions Package is essentially a portable school that comes in the form of a solar-powered smart projector with patented 128-bit encryption software that is impossible to hack.

Pray for China

January 31, 2021 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Jan. 31, 1994, Liao Yiwu (廖亦武先生) was freed after serving a 4-year prison sentence for writing a poem about the Tiananmen Massacre. Before escaping to Germany in 2011, he authored several controversial works, including God is Red, a collection of stories about persecuted Christians. Pray for Liao Yiwu and other authors to know the glory of the Spirit of the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed meto bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound… Isaiah 61:1

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