ZGBriefs | January 31, 2019

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Featured Article

Kevin and Julia Garratt on their experience as detainees in China (January 29, 2019, BBC)
Canadian couple Kevin and Julia Garratt were detained in China in 2014 and accused of spying. Amid an escalating feud between Canada and China and allegations of retaliatory detentions, the pair tells the BBC about what it was like – and how they ever made it home.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

U.S. warships pass through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions  (January 24, 2019, Reuters)
The United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday in the first such operation this year, the Taiwan government said, as it increases the frequency of transits through the strategic waterway to the concern of China.

What Does Xi Want from Taiwan? (And What Can Taiwan Do About It?) (January 24, 2019, China File)
What does public reaction after Xi’s speech mean for the significance of the 1992 Consensus—Beijing’s favored agreement, which states that both Taiwan and China are part of the same country, but allows each side to interpret what that country is—going forward?

Inside Xinjiang: A 10-Day Tour of China’s Most Repressed State (January 24, 2019, Bloomberg)
Far-flung Xinjiang is critically important to President Xi Jinping’s loftiest goal: completing China’s return as one of the world’s great powers. Although it represents just 1.5 percent of China’s population and 1.3 percent of its economy, Xinjiang sits at the geographic heart of Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative.

U.S. Charges Chinese Telecom Giant Huawei, Asks Canada For CFO Extradition (January 28, 2019, NPR)
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said Huawei has been indicted on 13 criminal counts and that he is requesting that Canada extradite its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 on a U.S. warrant.

Wang Quanzhang: China jails leading human rights lawyer (January 28, 2019, BBC)
China has sentenced prominent human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang to four and a half years in prison for state subversion. Wang, 42, had defended political campaigners and victims of land seizures, as well as followers of the banned spiritual Falun Gong movement.

Chinese activist Liu Feiyue given five years' jail for 'inciting subversion' (January 29, 2019, The Guardian)
Flawed trial shows how Beijing abuses the judicial system to silence dissent, says Amnesty International.

The rising role of “hub-style” organizations as stewards of the party (Pt. 1)  (January 30, 2019, NGOs in China)
In both Shenzhen and Guangzhou, social workers, business leaders, leading government officials, and academics are collaborating in WeChat groups, conferences, and salon discussions and using the same slogans to emphasize a more coordinated era of “public governance.”

China fast tracks new foreign investment law as U.S. talks loom (January 29, 2019, Reuters)
China’s parliament will vote in March on a new foreign investment law that will ban forced technology transfer and illegal government “interference” in foreign business practices, the official Xinhua News agency reported in Wednesday.


The Birth of ISM in China: Is This God’s Timing? (January 25, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Local church leaders have expressed their desire to see a missionary China—perhaps God is answering their prayers in ways that they did not expect! The nations are coming to China and what an opportunity there is to reach them with the gospel while in China. It's also an opportunity to be training future spiritual leaders.

Clarifying the Boundary between Church and State (January 29, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
We, as the church in this age, need to be unified by Jesus’ humiliation, hardships, and submission in our interactions with this earthly world. Therefore, we must strive to be submissive to governments. But when political authorities cross biblical boundaries—when the house church’s bottom line is violated as explained above—we hold fast to “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

China’s Struggles to Reconcile Church and State are Rooted in History (January 29, 2019, Radii China)
Whether the current Chinese leadership has the cultural confidence and political courage necessary to be genuinely multi-cultural in their understanding of Chinese nationhood remains to be seen. But recent events strongly — and tragically — suggest otherwise.

Society / Life

Crazy Rich Young Asians? Chinese Netizens React to Gen Z Attitudes Report with Scorn and Despair  (January 9, 2019, Radii China)
Raised in an era of rapid economic growth and digital breakthroughs, and spoiled by parents and grandparents often as only children, these teens are big spenders and even bigger dreamers, the report says. They are excited about the future and won’t let international politics or economic prospects dampen their mood.

Why Young People From Taiwan Struggle to Adjust to Mainland Life (January 24, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Despite a bevy of policies aimed at attracting young residents of the island to study and work on the mainland, many report difficulty integrating into their new communities

China’s unruly children worst part of Lunar New Year migration for many (January 25, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Many Chinese are posting about their horrible experiences of travelling with children who run amok on public transport, littering and screaming, while their parents do little to discipline them.

Letters Home: Migrant Children Write Away Their Pain (January 25, 2019, Sixth Tone)
A writing program geared toward left-behind children offers an outlet to explore parent-child relationships.

Explosions at Chinese shopping centre blamed on terminally ill murder suspect (January 26, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The explosions at a shopping centre that sent shock waves through a northeast China city on Friday were the work of a terminally ill man who used the blasts to take his own life after killing another man in a different town, police said on Saturday.

Chinese in disbelief that a US$295 monthly salary makes them ‘middle class’ (January 27, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Statistics bureau gives rare official definition of ‘middle income’ that is met with ridicule online, forcing it to clarify that it applied to a specific report.

‘Rent-a-Partner’ Platforms Prone to Risks, Says Media Report (January 28, 2019, Sixth Tone)
A Beijing News investigation has found that websites renting out ‘boyfriends’ and ‘girlfriends’ who can be taken home over the Lunar New Year holiday are risky business.

Single Female Blogger Dreads Parental Pressure, Collects Stories to Highlight Dangers of Rushing into Marriage (January 28, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
Rushed marriages may not end well, so do not pressure your child to get married – this is the message one so-called “leftover woman” wants to get out there, as she has been collecting the stories of women who rushed into marriage as a result of family pressure. 

Red envelopes with foreign currencies popular before Chinese New Year (January 29, 2019, China Daily)
China's largest online travel agency Ctrip has made available red packets containing foreign currency on its brick-and-mortar stores and online platform ahead of the Spring Festival this year. […]  The red packet comprises 50 notes in 26 foreign currencies, and every note is sealed in a plastic cover with information related to its country of origin.

Chinese city seeks young blood: how ageing Nanjing lures new talent (January 30, 2019, The Guardian)
The ancient capital of China is pulling out all the stops in a bid to defuse its ticking demographic timebomb.

Cover up! Chinese female live-stream performers banned from wearing skimpy clothes (January 30, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The provincial government in Hubei banned live stream broadcasters from wearing sexy costumes, lingerie, see-through dresses, skin-colour body tights or any clothes that are too revealing, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The Huawei Case Sparks Anti-American, “Support Huawei” Sentiments on Weibo (January 30, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
Among hundreds of comments, many netizens express their apparent belief that the United States is using the judicial system in a battle that is actually politically motivated, and that China’s rise as a competing technological power plays a major role in this issue.

China bans about 17,000 people from driving for life (January 30, 2019, China Daily)
Among them, a total of 5,149 were caught drunk driving in serious traffic accidents and faced criminal prosecution, said a ministry statement published at a press conference here. The remaining 12,115 were involved in serious hit and run cases, the statement said.

Economics / Trade / Business

Getting Arrested in China: A Few Points (January 25, 2019, China Law Blog)
It is pretty strange to have to write a post that says: you as a foreigner are required to comply with Chinese law. But I understand that as there are still a few “old China hands” who will tell you to just ignore Chinese law.

Vodafone, One of World’s Largest Cell Carriers, Halts Buying of Huawei Gear (January 25, 2019, The New York Times)
Vodafone Group, which is based in London, said it would temporarily stop buying Huawei equipment for core parts of its next-generation wireless networks, known as 5G.Nick Read, Vodafone’s chief executive officer, said the pause was necessary while European governments considered whether to ban the use of Huawei equipment.

Video: China's economic slowdown explained (January 26, 2019, BBC)
China's economic growth is slowing down. But what's really going on in the world's second largest economy?

Dangers of WeChat for China Employers and Employees (January 28, 2019, China Law Blog)
With widespread use of WeChat in China (it is China’s leading multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app by far), both employers and employees need to be careful with what they do and say on there. Put simply, what you say or write on WeChat may be used against you in an employment dispute. 

3M warns of slowdown in China, trims sales forecast (January 29, 2019, Reuters)
3M Co became the latest major U.S. manufacturer to warn that a slowdown at its Chinese business was hurting revenue, as it tempered its overall sales projections on Tuesday. 

Shutting Down a China WFOE: Don’t Go There (January 29, 2019, China Law Blog)
If you need to shut down your China WFOE, follow the rules. If you ever want to set foot in China again, there is no alternative.

The Huawei Indictments are the New Normal (January 30, 2019, China Law Blog)
In particular, the trade secrets indictment should be read by any company that engages in technology based business relations with China. This is because the practices described in the indictment do not apply solely to Huawei. If you want a primer on “how they do IP theft” this is where to start.


My Journey to Professionalism in Teaching (January 28, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
In the end, I decided that I would give teaching a try. I had the qualifications needed to work as a teacher in a smaller university in China, but I had no intention of remaining a teacher long term. I assumed that as I studied the Chinese language and built connections while teaching, I would then be able to go on to another, more preferable profession.

How Rural Parents Are Gambling on Their Children’s Education  (January 29, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The practice of ‘peidu,’ in which one parent quits their job to take care of their school-age child full-time, is a huge investment for China’s rural families — and a huge risk.

The Shanghai Charity Making English Fun for Migrant Children (January 29, 2019,Sixth Tone)
Volunteer-driven organization Stepping Stones is helping disadvantaged kids build fluency in English — but new challenges loom ahead.

Health / Environment

China’s Coal Plants Haven’t Cut Methane Emissions as Required, Study Finds (January 29, 2019, The New York Times)
In a paper published Tuesday in Nature Communications, researchers concluded that China had failed to meet its own government regulations requiring coal mines to rapidly reduce methane emissions, at least in the five years after 2010, when the regulations were passed.

History / Culture

How the South Manchuria Railway Shaped Modern China (January 23, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The line played a key role in the early 20th century contest between China, Russia, and Japan for dominance over Northeast Asia.

Viewing Chinese foreign policy through the lens of the Chinese classics (January 28, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
Current analyses would do well to grasp the full meaning of China’s rhetoric about ‘civilisation’, harmony and history in framing the Belt and Road Initiative in order to appreciate its implications.

The Art Of Chinese Names (January 28, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
Naming is an important part of cultural identity, and understanding the stories behind the new names we take on when entering new cultural contexts helps us to understand each other and our histories. 

Xi’s China Is Steamrolling Its Own History (January 29, 2019, Foreign Policy)
Instead of an empire of conquest, Xi has rewritten Qing as a cultural and economic behemoth that awed and charmed the populations of Mongolia, Tibet, Central Asia, and Taiwan into happy submission.

The US Postal Service’s Lunar New Year Stamps Will Make You Happy (January 29, 2019, Radii China)
The US Postal Service's series of Lunar New Year stamps are intended to build bridges across the country – and look pretty cool too.

Here’s Your Essential Playlist of Chinese New Year Bangers (January 29, 2019, Radii China)
As we prepare to barrel headlong into the Year of the Pig, let’s zoom out and take a moment to appreciate the canon of tunes that define the New Year across much of China — ranging from orchestral overtures, to Mandopop classics, to a new Higher Brothers track.

Video: Huawei: Will US charges sink the Chinese tech company? (January 29, 2019, BBC)
The US Justice Department has filed criminal charges against Huawei, but will this sink the Chinese telecoms giant?

Travel / Food

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. Called "Chunyun," it's the 40-day period when Chinese people head home to celebrate the Lunar New Year Spring Festival with their families.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The Writer Cao Wenxuan: His Life and Most Important Works (January 25, 2019, Sapore di Cina)
One of the principle characteristics of his works is being able to transform the experiences and memories of his childhood into literary creations, as the difficult life conditions he was forced to grow up in are firmly rooted in his works.

Foreign media reporting conditions in China worsen, group says (January 28, 2019,)
Last year marked a “significant deterioration” in reporting conditions for foreign journalists in China, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said on Tuesday, with no reporter saying in a new survey that conditions had improved last year.

Language / Language Learning

Chinese listening challenge, February 2019 (January 30, 2019, Hacking Chinese)
Hacking Chinese Challenges are about building language skills through daily practice and friendly competition. By focusing on one specific area of learning over a limited period of time, you will be able to learn more!

Living Cross-culturally

Crisis Plans and Communication Challenges: Support from Sending Organizations (January 30, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Just about any organization that places people in China has a crisis plan, a contingency plan. Often there is a general crisis plan as well as plans tailored for different regions, and even plans to help individuals as they navigate a crisis situation.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
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