ZGBriefs | January 4, 2024

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Featured Article

The living language of the Chinese people (December 28, 2023, Language Log)
The following buzzwords from social media show that, when they get out from under the thumb / heel of the CCP, the Chinese people have a lot of lively spunk and clever wit. 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China appoints Dong Jun as new defence minister (January 29, 2024, BBC)
China has named Dong Jun as its new defence minister, two months after his predecessor was officially sacked. Mr Dong, a former navy commander, takes over from Li Shangfu – who was last seen in public in August.

Chinese military purge exposes weakness, could widen (December 30, 2024, Reuters)
A sweeping purge of Chinese generals has weakened the People’s Liberation Army, exposing deep-rooted corruption that could take more time to fix and slow Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s military modernization drive amid geopolitical tensions, analysts say. China’s top lawmakers ousted nine senior military officers from the national legislative body on Friday, state media reported, a step that typically precedes further punishment for wayward cadres.

Taiwan and China will ‘surely be reunified’ says Xi in New Year’s Eve address (December 31, 2023, BBC)
Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his annual New Year’s Eve address, reiterated his claim that Taiwan would “surely be reunified” with China. His message comes ahead of Taiwan’s crucial 13 January elections that will determine the island’s cross-strait policy for the next four years. He also struck a stronger tone than last year’s message, where he spoke of Taiwan being part of the “same family”.

China’s Xi Is Resurrecting Mao’s ‘Continuous Revolution’ With a Twist (January 1, 2024, The Wall Street Journal) (subscription required)
With echoes of Mao Zedong’s “continuous revolution,” Xi has sent fear rippling through the ranks of the Communist Party for more than a decade with the largest campaign against corruption in modern Chinese history. It is now threatening to petrify the party as it tries to steer the world’s second-largest economy through its greatest period of uncertainty in a generation.

China unveils new images of its next-generation aircraft carrier (January 2, 2024, Reuters)
Chinese state media unveiled new images of China’s most advanced aircraft carrier yet, including next generation launch tracks that can catapult a wider range of aircraft from its deck. First shown to the public in June 2022, the Fujian was entirely designed and built domestically.

Taiwan reports China sent 4 suspected spy balloons over the island (January 3, 2024, ABC News)
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said that China sent four balloons over the island, three of which passed near to a key air force base. The reported incursions on Tuesday come as China has been upping its threat to use force to annex the self-governing republic.


Top 10 Chinese Articles Translated into English in 2023 (December 20, 2023, Christianity Today)
The Chinese originals cover themes in history, current state, and trends of the church in China and overseas, as well as reflections on Chinese culture.

The worshippers caught between China and Taiwan (December 29, 2023, BBC)
Every year, Chang Ke-chung journeys from his home in Taiwan to China to carry out a sacred duty. He worships Mazu, a sea goddess with millions of followers in Taiwan and ethnic Chinese communities around the world. For them, a pilgrimage to Mazu’s home temple in Meizhou in southern China is an essential act of faith.

Let Go (January 1, 2023)4, ChinaSource Blog)
Let Go is to ultimately “let God;” becoming vulnerable and humble. It is the wrestling encounter Jacob had at the ford of the Jabbok (Genesis 32: 22-32); Jesus’s agony on the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39-46) or at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-45; Mark 14: 32-42) to the point of a “bloody sweat,” and his cry of dereliction over the abandonment of God on the cross (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).

Society / Life

A visit to Xi Jinping’s model village in rural China (December 28, 2023, NPR)
Mao Zedong built China’s Communist revolution on the back of the country’s impoverished peasants, and now Chinese leader Xi Jinping wants a new economic revolution to take root in the countryside.

China population: reluctance to marry, have kids continued in 2022 as demographic woes deepened (December 29, 2023, South China Morning Post)
Over 51 per cent of people aged between 25 and 29 in China remained single in 2022, while the unmarried rate for the thirty-something age group also rose mildly.  The annual fertility rate for women of childbearing age also declined due to a plunge in the number of babies born as a second child, adding to ongoing demographic issues.

The Photos That Defined 2023 (January 1, 2024, The World of Chinese)

A restless Gen Z is reshaping the Chinese Dream (January 3, 2024, BBC)
A revolution is taking place in the minds of the country’s Generation Z, according to anthropologist Xiang Biao, an Oxford University professor who spends a lot of time speaking to young people in China. “The entire life of young people has been shaped by the idea that if you study hard then at the end of your hard work there will be a job and a highly-paid, decent life waiting for you. And now they find out that this promise is no longer working.”

Economics / Trade / Business

A year after China ended its harsh COVID policies, it’s struggling to rebound (December 31, 2023, NPR)
A year ago, China lifted draconian COVID restrictions that were an anvil around the neck of the economy and placed unprecedented controls on a society that, for the previous four decades, had grown accustomed to expanding personal freedoms, not shrinking them.

China’s many systemic problems dominate its outlook for 2024 (January 1, 2024, The Guardian)
Japan’s example 30 years ago shows islands of excellence can combine with deep structural imbalances.

3 Drivers of China’s Booming Electric Vehicle Market (January 3, 2024, Harvard Business Review)
This article outlines three key reasons for the growth of China’s EV sector: experimenting in adjacent industries, encouraging operational solutions, and doubling down on core technology. 


British private schools in China under threat as new ‘patriotic’ law comes in (December 31, 2023, The Guardian)
Beijing steps up its efforts to tighten control of what is taught in its classrooms, deterring western teachers from working in the country.

Health / Environment

China Logs Hottest Ever Year in 2023 (January 3, 2024, Sixth Tone)
China’s average temperature in 2023 was the highest since 1961, when reliable meteorological data became available, with 13 regions, including Beijing, recording all-time highs, the National Climate Center announced Wednesday.

History / Culture

Shanghai’s Story, Told From the Skies (December 29, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Since the 1980s, photographer Lu Jie has chronicled the city’s transformation through aerial photography. His images capture the changing cityscape and its impact on the daily lives of residents.

Travel / Food

In Northeast China, Tourists From the South Spark a Winter Boom (January 3, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Following a surge in travelers from southern China, Harbin emerged as the top destination this New Year holiday season, outshining traditional favorites like Chengdu and Chongqing.

China tries to lure foreign tourists with expanded visa-free scheme after weak post-pandemic bounce back (January 3, 2024, CNN)
China has struck an agreement with Thailand to permanently waive visa requirements for each other’s citizens from March, the latest in a flurry of attempts by Beijing to lure back foreign tourists amid a struggling economy after years of self-imposed Covid isolation. […] In November, China announced a trial program to allow visitors from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia to enter visa-free for 15 days.


Online Book Club (ERRChina)
Join us for our quarterly online book club to discuss Jennifer Lin’s book Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Family. “Through the 150-year saga of a single family, this book vividly dramatizes the remarkable religious evolution of the world’s most populous nation. Shanghai Faithful is both a touching family memoir and a chronicle of the astonishing spread of Christianity in China. Five generations of the Lin family—buffeted by history’s crosscurrents and personal strife—bring to life an epoch that is still unfolding.”
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
5:00 pm EST
Online, via Zoom

Go here to register.

Pray for China

January 4 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Jan. 4, 1991, Pastor Yuexiu (约秀牧师) went to be with the Lord at age 80; he was from Liwudi Village, Fugong County, Yunnan, and was the first Lisu pastor. During the missionary era, Yuexiu (also known as A’cun-阿寸) became a Christian as a teenager and worked closely with Allyn and Leila Cooke in evangelism and Bible translation. The Lisu New Testament translation was completed in 1937, together with a hymnal and catchecism. A flourishing church grew among the Lisu in China and Burma. After the missionaries were expelled by the new communist government, almost all these materials were destroyed. However, in the 1980s, Yuexiu worked hard to obtain a copy of a complete Lisu Bible that had been published in Hong Kong in 1968. By then an ordained pastor and holding leadership positions in the Three Self Church, Yuexiu was able to get copies printed in Kunming. Many young Lisu have left the mountains to work in urban areas and have drifted from the faith. Pray for young Lisu in Yunnan to love God’s Word and live according to His lovingkindness. Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules. Psalm 119:156

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Image credit: Un Liu, 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