ZGBriefs | January 7, 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

China steps up COVID-19 curbs near Beijing as infections rise  (January 5, 2021, Reuters)
Chinese authorities on Wednesday imposed travel restrictions and banned gatherings in the capital city of Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, in the latest escalation of measures to stave off another coronavirus wave. The province, which entered a “wartime mode” on Tuesday, accounted for 20 of the 23 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases reported in mainland China on Jan. 5, more than the total of 19 cases in the province in the three previous days.

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Video: Five Lessons from the Church in China (ChinaSource)
The church in China has much to share with the global church. In this lecture, Dr. Fulton will look at five spiritual lessons coming out of the Chinese church’s unique experience of growth amidst suffering. This video was originally produced in 2015 as part of an online course titled The Church in China Today.

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 in 2020  (December 31, 2020, China Media Project)
If there is any question about how the Chinese Communist Party will choose, officially, to remember 2020, all questions are answered in the soaring rhetoric of the Guo Jiping piece.

Xi Jinping orders China’s military to be ready for war ‘at any second’  (January 5, 2021, South China Morning Post)
In his first order of the new year to the country’s armed forces, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the need for “full-time combat readiness” and said the People’s Liberation Army  must use frontline frictions to polish troop capabilities.

In Dramatic Sweep, Police In Hong Kong Arrest Dozens Of Opposition Figures  (January 6, 2021, NPR)
In a predawn raid, Hong Kong police arrested more than 50 opposition lawmakers and activists for participating in an independent primary, the most sweeping use yet of a national security law Beijing imposed in the region last year.

In Hong Kong it now looks like opposition is against the law  (January 6, 2021, The Guardian)
Mass arrests raise question of what, if anything, dissenting politicians are actually allowed to do.


Recognizing Blessing in the Coming Integration  (January 4, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Actions are taking place to merge the economic lifeline of Hong Kong into the motherland. Further systemic changes are expected. This has caused Christians concern about the possible “deeper integration” of religious policies between the two systems. I suggest preparing for the worst while holding on to the hope of the Bible.

China’s Churches Celebrate Christmas  (January 5, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
December 24 and 25 are the days when the universal church celebrates Christmas and commemorates the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. However, many Christian churches in Beijing have stopped worshipping on site due to the pandemic, and some churches have conducted online carol services instead. I had the honor to participate in a Christmas Eve worship service at one of the churches.

6 Approaches to Contextualization in China  (January 6, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
The following categories signify six ways that theologians and missiologists talk about and do theology for a Chinese context. Although each has defining characteristics, this does not deny overlap and agreement between the approaches. These categories do not suppose hard and fast dichotomies.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s manufacturing recovery weakens in December  (January 4, 2021, AP)
China’s manufacturing activity improved in December but at its weakest rate in three months as the economy recovered from the coronavirus pandemic while its trading partners struggled with rising infections, according to two surveys.

Trump bars U.S. transactions with eight Chinese apps including Alipay  (January 5, 2021, Reuters)
The move, first reported by Reuters, is aimed at curbing the threat to Americans posed by Chinese software applications, which have large user bases and access to sensitive data, a senior administration official told Reuters. The order argues that the United States must take “aggressive action” against developers of Chinese software applications to protect national security.

Jack Ma was almost bigger than China. That’s what got him into trouble  (January 6, 2021, CNN)
Billionaire Jack Ma is a rare figure in China: a charismatic entrepreneur who speaks his mind and pushes boundaries. That free-wheeling attitude made the Alibaba co-founder renowned inside and outside of his home country. But it also appears to be putting his business empire — and Ma himself — at enormous risk.

China sentences former top finance executive to death for bribery  (January 6, 2021, CNN)
Lai Xiaomin — who used to chair China Huarong Asset Management — was guilty of taking or seeking bribes totaling nearly 1.8 billion yuan ($277 million), a court in the port city of Tianjin said on Tuesday. Chinese state media reported in August that he pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing in the case.

Health / Environment

Covid-19: China approves Sinopharm vaccine for general use  (December 31, 2020, BBC)
Chinese authorities have given conditional approval for general public use of a coronavirus vaccine developed by state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm. The move came a day after the firm said interim data showed its leading vaccine had a 79% efficacy rate in phase three trials, without providing more details. Several Chinese-made vaccines at a late trial stage are already in use in China after being granted emergency licences.

The Plight of Wuhan’s Forgotten COVID-19 ‘Long-Haulers’  (January 5, 2021, Sixth Tone)
As 2021 begins, China is trying to move on from the coronavirus. But in the city where the outbreak began, some patients remain extremely sick — and uncertain how they’ll pay their growing medical bills.

Beijing Institutes 21-Day Quarantine Policy Over Coronavirus Scare  (January 5, 2021, Sixth Tone)
At a press conference Tuesday, city officials said people entering the Chinese capital from abroad must quarantine for 21 days — seven days longer than the city’s previous policy. While the first 14 days must be spent at a government-designated facility, the remaining week can be completed at a private residence with approval from local authorities.

Covid: WHO team investigating virus origins denied entry to China  (January 6, 2021, BBC)
A World Health Organization (WHO) team due to investigate the origins of Covid-19 in the city of Wuhan has been denied entry to China. Two members were already en route, with the WHO saying the problem was a lack of visa clearances. However, China has challenged this, saying details of the visit, including dates, were still being arranged.

China Unveils Rules for National Carbon-Trading Scheme  (June 6, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Over 2,200 high-emitting entities in the domestic energy sector will be required to publicly disclose their annual emissions data or face fines.

Science / Technology

China Opens Up World’s Largest Telescope for Foreign Use and Alien Hunting  (January 6, 2021, Radii China)
China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, otherwise known as FAST, is the largest radio telescope in the world. And starting April 1st, China will allow foreign scientists to use it as well, for uses ranging from pulsar detection to the search for extraterrestrial life. 

Travel / Food

At China’s Harbin ice festival, a wintry delight of frozen palaces awaits  (January 6, 2021, South China Morning Post)
Giant snow mazes, illuminated frozen towers and crystal palaces etched from vast blocks of ice greeted visitors to China’s annual ice festival in Harbin. The frozen dreamscapes have drawn millions of visitors over the years to the wintry northeastern city, which opened the festival on Tuesday despite Covid-19 outbreaks across  the country.

Language / Language Learning

Between Languages 005: Words for 2021  (December 31, 2020, carlgene.com)
In this episode I share the second part of the Guardian poll which asked readers to select words to describe this year (2020) and the one coming up (2021). Chinese translations are provided where necessary.


Facial Recognition And Beyond: Journalist Ventures Inside China’s ‘Surveillance State’  (January 5, 2021, NPR)
Strittmatter’s new book, We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State, examines the role of surveillance in China’s authoritarian state. He warns that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who came to power in 2012, has embraced an ideological rigidity unknown since the days of Mao Zedong.

Destination Peking – the Trailer…. (January 5, 2021, China Rhyming)
Here’s a short trailer for Destination Peking, out in Hong Kong and China this week (or online by post until covid recedes and books can be sent around the world in bulk again)…


“Unreached Of The Day” App to Add Mandarin  (January 3, 2021, Brigada)

Pray for China

January 11, 2021 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Jan. 11, 1941, Zhang Yongsheng (张永生弟兄), the Apostle of the Dabie Mountains, was born in Jinzhai County, Anhui. His father was a local farmer who instilled a great love for learning into his son. Zhang was also a resistance leader allied with the Guomindang during World War II. He was imprisoned by the new communist government, and the family lived a difficult life for three decades. During the three famine years (1959-62), young Zhang prayed to the unknown God for help and promised he would serve him after age 45 if his family survived. The call came earlier. In 1981, Zhang dreamed that a book from heaven fell into his hands; he thought it might be a Buddhist scripture. Then he met an old Christian woman who had a Bible, and he realized this was God’s call to him. He became a Christian and began to study the Bible and listen to gospel programs on the radio. Soon he was evangelizing throughout Jinzhai and other areas in the Dabie Mountains, where the gospel had never been preached. Then he began to preach and train others. Within a decade, he had planted over 400 fellowships. His son, Zhang Yuanlai (张远来牧师), graduated from seminary and became a pastor and prolific author. Pray for Christians in the Dabie Mountains to follow the Lord, who contends with their foes and saves their children. …for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children. Isaiah 49:25b

Image credit: Pablo Pecora, via Flickr
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