ZGBriefs | July 13, 2023

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Featured Article

New Musical Honors Shanghai’s Legacy of Welcoming Jewish Refugees (July 11, 2023, Sixth Tone)
A compelling new performance is set to debut in November at Shanghai’s Jewish Refugees Museum, shedding light on how the city welcomed Jewish refugees in World War II. Conducted by award-winning musicians, the oratorio narrates the story of two Jewish brothers who arrived in Shanghai as refugees in 1938 and their struggle to adapt to a foreign land. 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China announces land link with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan (July 6, 2023, South China Morning Post) (registration required)
China has announced a new land link with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The 3,125km (1,940 miles) route uses both railways and roads and passes through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as well. One of the main businesses involved in the route said it hopes to normalise express links between the two countries, although analysts have said the main significance is symbolic rather than practical because air and sea links are still more important.

Janet Yellen asks China to co-operate on climate change action (July 8, 2023, BBC)
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has called on China to work with Washington to fight the “existential threat” of climate change. Speaking on Saturday, she said the two countries – the largest greenhouse gas emitters – had a joint responsibility to lead the way on climate action. She called on China to support the US-led Green Climate Fund.

8 Years After ‘709,’ Persecution of Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Continues (July 9, 2023, The Diplomat)
The crackdown that began on July 9, 2015 is not just history; some of the targets are facing renewed pressure today.

Solomon Islands signs controversial policing pact with China (July 10, 2023, The Guardian)
China and Solomon Islands have signed a deal on police cooperation as part of an upgrade of their relations to a “comprehensive strategic partnership”, four years after the Pacific country switched ties from Taiwan to Beijing. The police cooperation pact was among nine deals signed as the prime minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, met with the Chinese premier, Li Qiang, in Beijing, underlining the Solomons’ foreign policy shift.

‘The Long Game.’ China’s Online Influence Campaign in Latin America (July 11, 2023, TIME)
These posts are part of a small network of pro-Beijing accounts targeting audiences in Latin American countries, according to an investigation by Nisos, a cybersecurity firm based in Virginia. Their activities offer a glimpse into an expanding Chinese influence operation in the region, designed to bolster the country’s status as a top regional ally and trading partner.

China sends large group of warplanes, navy ships towards Taiwan in forceful display (July 11, 2023, AP, via Yahoo! News)
China sent navy ships and a large group of warplanes, including fighter jets and bombers, toward Taiwan over two days, the island’s defense ministry said on Wednesday, before its annual military exercises aimed at defending itself against a possible invasion.

Wanted Hong Kong activist’s relatives taken for questioning by police (July 11, 2023, Reuters)
Hong Kong national security police on Tuesday took away exiled activist Nathan Law’s parents and brother for questioning, local media reported, one week after the police issued an arrest warrant and a bounty on Law’s head. Local media, citing unnamed sources, said Law’s relatives were taken away from their homes in Hong Kong for questioning, then released.

Beijing’s New Regulatory State Is Being Built One Tool at a Time (July 11, 2023, Macro Polo)
In this new era of “centralism, Xi style,” provinces need to do the center’s bidding of ensuring economic security. In other words, Beijing wants to reset the 不听话 (“intransigent”) approach that provinces adopted with gusto during the growth imperative era to one where localities are more inclined to 听话 (“follow orders”).  But resetting the organizing principle of the political economy cannot be achieved overnight. It is a herculean task that requires new institutional tools to modify the behaviors of the political class and to whip market actors in line.

Era-ization 时代化 (July 12, 2023, China Media Project)
An important phrase used actively by the Chinese Communist Party since 2022 and leading through to Xi Jinping’s unprecedented third term, “era-ization” serves to reinforce Xi’s power by defining him as a crucial modernizer of Marxism for the current era.

China promises ‘resolute response’ to any NATO expansion in Asia (July 12, 2023, Al Jazeera)
Beijing has reacted angrily to a NATO communique portraying China as a major challenge to the military alliance’s interests and security. In a strongly worded statement issued halfway through their two-day summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, NATO leaders said the People’s Republic of China (PRC) challenged the alliance’s interests, security and values with its “stated ambitions and coercive policies”.


Education for Chinese Christian Families—Another Way (July 5, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
More recently there has been another trend for those who can afford it. Some of the countries neighboring China now offer guardian visas for parents whose children go to school there. Several teachers from international schools in Asia have told me that each class now—even in primary schools—have a large number of Chinese students. “In the past we had one or two, maximum three, per class, the numbers are much higher now.”

How to Face Persecution: Caring for the Persecuted (July 6, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
Chinese pastors consider how important it is to visit, encourage, and listen to the experiences of believers who have recently been released from jail. These freed believers may be weak, and need much care and love as they recover. The pastors also talked about how a persecuted church can, through small group ministry, continue to reach out to seekers and unbelievers.

An Unexpected Treasure (July 7, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
A couple of months ago, after a morning service at my church, a woman approached me with three books in her hand. She had been born in Beijing in 1948, the daughter of Baptist missionaries, Dale and Alma Bjork. Her mother had recently passed away and she and her siblings had been going through some of her things, among which were these three books: a Chinese Bible, a Chinese New Testament, and a Chinese hymnal. She told me that I was the only person she knew who might have an interest in them.

When a Gift Is Not Enough (July 10, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
“We know that confession and apology are important to God and critical for relational health, but is a verbal apology really necessary?” I heard this question raised so often at peacemaking trainings in Chinese contexts that I started including a case study to discuss it. How would you advise the church leader in the following scenario?

Back to Church in Post-COVID China (July 12, 2023, Chinese Church Voices)
Late last year, China abruptly ended its stringent zero-COVID policy. After three years of lockdowns, quarantine camps, remote work, and virtual church services, people were finally free to be together again. However, not everyone was ready or willing to come back to church. This article from China Christian Daily looks at the ways several churches are supporting continuing members, reaching out to lapsed members, and seeking new believers during this challenging transition.

Society / Life

China population: kindergartens fall for first time in 15 years as demographic crisis takes a toll (July 6, 2023, South China Morning Post) (registration required)
According to an annual report published by the Ministry of Education on Wednesday, the number of kindergartens fell by 5,610 to 289,200 last year, marking the first drop since 2008. The report also showed the number of students enrolled in kindergartens and preschools dropped by 3.7 per cent from a year earlier to 46.3 million in 2022.

For Young Chinese, 2023 Is the Year of the ‘Drifter’ (July 7, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Burned-out after years of COVID lockdowns and sky-high youth unemployment, many young Chinese are dropping out and reinventing themselves as “drifters” — living hand-to-mouth while roaming the country aimlessly. “Drifting” — or liulang — is the latest expression of the disillusionment spreading among China’s millennials. 

In China, the ‘Full-Time Kid’ Life Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be (July 11, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Within months, it had attracted thousands of self-identified “full-time children” who’ve embraced “a new kind of non-workplace lifestyle.” They have no formal employment; instead, they perform chores for their parents or keep them company in exchange for an allowance and free rent.

60% of China’s recent graduates interested in career as influencer (July 12, 2023, Dao Insights)
According to survey results widely shared on Chinese social media on July 11, over 60% of young Chinese would consider a career as a wanghong (influencer), which in China is a broad term encompassing vloggers, livestreamers, and other online content creators.

China Used to Be an Architect’s Dream. Now, It’s Becoming a Nightmare. (July 12, 2023, Sixth Tone)
A few years ago, architecture was among China’s most popular and glamorous careers. But as a decade-slong construction boom fizzles, the profession has been plunged into crisis.

In China, ‘Reverse Parenting’ is Turning the Tables on Unruly Kids (July 12, 2023, Sixth Tone)
The post-’90s new generation of Chinese parents is shunning traditional parenting methods. Instead, they are turning to a more radical, and untested, approach to discipline, where parents mirror their children’s behavior.

Viral Wheelchair Riders in China Highlight Concerns Over E-Bike and Scooter Crackdown (July 12, 2023, TIME)
n unexpected alternative mode of transport is gaining attention this week in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, with videos circulating on social media of dozens of able-bodied youths cruising the streets on electric wheelchairs.

Economics / Trade / Business

In China, the Era of Western Carmakers Is Over (July 10, 2023, The Wall Street Journal) (subscription required)
Sales of homegrown passenger-car brands in China are consistently eclipsing those of their Western rivals, signaling the growing influence of the country’s electric-vehicle makers—and a triumph for Beijing’s industrial policy.


Mainland China to send academic group to Taiwan after 3-year pause (July 12, 2023, South China Morning Post)
Mainland China will send its first academic group to Taiwan in three years – at the invitation of an organisation founded by the island’s former president Ma Ying-jeou – in the hopes of resuming cross-strait exchanges. Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Chen Binhua said the visit, organised by mainland universities, carried “positive significance” for promoting resumed exchanges on both sides, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

Science / Technology

China beats rivals to successfully launch first methane-liquid rocket (July 11, 2023, Reuters)
A private Chinese company launched into orbit on Wednesday the world’s first methane-liquid oxygen rocket, beating U.S. rivals in sending what could become the next generation of launch vehicles into space. The Zhuque-2 carrier rocket blasted off at 9 a.m. (0100 GMT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China and completed its flight according to plan, state media reported.

China-based hackers breached US government email accounts, Microsoft and White House say (July 12, 2023, CNN)
The federal agency where the Chinese hackers were first detected was the State Department, a person familiar with the matter told CNN. The State Department then reported the suspicious activity to Microsoft, the person said. The Chinese hackers were detected targeting a small number of federal agencies and just a handful of officials’ email accounts at each agency in a hack aimed at specific officials, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told CNN.

History / Culture

The Terra-Cotta Army’s Secret Weapon (July 6, 2023, Sixth Tone)
The ghostly army of China’s first emperor is known for its thousands of clay foot soldiers. But new excavations are revealing that the force was far more diverse — and tactically sophisticated — than previously assumed.

China’s Long Road to Abolishing Slavery (July 10, 2023, The World of Chinese)
Forms of slavery have existed in China since before the imperial era. During the Spring and Autumn period (770 – 476 BCE), prisoners-of-war could avoid execution by entering into bondage by their captors. The philosopher Mozi (墨子), who steadfastly opposed all forms of offensive warfare, cited enslavement as one of the horrors of war.

Travel / Food

U.S. to Start ‘Road Show’ to Attract Chinese Tourists but Flight Limits Remain (July 10, 2023, Skift)
U.S. destination marketing organizations plan to ramp up their marketing activities in China later this year. How much depends on progress the two governments make on restoring air service to pre-pandemic levels. In the coming weeks, U.S. destination marketing organizations are making their first sales trips to China. 

Can Anything Save China’s Fast Food Brands? (July 12, 2023, The World of Chinese)
Once applauded for their high-end take on classic Chinese dishes, “internet famous” restaurants are now struggling to retain customers.

Pray for China

July 13 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On July 13, 2017, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波先生) died in prison of mistreated liver cancer. Among his works was the essay “I have no enemies.” His widow Liu Xia (刘霞女士) was kept under house arrest in very poor health from 2010 to July 2018. Pray for China’s leaders in the public and private sectors to drink at Christ’s well and join Liu Xiaobo in finding life in Him. Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
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