ZGBriefs | July 16, 2020

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Featured Article

These are the 5 Covid-19 Vaccines Currently Being Developed in China  (July 12, 2020, Sixth Tone)
As pandemic fears engulf the world, scientists across the globe are racing to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. Chinese authorities have been particularly keen to trumpet the country’s efforts in this area and position themselves as helping lead the race to bring the virus under control. But how close is China really to a breakthrough and who are the organizations vying to produce a vaccine?

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Angering China, Australia suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong, extends visas  (July 8, 2020, Reuters)
Australia said on Thursday it was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to a new security law imposed there and announced measures to attract businesses from the Asian financial hub, provoking an angry response from Beijing.

U.S. warns citizens of heightened detention risks in China  (July 11, 2020, Reuters)
“U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime,” the State Department said in a security alert issued to its citizens in China, adding that U.S. citizens may face “prolonged interrogations and extended detention” for reasons related to state security.

Alex Joske on China’s Influence Operations  (July 12, 2020, The Wire)
The Australian analyst discusses the Chinese government’s sometimes “brazen” efforts to import scientific research.

Xu Zhangrun: Outspoken professor freed after six days  (July 12, 2020, BBC)
An outspoken critic of China’s rulers, Professor Xu Zhangrun, has been released after six days in police custody, friends say. The Beijing constitutional law professor was already under house arrest when he was detained on 6 July. He had criticised China’s response to coronavirus and what he sees as a Mao-like cult of personality under China’s current leader, Xi Jinping.

Podcast: Is the UK’s ‘golden era’ of relations with China now over?  (July 13, 2020, The Guardian)
China and the UK have clashed in recent months over a draconian new security law in Hong Kong and the Chinese tech company Huawei. The Guardian’s Tania Branigan examines whether a much-promoted ‘golden era’ between the two countries is at an end.

South China Sea Once Again Becomes A Dangerous Military Flashpoint  (July 14, 2020, NPR)
The U.S. is calling China’s claims over the South China Sea illegal. Experts fear growing U.S.-China tensions raise the possibility of military conflict.

Caught in ‘Ideological Spiral,’ U.S. and China Drift Toward Cold War  (July 14, 2020, The New York Times)
Relations are in free fall. Lines are being drawn. As the two superpowers clash over technology, territory and clout, a new geopolitical era is dawning.

Hong Kong: China vows to retaliate after Trump ends special economic status  (July 15, 2020, BBC)
China has vowed to retaliate after the US ended Hong Kong’s preferential trade status and imposed sanctions on officials who crack down on rights. President Donald Trump said he was acting because China had taken away Hong Kong’s freedom after it imposed a new security law.


How the Church Grows in China  (July 13, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Rather than attempting to tabulate numbers of believers in the churches he surveyed, Steve instead looked for patterns of church growth by asking about believers’ personal experiences as Christians. The resulting data provide an important foundation for further study on the basic model of Chinese Christian development from 1979 to 2018 and the challenges and opportunities facing churches.

Society / Life

“Fake” and “Hypocritical” – Western Anti-Racism Movements Criticized on Weibo  (July 15, 2020, What’s on Weibo)
George Floyd and the global anti-racism movements have not just dominated headlines in the US and other western countries – in China, they have also become a major news topic. This is an overview of the general Chinese online media discussions of these global news developments, including all the big hashtags, from the George Floyd killing to global companies changing their policies amid concerns over racial stereotyping.

Economics / Trade / Business

In China’s manufacturing hub of Dongguan, a sock maker struggles to keep his factory from folding  (July 13, 2020, South China Morning Post)
After nearly three decades, Lin Danru, 54, fears that his sock factory’s days are numbered. Export orders  have dried up amid the coronavirus pandemic. Domestic sales have plunged. And frankly, none of his five daughters want anything to do with the antiquated manufacturing business model.

Closing a Business in China: What is the Simplified Deregistration Procedure?  (July 14, 2020, China Briefing)
Since March 1, 2017, State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC, that is, the current SAMR) and its local branches have been implementing a simplified deregistration procedure for qualified enterprises. 


UK universities comply with China’s internet restrictions  (July 9, 2020, BBC)
UK universities are testing a new online teaching link for students in China – which will require course materials to comply with Chinese restrictions on the internet. It enables students in China to keep studying UK degrees online, despite China’s limits on internet access. But it means students can only reach material on an “allowed” list.

Will Chinese students study abroad post-COVID-19?  (July 11, 2020, East Asia Forum)
Western universities are confronting the looming challenge that students from mainland China may no longer desire to study abroad after COVID-19. To continue attracting Chinese and other international students, host universities will need to show that they care about the wellbeing of the students. But if student numbers stay low post-COVID-19, they will have to adapt and implement different strategies.

Trump administration rescinds rule on foreign students  (July 14, 2020, MPR)
The announcement brings relief to thousands of foreign students who had been at risk of being deported from the country, along with hundreds of universities that were scrambling to reassess their plans for the fall in light of the policy.

A Prayer of Thanks before the Gaokao  (July 14, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
Last week, millions of Chinese high school students took the annual two-day college entrance exam known as the gaokao. Delayed a month because of the coronavirus, for most students and their families, much of their young lives have led up to this moment. Many of their future hopes and dreams ride on their exam scores. In this article from China Christian Daily, a mother shares how she and her son have prayed together for his gaokao exam.

Health / Environment

WHO promises ‘honest evaluation’ of how world handled COVID-19  (July 9, 2020, Reuters)
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday it was setting up an independent panel to review its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by governments.

China’s Troubling Vision for the Future of Public Health  (July 10, 2020, Foreign Affairs)
As the pandemic’s first epicenter, China has had a head start, and the vision its leaders have laid out—constant surveillance in the name of both biological and political health—is troubling. Democracies must develop a clear and distinct vision for the future relationship between health and security so that China’s approach does not become the world’s.

China creates Hainan special health care zone to tap growing medical tourism market  (July 14, 2020, South China Morning Post)
China is creating a ‘special health care zone’ in Hainan to capitalise on the growing medical tourism market. Preferential policies will allow Hainan to import medical devices, technology and drugs that are hard to come by in the mainland

Record floods raise questions about China’s Three Gorges Dam  (July 14, 2020, Reuters)
Amid some of the heaviest rainfall on record, the Chinese government says the world’s biggest hydroelectric plant has reduced flood peaks, minimised economic losses and slashed the number of deaths and emergency evacuations. But critics say the historically high water levels on the Yangtze and its major lakes prove the Three Gorges Dam isn’t doing what it was designed for.

Kill or Cure?  (July 15, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Vinegar and egg to clear up acne, peppercorns and alcohol for toothache, and, in the past, even white arsenic for cancer: These are just some of the folk remedies that have been used by Chinese through the ages.

Shanghai-Made COVID-19 Vaccine Ready for Human Trials  (July 15, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The candidate is one of a select few mRNA-based vaccines — advantageous because the most laborious steps of the immunization process can take place after inoculation — being tested worldwide.

Science / Technology

In Reversal, U.K. Will Ban Huawei Equipment From Its 5G Network  (July 14, 2020, NPR)
Beginning in January, U.K. regulators will implement a ban on telecom operators buying Huawei equipment. Existing Huawei 5G equipment will need to be removed from the U.K.’s 5G network by 2027.

How China’s Clamp Down on Hong Kong Could Affect the Global Internet  (July 14, 2020, Reason)
Will tech companies resist orders to cooperate with demands for information to root out dissidents?

Meet the Scientists Mapping China’s Wilderness with Cellphone Data  (July 14, 2020, Radii China)
A team of Chinese scientists made it their mission to map the last remaining pockets of wilderness within the country — using data from people’s cellphones.

History / Culture

A collection: Beijing in 1983  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Video: Visit to Beijing in 1987  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Arts / Entertainment / Media

New York Times to move Hong Kong staff to Seoul over press freedom fears  (July 15, 2020, BBC)
The New York Times says it will move some of its Hong Kong staff to Seoul as concerns mount over the implications of a severe new security law for the city. The US news outlet said the law “unsettled news organizations and created uncertainty about the city’s prospects as a hub for journalism”. Reporters will remain, but the digital editing team will relocate over time.

Living Cross-culturally

The Ins and Outs of Getting a Driver’s License in Beijing  (July 12, 2020, The Beijinger)
After a decade of riding dirty in Beijing, I decided to end the last vestige of my outlaw lifestyle and finally get a China driving license. It’s not a particularly difficult or long process, but it’s not simple, and it can’t be done on a lunch break or even during a single day. 

Guanxi: Or, Do I Have to Give Them Something to Make Friends?  (July 15, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
When we lived in Asia, I was constantly asked for things and especially for money. Being a typical American, I was offended with their constant asking. I thought they were just lazy and didn’t want to work in order to have the money to get what they wanted. I discovered later that asking for favors was a means of developing relationships.


2020 China Books: Modern Chinese History  (July 14, 2020, China Channel)
The books in this third post cover an eclectic range of subjects related to China’s modern history.


Online Meeting Platforms  (July 10, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
A mainland Chinese friend of ChinaSource recently shared with us a list of online Chinese and foreign platforms that are commonly used in China for streaming, learning, and convening.

Pray for China

July 16, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On July 16, 1814, Robert Morrison (马礼逊) baptized the first Chinese Protestant Christian in mainland China, Cai Gao (蔡高弟兄). Cai Gao had been hired to help print the New Testament. In 1812, he asked to be baptized— Morrison not only refused, but fired him, regarding him as too quarrelsome. Cai continued to attend Morrison’s Sunday services for many months and was faithful in prayer and conduct. When Morrison finally baptized Cai, Morrison wrote prophetically in his journal, “May he be the first-fruits of a great harvest, one of millions who shall come and be saved on the day of wrath to come.” Pray with Morrison for millions more to be saved in China. After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…Revelation 7:9 

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