ZGBriefs | July 18, 2019

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China’s “5,000 Years of History”: Fact or Fiction? July 14, 2019, Radii China)
The recent elevation of the 5,300-year-old site of Liangzhu to UNESCO World Heritage status revives an old debate about modern China's historical narrative.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Situation Still Dire for Rights Lawyers Four Years On (July 11, 2019, China Digital News)
Four years on, China’s human rights lawyers continue to face government repression as authorities turn to administrative measures to prevent these attorneys from practicing law. Those who have been freed are subject to various professional disciplinary punishments. Many have had their licenses canceled or revoked.

Chinese Police Formally Arrest Beijing Rights Activist on 'Terrorism' Charges (July 12, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
Beijing-based veteran rights activist Zhang Baocheng has been formally arrested on "terrorism" charges, RFA has learned. Zhang, who has previously taken part in the New Citizens Movement calling on ruling Chinese Communist Party leaders to reveal details of their personal assets, was formally arrested on July 4 on suspicion of "incitement to terrorism."

The Chinese Influence Effort Hiding in Plain Sight (July 12, 2019, The Atlantic)
Beijing uses student and professional associations to try to influence not just Chinese citizens abroad, but outsiders, too.

Death of 'barefoot lawyer' puts focus on China's treatment of political prisoners (July 15, 2019, The Guardian)
While Chinese detention facilities have long been criticised for their conditions, denying medical treatment to prisoners deemed “sensitive” is becoming increasingly common.

Canadian citizen detained in China as row continues over Huawei chief (July 15, 2019, The Guardian)
A Canadian citizen detained in China is being held on drug-related offences, Beijing said Monday, at a time of tense relations between the two countries. News of the latest arrest comes amid a diplomatic crisis sparked by the detention of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer for Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver on a US extradition bid.

Video: Evan Medeiros on the 'Securitization' of U.S.-China Relations  (July 15, 2019, National Committee on US-China Relations)
The U.S.-China relationship is clearly undergoing a transformation: after 40 years of normalized diplomatic relations, the status quo no longer seems acceptable to either side. One of the largest shifts has been the emergence of strategic issues as a greater factor in bilateral interactions.

Video: Aaron Friedberg: On the Rise of China and the Strategic Threat to the United States (July 15, 2019, Ricochet)
In this Conversation, Aaron Friedberg, professor of political science and international affairs at Princeton University, argues that a rising China is now the most significant foreign policy challenge facing the United States.

Inside China’s top ‘party schools’: Plenty of Communist doctrine on tap  (July 16, 2019, The Washington Post)
Playing a crucial role in Xi’s campaign have been nearly 3,000 training institutes like the top Communist school in northwest Beijing, where resident researchers ponder how to boost the party’s influence and thousands of visiting party members — or cadres — are taught how to carry out and maintain its rule.

Hong Kong protests find new purpose and momentum (July 16, 2019, Christian Science Monitor)
Protests against a controversial extradition bill began over a month ago. Now, demonstrations have ballooned to address how Hong Kong is governed.

Ich Bin Ein Hong Konger (July 16, 2019, Foreign Policy)
How Hong Kong is turning into the West Berlin of the quasi-cold war between the West and China.

China seeks to shuffle its diplomatic pack as next generation comes to the fore (July 16, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Analysts believe a spate of recent changes are part of a restructuring amid concerns about the ageing line-up of senior diplomats and a shortage of first-rate younger envoys who are capable of reacting to the many challenges to Beijing’s global ambitions.

Shanghai Newspaper Accuses American NGOs of Supporting Hong Kong Protests (July 17, 2019, The China NGO Project)
Xinmin Evening News, a Shanghai metro paper put out by the Chinese Communist Party Shanghai Municipal Committee, published an article on July 13 asserting that American NGOs plotted recent demonstrations in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill. 

Postal codes may be retired and replaced (July 17, 2019, China Daily)
The traditional six-digit postal code, which has been in use for nearly 40 years, may end its service and get replaced by new personal address IDs. According to a report from Beijing Youth Daily, the State Post Bureau of China and Peking University's Big Data Innovation Center on Tuesday proposed building a new postal code system.


A Critique of "Leadership Ethics" -- Another Look at the Summer CSQ (July 12, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
The church in China has grown rapidly in number during the past decades. However, spiritual maturity is not evaluated by how powerful the leader is or how effectively a church carries out a project. Rather, maturity should be viewed by how closely a leader or church senses and follows the ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The Comprehensive Soteriology of The Reformers - Reflections onf “Justification” and “Sanctification” in the Reformation (July 16, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
The paper hopes to train and encourage other urban Chinese house church pastors, and as such is an interesting insight to the theology shaping portions of the house church. 

A Celebrity Divorce Prompts Thoughts on Marriage (July 16, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
Two Korean film stars, Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo, recently announced their impending divorce. Chinese are avid consumers of South Korean TV dramas and films, and news of the divorce sent shock waves throughout Chinese social media, including some Christian channels.

Travel Restrictions Imposed on Sichuan’s Yachen Gar Buddhist Center (July 17, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
The new restrictions follow efforts beginning in May to reduce the number of monks and nuns living at the sprawling complex in Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) prefecture’s Palyul (Baiyu) county, with thousands forced out and sent back to their hometowns for political re-education.

Touring Three-Self Churches: Some Final Thoughts (July 17, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
But for me, the striking thing has been the homogeneity of the churches over time and place. The churches and their pastors simply went faithfully about their business, the business of sharing and teaching their faith, and leading the people in worship—doing what the church is called to do.

Society / Life

Video: 360°: Inside the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum (Sixth Tone, via YouTube)
The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum first opened in 2007, and for 12 years the establishment has been collecting and preserving the historical fragments of a once-flourishing community of Jewish refugees.

Make America Dated Again: The Chinese Reproducing US Vintage (July 11, 2019,Sixth Tone)
A growing number of Chinese collectors and artisans are obsessing over items from America’s past, but will their nostalgic subculture stand the test of time?

Puncturing the picture of poverty elimination in China (July 12, 2019, The Asia Dialogue)
Because laid-off workers created disturbances in municipal streets with their demands for work and food, China’s rulers devised a welfare scheme designed to prevent demonstrators from perishing outright.

Stumped by the new recycling rules in Shanghai? There’s hundreds of apps for that  (July 15, 2019, South China Morning Post)
It has been a popular topic on social media, with hashtags such as “Strictest Shanghai waste policy”, “Waste sorting”, and “Is this dry or wet waste?” trending on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Apps and programs have meanwhile appeared on social network WeChat, Alipay and Apple’s app store. On WeChat there are at least 280 unique waste-related apps, while Apple’s app store has 130.

China relaxes immigration rules to attract and retain more highly skilled overseas talents (July 17, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The rule changes, which will take effect from August, will also allow top talents from abroad to apply for long-term visas and make it easier for budding overseas entrepreneurs to start a business in China, the ministry announced on Wednesday.

Economics / Trade / Business

For Chinese firms in US, ability to navigate the cultural gap can determine success or failure (July 11, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Management styles, language skills and keeping expectations reasonable are just some of the challenges. US and Chinese companies are both arrogant, experts say: having succeeded in their giant home market, they dive into others using a similar playbook.

Economic improvement in China’s northeast rust belt is just skin deep as state firms continue to bleed (July 14, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Shenyang Machine Tool’s plight exemplifies the dilemma faced by most state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China’s northeast, whose futures often depend on their ability to innovate successfully. And that in turn is key to the success of Beijing’s drive to revitalise the so-called rust belt, which also comprises the provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang.

China's Economy Falters; Slowest Growth In Nearly 3 Decades (June 15, 2019, NPR)
The second-largest economy in the world grew 6.2% in the second quarter of 2019, a drop from 6.4% in the first quarter, according to data released by the Chinese government. The pace of growth in the second quarter was at its slowest since 1992.


Beijing education reforms aim to help China's over-worked, over-tested students (July 16, 2019, CNN)
Millions of school students have started their long summer vacation this month, but for some the two-month break won't be much of a holiday. Many parents will be sending their children to summer tutoring classes to get ahead in China's heavily competitive, exam-focused education system. The Chinese government says it wants to change that.

As Scrutiny Of China Grows, Some U.S. Schools Drop A Language Program (July 17, 2019, NPR)
The Defense Department wants more Americans to speak Chinese, and it provides millions of dollars to train students at U.S. universities. China's government, through language centers known as Confucius Institutes, has been doing the same thing, for the same reasons, and at some of the same U.S. universities. But a new law has forced these American universities to choose: They can take money from the Pentagon or from the Confucius Institute — but not both.

Health / Environment

China’s greenhouse gas emissions soar 53 per cent in a decade, data shows (July 15, 2019, South China Morning Post)
China’s climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions hit 12.3 billion tonnes in 2014, up 53.5 per cent in just a decade, the environment ministry said on Monday, citing the country’s latest carbon “inventory” submitted to the United Nations.

Swine fever fight forces clean up for China’s pig farms (July 16, 2019, South China Morning Post)
In a country where farm hygiene has often been seen as lax by international standards, sales of disinfectants and truck cleaning washes are booming as farmers try to fend off the virus. People involved in the pork industry say biosecurity has been tightened, from farms to feed mills to transport.

Science / Technology

How WeChat users unwittingly aid censorship (July 16, 2019, Insktone News)
Chinese messaging app WeChat relies on the input of unwitting users to autonomously expand its blacklist of sensitive images, according to a new study by a Canadian internet watchdog group.

Google's Project Dragonfly 'terminated' in China (July 17, 2019, BBC)
Google's controversial plan to launch a censored search engine in China has been "terminated", a company executive has said. The project was reported to have ceased late last year but rumours that it remained active persisted. "We have terminated Project Dragonfly," Google executive Karan Bhatia told the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

From Satellites to the Moon and Mars, China Is Quickly Becoming a Space Superpower (July 17, 2019, TIME)
Nestled among the crimson dunes of China’s Gobi Desert, a warren of domes and squat white buildings rises from the parched earth. Inside is a research and educational facility for budding astronauts — and the latest manifestation of Beijing’s bid to position itself as a leading space power.

History / Culture

Video: China in 1984 (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Video: Deng Xiaoping funeral in 1997 (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

Where to find the best Chinese food in London (Lonely Planet)
With so much choice, it can be hard to track down the best Chinese food in London. The city’s appetite for fresh, regional cooking has set the bar high with quality food reminiscent of the dishes found in China.

How One Designer Explored Her Chinese Identity Through an Illustrated Cookbook (July 10, 2019, Radii China)
“In Asian households, we don’t often say ‘I love you.’ Instead, we say, ‘Have you eaten yet?’ This is a deceivingly simple and mundane question. But for us, it bears the weight of relationships, of family, of connection.”

8 sweet, savory, and delicious Chinese desserts you have to try (July 12, 2019, Matador Network)
Dessert in China can be either sweet or savory, and many times, it’s both, making for a delicious combo that satisfies both kinds of cravings.

Alaska Sees Exponential Growth in Chinese Tourists (July 15, 2019, Skift)
The Anchorage Daily News reports Alaska received relatively little notice from Chinese travelers until recent years. The number of Chinese visitors has jumped because of social media and increasing interest in winter tourism tied to the Aurora borealis.

The 8 most delicious street foods in Beijing and where to try them  (July 16, 2019, Matador Network)
One of the best ways to start your culinary trek is by checking out the city’s street food, sold along main streets, hutong alleyways, parks, and just about anywhere else you can think of. These are eight of Beijing’s most delicious street foods and where to try them.

Calories be damned. These are snacks that Hongkongers swear by (July 17, 2019, Inkstone News)
Hongkongers consume the equivalent length of the Earth’s circumference in French toast annually, a survey has found. The finding has prompted a nutritionist to warn of health risks caused by the city’s snacking habits.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Go back to China: A Film Review (July 15, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Would you go back to China for a million bucks?  That’s the question that Los Angeles fashionista Sasha Li is confronted with when her father in Dongguan calls to tell her that he is cutting off her million-dollar trust fund unless she returns to China to work in and learn the family business—a toy factory.  

School Shooters, Bribes, and Aping Steph Curry: Chinese Drama About Studying in the US is Destroyed on Social Media (July 15, 2019, Radii China)
A new Chinese drama, which attempts to examine the lives of Chinese international students in the United States, has drawn the ire of viewers.

Language / Language Learning

Porsche And BMW are Known as “Broken Shoes” And “Don’t Touch Me” in China (July 11, 2019, Quartz)
These are just some of the nicknames Chinese fans have given to luxury foreign car brands. Sometimes the monikers are awarded because the foreign brand name is hard to pronounce, so users opt instead for the closest translation to the brand’s English name from Mandarin. Other times, it’s out of affection for the car’s performance and appearance.

10 Every Day English Words Originally Borrowed From Chinese (July 15, 2019, The Beijinger)
Among the many hundreds of loan words and phrases that make up English today, only a fairly small proportion originate from Chinese. While they come from various different parts of the country, most of these Chinese-originated words have a pronunciation that is heavily influenced by Cantonese or Hokkien,…

You’re in Trouble and Don’t Speak Mandarin: What Now? (July 17, 2019, The Beijinger)
Recent reports from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning indicated that all emergency services in Beijing would become English-language compliant. However, despite these announcements, users have found this service inconsistent.


Xi Jinping: Much More than Just One Man (July 16, 2019, The Interpreter)
Book Review: Xi Jinping: The Backlash by Richard McGregor (Penguin, Lowy Institute, 2019)
Richard McGregor has written a dazzling account of the first six years of the Xi Jinping era and what he sees as the “backlash” to Xi’s increasing authoritarianism domestically and assertive foreign and defence policies.

Image credit: by Kevin Harber, via Flickr
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... View Full Bio