ZGBriefs | July 19, 2018

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Featured Article

Looking Through the Eyes of China’s Surveillance State (July 16, 2018, The New York Times)
So when I got the chance to see the world through the eyes of a police camera, it was oddly exhilarating. As it goes with reporting in China, often you just have to show up, camp out and hope for the best. In my case, patience and a hefty dose of luck paid off.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Can China Replace the U.S. in Europe? -- A ChinaFile Conversation (July 12, 2018, The China File)
Should China play a bigger role for Europe? And how does that help or hurt European countries’ national interests, and the interest of Europe as a whole?

Podcast: China's "Opinion Deterrence" with Isaac Stone Fish (July 12, 2018, Carnagie Council for Ethics in International Affairs)
Today we're actually looking at the way China is trying to influence the way public opinion thinks in America, how public opinion feels, and also how China is affecting the opinions of the elite in the United States.

‘Liu Knew His Responsibility in History’: A Eulogy for Liu Xiaobo (July 13, 2018, China File)
The writer Ian Johnson delivered this speech in German at a memorial service in Berlin on July 13, 2018 marking the one-year anniversary of Liu Xiaobo’s death.

China's new destroyers: 'Power, prestige and majesty' (July 13, 2018, CNN)
The double launching shows Beijing's unmatched military shipbuilding ability and its desire to project naval power far from Chinese shores, said Heath and other military analysts.

Liu Xia’s Freedom Shows China Can Still Be Pressured (July 13, 2018, Foreign Policy)
It’s worth considering what distinguishes Liu’s case from those of the many dissidents and activists who continue to be held in Chinese prisons or prevented from leaving the country. The two-pronged approach of private and public diplomacy paid off in Liu’s case, and may yet yield results for others, however dark the situation looks.

Liu Xia: free at last but a hostage-in-exile to Beijing’s crackdown (July 15, 2018, The Guardian)
Martin-Liao stopped short of saying Liu had been threatened about the consequences for her brother if she were to speak publicly, but fellow writers and activists agree that he is being held to ensure her compliance.

Hong Kong moves to impose unprecedented ban on separatist party (July 17, 2018, The Guardian)
Hong Kong National party must explain why it should not be barred, in escalation of push to silence dissent against China.

Xinjiang Surveillance Expands to Non-Uyghur Muslims (July 17, 2018, China Digital Times)
The Hui minority group, traditionally treated with more acceptance by the Chinese government due to their higher levels of cultural and linguistic assimilation with the Han majority, have found themselves subject to increasingly greater levels of scrutiny.

China Is Winning in the South China Sea (July 17, 2018, The Wall Street Journal)
Two years after an international tribunal rejected expansive Chinese claims to the South China Sea, Beijing is consolidating control over the area and its resources. While the U.S. defends the right to freedom of navigation, it has failed to support the rights of neighboring countries under the tribunal’s ruling. As a result, Southeast Asian countries are bowing to Beijing’s demands.

Beijing launches live-fire drill to ‘test combat strength against Taiwan’ (July 18, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Analysts said the exercise was in line with Beijing’s effort to increase military readiness while showing resolve to defend the “one China” policy, under which Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province awaiting reunification. The drill started on Wednesday but Beijing has so far released few other details.

China Built an Army of Influence Agents in the U.S. (July 18, 2018, Daily Beast)
“After the Tiananmen Square massacre, the party launched a decades-long expansion of United Front activity abroad. The aim was to build party-linked networks in overseas Chinese communities, keep them connected to Beijing, and quash any anti-party organizing.”


Yizhuang Campus of Beijing’s Largest House Church Forcibly Barricaded (July 10, 2018, Christian Headlines)
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 5, Yizhuang campus of Zion Church, the largest house church in Beijing, has been blockaded by a group of “thugs” employed by the local authorities. 

Is China’s atheist Communist Party trying to eradicate Islam? (July 16, 2018, South China Morning Post)
In a west China city, Muslim children have been banned from religious activity, while authorities have curtailed the number of people over 16 allowed to study and limited the certification processes for new imams.

China SARA Launches Digital Religious Library (July 17, 2018, China Christian Daily)
The publisher has constructed an authoritative and professional religious resource pool where content is presented through the Internet and new media outlets.

Shenzhen Founds Christian Theology Research Center to Promote Church Shepherding (July 17, 2018, China Christian Daily)
On June 30, 2018, Shenzhen Christian Theology Research Center was inaugurated to promote church shepherding toward normalization, specilization, and refinement.

Society / Life

Can’t Enter Uni Because of Daddy’s Bad Social Credit – The Blacklist Story That’s Got Weibo Talking  (July 15, 2018, What’s on Weibo)
For one student from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, the results of his gaokao (national university entrance exams) were so good that he received the happy news that he was accepted into one of these renowned universities in Beijing. Unfortunately for him, that news was later followed up with an update that he could not be accepted due to his father’s bad social credit standing.

The Car Wash Scrubbing Away Ableism (July 16, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The result was Xihaner Car Wash — xihaner means “happy and simple children” and is used affectionately to refer to people with mental disabilities. The car wash, located in China’s sprawling southern city of Shenzhen, provides its all-adult employees with food, education, and accommodation for out-of-towners. Cao and other parents invested 1 million yuan ($150,000) into the project, which is nonprofit.

Despite The End Of China's One-Child Policy, Births Are Still Lagging (July 16, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Two years after China officially ended its one-child policy in order to counter the country's aging society and shrinking workforce, Chinese couples are not having babies fast enough.

Homeless man finds his way back to family after 16 years living on the streets of southern China  (July 17, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Chen Fei, who spent 16 years begging on the streets of the southern manufacturing hub of Dongguan, arrived back in Huangmei county in Hubei province with his brother Chen Ming on Sunday, Chutian Metropolis Daily reported on Monday.

Air China vaping: Pilots fired over e-cigarette emergency (July 18, 2018, BBC)
China has revoked the licences of two Air China pilots after a vaping incident in the cockpit forced an emergency descent last week. A passenger flight from Hong Kong to Dalian had to drop more than 6,500m (21,000ft) due to a sudden loss of cabin pressure. 

Why Rural Officials Can’t Always Lure Millennials Back Home  (July 18, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Chinese cities exert a powerful cultural pull on the country’s young people, who view them as exciting, cosmopolitan, and fast-paced when compared to life in the countryside.

How E-Commerce Is Transforming Rural China (July 23, 2018, The New Yorker)
JD.com is expanding its consumer base with drone delivery and local recruits who can exploit villages’ tight-knit social networks to drum up business.

Economics / Trade / Business

Greenland plans office in Beijing to boost trade ties with China (July 12, 2018, Reuters)
Greenland plans to open a representative office in Beijing to boost trade ties with China, the Arctic island’s new minister for foreign affairs was quoted as saying by state broadcaster KNR on Wednesday.

US lifts order against China's ZTE (July 13, 2018, BBC)
The US has lifted an order that blocked Chinese tech giant ZTE from doing business with US companies, forcing the firm to halt major operations. US President Donald Trump had intervened to end the ban, which was imposed in April and tied to ZTE violations of US sanctions against Iran and North Korea. 

China’s Strong Economic Growth Figures Belie Signs of Weakness (July 15, 2018, The New York Times)
On the surface, China’s economy is humming along smoothly. It’s the numbers behind the numbers that point to mounting challenges for the world’s other economic superpower.

Closing a Representative Office in China (July 17, 2018, China Briefing)
Investors should note that one cannot simply walk away from the RO without properly closing it. As the RO will soon be in non-compliance with taxes and other regulations, fines and penalties will be imposed.


Confucius Institutes: China’s Benign Outreach or Something More Sinister? (July 14, 2018, South China Morning Post)
A new documentary paints the image of a non-profit organisation using the guise of education to subvert academic freedom worldwide; others see it as a benign introduction to the Middle Kingdom’s culture, from Chinese food to tai chi.

Health / Environment

China's floating hospital helping win hearts and minds in an increasingly contested Pacific  (July 18, 2018, ABC News Australia)
China's floating hospital, known as the Peace Ark, has weighed anchor from Port Moresby Harbour and set sail for Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga before moving on to South and Central America.

Science / Technology

How Artificial Intelligence Will Reshape the Global Order (July 10, 2018, Foreign Affairs)
China has begun to construct a digital authoritarian state by using surveillance and machine learning tools to control restive populations, and by creating what it calls a “social credit system.” Several like-minded countries have begun to buy or emulate Chinese systems. (registration required)

Latest Sign of China’s Slowdown: A Technology Cash Crunch  (July 16, 2018, The New York Times)
Their fund, East Zhang Hangzhou Investment Management Ltd., was one of nearly 10,000 founded over the past three years amid a technology gold rush powered in part by China’s government-guided economic growth engine. Now they have become the latest sign that China’s engine is slowing down.

China’s elite Tsinghua University is now screening visitors using facial recognition (July 17, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The prestigious college in Beijing has made it compulsory for individuals to have their faces scanned before being allowed on campus.

Useful Apps in China: WeChat (July 17, 2018, Wild China Blog)
One of the first things you’ll notice upon arriving in China is that QR codes are everywhere and everyone is almost exclusively using the same messaging service. This would be the one-two punch of WeChat and its associated e-wallet that can be used to pay for nearly everything (from buying fruit at a road-side stall to paying for a Michelin-starred meal). 

Apple iCloud: State firm hosts user data in China (July 18, 2018, BBC)
ICloud data belonging to Apple's China-based users is now in the hands of the Chinese government. The emails, pictures and text messages of users in China are now being managed by a division of the state-owned firm, China Telecom. Privacy advocates have warned that the shift could make user data vulnerable to state surveillance.

How to Combat China’s Rise in Tech: Federal Spending, Not Tariffs (July 18, 2018, The New York Times)
Here’s a crazy idea. The United States could outline a plan for and put money behind an alternative vision for the global technology industry. If executed carefully, such a plan could stimulate wider competition in tech, and allow for broader economic and social gains. 

History / Culture

The Documents of Nanjing Massacre, Opening up UNESCO as a New Arena for History(Heritage) Wars  (July 11, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
Competition over historical narratives is nothing new in East Asia. But it is increasingly expansive and transnational at a level in which they influence one of the programmes of the most notable, international cultural organization, UNESCO.

The Politics of “Displaying” China: The British Museum and Modern China (July 13, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
We can decipher two main narratives offered by the Modern China display. The first is how contemporary Chinese artists respond to the social, cultural, political and economic changes of the last 40 years. The second narrative is how contemporary artists engage with traditional forms of artistic creation. 

Communist China Recognizes and Praises Contributions of Foreign Missionaries in Nanjing Massacre (July 17, 2018, China Christian Daily)
My friend and I visited the famous Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall. My atheistic friend asked me, "If the God you keep talking about existed, where was He in the disaster?"

Travel / Food

China’s ‘red education’ history tours and the rise of communist cosplay (July 15, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The 36-year-old runs the largest Red Army uniform rental business in Jinggangshan, a city dubbed the “cradle of the communist revolution” deep in the mountains of Jiangxi. Last year alone, his company rented uniforms to 256,000 people taking part in red ideology study tours.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The People and Places of Chinese Soccer (July 17, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
Although the Chinese team did not qualify this time around, the 2018 World Cup still captured the attention of soccer fans around China. In this article from Good News Today, Rebekah shares about China’s long history with the sport and how its development in China owes in part to its introduction by Western missionaries.  

China's most expensive film pulled after opening weekend (July 17, 2018, BBC)
China's big-budget fantasy epic Asura has been pulled from cinemas after a dismal opening weekend.  The 750m yuan ($112m; £85m) film reportedly made less than 50m yuan on its weekend debut.

Can Netflix conquer China? (July 18, 2018, The World of Chinese)
Netflix might not be accessible in China (and may never fully be), but the company has begun to slowly establish long-term partnerships, promoting Chinese-language content. 

Living Cross-culturally

Home-Based Community Support and the Expatriate in China (July 13, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
After retiring several years ago, I continued to think about why some expatriates in China had more positive experiences than others. I began doing some teaching and returned to school to pursue a doctoral degree in business, centering my research on corporate global expansion and the role of expatriates—specifically Christian expatriate businesspeople.

Best VPN for China Working Now (Update Summer 2018) (July 17, 2018, What’s on Weibo)
What’s on Weibo recommends the best VPN services for China that really work this summer – some experimentation after our recent block.

What I Wish I’d Known Before I Moved to Beijing (July 18, 2018, The Beijinger)
A discussion among our colleagues in the beijingkids office had them wondering what advice expats wish they’d been given before moving to Beijing. So they did what everyone does here when they have a question that needs answering: they took to WeChat and asked in their networks. The responses were many and varied.


China’s Astounding Religious Revival (June 8, 2018, The New York Review of Books)
But how many Chinese would there have to be to generate a religion? It could be just one—that Daoist sage in the mountains—but in reality it takes a village, according to Ian Johnson in his wonderful new book, The Souls of China. Chinese religion, Johnson writes, had little to do with adherence to a particular faith. Instead, it was primarily “part of belonging to your community. 

Jesus: The Path to Human Flourishing : A Book Review (July 16, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Augustine stated that “All truth is God’s truth,” and in I’Ching Thomas’s book, Jesus: The Path to Human Flourishing, the author takes this to heart. She demonstrates through the ancient beliefs of the Chinese that many of God’s truths, that they observed and applied from general revelation, can be acknowledged when sharing the gospel with the cultural Chinese.

Some Additions to the Summer Bookshelf (July 18, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Here is a sampling of some of the latest scholarship touching on current issues affecting Chinese society and culture.

Image credit: by Harald Graven, 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