ZGBriefs | July 20, 2017

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

The secret lives of Chinese missionaries in northern Iraq (July 16, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Used to persecution at home, two young Chinese Christians say life can be more peaceful in northern Iraq, where they work with Yazidi refugees.

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An Asian Harvest: The Autobiography of Paul Hattaway
Read the gripping testimony of how God took a hopeless life – "a waste of oxygen" according to his high school principal – and shaped him to become a best-selling author and used his ministry to supply more than ten million Bibles to believers in China.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Hong Kong's High Court Expels Pro-Democracy Lawmakers (July 14, 2017, NPR)
Hong Kong's high-court has ruled in favor of expelling four opposition lawmakers from the city's legislature in a case that critics say calls the territory's independence into question.

China Releases Legal Scholar Xu Zhiyong After Four Years in Jail (July 15, 2017, Bloomberg)
Xu Zhiyong, 44, founder of the New Citizens’ Movement, was released Saturday after completing a four-year prison sentence for gathering a crowd to disturb the public order, according to a statement on the Beijing Municipal Administration of Prisons website. The legal scholar was detained in July 2013 after calling for the release of fellow activists who’d urged top officials to disclose their assets.

China leadership contender under investigation: sources (July 16, 2017, Reuters)
A senior Chinese official who was considered a contender for top leadership has been put under investigation, three sources with ties to the leadership said, ahead of a Communist Party congress in the autumn where Xi Jinping will cement his grip on power.

China Censors Winnie-the-Pooh on Social Media (July 17, 2017, The New York Times)
Internet users in China have in recent days reported problems posting references to the warmhearted bear of A.A. Milne’s children’s books on social media sites. The apparent reason? Some commenters are using images of Winnie-the-Pooh to suggest that he shows a resemblance to President Xi Jinping.

A Cleanup of ‘Holes in the Wall’ in China’s Capital (July 17, 2017, The New York Times)
Neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, workers are tearing down unauthorized structures, additions and storefronts as part of a reconstruction effort as sweeping as any since the Olympics in 2008. The work, which accelerated in the spring, has convulsed entire districts, churning up debris and clouds of dust and wiping out scores of the places that have given the capital a bit of its rakish charm.

Liu Xiaobo’s Death Pushes China’s Censors Into Overdrive (July 17, 2017, The New York Times)
The accounts of censorship have been mostly anecdotal. But systematic research from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs shows that there was a “significant shift” in censorship techniques in the days after Mr. Liu’s death, particularly on WeChat, the popular messaging app from Tencent.

After Liu Xiaobo's Death, Concerns Grow For His Widow's Well-Being (July 18, 2017, NPR)
As far as many of her family, friends and supporters are concerned, Liu Xia is missing — probably still in custody and under surveillance of authorities, if not under house arrest. Foreign journalists who went looking for her in recent days say they were harassed by plainclothes security officials.

Podcast: On Life and Death in China (July 18, 2017, National Review)
Perry Link is one of the great China scholars of our time. There have been two main sides to his career, I think: He is a scholar of literature and language; and he has been an ally of dissidents.

As Liu Xiaobo Dies in Isolation, It’s Time to Abandon ‘Quiet Diplomacy’ (July 18, 2017, China Change)
While silencing dissidents and shutting up their supporters, the Chinese government has also started projecting its voice on the international scene. Xi Jinping has been more assertive and bolder than any previous leader in boasting in international fora; Chinese state media has even suggested that he’s going to point toward the future direction of mankind.

Trump Picks Jon Huntsman To Be U.S. Ambassador To Russia (July 19, 2017, NPR)
Huntsman has served as an ambassador before. Under President Barack Obama, he was U.S. ambassador to China, and under President George H.W. Bush, he was ambassador to Singapore. Huntsman also ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Sinica Podcast: China’s Asian power play: Tom Miller on the future of Belt and Road (SUP China)
An experienced Asia analyst combines policy research with on-the-ground reporting to shed light on China’s complicated foreign policy initiative, Belt and Road.


Are Chinese Christians persecuted? Not exactly (July 12, 2017, Religion News Service)
I raised the issues with them by asking for help: “People back home are saying that Chinese Christians these days are experiencing increasing persecution. How should I answer them?”

Christianity and China’s “Religious Ecology” (July 14, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
As research on religion in China grows, indigenous theories regarding the role of religion in Chinese society and culture are also being constructed and debated. This post introduces one particular theoretical framework of note, the “religious ecology” model.

Party members told to give up religion for Party unity or face punishment (July 17, 2017, Global Times)
The head of China's top religious affairs regulator said that Party members should not seek value and faith in religion, and that those who have religious beliefs should be persuaded to give them up, with experts saying this is meant to maintain Party unity.

More Hope for the Future (July 18, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
In this short video profile, China Christian Daily sketches the work of Home of Hope, a Christian orphanage in Hebei province.

Society / Life

Rebirth of Reading (July 14, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Say goodbye to “book cities” and hello to a world of literature dominated by mobile devices. According to China Daily, 90 percent of internet browsing now takes place on mobile phones in China—and unsurprisingly, e-book publishing companies are taking advantage.

Tomb Robbing, Perilous but Alluring, Makes Comeback in China (July 15, 2017, The New York Times)
Such are the extreme allures — and perils — of grave robbing, an ancient practice that has made a roaring comeback as the global demand for Chinese antiquities has surged. With prices for some Chinese antiquities reaching into the tens of millions of dollars, a flood of amateur and professional thieves looking to get rich quick has hit China’s countryside.

China has a donkey shortage — and why that matters (July 17, 2017, USA Today)
China is in the grip of a massive donkey shortage caused by soaring demand for e’jiao — a traditional medicine made by boiling donkey skin. Demand for e’jiao has doubled since 2010, hitting nearly 15 million pounds a year in 2015, according to the national e’jiao association.

Half of China's rich plan to move overseas (July 17, 2017, CNBC)
Among Chinese millionaires with a net worth of more than $1.5 million, half either plan to or are considering moving abroad, according to a survey from Hurun Report in association with Visas Consulting Group. The survey suggests that the flow of wealthy Chinese and Chinese fortunes into U.S. homes and buildings is likely to continue, helping demand and prices in certain real estate markets — especially in the U.S.

How the One-Child Policy Heightens China’s Aging Crisis (July 17, 2017, Sixth Tone)
But China doesn’t have nearly enough nursing homes to handle demand, and attempts to open new facilities have encountered all sorts of obstacles, from uncooperative authorities to superstitious neighbors.

The Abandoned Rural Farms Threatening China’s Food Security (July 18, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Every year, the squeeze on China’s agrarian resources becomes more pronounced. According to a 2015 estimate by the Ministry of Land and Resources, the country loses 66,000 hectares of arable land annually, a phenomenon that has brought available farmland perilously close to the food security “red line” of 120 million hectares set by the government in 2006. Now more than ever, it is essential that we discuss the relationship between migration and land abandonment.

China Work Permits: Are You an A, B, or C Tier Talent? (July 19, 2017, China Briefing)
This article clarifies who is placed where under the new system, and the implications of the classifications. Expats are placed in either Tier A, B, or C by earning the associated amount of points under the point scoring system, or by fulfilling a condition that automatically places them in a given tier.

Economics / Trade / Business

In Urban China, Cash Is Rapidly Becoming Obsolete (July 16, 2017, The New York Times)
Almost everyone in major Chinese cities is using a smartphone to pay for just about everything. At restaurants, a waiter will ask if you want to use WeChat or Alipay — the two smartphone payment options — before bringing up cash as a third, remote possibility. Just as startling is how quickly the transition has happened. Only three years ago there would be no question at all, because everyone was still using cash.

Behind a Chinese Powerhouse, a Web of Family Financial Ties (July 18, 2017, The New York Times)
HNA is part of a new breed of aggressive Chinese deal makers that have risen, seemingly out of nowhere, into the ranks of the global corporate elite. But the ambitions of these giants have been fueled by debt and masked by opaque ownership structures, creating uncertainty over their corporate governance, strategic motivations and financial health.


Fight for School Seats Turns Fierce (July 14, 2017, Caixin Global)
Competition for a seat at primary and middle schools has heated up as the number of public schools continues to decline despite the rising number of school-aged children, an analyst said. China had nearly 1 million more students vying for a seat in grades one through nine in 2016 compared with the previous year, according to the Ministry of Education.

Case of missing China scholar rattles compatriots at U.S. colleges (July 18, 2017, Reuters)
Her misfortune has become a near-obsession with many of the 300,000 Chinese international students at U.S. colleges and their parents half a world away, lighting up social media and animating long-distance phone calls.State-sponsored Chinese news media outlets have framed the case as emblematic of a security problem in the United States. 

Health / Environment

Underqualified Doctors Plague China’s Health Care System (July 13, 2017, Caixin Global)
A shortage of general practitioners and the lack of professional qualifications among nearly half the doctors in the country are undermining China’s efforts to overhaul its health care system. Only 51 % of doctors, including surgeons, in the country had a five-year medical degree…

Science / Technology

Inside China's 'big data valley': the rapid hi-tech transformation of Guiyang (July 13, 2017, The Guardian)
Guiyang, nestled among luscious green mountain peaks, has typically been known more for poverty than innovation. As a child, Li was so poor she went with her grandmother from village to village, begging for food. But this rapidly developing city has a plan to reinvent itself as a technology hub, attracting thousands of tech-savvy entrepreneurs to a week-long Expo, drawing big names to open data centres and embracing the self-proclaimed nickname “China’s Big Data Valley”.

China Disrupts WhatsApp Service in Online Clampdown (July 18, 2017, The New York Times)
The last of Facebook’s major products that still worked in China was disrupted by the government on Tuesday, as Beijing broadly tightened its controls over the internet. The product, WhatsApp, a messaging app used across the globe, was partly blocked by Chinese filters, leaving many unable to send videos and photos and some also unable to send text-based messages.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Top 5 Chinese Music Apps in 2017 (July 17, 2017, The Beijinger)

Travel / Food

10 of China's spiciest dishes (July 12, 2017, CNN)
Lots of sweat, howls of spicy pleasure and tasty treats are some of the things you'll experience when you dine on China's spicy foods. China has numerous regional cuisines but the spiciest dishes are from Sichuan, Hunan, Chongqing, Guizhou and Yunnan.

China’s Secret Foodie Destination (July 13, 2017, Wild China Blog)
So you’ve tried Chinese food from all over the country – Beijing’s famous street snacks, dim sum from Shanghai, hotpot from Sichuan, perhaps even Yunnanese cheese. But have you ever sampled Xinjiang cuisine?

Beijing Cooks Up a Fine-Dining Revolution (July 14, 2017, The Beijinger)
Unlike in Shanghai, Beijing’s long dining traditions lie in its proud Sinocentric imperial past, with restaurants such as Bianyifang (便宜房) having existed since the 15th century. Only through the reform and opening-up process of the last four decades did the city begin to diversify.

Kashgar Old City | A Timeline of Changes (July 12, 2017, Far West China)
Much has changed in Kashgar over the past decade including the tearing down of the Old City and the rebuilding of a newer, safer Kashgar. It’s hard to tell what’s really been happening in Kashgar over the past decade though, due to conflicting reports between Chinese and international media. Has the “new” Kashgar Old City been rebuilt now? Is there anything left of the “old” Old City? And if so, how do they compare?

Dodging Chinese Police in Kashgar, a Silk Road Oasis Town (July 19, 2017, The New York Times)
In the streets, I saw regular police patrols, mobile police stations resembling food trucks and officers asking Uighur men for identification. On my first trip, in 1999, I had seen many women wearing full face veils. Now that was absent. And only elderly men and Pakistani traders had long beards.

The Best Chinese Desserts (July 19, 2017, Wild China Blog)
The desserts of China will catch your eye, satiate your sweet tooth, and leave you coming back for more. Back home, you might even try to recreate them in your own kitchen. But if you’re like us, they will only leave you craving the original. With so many wonderful options to choose from, here are what we believe are the best Chinese desserts:

Language / Language Learning

Pinyin—Writing the Sound (July 17, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Remember that your goal in language learning is to speak the language correctly, not just to speak it.


China’s Religious Revival (July 19, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Focusing on religious expression among China’s Han majority, Johnson does away with the notion that religious believers in China are found only among a few scattered minorities or disenfranchised groups. Through patient reporting and firsthand experience coupled with a keen knowledge of Chinese history and culture, Johnson brings us face-to-face with ordinary Chinese whose expressions of personal faith are as varied as the diverse locations in which Johnson finds them. 

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 of Northwestern-St. Paul …View Full Bio