ZGBriefs | July 22, 2021

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Featured Article

Chinese city inundated with a year’s worth of rain in just 4 days (July 21, 2021, Accuweather)
As of Wednesday night, local time, at least 25 people deaths were being blamed on the flooding, which occurred after days of heavy rainfall swamped cities across the Henan province in east-central China, The Associated Press reported. Rain that first arrived across this portion of central China on Sunday continued at times through Tuesday, dumping record-breaking rainfall over the province.

Sponsored Link

ChinaSource Quarterly: Student Ministry in China (Summer Issue, 2021)
In this edition of ChinaSource Quarterly, we hear from several writers who have been intimately involved in the campus ministry there. Two of the writers (including myself) are foreigners who have lived in mainland China for many years, partnering with local believers in the campus ministry there. The other three writers are all mainlanders who are key leaders within campus ministry networks there. For security reasons, all the writers have used pseudonyms. I am grateful that these writers have shared their perspectives about the campus ministry that has been happening in mainland China for more than one hundred years. 
(downloadable PDF version available)

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Looking Back On 100 Years Of China’s Communist Party (July 15, 2021, NPR)
Chinese propaganda paints the U.S. as a big, bad foreign power out to hold China down. This kind of rhetoric is as old as China’s Communist Party, as it celebrates its 100th birthday this month.

Seeking China’s New Narratives (July 16, 2021, China Media Project)
The views put forth by a range of Chinese scholars at a recent discussion forum in Beijing hosted by the Center on China and Globalization offer a glimpse into strategic discussions of public diplomacy and propaganda in the country’s think-tank center.

China Criticized the Afghan War. Now It Worries About the Withdrawal. (July 15, 2021, The New York Times) (subscription required)
While that narrow territory poses little direct security threat, China fears that the breakdown of order in Afghanistan could spill out of the country to other neighbors, including Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

UK-China relations as viewed by Chinese think tanks and academics: Cautious optimism remains (July 20, 2021, MERICS)
Sino-British relations have been deteriorating sharply. Thomas des Garrets Geddes explores how intellectual elites have been discussing the topic in China. He finds that Chinese think tanks and academics have remained relatively optimistic about the future of Sino-British relations.

The White House Blamed China For Hacking Microsoft. China Is Pointing Fingers Back (July 20, 2021, NPR)
China has accused the United States of mounting cyberattacks against Chinese government, scientific, aviation and other technical institutions for the past 11 years. The finger-pointing comes the day after the U.S. mounted similar accusations against China, an exchange of blame which threatens to make cybersecurity another rift in an already-fractious U.S.-China relationship.

As Disaster Strikes, Xi Takes the Headlines (July 21, 2021, China Media Project)
Raw and jarring social media accounts of flooding in the city of Zhengzhou contrasted with subdued coverage from official Party-state media. But there was another story between the lines – the completely sidelining of Premier Li Keqiang as Xi’s “important instructions” were proclaimed. 

Three Hong Kong Journalists Behind Bars For ‘Colluding With Foreign Powers’ (July 21, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
Hong Kong police put three former journalists with the forcibly-closed Apple Daily newspaper behind bars, making one new arrest and revoking bail for two other arrestees. National security police arrested former Apple Daily executive editor Lam Man-chung “for enquiries” into an ongoing investigation, the police force and a journalists’ association said.

Can China Lock Up A Million Muslims in Xinjiang at Once? (July 21, 2021, Buzzfeed News)
Here is the most complete picture yet of the staggering scale of China’s prisons and detention camps for Muslims in Xinjiang.


Campus Ministry in Mainland China: The Role of Foreigners, Past and Present (July 12, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
What roles have foreigners played on mainland Chinese campuses over the decades? How should foreigners serve now as campus ministry in mainland China continues to develop post-Covid-19? This article will focus on the role of foreigners as campus ministry has developed in mainland China from the early twentieth century until now, concluding with some suggestions about the road ahead.

Students Joining in God’s Global Mission: Opportunities and Challenges (July 12, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The mission force has already emerged through student ministry within and without China. Although this was the first initiative by Chinese churches to organize a youth mission conference, particularly for students and young adults, the long existing impact of student ministry has already contributed to China’s mission movement.

Why Do Chinese Come to Faith?: An Infographic from InterVarsity International Student Ministry (July 19, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
The infographic is part of a new booklet from InterVarsity International Student Ministry just out this year—Connecting with Chinese International Students: Sharing the Good News with Cultural Wisdom.

Church And Culture: A Gospel That Can Be Believed (July 19, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
In order to reach the hundreds of millions in China’s pressure-filled urban centers, Chinese Christians are planting churches in cities across China. Pastor Hu Yongjie is among this group. In order to present the people of the city with a gospel that speaks to their lives, he believes that the church must understand the geography, history, and culture of the city, as well as the specific idols to which people in that context are drawn.

Returnees—A Topic Worth Revisiting (July 21, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Why are returnees like Jing an influential demographic in China? Why are they a key way for Christians around the world to contribute to gospel growth in China? 

Society / Life

China to Hand Law Enforcement Powers to Local Officials Under ‘Grid’ System (July 15, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
China will empower local officials at township, village, and neighborhood level to enforce the law under an amended administrative punishment law that took effect on Thursday, as well as operating a vastly extended “grid management” system of social control in rural and urban areas alike.

The New-Style Family Values Underpinning the ‘China Dream’ (July 19, 2021, Sixth tone)
Anthropologist Yan Yunxiang on why it’s time to look past filial piety and engage with China’s rapidly shifting intergenerational dynamics.

China scraps fines, will let families have as many children as they’d like (July 21, 2021, CNBC)
Families in China can now have as many children as they like without facing fines or other consequences, the Chinese government said late Tuesday. The announcement ended, in practice, decades of restrictions on the number of children each household could have, as authorities attempt to encourage births in the face of a rapidly aging population. Births dropped 15% last year, a fourth-straight year of decline.

Passengers trapped inside submerged subway as deadly floods sweep central China (July 21, 2021, CNN)
Terrified subway passengers in central China were left clinging to ceiling handles inside flooded cars on Tuesday, trapped up to their necks in rising water, as record breaking rains devastated parts of Henan province. At least 12 people have been confirmed dead in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, where more than 20 centimeters (7.8in) of rain fell in one hour on Tuesday, according to the meteorological observatory.

How Social Media Is Speeding Up Zhengzhou Flooding Rescue Efforts (July 21, 2021, What’s on Weibo)
Social media is utilized as a tool in the response to the floodings in Henan province. Once again, Weibo facilitates active public participation to provide immediate assistance to the people facing this natural disaster. 

‘I might not make it’: passengers tell of horror as Chinese subway floods (July 21, 2021, The Guardian)
As flood water swirled around their chests, passengers on the Zhengzhou metro carriage clung to the handrails and struggled to breathe in the diminishing space between them and the roof. Some felt faint, and one woman was heard calling family members to give them banking and other information in the apparent fear she might not see them again.

The Biggest Losers From China’s Aging Crisis? Millennials. (July 21, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Under the one-child policy, Chinese millennials were “little emperors” pampered by an entourage of older relatives. Now, their former caregivers have reached old age — and the one-child generation is struggling to cope.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s post-pandemic economic rebound loses steam (July 15, 2021, BBC)
The Chinese economy’s sharp rebound from the coronavirus pandemic has now slowed, official figures show. Gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 7.9% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same time last year. That was less than half the rate seen in the previous quarter and missed economists’ forecasts of 8.1% growth.

U.S. issues advisory to businesses warning of Hong Kong risks (July 16, 2021, Reuters)
The advisory from the departments of State, Treasury Commerce and Homeland Security warns businesses in Hong Kong that they are subject to the territory’s laws, including the national security law, under which foreign nationals, including one U.S. citizen, have been arrested.

China is buying up American farms. Washington wants to crack down. (July 19, 2021, Politico)
Chinese firms have expanded their presence in American agriculture over the last decade by snapping up farmland and purchasing major agribusinesses, like pork processing giant Smithfield Foods. By the start of 2020, Chinese owners controlled about 192,000 agricultural acres in the U.S., worth $1.9 billion, including land used for farming, ranching and forestry, according to the Agriculture Department.

As China’s debt risks grow, here are 3 warning signs to watch (July 20, 2021, CNBC)
Weak spots are emerging in China’s growing debt pile. National debt levels have climbed to nearly four times of GDP, while an increasing number of corporate bonds have defaulted in the last 18 months.


At Some Chinese Schools, Unvaccinated Students Are No Longer Welcome (July 15, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Hoping to boost local vaccination rates, more counties around China have announced restrictions for people not yet inoculated against COVID-19. While earlier moves targeted unvaccinated adults by banning them from public buildings such as hospitals and shopping malls, more recent announcements have said teenagers will need to be vaccinated to be allowed back to school after the summer.

China’s universities produce millions of graduates each year, but many can’t get a decent job and end up unemployed or in factories (July 16, 2021, South China Morning Post)
A record high of 9.09 million university graduates entered the job market this summer, increasing from 8.74 million in 2020, according to the Ministry of Education. Nearly a third of the 135 newly enrolled production line workers at a tobacco factory held a master’s degree

Peter Hessler’s Last Class (July 19, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Through his writing, Peter documented places that, while figments of the past, will forever exert an influence on the present — whether it’s Fuling in the 1990s, Beijing before and after the Olympics, Chengdu in the past two years, or China as a whole, where momentous things are happening and will continue to happen in the future. “The time is right now, many things are taking place as we speak — please record them all.” After his explanation of the Egyptian theory of time, this piece of wisdom was Peter’s parting gift.

Health / Environment

Covid: Is China’s vaccine success waning in Asia? (July 19, 2021, BBC)
Across Asia, Chinese vaccines have played a crucial role in immunising people against Covid-19, with millions receiving either a Sinovac or Sinopharm jab. But in recent weeks, concerns have grown about their efficacy. Now, some Asian countries which made Chinese vaccines a key plank in their immunisation programmes have announced they will use other jabs. The move has raised questions, not only about whether China’s vaccines can be trusted, but also about its attempts at vaccine diplomacy in Asia.

China reports highest number of Covid cases since January (July 20, 2021, The Guardian)
China has reported the highest daily tally of new confirmed Covid-19 cases since January, driven by a surge in imported infections in southwestern Yunnan province, which shares a border with Myanmar. Mainland China recorded 65 new confirmed cases for 19 July, compared with 31 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said in a statement on Tuesday. That was the most since 30 January, when 92 new cases were reported.

China Blasts Dam To Divert Massive Flooding That Has Killed At Least 25 (July 21, 2021, NPR)
China’s military has blasted a dam to release floodwaters threatening one of its most heavily populated provinces, as the death toll in widespread flooding rose to at least 25. The dam operation was carried out late Tuesday night in the city of Luoyang, just as severe flooding overwhelmed the Henan provincial capital of Zhengzhou, trapping residents in the subway system and stranding them at schools, apartments and offices.

Science / Technology

China unveils ‘fastest ground vehicle in the world’ capable of traveling over 370 mph (July 20, 2021, USA Today)
The maglev train is being touted as the fastest ground vehicle in the world with a maximum speed of 600 kph or 372 mph. It was developed by China and manufactured in the city of Qingdao.

History / Culture

Video: 1966 American documentary: “Red China: The Year of the Gun?” (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

The Japanese Temple Left to Rot in Northeast China (July 15, 2021, The World of Chinese)
The temple has every reason to be ignored. This is Jiangguo Zhongling Temple, a major religious site from the days of the despised Manchukuo regime, a puppet state nominally ruled over by China’s last emperor, Puyi, but created by the Japanese empire in the 1930s in China’s northeast. It’s a reminder of an upsetting history, of local collaboration and national humiliation—as seen in the hot debate over what to do with its shell.

Travel / Food

How the Chili Pepper Conquered China (July 15, 2021, Sixth Tone)
From a salt substitute in China’s impoverished southwest to a fixture on tables nationwide, chili peppers have come a long way over the past 400 years.

Why are Young Chinese People So Obsessed with Camping in 2021? (July 15, 2021, Radii China)
For years, conventional social activities in China have centered around shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters, and KTVs. In post-Covid China, however, young people are tired of these traditional forms of socializing, and are gradually gravitating towards more adventurous experiences in their search for new forms of entertainment. In addition, with restrictions on traveling outside of the country, people are looking inwards but in a more creative fashion.

China’s borders will likely remain shut for months, but some may be wary of visiting even after they reopen(July 21, 2021, CNN)
Visitors will be greeted by expanded digital surveillance, which played a central role in China’s successful containment of the virus. Their everyday movements will be tracked by a mandatory smartphone “health code” app, required for entry to office buildings, restaurants, shopping malls and train stations. Facial recognition cameras, already common in public places, have also proliferated in residential areas. Meanwhile, nationalistic sentiment, which was already rising in China prior to the pandemic, has reached new heights.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

From Inner Mongolia, a Stark Vision of Our Environmental Sins (July 16, 2021, Sixth Tone)
n her new film “Anima,” Chinese director Cao Jinling revisits her homelands to deliver a very personal warning of how humanity’s imbalance with nature stands to imperil us all.

Language / Language Learning

Choice Chengyu: Elephantine Phrases (July 21, 2021, The World of Chinese)
Elephants haven’t always enjoyed such fame in China—they didn’t make it onto the list of 12 zodiac animals. But the (not always) gentle giants left enough of an impression on ancient Chinese to find their way into a few idioms that are still in use today:


Campus Ministry in Pre-1949 China: A Book Review. (July 12, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
From 1937 until 1950, CIM missionary David Adeney witnessed the birth and early development of the modern Chinese student ministry against the backdrop of World War II and then civil war. In China: Christian Students Face the Revolution, Adeney recounts those turbulent years of ministry. This short book is a fascinating account of university campus ministry in pre-1949 China, but it is also a remarkably prescient analysis of Communist China that remains relevant today.

New Book ‘Forbidden City’ Places the Palace at the Heart of Chinese Culture (July 16, 2021, The Beijinger)
Every Beijinger knows that the Forbidden City, also called the Palace Museum, is the palace at the heart of the capital. A new book, Forbidden City: The Palace at the Heart of Chinese Culture, raises its status even further.Retailing for a credit limit-maxing US$995, the book attempts to capture all of the world’s largest palace complex’s history and splendor in more than 150 illustrations, and an essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former Beijing resident Ian Johnson. He described the new book to the Beijinger by email from Berlin.

Take Language Learning Seriously: A Book Recommendation (July 16, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Dormer’s message is quite simple:  those engaged in cross-cultural ministry need to take language learning seriously. In your preparation for cross-cultural service, don’t neglect language acquisition training.

Links for Researchers

Will There Be a Civil Society in the Xi Jinping Era? Advocacy and Non-Profit Organising in the New Regime(July 15, 2021, Made in China Journal)
It is important to recognise, as Salmenkari (2017) points out, that civil society in China encompasses a multitude of kinds of organisations, and each of these elicits different kinds of reactions and attention from Chinese authorities. 

China’s Political Discourse June 2021: Prelude to the Centennial (July 18, 2021, Sinocism)
In June 2021, as the centennial of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) approached and planned news and propaganda events went into full gear, there was a corresponding general rise in the intensity of mainstream official discourse as measured by per-article usage, so that 14 terms in our tiered table of terminologies joined the top three tiers of the CMP Discourse Scale (reflecting their increased usage), and 15 terms emerged from the bottom tier (Tier 6). 

Red Allure & The Crimson Blindfold (China Heritage)
The essay reproduced here was originally presented as a paper at ‘Red Legacies in China’, a conference held at Harvard University. 


China, Christianity, and the Dialogue of Civilizations28th International Conference of the US-China Catholic AssociationCo-sponsored by the Departments of Sociology, History, Political Science, Modern Languages, and the Center for Global Engagement of Santa Clara University. August 6-8, 2021, Santa Clara University. The 2021 conference is an event spanning three days, four keynote speakers, a range of pastoral reflections, academic panels, practical workshops, and many other events to foster a deeper conversation surrounding Christianity, culture, and the friendship between the Church in China and in the U.S. Go here to register.

Pray for China

July 28 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On July 28, 1974, PRC government forces killed a number of A-Hmao Christians who had been worshipping in a cave at the Xinglong Commune (兴隆公社) in Weining County, Guizhou. Among those killed were evangelist Zhang Youxue, and his two sons Zhang Mingcai and Zhang Ming’an. The A-Hmao (大花苗) are a Miao sub-group and many came to Christ in Weining County and elsewhere under the ministry of Samuel Pollard (柏格理). There is a New Testament in their language, and the 1974 massacre resulted in a major revival among them. China’s 9.4 million Miao speak more than 80 dialects, with 30 not intelligible to each other and many still unwritten. Great numbers have come to Christ, but many sub-groups remain unreached. Pray for the Holy Spirit to bring glory to the Savior as more Miao are reached with the gospel. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:14

Image credit: Herman Traub, via Pixabay
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