ZGBriefs | July 23, 2020

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Featured Article

China Considers New Rules, Mandatory Trainings for Foreign Teachers  (July 20, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Four ministries of China’s central government on Tuesday issued a draft regulationthat would require foreign teachers to be taught about the country’s laws and refrain from “harming China’s national sovereignty, honor, and public interests.” The document — jointly issued by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Public Security, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs — would apply to foreigners employed by education institutions in the country holding valid work and residence permits.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

UK to change extradition deal with Hong Kong – PM  (July 20, 2020, BBC)
Boris Johnson says the UK’s extradition arrangements with Hong Kong will be changed, amid rising tensions with China. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is expected to suspend an extradition deal with the territory later. 

China expands its amphibious forces in challenge to U.S. supremacy beyond Asia  (July 20, 2020, Reuters)
China is launching new amphibious assault ships and beefing up its marines. Its main aim is to project power far from home, but it is also strengthening its ability to invade Taiwan.

New Xi Jinping Foreign Affairs Center Opens  (July 21, 2020, China Media Project)
Xi Jinping’s rhetorical star continues to rise. And there are now further signs that the CCP general secretary’s banner term, the unwieldly “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era” (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想), could soon be formally shortened into the far more potent “Xi Jinping Thought” (习近平思想), putting China’s leader on at least equal rhetorical footing with his loftiest predecessor, Mao Zedong.

Is There a Future for Values-Based Engagement with China?  (July 21, 2020, China File)
As the U.S. government takes steps to reduce interaction with China—including through enhanced scrutiny of Chinese students in the United States, and possible new limitations on their ability to even reach or stay in the country—does there remain space, on either side, for academic and civil-society engagement between the U.S. and China to continue to operate? And if so, what form should it take, and to what possible end(s)?

U.S. Accuses Hackers of Trying to Steal Coronavirus Vaccine Data for China  (July 21, 2020, The New York Times)
Two suspects in China targeted companies working on vaccines as part of a broader cybertheft campaign to enrich themselves and aid the Chinese government, officials said.

U.S. gives China 72 hours to shut Houston consulate as spying charges mount  (July 22, 2020, Reuters)
The United States gave China 72 hours to close its consulate in Houston amid accusations of spying, marking a dramatic deterioration in relations between the world’s two biggest economies. China’s foreign ministry called the move an “unprecedented escalation” and threatened unspecified retaliation. 


The Voice of Campus Fellowship Group Leader  (July 16, 2020, China Christian Daily)
In his early twenties, Brother K is an undergraduate who also serves as a campus group leader in a registered church. Previously busy with studies, he has more time during the coronavirus pandemic as schools are closed. He expects to attract more college students to join his group.

Mushi, Muksi and Me  (July 17, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
What it’s like being a “laowai” pastor of a Chinese church in Tucson? Like everyday life in China, the answer to this question is complex. I’m also more convinced than ever that you can’t stereotype Chinese American churches any more than you can truly stereotype any other local body of believers. 

Bible Commentaries Banned in Online Christian Bookstores  (July 20, 2020, China Christian Daily)
Carol Bookstore, a 12-year-old online Christian bookstore broke the news of Bible commentary books banned on its Taobao platform on July 14, where the store has more than 20 thousand followers over the past nine years. Meanwhile, the Oak Tree Christian bookstore which has been also established for more than 10 years, put up a notice on its homepage, telling about the similar situation and its coping methods.

Is Packed Online Religious Services a Sign of Church Revival?  (July 20, 2020, China Christian Daily)
Through the above analysis, I still insist that the pandemic will inevitably bring about a turning point for the Church. Just because there are many services on the Web doesn’t indicate that the Church is experiencing a revival. The impact of the outbreak on the Church will be prolonged over time and its effects will continue to be felt.

Vatican-China agreement: Catholics keep the faith in historic deal despite slow progress  (July 20, 2020, South China Morning Post)
This is the last in a three-part series examining the role of the Roman Catholic Church in China and how the difficult and complex relationship between the Vatican and Beijing has shifted and evolved since the Communist Party broke diplomatic ties in 1951. This instalment looks at how Catholics continue to be persecuted despite a landmark deal being signed between the Vatican and Beijing in 2018.

Four Decades of Church Growth in China  (July 20, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
While accurate numbers are hard to verify, no one disagrees that there has been a large increase in the number of Christians, churches, and pastors in China during these decades. I conducted a survey to go beyond the focus on numbers and to understand from an individual believer level or a church level what the factors were that contributed to this unprecedented growth spurt.

Back in Church in China  (July 21, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
While many places in China continue to take precautions against the coronavirus pandemic, churches in some areas are resuming their in-person worship services. This article from Gospel Times highlights several churches that recently resumed worship services.

A Rural Cathedral in Transportation Hub of Hongtong County  (July 21, 2020, China Christian Daily)
A few days ago, when I passed through Guluo Village, Quting Town, Hongtong County, Shanxi Province, I saw a towering Gothic Catholic church on the south side of the road that has unique characteristics. It is particularly eye-catching.

Society / Life

‘China’s Miami’ in Huizhou beckons to Hong Kong retirees 90 minutes away from border  (July 19, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Huizhou, whose coastline in China’s southern Guangdong province is only a 90-minute drive from Kowloon, is being touted as the country’s own Miami. It’s also being pitched to Hong Kong’s elderly citizens seeking to retire and escape from the city’s hardships.

Dispatches from a River Town on the Brink  (July 22, 2020, Sixth Tone)
As water levels surge along the Yangtze River, locals on the island of Jiangzhou fear a repeat of the devastating floods that destroyed their livelihoods in 1998.

China’s 35M Domestic Workers, Silent No More  (July 22, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Domestic workers in China, as elsewhere, are typically poorly educated, older women from rural areas. Compelled to leave their hometowns to make a living, they often arrive in the city with no plans beyond finding work and with nowhere to stay until they do.

Economics / Trade / Business

TikTok fails to shake off authoritarian links to Chinese state  (July 20, 2020, The Guardian)
Video-sharing app continues to generate unease over privacy and censorship issues.

Xi Jinping rallies China’s tech champions as rivalry with US intensifies  (July 22, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Xi Jinping has called on Chinese entrepreneurs to align their business strategies with national needs, while promising continued support for their operations.


First Group of International School Teachers Allowed to Return to Beijing  (July 18, 2020, The Beijinger)
Over the past few months several major companies – notably Universal Studios – were able to obtain a deal whereby their foreign employees could be exempt from the ban, which gave rise to whispers about various international schools in Beijing seeking a similar deal for their faculty members. This week Keystone Academy was able to confirm that the first group of teachers will be returning to Beijing.

Chinese students turn away from US universities with Britain the big winner  (July 18, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Since 2009, China has been the biggest source of international students for American schools. One in three of the more than one million overseas students in the US comes from China. But now, Chinese students are having second thoughts and this year marks a big change in their choices.

Health / Environment

In Coronavirus Vaccine Race, China Strays From the Official Paths  (July 16, 2020, The New York Times)
Beijing is offering several vaccine candidates to employees of state-owned companies and the armed forces, while also conducting clinical trials in other countries.

Covid-19 outbreak in Xinjiang spreads to second Chinese city  (July 20, 2020, The Guardian)
A coronavirus outbreak in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang has spread to a second city, one day after authorities announced “wartime” anti-pandemic measures in a district in the city of Urumqi. On Monday, the national health commission reported 22 new cases, five of which were imported. One case was reported in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, in north-western Xinjiang, while the rest were in the capital city of Urumqi.

Three Gorges Dam deformed but safe, say operators  (July 21, 2020, Asia Times)
In a rare revelation, Beijing has admitted that its 2.4-kilometer Three Gorges Dam spanning the Yangtze River in Hubei province “deformed slightly” after record flooding. The official Xinhua News Agency quoted the operator of the the world’s largest hydroelectric gravity dam as saying that some nonstructural, peripheral parts of the dam had buckled.

Chinese dam collapse warns of future disasters  (July 22, 2020, Reuters)
The dam at a small reservoir in China’s Guangxi region gave way last month after days of heavy rain, in a collapse that could be an ominous sign for many of the country’s 94,000 aging dams as the weather gets more extreme.

Science / Technology

VPN Providers Re-think Hong Kong Servers After China’s Security Law  (July 16, 2020, Tech Crunch)
Many virtual private network (VPN) operators keep servers in the city, serving mainland users who want to conceal their internet activity or access websites blocked by the Chinese authority. But some VPN providers are reevaluating the risks of keeping their servers in Hong Kong upon the enactment of the national security law, which critics warn could compromise user privacy and have a chilling effect on free speech.

US State department cables show concerns over rules and training at Wuhan lab  (July 20, 2020, South China Morning Post)
US State Department cables from 2018 expressed concern about the lack of trained staff and unclear regulations at a Wuhan laboratory that has become the centre of unproven theories about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. Redacted versions of the cables, released last Thursday following a freedom of information request by The Washington Post, showed US officials had flagged up their worries about the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Not just Huawei: A guide to China’s biggest and best smartphone makers  (July 22, 2020, CNET)
From Huawei to Lenovo to Meizu, here’s a breakdown of the players in the daunting landscape of Chinese smartphones.

TikTok Really Is the Central Front in the U.S.-China Tech War  (July 22, 2020, Foreign Policy)
he video app has gone viral worldwide—and will set the precedent for how free societies handle China’s social networks.

History / Culture

These American mercenaries were the heroes of China  (July 21, 2020, CNN)
That’s the deal — in inflation-adjusted 2020 dollars — that a few hundred Americans took in 1941 to become the heroes, and some would even say the saviors, of China. Those American pilots, mechanics and support personnel became members of the American Volunteer Group (AVG), later known as the Flying Tigers.

Travel / Food

China’s latest starfish-shaped airport set to boost tourism in northeast  (July 21, 2020, CNN)
Qingdao, a Chinese coastal city famous for being the headquarters of Tsingtao Brewery, is poised for a major tourism boost with the completion of the new Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport.  Construction wrapped up on June 24, according to Chinese state media, but an official opening date has not been announced.

China to Require Negative COVID-19 Tests for All Inbound Travelers  (July 22, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The rule will apply to both Chinese citizens and the few foreign nationals who have been cleared to enter the country on diplomatic, service, “courtesy,” and crew visas. Other foreigners — including tourists and people with still-valid work permits — have not been allowed into China since a travel ban was instituted in late March.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Beijing issues new guidelines for reopening of sports venues  (July 22, 2020, China Daily)
The guidelines include a capacity limit of 50 percent, and require customers to limit their exercise time to two hours, show their health code and measure body temperature at the entrance, and maintain social distancing inside the facilities.

Language / Language Learning

Choice Chengyu: Relatively Speaking  (July 22, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Given the importance Chinese traditionally placed on family lineage, it is not surprising that many four-character idioms (chengyu) exist to describe one’s ties to blood relatives, or 亲戚 (qīnqi). 

Living Cross-culturally

Reciprocity—Goes Both Ways and Keeps on Going  (July 22, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
The challenge I faced living in Asia was dealing with my underlying cultural beliefs that maintained my individual identity. I was taught that it was up to the individual to decide if they wanted to share their resources.


Listen Up!  (July 21, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Podcasts to better understand China

Articles in Chinese

《认识神》的作者巴刻去世,享年93岁 (July 18, 2020, Christianity Today)

Pray for China

July 25, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On July 25, 1900, Wang Mingdao (王明道先生) was born in Beijing. His parents had taken refuge in the Foreign Legation to escape Boxer assaults; however, a few days before his birth, his father committed suicide. Wang was baptized as a believer on Jan. 5, 1921, a doctrinal decision that cost him his teaching position at a Christian school. He pastored one of China’s largest indigenous churches—the Christian Tabernacle in Beijing—before being imprisoned more than 20 years for refusing to join the Three Self Movement. Pray for Christians to have courage and strength in today’s challenging climate in China. Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

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