ZGBriefs | July 25, 2019

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Featured Article

How China is slowly expanding its power in Africa, one TV set at a time (July 24, 2019, CNN)
Xi's dream was to upgrade huge swathes of Africa to modern, digital satellite TV networks, that could broadcast a constellation of channels over long distances — so long, in fact, that a TV channel from Beijing could be beamed to African homes.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China says Xinjiang 'inseparable' despite attempts to distort history (July 21, 2019, Reuters)
The government said in a white paper published by the State Council Information Office it was wrong to suggest members of Xinjiang’s minority Uighur Muslim community were descended from Turks, noting they had become the political tool of pan-Turkic and pan-Islamic groups.

‘Hostage diplomacy’ spat between China and Canada hits home (July 22, 2019, Christian Science Monitor)
When citizens abroad start being detained and used as bargaining chips in negotiations between superpowers, how does that shake up diplomacy? Canada and China offer a test case.

China reportedly signs secret deal to station troops in Cambodia (July 22, 2019, The Guardian)
The Wall Street Journal, citing US officials who had seen a pact drawn up between the two countries, reported that the Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, has agreed to give China access to the Ream naval base on the Gulf of Thailand.

What It Means That Chinese Media Published Photos Of Hong Kong Protests (July 22, 2019, NPR)
It's hard to say because they could signal, A, that they're sort of normalizing that this is happening and trying to put their version out. But it could also be a bad thing, depending on how this story is covered, whether they're kind of suggesting there's turmoil. 

China warns of war in case of move toward Taiwan independence  (July 23, 2019, Reuters)
China warned on Wednesday it was ready for war if there was any move toward Taiwan’s independence, accusing the United States of undermining global stability and denouncing its arms sales to the self-ruled island.

Li Peng, hardline Chinese leader in Tiananmen crackdown, dies at 90 (July 23, 2019, Reuters)
Li, who was 90, died on Monday night in Beijing, Xinhua said, more than three decades after his government authorized a bloody suppression of student-led pro-democracy protests in the early hours of June 4, 1989. Xinhua said Li died following unsuccessful treatment for an illness, which it did not specify.

'We saved ourselves': Hong Kong train attack victims describe 30-minute ordeal  (July 24, 2019, The Guardian)
Victims describe ‘smell of blood’ in train carriages as China blames ‘black hands’ of US for unrest.

China takes aim at U.S., Taiwan in new military blueprint (July 24, 2019, The Washington Post)
China sharpened its hostility toward the United States and Taiwan in a new high-level report on its future military strategy, which accused Washington and its allies of undermining global stability. Releasing the document on Wednesday, officials of the People’s Liberation Army repeatedly warned that Beijing would be willing to deploy military force to assert its claims over Taiwan. 

Who Are the Triad Gangs in Hong Kong? (July 24, 2019, The New York Times)
A century ago, Hong Kong had hundreds of triads, their numbers lifted by waves of immigration from mainland China. Today, there are only a few dozen groups with interconnected ties and allegiances.


Prosecutors in China's Sichuan Pin 'Illegal Business" Charge on Early Rain Pastor (July 18, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan are investigating Early Rain Covenant Church pastor Wang Yi on charges of "incitement to subvert state power" and "illegal business activities." Wang, who founded the church, was detained by police in Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu on Dec. 14, 2018 on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power," alongside dozens of church members in a raid that prompted an international outcry.

Persecution and Sinicization in China: A Reading Round-up (July 19, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
As was feared, these changes in the past year have led to a significant deterioration in tolerance of religious activity and a corresponding uptick in harassment and persecution of religious believers in China. These restrictions and crackdowns are affecting all religions in China, including those that have legal recognition.

Falun Gong's secrets for surviving in China (July 19, 2019,UCA News)
Given the force of the CCP’s crackdown, few observers would have expected Falun Gong to survive. But a 2017 study by Freedom House concluded that 7-20 million people in China continue to practice Falun Gong, including many who took up the discipline after the repression began. Moreover, Falun Gong believers in China have responded to CCP persecution with tenacity, nonviolence and creativity.

Practical Problems In Pastoral Ministry – Reflections on “Justification” and “Sanctification” in the Reformation (July 23, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
If the fathers of the Reformation strove so vigorously to construct a comprehensive soteriology, why do we often find unhealthy imbalances in our lives and pastoral ministries?

Realistic Advice for Seminary Grads (July 23, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
In China and around the world, a fresh batch of students have just graduated from seminary and are preparing to enter full-time ministry. In this article, Pastor Chen Shengfeng pours a “bucket of cold water” on zealous and idealistic seminary graduates entering ministry. He wakes them up to the fact that real-life ministry is not for the faint of heart. 

Theological Professor Shares Centenary Impact of Chinese Union Version Bible (July 24, 2019, China Christian Daily)
Recently, the Gospel Times interviewed Lin Peiquan, an Old Testament lecturer at Jinling Union Theological Seminary and a visiting associate professor at Nankai University, to hear from him about the century-old impact of CUV and the ministry of exegesis development in China.

Spiritual Authority and Power Abuse (July 24, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
The pain in LL’s voice was heart-wrenching. As the new evangelist at her church preached “Deeper Truth,” the wounds in her church also deepened, until it finally split apart. I’ll call those who followed the evangelist, Truth Church and those who stayed, Love Church.

Society / Life

China Plans To Replace Postal Codes With ‘Personal Address IDs’ (July 18, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Postal codes in China could soon be a thing of the past. The research arm of the State Post Bureau, China’s postal service regulator, plans to replace the country’s postal codes with unique “personal address IDs” in a bid to streamline mailing in the country’s growing e-commerce industry, according to an announcement Wednesday. This means every resident in China will have a unique code that serves as a personal geographical locator.

Nanny State: Hired Help and China’s Child Care Ideal (July 18, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Many parents we spoke with chose nannies with a distinctive set of qualities that they thought were lacking in the child’s mother or grandmothers. New mothers without the benefits of extended family assistance preferred to hire nannies that were more experienced, for example.

Be Good to Your Parents or Else, Warns County in Shaanxi (July 19, 2019, Sixth Tone)
While authorities argue they are ‘safeguarding seniors’ rights,’ experts say unfilial acts should be of ethical rather than legal concern.

Over the Moon: Chinese Internet Marks 50 Years Since Apollo 11 (July 21, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Amid China’s own push for space exploration, social media users in the country are celebrating NASA’s historic lunar landing from many moons ago.

Migrant workers forced out as one of Shenzhen’s last ‘urban villages’ faces wrecking ball (July 22, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Some 150,000 residents of Baishizhou have to leave by the end of September to make way for malls, hotels and high-end residential projects. They worry about finding affordable housing in the city, and their children’s education

Holiday Homework: Take a Picture with Five Foreigners (July 23, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
An elementary school in Guangdong’s Zhuhai city has become a target of online banter this week for a special holiday homework assignment given to its pupils. The school’s English teacher told students to take a picture with five foreigners this holiday. The pupils’ parents were not too happy with this ‘homework’ and questioned its purpose and validity. 

Economics / Trade / Business

China's Tech Sector Is in Trouble (July 17, 2019, The Diplomat)
In the last quarter of 2018, WeChat owner Tencent saw net income fall by a third, and e-commerce giant JD.com lost $700 million. Alibaba forecasts that, this year, its sales will drop over 20 percent. And across publicly listed technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) companies, last year’s earnings dropped 140 percent from 2017 — a larger plunge than any other Chinese sector.

Chinese Money in the U.S. Dries Up as Trade War Drags On (July 21, 2019, The New York Times)
Growing distrust between the United States and China has slowed the once steady flow of Chinese cash into America, with Chinese investment plummeting by nearly 90 percent since President Trump took office. The falloff, which is being felt broadly across the economy, stems from tougher regulatory scrutiny in the United States and a less hospitable climate toward Chinese investment, as well as Beijing’s tightened limits on foreign spending.

Huawei's U.S. research arm slashes jobs as trade ban bites (July 22, 2019, Reuters)
China’s Huawei Technologies laid off more than two-thirds of the 850-strong workforce at its Futurewei Technologies research arm in the United States, after being blacklisted by the government.

Graphic Truth: China's Battered Economy (July 23, 2019, GZero Media)
News on Monday that China's economy grew more slowly in the second quarter of 2019 than at any time since 1990 sent shudders through markets and renewed concerns that the effects of US-led trade war are starting to bite. Here's a picture of China's growing economic woes.

China June pork imports surge 62.8% from a year earlier (July 23, 2019, Reuters)
China’s pork imports in June surged from the previous year, customs data showed on Tuesday, as the world’s top consumer of the meat stocked up on supplies after African swine fever has decimated domestic pig herds.

Kenya’s Chinese-built railway is a hit with travellers, but is this safari line a massive white elephant? (July 23, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Despite the popularity of the new Nairobi-Mombasa line with travellers, critics fear it has come at a heavy price for the country as a whole. The railway was primarily designed to carry freight, but official statistics suggest revenues generated are not enough to cover fees paid to Chinese companies

Everything You Need to Know About Sponsoring Your Own Visa (July 23, 2019, The Beijinger)
 Through this system, individuals who do not meet work experience or educational requirements can qualify for a work permit as an investor through establishing either a wholly-foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) or a joint venture (JV).


Rule-breaking foreign students in China will be punished, education ministry warns  (July 21, 2019, South China Morning Post)
An unnamed senior ministry official said rules for overseas students should be broadly the same as for the local Chinese cohort, and that universities “should seriously punish foreign students if they violate those rules”, Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily reported on Saturday.

Hong Kong and mainland China students clash at rally at Australian university (July 24, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Scuffles broke out between opposing groups at the University of Queensland in Brisbane after pro-democracy students staged a sit-in supporting the extradition bill protests in Hong Kong and also condemning China’s treatment of Uygurs in Xinjiang.

Universities must accept China's directives on Confucius Institutes, contracts reveal (July 25, 2019, Sydney Morning Herald)
Australian universities hosting Chinese government-funded education centres have signed agreements explicitly stating they must comply with Beijing's decision-making authority over teaching at the facilities.

Health / Environment

Shanghai’s war on waste leads to plastics surge (July 22, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Sales of plastic bags and bins designed for specific types of rubbish have soared, while manufacturers in China’s plastics producing hub, in neighbouring Zhejiang province, are working day and night to meet demand.

Seahorse, centipede, and other ingredients you’ll find in Traditional Chinese Medicine shops (July 22, 2019, Matador Network)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been a part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. The practice focuses on healing and restoring balance in the body. The earliest record of TCM is the Huangdi neijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic), which dates back to the third century BCE. The concepts from this time still translate today.

Science / Technology

Google Faces New Wave of Scrutiny Over China Ties (July 22, 2019, China Digital Times)
After months of mounting scrutiny of American companies’ involvement with Chinese AI and surveillance technology, and particularly its deployment in Xinjiang, the spotlight has returned to Google with renewed pressure over its AI research partnerships.

Kindergartens Enlisted To Help China Become Soccer Superpower (July 24, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The Ministry of Education on Tuesday announced plans to set up 3,000 “soccer kindergartens” nationwide by the end of 2019 in an effort to realize the country’s global soccer ambitions. The initiative is aimed at “grabbing the sporting interests of 3- to 6-year-olds” and guiding kindergartens to develop soccer-related activities for young children.

History / Culture

Granddaughter of US missionaries uncovers her family’s history with China (July 15, 2019, Global Times)
Ellen's grandparents, Cary Touchstone and Mabel Ellen Thomas, worked as US missionaries in China during the early 20thcentury. Working in Suzhou, Cary Touchstone was a financial administrator at Soochow University, while Thomas was the head nurse at Soochow First Affiliated Hospital. On July 14, 1919, the two young foreigners got married at the US Consulate in Shanghai, and went on to have two children before returning to the US in 1922.

'Forgotten by society' – how Chinese migrants built the transcontinental railroad (July 18, 2019, The Guardian)
When one thinks of the transcontinental railroad, rarely do Chinese migrants come to mind. But in a new exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington, a vital revision is presented.

Travel / Food

China’s KFC Gives Up and Starts Selling Chinese Street Food (July 18, 2019, Radii China)
KFC China adds skewers and hotpot to their long list of Chinese menu items, inciting skepticism and dialogue among Chinese netizens.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Wolf Warrior II Tells Us a Lot about China (July 20, 2019, National Review)
If the original movie showed off China’s technological advancement, military might, and determination domestically, Wolf II is all about demonstrating China’s ambitions and aspirations internationally.

Film Review: The Farewell (July 21, 2019, Strange Harbors)
Director Lulu Wang’s sophomore feature-length film, The Farewell, is one of the year’s best. As a second-generation Chinese American myself, the film hits particularly close to home in a way I never expected to see on the big screen; a transcendent examination of the gap between cultures and generations, The Farewell is a funny and emotionally poignant portrait of a family and the secrets it keeps.

Hit Web Series “The Longest Day in Chang’an” is Winning the Chinese Internet (and is Now Streaming on Amazon) (July 21, 2019, Radii China)
The show’s success is due to the surprisingly good acting skills of TFBoy Jackson Yee, an intense storyline adapted from historic novelist Ma Boyong’s popular original text, and a higher public awareness of the manners and fashions of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), during which the story takes place.

Li Na – Tennis Legend and Tireless Champion – is Now a Hall of Famer (July 21, 2019, Radii China)
When Li Na first started playing tennis at the age of 8, most of China had never paid much attention to the sport. Now, 29 years later, after becoming the first Asian woman in history to win a Grand Slam singles title (2011 French Open), and then another, (2014 French Open), Li’s track-record of trailblazing continues as she becomes the first Asia-born player in history to land a spot in the prestigious International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Olympic Swimmers’ Feud Makes a Splash at World Championships  (July 22, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The rivalry between Mack Horton and Sun Yang was on full display during Sunday’s medal ceremony, when the Australian athlete refused to share the podium with the competitor he previously called a ‘drug cheat.’

Language / Language Learning

On the Character: 闹 (July 21, 2019, The World of Chinese)
According to the 2,000-year-old dictionary Explaining and Analyzing Characters, 闹(nào, noise, commotion) is the opposite of 静(jìng, quiet). First appearing over two millennia ago, the seal script of the character comprises an outer radical of 鬥(dòu, tussle), which resembles two people fighting, and a “market” radical, 市(shì), inside, indicating a bustling or noisy environment. The simplified form of the character replace 鬥with 门(mén, door) for easier writing.


When the Lion Wakes: The Global Threat of the Chinese Communist Party (July 22, 2019, Quillette)
(Review of Destined for War, by Graham Alison) But when men like this use the word “China,” they mislead us. It will not be the Chinese people who rise to inherit the earth, who wake to shake the world. It will be the Communist Party.

Reading Romans through Eastern Eyes – A Book Review (July 22, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
By reading Romans with Eastern eyes, we can discern key ideas and applications often overlooked or underemphasized by Western interpreters. An Eastern lens equips readers to see the significance of honor and shame in Paul’s message and mission.” (p. 2) W. walks through Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter by chapter, helping the reader to uncover themes of honor and shame common to East Asian culture that Westerners easily miss.

Links for Researchers

The Central United Front Work Leading Small Group: Institutionalising United Front Work (July 23, 2019, Sinopsis)
The United Front has undergone a rejuvenation in its political status and importance since General Secretary Xi Jinping initiated reforms in 2015.1 Alongside the first-ever set of trial regulations on united front work and the Central United Front Work Conference, a Central United Front Work Leading Small Group (LSG, 中央统战工作领导小组) was created in 2015. The LSG helps realise the concept of the “Great United Front” (大统战) that characterises the United Front’s direction under Xi by increasing the party’s leadership over united front work, ensuring all relevant agencies are involved and their activities coordinated.

Conference on Chinese Theologies – Call for Papers (July 24, 2019, Alexander Chow)
A series of three conferences will be held 2020-2022 at Yale Divinity School (New Haven, Connecticut) on Chinese Theologies: mainstream, non-mainstream and academic. The first conference will be held June 1-2 2020, and scholars are invited to submit abstracts for papers discussing any aspect of theological thought/ individual theologians from a range of mainstream churches (pre-1949) or TSPM/ Chinese Catholic Churches (post-1949). Economy travel and accommodation will be paid for participants.

Image by Gino Crescoli from 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