ZGBriefs | July 27, 2023

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Featured Article

WeChat Pay now accepts foreign credit cards for payment in China (July 20, 2023, Technode)
Chinese tech giant Tencent said on Thursday that it now allows foreign tourists to link their international credit cards to its payment service WeChat Pay. With the rise of digital payments in China, foreign visitors have sometimes encountered difficulty in the country as many shops and restaurants only accept digital payments.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

US ambassador to Beijing targeted in Chinese cyber-attack – report (July 20, 2023, The Guardian)
The US ambassador to Beijing, Nicholas Burns, was reportedly one of the American officials whose emails were accessed in a recent Chinese hacking attack which took Washington by surprise with its sophistication. Another target was Daniel Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for east Asia, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Xi Jinping’s Three Balancing Acts (July 24, 2023, China File)
But what such takes miss is that policymaking is becoming increasingly volatile, as China’s mounting challenges lead Beijing into deeper swings between the politics of its ideological agenda and the pragmatism of delivering a baseline of economic growth. This volatility will stem mostly from three balancing acts: 1. balancing growth with security in economic policy, 2. balancing diplomatic struggle against U.S. global leadership with avoiding economic decoupling from the West, and 3. balancing competition between different sub-factions in elite politics.

Qin Gang Removed As Foreign Minister Without Explanation (July 25, 2023, China Digital Times)
After one month without making a public statement or appearance, Qin Gang was removed from his position as foreign minister on Tuesday. At least for now, he will be replaced by his boss Wang Yi, who leads the CCP’s foreign policy apparatus and previously served as foreign minister. Government spokespersons had initially attributed Qin’s absence to health reasons, without elaborating further, and the state-media announcements of his removal on Tuesday gave no further explanation. It remains to be seen whether there are political factors that caused his removal.

China’s Foreign Minister is Sacked, and Erased (July 26, 2024, China Media Project)
The fate of Qin Gang has been the subject of endless speculation in recent weeks, as he has disappeared from public view. The apparent erasure this week of all official news releases including his name within the ministry’s own website is another bizarre twist.


John Nevius. He Also Got It Right! (July 21, 2023, Field Partner)
John Livingston Nevius (1829-1893) was an American Presbyterian missionary to China during the nineteenth century. The story of how he became a missionary and his subsequent cross-cultural service in China together with his wife is fascinating. But they are not the reason that he remains such a strategic cross-cultural missionary figure. His deepest value lies in his mission thinking and policies, which can be said to be well ahead of his time.

Chinese Culture and Christianity: Diving into the Archives: ChinaSource Summer School Session 1 (July 21, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
ChinaSource has extensive archives on almost any topic relating to China that you can imagine. This summer, we have put together a series called “ChinaSource Summer School,” which will bring some of these earlier articles together so that our newer readers can delve into the archives and find out more about foundational topics to understand China and Christianity in China. Long-time readers can re-visit favorites, read articles they might have missed, and rediscover resources recommended by ChinaSource team members and contributors.

Out of Blows, Knowledge Grows (July 24, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
There is a Chinese proverb which says you cannot come to know another person without fighting with them; “out of blows, knowledge grows.” (In Chinese, this is “不打不相识,” or “Bu da, bu xiang shi.”) Tan Jian is a Chinese preacher who is well-accustomed to “blows” for the sake of Christ. In this short meditation, he writes about how his persecutions have allowed him to get to know the people who beat him. It has also given his persecutors an opportunity to get to know him, and to know the God of grace he worships.

Christianity Comes to China: ChinaSource Summer School Session 2 (July 26, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Saying that Christianity has a long and complex history in China may be one of the understatements of the year. From the Nestorian missionaries of the seventh century to the contextualization work of Matteo Ricci in the late 1500s and early 1600s to the arrival of Protestant missionaries in the early 1800s to the burgeoning indigenous mission movement in China right now, there are many layers of history, politics, and theology to dig into in order to get a true understanding of how God is working. 

Society / Life

Hong Kong man jailed 3 months for insulting China’s national anthem (July 20, 2023, Radio Free Asia)
A Hong Kong court on Thursday imposed a three-month jail term on a man for insulting China’s national anthem after he paired footage of a Hong Kong athlete winning a medal with audio of the banned protest song, “Glory to Hong Kong,” and posted the clip to YouTube.

Rock and Rivals: Two Cities Duel for China’s Music Capital Crown (July 21, 2023, Sixth Tone)
For Shijiazhuang and Xinxiang, the race to become China’s rock music capital is more than just a title; through social media and viral campaigns, they hope to boost tourism.

Before Asian Games, Hangzhou Students Tutor Elderly in English (July 21, 2023, Sixth Tone)
From students tutoring their grandparents to public transportation staff undergoing English training, Hangzhou is abuzz with preparation for the multi-sport event.

‘Facekinis’ become popular in China as temperatures soar (July 21, 2023, The Guardian)
In scorching Beijing, “facekinis” are the hottest new fashion as surging temperatures shatter records. […] Facekinis – full-face masks with holes for the wearer’s eyes and nose – separate sleeves to cover arms, as well as wide-brimmed hats and lightweight jackets made out of UV-resistant fabric, have become especially popular.

China school gymnasium’s roof collapses, killing 11 (July 24, 2023, Reuters)
The concrete roof of a school gymnasium collapsed in China’s Qiqihar city, killing 11 people, state media reported on Monday, with many victims believed to be young female volleyball players. Authorities said the illegal stacking of materials on the roof may have caused it to cave in, Xinhua reported.

Facing job scarcity in China, some find work as ‘full-time children’ (July 24, 2024, NBC News)
In recent months, the hashtags #FullTimeDaughter and #FullTimeSon have been trending on Chinese social media platforms, attracting millions of views. They refer to adult children who, due to unemployment, are hired by their parents mainly to do housework and be on hand whenever needed.

Inside China’s Demographic Revolution (July 24, 2023, South China Morning Post)
There’s more to the shock of China’s declining population than just births, deaths and marriages. Chinese Gen Z and millennials are choosing career over kids – or choosing to “lie flat” or “let it rot”. The two most educated and affluent generations in China’s history are making choices that are changing the economy and challenging Beijing’s policies – but they’re now facing historic levels of unemployment, just as a record 12 million Chinese college students are about to graduate. This is a five-part series of the Inside China podcast.

Economics / Trade / Business

Beijing pushes for toning down of China risks in IPO prospectuses-sources (July 24, 2023, Reuters)
Beijing has asked law firms to tone down the language used to describe China-related business risks in Chinese companies’ offshore listing documents, warning failure to do so could cost them regulatory green light for the IPOs, three people familiar with the matter said. The move, which not been reported before, is the latest in tightening scrutiny of Chinese companies’ offshore listings, and comes at a time when Beijing is stepping up controls over cross-border transfer of sensitive information.

What new norm of slower Chinese growth could mean for the global economy (July 25, 2023, CNBC)
The Chinese government is ramping up a host of measures aimed at boosting the economy, with a key Politburo meeting scheduled later this week to review the country’s first-half performance. The most immediate spillover of a Chinese slowdown will likely come in commodities and the industrial cycle, said Rory Green, chief China economist at TS Lombard.


As China’s Top Campuses Reopen, a Frenzy for Limited Visiting Slots (July 25, 2023, Sixth Tone)
With scalpers emerging to sell slots at inflated prices, genuine visitors are turning to social media and searching for tips and strategies on how to secure reservations for university visits.

History / Culture

Podcast: Did some good come from the Qing’s dying century?(July 24, 2023, Chinese Whispers)
In the 1800s, Qing China’s final century, European powers were expanding eastwards. The industrialised West, with its gunboats and muskets, and the soft power of Christianity, pushed around the dynasty’s last rulers. But was this period more than just a time of national suffering and humiliation for China? The British Museum’s ongoing exhibit, China’s hidden century, tells the story of Qing China’s final decades. )

Arts / Entertainment / Media

How China’s Greatest Ever Film Was Rescued From Oblivion (July 21, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Fei Mu’s 1948 masterpiece “Spring in a Small Town” was condemned to obscurity for decades after its release. But 75 years later, it has finally won recognition as the best Chinese film ever made and is receiving a new wave of attention.

The Great Leap Backwards of media in China (July 24, 2023, Global Voices)
To understand the nuances not only of censorship and state violence but also of resilience and journalistic courage, Global Voices interviewed Cédric Alviani, head of the Taiwan-based office of RSF for East and Southeast Asia.


How China seduced the West – and how we can escape its grip (July 19, 2023, The Telegraph)
From her opening lines, Allen catalogues the scale of the CCP’s activity abroad. Australian winemakers drawn into the dependency on China then pushed to the edge of bankruptcy. Film-makers in Hollywood are forced to self-censor their movies or risk being cut out of a huge market. The point of this activity isn’t to silence different opinions in China; as she says, that’s already done. It’s about shaping the political landscape in our countries.

Links for Researchers

“Too Soon to Tell”: The Hundred-Year Odyssey of the Famous Quip on the French Revolution (July 18, 2023, Taylor and Francis Online)
The popular anecdote that Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai once declared it “too soon to tell” the significance of the French Revolution of 1789 is clearly recognizable as a meme and has followed a winding path through media history. While the story was seemingly debunked in 2011, when it was revealed that Zhou had meant the 1968 unrest in Paris—rather than the French Revolution—it is argued this was merely another stage in its hundred-year evolution. Regardless of whether the quip had an actual Chinese author or not, its early spread in mainstream media was the result of an educated and globally minded Western audience shaped by orientalism and rhetoric surrounding the dangers of radical revolution. 

Pray for China

July 30 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On July 30, 1964, house church Christian Wu Weizun (吴维僔弟兄-Epaphras) was summoned by Tianjin police for interrogation. He later wrote that he was determined “to give no explanation, confess to no crime, not repent, but only to trust in the Lord and put all things into his hand.” The infuriated authorities gave him a life sentence in remote Ningxia. He refused to accept release after 20 years in prison because the documents said he had made a confession. He lived out his life fasting five days a week in a simple hut at the prison gate. In many letters and interviews, he always testified to the Lord’s goodness. Pray for officials in Tianjin and Ningxia to know, as did King David, the blessing of the Rock of Israel that falls upon just rulers. The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth. 2 Samuel 23:3-4

Image credit: Piqsels.
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