ZGBriefs | July 30, 2020

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Featured Article

China is home to 18 of the 20 most surveilled cities in the world  (July 27, 2020, Inkstone News)
Beijing has the most CCTV cameras installed of any city in the world and Taiyuan, the capital of the central province of Shanxi, has the most cameras per person. 

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ChinaSource Quarterly 
Doing Missions with Chinese Characteristics: Developments in the Indigenous Missions Movement from China
The summer issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly features some significant breakthroughs in the development of the Indigenous Mission Movement (IMM) from China. May all the articles in this issue stretch the minds of readers, challenge each one to look at China from a fresh angle, and give everyone a renewed commitment towards enabling the church in her effort to reach the world.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

American Consulate In Chengdu Closes After China Makes Retaliatory Move  (July 27, 2020, NPR)
NPR’s Steve Inskeep talks to Rui Zhong of the Wilson Center about the consulate’s closure after China’s government ordered it shut down. Earlier, the U.S. ordered China close its consulate in Houston.

Diplomatic Moves Toward “Xi Thought”  (July 27, 2020, China Media Project)
I have pointed out that Xi’s next rhetorical coup in terms of solidifying his power and legacy would be to successfully shorten this lengthy 16-character phrase into the concise five-character “Xi Jinping Thought.” This abbreviated banner term would put Xi on even rhetorical footing with his most powerful predecessors, Mao Zedong (“Mao Zedong Thought”) and “Deng Xiaoping” (“Deng Xiaoping Theory”). 

Video: Perspectives from Rural China  (July 28, 2020, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
On July 23, 2020, the National Committee held a virtual program with Ms. Mei Lan, born and raised in a Chinese village, and Mr. Matthew Chitwood, an American who lived in the Chinese countryside until late last year, to discuss the current situation in rural China.

Registered overseas NGOs increase on mainland  (July 28, 2020, China Daily)
The number of representative offices set up by overseas NGOs on the Chinese mainland has been steadily rising in recent years, reaching 524 by the end of 2019, according to the Blue Book of Philanthropy released on Sunday. The NGOs held about 2,400 activities in 2019, in areas including commerce, education and the environment, said the report jointly released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Social Sciences Academic Press and the China Lingshan Council for the Promotion of Philanthropy.

Benny Tai: Hong Kong university fires professor who led protests  (July 28, 2020, BBC)
A leading Hong Kong university has fired its law professor, Benny Tai, due to a criminal conviction over his role in the 2014 pro-democracy protests. Mr Tai, 56, accused the University of Hong Kong (HKU) of bowing to pressure from Beijing and said the ruling was “the end of academic freedom”. Mr Tai was one of the founders of the “umbrella protests” that paralysed Hong Kong’s business districts for weeks.

Hong Kong security law: China hits back in extradition row  (July 28, 2020, BBC)
China has said Hong Kong will suspend extradition treaties with Britain, Canada and Australia, after they took similar steps over the territory’s controversial new security law. The foreign ministry spokesman accused the countries of “gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.

Ecuador on alert over huge Chinese fishing fleet off Galapagos Islands  (July 29, 2020, BBC)
Patrols are trying to ensure the fleet – which is made up of around 260 vessels – does not enter the delicate eco-system from international waters. Chinese vessels travel to the region each year in search of marine species. 

Hong Kong students arrested under national security law  (July 29, 2020, BBC)
Four students have been arrested in Hong Kong in the first police operation to enforce China’s new national security law for the territory. The four were detained for “inciting secession” on social media after the new law began on 1 July, police said. A pro-independence group said those arrested included its former leader, Tony Chung.


National Religion Surveys of China  (July 27, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
As I mentioned in my previous blog, anyone interested in the growth of the church in China has been limited by sparse statistics with a lot of estimation mixed in. Since the start of the 21st century, in addition to case studies and limited research in local areas, there have been two nationwide studies of the current situation and growth of the Christian religious population.

Pray for Flood Victims in China  (July 28, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
Over the past several months, regions in southern China have been experiencing severe flooding. According to some reports, flooding like this has not been seen in decades. Millions of people have been affected. This article from China Christian Daily calls on Christians to pray that the floods would subside and that relief would quickly be brought to those in need.

One Virus, Two Cities  (July 29, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
So what does this modern-day tale of two cities have to do with our China stories? In a tragic way, this contrast reveals the dangerous assumption underlying our needy church narrative. This narrative views China and its church in terms of what is missing. It encourages foreign believers to meet these needs through their material support or expertise. If only China had what we have, so the story goes, it would be a better place.

Society / Life

The Backstory of China’s Real-Life ‘Farewells’  (July 23, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Chinese families often prefer to keep sick members in the dark, but their reasons for doing so are as much practical as cultural.

The Uighurs of China: A People in Peril  (July 23, 2020, The Gospel Coalition)
The Uighurs (pronounced “Wee-gers”) are a Central Asian people group relatively unknown to the Western world. The majority of them live in northwest China, in an area known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, which is their ancestral homeland. Xinjiang is home to about 10 million Uighurs.

Shenzhen Mandates Mandatory Microchipping for Pet Dogs  (July 27, 2020, Sixth Tone)
From October, pet dogs must be microchipped with unique 15-digit codes linked to their owners’ name and contact details, as well as information about the canine, according to the report, which cited the city management bureau. 

Floating Life: China’s Flood Victims Pick Up the Pieces  (July 28, 2020, Sixth Tone)
In the eastern Jiangxi province, villagers face an uncertain future after the country’s worst flooding in decades.

Video: Seeking a better life, young people in China escape cities and return to their hometowns  (July 29, 2020, Inkstone News)
These men in China gave up their careers in first-tier cities to return to their hometowns. They started businesses, hoping to achieve work-life balance.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s Tencent is now bigger than Facebook after adding around $200 billion to its value this year (July 29, 2020, CNBC)
Tencent is known for its popular mobile games but also for running WeChat — China’s most popular messaging app with over a billion users. WeChat has a social media feature called Moments where users can post pictures, videos and links. And Tencent makes money from advertising through Moments.


New Credit System for Foreign Teachers Could Be Coming  (July 23, 2020, The Beijinger)
Up to now, foreigners have been exempt from China’s experimental social credit system, designed to keep citizens accountable for their actions. However, if proposed legislation drafted by the Ministry of Education (MoE) is passed, foreign teachers – whether they work at a language training center or international school – could find themselves with a credit system of their own.

Washington confirms suspension of Fulbright programme for Hong Kong, mainland  (July 25, 2020, South China Morning Post)
In an email sent to US scholars preparing to take part in the programme, the US state department said the 2020-21 exchange “will not operate”, though participants would be allowed to apply to take part in different countries.

Health / Environment

China’s changing health system  (July 22, 2020, South China Morning Post)
There are many challenges China’s health care system is facing during the pandemic, but drug developers and tech firms are among the forces fighting the country’s worst public health crisis in two decades.

Video: China’s Coronavirus Coverup  (July 27, 2020, BBC)
Did China hide crucial information about Covid-19 from the world? What began with a handful of mystery pneumonia cases in Wuhan late last year has now left more than half a million dead worldwide. Beijing says it has been open and transparent throughout, but former BBC China Editor Carrie Gracie investigates how it delayed reporting the initial outbreak and evidence that Covid-19 could be spread by people.

Head of China CDC gets injected with experimental vaccine  (July 28, 2020, AP)
The head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention says he has been injected with an experimental coronavirus vaccine in an attempt to persuade the public to follow suit when one is approved.

China reports 101 new Covid-19 cases, the highest daily spike in months, as regions try to control outbreaks  (July 29, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Most local infections on mainland China were in the far western region of Xinjiang, which had a spike of 89 cases. About half the cases were identified as asymptomatic infections, the commission said.

Amid catastrophic floods, China’s dams come into question  (July 29, 2020, The Los Angeles Times)
The floods have so far affected more than 54 million people, including 3.7 million displaced and 158 people dead or missing. The surging waters have destroyed 41,000 houses and damaged 368,000 more, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management. Death tolls and battered homes are fewer than in previous years, but displacement and economic loss are far higher.

Science / Technology

China Launches Ambitious Mission To Mars  (July 23, 2020, NPR)
A heavy-lift Long March-5 roared off a launch pad on Hainan Island on Thursday carrying China’s hopes for its first successful Mars mission — an ambitious project to send an orbiter, lander and rover to the red planet in one shot.

History / Culture

US consulate in Chengdu at centre of two key moments in China’s history  (July 29, 2020, South China Morning Post)
What do the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu and an attempted defection to the same American mission by a senior Chinese official eight years ago have in common?

Travel / Food

Xi’an!  (July 24, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
It’s hard to know where to begin when writing about Xi’an, one of China’s most ancient cities. I suppose I can do what I’ve done in other posts in this series, and tell about my first visit to Xi’an—Christmas of 1984. It was my first Christmas in China and I have often commented that it was my most miserable Christmas ever. That may be a bit harsh, but it certainly ranks up there as one of the stranger Christmases I’ve experienced in my life.

Waves of Change  (July 25, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Why was I thousands of kilometers away from my home in Beijing, speeding down the coast of a small island in the Taiwan Strait? I was spending a few days in Pingtan (平潭) county, an archipelago in Fujian province which runs daily ferries to Taichung and Taipei.

“That’s Not Bing! It’s Roti!”: When Indian and Chinese Food Unite  (July 26, 2020, The Beijinger)
And I was amazed when I found a few culinary delights here to have similarities with what I can find back in India. Though they differ in flavor and taste, the visual looks and preparation techniques of these dishes have many similarities.

The real heat in India-China ties: Desi Chinese food, from Sichuan dosas to chicken Manchurian  (July 26, 2020, South China Morning Post)
India-China relations  may be at one of their lowest points in years, but there is an enduring love for one thing south of the border that is unmistakably Chinese: the cuisine.

Chinese Food for Dummies, Region by Region  (July 28, 2020, Radii China)
Chinese food has historically been divided into “eight great” regional cuisines, a term used to designate the country’s most important culinary traditions. But people have since come to realize that these categories don’t even come close to capturing Chinese food’s nuances. The country’s cuisines are a complicated tapestry of influences that change as rapidly as its people do.

Language / Language Learning

Diversify how you study Chinese to learn more  (July 28, 2020, Hacking Chinese)
Instead, I mean that everything that I did with the purpose of improving my Chinese added up to more than 80 hours. That includes speaking with people around me, listening to podcasts, as well as reading everything I could find, such as short stories on my phone, post-it notes pasted all over my apartment and classical Chinese written in my shower. 

Pray for China

July 30, 2020 (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: needpix.com
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