ZGBriefs | July 9, 2020

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International students may need to leave US if their universities transition to online-only learning  (July 7, 2020, CNN)
International students who are pursuing degrees in the United States will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switch to online-only courses, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday. […] Visa requirements for students have always been strict and coming to the US to take online-only courses has been prohibited.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Canada suspends its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, eyes immigration boost  (July 3, 2020, Reuters)
Canada is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in the wake of new Chinese national security legislation and could boost immigration from the former British colony, top officials said on Friday.

Prelude to a China–India strategic showdown?  (July 5, 2020, East Asia Forum)
Will China seek to internationalise the latest confrontation? Possibly. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, further west in the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, has raised the stakes for Beijing in the entire region. Senior Chinese diplomatic sources have said that ‘good options’ for peace and tranquillity along the disputed Sino-Indian border in Ladakh could still be considered.

Xu Zhangrun: Outspoken professor detained in China  (July 6, 2020, BBC)
A professor who criticised China’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has been detained by authorities. Xu Zhangrun, who has been under house arrest, was taken away from his Beijing home on Monday, friends said.The law professor has previously spoken out against the Mao-like cult of personality which has returned under China’s current leader, Xi Jinping.

In Show Of Force, U.S. Navy Sends Aircraft Carriers To South China Sea  (July 7, 2020, NPR)
NPR’s Rachel Martin talks to Greg Poling of the Center for Strategic and International Studies about the deployment of two U.S. aircraft carriers to conduct exercises in the disputed South China Sea.

Chinese ambassador: UK ban on Huawei would damage trust  (July 6, 2020, The Guardian)
Speaking at a virtual press briefing in London, Liu Xiaoming warned Boris Johnson “you cannot have a golden era if you treat China as an enemy”. Liu also defended his country’s new national security law and derided the UK’s offer to provide up to 3 million Hong Kong people with a path to citizenship, describing the move as a gross interference in China’s affairs.

Hong Kong police given sweeping powers under new security law  (July 7, 2020, The Guardian)
The powers allow for the confiscation of property related to national security offences, and allow senior police to order the takedown of online material they believe breaches the law. The city’s chief executive can grant police permission to intercept communications and conduct covert surveillance. Penalties include HKD$100,000 (£10,300) fines and up to two years in prison.

Australians ‘at risk of arbitrary detention’ in China, government warns  (July 7, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Australia  has issued new travel advice for China warning its citizens they risk arbitrary detention on national security grounds, in a development likely to inflame simmering tensions between Canberra and Beijing. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Tuesday updated its website to warn Australians of heightened risks of travel in China. Relations are already strained by trade disputes, allegations of espionage and the new national security law for Hong Kong.

The spying game: China’s global network  (July 7, 2020, BBC)
The latest controversy to swirl around the Chinese telecoms company Huawei has shone a spotlight on the murky world of Chinese espionage, agent-recruitment and an ambitious programme of extending its influence across the globe. So how extensive is it, how does it work and who runs it?

FBI director: China is ‘greatest threat’ to US  (July 8, 2020, BBC)
The director of the FBI has said that acts of espionage and theft by China’s government pose the “greatest long-term threat” to the future of the US. Speaking to the Hudson Institute in Washington, Christopher Wray described a multi-pronged disruption campaign. He said China had begun targeting Chinese nationals living abroad, coercing their return, and was working to compromise US coronavirus research.

Hong Kong security law: Beijing security office opens in Hong Kong  (July 8, 2020, BBC)
The temporary base of the new office is a hotel in Causeway Bay, the commercial district next to Victoria Park, which had long been the focal point of pro-democracy protest marches and rallies in Hong Kong. An opening ceremony was held on Wednesday morning, attended by dignitaries including Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Zheng Yanxiong, the hardliner chosen by Beijing to head up the new office.

Hong Kong pupils banned from political activity  (July 8, 2020, BBC)
Students in Hong Kong are now banned from any political activity in schools including singing, posting slogans and boycotting classes, the territory’s education minister has said. Thousands of children became heavily involved in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy push last year.

Hong Kong’s tough top cop overshadows embattled leader Lam as China cracks down  (July 8, 2020, Reuters)
Chris Tang has been pivotal in dousing the protest movement that roiled Hong Kong last year. Beijing’s imposition of a security law gives him powerful new tools to quell dissent.


Does The Chinese Church Know How Important They Are? An Interview About the World Christian Encyclopedia  (July 2, 2020, China Partnership Blog)
We know the church is becoming more urban, and we know the church is becoming more male. Maybe because of that, the church is becoming wealthier. There is a movement toward denominations, which is the opposite of the movement that is happening in the West.

Vatican hits stumbling block on road to rebuilding ties with China  (July 6, 2020, South China Morning Post)
When Beijing and the Vatican  reached a provisional agreement in 2018 over who had the authority to appoint Roman Catholic bishops in China, it signalled a possible breakthrough in a troubled relationship stretching back six decades . It seems the signals were wrong.

6 Steps to Re-opening  (July 7, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
Many churches in China are in the process of resuming regular worship services in the wake of COVID-19. What precautions should these churches take as they prepare to open their doors? In this article from Gospel Times, Pastor Mu Xi gives six steps things to consider as churches re-open.

Society / Life

Cities Along Yangtze River Inundated by Severe Floods  (July 6, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Hubei province, the heart of the coronavirus outbreak in China, is now among the regions hardest-hit by the country’s worst floods in decades.

For Young Chinese, the Coolest Thing to Do in 2020 Is Retire  (July 8, 2020, Sixth Tone)
After months of lockdown, Chinese millennials are reassessing their priorities. And that’s leading to a surge of interest in Western early-retirement advocates like Mr. Money Mustache.

Gallery: River Consumes Centuries-Old Bridge  (July 8, 2020, Caixin Global)
A centuries-old stone bridge has been destroyed in a flood caused by days of torrential rains in Huangshan, East China’s Anhui province. First built in 1536, the Zhenhai Bridge had stood for more than 480 years before it collapsed Tuesday.

Economics / Trade / Business

Five cities to build distribution hubs for China-Europe railways  (July 7, 2020, China Daily)
China plans to invest 200 million yuan ($28.53 million) to build China-Europe railway distribution hubs in five cities of the country to better use railway sources and reduce costs, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner, on July 6. The five cities, namely Chengdu, Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Xi’an and Urumqi, are all major cities for China-Europe freight train service or key logistics channels.

China’s jobs problem runs deeper than the coronavirus  (July 7, 2020, CNBC)
As China grapples with rising unemployment and slowing growth, some say a needed economic boost could come from new business approaches to hiring.


‘Gaokao’ 2020: The Rights and Wrongs of China’s Dreaded Exam  (Sixth Tone)
China’s college entrance exam is designed to give every student a fair and equal chance of success. But in 2020, some are more equal than others.

How strained US-China relations are playing out in American universities  (July 4, 2020, South China Morning Post)
As bilateral ties between the two superpowers deteriorate, hundreds of thousands of mainland Chinese students at universities in the United States are caught in the middle. And as witnessed at New York’s University of Rochester, political discourse can often turn ugly.

China’s Confucius Institutes rebrand after overseas propaganda rows  (July 4, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Beijing is abandoning its Confucius Institute brand after a global backlash over censorship, switching to a new look as a centre for “language exchange and cooperation”. In a directive to lower-level agencies, the Ministry of Education said the Confucius Institute Headquarters, or Hanban, had changed its name to the Ministry of Education Centre for Language Education and Cooperation.

Gaokao Town  (July 7, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Maotanchang High School in Lu’an, Anhui province, has been hailed as a “gaokao factory.” It is known as one of the strictest, and best, in the country when it comes to preparing teens for the life-changing tests.

New U.S. Visa Rules Threaten to Deport 369,000 Chinese Students  (July 7, 2020, Bloomberg)
In order to keep their student visas, foreign nationals have to take in-person classes, according to ICE. The new guidelines quickly sparked rage and anxiety in China, which sends more students to U.S. schools than any other country.

More than 100 Chinese students ‘escape’ Victoria for NSW en route to China before border closure  (July 7, 2020, ABC (Australia))
At least 100 Chinese international students have “escaped” from Melbourne to Sydney ahead of the Victoria–NSW border closure, due to fears of being “stranded” and unable to catch flights home to China, according to travel agencies from the Chinese community.

English Exam Cheating Ring Busted in Shanghai  (July 8, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Twelve people have been sentenced to up to four years in prison after posing as students to take a Cambridge University-affiliated business English exam.

UK universities comply with China internet limits  (July 8, 2020, BBC)
UK universities are testing a new online teaching link for students in China – which will require course materials to comply with Chinese restrictions on the internet. It enables students in China to keep studying UK degrees online, despite China’s limits on internet access. But it means students can only reach material on an “allowed” list.

Health / Environment

China to End All Imports of Solid Waste From Next Year  (July 2, 2020, Caixin Global)
The ban rounds off years of tightening curbs on imported trash after spending decades as the world’s largest processor of recyclables. […]  China began importing large quantities of plastics, paper, metals, textiles and other waste in the 1980s to plug shortages of raw materials.

Bubonic Plague Case Sparks Health Alert in North China  (July 6, 2020, Caixin Global)
A city in North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region issued a health warning Sunday after a livestock herder contracted bubonic plague. The health commission of Bayan Nur announced a level three emergency, the second-lowest in a four-tier system. It ordered residents in the city of half a million people to stop hunting, skinning or transporting rodents and other animals known to carry plague, to report fevers of unknown causes, and to report sightings of dead marmots.

China Relaxes Exam Requirement for Village Doctors  (July 7, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The new rule aims to provide more employment opportunities while improving rural health care, but experts wonder how much it can help without additional incentives.

‘At war time speed’, China leads COVID-19 vaccine race  (July 7, 2020, Reuters)
China is forging ahead in the race to develop a vaccine to help control the COVID-19 pandemic, with Sinovac Biotech’s experimental vaccine set to become the country’s second and the world’s third to enter final stage testing later this month.

WHO’s coronavirus sleuths are heading to China but it may be too late to solve the pandemic’s mysteries  (July 8, 2020, ABC (Australia))
This week the World Health Organization (WHO) is sending in a team to China to investigate the origins of coronavirus, posing an unusual challenge to Beijing’s efforts to suggest COVID-19 came from abroad. Like previous WHO delegations to China, the mission itself is also shrouded in secrecy.

Science / Technology

China’s Great Firewall descends on Hong Kong internet users  (July 8, 2020, The Guardian)
Unveiling expanded police powers as part of a contentious new national security law, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech and force internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the law took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the last year of protests.

History / Culture

A collection: Yanbian University in 1949  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Tiananmen Square circa 1960s-70s  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

The Khitans and their Empire  (July , 2020, Barbarians at the Gate, via China Channel)
the Khitan were a proto-Mongol people from regions of present-day Mongolia and Northeast China, whose history stretches back to the 4th century. 

A Time Capsule From ‘Gaokao’ Gone By  (July 7, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Ren Shulin remembers photographing the “gaokao” in the late 1970s and early 1980s, just after the daunting test was reinstated.

Travel / Food

Frontier Foods: Cold Noodles and Cabbage Along China’s Border with North Korea  (July 2, 2020, Radii China)
Yet in China, from the eastern city of Shanghai to the northern city of Dandong, which borders the DPRK, diners can expect another well-documented scene to play out in restaurants specializing in North Korean food and kitsch ambiance. Behind blacked out windows, beautiful young hostesses allegedly picked for their loyalty to the ruling Kim Dynasty perform song and dance routines as diners feast on a range of Korean dishes in addition to tried and true Chinese classics.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

3 Questions: Far East Deep South: An Interview with Director Larissa Lam  (July 7, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Hearing Chinese speak with a southern accent and seeing meat barbequed in a backyard wok in the Mississippi Delta amazed me. I wanted to go and check it out, but I haven’t made it there yet. However, Larissa Lam and her family did, but for far more personal reasons—to discover her husband’s family’s southern roots. The result is a fascinating film that explores the Chinese immigration story from a little-known angle and includes a multitude of extraordinary details.

Language / Language Learning

Chinese Word Order 101  (July 6, 2020, The Beijinger)
Many Chinese learners struggle with word order when they are trying to make sentences in Chinese. Even some advanced students make grammatical mistakes from time to time, which is why it is extremely important to help beginners and intermediate students gain a solid understanding of word order in Chinese sentences. This article should help you get a general idea about some of the most basic Chinese sentence structures concerning word order.

Improving your Chinese while watching TV shows  (July 7, 2020, Hacking Chinese)
Watching TV is a great way to learn languages. It combines lots of useful Chinese words and phrases while providing rich context because of the visual nature of the medium.

Choice Chengyu: Words of Forgiveness  (July 8, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Throughout Chinese history, many chengyu have emerged that convey this spirit of forgiveness, though many also stress that mercy shouldn’t be given lightly, nor abused once it is offered.

Living Cross-culturally

The Importance of Filial Piety: Especially at a Distance  (July 8, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Those with a family identity often think that people who go far from home have family problems that they don’t want to deal with. The easiest way is to go to another location. The farther you go, the more you don’t want to address those problems. Therefore, our friends in Asia suspected that we did not want to take care of our family members, our parents in particular, and so we came to their country. They couldn’t understand that we had come for any other reason.


Training Laborers for His Harvest: A Book Review  (July 3, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
This book is a good read for anyone interested in the history of Christianity in China. The missionary called out in the title, William Milne, was the second missionary sent to China by the London Missionary Society and he joined the work started by Robert Morrison (who is known for producing the first Chinese translation of the Bible in 1822). 

Pray for China

July 11, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On July 11, 1924, Eric Liddell (李爱锐) became the first China-born athlete to win an Olympic gold medal. After refusing to run on Sunday in his best event, Liddell later set a world record while running a much longer event. Just before that race, a friend slipped him a note saying, “He that honors me, him will I honor” [1 Samuel 2:30] Liddell returned to China as a missionary in 1925, spending 12 years in Tianjin teaching at a Chinese boys’ school, 6 years in rural Xiaozhang as a evangelist, and his final years in Weifang in a Japanese prison camp. Pray for Chinese Christians to emulate Liddell in striving to be faithful and just in all circumstances. One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. Luke 16:10

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