ZGBriefs | June 11, 2020

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Featured Article

This US church with expansion in its DNA wants to open a temple in China  (June 6, 2020, CNN)
The Church claims it won’t change anything, but the idea that a US church with expansion in its DNA could open an official temple in China is likely to be controversial — and may not be allowed by Beijing. Already, authorities in Shanghai have suggested that the announcement was made without their prior approval, even as experts said the Church would likely never have revealed the plans without a clear go ahead.

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New ChinaSource Quarterly
Doing Missions with Chinese Characteristics: Developments in the Indigenous Missions Movement from China
This 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

China mobilises thousands of troops, armoured vehicles near border with India  (June 8, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The soldiers and armoured vehicles were transported from the central province of Hubei to an unspecified location in China’s northwest plateau, thousands of kilometres away, in “just a few hours”, according to state media reports over the weekend.

The Emperor’s New Buzzword  (June 8, 2020, China Media Project)
As the immediacy of the Covid-19 crisis has faded in China, the focus in the media coverage has turned to “the return to work and return to production” (复工复产). In the party-state media, the aggrandizing attention paid to Xi Jinping as the “leader,” or lingxiu (领袖), which cooled noticeably in February and March, is also now heating up once again.

Behind China’s Twitter Campaign, a Murky Supporting Chorus  (June 8, 2020, The New York Times)
Swarms of accounts are amplifying Beijing’s brash new messaging as the country tries to shape the global narrative about the coronavirus and much else.

Hong Kong autonomy and the National People’s Congress (June 9, 2020, East Asia Forum)
Hong Kong’s future is gloomy, but it should not be written off yet. It plays a vital role in the interface between the China and the rest of the world. Its future is not and never could be autonomy and most Hongkongers understand that.

Beijing fires warning shot as Britain reconsiders China ties  (June 9, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Relations between China and Britain are fraying amid growing concerns among British politicians about China’s economic influence and Hong Kong. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s tougher stance reflects increasing cross-party scepticism, while Chinese diplomats have not contradicted media reports that Beijing would retaliate if Chinese business activities are limited.

China-US rivalry in Africa fuelled by coronavirus  (June 9, 2020, BBC)
As Africa braces itself for a surge of coronavirus infections, both China and the US are claiming to be Africa’s greatest supporter, but there is more at stake in this escalating rivalry than simply tackling the virus, writes BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding.

Telling China’s Covid-19 Story  (June 10, 2020, China Media Project)
The notion of the “China story,” which dates back to a high-level internal meeting on propaganda and ideology in August 2013, has come to encapsulate the Party’s conviction that it must redress global imbalances in “discourse power,” or huayuquan (话语权), that favor the West and impact China’s fundamental interests internationally.

US admits relations with China are at ‘critical juncture’ as it reopens Wuhan consulate after coronavirus closure  (June 10, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The US consulate in Wuhan, the initial epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China, is set to reopen as conditions stabilise in the city. […]  The consulate in the central Chinese city closed in late January when China imposed a strict lockdown there as the virus spread. The US State Department evacuated its diplomatic staff and US citizens on chartered flights.

The US Position on Hong Kong’s Special Status  (June 10, 2020, China Briefing)
The US government has not yet enacted the new measures, and it is unclear how far they will go in altering the US’ relationship with Hong Kong. Regardless of the details, however, the US revocation of Hong Kong’s status could have wide-ranging repercussions for Hong Kong and its leading role in international trade and finance.

How Dependent is Germany on China?  (June 10, 2020, Echo Wall)
The importance of the trade relationship with China has encouraged the view in Germany that economic dependencies limit its choices in areas like human rights. But closer scrutiny suggests this might not be the case.


Hong Kong Christians Respond as Beijing’s Grip Tightens  (June 5, 2020, Christianity Today)
While Hong Kong churches and the many Christian organizations that play a vital role in the city’s social infrastructure continue to enjoy freedom as before, many have curtailed their outreach activities in mainland China. 

The Nuts and Bolts of IMM from China  (June 8, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
This issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly features some significant breakthroughs in the development of the Indigenous Mission Movement (IMM) from China.

Good Neighbor Model of Missions: A New Path for Wenzhou Evangelism  (June 8, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
This article is an English summary of an excerpt from the Chinese article, 好邻舍宣教模式 (“Good Neighbor Model of Missions”) by Qing Quan; the summary is by Brent Fulton. 

The “Wenzhou Model” and Missions from China  (June 8, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Wenzhou Christians, who have been planting churches throughout China and abroad for decades, stand out as a possible example of what the Chinese missions movement could become, prompting the question of whether the “Wenzhou Model” might be key to the future of such a movement.

Gender in changing Chinese religious life  (June 8, 2020, Stephen Jones: A Blog)
In my second post on Women of Yanggao I gave a brief introduction to studies of gender in Chinese religious life. Within this ever-growing scholarly field, here I’d like to introduce two substantial recent discussions, by Kang Xiaofei and Elena Valussi.

Be Open: What I Learned through My Church Experiences in China, Wheaton, and the World  (June 8, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
I was born and raised in an underground church in Shandong province, which was primarily influenced by Watchman Nee, Brother Lawrence, and Jean Guyon. The church had a unique mix of influences from the Local Church and Catholic Mysticism, yet the church did not preach much about theology, so I was not aware of what denomination it belonged to.

A Generation of Digital Nomads (2)  (June 9, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
Chinese youth are living in a world drastically different from a generation ago. In this article, Territory interviews “Barnabas,” one of the executives behind a major research project looking into the lives of Chinese young people today. What motivates young Chinese adults? What challenges are they facing? How should the church respond? Read on to discover how Chinese youth born after 1990 live in modern China.

Society / Life

Webinar video: The transformation of rural China  (May 20, 2020, Institute of Current World Affairs)
Five years ago, China’s Communist Party set a goal to completely eliminate the country’s deep and widespread rural poverty by 2020. How could such a staggering accomplishment even be possible? That’s what ICWA Levinson fellow Matthew Chitwood set out to find out during two years in a remote mountain village in southwestern Yunnan province, where he refurbished and lived in an abandoned mud-brick house.

Close to Home  (June 5, 2020, The World of Chinese)
In January 2020, under the threat of Covid-19, a billion people celebrated an atypical Chinese New Year at home. In the latest issue of our magazine, “Contagion,” we translated an essay by writer Mai Cang, originally published by 人间 The Livings, on the new perspectives he developed on his neighbors and the holidays while under “lockdown” in his home village.

Hong Kongers Hold Tiananmen Vigil, Defying Police Ban  (June 5, 2020, China Digital Times)
On Thursday, around 10,000 Hong Kongers defied a police letter of objection blocking the traditional public vigil for the June 4 crackdown. Others held public or private commemorations elsewhere.

China Goes Barking Mad for Therapy Dogs  (June 8, 2020, Sixth Tone)
A celebrity dog trainer known as China’s “dog whisperer” is recruiting thousands of canines to help children with autism.

9 Dead, 120,000 Relocated as Floods Ravage Southern China  (June 8, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The situation in Guangxi and neighboring provinces is “very severe,” with heavy rainfall expected to continue for the rest of the week.

The Ups and Downs of ‘Intensive Motherhood’ in Shanghai  (June 9, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Scrolling through Qian Fan, a child education forum for Shanghai parents with a reputation for being a bit extreme in their approach to childrearing, I realized that some of the most popular kindergartens in the city give priority to applicants who first attend so-called adult-accompanied infant courses at the school.

China is Suddenly Going Street Stall Crazy – But is a New Crackdown Looming?  (June 10, 2020, Radii China)
It happened seemingly overnight. Immediately after Premier Li Keqiang commented that the “stall economy” (地摊经济) was an opportunity for China to kickstart consumer spending in the wake of Covid-19, people have come out in droves to set up their own small vendor stalls. 

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s economy is still struggling to recover from the pandemic  (June 8, 2020, CNN)
China is trying to dig itself out of a steep economic slump. But as the rest of the world still battles with the coronavirus pandemic, the path to recovery is looking slow and painful. Exports in the world’s second largest economy last month dropped 3.3% in US dollar terms compared to a year ago, customs data released this weekend showed, reversing a 3.5% rise in April.

With China’s Economy Battered By Pandemic, Millions Return To The Land For Work  (June 8, 2020, NPR)
Since the coronavirus pandemic battered China’s economy, tens of millions of urban and factory jobs have evaporated. Some workers and business owners have banded together to pressure companies or local governments for subsidies and payouts. But many of the newly unemployed have instead returned to their rural villages. China’s vast countryside now serves as an unemployment sponge, soaking up floating migrant workers in temporary agricultural work on small family plots.


Stay or Go? COVID-19 Forces Students to Rethink Study Abroad Plans  (June 5, 2020, Sixth Tone)
All over China, students are deciding whether to move overseas for university. In the age of COVID-19, the choice is more complex than ever.

‘It’s the new Chinese Exclusion Act’: How a Trump order could hurt California universities  (June 7, 2020, The Los Angeles Times)
But universities are deeply concerned that the order could lead to vast overreach, wrongly shutting out students whose work is non-military, openly published and critical to American research efforts in fields ranging from climate change to energy storage.

China tightens int’l students’ application for universities, colleges  (June 10, 2020, Xinhua)
China will further tighten international students’ applications for undergraduate programs in Chinese universities and colleges in an effort to uphold education fairness, said a recently released circular.

Citing ‘Discrimination,’ China Advises Students to Reconsider Australia  (June 10, 2020, Sixth Tone)
China’s top education authority has warned students about the risks of attending Australian universities, citing concerns of growing racism against the country’s Asian community.

Universities hit back at China’s ‘unjustified’ warning to students that Australia is unsafe  (June 10, 2020, The Guardian)
The Group of Eight universities chief executive, Vicki Thomson, labelled the warning about Australia “disappointing” and “demonstrably untrue” – while the multicultural affairs minister, Alan Tudge, has suggested the ethnicity of participants on hit reality TV show Masterchef proves Australia is a harmonious society.

Health / Environment

Some 4 mln Chinese community workers guard against COVID-19: white paper  (June 7, 2020, Xinhua)
Dedicated and responsible, they meticulously protected their communities from the virus, taking body temperatures, screening for infection, disseminating government policies, and sanitizing neighborhoods, said the white paper “Fighting COVID-19: China in Action.”

China’s elderly caught in clash between culture and care  (June 7, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The two cases highlight the vulnerability of elderly people in China and the modern challenges of finding adequate professional care for senior citizens, a responsibility that is overwhelmingly shouldered by families.

Science / Technology

Zoom closes account of U.S.-based Chinese activist after Tiananmen event  (June 10, 2020, Axios)
Zhou Fengsuo, founder of the U.S. nonprofit Humanitarian China and former student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen protests, organized the May 31 event held through a paid Zoom account associated with Humanitarian China.

History / Culture

Part of China’s Great Wall not built for war: study  (June 8, 2020, AFP, via Yahoo! News)
The northern segment of the Great Wall of China was built not to block invading armies but rather to monitor civilian movement, an Israeli archaeologist said Tuesday. When researchers fully mapped the Great Wall’s 740-kilometre (460-mile) Northern Line for the first time, their findings challenged previous assumptions.

China’s rise and the legacy of Deng Xiaoping  (June 9, 2020, Asia Times)
Deng had two key objectives in pursuing this growth: to ensure the survival of the communist regime and to improve China’s geopolitical position.

Bird figurine is earliest Chinese artwork ever discovered, say experts  (June 10, 2020, The Guardian)
A tiny figurine of a bird, carved from burnt bone and no bigger than a £1 coin, is the earliest Chinese artwork ever discovered, according to an international team of archaeologists. The carving, less than 2cm in length, has been dated to the palaeolithic period, between 13,800 and 13,000 years ago, which pushes back the earliest known date of east Asian animal sculpture by more than eight millennia. 

Travel / Food

U.S. will allow Chinese passenger carriers two flights per week  (June 5, 2020, Reuters)
The United States will permit Chinese passenger air carriers to operate two flights per week after Beijing said it would ease coronavirus-related restrictions to allow in more foreign carriers, the U.S. Transportation Department said on Friday.

Taco Bell to Finally Open in Beijing After Years of Anticipation  (June 4, 2020, The Beijinger)
Fans of no-fuss Tex-Mex fast-food will be ecstatic to hear that the American chain, Taco Bell, is giving it a hard-fought run at breaking into the capital’s market. Awning for their new space, due to open in early September, went up outside Liangmaqiao’s upscale grocery store Hello Mart late last month.

Language / Language Learning

Podcast: The Common Tongue  (June 9, 2020, Barbarians at the Gate, via China Channel)
In this episode, Jeremiah Jenne and David Moser examine putonghua, the spoken Chinese language most people refer to as Mandarin. What is its history, and what does that say about competing national and regional identities in Chinese history?

How to get honest feedback to boost your Chinese speaking and writing  (July 11, 2020, Hacking Chinese)
Only other people can offer you feedback, which is what this article is about. Honest feedback is very valuable and much harder to get that you might think.


2020 China Books: China and the World  (June 7, 2020, China Channel)
This is part one of a series we are calling ‘2020 China Books.’ The series showcases books about China’s past that came out, or are coming out, in 2020. 

Monumental Memory  (June 10, 2020, The World of Chinese)
More poetic than didactic, much more scent than scar, Three Brothers: Memories of My Family does not aim for a comprehensive history of China in the 1960s and 70s, but sketches richly sensory vignettes of rural families weathering political storms.

Off We Go: A Book Review  (June 10, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
If you have children, one item on your to-do list before moving to the field is “Prepare our kids.” While it’s a right and noble goal, it can feel big and nebulous so it gets moved from one week’s to-do list to another week’s to another . . . until now. You can put “Get Off We Go” on your list and know that you have taken the first step towards preparing your children.

Links for Researchers

The party speaks for you: Foreign interference and the Chinese Communist Party’s united front system(Australian Strategic Policy Institute)
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is strengthening its influence by co-opting representatives of ethnic minority groups, religious movements, and business, science and political groups. It claims the right to speak on behalf of those groups and uses them to claim legitimacy.

Full Text: Fighting COVID-19: China in Action  (June 7, 2020, Xinhua)
China’s State Council Information Office on Sunday published a white paper titled “Fighting COVID-19: China in Action.”

2019 Report on International Religious Freedom: China (Includes Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Macau) (United States Department of State)


China Allies

These English translations of small group trainings give friends and family a window into part of what we’re doing, and hopefully provide something in English that people might find useful.


Worldview Seminar (China Academic Consortium)
This course is designed for those who seek to serve among the Chinese, whether in North America or in China, or to learn more about Chinese Worldviews. The course surveys the core teachings, history and development of Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Buddhism, folk religions and Christianity in China. Presenters will lecture about the impact of these traditions on Chinese thought and society today. 
Oakland, CA, June 28-July 5, 2020

Pray for China

June 14, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On June 14, 1978, Guangzhou house church pastor Lin Xiangao (林献羔牧师-Samuel Lamb) was released after serving 23 years in prison. His congregation quickly grew to several thousand. When he died in 2013, thirty thousand mourners attended the service. Pray for Christians in Guangzhou to persevere in preaching the Word. Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2

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