ZGBriefs | June 15, 2017

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

Pakistan says slain Chinese misused business visas, were missionaries (June 13, 2017, CNN)
The man, 24, and woman, 26, killed were among a group of Chinese citizens who obtained a business visa from the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing, the ministry statement said. Instead of doing business, it is alleged the pair went to the Pakistani city of Quetta and under the guise of learning Urdu from a Korean, they "engaged in preaching," the Pakistani statement said.

Sponsored Link

An Asian Harvest: The Autobiography of Paul Hattaway
Read the gripping testimony of how God took a hopeless life – "a waste of oxygen" according to his high school principal – and shaped him to become a best-selling author and used his ministry to supply more than ten million Bibles to believers in China.

Overseas NGO Law

Why foreign NGOs are struggling with new Chinese law (June 13, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Only about 1 per cent of the foreign NGOs believed to be operating in mainland China have registered as required by a new law, meaning that thousands could be operating in a risky legal limbo.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Panama Cuts Ties With Taiwan, Opts To Support China Instead (June 13, 2017, NPR)
Panama has announced that it is cutting ties with Taiwan and instead establishing relations with China. The shift is a major win for China as it seeks to isolate Taiwan, which now has diplomatic relations with just 20 countries.


Ready-made community: The growth ‎of Christianity in China (June 12, 2017, The Christian Citizen, via Medium)
In its pilgrimage on Earth, the church points the way to this ultimate reality, even as it seeks the welfare of the cities of its own time, as the church in China is doing, providing ready-made community and reaching out to those who have yet to hear the gospel.

Religion-state relationship, a legacy of the Confucian past, dubious about the anti-religious present (June 13, 2017, Herald Malaysia Online)
In pre-modern China, the emperor was the supreme leader in Confucianism. With a divine mandate, he controlled religions in an authoritarian manner. Today’s China controls institutions and believers, but has replaced the divine with Marxist theory.

A Three-Self Pastor Prays for Those Taking the "Gaokao" (June 13, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
While stress ran high, Chen Fengsheng, a Three-Self pastor in Wenzhou, offered this prayer for the gaokao season.

Reformation 500 Conference Voices: Yang Mingdao (June 14, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
I had three main takeaways from my time at the conference: my perspective on the Chinese church expanded, I better understood the vision of Grace to City, and I was personally challenged by my own involvement in this story.

Society / Life

In China, Video of Deadly Accident Reignites Debate Over Lack of Trust (June 9, 2017, The New York Times)
An agonizing traffic accident caught on surveillance cameras has reignited a debate in China about a lack of values and trust in society. The episode took place on April 21 in Zhumadian, a city in the central province of Henan. The graphic video, which was posted online Wednesday, shows a woman trying to cross a street on a crosswalk during what appears to be a red light for pedestrians.

Is philanthropy catching on among China's super rich? (June 9, 2017, BBC)
Experts say the challenges to philanthropic giving are numerous, including public scepticism, a lack of transparency and shortage of experienced talent. But Rupert Hoogewerf, who closely tracks the behaviour of China's super rich, agrees that charitable giving is changing quickly.

China Eastern plane lands at Sydney with hole in engine (June 12, 2017, BBC)
A China Eastern Airlines plane has had to turn back to Sydney airport after a technical failure which left a hole in an engine casing. Flight MU736 was heading from Sydney, Australia to Shanghai, but the pilot reported problems with the engine about one hour after taking off.

Matchmakers Give Chinese Seniors a Second Spring in Romance (June 13, 2017, Sixth Tone)
For those willing to take the plunge, though, help is at hand. Local communities abound with so-called hongniang — “red aunties” who act as matchmakers for China’s singletons. For those of a certain age, hongniang can provide an antidote to the solitude of the twilight years, drawing on informal friendship networks to supply single seniors with huanghun lian — “twilight love.”

Chinese Propaganda With Buddhist Characteristics (June 13, 2017, Outside-In)
But these were different. In terms of color and style, they seemed to be evoking traditional Buddhist art instead of socialist realism. I know that the government has been on a campaign to promote traditional culture and cultural values; this was the first I had seen it reflected artistically in propaganda.

Foreigners Are Photo Ops in China (June 14, 2017, PetaPixel)
If you’re a tall white guy walking around in touristy parts of China, there’s a good chance you may be stopped by random people and asked to pose for a photo. This strange phenomenon can be seen in this 3-minute video recorded a few years ago by comedian Paul Ogata. It’s titled, “Yes You May Photograph My White Guy.”

Do Street Protests Work in China? (June 14, 2017, China File)
Has the government in Shanghai become more responsive to public pressure? Given the Chinese Communist Party’s history of repressing public protest and the current leadership’s intolerance of dissent, what does this incident mean?

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s New Bridges: Rising High, but Buried in Debt (June 10, 2107, The New York Times)
China has built hundreds of dazzling new bridges, including the longest and highest, but many have fostered debt and corruption.

Culture Clash at a Chinese-Owned Plant in Ohio (June 10, 2017, The New York Times)
But with the explosion of investment has come unexpected trouble. At Fuyao, a major culture clash is playing out on the factory floor, with some workers questioning the company’s commitment to operating under American supervision and American norms.

China's Skyscraper Age Is Over (June 12, 2017, Bloomberg)
At more than 2,000 feet, Shanghai Tower is the world's second-tallest building. It looms over its neighbors — the world's ninth and 19th tallest buildings — in a supercluster of supertall structures unlike any other in the world. The only problem? Finding people to work there: Only 60 percent of Shanghai Tower is rented out, and only a third of current tenants have actually occupied their leased space.

China has a worrying habit of making business leaders disappear (June 14, 2017, CNN)
A top executive suddenly dropping off the radar would be alarming for any company. But in China, it's become a disturbingly familiar situation.


Chinese philosophy is missing from U.S. philosophy departments. Should we care? (May 18, 2017, The Conversation)
Consider the current coverage of Chinese philosophy by U.S. universities. Among the top 50 philosophy departments in the U.S. that grant a Ph.D., only four have a member of their regular faculty who teaches Chinese philosophy: Duke University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Riverside and University of Connecticut.

Studying in China? Law, culture, language classes are now compulsory (June 6, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Foreign students pursuing higher education diplomas in China will have to take compulsory courses in Chinese and about the country’s general conditions and culture starting from next month, the government announced on Monday.

Gaokao Superstitions (June 8, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Maybe it’s all that free time, but over the years, anxious parents waiting outside the testing center have come up with an ever-evolving list of superstitious rituals they and their offspring can perform in daily life before, during, or after the day’s exam activities to ensure all goes well.

Two Vermont colleges switch to 'university' to attract Chinese students (June 12, 2017, China Daily)
What's in a name change? When it comes to Johnson State College and Lyndon State College in Vermont, it's one word – dropping "college". And the reason: to improve marketing and attract higher-tuition paying foreign students, especially from China, a move that colleges and universities across America have been doing since the number of foreign students has surged.

Why ‘Gaokao’ Students Score Full Marks for Bad English (June 14, 2017, Sixth Tone)
While criticism of the gaokao has been well-documented, my concerns over the English writing section have little to do with the pressures on students or the long study hours. Instead, they are more holistic in nature: I believe the test fosters a set of writing skills that fails to adequately prepare students for actual university writing classes.

Good Enough for Gaokao? (June 14, 2017, The World of Chinese)
So, to give you an idea of what these kids faced, here is a question from the Beijing version of the exam this year for you to try out and see how you do.

Health / Environment

Experts Question China’s Ban on ‘Free’ Plastic Bags (June 13, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Today, however, some experts express concerns that the ban on free bags has turned into a business with little interest in curbing consumers’ wasteful habits. Rather than motivating consumers to bring their own reusable bags when they go shopping, critics argue that the ban instead means most just pay a small fee for plastic bags, usually around 0.3 yuan (4 cents) each, depending on size.

Nearly 14,000 Companies in China Violate Pollution Rules (June 13, 2017, The New York Times)
Environmental inspectors in northern China have found that nearly 14,000 companies, or 70 percent of the businesses they examined, failed to meet environmental standards for controlling air pollution, according to a state news agency report.

Science / Technology

Why QR codes are important to iOS 11 and China (June 14, 2017, MacWorld)
Why on earth would you want to use your iPhone’s camera to scan a two-dimensional block-and-dot code? How could this possibly have a benefit worth the trouble? Why would Apple have any interest in building this in as an automatic feature within its Camera app? Ask folks in China—and Japan, where advertisers, handset makers, and cell carriers pioneered 2D codes over 15 years ago.

U.S. weighs restricting Chinese investment in artificial intelligence (June 14, 2017, Reuters)
Of particular concern is China's interest in fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, which have increasingly attracted Chinese capital in recent years. The worry is that cutting-edge technologies developed in the United States could be used by China to bolster its military capabilities and perhaps even push it ahead in strategic industries.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Beijing Taxi: A Film Review (June 9, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
The film, directed by Miao Wang, a Beijing native who immigrated to the US in 1990, begins two years before the Olympics and follows the lives of three taxi drivers. Each of them shares their own perspective on Beijing’s transformation, China’s rise, and most importantly, what it all means to them. 

Chinese Translations of Upcoming Movies (June 9, 2017, The World of Chinese)
So to help, we take a look at seven English language films that are either showing now or coming up later this year and rate them on how good their Chinese title is for both Chinese and foreign audiences.

The Ultimate Guide to Mainland Chinese Cartoons (June 13, 2017, The Beijinger)
he mainland Chinese animation industry has rapidly developed, and there are a lot of shows to choose from. For this list, we tried confining our selections to animated shows for children recently produced in mainland China.

History / Culture

Video: 20th Anniversary of Hong Kong's Handover: Reflections and Expectations (June 13, 2017, Center for Strategic and International Affairs)

Travel / Food

Europe struggles to attract China’s fast-changing tourists (June 7, 2017 Politico)
She is part of a new generation of travelers that are turning away from the old model and stepping out on their own — sending Chinese agencies and European businesses scrambling to remain attractive to a lucrative, high-spending group of travelers that has the potential to be a serious boost to tourism.

Tourism: Uganda targets China’s travel market (June 12, 2017, New Vision)
A ten-man team from some of China's most authoritative travel agencies set foot in Uganda ahead of a 10-day familiarization trip around its top tourism attractions. 

Language / Language Learning

On the Character (June 11 2017,The World of Chinese)
In Chinese, the word for legend is 传奇 (chuánqí), with 奇 (qí) meaning “strange, unusual, or extraordinary,” but it’s with the passage, or 传 (chuán), of these legends that we shall concern ourselves.

Chinese Phrases to Get out of Those Sticky Cycling Accidents (June 11, 2017, The Beijinger)
According to the scenario, you find yourself in, use and listen for some of the following phrases to ensure the aftermath of an accident goes smoothly.

How to Make Friends With Your Taxi Driver (and Avoid Scams) (June 12, 2017, The Beijinger)
Taxi drivers will ask you where you want to go (你要去哪儿?nǐ yào qù nǎr?), to which you can either show them the address written down in Chinese characters or tell them in your best Chinese!


China's Eurasian Century? Political and Strategic Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative (National Bureau of Asian Research)
In this new monograph, Nadège Rolland (NBR) examines the drivers and goals of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and argues that the initiative reflects Beijing’s desire to shape Eurasia according to its own worldview and unique characteristics.

Courtyard Housing in China: Chinese Quest for Harmony (June 12, 2017, Journal of Contemporay Urban Affairs)
They are explorations of a new way to honor Chinese architectural history and philosophy, meanwhile, incorporating Western interior design principles to meet modern living requirements. This architectural acculturation represents Chinese sustained quest for harmony in their art of living. The paper finally proposes four designs of new courtyard garden houses for future practice.

An Unforgiving Mirror (June 14, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Reading Kathleen Lodwick’s How Christianity Came to China (Fortress Press 2016) was disturbing for two reasons.

Are China and the United States Headed for War? (June 19, 2017, The New Yorker)
If Etzioni seeks to tone down the threat of China’s rise to power, Howard French, a former Times correspondent in China and Japan, attempts to normalize it, in his “Everything Under the Heavens” (Knopf). The book, which I blurbed, is the only one under review that gives us a look at China from the inside as well as from the outside.

Links for Researchers

The PRC History Review (June 3, 2017)
We are very pleased to announce that the latest issue of The PRC History Review is now available.  This issue contains the third of our Roundtables — China from Without: Doing PRC History in Foregin Archives, edited by Arunabh Ghosh & Sören Urbansky, with contributions from Jennifer Altehenger, Fredy González, Jamie Monson, Nicolai Volland, Zuoyue Wang, and Dongxin Zou.


Chinese Worldview Today (ERRC)
This 7-day Denver Seminary-credited Intercultural Studies course is led by Dr. Kurt Selles from Calvin College, Michigan, along with six leading Chinese scholars. The course provides an overview of Chinese culture, including the historical development of Taoist, Confucian, and Buddhist thought and practice along with folk traditions and a look at how Marxism shapes the Chinese worldview today. Readings include Dr. Jackson Wu's "One Gospel for All Nations." Limited to 15 participants. Cost is 1700Y per person for 7 days. Class starts at 2pm on June 28 and ends at noon July 4.  For further information please contact <cac@errchina.com>

Image credit: Quetta Railway Station, via Wikimedia Commons
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