ZGBriefs | June 17, 2021

ZGBriefs is for those who want and need to keep up on what is happening in China, but don’t have the time to monitor and track it all. We monitor more than 50 different news sources and curate the most relevant and interesting stories out of China each week. Topics include government, religion, society, economics, education, travel, and language, and books.


Featured Article

Covid outbreaks in Chinese ports could cause global goods shortages (June 16, 2021, The Guardian)
An outbreak of Covid-19 in southern China has combined with the rapid reopening of the world economy and a shortage of shipping containers to cause a surge in transport costs that could fuel inflation and cause shortages of goods across the globe.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

How China went from celebrating ethnic diversity to suppressing it (June 10, 2021, The Guardian)
The brutal clampdown in Xinjiang represents an about-face from the communist party’s original approach to cultural differences.

China’s New Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law Sends A Chill Through The Business Community (June 11, 2021, NPR)
Over the last three years, the U.S. and the European Union have imposed a series of sanctions on Chinese officials and companies. Now China has created a new legal tool to hit back. Organizations with a foot in both the United States and China may face a tough choice going forward: By complying with American sanctions on China, they face the possibility of tough sanctions in China as a penalty for doing so.

‘Xi Jinping is my spiritual leader’: China’s education drive in Tibet  (June 11, 2021, Reuters)
Under clear blue skies, rugged peaks and the spectacular Potala Palace, one image is ubiquitous in Tibet’s capital city Lhasa: portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and fellow leaders. In a rare and tightly chaperoned government tour of the region last week, a Reuters journalist saw the portraits in classrooms, streets, religious institutions, houses, and the bedroom of a Buddhist monk.

China Sends A Record 28 Military Planes Into Airspace Controlled By Taiwan (June 15, 2021, NPR)
China has flown 28 warplanes into Taiwan-controlled airspace, the biggest sortie of its kind since the Taiwanese government began publishing information about the frequent incursions last year. The flights are widely seen as part of an effort by Beijing to dial up pressure on Taiwan, a self-governed democracy of about 24 million people off the Chinese coast that the Chinese government considers a part of China.

Macau Shuts Down Representative Office in Democratic Taiwan Amid Souring Ties (June 16, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
The move comes weeks after Hong Kong shut down its representative office in Taipei, responding to the Taiwan government’s setting up of an office to process applications for political asylum for Hong Kong residents fleeing a broadening crackdown on dissent and political opposition under a national security law imposed by Beijing from July 1, 2020.

Leader Carrie Lam says Hongkongers must defend leadership of China’s Communist Party (June 16, 2021, Hong Kong Free Press)
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has defended comments made by Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong, that people who advocate an “end to one party rule” in mainland China pose a threat to “one country, two systems.” Hong Kong people need to defend the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and respect the country’s constitution in order to ensure the implementation of “one country, two systems,” Lam told a press conference on Tuesday.


Church in China. Or Churches in China? (June 11, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
It is easy to have a simplistic view of churches in China, highlighting the two main categories: registered (Three-Self) and unregistered (house church). But that dichotomy belies the complexity of the expressions of Christianity in China. So, when talking about the “church in China,” what are we talking about?

The Chinese Church in Transition (June 14, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
In my view, from the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 to the present, the development of the Chinese church (primarily the house church) has gone through roughly three phases.

In The Midst of a Great Storm (June 14, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
his article was written by Brother Fan, an intern evangelist at a church in southwest China. It is a devotional meant to be used by those in the midst of persecution. Brother Fan wrote this reflection after he was beaten while trying to visit Preacher Yang at the police station. Preacher Yang is a pastor at Brother Fan’s church who has recently been detained by police each weekend in order to prevent his participation in Sunday worship. 

Making Christ Present in China: Some Notes and Comments (June 16, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
There are many groups that call themselves Christian in China, but some of them hold beliefs that do not match what most Christians believe. Some, for instance, believe the Holy Spirit is a female incarnation of Christ; some rewrite their own scriptures. 

Society / Life

Young Chinese Urbanites Are Coming Up With Novel Ways to Grow Vegetables at Home (January 11, 2021, Radii China)
But deep down, many young Chinese people still dream of a life in the countryside. As such, they build a vegetable garden in their apartment to balance out the stress of work and their personal lives. The presence of vegetables and plants also works to spark inspiration as many young gardeners share visuals of their gardening process on social media, where small communities of growers have sprouted.

The Millennial Cadres Running China’s Neighborhoods (June 12, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Highly educated and professional, the new generation of low-level officials is stressed out and frustrated about their limited career prospects.

At least 12 killed in huge gas explosion in central Chinese city (June 13, 2021, CNN)
At least 12 people were killed in a huge gas explosion in central China on Sunday, state media reported. The blast took place at about 6:30 a.m. local time in the Zhangwan district of Shiyan city, in Hubei province, according to local authorities. Authorities have rescued 138 from the area, including 37 with serious injuries, according to state-run news outlet CCTV, quoting local officials.

The buzzwords reflecting the frustration of China’s young generation (June 14, 2021, BBC)
In China, the rat race begins almost the minute you are born – from getting into a good school to getting that prestigious job. But millions now want to break free of this cycle, with two words shedding a light on the frustration felt by the younger generation.

China Goes After Online Fan Groups Amid Clampdown Ahead of Centenary (June 16, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
China’s internet regulator is cracking down on verbal abuse and “rumor-mongering” among fan groups on social media, a move which commentators say will include further suppression of any speech considered politically sensitive by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but also forms part of an ongoing war on celebrity culture.

Remembering Those Who Returned (July 16, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Chinese emigration is often framed as a unidirectional search for freedom and prosperity elsewhere. For most migrants, the dream was always to return home.

Economics / Trade / Business

What China’s Three-Child Policy Means for Foreign Companies (June 6, 2021, China Law Blog)
One area of specific concern for companies, especially foreign ones, is how China will adjust labor and other laws in support of its new policy. Chinese mothers are entitled to 98 days of maternity leave, which local laws turn in practice to anywhere from 128 to 365 days. What if that one-year period becomes the national standard (or that of the province where your company operates)?

Understanding China’s Young Consumers (June 11, 2021, Harvard Business Review)
Everybody talks these days about the economic power of the younger generations in China—and for good reason. China’s under-40 population is a force to be reckoned with. But how do China’s younger generations compare to the younger generations in other countries? It’s not so easy to make comparisons—but in this article, Zak Dychtwald offers a helpful framework for doing just that.

How Hangzhou Helped Jack Ma Build a Digital Empire (June 14, 2021, The World of Chinese)
The rags-to-riches story of Ma Yun (马云), or Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, might not have happened if he had been born elsewhere: “Hangzhou is the Eden of Alibaba,” the legendary entrepreneur once wrote, “Without Hangzhou, there is no Alibaba.”

Open for business? The trouble with bringing down mainland China’s coronavirus travel barriers (June 14, 2021, South China Morning Post)
The country is racing to vaccinate the public and reach herd immunity to prevent imported cases getting a foothold. But there is no sign that restrictions will ease for travellers any time soon, diplomats say. (subscription required)


Students Fret as Guangzhou Postpones Entrance Exam Over COVID-19 (June 16, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Tens of thousands of students in Guangzhou preparing to take the high school-entrance exam next week will be required to wait a little longer, as the city has postponed the tests amid its COVID-19 outbreak. Gu Zhongpeng, deputy director of the city’s education bureau, said Monday that the zhongkao had been deferred for safety reasons to reduce people’s movements and avoid large gatherings given the area’s ongoing virus outbreak.

Health / Environment

Chinese researchers find batch of new coronaviruses in bats (June 10, 2021, CNN)
Chinese researchers said Thursday they had found a batch of new coronaviruses in bats including one that may be the second-closest yet, genetically, to the Covid-19 virus. According to the researchers, their discoveries in a single, small region of Yunnan province, southwestern China show just how many coronaviruses there are in bats and how many have the potential to spread to people.

China’s Wandering Elephants Are On The Move Again. Are They Headed Home? (June 12, 2021, NPR)
China’s famed wandering elephants are on the move again, heading southwest while a male who broke from the herd is still keeping his distance. The group left a wildlife reserve in the southwest of Yunnan province more than a year ago and has trekked 500 kilometers (300 miles) north to the outskirts of the provincial capital of Kunming.

A Top Virologist in China, at Center of a Pandemic Storm, Speaks Out (June 14, 2021, The New York Times)
The virologist, Shi Zhengli, said in a rare interview that speculation about her lab in Wuhan was baseless. But China’s habitual secrecy makes her claims hard to validate. (subscription required)

Science / Technology

China Taishan plant: ‘Performance issue’ reported at nuclear facility (June 15, 2021, BBC)
A French energy company says it is working to resolve a “performance issue” at a nuclear plant in China following claims of a potential leak. EDF Energy confirmed that gases that had built up in a component of the plant were deliberately released. A spokesperson said this was because of a fuel rod problem.

3-2-1: Chinese astronauts to blast off to new space station (July 16, 2021, Christian Science Monitor)
Three astronauts are scheduled to lift off Thursday morning from China, marking its first crewed flight in five years. This journey to China’s space station opens up new territory for peaceful cooperation or greater competition among world powers. 

History / Culture

Video: Kowloon at night in 1985 (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

How Ping-Pong Turned the Tables of the Cold War (June 10, 2021, Sixth Tone)
A fateful encounter at a table tennis contest in 1971 helped end the United States’ trade embargo on China and pave the way for President Nixon’s historic visit.

Dragon Boat Festival keeps the beast at bay (June 14, 2021, China Daily)
For the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, getting rid of disease, avoiding disasters and wishing for good health are the core ideas.

Shi Meiyu Celebrated the Image of God in Chinese Healthcare (June 16, 2021, Break Point)
Christianity has always been concerned about body and spirit, mind and matter, the spiritual and the physical. This was why wherever Christianity spread, believers established hospitals and schools alongside churches. In China, for example, Western medicine was an essential ingredient of the growth of Christianity. Many important Chinese Christians were first introduced to Christianity and Western learning via medicine.

The profound legacy of China’s Whampoa Military Academy (June 16, 2021, Sup China)
The academy’s staff was a combustible blend of Communist and Nationalist officers. Chiang Kai-shek, who would go on to lead the anti-Communist wing of the party, was the first commandant, but his presence was balanced by Zhōu Ēnlái 周恩来, who headed the political department.

Red tourism sees boom over holiday (June 16, 2021, China Daily)
The popularity of Red tourism soared during the recently completed Dragon Boat Festival holiday, as trips to attractions highlighting the history of the Communist Party of China saw a surge in visitors. 

Travel / Food

China’s Long History of Eating Raw Fish (June 11, 2021, The World of Chinese)
Sashimi may now be considered a classic Japanese dish, but China has its own ancient tradition of consuming raw fish. It’s a long history, stretching back as far as the Zhou dynasty (1046 – 256 BCE), with the delicacy becoming increasingly fashionable over the centuries. Although its popularity waned when diners and doctors began to link a number of diseases to its consumption, some places, particularly in the south, have maintained China’s raw fish-eating traditions.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

‘The Ark’: Inside a Chinese hospital during COVID-19 (June 11, 2021, Sup China)
Dan Wei’s documentary, filmed during the pandemic, doesn’t put the coronavirus front and center. Instead, it’s an up-close look at Chinese healthcare, as experienced by an elderly patient and her family.

Shanghai Int’l Film Festival Opens With Pride and Patriotism (June 11, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Disrupted by the pandemic last year, the city’s annual cinema event returns with full-capacity attendance and special screenings to mark the party centenary.

Jeremy Lin Leaves NBA, Returns to Beijing Ducks (June 15, 2021, Radii China)
Now, Lin has announced his return to the Beijing Ducks. The star is far from crestfallen, though — he’s approaching his new chapter with excitement (as he once told us, this was always part of the plan).


Beijing from Below: A Conversation with Harriet Evans (June 15, 2021, Made in China Journal)
In her new book, Beijing from Below: Stories of Marginal Lives in the Capital’s Center (Duke University Press, 2020), Harriet Evans captures the last gasps of subaltern life in Dashalar, one of Beijing’s poorest neighbourhoods.

Links for Researchers

Jude Blanchette on the Chinese Communist Party at 100 (June 11, 2021, MERICS)
In this interview, Jude Blanchette, Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington answers questions on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at 100. He talks about the sources of the party’s resilience, its integration into Chinese society – and whether it has the wherewithal to make China a superpower by the middle of the century.

The CCP’s next century: expanding economic control, digital governance and national security (June 15, 2021, MERICS)
In this MERICS Paper on China, MERICS experts Nis Grünberg, Katja Drinhausen, Mikko Huotari, John Lee and Helena Legarda look at three key aspects of CCP governance: The integration of the economy under politics, the role of digitalization and the securitization of international relations. 

Pray for China

June 20 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On June 20, 1999, Pastor Yang Yudong (杨毓东牧师) went to be with the Lord at age 80. Pastor Yang served four years of hard labor (1958-62) for being a rightist and another 13 years (1966-79) for being a counter-revolutionary. He was removed from his pulpit at Beijing’s Three Self Gangwashi Church by police on Dec. 4, 1994, after revival began among many young people. Pray for persecuted Christians to know that the Lord is near and all his commandments are true. They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law. But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true. Psalm 119:150-151

Image credit: Ian Taylor, via Unsplash
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