ZGBriefs | June 21, 2018

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Featured Article

The Hidden History of Shanghai’s Jewish Quarter (June 13, 2018, Atlas Obscura)
It’s common knowledge that as Hitler’s bid to rid the world of Jews escalated, so did the world’s refusal to let them in. What’s not well known is that when those borders, ports, doors, windows, and boundaries began shutting Jews out, in part by refusing to issue them visas, Shanghai, though already swollen with people and poverty, was the only place on Earth willing to accept them with or without papers. It was an exception that, for thousands, meant the difference between life and death.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Exiled in the U.S., a Lawyer Warns of ‘China’s Long Arm’ (June 15, 2018, The New York Times)
From his suburban home in New Jersey, Teng Biao has watched in frustration as what he sees as the apologies to China from Western companies have come fast and furious this year.

‘Ruling Through Ritual’: An Interview with Guo Yuhua (June 18, 2018, New York Review of Books)
In my heart, [I feel that] the Chinese model doesn’t have any special characteristics. It doesn’t offer anything special. And I don’t have high standards. All I want is for China to be a normal country.

Beijing Is Holding U.S. Citizens ‘Hostage’ in China (June 18, 2018, The Daily Beast)
In its ongoing campaign to extend its reach beyond its borders, the Chinese government has found a new form of leverage: American citizens in China. […] The total number of so-called exit bans placed on U.S. citizens in China is unknown, but at least two dozen cases have occurred within the past two years, according to one analyst’s estimate.

China’s trillion-dollar sharp power play (June 18, 2018, Sydney Morning Herald)
It’s a new economic order. It’s rewriting the political map. More than 70 countries, a trillion dollars and virtually limitless ambition are bound up in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. But is this a benign economic plan or the rise of a new empire? And how will it affect us?

China is using terrorist threats to culturally cleanse its west (June 18, 2018, East Asia Forum)
China’s concerns with terrorism are almost entirely focused on the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Xinjiang’s geopolitical position at the eastern edge of the Islamic and Turkic-speaking world and the ethno-cultural distinctiveness of its largely Turkic-Muslim ethnic groups have constituted a challenge to the centralising imperatives of successive Chinese governments.

China-based campaign breached satellite, defense companies: Symantec (June 19, 2018, Reuters)
A sophisticated hacking campaign launched from computers in China burrowed deeply into satellite operators, defense contractors and telecommunications companies in the United States and southeast Asia, security researchers at Symantec Corp said on Tuesday.

Kim Jong-un meets Xi Jinping for third time (June 19, 2018, The Guardian)
On Tuesday, the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV showed Kim and Xi holding talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, usually used for formal state visits. Analysts believe Kim is in China to brief Xi on the summit, seek economic assistance, as well as pay deference to Beijing, which is eager to emphasise its role in talks between North Korea, the US, and South Korea.

Chinese Embassy Lashes Out Over Australian TV Segment (June 19, 2018, China Digital Times)
Amid heated debate over PRC influence in Australia, the country’s edition of 60 Minutes asked "Is China taking over the South Pacific?" in its broadcast on Sunday.

Chinese Influence Operations in the Democratic World (June 20, 2018,Hudson Institute)
Key to this effort is the United Front, a “magic weapon” strategy that seeks to build mutually beneficial relationships with well-placed western business men, political officials and donors, and members of the Chinese diaspora community in order to make the “foreign serve” the CCP goals.

Did America Get China Wrong? (July/August, 2018, Foreign Affairs)
Although Campbell and Ratner have legitimate reasons to be dismayed at the direction of the U.S.-Chinese relationship, their Chinese counterparts may be equally disillusioned with, and probably more perplexed by, the United States. (registration required)


The Influence of Denominations on Church Organizational Structure in China (June 11, 2018, ChinaSource Quarterly)
In recent years, as the Chinese church has grown, more urban churches have begun promoting church organization and structure. This has not always been the case. For a long time, continued government persecution drove the church underground and cut off connections between denominations.

Denominationalism—A Double-edged Sword (June 11, 2018, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Denominationalism in thought and action is very popular in the current Chinese church—and very harmful. Churches are dividing and falling apart because of it as well as undermining one another and accusing one another. How to assist and respect one another, learning humility to carry out Christ’s work, is a question that urgently needs to be answered.

Interview w/ Jiangyin Pastor (June 14, 2018, China Partnership, via YouTube)

The CCP’s Plan to 'Sinicize' Religions (July 14, 2018, The Diplomat)
As the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) repression of faithful Chinese continues to worsen, a brief review of the statements of Chinese officials regarding China’s religious policies can help shed light on the overall direction that these policies are likely to take through 2018 and beyond.

Is China Changing? Religious practices in Tibet (June 14, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
In the recent months and years, there has been in a tightening of State control over religious institutions. Further, most of the monasteries have now become tourist attractions under the control of local administration.

Returnee Referral Systems (June 15, 2018,ChinaSource Blog)
Many returnees convert to Christ while they are abroad. In addition to exposure to a foreign way of life, they begin a new life in Christ and proceed on their life journey as a Christian. They start to learn the truth and unique values of Christianity. With time and maturity, their perspective on life will change.

Vatican, China in new round of talks on appointment of bishops (June 15, 2018, Reuters)
The talks between the two delegations, the first since a meeting in Beijing in December, took place quietly in Rome in recent days, the sources said. The Vatican has not announced the talks.  Vatican sources said there was still no clear idea on when the deal could be signed but that the dialogue was continuing.

Playing the Long Game? The Politics of Religious Revival in China and Tibet (June 15, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
In this sense, “religion” (zongjiao) in governmental discourse rarely refers to any sense of popular or individual practice, but instead to public or private institutions that project authority and could feasibly sway public opinion or action.

Chinese Islam in the City (June 18, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
There are two major forces pressing on Chinese Muslims. The first is the massive urbanization in search of a better life that results in exposure to global forces.

Peace in Detention (June 19, 2018, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
Because our aim in Chinese Church Voices is to present a variety of views from Chinese Christians, and to highlight articles and posts that that are generating discussion within China, we have chosen to translate this account of a believer’s experience in detention. We would like to warn readers that this account may be difficult for some to read.

China’s Next Big Thing (June 20, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
The “big thing” driving much of what we see today is a marked shift under President Xi Jinping toward greater social control. This shift affects all areas of life—not just religion—although its effects are certainly being felt among Christians in China, whether local or foreign.

Society / Life

Audio apps on the rise in China (June 12, 2018, China Daily)
As tight schedules prevent ever more Chinese commuters from focused reading, audio apps are becoming a popular alternative. Removed of time and space constraints, audiobooks and other audio entertainment programs are growing fast among millions of Chinese users.

Chinese life expectancy rises to 76.7 years (June 13, 2013, China Daily)
The life expectancy of Chinese rose to 76.7 years in 2017, according to government statistics. The infant mortality rate has decreased to 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, while the maternal mortality rate dropped to 19.6 per 100,000 births, said a statistics communique released by the National Health Commission.

Millennial Misery Fuels Online Pop Psychology (June 14, 2018, Sixth Tone)
In a country that struggles to talk about its feelings, web-based platforms are helping youngsters make sense of their emotions.

Wheelchairs Join Sharing Economy Hype, Puzzle Chinese Consumers (June 19, 2018, Sixth Tone)
China’s sharing economy has given birth to another form of pay-as-you-go transport — though this one’s targeting a somewhat niche market: On your next trip to a big-city hospital, you just might stumble upon a colorful row of shared wheelchairs.

15 injured in bus blast in southern China (June 19, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Passengers escaped through the vehicle’s windows as the bus erupted into a ball of fire in Leshan, Sichuan province, at around 6.30pm, throwing nearby pedestrians to the ground, according to footage aired by state broadcaster CCTV.

Fighting Talk: WeChat “Curse Groups” Face Crackdown After Netizens Vent Like Crazy (June 19, 2018, Radii China)
The online venting sessions allow users to show off their creative swearing skills and let off some steam before going about their real world daily lives as if nothing has happened, but Tencent has been left unimpressed by this latest use for their platform.

Photos: Playing to Win: A Rural Chinese Town Unwinds (June 20, 2018, China File)
Located in China’s eastern coastal Zhejiang province, Rui’an used to be predominantly rural. In 1987, as the Reform and Opening policy was taking hold, China’s State Council redesignated the county a “county-level city.” In the years since, consecutive waves of rapid urbanization have swept through the area. Industrial and commercial projects gobbled up farmland.

Construction completed on Beijing's '7th Ring Road' (June 21, 2018, China Daily)
Construction of the Capital Region Ring Expressway, a road of about 1,000 kilometers linking Beijing and nearby cities, was completed on Wednesday. The project is expected to improve air quality and boost economic growth in the capital as well as the wider Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Economics / Trade / Business

China eyes role as world’s power supplier (June 6, 2018, Financial Times)
Xie Qiuye, president of China’s Electric Power Planning & Engineering Institute, has been charged with developing an electricity plan for Laos, a nation struggling with a glut of electricity supply from Chinese-built dams on the Mekong river.

Yuan weakens further despite efforts by People’s Bank of China to stabilise exchange rate (June 18, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The yuan continued to weaken on Tuesday, after China’s central bank raised the daily fixing rate amid heightened worries about the China-US trade dispute. The People’s Bank of China set the daily midpoint rate at 6.4235 against the US dollar, up 71 basis points after the Chinese currency hit a five-month low on Monday.

President Trump Threatens Additional Tariffs On Chinese Goods (June 19, 2018, NPR)
Trump is suggesting new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. The move comes just three days after he detailed an initial $50 billion in imports that would be taxed an additional 25 percent.

Who are the Chinese Brands You Keep Seeing at the World Cup 2018? (June 20, 2018, Radii China)
But it’s not just fans who are travelling to Russia. Chinese brands are more present at the World Cup finals than ever before. So who are the names you keep seeing on the pitch-side hoardings?


Government Relies on Student Informants at China's Universities (June 14, 2018, Radio Free Asia)
Chinese authorities are stepping up their use of "student information officers" at colleges and universities across the country to serve as frontline informers on their classmates, RFA has learned. Informants report back to the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on the expressed opinions of their classmates and teachers, resulting in sanctions and sackings for government critics in higher education.

Chinese Mom Attends Son’s Classes to Help Him Graduate (June 19, 2018, Sixth Tone)
While teachers maintain that parents joining in lessons is helpful and healthy, experts say such invasive measures could hinder a child’s development.

Health / Environment

China Won’t Solve the World’s Plastics Problem Any More (June 20, 2018, Wired)
The country closed its doors to contaminated plastic, leaving the exports to be absorbed by neighboring countries like Vietnam, South Korea, and Thailand. And without the infrastructure to absorb all the waste that China is rejecting, the plastics are piling up.

Science / Technology

China's Social Media App WeChat Demands More Info From Users (June 14, 2018, Radio Free Asia)
An internet service user in Guangzhou who has technical knowledge of WeChat's functions told RFA that the app has evolved from a simple chat client to a form of spyware that monitors users' behavior. 

History / Culture

Photo: A cake shop in Kashgar, Xinjiang, 1908 (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

The Shanghai Mind (June 13, 2018, China Channel)
People have long talked about Shanghai being different from the rest of China. Beijing scholars in the 1920s coined the term haipai (Shanghai style) to criticize Shanghai’s self-obsessive modernity. Shanghai was a “bubble,” “a bastard child,” somehow not fully China.

China’s Red Collectors (June 14, 2018, Sup China)
Meet the Chinese collectors preserving memories from the Mao era — and the country’s erstwhile revolutionary spirit — through posters, badges, notebooks, clothing, stamps, photographs, periodicals, everyday items…and everything in between.

42 Found Photos That Capture Everyday Life of China in 1921 (June 15, 2018, vintage.es)

Travel / Food

Tibet plans aviation upgrades (June 12, 2018, China Daily)
Tibet will build three new airports to improve transportation and boost the economy in remote areas, according to civil aviation authorities in the region. The three airports will be in Lhunze county, Lhokha city; Dingri county, Shigatse city; and Burang county, Ngari prefecture, said Pedron, head of the Tibet Civil Aviation Administration, at a meeting in Lhasa on Friday.

360˚ Video: How to Make a Zongzi (June 18, 2018, Sixth Tone)

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Podcast: Fu King-wa: “Chinese censorship has evolved into full information control” (June 15, Mercator Institute for China Studies, via Soundcloud)
Internet censorship in China has evolved from just blocking websites into an elaborate system of information control, says Fu King-wa, Associate Professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the University of Hong Kong. 

Language / Language Learning

Denomination Names in Chinese (June 18, 2018,ChinaSource Blog)
As a follow-up to the current edition of ChinaSource Quarterly exploring the issue of denominationalism in China, I thought it would be a good time to tap into my inner Chinese teacher and present a brief language lesson. What, you might be wondering, are the Chinese names for some of the various denominations and sects in China?


The Shaping of Christianity in China Today - A Book Review (June 11, 2018, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The following two book reviews give Eastern and Western perspectives on a recent publication that looks at the external challenges, internal struggles, and responses to faith of Chinese Christians in Mainland China since 1949. The book being reviewed, Surviving the State, Remaking the Church: A Sociological Portrait of Christians in Mainland China by Li Ma and Jin Li was selected by the editor of the International Bulletin of Mission Research as one of the ten outstanding books of 2017 for Missions Studies.

Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall (June 13, 2018, China File)
Drawing parallels between censorship in China and the way information is manipulated in the United States and other democracies, Roberts reveals how Internet users are susceptible to control even in the most open societies. 

Links for Researchers

MERICS Belt and Road Tracker (Mercator Institute for China Studies)
Drawing on an extensive database of BRI projects, the MERICS Belt and Road Tracker provides informed analyses of BRI-related developments and trends. Apart from the database, which is updated regularly, the Tracker provides a wide range of regional and thematic maps to visualize the initiative’s scope and progress – as well as its setbacks.


The Collected Works of Watchman Nee (June 11, 2018, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The collected works of Watchman Nee are available:in Chinese at 倪柝声文集 (Collected Works by Watchman Nee); in English at Books by Watchman Nee, Living Stream Ministry.

Image credit: Ohel Moishe Synagogue, in the former Jewish ghetto of Shanghai, China, by Harvey Barrison, via Flickr

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource 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