ZGBriefs | June 28, 2018

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Featured Article

Meet the five urban Chinas (June 20, 2018, Brookings)
While China’s cities are at the frontier of global growth, many of them are still little known to the world. And in a country this large, there is no one “city type.” Urban China is as complex and varied as the United States. To examine these variations, we classified the 103 Chinese cities in our report into five unique categories based on their size, industrial composition, and growth patterns.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Xi Jinping puts out a call to diplomats: toe the Communist Party line (June 25, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Analysts said the call was an effort to shore up decision-making power within the party as it seeks to override the interests of different agencies involved in the nation’s diplomatic affairs.

How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port (June 25, 2018, The New York Times)
The transfer gave China control of territory just a few hundred miles off the shores of a rival, India, and a strategic foothold along a critical commercial and military waterway.

Why Australia’s Parliament Is Going After China (June 26, 2018, The Weekly Standard)
The Espionage and Foreign Interference and Foreign Interference and Transparency Scheme bills will give intelligence agencies greater powers to prosecute foreign agents interfering in Australian decision-making processes, and force individuals and organizations to come clean when they are acting at the behest of external entities.

Xi tells Mattis China won't give up 'even one inch' of territory (June 26, 2018, Reuters)
China is committed to peace but cannot give up “even one inch” of territory that the country’s ancestors left behind, Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday during his first visit to Beijing.

Man charged with illegally exporting anti-submarine devices to China (June 27, 2018, CNN)
Shuren Qin, a permanent resident of the United States living in Massachusetts, was purportedly tasked in 2015 by the Xi'an-based Northwestern Polytechnical University (NWPU) -- which authorities call a "Chinese military research institute" -- to "obtain items used for anti-submarine warfare from the United States."

Researching China’s Sacred Leader (June 27, 2018, China Media Project)
But the genie of hype and triumphalism will not be so easy to coax back into the lamp. Hype, after all, is at the heart of Xi Jinping’s leadership in the so-called “New Era” — and of the manufacture of legitimacy by the Chinese Communist Party of which he is “core.”

China’s Djibouti military base the first of many (June 27, 2018, East Asia Forum)
The fact that China is expanding its base in Djibouti is not particularly surprising. China has growing interests in East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Beijing has explicitly given its navy a mandate to defend those interests, and it now possesses a military base in the region capable of supporting those efforts.


Stories From Chinese Millennials: Interview With A Disappointed Dreamer, Part 1 (June 20, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
Maggie’s description of her understanding of God and her attraction to Christianity is one of the clearest articulations of a Chinese seeker’s ideas I’ve encountered.

Stories From Chinese Millennials: Interview With A Disappointed Dreamer, Part 2 (June 22, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
I hope her interview can help you better understand why so many Chinese are attracted to the idea of religion, and why so many still struggle to accept the Christian gospel.

Actively Guiding Religion under Xi Jinping (June 21, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
Though with this new text the Party-State mainly reemphasis its control over religious practice,  this control tends to take a renewed form: The Party-State now not only sets the limits of what is acceptable but also “actively guides” religion.

Listening to Pastors in China, Part 1 (June 26, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article pastors share about their own past personal struggles, as well as encouragements they have received over the years. They also offer suggestions as to how Chinese pastors can be better cared for.

Dialogue: Necessary for the Church's mission in China (June 26, 2018, Vatican News)
The mission of the Church is always the same; but in order to implement it in today’s Chinese context, constructive dialogue between the Church and civil authorities is needed.

China's tough religious policy 'obstacle' to Vatican deal (June 26, 2018, UCA News)
A Taiwan academic believes China's tough religious policy could be a sticking point in reaching a deal with the Vatican on the appointment of bishops.

Xinjiang Rapidly Building Crematoria to Extinguish Uyghur Funeral Traditions (June 26, 2018, Radio Free Asia)
Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are rapidly constructing crematoria staffed by dozens of security personnel, according to local officials, amid concerns over the eradication of ethnic Uyghur funeral traditions.

Going Global (June 27, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
To engage with China’s church today means not only connecting with what Chinese Christians are doing in China, but also with what they are doing outside China.

Society / Life

Wǒ Men Podcast: Lijia Zhang on China, Changes, and Prostitution (June 22, 2018, Radii China)
For this epsidoe of Wǒ Men Podcast, we sit down with Lijia to discuss her life and to examine just how much China has transformed over the generations. As a social commentator, Lijia shares her views on the changes and constants in China over the last few decades.

In a Chinese Village, Elderly Farmers Are Now Yogis  (June 24, 2018, The New York Times)
The local Communist Party chief has turned to yoga to bring health and vitality to a fading, remote hamlet. Some tourist money would be welcome, too.

ZGBriefs FAQ  (June 25, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Everything you’ve always wanted to know about ZGBriefs, but were afraid to ask.

Marching Across China, Army Veterans Join Ranks of Protesters (June 25, 2018, The New York Times)
They are the latest discontented group to upset the Chinese Communist Party’s image of imperturbable dominance: People’s Liberation Army veterans who have held protests across several cities in recent weeks over what they say is mistreatment, poor job prospects and inadequate benefits.

Why Chinese are 'turning in' their graves (June 25, 2018, BBC)
A controversial campaign for Chinese villagers to give up their coffins in favour of environmentally friendly cremations is raising eyebrows in China.

Odds of Getting a Beijing License Plate Are Now 1 in 2,031 (June 26, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Beijingers cannot legally buy a car until they obtain a license plate, which are given out according to a lottery system designed to limit the number of vehicles on the road. A government office said Monday that for the latest round, nearly 3 million newprospective buyers have been added to the existing pool of applicants. 

In a Chinese Village, Elderly Farmers Are NowYogis (June 24, 2018, The New York Times)
The local Communist Party chief has turned to yoga to bring health and vitality to a fading, remote hamlet. Some tourist money would be welcome, too.

China’s social credit system ‘could interfere in other nations’ sovereignty’ (June 27, 2018, The Guardian)
China’s social credit system, a big-data system for monitoring and shaping business and citizens’ behaviour, is reaching beyond China’s borders to impact foreign companies, according to new research.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s rust-belt region has a new hope for revival: North Korea (June 21, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Kim Jong-un’s decision to shift priority to economic development could bring prosperity to the whole region, including China’s vast northeastern region.

China is unleashing more than $100 billion into its economy (June 25, 2018, CNN)
The country's central bank said late Sunday that it is set to release as much as 700 billion yuan ($107 billion) into the financial system by reducing the amount of deposits that most commercial banks are required to hold.

Chinese firms cash in on Xinjiang's growing police state (June 26, 2018, AFP)
But for Chinese companies like Shenzhen-listed Hikvision, the world's largest supplier of surveillance equipment, Xinjiang's booming security apparatus is a major windfall. 

China's banks embrace Communist Party committees in risk crackdown (June 27, 2018, Reuters)
China’s listed mid-tier and regional banks will face added pressure to curb risky activities following the formal establishment of Communist Party Committees at the lenders, bankers and analysts say.

Trump to use U.S. security review panel to curb China tech investments (June 27, 2018, Reuters)
The Treasury Department has recommended that Trump use the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), whose authority would be enhanced by new legislation in Congress, to control investment deals. The legislation expands the scope of transactions reviewed by the interagency panel to address security concerns, Trump said.

China's eerie ghost cities a 'symptom' of the country's economic troubles and housing bubble (June 27,2018, ABC News)
Designed for populations numbering in the hundreds of thousands, the mass constructionprojects can include towering high-rise condominiums, huge shopping centres, city squares, street lights and replicas of cities in Europe and elsewhere.


In China, universities seek to plant 'Xi Thought' in minds of students (June 22, 2018, Reuters)
Mandatory ideology classes have been updated by the universities in response to instruction from the leadership that Xi’s ideas must enter the textbooks, classrooms and minds of students. 

The controversial Chinese college entrance exam opening doors at more American universities (June 24, 2018, South China Morning Post)
China’s controversial college entrance exam, or gaokao, is gaining acceptance in the US as an indicator of better future academic performance.

ZTE Could Help Chinese ‘Institutes’ at Western Schools Become Surveillance Hubs (June 27, 2018, The Daily Beast)
A new report warns: Beijing is ready to turn its controversial Confucius Institutes into data-collection centers—just as the Institutes up their partnership with the telecom ZTE.

“One Country, Two Dorms”: Short Movie Exposes Dorm Disparities Between Chinese and Foreign Students (June 27, 2018,What’s on Weibo)
The movie shows that Chinese students have very different living conditions from their foreign counterparts; while the foreign students enjoy spacious 2-person dorm rooms, the local Chinese students have crowded 6 to 8-people rooms to live in.

Health / Environment

Elixirs of Nature: How Chinese medicine uses the potency of herbs (June 22, 2018, China Channel)
As China celebrated National Medicine Day on March 17, it is timely to reflect on how for over two millennia, TCM practitioners have used mind and body practices alongside herbal remedies to treat or prevent a wide range of diseases, from diabetes to cancer.

Mapping China's frontline: the Yangtze at 100km intervals - a photo essay (June 26, 2108, The Guardian)
Mother River is a four-year project for which the British-Chinese photographer Yan Wang Preston photographed the 6,211km Yangtze river at precise 100km intervals with a large-format film camera

China reports outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu at chicken farm (June 27, 2018, South China Morning Post)
China reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu at a farm in Qinghai province, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health said on Tuesday, citing an account from the Chinese agriculture ministry.

Science / Technology

China Extends Lead as Most Prolific Supercomputer Maker (June 25, 2018, The New York Times)
For years, the United States dominated the supercomputer market. But two years ago, China pulled even on the Top 500 list. China moved decisively ahead last fall and extended the gap in the latest tally.

History / Culture

Visit the Great Wall in Peking, seven wonders of the ancient world, 1930. (June 24, 2018, Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Video: Travelogue in Peiping(Peking), 1930. (June 25, 2018, Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Video: “The most interesting city in China”, scenic places in the suburb of Peiping (Peking) in 1940s. (June 27, 2018, Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Travel / Food

Best China Visa Service for US Travelers (June 27, 2018, Far West China)
Applying for a visa to China can be a frustratingly complicated ordeal. My passport currently has over 20 different China visas in it so trust me…I understand! If you’re a U.S. citizen like me, the use of a China visa service can make this process so much easier. Let me share with you what I do and my recommendation for the best China visa service.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The Many Faces of China’s Soccer Fanatics (June 22, 2018, Sixth Tone)
China isn’t competing in the FIFA World Cup this year — not that you’d know it from the soccer mania that has taken hold of the country.

Xi Jinping Is the World’s Most Powerful Soccer Coach (June 24, 2018, Foreign Policy)
But the gulf between China’s footballing potential and its reality is bigger than ever, as a country of 1.3 billion people with a growing appetite for soccer continues to flop on the international level. That might be about to change, however, as the same political forces that pushed China to the top of the Olympics have now turned their attention to football.

Language / Language Learning

Mother Tongue (June 26, 2018, China Channel)
Rather, Cantonese is one “variant of Mandarin,” which Song claims for the Chinese ethnic group as a whole. For Song, this was not up for debate – it was scientific fact. Chinese is an ethnic group, represented by Mandarin. Cantonese is not. The backlash was swift.


China: Ancient Culture, Modern Society (June 19, 2018, Global China Center)
he authors of China: Ancient Culture, Modern Society declare, “China has arrived, big time.” Their work offers a primer for readers who want to be informed about the world’s newest superpower with an accessible yet comprehensive text. As the authors, G. Wright Doyle and Peter Xiaoming Yu, hail from the United States and China respectively, their work is well- qualified to present China to American readers.

End of Empire (June 25, 2018, China Channel)
Historian Stephen R. Platt’s newest work, Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age, is the story of how Britain came to believe it could “demand peace by force of arms,” as read the inscription on one medal designed to commemorate what would become the first of two so-called Opium Wars.

Book: Inside the World’s Greatest Revival (June 27, 2018, Missions Catalyst)
It includes narratives about foreign missionaries (e.g., Lottie Moon) and Chinese movements (the Evangelistic Bands, the Jesus Family), as well as never-before-published testimonies from Chinese church leaders. So inspiring; I loved reading this book.

5 China Beach Reads to Burn Through this Summer (June 27, 2018, Radii China)
We’re not sure what your summer routine is, but if it at any point involves tuning out and kicking back with a good page-turner, here are some hot ticket China reads to propel you through the summer:

Links for Researchers

Special Issue on Nonprofit Policymaking in China, Guest Editors: Xiaoguang Kang and Qun Wang (May, 2018, Nonprofit Policy Forum)

The Borderlands of a Brave New World (June 26, 2018, China Heritage)
This ‘new territory’ 新疆, one only incorporated into the lands of the Qing-dynasty in the eighteenth century, had ethnic, religious and political loyalties stretching far beyond the territory of the People’s Republic. Its ethnic peoples, in particular the Uyghurs were and would remain for the foreseeable future China’s preeminent ‘borderland threat’ 邊患. 


Praying for the Unreached in China (June 22, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
In the course of the 32 years I have worked with this prayer tool, I have witnessed this increasing participation on the part of the Chinese church. Today, Chinese believers select the content when our prayer guide covers the People’s Republic of China. Each July we feature northeast Asia, which usually focuses on the Chinese world.

Image credit: by hans-johnson, 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