ZGBriefs | June 4, 2020

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Featured Article

Are Kids in China Better-Off Today Than a Decade Ago?  (June 2, 2020, Sixth Tone)
This Children’s Day, Sixth Tone takes a look back at 10 years’ worth of policies aimed at better protecting children, as well as their still-evident shortcomings.

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Video: Key Cultural Rules
Relationships form the heart of Chinese culture. In this lecture, Joann Pittman talks about the meaning of relationship in Chinese culture, and rules by which these relationships are governed. Those highlighted are those that are most likely to “clash” with cultural rules common in western cultures.Cost: $5.00

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou loses key court battle as B.C. judge rules extradition bid should proceed (May 27, 2020, CBC)
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has delivered a major blow to Meng Wanzhou, ruling that extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive should proceed. In a widely anticipated decision on so-called double criminality, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said the offence Meng is accused of by American prosecutors would be considered a crime if it occurred in Canada.

China Has a Civil Code Now. What Does That Mean?  (May 28, 2020, Sixth Tone)
After six years of tweaking, the country’s legislature has finally adopted a civil code that expressly protects some civil liberties and will serve as a reference for future legal decisions.

4 Takeaways From Beijing’s Hong Kong Power Grab  (May 29, 2020, NPR)
Legal scholars question whether Beijing has the authority to impose this law on Hong Kong. Under the principle Beijing calls “one country, two systems,” the territory is responsible for its own governance. Here are four takeaways about Beijing’s Hong Kong power grab.

China’s Crackdown in Hong Kong Won’t Spare Foreigners  (May 29, 2020, Foreign Policy)
Effectively, once the decision takes effect, Hong Kong will be amalgamated into China’s police state—through a variety of tools already well-honed on the mainland, although with some adjustments for Hong Kong’s unique situation.

China’s National People’s Congress: soft on the outside, hard at the centre  (May 31, 2020, East Asia Forum)
It delivered predictably mixed messages. On the economic front, the tone was almost conciliatory and focussed on the tried and tested message of delivering growth, opening up to the world and regaining the momentum of reform. On the political front, however, the message on Hong Kong showed a totally different aspect. 

With an ailing domestic economy, can China still pursue its global plans?  (May 31, 2020, The Guardian)
For a ruling party that has built legitimacy on near continuous high-speed growth since the late 1970s, the current downturn is a bracing moment. Tens and perhaps hundreds of millions have lost jobs. Those still in employment have had incomes sharply reduced, cutting into consumption. With the US, Europe and Japan in deep recessions, exports cannot take up the slack.

Tiananmen: Police ban Hong Kong vigil for victims of 1989 crackdown  (June 1, 2020, BBC)
Authorities said the decision was due to health concerns over coronavirus. However, there are fears this may end the commemorations, as China seeks to impose a new law making undermining its authority a crime in the territory.

Is China Reveling In US Woes?  (June 3, 2020, China Media Project)
So, looking beyond the social media barbs of foreign ministry officials and the ever acerbic and often tasteless remarks of Hu Xijin, what are Chinese media saying and reporting about everything happening in the US? In fact, the picture is complicated. 

Why China May Call the World’s Bluff on Hong Kong  (July 3, 2020, The New York Times)
The U.S. looks weak. Business is falling in line. Protests have been muted. For Beijing, the damage to the city and its own reputation from seizing greater control may be worth it.

Boris Johnson promises UK will provide Hong Kongers path to citizenship after national security fears (June 3, 2020, CNN)
Should it come to pass, the United Kingdom will “uphold our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong,” by changing immigration laws to allow more Hong Kongers to settle and work in the country.

Has COVID-19 Changed How China’s Leaders Approach National Security?  A ChinaFile Conversation  (June 3, 2020, China File)
Has China changed its views on the value of a benign external security environment or on its ability to shape such an environment? How will Beijing link its domestic stability to its international behavior in the future? What does China’s behavior—and U.S. expectations of that behavior—during the COVID-19 crisis signal about the trajectory of Sino-U.S. relations in the coming decades?


A Generation of Digital Nomads (1)  (June 2, 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.

3 Questions: Indigenous Missions Movement  (June 3, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
the middle of a global pandemic that has triggered travel restrictions and economic hardship and the increasingly harsh environment for the church in China, it may seem like an odd time to write about Chinese church involvement in missions. But it’s never an odd time to be reminded of what God is doing in the world to advance his kingdom.

Society / Life

China battles to control nationalist narrative on social media  (May 30, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Beijing is battling allegations that it is running a disinformation campaign on social media, as robust posts by its diplomats in Western countries promoting nationalist sentiment have escalated into a spat between China and other countries, especially the United States.

Snapshots From Another Age: China’s ’80s Kids on Film  (June 1, 2020, Sixth Tone)
In 1981, a Japanese photographer traveled China, capturing the everyday lives of local children. Nearly 40 years later, the project’s getting another edition.

China Seeing Rise in Juvenile Delinquency, Report Says  (June 2, 2020, Sixth Tone)
China is experiencing a rebound in crimes committed by minors, including more underage perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse, according to a report released Monday by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

The Workshop of the World, Unraveled  (June 3, 2020, Sixth Tone)
In China’s largest clothing hub, migrant workers are struggling to deal with the economic shockwaves unleashed by COVID-19.

Economics / Trade / Business

In Hong Kong, China Threatens Businesses and Workers  (May 31, 2020, The New York Times)
Beijing is using fear and pressure to drum up support for its increasingly hard-line stance in the Asian financial capital, threatening its status as a global business center.

‘We poked the bear’: Australian farmers take the China trade stoush in their stride  (May 30, 2020, The Guardian)
An 80% tariff on barley means switching to other crops or finding alternative markets. But at least there’s been rain.

How Apple Exemplifies the Resilience of East Asian Supply Chains  (June 2, 2020, Marco Polo)
A leading indicator of how well the East Asian supply chain has absorbed the pandemic shock is Apple. It is only one company, but its performance in the middle of a pandemic, combined with the concentration of its suppliers in East Asia, makes Apple a useful bellwether for the resilience of supply chains.

How Chinese Companies Are Getting Off Social Credit Blacklists  (June 3, 2020, Sixth Tone)
China has created a social credit system that punishes businesses for bad behavior. But for some firms, escaping the dreaded blacklist is surprisingly easy.

New U.S. restrictions on 33 Chinese firms and institutions take effect June 5  (June 3, 2020, Reuters)
The agency has added the companies and institutions to an economic blacklist, accusing them of helping China spy on its minority Muslim Uighur population in Xinjiang or because of alleged ties to weapons of mass destruction and China’s military.

Could the ‘Chinese Hawaii’ be turned into a trade hub to rival Hong Kong?  (June 3, 2020, Inkstone News)
As China braces for a possible economic decoupling from the United States, it has revealed plans to turn its southern island of Hainan into a “free trade port” similar to Hong Kong, cutting taxes and red tape, and encouraging duty-free shopping.

US companies are ‘concerned’ about Hong Kong but they’re not planning to exit just yet  (June 3, 2020, CNN)
More than 80% of firms that responded to a survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said they were either “very” or “moderately” concerned about the law, which is due to ban sedition, secession and subversion against Beijing.

Beijing to offer coupons worth billions to spur consumption  (June 3, 2020, Xinhua)
Beijing announced on Wednesday it would offer coupons worth 12.2 billion yuan (about 1.71 billion U.S. dollars) to spur consumption dampened by the COVID-19 epidemic. The first batch of coupons will be available on Saturday at e-commerce giant JD.com. They can be used at participating restaurants and retailers in Beijing as well as for buying products equipped with smart technologies.

China’s forced-out workers  (June 3, 2020, Marketplace)
Eric Chen, an IT worker in central Hebei province, said he knew his employer was not doing well even before the pandemic hit China in January because there was a round of layoffs. “I felt lucky then because I was not laid off,” Chen said. But in mid-April, the 36-year-old was called into a meeting room. 


U.S. to Expel Chinese Graduate Students With Ties to China’s Military Schools  (May 28, 2020, The New York Times)
The plan would be the first designed to bar the access of a category of Chinese students, who, over all, form the single largest foreign student population in the United States. It portends possible further educational restrictions, and the Chinese government could retaliate by imposing its own visa or educational bans on Americans.

Class Conflict  (June 2, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Over 2,000 years ago, the sage Mencius concluded: “Nothing can be accomplished without rules and order (不以规矩,不能成方圆).” This doctrine seems to have been the gospel of Chinese educators ever since. Though the details may vary by class and teacher, almost all who grow up in the Chinese school system have encountered harsh, arbitrary, and bizarre rules and punishments in their educational careers.

Chinese premier stresses expanding employment channels for graduates  (June 3, 2020, Xinhua)
Li underscored the need to promote the greater development of new industries and new forms of business to build a broader platform for college graduates to start their own businesses or seek flexible employment.

Health / Environment

China building secure facilities to fast track coronavirus vaccine production  (May 31, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Although the five drugs being developed by the country’s scientists are still months away from a full evaluation, secure facilities are already being built. The facilities will have a biosecurity rating of 3, the second highest level, because Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is highly pathogenic and will need a secure environment if it used to make the vaccine.

China delayed releasing coronavirus info, frustrating WHO  (June 3, 2020, AP)
WHO officials were lauding China in public because they wanted to coax more information out of the government, the recordings obtained by the AP suggest. Privately, they complained in meetings the week of Jan. 6 that China was not sharing enough data to assess how effectively the virus spread between people or what risk it posed to the rest of the world, costing valuable time.

Second Chinese City to Reportedly Test Entire Population for COVID-19  (June 3, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Mudanjiang in the northeastern Heilongjiang province will aim to test all 2.8 million of its residents after detecting 15 asymptomatic cases last week.

‘Sacrificed’: anger in China over death of Wuhan doctor from coronavirus  (June 3, 2020, The Guardian)
Hu Weifeng, 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central hospital where the whistleblower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus.

Science / Technology

Exclusive: Huawei hid business operation in Iran after Reuters reported links to CFO  (June 3, 2020, Reuters)
One document described how Huawei scrambled in early 2013 to try to “separate” itself from Skycom out of concern over trade sanctions on Tehran. To that end, this and other documents show, Huawei took a series of actions – including changing the managers of Skycom, shutting down Skycom’s Tehran office and forming another business in Iran to take over tens of millions of dollars worth of Skycom contracts.

History / Culture

Podcast: China’s Public Heath Revolutions  (June 3, 2020, Barbarians at the Gate, via China Channel)
For now, here is the first episode of the new series, first published in late March, in which Jeremiah and David tackle the historical and revolutionary context of public health and hygiene in China, in context of the Covid crisis.

Travel / Food

The Authentic Tea Houses of Chengdu  (May 29, 2020, Wild China Blog)
Chengdu really does have a lot of tea houses. There are modern and minimalistic tea houses, cozy and musty tea houses, tea houses with live traditional Chinese music and tea houses with a futuristic twist. Below we will introduce three of the oldest and most authentic tea houses in the city; three must-see spots to sit down and share a cup of tea with friends and locals. 

What the end of Hong Kong’s “special status” might mean for travelers  (May 30, 2020, Lonely Planet)
China’s parliament approved new draft national security laws that could apply to Hong Kong, having a big impact not only on its political and economic landscape, but also what it’s like to travel there.

Travelers can transit through Hong Kong airport beginning in June  (May 31, 2020, The Points Guy)
Hong Kong International Airport will reopen to transit travelers in June after a more than two-month closure to connecting passengers to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Beginning June 1, travelers can connect between flights on the “same airline group” at Hong Kong (HKG), according to the airport. 

The Guangxi School Turning Snail Rice Noodles Into Escar-Gold  (June 2, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Welcome to river snail rice noodle school. The Liuzhou Vocational and Technical College in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has become the first school in China to offer a course aimed at raising the standards and profile of the southern region’s signature dish. 

What It’s Like Flying To China In The Era Of Coronavirus (Incredible, Photos)  (June 2, 2020, View from the Wing)
This is the story of what it’s like to fly today from Los Angeles to Beijing. Except you can’t actually fly to Beijing. Air China’s CA988 has actually been landing in neighboring provinces – either Shijiazhuang or Tianjin – for quarantine. This trip cost $4900 one-way in coach on Air China, plus $1400 for hotel and food during a 14 day stay prior to release.

US to ban passenger flights from China  (June 3, 2020, BBC)
The US is to ban passenger flights from China from 16 June, in the latest sign of tensions between the two economic giants. The Department of Transportation said it is punishing Beijing for refusing to let US airlines resume flights to China as its pandemic subsides.

Language / Language Learning

Friendship in Verse  (June 3, 2020, The World of Chinese)
“Iron brothers,” “diehard friends,” and “plastic sisters” are just some of the modern ways Chinese refer to friends (or frenemies). But before there were these internet slang terms, friendship was a key theme in Chinese literature, with many historical and fictional figures’ companionship spawning a variety of chengyu describing their bond.

Living Cross-culturally

COVID-19 Travel Ban Series: How to Pay Your Foreign Employees Out of China  (June 2, 2020, China Briefing)
Due to these travel restrictions, which so far have presented no expiration date, many foreign nationals who hold a residence permit in China for working purposes are stuck outside of China during this time. Many companies are now grappling with new HR, legal, and tax uncertainties that have arisen within their foreign employment relationship in the context of these new travel restrictions.


Summer Reading for 2020  (May 29, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Having just celebrated Memorial Day in the United States, we are now well into summer. For many, that means extra time for reading. In case you’re looking for ideas on what to read this summer, here’s a list of books that are in the queue for members of the ChinaSource team. 

The Fading Vision of a Christian China–A Book Review  (June 1, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
“Why do you have liberty and we don’t?” This is the core question Promise Hsu, founding editor of the online journal Kosmos and a member of Beijing’s Shouwang Church, seeks to address in his long-awaited book, which was originally scheduled for publication in 2014 and finally appeared last year.

Links for Researchers

Chinese Perspectives on International Relations in the Xi Jinping Era (June 2, 2020, National Bureau of Asian Research)
This NBR Special Report offers perspectives from two Chinese scholars on the intellectual framework that structures current discussions within China about the international order.

Pray for China

June 1, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On June 1, 1924,  (姬望姊妹- Chi-Oang), was baptized in Hualien, Taiwan at age 52. God used this aborigine woman, notwithstanding several failed marriages, to spark a church growth movement during the Japanese Occupation. Today over 70% of Taiwan’s aborigines are Christians. Pray for the Infinite-Personal Creator God to be glorified by another church growth movement on Taiwan, especially among little-reached blue-collar workers.  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

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