ZGBriefs | June 7, 2018

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Featured Article

Tiananmen Square, A 'Watershed' For Chinese Conversions to Christianity (June 4, 2018, WBUR)
Professor Fenggang Yang of Purdue University has an observation about that day. He says many dissidents who led that movement have become Christians. In fact, he says 1989 was a watershed year for conversions, which led to "a quiet spiritual revolution," among many Chinese, who equated Christianity with modernity.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Don’t Call It an Embassy: U.S. Gives Its Taiwan Ties a $250 Million Upgrade (May 31, 2018, The New York Times)
On June 12, in a leafy, middle-class neighborhood in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, the unofficial, Cold War-era relationship between this island and the United States is getting a major upgrade. That is when the American Institute in Taiwan, the United States’ embassy here in all but name, will hold a ceremony to formally unveil a $250 million office complex that resembles a university research center, just with guarded gates and blast walls. 

China has turned Xinjiang into a police state like no other (May 31, 2018, The Economist)
Totalitarian determination and modern technology have produced a massive abuse of human rights. (subscription required)

The Elevator Atop a Mountain of Red Tape (June 1, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The six-story building that Weng and his wife share with 29 other households does not have an elevator. It’s a growing concern, now that more than half the apartment owners are in their 80s. Despite seven years of lobbying for one to be built, the residents are still struggling up the stairs.

What China Wants on Trade And North Korea (June 3, 2018, NPR)
What does China want out of trade negotiations with the U.S. and U.S. negotiations with North Korea? Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks to Yun Sun of the Stimson Center.

U.S. urges China to account for the 'ghosts' of Tiananmen  (June 3, 2018, Reuters)
In a statement on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remembered “the tragic loss of innocent lives”. […] “We join others in the international community in urging the Chinese government to make a full public accounting of those killed, detained or missing,” Pompeo added. 

How Should the World Respond to Intensifying Repression in Xinjiang? -- A ChinaFile Conversation  (June 4, 2018, China File)
While several U.S. lawmakers have called for sanctions, much of the world remains silent, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which calls itself “the collective voice of the Muslim world.” What should the international community do?

US 'double agent took $800,000 to spy for China' (June 4, 2018, The Guardian)
The justice department alleges Ron Rockwell Hansen was carrying classified information when he was taken into custody on Saturday while on his way to board a flight to China.

U.S. Lawmakers Target Chinese Interference in New Bill (June 4, 2018, Foreign Policy)
Bipartisan legislation would require an unclassified report on Chinese political influence operations in the United States.

US-China relations deteriorating fast over flashpoint issues (June 5, 2018, The Guardian)
Dangerous US-China flashpoint issues appear to be multiplying fast. The two superpowers are locked in a worsening trade dispute. China took furious exception to American and Taiwanese comments about this week’s anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators. It flatly rejects criticism of its repression of similar sentiments in Hong Kong.

Daddy Dearest (June 5, 2018, Topic Magazine)
Xi is widely described as the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, and the most ubiquitous visual cue is a preponderance of images of Xi himself.


Why the Chinese government is targeting young Christians in its latest crackdown (May 1, 2018, America Magazine)
Experts on Christianity in China say the Chinese Communist Party sees young people turning to religion as an alarming trend, particularly in Henan, where there has been rapid growth in recent years.

Christians of China and of the world 'spiritually united' by Our Lady of Sheshan (May 24, 2018, Asia News)
Yesterday, however, at the end of his general audience, the pontiff also mentioned "the difficulties" in which our brothers and sisters of China are immersed. And there are many.  As China and the Holy See are struggle to find agreement on episcopal appointments, bishops are being prevented from carrying out their ministry.

The Challenge of Contextualization: Another Perspective (May 30, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
As they navigate an uncertain future, Christians in China face a deeper challenge. It is not merely a matter of communicating through words a message that resonates with existing cultural ideas, but of communicating with their lives the truth of the gospel in a manner that impacts the lives of those around them.

Sichuan Gospel Hospital Starts from Mustard Seed Faith, Now Serves Entire Community (June 1, 2018, China Christian Daily)
The Gospel Hospital of Luzhou, Sichuan, started with a small clinic that grew into a community health center, committed to its mission -- providing affordable and good medical service to every patient. Now it serves a whole local community of over 10,000 people.

Interview with a Jiangyin Pastor – Chinese Culture Is About Self-Redemption (June 2, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
We believe that one man’s success elevates all of his family and friends; we all want our kids to succeed; we all desire to climb the social ladder through our own efforts to achieve high social status, and we think this will bring us a sense of security. Therefore, we as Chinese are all restless. 

Beijing’s women-only mosque blends Islam with Chinese tradition (June 3, 2018, Global Times)
"China's women-only mosques are the best representative of religion with Chinese characteristics. It's a signature building that shows our respect for women," Liu Jun, director of the Niujie Mosque, told the Global Times in a previous interview. 

Audio Now Available for Chinese New Hymnal (June 5, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
After a three-year effort, the Beijing-based Yanjing Theological Seminary has completed its audio recording project for the supplement of the Chinese New Hymnal, a publication that contains 200 songs. The audio files are available on the website of the seminary.

Chinese authorities raid underground church and detain pastor ahead of Tiananmen service (June 5, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Sichuan police detain about a dozen worshippers at Early Rain Covenant Church who were planning to gather for memorial service to honour protesters killed in 1989 crackdown.

Polity and Patronage in Chinese Churches (June 6, 2018, Jackson Wu)
How do Chinese churches organize themselves? How does Chinese culture influence church structure? What are the implications?

For and Against Denominations in China (June 6, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
A defining characteristic of the ministry of Ni Tuosheng (Watchman Nee) was his fierce antipathy toward denominations. Rebelling against what he saw as the corruption endemic in the mission churches, Ni denounced denominations as anti-scriptural and called on Chinese believers to leave the institutional church.

Society / Life

Is China’s Grassroots Social Order Project Running Out of Money? (May 31, 2018, Sixth Tone)
 When combined with a top-down system of social monitoring, the result is an administrative style called wanggehua guanli, or “grid management.” Local officials rally so-called community volunteers to deputize as auxiliary public order officials. 

How Millennials Hijacked Children’s Day in China (June 1, 2018, Sixth Tone)
This International Children’s Day, China’s grown-ups are scoffing that age is just a number as they hop on the holiday’s increasingly commercialized bandwagon — from ordering fast-food kids’ meals for the sake of exclusive toys to showing off childhood photos on their social networks.

Is Chongqing's 'horizontal skyscraper' the answer to overcrowded cities? (June 4, 2018, The Guardian)
A 42nd-floor ‘skybridge’ in the dazzling Raffles City project could help solve overcrowding – or will it simply let the super-rich escape to the skies?

Photos: China's bike-sharing graveyards (June 4, 2018, Reuters)

Hong Kong June 4 Vigil Turnout Up From Last Year, Despite Challenges (June 5, 2018, China Digital Times)
Hong Kong’s annual candlelight vigil in commemoration of the lives lost in the crackdown on protesters in Beijing on June 4, 1989 this year attracted 115,000 people–5,000 more than last year–according to organizers.

Eastern Chinese City Issues 20 New Rules to ‘Civilize’ Residents (June 6, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Don’t play with your phone at family reunions. Don’t wear slippers and pajamas in public. Let people off an elevator before you rush to get on. These are just three of 20 updated etiquette guidelines issued by the government of Suqian, a city in eastern China’s Jiangsu province.

Chinese library teaches blind people how to use smartphones  (June 6, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The library opened last October in a private bookstore in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, Chinanews.com reported. It was the first of its kind in the province and offers 500 Braille titles for visitors.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s ZTE was built to spy and bribe, court documents allege (May 31, 2018, Sydney Morning Herald)
ZTE, the Chinese telecommunications company bidding for major contracts in Australia, and at the centre of Donald Trump’s trade war with Beijing, was established partly as a front for military intelligence and has been linked to corruption in 18 countries, according to explosive court documents filed in the US.

China is Difficult and Expensive (Especially for Small Companies) and if You Think you Have a Workaround, Stop. Just Stop.  (June 1, 2018, China Law Blog)
Yes, there may be some smaller cities that will try to woo you and act like you are important, but you are not important in Beijing’s eyes and China just does not care. China is way more concerned about its own citizens and about its own bureaucrats abiding by Chinese law than it is about your foreign company.

U.S.-China Trade Talks End in an Impasse (June 3 ,2018, The New York Times)
The United States and China ended trade talks in Beijing on Sunday without any announced deals and with Chinese officials refusing to commit to buying more American goods without a Trump administration agreement not to impose further tariffs on Chinese exports.

China launches $16 billion fund to boost Yangtze integration: Xinhua (June 3, 2018, Reuters)
China has launched a 100 billion yuan ($15.58 billion) fund to support economic integration and coordination in the Yangtze river delta region, state news agency Xinhua said, part of wider state efforts to break down administrative barriers.

7 Rules on China WFOE Registered Capital  (June 4, 2018, China Law Blog)
What is it about registered capital that makes it so consistently confounding? We hear so many half-truths and misconceptions about registered capital that it’s hard to keep track of them all, let alone dispel them. 

Facebook confirms data-sharing agreements with Chinese firms  (June 6, 2018, BBC)
Facebook has confirmed it has a data-sharing partnership with Chinese firms including Huawei, a company US intelligence previously flagged as a security threat. The agreements gave the Chinese firms some access to users' data to help them build Facebook "experiences" on their smartphones. 

China's ZTE Reportedly Strikes Preliminary Deal To Lift U.S. Ban  (June 6, 2018, NPR)
Chinese cellphone maker ZTE Corp. — the target of U.S. sanctions before President Trump ordered an abrupt about-face last month — has reportedly agreed to a preliminary deal to lift a U.S. Commerce Department ban on it buying from American suppliers.


2018 Gaokao Policy Changes (June 1, 2018, The World of Chinese)
Short for the National Higher Education Entrance Examination (高等学校招生全国统一考试), the gaokao is probably the most important moment of most Chinese high school students’ careers, annually forcing cities to go into “quiet mode” with factory closures and police banning unnecessary car honking. 

Police crack down on cheating during gaokao (June 6 2018, China Daily)
The Ministry of Public Security has coordinated local authorities in a crackdown on criminal gangs that manufactured and sold high-tech devices for cheating on the upcoming national college entrance examination, known as the gaokao, which starts on Thursday morning.

China’s Generation Z gaokao candidates shrug off college entrance exam’s reputation for making or breaking futures (June 6, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Half of the 20,000 gaokao candidates who took part in the survey conducted by Chinese web portal and social media company Sina Corp – including, for the first time, those born since the beginning of the year 2000 – said they believed that the exam would not be their only opportunity to take hold of their future.

Health / Environment

Chinese sent to help fight Congo Ebola (June 6, 2018, China Daily)
A team of Chinese health experts will depart for the Democratic Republic of Congo this week to help fight an Ebola outbreak in the west central African nation. Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the experts will attempt to use a vaccine developed by China to help combat the disease.

History / Culture

Joy in Christ Kept Him in China: Hudson Taylor (1832–1905)  (June 4, 2018, Desiring God)
“Taylor’s life bears witness to the possibility of living with more peace, joy, and fruit in hardship than most.”

Travel / Food

The Relationship Doctor (May 31, 2018, Jing Theory)
At the highway checkpoint, police asked to see our IDs. When they saw our foreign passports, they asked our driver where we were headed. He replied the Hotpot Cultural Institute, which I thought was clever. Later, I looked on Baidu maps and realized the factory was in fact known by that name.

Traveling to Hubei, Province of the Three Gorges Dam (June 1, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
he capital of Hubei Province (湖北) is Wuhan (武汉). The abbreviated name for Hubei Province is 鄂(E), a character mostly used on car license plates. The presence of the character 北(bei) “north” shouldn’t fool you, since Hubei is a province in central China.

Chinese man driving around world arrives in Chicago (June 3, 2018, China Daily)
A Ford wagon with Chinese car plate and the body covered with advertisements and slogans is eye-catching in Chinatown in downtown Chicago. After touring 55 countries in four continents, Fan Yuhu, a freelancer cameraman, arrived in the US city of Chicago.

10 incredible photos that prove rural China is one of the most stunning places on Earth  (June 4, 2018, Matador Network)
China has some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world, but it is the people that really draw me to the country. One of my favorite things to do is sit, watch, and photograph people in rural China going about their daily activities. 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The China Hustle: A Film Review (June 1, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
The China Hustle is a documentary that has gotten a lot of attention since its release in 2017. Mainstream cinemas, film festivals, and reviewers across America are jumping on this exposé about one of the biggest instances of fraud, and one that most people, particularly in the nations that are involved, don’t even know about.

How Feng Xiaogang’s “Youth” Navigated Censorship and Delays to Find a Global Audience (June 4, 2018, Radii China)
Youth is a coming-of-age story of new recruits in Cultural Troupes of the People’s Liberation Army set against the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution. When the Sino-Vietnamese War hits, adolescent in-fighting is replaced with bloody violence and the traumatic effects of emotional and physical warfare haunt the film’s young protagonists.

Language / Language Learning

866 digital textbooks for expanding your Chinese (June 6, 2018, Hacking Chinese)
If you’re interested in learning school subjects, including both social and natural sciences, in Chinese, this article is for you.

The Chinese Concept of “Dirty” (June 6, 2018, Sinosplice)
Just like children, as a China newbie, I, too, had to be educated on what was “dirty” in my new environment.

Living Cross-culturally

The New Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card in China (June 5, 2018, China Briefing)
The FPRID aims to ease the life of a foreigner in China, and is part of a series of larger reforms aimed at attracting innovative and entrepreneurial talent to China — such as a new national work permit categorization system for foreign employees.


Atlas of Religion in China: Social and Geographical Contexts (Brill)
This unique atlas presents a bird’s-eye view of the religious landscape in China today. In more than 150 full-color maps and six different case studies, it maps the officially registered venues of China’s major religions - Buddhism, Christianity (Protestant and Catholic), Daoism, and Islam - at the national, provincial, and county levels.

Links for Researchers

Estimating Religious Populations with the Network Scale‐Up Method: A Practical Alternative to Self‐Report (May 3, 2018, Wiley Online Library)
We use a recent survey of Chinese international students to illustrate the use of NSUM and estimate the percentage of Buddhists (4.3 percent) and Christians (8.6 percent) in this population.

China's Evolving Military Strategy against Taiwan (June 4, 2018, National Bureau of Asian Research)
Taiwan is a primary target of the Chinese military threat. This can be seen from the PRC's Anti-Secession Law of 2005, which provides a legal basis for the government to use "non-peaceful means and other necessary measures" to unify Taiwan with the mainland. 


United States Commission on International Religious Freedom 2018 Annual Report (USCIRF.org)

Global Map of Culture Types (Tableau Public)

Image credit: Derzsi Elekes Andor, via Wikimedia
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