ZGBriefs | June 8, 2017

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Featured Article

Chinese City With a Russian Past Struggles to Preserve Its Legacy (June 4, 2017, The New York Times)
The making of Harbin is like no other Chinese city. In 1898, Russian engineers and workers from both Russia and China came to build the Chinese Eastern Railway. They were soon followed by Russian Jews fleeing pogroms, and then aristocrats driven out by the Bolshevik Revolution and White Russian troops seeking refuge after defeat in civil war.

Sponsored Link

An Asian Harvest: The autobiography of Paul Hattaway
Read the gripping testimony of how God took a hopeless life – "a waste of oxygen" according to his high school principal – and shaped him to become a best-selling author and used his ministry to supply more than ten million Bibles to believers in China. Now available at the Asia Harvest Bookstore.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

US escalates pressure on China over South China Sea and North Korea (June 5, 2017, The Guardian)
Rex Tillerson rules out negotiating on China’s island-building in disputed territory and says China must ‘step up their efforts’ to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.

U.S. says China likely to build more overseas bases, maybe in Pakistan (June 7, 2017, Reuters)
A Pentagon report released on Tuesday singled out Pakistan as a possible location for a future Chinese military base, as it forecast that Beijing would likely build more bases overseas after establishing a facility in the African nation of Djibouti. The prediction came in a 97-page annual report to Congress that saw advances throughout the Chinese military in 2016, funded by robust defense spending that the Pentagon estimated exceeded $180 billion.


Video: China's Great Awakening (May 24, 2017, Council on Foreign Relations)
Elizabeth C. Economy, Ian Johnson, and Fenggang Yang, with Andrew J. Nathan moderating, discuss the current political climate in China, and the rise and role of religion in the country, as part of the 2017 CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop.

Reformation 500 & Today's Chinese Churches (June 1, 2017, China Partnership)
Chinese pastors speaking on the role of the Reformation in the Chinese church today.

Effective Outreach among Chinese—No Visa Required (June 2, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Glen Osborn and Daniel Su of China Outreach Ministries (COM) have put together a book that will help anyone who wants to get involved in serving and reaching Chinese students but is uncertain about how to do it or wonders if they are qualified. Review of China in Our Midst: Reaching Chinese International Students in America by Glen Osborn and Daniel B. Su.

Muslim children forced to drop 'religious' names in western China (June 3, 2017, The Guardian)
During Ramadan, the authorities in Xinjiang have ordered all children under 16 to change names where police have determined they are “overly religious”. As many as 15 names have been banned, including Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, Medina and Arafat, according to Radio Free Asia.

National Symposium to Commemorate Reformation to be Held in October (June 6, 2017, China Christian Daily)
The National CCC/TSPM recently sent out a notice that the "Symposium on Sinicization of Christianity in Remembrance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation" is to be held in late October this year. Essays were requested from pastoral workers and theological teachers and students.

Just Say "No!" (June 6, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
In this blog post, originally posted by Oak Tree Publishing, Wei Chen shares the personal sacrifices she and her family have made in the face of secular values. She describes the troubling expectations of society on her and her family, and how her Christian faith pushed her to say “No!” to following along with the secular norms.

Reformation 500 Conference Voices: Wang Jianguo (June 7, 2017, China Partnership)
During our time in Hong Kong, I saw God raising up a new generation of young Chinese pastors. Even though many pastors in China still lag behind the U.S. pastors in terms of theological education and preaching, I saw God raising up a group of Chinese pastors who have experienced gospel renewal and are rooted in the gospel and the spirit of the Reformation.

A Chinese Christian Observes Ramadan (June 7, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Pastor Mark is a Christian in China who works cross-culturally in the Muslim world. Last year, in order to better understand those whom he has been called to serve, Pastor Mark joined in the Muslim celebration of Ramadan.

Society / Life

A Glance into a Christian Nursing Home in Xi’an (June 3, 2017, China Christian Daily)
I came to a nursing home founded by a Christian, located in the western suburb of Xi'an, in October 2016. It is named "Hengcheng Nursing Home."

China Has a New Domestic Violence Law. So Why Are Victims Still Often Unsafe? (June 5, 2017, China File
One major reason for the lack of strong criminal justice response in support of these protective measures is the DV Law’s failure to treat domestic violence as a crime. Despite the DV Law’s express recognition of domestic violence as an “infliction of physical, psychological or other harms among family members through means such as beating, restraints, maiming, restriction to physical liberty, as well as verbal abuse or intimidation” (Article 2), domestic violence is deemed a civil offense unless the abuse is serious enough to violate China’s penal laws.

Middle Eastern Migrants Live the Chinese Dream (June 6, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In the boomtown, foreign migrants with money are especially welcome, and as many Western countries are tightening immigration laws, business-savvy Syrians, Yemenis, Libyans, and Iraqis have chosen to make a new home here.

China’s next ‘city from scratch’ called into question (June 6, 2017, Financial Times)
Xiongan is expected to help drive growth across northern China, with its extensive infrastructural spending. But it is particularly aimed at relieving the burden on Beijing as the government relocates “non-capital city” functions from there to the new city.

Beijing Subway Now Staffed With Safety Stewards for Your Own Protection (June 7, 2017, The Beijinger
As of June 1, the Beijing Transportation Committee has deployed over 1,100 security personnel to the oldest and busiest subway lines, the Beijing Metro Lines 1 and 2, in a pilot program designed to "preserve public security and order." Each steward is assigned to watch over two subway cars during rush hour, and will be deployed according to the train schedule. During off hours, safety stewards will be assigned to patrol duty.

Boxed in: life inside the 'coffin cubicles' of Hong Kong – in pictures (June 7, 2017, The Guardian)
Photographer Benny Lam has documented the suffocating living conditions in Hong Kong’s subdivided flats, recording the lives of these hidden communities.

Qingdao Introduces One-Dog Policy (June 7, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Dog owners in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, in Shandong province, will face new regulations beginning June 8 that restrict households to just one dog and ban all dogs of certain breeds, The Beijing News reported Wednesday.

'80s generation delaying marriage in Shanghai (June 7, 2017, China Daily)
More people born between 1980 and 1989 are remaining single compared with the decade before, a survey released on Tuesday found. Nearly 1 in 5 men and 1 in 8 women in the age group have never married, according to the Fudan Yangtze River Delta Social Transformation Survey.

Economics / Trade / Business

Silk Road hub or tax haven? China's new border trade zone may be less than it seems (June 6, 2017, Reuters)
But Chinese business owners and prospective investors who had recently visited the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center (ICBC), told Reuters they were disappointed by the disconnect between the hype and reality. Rather than the vibrant 21st Century trading post of Beijing's grand vision, Horgos is instead developing a reputation as China's very own tax haven.

Chinese Giants Are Taking Over Hong Kong (June 6, 2017, Bloomberg)
Hong Kong has long acted as the gateway into and out of China. In the ’90s, Chinese state-owned firms, known as Red Chips, raised capital from Hong Kong to develop China’s economy. Now, as China’s political influence in Hong Kong grows, cash-rich Chinese firms are gaining more influence in the economy as well.

China's HNA: The biggest company you've never heard of (June 6, 2017, BBC)
HNA, which is led by Chinese billionaire Chen Feng, was founded in 1993 and made its name in shipping and aviation. It has achieved its breakneck growth without the help of Chinese government money, Mr Tan says.


9.4 mln students sit China's college entrance exam (June 7, 2017, Xinhua)
On Wednesday, 9.4 million Chinese students began the annual national college entrance examination known as the gaokao. According to the 2017 enrollment plan issued by the Ministry of Education, some 3.72 million of these students are expected to enroll in undergraduate programs following the examination, nearly 10,000 more than in 2016. However, competition is fierce to gain admission to top institutions.

In Pictures: China’s grueling national college entrance exams ‘gaokao’ begins (June 7, 2017, Study International)
Today, Chinese teens will sit for the grueling “gaokao”, the two-day national college entrance exams said to be one of the world’s toughest tests.

40 Years of ‘Gaokao’ After Mao (June 7, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Like Premier Li, Liu Bingkang hails from Hefei, the provincial capital of Anhui in eastern China. Now 65 years old and a professor of architecture at Hefei University of Technology, Liu is one of 15 million laosanjie whose schooling was disrupted during the Cultural Revolution. His experience of sitting the 1977 gaokao exemplifies that of a generation hungry for knowledge after being deprived of higher education for a decade.

Health / Environment

In China, the water you drink is as dangerous as the air you breathe (June 2, 2017, The Guardian)
Shanghai, with its chic cafes, glitzy shopping malls and organic health food shops, is emblematic of improving quality of life for China’s urban middle class. Yet while the city’s veil of smog has lifted slightly in recent years, its water pollution crisis continues unabated – 85% of the water in the city’s major rivers was undrinkable in 2015, according to official standards, and 56.4% was unfit for any purpose.

E-Trash Talk (June 3 2017, The World of Chinese)
According to a recent report by the Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLES) Program funded by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, the Chinese mainland is the largest contributor of e-waste in the world. At a rate of growth of 107 percent (or 6.7 million metric tons of e-waste)per year over half a decade, China needs a solution.

Science / Technology

A key question is at the heart of China’s new cybersecurity law: Where should data live? (June 7, 2017, Quartz)
One part of the law that has particularly riled foreign tech companies centers around “data localization” and “data export”—in other words, where companies can store data and move data. It’s a theme often repeated by Chinese authorities, and made official just recently.

History / Culture

Hidden Away for 28 Years, Tiananmen Protest Pictures See Light of Day (June 1 2017, The New York Times
For nearly 28 years, David Chen hid away a treasure chest of black-and-white photographs that he took of the protest movement that erupted at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the spring of 1989.

A Summer Of Anniversaries (June 6, 2017, Here! Dongguan)
But the handover was not only about the end of the New Territories lease. Two other anniversaries this summer also played a role in the decision to allow China to take control of Hong Kong. 50 years ago this spring, a series of riots rocked Hong Kong.

Travel / Food

All the tea in China – in pictures (June 2, 2017, The Guardian)
According to a legend, tea was first discovered by the Chinese emperor Shennong in 2737 BC. Today China is the world’s biggest tea producer, producing 2.43m tonnes last year. The tea industry in China employs around 80 million people as both farmers and pickers, and in sales.

The National Library of China (June 2, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
The National Library of China has a vast collection of books (more than 34 million), including books on the history of foreign languages and lots of volumes of history. This collection – thanks to a large number of donations – grows by approximately a million books each years.

Yangshuo: Top 7 Things to See & Do (June 7, 2017, Wild China Blog)
While Yangshuo’s spectacular scenery may be famous, and popular with tourists, the local area remains rich with old world charm. Visiting the region feels like stepping into an ancient Chinese ink painting, a canvas rich with dreamy hues, characterized by towering jade green mountains, sleepy villages and fishermen upon winding rivers. Put simply, this is the wild heart of China.

Language / Language Learning

How Important is Stroke Order When Learning Chinese? (June 5, 2017, The Beijinger)
Despite the fact that most phones and computers have the ability to write Chinese characters by inputting pinyin, learning the stroke order is important if you want to improve your fluency in Chinese.

Is it Even Worth Taking the HSK Exam? (June 6, 2017, The Beijinger)
The HSK exam or 汉语水平考试 hànyǔ shuǐpíng kǎoshì is the only standardized test for Mandarin Chinese proficiency for non-native speakers. For many Chinese language students, passing an HSK test and receiving the certificate is the goal for learning Chinese. It is feared and worshiped as the benchmark for those of us studying Chinese language, with many job descriptions requiring a certain level to apply and as the way to win a scholarship to study Chinese in China (tuition, accommodation, and some expenses are often subsidized).

The HSK Cheat Sheet: Remember These 300 Essential Words for Levels 1 and 2 (June 7, 2017, The Beijinger)
You might have heard that Chinese has thousands of characters … and yes, it sounds awful to learn. But don't let that deter your language study as learning (memorizing, recognizing, knowing) 900 characters will help beginners understand and construct simple sentences.


Welfare, Work, and Poverty: Social Assistance in China (June 1, 2017, China File)
Welfare, Work, and Poverty provides the first systematic and comprehensive evaluation of the impacts and effectiveness of China’s primary social assistance program—the “dibao,” or “Minimum Livelihood Guarantee”—since its inception in 1993.

Hong Kong on the Brink: An American diplomat relives 1967’s darkest days (June 3, 2017, China Rhyming)
Syd Goldsmith’s first taste of China’s Cultural Revolution is blood on his tongue. It’s 1967. Hong Kong is simmering, plagued by communist-led riots and strikes, crippled transport, punishing water-rationing, takeover threats from Beijing and roadside bombs. And Syd — the only Caucasian Foreign Service Officer at the American Consulate General who speaks Cantonese — is made responsible for reporting and analysis of the Hong Kong government’s ability to survive.

Empire and Environment in the Making of Manchuria (June 5, 2017, China Rhyming)
Until now, historians have focused on rivalries between Manchuria’s colonizing forces. Empire and Environment in the Making of Manchuria examines the interplay of climate and competing imperial interests in the region’s vibrant – and violent – cultural narrative. Families that settled this borderland reaped its riches while at the mercy of an unforgiving and hotly contested landscape.

Image credit: Joann Pittman, 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 of Northwestern-St. Paul …View Full Bio