ZGBriefs | March 1, 2018

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Featured Article

Xi Won’t Go: A ChinaFile Conversation (February 25, 2018, China File)
In a surprise Sunday move, Beijing announced that the Communist Party leadership wants to abolish the two-term limit for China’s president and vice president, potentially paving the way for China’s 64-year-old President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely. What does this mean for Chinese politics, political reform, and relations with the rest of the world?

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Special Section: Constitutional Changes

China sets stage for Xi to stay in office indefinitely (February 25, 2018, Reuters)
China’s ruling Communist Party on Sunday set the stage for President Xi Jinping to stay in office indefinitely, with a proposal to remove a constitutional clause limiting presidential service to just two terms in office.

China pushes back against criticism of plan for Xi to stay in power (February 25, 2018, Reuters)
China’s plan for President Xi Jinping to remain in office indefinitely has sparked social media opposition, drawing comparisons to North Korea’s ruling dynasty and prompting a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist to accuse it of creating a dictator.

China’s Stability Myth Is Dead (February 26, 2018, Foreign Policy)
But the most recent change signals something far deeper than the party’s primacy over the law; it spotlights the essential instability of the entire political system.

Xi Jinping May Be President for Life. What Will Happen to China? (February 26, 2018, The New Yorker)
Now he is throwing out the written rules, and to the degree that he applies that approach to the international system—including rules on trade, arms, and access to international waters—America faces its most serious challenge since the end of the Cold War.

China is likely to enter another long period of severe dictatorship (February 26, 2018, Jerome Cohen)
Xi’s move will have a profound effect on world order. It will enable him to move more boldly and increases the risk of his acting arbitrarily and perhaps mistakenly in international relations. It will surely hinder China’s efforts to be respected for “soft power” as well as military and economic prowess.

Xi Jinping’s power grab creates systemic instability (February 27, 2018, China Policy Institute)
By closing those channels and possibly extending a leader’s rule indefinitely, the constitutional change increases the odds that discontent and impatience — within the CCP, the PLA and the general public — will find other means of expressing themselves. 

Xi Jinping’s presidency will change China forever – for better or worse (February 28, 2018, China Policy Institute)
While it may seem too early to consider life after Xi, China has to start imagining what that life might look like – especially if Xi successfully uses his long reign to refashion institutional and party norms in his image.

Sensitive Words: Emperor Xi Jinping to Ascend His Throne (Updated) (February 28, 2018, China Digital Times)
Following state media’s announcement, censorship authorities began work to limit online discussion. CDT Chinese editors found the following terms blocked from being posted on Weibo.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

The Thoughts of Chairman Xi (BBC)
[Xi] wants his citizens to identify with “the motherland, the Chinese nation or race, Chinese culture, and the Chinese socialist road”

How Does My Organization Find a Professional Supervisory Unit? (February 22, 2018, The China NGO Project)
How does my organization find and contact a Professional Supervisory Unit (PSU)? Which entities in China are approved to work as PSUs?

What if There Is No Professional Supervisory Unit for the Type of Work My NGO Does? (February 22, 2018, The China NGO Project)
Even if they find PSUs in their fields, a large number of potential PSUs have remained unresponsive to overtures from foreign NGOs. 

Death of Chinese rights lawyer raises suspicions (February 26, 2018, Reuters)
Li Baiguang, a Christian human rights lawyer who had met regularly with high-level officials in the United States, died at the Number 81 People’s Liberation Army Hospital in Nanjing, eastern China, a source with direct knowledge of the case told Reuters.

With eye on U.S., China to revamp top tier of diplomats: sources (February 26, 2018, Reuters)
China is expected to announce a reshuffle of its top diplomats at an annual meeting of parliament in March, aiming to deal with U.S. President Donald Trump’s growing suspicion of Beijing, several sources familiar with the plan said.

China's Communist Party agrees on government reform, but no details (February 28, 2018, Reuters)
China’s ruling Communist Party agreed on Wednesday to deepen reform of party and government departments to improve their function and to push for high quality development, but gave no details of an unexpected shake up of ministries.


China and the Church in China, part 2: Kings and the Gospel (February 22, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
I call the period from 1989 to 1997, “Kings.” It started in 1989. Maybe you have heard of the movie 2012? [An apocalyptic film about the end of the world.] For me, 2012 happened in 1989, because I lived in a college. 

Christian Olympians (February 26, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Ms. Li is a Christian, and I asked her about Christians within the professional sports world in China. She told me that although there are not many, the number of Christian athletes has been growing in recent years. 

China and The Church In China, Part 3: Acts (February 27, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
In 2008, the earthquake happened. [It measured 8.0 on the Richter scale and occurred on May 12, 2008, in Sichuan, China.] There have been other earthquakes since, but this was the biggest and worst, with the most deaths. For the house church, the earthquake was very important.

Remembering Billy Graham in China (February 27, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
While some called him “America’s pastor,” his influence extended far beyond the United States, including to China. Graham made two trips to China. During the first trip he and his wife, Ruth, visited her birthplace—the place where her father L. Nelson Bell served as a medical missionary from 1916 to 1941.

Billy Graham’s Legacy of Partnering (February 28, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
ChinaSource, like many other evangelical institutions born in the 20th century, owes much to the legacy of partnering left by Billy Graham. His vision was not simply the proclamation of the gospel, but Christians proclaiming and living out the gospel together in a visible demonstration of the unity that all believers have in Christ. 

Society / Life

Documentary: China's Generation Gap: Beijing (February 11, 2018, BBC)
Chinese reporter Haining Liu travels to Beijing and finds out what it was like for people who grew up during the Cultural Revolution and how those who lived under strict communism relate to their children who have had much more material, individualistic lives. Chinese reporter Haining Liu travels to Beijing and finds out what it was like for people who grew up during the Cultural Revolution and how those who lived under strict communism relate to their children who have had much more material, individualistic lives.

Wǒ Men Podcast: The Chinese New Year Traditions You Need to Know (February 13, 2018, Radii China)
On this episode of the podcast, we recall our memories and discuss all of the interesting and weird (and superstitious) customs and traditions that surround Chinese New Year in our own families, particularly in the old days.

Video: Millions of Chinese Kids Are Parenting Themselves (February 22, 2018, The Atlantic)
Max Duncan’s quietly poignant short documentary Down from the Mountains tells the story of a family torn apart by the forces of China’s rapid modernization. 

Beijing to Demolish 40 Million Square Meters of Housing (February 24, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Though the campaign against illegally built housing has been ongoing for many years, the city has recently ramped up efforts in order to create more space for greenery and community facilities.

End of Spring Festival Finally Brings Relief to Single Women (February 26, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The stress of ensuring the continuation of the family line often makes parents resort to extreme behavior, such as emotional blackmail, temper tantrums, and even suicide threats.

What Are China’s Two-Child Families Worried About? (February 26, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Child safety, elderly care, and career woes are chief among the concerns of parents with two kids, report says.

China's 400 Million Millennials Balance Expectations of Family, Culture And A Modern World (February 27, 2018, WBUR)
Zak Dychtwald has spent much of his 20s living in and learning about China, and observing how his fellow millennials there navigate their relationship with their parents, entrepreneurship, marriage and politics. In his new book "Young China," Dychtwald paints a picture of what makes this rising generation tick.

Economics / Trade / Business

Chinese manufacturing activity hits 19-month low in February (February 27, 2018, CNBC)
Chinese statistics bureau official Zhao Qinghe said in a report that manufacturing in February was hit by slowing production and demand as Lunar New Year fell in mid-February this year.

China working-age population shrinks, presenting pitfall for pension plans (February 28, 2018, Reuters)
Slowing population growth and a shrinking pool of workers present a challenge to China’s economic growth as well as its state-run pension program.


How Dyslexia Remains Invisible in Chinese Schools (February 27, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Dyslexia is well-known and well-researched in many Western countries, but awareness of the disability remains low across the Chinese mainland; without support, those affected are unable to compete in school, stifling their future potential.

Science / Technology

Apple moves to store iCloud keys in China, raising human rights fears (February 23, 2018, Reuters)
When Apple Inc begins hosting Chinese users’ iCloud accounts in a new Chinese data center at the end of this month to comply with new laws there, Chinese authorities will have far easier access to text messages, email and other data stored in the cloud.

Spy games: Is buying a Chinese smartphone risky? (February 27, 2018, USA Today)
Lawmakers in the United States have placed Huawei and another Chinese manufacturer, ZTE, in the crosshairs over their reputed ties to the Chinese intelligence and military establishment. U.S. officials' concern is that their products could be conduits for Chinese espionage, both on a targeted and a grand scale. Both handset makers have denied any such complicity.

Chinese capital dangles carrots to lure foreign talent to its Silicon Valley (February 27, 2018, Reuters)
Beijing, a major hub for artificial intelligence (AI) and semiconductors in China, is touting a new list of incentives to try and bait foreign talent for its equivalent of Silicon Valley in the Chinese capital.

US slaps fresh tariffs on Chinese aluminium (February 28, 2018, BBC)
The Commerce Department said the metal was being sold below cost or with government subsidies – making it impossible for US producers to compete. Beijing has expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with the step and said China would pursue its legal rights.

History / Culture

Why do some Chinese funerals involve strippers? (February 24, 2018, BBC)
According to one theory, strippers are used to boost funeral attendances because large crowds are seen as a mark of honour for the deceased. Another states the practice could be linked to a "worship of reproduction". 

Travel / Food

Designer Shenzhen: exploring China's creative capital (February 2018, Lonely Planet)
Shenzhen is also an increasingly creative urban centre. In 2008, it was designated a Unesco Creative City to bolster its reputation in the arts, cementing its pivot from industrial engine to creative capital.

144 Hours of Visa Free Travel in Beijing and Hebei (February 23, 2018, Wild China Blog)
The visa-free system has many guidelines, but in general the rule is as follows: If you have a layover in Beijing, Tianjin, or Hebei, you’re allowed to travel within this area for 6 days without a visa. 

New Yunnan High Speed Train to Open July 2018 (February 28, 2018, Wild China Blog)
Forget jumping on a 1-hour flight from Kunming to Lijiang or riding the 6-hour-long train from Kunming to Dali – this new route will allow you to sit back and experience Yunnan’s idyllic countryside from the comfort of a train traveling at 200km/hr.

4 Out of the Ordinary Ways to Visit Pandas in China (February 28, 2018, Wild China Blog)
A number of breeding centers, reserves, and research facilities have been established in Sichuan to help protect the giant panda from extinction. These reserves offer the modern traveler plenty of extraordinary ways to visit pandas in their natural habitat.

Sports/ Entertainment / Media

China leads its citizens to snow ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Games (February 25, 2018, CNN)
Four years out from the next Winter Games in Beijing, China faces the same challenges as most Olympic hosts — to build facilities, expand infrastructure and do it all within a budget. However, an extra challenge exists for the country's communist government — to create public interest in winter sports among a population that for the moment couldn't care less.

Living Cross-culturally

Why I’m (Not) Leaving Beijing (February 23, 2018, The Beijinger)
I like that Beijing chooses its residents like a garlic-fouled cab driver cruising a dark Sanlitun alley in the wee hours of Saturday. It is grit and growl, baijiu and attitude. Beijing is steampunk in a Mando-pop world.


How History Haunts Us (February 24, 2018,  Global China Center)
A review of Opening China: Karl F. A. Gutzlaff and Sino-Western Relations, 1827-1852, by Jessie Gregory Lutz.
Opening China sets Gutzlaff’s career in the intricate matrix of Sino-Western relations, which, in his day as in ours, feature pressure upon the rulers in Beijing to unlock China’s doors to free trade and to the propagation of the Christian faith. Obsessed with keeping a tight grip on their people, China’s leaders resist outside intrusion and insist upon their right to control de-stabilizing Western imports.

A Billion Voices: Rethinking “Chinese” With David Moser’s Little Yellow Book (February 28, 2018, Radii China)
To that end, A Billion Voices: China’s Search for a Common Language does in a hundred pages what entire libraries of dense academic writing often can’t: it tells the story of what Mandarin Chinese is and how it came to be. 

Links for Researchers

Translation: Communist Party’s Proposals for Amending the P.R.C. Constitution (2018) (February 26, 2018, NPC Observer)
The Communist Party today released full text of its proposals for amending the P.R.C. Constitution, which are translated below. In translating this document, we mostly followed the official English translation of the Constitution that is available on the NPC’s website.


From Every Tribe and Language and People and Nation (February 23, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
The Global Prayer Digest (GPD) offers daily prayer materials for UPGs, but it takes the efforts of several organizations working together to accomplish the task. There are 4000 intercessors using our English prayer materials, 30,000 intercessors using the Chinese-language materials, and others using materials in Spanish and Korean.

Image credit: by Xiquinho Silva, via Flickr
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