ZGBriefs | March 11, 2021

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Featured Article

China wants more babies; China’s women have other plans (March 8, 2021, South China Morning Post)
China is concerned about population growth and the ageing workforce. But women say there must be major social and economic change rather than policy tweaks to address the demographic problem.

Sponsored Link

Free Webinar: Confucian Shame in Christian Thinking (ChinaSource)
For Confucian thinkers, shame is an essential element required for moral development. This understanding is foreign to most Westerners. Yet, does shame have a place in Christian theology? Is it something to get rid of or might it have a role in shaping our character? This webinar will explore the diverse ways that honor and shame affect our moral decision making as well as Paul’s use of these ideas within his letters.
Date: March 24, 2021
Time: 1:00-2:00 PM (US Central Daylight Time)
Presenter: Jackson Wu

(Note: a recording will be made available for those unable to attend the live event)

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China has built the world’s largest navy. Now what’s Beijing going to do with it? (March 5, 2021, CNN)
At some point between 2015 and today, China has assembled the world’s largest naval force. And now it’s working to make it formidable far from its shores. In 2015, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) had 255 battle force ships in its fleet, according to the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). As of the end of 2020, it had 360, over 60 more than the US Navy, according to an ONI forecast. 

Beijing Prepares Hong Kong Election Laws, Further Erasing Freedoms (march 5, 2021, NPR)
While Beijing has not publicized the details of the proposals, it has outlined broad changes that would effectively allow Beijing to vet candidates for Hong Kong’s legislative council and pack an election committee which chooses the region’s chief executive.

Xinjiang firms seek damages from foreign researcher over forced labour reports: media (March 9, 2021, Reuters)
The official news outlet of the Communist Party of China’s Xinjiang region said unidentified companies from the area have filed a domestic civil lawsuit seeking unspecified compensation from a U.S.-based human rights researcher whose reports alleged forced labour is used in the region’s cotton industry.

Westerners are increasingly scared of traveling to China as threat of detention rises (March 9, 2021, CNN)
Jeff Wasserstrom is a self-proclaimed China specialist who is seriously considering never returning to China — at least, he says, not while President Xi Jinping is in power.

The X Factor (March 9, 2021, China Media Project)
This talk of “earthly miracles,” or renjian qiji (人间奇迹), the Party’s final word on the anti-poverty campaign, is ultimately about the consolidation of power. It is about the “X factor.”

U.S., China delegations to hold top-level meeting next week after first diplomatic trip (March 10, 2021, NBC News)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet their Chinese counterparts in Alaska next week, the State Department announced Wednesday. The meeting will take place following a trip to South Korea and Japan by Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin — announced separately Wednesday — aimed at strengthening alliances with America’s closest partners in Asia.


Daniel—A Model for Hong Kong in Creating Shalom (March 8, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Daniel also lived at a watershed moment—the commencement of exile for God’s chosen people. Daniel and his friends were pioneering Jews embarked on a compulsory mission journey to proclaim the goodness of God in a cross-cultural and cross-ideological setting.

Society / Life

What China’s ‘Total Victory’ Over Extreme Poverty Looks Like In Actuality (March 5, 2021, NPR)
China defines extreme poverty as earning less than $2.30 a day at purchasing power parity. The World Bank’s figure is a $1.90 a day, but that’s generally for low-income countries. In the upper-middle income category, where China sits, the bank suggests a poverty line of $5.50 a day. 

Economics / Trade / Business

How China’s Massive Corruption Crackdown Snares Entrepreneurs Across The Country (March 4, 2021, NPR)
The families of some of those imprisoned — including Zhang’s — say the campaign netted mostly innocent people charged with crimes that they either did not commit or were exaggerated to fulfill prosecution quotas and a political mandate.


Senate approves bill to tighten controls on China-funded Confucius Institutes on U.S. university campuses(March 5, 2021, CNBC)
The Senate on Thursday approved by unanimous consent a bill that would increase oversight on Confucius Institutes, China-funded cultural centers that operate on university campuses. The bill would cut federal funds to universities and colleges that have Confucius Institutes that don’t comply with new oversight rules and regulations.

Health / Environment

Chinese vaccines sweep much of the world, despite concerns (March 1, 2021, AP)
With just four of China’s many vaccine makers claiming they are able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world’s population will end up inoculated not with the fancy Western vaccines boasting headline-grabbing efficacy rates, but with China’s humble, traditionally made shots.

Hong Kong expands vaccine programme to teachers, taxi drivers (March 8, 2021, Reuters)
Hong Kong’s top officials said on Monday that the city’s vaccine programme would be expanded to include more priority groups including teachers and delivery workers, as fears grow over a series of adverse reactions following the vaccine rollout. […] Around 93,000 people have been vaccinated since the public rollout started on Feb 26.

Free vaccines rolling out in several cities (March 9, 2021, China Daily)
Authorities in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, announced on Tuesday that the city had begun giving free COVID-19 vaccines to residents. The vaccinations will be available to people over 18 years old, with no restriction on household registration. They will need their ID cards to make an appointment at a community medical institution or designated hospital in the city.

China launches COVID-19 vaccination certificates for cross-border travel (March 9, 2021, Reuters)
China has launched a digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate for its citizens planning cross-border travels, joining other countries issuing similar documents as they seek ways to reopen their economies. […] The certificate issued by China would have details about the holder’s COVID-19 vaccination information and coronavirus test results, the Department of Consular Affairs under China’s foreign ministry said on its website.

Science / Technology

In battle with U.S., China to focus on 7 ‘frontier’ technologies from chips to brain-computer fusion (March 5, 2021, CNBC)
China is looking to boost research into what it calls “frontier technology” including quantum computing and semiconductors, as it competes with the U.S. for supremacy in the latest innovations.

Xi’s Gambit: China Plans for a World Without American Technology (March 10, 2021, The New York Times)
Beijing’s leaders plot a path to go it alone, vowing to spend big to fill gaps in innovation and avoid dependence on the United States and others.

China, Russia Announce Plan To Build Moon Research Station (March 10, 2021, NPR)
China and Russia have announced plans to work together to construct a lunar research station, an ambitious first-ever such space project between the two countries. […] The proposed station, which once complete would be open to use by other countries, “is a comprehensive scientific experiment base with the capability of long-term autonomous operation,” according to a statement released by China’s space agency.

Travel / Food

How ‘China’s Hawaii’ thrived without international tourists (March 5, 2021, Inkstone News)
Hainan has spent years trying to become an international tourist destination. But the island’s moment in the sun came when the coronavirus forced China to tightly restrict its borders. 

China’s Tibet to have high-speed bullet train before July (March 6, 2021, China Daily)
China’s Tibet autonomous region will operate bullet trains before July 1, marking the opening of high-speed train services in all Chinese mainland provincial-level regions, the country’s railway operator said Saturday. […] Construction started in 2014 on the railway connecting Lhasa with Nyingchi in eastern Tibet.

Rail official: Faster, safer bullet trains on their way (March 10, 2021, China Daily)
China is developing faster bullet trains to operate at higher speeds, according to a top railway industry official. Lu Dongfu, president of China State Railway Group, also a deputy to the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, said the company has launched the CR 450 technological innovation project, which aims to develop a new generation of Fuxing bullet trains that are faster, safer, smarter, more environmentally friendly and save more energy.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

How Douyin is Reshuffling the Chinese Music Industry (March 9, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The wildly popular short-video app has become one of the main ways Chinese people consume music, but its business model keeps artists anonymous and interchangeable.

Leap: A Film Review (March 10, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Leap was, without a doubt, my favorite film in 2020. This film is a biographical sports drama that spans decades, following the journey of China’s women’s national volleyball team. More specifically, Leap tells the story of Lang Ping, who joined the team at 18 years of age (portrayed by Lang Ping’s real-life daughter, Bai Lang) and later on in her career (portrayed by Gong Li) goes on to coach both the US and China women’s teams in various Olympic competitions.

Language / Language Learning

Choice Chengyu: Pearl of Wisdom (March 9, 2021, The World of Chinese)
Known as 珍珠 (zhēnzhū) in Chinese, or simply  (zhū) in ancient times, pearl were regarded as a symbol of happiness, elegance, nobility, and purity. Records show Chinese people wearing pearl accessories from at least 2,000 years ago, while today youngsters enjoy sipping on 珍珠奶茶 (zhēnzhū nǎichá, “pearl” milk tea). Throughout the long history of pearls in China, many idioms relating to their value and beauty have emerged, and are still in use today.

Links for Researchers

Dare to Face the “Strong Enemy 强敌”: How Xi Jinping Has Made the PLA Talk about the United States (March 4, 2021, Sinocism)
The PLA’s focus on the United States as its benchmark for military modernization and as a potential future adversary is well known. But what is new is how the PLA talks about these efforts: under Xi, this focus on the United States is increasingly obvious. In an authoritarian system, rhetoric matters, especially the choice of words.

FAQs: The NPC & Its Annual Sessions (March 4, 2021, NPC Observer)
On this page, we answer some of the frequently asked questions about the National People’s Congress (NPC) and its annual sessions. We intend these Q&As to only offer a basic introduction to the NPC for those unfamiliar with it, not a comprehensive and nuanced discussion of the relevant issues. 

A Chinese Pastor’s Perspective on Church of the Almighty God (March 9, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
This article gives more insight into an enigmatic religious movement that continues to influence portions of Chinese society.

Pray for China

March 12 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Mar. 12, 1925, Dr. Sun Yatsen (孙中山先生), China’s first president, died of liver cancer in Beijing. As a young Christian, Sun was forced to flee his family home after destroying the village idols. Just before his death, he told his only son, “As a Christian I have wrestled with the devil for forty years. You should do likewise and believe in God.” Pray for officials in China to find refuge in Dr. Sun’s Lord. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

Image credit: 伟 郭 from Pixabay
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