ZGBriefs | March 14, 2019

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Featured Article

Where Will Your Plastic Trash Go Now That China Doesn't Want It? (March 13, 2019, NPR)
Plastic garbage from Trader Joe's and an AARP card are peeking out of hillocks of plastic trash piling up in Indonesia. It's a sign of a new global quandary: What should wealthy countries do with their plastic waste now that China no longer is buying it?

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Chinese Tech Giant Huawei Sues U.S. Over Government Ban (March 7, 2019, NPR)
Chinese telecom company Huawei is suing the U.S. government, alleging Congress violated the Constitution when it singled out Huawei for punishment.

With Streaks of Gray Hair, Xi Jinping of China Breaks With Tradition (March 7, 2019, The New York Times)
For decades, Chinese leaders have sported unnaturally black heads of hair, a look that symbolized unity and gave the party a youthful veneer. But Mr. Xi, 65, appears to be dispensing with vanity as he presents himself as a relatable and avuncular leader, part of his efforts to soften his hard-line policies.

In sensitive year for China, warnings against 'erroneous thoughts' (March 7, 2019, Reuters)
China’s ruling Communist Party is ramping up calls for political loyalty in a year of sensitive anniversaries, warning against “erroneous thoughts” as officials fall over themselves to pledge allegiance to President Xi Jinping and his philosophy.

Who Runs China? Portraits of the Delegates to the NPC  (March 8, 2019, CGTV)

Beijing Ramps Up Propaganda During NPC  (March 9, 2019, China Digital Times)
The annual Two Sessions political conference is now underway in Beijing. As is commonly the case during this type of occasion, there has been an uptick in related propaganda. 

Disillusioned Bureaucrats Are Fleeing China’s Ministries (March 11, 2019, Bloomberg)
Interviews with eight officials in China’s ministries and regional governments show growing dissatisfaction as the party tightens restrictions on its 7 million civil servants, traditionally known as cadres. All these officials either recently quit or plan to do so, and all requested anonymity to speak about sensitive matters.

Video: Nicholas Lardy on The State Strikes Back: The End of Economic Reform in China? (March 12, 2019,National Committee on US-China Relations, via YouTube)
National Committee vice chair Nicholas R. Lardy, the Anthony M. Solomon Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, draws upon new data and analysis from his recent book, The State Strikes Back: The End of Economic Reform in China? Dr. Lardy discusses China’s future growth prospects and the impact of revived state control.

China's Judiciary Works For 'Stability of Regime, System': Top Judge (March 12, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
China's top-level law enforcement agencies vowed on Tuesday to throw their weight behind the ruling Chinese Communist Party's efforts to maintain social stability and stave off "critical threats" to party rule.

US State Department Decries China's 'Remarkably Awful' Treatment of Uyghurs (March 13, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
China’s treatment of its Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities puts it "in a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations," top U.S. diplomat Mike Pompeo said Wednesday as the U.S. State Department issued its global survey of rights conditions.

Xinjiang detention camps may be phased out, governor suggests (March 13, 2019,The Guardian)
Defending their policies at a session of China’s legislative meeting, the National People’s Congress, officials said the camps – which China describes as vocational training centres – would be phased out if no longer needed.


U.S. envoy for religious freedom slams China during Hong Kong visit (March 7, 2019, Reuters)
The U.S. ambassador for religious freedom, Sam Brownback, on Friday called on Beijing to end religious persecution in China, while requesting a visit to the country’s mass internment camps in the western region of Xinjiang.

China official says West using Christianity to 'subvert' power (March 11, 2019,Reuters)
In a speech on Monday, Xu Xiaohong head of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, said there were many problems with Christianity in the country, including “infiltration” from abroad and “private meeting places”.

A Changed Life (March 12, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
This moving story from the journal Territory tells of one mother’s journey from witchcraft to Christ. A-li-ya also shares how her mother’s dramatic conversion ended up not only changing her family’s life, but the lives of many in their village as well. Read below for a contemporary testimony of how the gospel breaks down real-life idols in people’s lives in China.

Society / Life

China's technology revolution is leaving its senior citizens behind (March 8, 2019, CNN)
As urban Chinese increasingly embrace digital life, the way of living Zhang and her peers knew for decades — shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, queuing in banks, hailing a cab — is fading fast.  "The popularity of new digital tools has a great impact on the life of the elderly," says Lu Jiehua, professor of social demography at Peking University.

China Youth Federation: Ban Minors from Live Streaming Platforms (March 9, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
China’s live streaming market is booming. Sina News reports that some 425 million netizens used live streaming platforms in 2018. According to the Online Information Center of the Communist Youth League, Chinese minors are particularly active live streamers: 6.4% of live stream users are primary school students, 18.3% of them are junior high school students and 20.3% are senior high schoolers.

China’s wealthy families are turning to long holidays abroad as efforts to emigrate halted (March 10, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Chinese citizens are encountering more barriers to their dreams of travelling abroad, with severe limits on moving money overseas and restrictions on visiting foreign countries. Still, growing anxieties about air pollution, food and medicine safety and an increasingly authoritarian political climate are pushing middle class families to look for new ways to circumvent the obstacles so they can live outside China.

Top 5 of China’s Popular News Apps (March 11, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
In China’s dynamic online media environment, where hundreds of news apps are competing over clicks, these are five different news apps that are currently popular among Chinese netizens.

Towards a new understanding of ageing and care in urban China (March 12, 2019,Asia Dialogue)
There has been a wide range of academic monographs and articles published recently on ageing and care in Asia. Much of this literature takes a theoretical approach, while much again takes a public policy approach.

A Flurry of Ideas to Reverse China’s Declining Birthrate, but Will Beijing Listen? (March 13, 2019, The New York Times)
One proposal would end financial penalties for babies born out of wedlock. Another would lower the legal age of marriage. Others would ban discrimination against mothers and mothers-to-be in the workplace and would expand or extend parental leave to fathers.

Economics / Trade / Business

Listen: Has China's economy peaked? (March 8, 2019, BBC)
China's growth forecast has been reduced, again. Will a new plan to boost the economy work?

China’s GDP growth could be half of reported number, says US economist at prominent Chinese university (March 10, 2019, South China Morning Post)
If China’s bad debts were written down, its economic growth rate would be half the recorded number, a US economist at a prominent Chinese university has warned. In a speech in Shanghai this week, Michael Pettis, professor of finance at Peking University, warned that China’s debt is closely linked to the government’s perceived overstatement of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Nightmare in northeast China: why investors still tread warily in the country’s rust belt (March 10, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Although it has long been criticised for its unfriendly business environment, bureaucracy and discrimination against private enterprises, some overseas investors have been willing to take the risk only to find their worst fears have come to pass.

Would the Last Company Manufacturing in China Please Turn Off the Lights, Part 2  (March 10, 2019, China Law Blog)
If you are going to up and leave China for another country, you will need the very same protections in whatever country you go as you need for China, but specifically tailored for whichever country to which you are going.

Party on: Real estate booms in cradle of China's Communist revolution (March 12, 2019, Reuters)
Worried by the effects of a slowing Chinese economy, which has been exacerbated by a bruising trade war with the United States, the government is allowing prices to rise quickly in Yanan and hundreds of other cities across the country.

Yum China to open KFC outlets at Chinese gas stations (March 12, 2019, Reuters)
More than 100 outlets, likely KFC restaurants, will be opened at gas stations owned by Sinopec Corp and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) over the next three years, Yum China said on Tuesday, without giving any financial details. The two Chinese oil firms collectively operate over 50,000 gas stations in the country.

China Asserts Its Air Safety Bona Fides After Boeing Crash (March 13, 2019,The New York Times)
“In the past, we mainly acted according to F.A.A.’s decision,” said Lin Zhijie, an aviation consultant in the southeastern city of Xiamen. “If F.A.A. said ‘ground,’ we’d ground, and vice versa.” Beijing regulators’ willingness to act on their own now, Mr. Lin said, “is a landmark event, and worth watching.”

The interaction between urbanisation and house prices in China (March 13, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
There is a close connection between urbanisation and the real-estate industry. Since the implementation of reform and the opening-up policy, with the rapid development of urbanisation and expansion of industrialisation, a large number of surplus rural workers have migrated to the cities. The huge demand for housing that this has created has tipped the balance between supply and demand in the housing market, leading to a rise in housing prices.


Chinese students caught in trade war crossfire urge United States to ease visa curbs (March 8, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Chinese student associations at several American universities have published an open letter appealing to Chinese students to support a petition they are preparing to launch against their growing US visa difficulties, amid accusations that China has been stealing intellectual property from the United States.

Health / Environment

China’s Health Insurance to Cover More Lifesaving Drugs (March 7, 2019, Sixth Tone)
People with pulmonary hypertension and other rare diseases hope an update to the national catalog of insured drugs will ease the financial burden on their families.

In the HIV Medical System (March 11, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
My daughter was the only child. These were the people with HIV in my city, but it couldn’t have been all of them. Where were the young women? Where were the families? It couldn’t be only men. We were moving deeper underneath the veil.

China’s Rare Public Hospices Help Patients Die With Dignity (March 13, 2019,Sixth Tone)
Although palliative care is gaining support, it faces an uphill battle in a country where death is taboo and hospices are underfunded.

Science / Technology

China's great firewall and the war to control the internet (March 12, 2019,New Scientist)
The West thinks China’s internet is all about firewalls and censorship, but as a new book shows, the battle for control is full of dubious motives.

History / Culture

The Refugee Emperor (March 7, 2019, China Channel)
How the Yongli Emperor was strangled in Kunming by a turncoat general.

Understand China Better With These 10 Culture-Focused Chinese WeChat Accounts (March 11, 2019, The Beijinger)
We asked our colleagues around the Beijinger office to recommend some of their favorite Chinese-language services and public accounts. Ranging from Chinese movie reviews and book recommendations, to first-person stories around China, and hot goss from the Beijing music scene, these accounts are not only great for Chinese language practice but can also help you understand China better in general.

Video: Carter Greets Deng Xiaoping in 1979  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Video: Communist China Celebrates 10th Anniversary in 1959 (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

Moving Mountains: Why a Remote Chinese Village Turned to Tourism  (March 7, 2019, Sixth Tone)
After their homes were moved in 2014, villagers in this far-off corner of Sichuan began opening guesthouses.

Chinese Takeout: Hakka Snack Attack in Xiamen (March 9, 2019, Radii China)
Having moved to Xiamen in search of opportunity, this chef is carving out a niche for authentic Hakka food from his childhood.

How American Fast Food Chains Like KFC and McDonald’s Localized to Win Over China (March 11, 2019, Radii China)
How American fast food came to China, and how China subsequently fell in love with the likes of KFC and McDonald's.

Top Tips for Family Travel in China (March 12, 2019, Wild China Blog)
Traveling with your family can be challenging, perhaps even more so if that includes children: not all activities are universally enjoyable and travel styles can clash. One person may be bored out of their mind as you travel from one place to another, while others may find the smallest minutiae to be fully absorbing – potentially slowing down those who want to move on. Traveling with others is a delicate balancing act, family or not.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Inside the Dystopian Reality of China’s Livestreaming Craze (March 8, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The scene plays out in “People’s Republic of Desire,” a deeply dystopian documentary that explores the people behind China’s craze for online livestreaming — a market that might be worth 112 billion yuan ($16.7 billion) by 2020, according to online statistics portal Statista.

Feng Xiaogang’s New Year Celebration Films and the government-led commercialisation of the Chinese film industry (March 8, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
The creation and development of Feng Xiaogang’s New Year Celebration Films (hesui pian, henceforth referred to as NYCFs) corresponds with the commercialisation of the Chinese film industry which has been led by the state film authorities ever since the beginning of the 1990s.

TV Drama Highlights Gender Discrimination in Chinese Families (March 11, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The popular series “All Is Well” has netizens weighing in on whether all is indeed well for women in China’s modern families.

Mapping Chinese Memories (March 12, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Paper maps may sound antiquated in the digital era, but Qiu Zhijie’s attempt to map the world’s knowledge in his new solo exhibit at Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art is anything but. On display until May 5, “Mappa Mundi” is an exhibit that is overwhelming to both the eyes and the mind—and leaves you feeling small in the vast world.

OlymPicks: China Vows to Become a Winter Sports Leader by 2022 (March 13, 2019,The Beijinger)
At the "two sessions" plenary in Beijing this week he pledged that China will participate in all the 109 disciplines in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, a record high for any nation, and especially one that isn't exactly famous for its winter sports successes.

Language / Language Learning

Tone errors in Mandarin that actually can cause misunderstandings (March 11, 2019, Hacking Chinese)
Some tone mistakes are more serious than others, though, just like mixing up the vowels in English in some words might just sound a bit odd, whereas in other situations, it changes into another word. If you’re out of luck, it changes meaning to word that is funny and/or embarrassing.


Three “T” Reasons to Read "The Tea Girl" (March 8, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
 Lisa See will be familiar to many ChinaSource readers because of her modern classic Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. In October my American book group read her recent book The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. While everyone enjoyed it, it was clear I enjoyed it more than the others, making me think other China hands might enjoy it too.

Will The U.S.-China Trade War Matter In The Coming Decades? (March 11, 2019,NPR)
NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Parag Khanna about his new book The Future Is Asianand the U.S.-China trade war.


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