China reopening borders to foreign tourists for first time since Covid erupted (March 14, 2023, BBC)
From 15 March, foreign offices can process applications for Chinese visas. Visa-free entry will also resume in Hainan Island and Shanghai for cruise ships. Tour groups from Hong Kong and Macau will also regain their visa-free privilege. In addition, valid visas issued before China closed to the world on 28 March 2020 will be honoured again.
Online Book Club – Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China, by Lian Xi (ERRChina/CAC)
Come alongside ERRChina/CAC friends and scholars as you engage with works that reflect on past and present Chinese worldviews. You will gain a greater understanding of China and the church, past and present, and its meaning and impact in our current world situation. Together, we’ll make the most of a time of uncertainty, waiting, and strained isolation and spend it in patience, hope, and exploration. Read more about the book here. Go here to register to join the book club discussion on April 19, 2023.
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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs
Xi Jinping handed unprecedented third term as China’s president (March 10, 2023, The Guardian)
In a carefully choreographed ceremony in Beijing, Xi held up his right fist and placed his left hand on a red leather copy of China’s constitution. In the oath – beamed live on state television across China – he vowed to “build a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilised, harmonious and great modern socialist country”.
After years of isolation, Xi’s China looks to dominate world stage (March 13, 2023, The Guardian)
In Xi Jinping’s closing speech at China’s annual parliamentary meeting on Monday, his message was clear: China is back. Speaking to nearly 3,000 delegates in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi, newly anointed as president for a precedent-busting third term, said: “After a century of struggle, our national humiliation has been erased … the Chinese nation’s great revival is on an irreversible path.”
Xi Jinping’s show: Who’s who in China’s new government (March 13, 2023, NPR)
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, approved personnel changes in the government that are largely seen as having been orchestrated by Xi, who has become the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. Here are some of the key players.
Factbox: Key takeaways from China’s annual NPC parliamentary meeting (March 13, 2023, Reuters)
China’s rubber-stamp parliament concluded its annual meeting on Monday, during which Xi Jinping was confirmed as president for a precedent-breaking third term and installed many of his allies in top government roles.
China Facilitates Iran-Saudi Arabia Détente (March 14, 2023, China Digital Times)
In a surprise deal facilitated by China on Friday, Iran and Saudi Arabia announced that they would resume their diplomatic relations. The deal is a breakthrough for the two Middle Eastern rivals, who will reopen their embassies for the first time in seven years and implement cooperation agreements signed two decades ago. For China, it is an opportunity to showcase a growing presence in international conflict resolution and advance its vision of a global order not led by the U.S.
Aukus submarine deal: Is conflict with China getting closer? (March 14, 2023, BBC)
China has reacted with predictable anger to this week’s official announcement of the so-called Aukus pact. The details, unveiled on Monday in San Diego, bind together Australia, the UK and the US in a far-reaching defence and security alliance aimed at confronting Chinese military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.
China has weapons to give Russia an edge in Ukraine – why hasn’t it? (March 15, 2023, Christian Science Monitor)
Will China use its military resources to give Russia an edge on the battlefield? Although the Ukraine war has propelled cooperation between Beijing and Moscow, China’s calculations in Eastern Europe have more to do with the United States.
Kenya-China relations strained as new government grapples with a debt crisis (March 15, 2023, Global Voices)
In February, a group of Kenyan traders in Nairobi organized a demonstration against Chinese traders who they claimed were engaging in unfair trade practices and taking business away from local entrepreneurs. The traders marched to the deputy president’s office demanding an end to what they called a “China invasion.”
Taiwan ally Honduras seeks diplomatic switch to China (March 15, 2023, BBC)
Taiwan is in danger of losing one of its few formal allies, Honduras, as the Central American nation seeks official relations with China. Honduran President Xiomara Castro said the pivot aims to expand foreign engagements. Taiwan promptly cautioned Honduras against falling into China’s “trap”.
Being a Family in China’s New Era (March 10, 2023, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Based on an interview with a couple who are the parents of school-age children in Beijing, we learn not only of the changes they have faced but also of their responses to those changes and how they hope Christians outside of China will pray for them and the church in China.
Heart vs Surface-level Reconciliation (March 13, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
As I interviewed Chinese Christians in China, I discovered that reconciliation, like conflict, is conceptualized slightly differently around the world.
A Matter Of Wisdom: To Run Or Not? (March 13, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
In the last year or so, many Christians have begun to consider leaving China and making a life elsewhere. One Shanghai pastor who observed the phenomenon wrote this pastoral letter to his congregation to help guide them as they decide whether or not they should leave.
Society / Life
Photographing the Remnants of “Zero Covid” (March 12, 2023, The World of Chinese)
After the sudden end of China’s “dynamic zero” Covid policy, photographers capture the lingering relics of the country’s pandemic prevention apparatus.
China’s Maternity Hotels Offer New Moms a Break — From Their In-Laws (March 13, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Maternity hotels have found success by tapping into the Chinese tradition for mothers to “sit the month” after giving birth. But they also offer young moms another benefit: an escape from unwanted parenting advice.
Hangzhou Plans Easing ‘Hukou’ Restrictions to Attract Talent (March 15, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Those working in the city of 12 million people will be eligible to apply for the household registration permit, known as the hukou, in the downtown area if they hold a college degree and are under the age of 35, according to a draft regulation released by the local public security bureau Monday.
Economics / Trade / Business
Europe joins the US in its chip war with China (March 9, 2023, CNN)
Europe’s biggest producer of advanced chipmaking technology has joined the United States in its escalating standoff with China. The Netherlands announced Wednesday, via a letter from its trade minister to parliament, that new restrictions on overseas sales of semiconductor technology were needed to protect national security.
Chinese consumers out of COVID gates with caution, rather than zest (March 14, 2023, Reuters)
Chinese consumers, unshackled from COVID-19 restrictions, are returning to hotels, restaurants and some shops, but they are choosy about what they buy, disappointing hopes for an immediate post-pandemic splurge. China’s battered property market, lingering worries over job stability, and government parsimony in wages, pensions and medical benefits are keeping shoppers cautious.
China’s economy shows gradual recovery after COVID reopening (March 15, 2023, Reuters)
China’s abandonment of COVID-19 controls late in 2022 has reinvigorated an $18 trillion economy that has suffered one of its lowest growth rates in nearly half a century, with analysts expecting momentum to improve further in coming months.
‘It Is Especially Scary to See Students’ (March 13, 2023, China File)
As in many other aspects of public life in China under Xi Jinping, the space for independent inquiry and discussion within the academy has shrunk significantly in recent years. The Xi administration has released a slew of guidelines and communiques cementing the Party’s control over the classroom
Travel / Food
Chinese tourists are traveling again — but not the way they used to (March 14, 2023, CNBC)
In China as elsewhere, years of pandemic-induced lockdowns sparked a shift away from major tourist attractions toward “more nature-orientated, more outdoor-orientated tourism,” Arlt said. He highlighted the emergence of trends like camping and glamping, as well as family-focused trips.
Links for Researchers
Decoding China Dictionary (Decoding China)
The Decoding China Dictionary seeks to answer these questions and to serve as a guide to understanding the official Chinese meaning of key terms in international relations and development cooperation.
Public Lecture | Spreading the Gospel: Christian Posters in Early 20th Century China (ChinaSource)
Between 1919 and 1949, posters were the most common Christian visual imagery in China. They were printed by the millions and hung in tea rooms, on city walls, and on temple gates. Posters were put up in houses and churches; they were unfolded for street evangelism. They were extremely popular because they were aesthetically pleasing and symbolically rich, yet easy to understand. Unlike theological treatises written by Chinese theologians, these images were designed by laypeople and intended for popular consumption. In this lecture, Daryl Ireland of Boston University will showcase some of the 700 Chinese Protestant and Catholic posters he has located and explain why they are changing the way we think about Chinese Christianity.
April 26, 2023
Barrows Auditorium – Billy Graham Hall
Go here to register for this free event
Pray for China
March 21 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Mar. 21, 1288, Rabban Bar Sauma (拉宾扫务玛), a Church of the East (Nestorian) Christian from China, celebrated communion in Rome with Pope Nicholas IV. Earlier in the year, Rabban had met the King of France (Philip the Fair) and the King of England (Edward I) as part of a Yuan dynasty effort to form an alliance with European powers. Pray that the Lord Jesus will be glorified as His disciples reveal their joy in knowing the Light of the World. Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Image credit: Alexander Schimmeck, via Unsplash
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