ZGBriefs | March 18, 2021

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Featured Article

Hong Kong’s Economic Future: A ChinaFile Conversation (March 11, 2021, China File)
Hong Kong’s economy shrank a record 6 percent last year, due to the pandemic, but is forecast to recover significantly by the end of 2021. Even as the political restrictions are growing tighter, Hong Kong—with its successful COVID-19 response and strong export markets—looks to be on an economic upswing. Is it? What are key factors shaping the city’s economic future?

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)

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

New geopolitical fears surround 2022 Beijing Olympics (March 9, 2021, Axios)
Global fears of China’s authoritarian rise are overshadowing the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and sparking calls for a boycott. […] A coalition of 180 rights groups have called for a traditional boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympics, citing human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in China.

Analysis: Xi Jinping’s two cups signal there’s plenty of hot tea left (March 11, 2021, Nikkei Asia)
In front of President Xi Jinping were placed two teacups. The six other Politburo Standing Committee members, including Premier Li Keqiang, had only one teacup in front of them. It was as if to say, not only is Xi’s tea not getting cold, approaching 10 years in office, there is another hot cup of tea waiting for him to sip.

Hong Kong: China approves ‘patriotic’ plan to control elections (March 11, 2021, BBC)
China’s legislature has approved a resolution to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system – its latest move to tighten control over the city. The “patriots governing Hong Kong” resolution was passed at the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Thursday. It will reduce democratic representation and allow a pro-Beijing panel to vet and elect candidates.

With New Five-Year Plan, China Aims to ‘Walk Strong’ (March 12, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Unlike previous iterations, this week’s monumental policy document does not set specific economic growth targets.

The Soul of Lu Xun (March 14, 2021, The Wire China)
Those looking for China’s national spirit won’t find it in Xi Jinping’s writing. But the works of Lu Xun offer a homegrown example that contemporary Chinese can follow as the country writes a script for its next act.

China and U.S. appear set for a frosty Alaska summit (March 16, 2021, Politico)
The U.S. and China are setting vastly different expectations for their first high-level meeting under the Biden administration, casting a chill on the talks set to begin in Alaska on Thursday.

US sanctions 24 China and Hong Kong officials ahead of talks (March 16, 2021, AP)
The step reflects Washington’s “deep concern” about the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy following changes to its election system endorsed by China’s ceremonial legislature last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Wednesday. Foreign financial institutions that deal with the 24 officials would be subject to U.S. sanctions, the State Department said.


Chinese Young People Seek to Improve Their Futures (March 16, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
China is officially an atheist country, but that does not mean that there is not a vibrant spirituality in the country. Interest in New Age-type spirituality has soared in recent years in China. And, as this article from the journal Territory points out, young people are particularly drawn to these types of practices.

WeChat and Chinese Christians: A Match Made on Earth—Used for Gospel Good (March 17, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
WeChat has become a deeply embedded part of Chinese modern society with growing impact. Chinese Christian believers are stepping into this social media in big ways both personally and for ministry purposes.

Society / Life

Obituary: photographer Wang Fuchun, who took iconic photos of life on Chinese railways, is dead at 79 (March 15, 2021, Inkstone News)
Wang, who worked on the railways in the 1970s, won domestic and international awards in photography for taking pictures of people from different walks of life as they traveled across China via trains. Covering the decades when China rose from an economic backwater to a global superpower, his work also offers an insightful portrait of Chinese society during a time of radical transformation. 

The last of New York’s ‘Chinese hand laundries’ (March 15, 2021, Sup China)
Last summer, one of New York’s last “Chinese hand laundries,” operated by Robert S. Lee, closed. “Chinese hand laundry” refers to laundry businesses from a specific period, when Chinese immigrants from Taishan, Guangdong were closely associated with this line of work.

Beijing to lift some pandemic restrictions starting Tuesday (May 15, 2021, China Daily)
Starting on Tuesday, Beijing will resume cross-city online car-hailing services, as well as taxi services, as the epidemic is under control in the city, a senior Beijing government official announced on Monday. Xu Hejian, spokesman for the municipal government, said at a news conference that Beijing will not check nucleic acid test results for people who enter the city starting on Tuesday. 

Desert Dust Sweeps Into Beijing, Causing China’s Worst Sandstorm In 10 Years (March 15, 2021, NPR)
Residents of Beijing woke up to a choking orange hue in the air on Monday as strong winds whipped up dust from the Gobi Desert and deposited it across northern China. The country’s weather bureau is calling it the worst such sandstorm in a decade. In Beijing, morning commuters navigated cars and motorbikes through the haze, which NPR’s Emily Feng describes as “Mars-like.”

When My Hometown Went Into Lockdown, It Changed Me (March 16, 2021, Sixth Tone)
A documentary student captures her experience in Tonghua, when the small city was hit by COVID-19 and became national news for its residents running out of food.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s factories, consumers drive recovery into 2021 (March 14, 2021, Reuters)
China’s factory and retail sector activity surged in the first two months of the year, beating expectations, as the economy consolidated its brisk recovery from the coronavirus paralysis of early 2020.

China’s young people struggle to find jobs as unemployment rate holds at 13.1% (March 15, 2021, CNBC)
One year since the coronavirus pandemic hit, China’s young people are still having a hard time finding jobs. The unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 was 13.1% as of February, far above the national urban jobless rate of 5.5%, the National Bureau of Statistics said Monday. The 13.1% young people’s unemployment rate is the same as it was during the first quarter last year, the height of the coronavirus outbreak within China.

China critic Katherine Tai confirmed by Senate as Biden’s U.S. Trade Representative (March 17, 2021, CNBC)
Katherine Tai, a critic of China’s trade practices, was confirmed Wednesday as the Biden administration’s top trade official. The Senate vote was 98-0. […] Tai has been critical of certain Chinese policies. In several instances between 2007 and 2014, she successfully argued the U.S. case against China’s trade practices before the World Trade Organization.

Health / Environment

WHO Points To Wildlife Farms In Southern China As Likely Source Of Pandemic (March 15, 2021, NPR)
China shut down those wildlife farms in February 2020, says Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist with EcoHealth Alliance and a member of the WHO delegation that traveled to China this year. During that trip, Daszak says, the WHO team found new evidence that these wildlife farms were supplying vendors at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan with animals.

China approves new type of vaccine for emergency use against COVID-19 (March 17, 2021, China Daily)
China approved a recombinant protein subunit vaccine against COVID-19 for emergency use on Wednesday, its developer, the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Microbiology, said. It is the first vaccine with the technique approved by the country for emergency use against COVID-19.

Science / Technology

Signal: China appears to have blocked encrypted messaging app (March 16, 2021, The Guardian)
The encrypted messaging app Signal appears to have been blocked in mainland China, the latest foreign social media service to cease working in a country where the government tightly controls the flow of information. As of Tuesday, users of the app within China had to connect to a virtual private network (VPN) that allows them to circumvent China’s so-called Great Firewall, a censorship system that blocks websites, services and apps deemed inappropriate by the Chinese government.

How China built the world’s largest arch dam in just four years (March 16, 2021, South China Morning Post)
Standing nearly 300 metres (985 feet) tall, and made with more than 8 million cubic metres of concrete, the Baihetan dam  towers over Jinshajiang – the “River of Golden Sand” – as the upper section of the Yangtze River  is known. It will power homes, office buildings and factories as far away as Jiangsu, a coastal province more than 2,000km (1,240 miles) to the east.

History / Culture

Curved and Straight Lines: Navigating the Complexities of Chinese vs. Western Thinking (March 16, 2021, willbaxterglobal.com)
However, one key to uncovering the cultural mysteries shrouding the east from the west and vice a versa is learning to navigate the curved and straight thinking of each culture. Following are 3 ways which begin to reveal the mysteries shrouding mutual intercultural understanding:

Guardians of the grottoes (March 16, 2021, China Daily)
In Chongqing, 69 residents have volunteered to guard the ancient Dazu Rock Carvings for decades to come. More than 50,000 individual rock carvings lie in the grottoes of Chongqing’s Dazu district, dating from the 9th to 13th centuries. They were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1999.

A fight for women’s suffrage in the early days of the Chinese republic (March 17, 2021, Sup China)
 on March 19, 1912, about a dozen women decided to be heard. Led by Táng Qúnyīng 唐群英 and armed with pistols, they broke into the parliament where the framework for the new state was being hammered out. The women were determined to be heard.

Travel / Food

Shanghai Airport Marks 100th Anniversary (March 12, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Established as little more than a dirt runway in 1921, Shanghai Hongqiao Airport is now the center of a bustling transport hub serving hundreds of millions of passengers per year.

Qinghai by motorbike: Ghost cities, oil fields, and ‘Alien Ruins’ (March 16, 2021, Sup China)
What’s it like crossing one of the most remote parts of China via motorbike? Danish adventurer Mads Vesterager Nielsen shows us.

Entering China is now easier for people who have a vaccine — but only if it’s made in China (March 17, 2021, CNBC)
Multiple Chinese embassies around the world — including those in the United States, United Kingdom, India, Israel and the Philippines — issued notices on Monday outlining how foreigners can go about applying for visas to enter China. But the instructions only apply to those who have been fully vaccinated using Covid-19 vaccines made in China and have the vaccination certificate to prove it.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

“76 Days” Director Hao Wu: “The Covid-19 Story was Extremely Personal for Me” (March 11, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Hao’s Oscar-tipped documentary focuses on the personal struggles in Wuhan, rather than the political.

Cyborg Ghosts, Space Dragon Boats, and the Deep Roots of Chinese Sci-Fi (March 17, 2021, Radii China)
During China’s first two sci-fi booms, in the 1950s and 1970s, respectively, writers tended to focus on technological utopias and issues such as international politics, scientific ethics, and extraterrestrial encounters. Currently, however, we can see a general movement in the arts, whether conscious or not, to reestablish a link with China’s cultural heritage.

Language / Language Learning

Learning science in Chinese with 李永乐老师 (March 1, 2021, Hacking Chinese)
Learning science in Chinese is similar to learning the language for other special purposes. For beginners, it’s the same as learning the language in general, except you go easy on things that are peripheral to your primary goal, such as sports, cuisine and so on. Instead, you add in basic mathematics and other things necessary to even begin making sense of texts about more complicated topics.

Links for Researchers

Translation: Decision of the National People’s Congress on Improving the Electoral System of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (March 13, 2021, China Law Translate)

2021 NPC Session: Documents List (March 15, 2021, NPC Observer)
The 4th Session of the 13th NPC concluded on Thursday, March 11, after having approved all reports and bills submitted to it for consideration. As usual, we provide below a list of all official documents from this Session. Unless otherwise noted, all documents are available in Chinese only.

ResearchShare—A New Resource from ChinaSource (March 15, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Recently we decided to add a new resource to our website called “ResearchShare.” ResearchShare is a place where those in the ChinaSource community can share their research, projects, and academic papers.


West, East and the Best (WEB) Workshop Series (Agape Way)
Agape Way workshops on “West, East, and the Best” will lead us to seek the right understandings of the nature, humanity, and the Bible, which may replace the secular knowledge system popular in worldly schools and universities. 
March 14 to May 16: 4:00 – 5:30 pm (in English)
March 14 to May 16: 7:00 – 8:30 pm (in Chinese)

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

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