ZGBriefs | March 21, 2019

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Featured Article

How Rich Chinese Parents Get Their Kids Into U.S. Colleges  (March 20, 2019, Foreign Policy)
Thousands of international students, particularly from China, have been gaming the college application process with intensive coaching that sometimes tips over into fraud. Tutoring is common in American families as well, but the wealth and determination of many Chinese families can take this approach to a new level.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Citing Foreign NGO Law Requirements, U.S.-based NGO Opts out of China Summit (March 14, 2019, The NGO Project)
Yesterday, the U.S.-based Open Source Hardware Association announced on its website that it had canceled plans to hold its annual summit in Shenzhen, in large part due to difficulties complying with China’s Foreign NGO Law.

The Year of Living Sensitively (March 15, ChinaSource Blog)
The calendar does not bode well for 2019, since it is a year of multiple sensitive anniversaries. Being aware of these impending anniversaries is helpful in understanding events in China during the coming year.

China foreign investment law: Bill aims to ease global concerns (March 15, 2019, BBC)
The measure is seen as a possible olive branch to the US as negotiators from both countries work to resolve their bruising trade dispute. But some argue it does not fully address the concerns foreign firms have about doing business in China.

China’s two weeks of schmoozing and snoozing end not with a bang but a whimper (March 15, 2019, South China Morning Post)
At Li Keqiang’s press conference to end China’s annual legislative gathering, reporters’ hopes they would get to pose a question on one of the burning topics of the day were quickly dashed.

China’s Premier Acknowledges Economic Slowdown, Promising Tax Cuts (March 15, 2019, The New York Times)
China’s premier delivered on Friday the clearest acknowledgment yet from a top Chinese official that the country’s economy is slowing and faces a series of difficulties.

China ‘helped defuse Pakistan-India tension’ after Kashmir attack (March 19, 2019, South China Morning Post)
China played a “constructive role” in reducing tension between Pakistan and India, the Chinese foreign ministry said, after the nuclear-armed rivals almost came to blows last month following an attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy in disputed Kashmir.

Taiwan and US planning talks to counter Beijing’s thrust for unification  (March 19, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The talks planned for September in Taipei will include a senior official from Washington, William Brent Christensen, the de facto US ambassador to Taipei, said on Tuesday.

China Defends Xinjiang Camps Amid Pleas for Global Action (March 19, 2019,China Digital Times)
The Chinese government has issued a White Paper defending its policies in Xinjiang and the forced internment of up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. The government document provides the official version of the history of the region, allegedly demonstrating that “Xinjiang has long been an inseparable part of Chinese territory.”

How Canada Gets Squeezed Between China And The U.S. (March 19, 2019, NPR)
"Chinese use them as the hostage to negotiate a deal with Canada," said Huang, who immigrated to Canada from mainland China 20 years ago. Now Canada finds itself squeezed between two of the world's most powerful countries

Uyghur Detainees from Xinjiang ‘Placed in Nearly Every Prison’ in Shandong Province (March 19, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
Ethnic Uyghurs held in political “re-education camps” in northwest China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XUAR) are being sent to jail in Shandong province, prison officials have confirmed, as new details emerge of the system authorities use to transfer detainees out of the region.

Swedish ambassador to China investigated for security breaches in Gui Minhai case  (March 20, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Lindstedt was embroiled in a political storm after Angela Gui, the daughter of Swedish book publisher Gui Minhai, wrote in a public post on Medium on February 13 that the Swedish ambassador was involved in arranging an unauthorised meeting between her and unidentified Chinese businessmen.


Is This the Last Dalai Lama? (March 15, 2019, China File)
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s flight from Tibet. His departure exposed the rift between the Tibetan faithful and the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.), one which has not closed in the six decades since—and which threatens to become even deeper once the current Dalai Lama, 83-year-old Tenzin Gyatso, passes on.

The Remarkable Story of China’s ‘Bible Women’ (March 16, 2019, Christianity Today)
Throughout the 20th century, women played a vital role in spreading the gospel and nurturing new believers. While the influence of female leaders has declined in recent decades, the story of Christianity in China cannot be told without acknowledging the female evangelists and pastors who built the Chinese church.

Catholic Church is an 'integral part of China' (March 18, 2019, UCA News)
The Catholic Church in China is a fundamental part of Chinese history and can play a leading role in promoting the common good of all its citizens, says Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. 

Left-behind Children and the Rural Church (March 19, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
As China develops and urbanization accelerates, so does the number of Christians flowing out of the countryside. This has left many rural churches with shrinking numbers and aging congregations. This article from the Christian Times highlights some of the pressing issues facing the rural church in China, including the children who have been left behind there.

China Tells Christianity To Be More Chinese (March 20, 2019, Christianity Today)
Is the move a step toward tighter government control, an opportunity to further indigenize and contextualize the faith, or perhaps both? As with most things in China, the answer is complicated.

“Sinicized Christianity” is Not Christianity (March 20, 2019, Jackson Wu)
Last year, I suggested that China’s 5-year plan to Sinicize Christianity is political, not biblical. It is syncretism, not contextualization. A year later, we can speak with even more clarity: “Sinicized Christianity” is not Christianity. Why would I say this?

Vatican Renews Overtures to China Ahead of Xi’s Italy Visit (March 21, 2019,The Diplomat)
After a breakthrough in China-Vatican relations, speculation is mounting that Xi will meet Pope Francis this week. 

Society / Life

China, Relocated (March 14, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Over the last four decades, China’s economic reforms have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Yet today, more than 16 million people in rural areas are estimated to sill live in want, particularly in the country’s central and western hinterland. 

For Young Chinese, ‘Praise’ Chat Groups Are About More Than Ego  (March 14, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Millennials have long been derided as the “me me me” generation, but the young Chinese joining praise-lavishing chat groups are taking self-gratification to a whole new level.

Domestic workers in China: Invisible, vulnerable, and indispensable (March 15, 2019, Sup China)
Despite lacking basic workers’ rights and benefits, domestic workers — ayi — in China’s big cities are nonetheless everywhere, and play a key role in society.

Foreign NGO Law Causes Drop in U.S. Adoptions, According to State Department (March 19, 2019, The China NGO Project)
Though Lawrence noted that this decline is partly due to improved economic circumstances in China, as well as changing demographics in terms of the children being put up for international adoption, she also explained that the Foreign NGO Law has clearly affected adoption service providers who had previously been working in China.

Why Dali’s Hippie Migrants Are a Model for Chinese Communities (March 19, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Xu Song, a prominent member of Yunnan’s alternative migrant clan, says the inclusive and creative community has much to teach China.

Real Estate Developer Sues Over Claims of Bad Feng Shui (March 20, 2019,Sixth Tone)
A real estate company known for developing futuristic office blocks has filed a lawsuit against a social media account that claimed its buildings’ bad feng shui was causing tenants’ businesses to fail.

The Nitty Gritty of China's Social Credit System (March 20, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Unlike many overviews we find on the web, Hmaidi provides detailed background and analysis. She points out that over 70 pilot programs are currently running, each being run with slight differences in order to find the best way to implement a national program. She considers a few specific pilot programs and identifies possible effects such applications could have on Chinese society.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s Slowdown Already Hit Its Factories. Now Its Offices Are Hurting, Too. (March 14, 2019, The New York Times)
Last year, however, Chongqing’s GDP growth rate slumped to six percent – far below its target of 8.5 percent and behind the national average of 6.6 percent. This dramatically brought down Chongqing’s rank in the list of China’s 31 fastest growing regions – from being first in 2016 to 24th in 2018. What explains this sudden dip in Chongqing’s growth?

China’s Tax Reductions: Look This Gift Horse Very Carefully in the Mouth (March 14, 2019, China Law Blog)
There has been a lot of press lately of how China is reducing business taxes to stimulate its declining economy. This is all well and good but when it comes to taxes — especially China taxes — there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

Five years on: The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration (March 15, 2019, The Asia Dialogue)
China’s approach to mega-city development has been to cluster cities and towns into regional networks which can serve as a mechanism to enable the coordination of both municipal administration and economic development efforts.

China’s New Foreign Investment Law (March 20, 2019, China Briefing)
The new Foreign Investment Law seeks to address common complaints from foreign businesses and governments, such as by explicitly banning forced technology transfers. Critics, however, point out that the law – as it stands – still does not go far enough in addressing their concerns. The law’s vague wording means that foreign investors will need to wait and see to determine what it means in practice.


Old School: Why Traditional Culture Academies Are on the Rise (March 14, 2019, Sixth Tone)
To National Learning’s modern-day adherents, being worthy of this history is about more than where you’re born; it demands a mastery of China’s cultural heritage. 

Study Visas (X1 & X2) for China – The Complete Guide (March 15, 2019, Sapore di Cina)
As with any language, the best way to learn is onsite, and for this reason a specific type of visa has been arranged. A study visa (or X visa) is issued, in fact for those who intend to study at a Chinese university, a private firm or something similar.

Health / Environment

Social development and mental health services in contemporary China  (March 19, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
Mental health disorders represent a severe burden for the individuals who suffer, their families, and society in contemporary China. The China Mental Health Survey (2019) shows that the lifetime prevalence of mental disorders (excluding dementia), mood disorders and schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders in China are 16.6 per cent, 7.4 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively.

Woman in China nearly dies after injecting herself with fruit juice (March 19, 2018, BBC)
The 51-year-old suffered liver, kidney, heart and lung damage and was put into intensive care for five days. There were over 20 kinds of fruit in the intravenous injection, an employee at the Affiliated Hospital of Xiangnan University in Hunan told the BBC.

Piles of pigs: Swine fever outbreaks go unreported in rural China  (March 20, 2019, Reuters)
When pigs on the Xinda Husbandry Co. Ltd breeding farm in northern China began dying in growing numbers in early January, it looked increasingly likely that the farm had been struck by the much feared African swine fever, an incurable disease that has spread rapidly across the country since last year.

Science / Technology

What Facebook Needs to Learn from WeChat’s Group Chat Pains (December 17, 2019, Radii China)
WeChat has a misinformation problem of its own: friend-sourced content isn’t necessarily factual, objective, or higher quality. Zuckerberg’s assumption that a digital living room will stop misinformation is misleading. This change will simply hide some of the present information problems, as WeChat’s own problems show.

China plans multibillion-dollar investment to knock US from top spot in fastest supercomputer ranking (March 18, South China Morning Post)
China is aiming for its newest Shuguang supercomputers to operate at about 50 per cent faster than the current best US machines, which assuming all goes to plan should help China wrest the title back from the US in this year’s rankings of the world’s fastest machines, according to people, who asked not to be named discussing private information.

History / Culture

Video: The first ABC TV report from China in 1973(Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Chinese Design in Five Objects with Chop Suey Club’s Ruoyi Jiang (March 13, 2019,Radii China)
The Beijing-born boutique founder takes us through her five favorite China-related design objects.

Travel / Food

Is McDonald’s Serving Chinese Food in the US? (March 17, 2019, Radii China)
They’re deep-fried, crispy, and covered in cinnamon. McDonald’s latest breakfast item, Donut Sticks, are hot in more ways than one: since hitting stores in America on February 20, they’ve generated buzz among Chinese social media users for resembling traditional Chinese breadsticks, or youtiao 油条.

In search of the perfect cup of tea (April/May 2019, National Geographic Traveller)
Tea is the second most popular drink in the world after water. It was discovered in 2737 B.C. by Emperor Shen Nung—also known as the “Divine Husbandman”—when some tea leaves accidentally blew into his pot of hot water, or so the legend goes.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Bao: A Film Review (March 18, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Regardless of where you are from, regardless of your stance on filial piety, if you are ethnically Chinese, this film will likely speak to you. Perhaps it will remind you how similar your own family is to the family in the story. Maybe you’ll even say, “Oh! My mom’s like that too!” This film brings us back to one of the basics of Chinese culture.


New Memoir From A Chinese Millennial About Family Life In China  (March 14, 2019, WBUR)
Kan might be considered young to write a memoir, since she turns 30 in just a few days. But as a millennial in China, she says she wanted her experience to be known.

Review of “Travel to China: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go” Book (March 14 2019, Sapore di Cina)
As I said, the book is well-written and well-structured. And, unless you start to get into the specific of each destinations (what to see in Beijing, what hotel to book in Shanghai, etc), I think it covers all the main points.

Melissa Inouye’s ‘China and the True Jesus’—An Interview (March 20, 2019,Alexander Chow)
I interviewed Dr Melissa Inouye (University of Auckland) about her latest book, China and the True Jesus: Charisma and Organization in a Chinese Christian Church (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019). Drawing on historical and oral sources, Inouye presents a fascinating analysis of the well-known yet understudied Chinese Christian group, the True Jesus Church.

Links for Researchers

Full text: White paper on anti-terrorism, human rights protection in Xinjiang (March 18, 2019, China Daily)

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