ZGBriefs | March 21, 2024

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Featured Article

Why Can’t China Attract Students From Developed Countries Anymore? (March 15, 2024, The Diplomat)
At the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference held this month, two proposals made by Professor Jia Qingguo of Peking University attracted considerable attention. One focused on making China more appealing to foreign students, while the other sought to encourage the public to effectively convey the Chinese story to the rest of the world. Much of the attention focused on the first of these proposals.

Sponsored Link

Free Public Lecture | Human Flourishing in Confucian Thought: A Christian Response, by I’Ching Thomas (ChinaSource)
I’Ching Thomas will explore the notion of human flourishing in Chinese thought, focusing especially on Confucius’ teaching on self-cultivation and benevolence as keys to achieving the ideal of the Noble Man. Then, drawing on parallels with the biblical faith, she proposes that the Christian Gospel holds relevance to the aspirations of Cultural Chinese concerning human flourishing as defined by Confucian ideals. 

Date: April 5, 2024
Nazareth Hall, University of Northwestern-St. Paul,
3003 N. Snelling Ave, Roseville, MN 55113
Time: 6:15 pm – light refreshments
7:00 pm – lecture

Register here.

This event is part of our ongoing collaborative lecture series cohosted by ChinaSource, the US-China Catholic Association, and the China Academic Consortium.
It is co-sponsored by the
University of Northwestern-St. Paul.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Podcast: Historian Rana Mitter on ideology in China’s “New Era” — live from Salzburg, Austria (March 7, 2024, Sinica Podcast, via Art19.com)
Historian Rana Mitter joins Sinica this week in a show taped live in Salzburg, Austria at the Salzburg Global Seminar, in which he discusses efforts by Party ideologists to create a Confucian-Marxist synthesis that can serve as an enduring foundation for a modern Chinese worldview in the self-proclaimed “new era.”

Key takeaways from China’s annual Two Sessions (March 13, 2024, NPR)
Following China’s annual Two Sessions meetings, NPR’s Rob Schmitz speaks with Wilson Center’s Robert Daly about China’s state of affairs and its economy.

China’s National People’s Congress 2024 (March 14, 2024, MERICS)
This year’s National People’s Congress (NPC) showed Beijing’s conviction that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) knows best. However, the leadership offered domestic and foreign audiences little explanation about how it intends to balance the competing goals of realizing long-term strategic ambitions and addressing current economic woes. 

The National People’s Congress Exposes Xi Jinping’s Problems (March 15, 2024, China Brief)
Li Qiang’s government work report offered no significant incentives to help the nation’s three sectors most in need of government support. Economic targets were practically identical to those for 2023 but will be harder to achieve. Xi amassed more power through sidelining Li and other colleagues, violating personnel norms, and through revisions to the State Council Organic Law.


The Chinese Diaspora and Loving Muslims in Canada (March 11, 2024, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The shared experiences of migration, adaptation, and the quest for identity form a common ground for dialogue and mutual understanding. This historical context sets the stage for exploring the dynamics of intercultural engagement within the diaspora, particularly in Christian and Muslim relations.

Europe: A Missionary Field or Mission Force? (March 11, 2024, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Europe’s Chinese churches need ministers just as much as each European country needs them. Although Europe was once one of the most active regions for sending missionaries, even as recently as the early twentieth century, it has now become a mission field requiring support and prayer from various missionary organizations and churches worldwide.

The Great Repositioning (March 11, 2024, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The changing migration patterns discussed in this issue of the Quarterly take on eternal significance when viewed in light of the great repositioning taking place within the global Chinese church. The Lord of the Harvest is sovereignly at work, raising up laborers and sending them into new fields for his glory.

How China Found New Value in Its Oldest Gods (March 13, 2024, Sixth Tone)
China’s folk pantheon is as large as it is chaotic. In addition to the host of overlapping gods that can extend favor and protection to all living things, there are scores of minor deities dedicated to particular fields or industries, one scholar putting the number of such beings at over 150. Even the artisans who make tofu and the peddlers who sell sour plum soup on the street have their own gods.

Why China’s Coast Still Dances With the Gods (March 14, 2024, Sixth Tone)
The country’s southeastern coastline is home to a surprisingly robust and well preserved sense of ritual. Bringing that spirit back to the rest of the country may be harder than it looks.

Society / Life

‘10 Don’ts’ for Chinese young people (March 13, 2024, Radio Free Asia)
Over the past year or so, young Chinese “refuseniks” have been swearing off marriage, children and mortgages – rejecting traditional milestones on the path to adulthood – amid apparent despair over their futures, the economic outlook and politics.

Media harassment after China restaurant blast sparks protest, public criticism (March 14, 2024, Reuters)
As reporters arrived at the scene, including from state-run radio and television as well as foreign journalists based in Beijing, some were verbally challenged by crowds and physically prevented from conducting interviews or filming. A video clip on Chinese social media showed two men in black uniforms blocking the camera of a reporter from state television CCTV as she attempted to conduct a live interview. Another showed a reporter from China’s state radio saying she was being pushed about by more than a dozen people.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s efforts to prop up its ailing stock market (March 14, 2024, Reuters)
China’s blue chip CSI300 Index has rebounded from five-year lows hit in early February, after the country’s securities watchdog ramped up efforts to revive investor confidence. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), led by newly installed chairman Wu Qing, has tightened scrutiny over quantitative trading, introduced fresh curbs on short-selling, and vowed zero tolerance toward securities fraud.

Chinese automakers open factories abroad as export clout causes friction (March 14, 2024, Reuters)
Chinese automakers seeking global growth are building more car factories in overseas markets, as foreign regulators mull imposing measures against imports of China-made electric cars.


Chinese students, academics say they’re facing extra scrutiny entering U.S. (March 14, The Washington Post) (subscription required)
Chinese scholars, officials and students say they are being unfairly targeted by U.S. border officials, adding to growing doubt and disillusionment among Chinese students — a key source of tuition fees and talent for American universities — about whether coming to the United States is even worth it.

Travel / Food

All the Countries That Enjoy Visa-Free Travel or Transit in China (March 12, 2024, The Beijinger)
China continues to open up visa-free entry for foreign nationals, with six more countries slated to join a list that’s been growing since autumn of last year, reports Xinhua News. Citizens of SwitzerlandIrelandHungaryAustriaBelgium, and Luxembourg will now be able to enjoy visa-free entry to China for 15 days for travel, business, and family reunions from Mar 14 until Nov 30 of this year.

An Ancient Silk Road City Is Now China’s Latest Hotpot Hub (March 15, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Searches for travel to the northwestern city of Tianshui have more than doubled in the last week, while bookings for hotels and tourist attractions have increased nearly 40% compared to the previous year.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

China’s New Hit: A Cheesy Drama About a Time Traveling Stepmother (March 12, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Tapping into China’s fast changing family values and societal norms, “I Became a Stepmother in the 1980s” is striking a chord with millions.


The Chinese Church in Transition: Navigating Mission in the Diaspora (March 11, 2024, ChinaSource Quarterly)
This book showcases mission attitudes and activities among Chinese churches in the US. The detailed data provide in-depth explanations that simultaneously confirm the impression of a same-ethnicity focus in mission while offering more nuanced reasons why such a focus can be advantageous.

Author Signs Deal for ‘Peking Express’ to Chug Onto Big Screen (March 16, 2024, The Beijinger)
The book tells the gripping – and true! – story of the Lincheng Train Incident of 1923, in which a group of bandits took China’s first all-steel passenger train and took over 300 hostages in the process. The hijacking and ensuing hostage crisis, told in detail by American author and 20+ year Beijing resident James Zimmerman, has had countless readers asking him when a movie or TV series would come out of it.

Links for Researchers

NPC 2024: Documents and Votes (March 15, 2024, NPC Observer)


Further Reading and Listening on the Diaspora and Missions (March 11, 2024, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Get more context for the Chinese diaspora experience with our list of podcasts, recorded lectures, websites, and reading material.

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

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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