ZGBriefs | March 22, 2018

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Featured Article

The Foreign Missionaries Who First Turned a Lens on China (March 16, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Very few Chinese people owned cameras at this time. Of even greater value than the photographs themselves was the fact that the missionaries were focusing the lens on what Chinese people considered extremely mundane, looking at Chinese life from a foreigner’s perspective.

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Special Section: National People’s Congress

Patriotism and provincial promotion (March 16, 2018, The World of Chinese)
This year was less full of daft proposals than usual but there some minor exceptions.

China’s new top government leaders (March 18, 2018, Bloomberg)
Below are background profiles for the seven top government leaders.

China forms new economic team as President Xi kicks off second term (March 19, 2018, Reuters)
China elevated a key confidante of President Xi Jinping to one of the top positions in government on Monday as Beijing cracks down on riskier financing and a debt build-up that may pose systemic risks to the world’s second-largest economy.

Fu Zhenghua Named Minister of Justice (March 19, 2018, China Digital Times)
Over the weekend, Xi Jinping was reelected by the National People’s Congress to a second term as president, after amending the constitution to abolish term limits for the position. Wang Qishan was also elected Vice President and a new cabinet was named. Among those, former Beijing police chief and deputy minister of public security, Fu Zhenghua, was named Minister of Justice.

Five Important Takeaways From China’s National People’s Congress (March 19, 2018, The New York Times)
The annual meeting of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, is usually a sleepy, stolid affair. But this year history happened.

Xi warns Taiwan will face 'punishment of history' for separatism (March 20, 2018, Reuters)
In a speech at the end of China’s annual session of parliament, Xi told the 3,000-odd delegates that China would push for the “peaceful reunification of the motherland” and work for more Taiwanese to enjoy the opportunities of China’s development.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

5 questions on China's planned foreign aid agency (March 16, 2018, Devex)
A huge structural overhaul in China’s Cabinet includes plans for the establishment of an international development cooperation agency, raising significant questions about the future of Chinese aid.

Xi Jinping’s aspirations (March 17, 2018, Jerome Cohen)
We are witnessing an important modification of the Deng Xiaoping era, personalistic one-man rule enhanced by efficient Party controls of all aspects of life, increasing intolerance of dissent, more direct government controls of business and ever greater repression through the new supervisory commissions.

Xi, unlimited? (March 18, 2018, East Asia Forum)
The removal of term limits from the Chinese presidency has caused great consternation around the world. Yet much about the change remains unclear. What does it mean? And should we even care?

China Urges US to “Correct Mistake” on Taiwan (March 18, 2018, The Guardian)
Beijing says bill violates ‘one China’ policy and asks US to stop pursuing official ties with Taipei. China has called on the US to “correct its mistake” after Donald Trump approved rules allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taipei counterparts.

What is Xi doing to the world? (March 19, 2018, East Asia Forum)
Under President Xi Jinping, we witness a China more willing to determine for itself what represents ‘responsible behaviour’ in global politics. This is reinforced by Beijing’s sense that the West is in decline while China is economically and politically resurgent.

This entire Chinese village is a shrine to Xi Jinping (March 19, 2018, CNN)
It's the kind of artwork you'd expect to see celebrating Mao Zedong, Vladimir Lenin or Kim Il Sung. But this isn't Communist propaganda that harks back to Cold War days. The simple mural of Xi Jinping painted on the side of a dusty wall in this small village is a modern-day shrine to China's new "president for life."

China Approves Giant Propaganda Machine to Improve Global Image (March 20, 2018, Bloomberg)
The new broadcaster will be called “Voice of China,” the person said, mimicking the U.S. government-funded Voice of America that started up during World War II to advance American interests.


The Remarkable Story of China’s ‘Bible Women’ (March 2018, Christianity Today)
While the influence of female leaders has declined in recent decades, the story of Christianity in Chinacannot be told without acknowledging the female evangelists and pastors who built the Chinese church.

History and Meaning (March 14, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Culture is shaped by history. The Scriptures that convey the gospel have a particular historical context. And our understanding of the gospel is, in turn, shaped by our own culture and history.

Christians Under House Arrest in China Amid Crackdown on Churches (March 17, 2018, Christian Post)
Police are keeping Christians in Shangqiu city under house arrest and watching their residences, requiring them to report where they are going every time they leave the house, according to the U.S.-based group ChinaAid, which reports on instances of religious persecution.

Baptized at 102 (March 20, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
This encouraging story from Gospel Times tells how a 102-year-old woman in Sichuan province heard the gospel from her neighbors and was baptized at 102 years old.

Society / Life

Born to Be Tamed: The Biker Gangs Revving on China’s Roads (March 15, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Yang Hancheng, 37, is the president of Red Devils Motorcycle Club China, the Shanghai chapter of a multinational motorcycle club represented in nearly 20 countries. Membership is restricted to adult males who own motorbikes with a 600cc engine or higher.

Chinese crackdown separates Pakistani husbands from Uighur wives (March 15, 2018, The Guardian)
Last week lawmakers in Gilgit-Baltistan demanded that authorities in China’s Xinjiang province immediately release from detention at least 50 Chinese women married to Pakistani men, some of whom have been held for a year on vague charges of extremism.

China to ban citizens with bad 'social credit' rating from taking flights or using trains for up to a year (March 17, 2018, The Independent)
People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.

Why Ghost Marriages Live On in Rural China (March 19, 2018, Sixth Tone)
While the Chinese government punishes those who rob or desecrate graves with prison sentences of up to three years, none of the country’s regulations specifically outlaw ghost marriages. However, ghost marriages persist in rural parts of the country — sometimes with consequences for the living.

Soldiers Put on Social Credit Blacklist for Leaving Service (March 19, 2018, Sixth Tone)
In the northeastern province of Jilin, 17 military personnel who decided they were fed up with their daily duties were blacklisted in China’s social credit system, restricting them from traveling by air and rail and from seeking civil service employment, The Beijing News reported Monday. They will also be barred from taking out loans and insurance policies, prohibited from enrolling in educational institutions for two years, and fined an unspecified amount of money.

China's radical plan to limit the populations of Beijing and Shanghai (March 19, 2018, The Guardian)
Reducing population has been heralded as an answer to “big city disease”, characterised by state media as an overcrowded, polluted city with too many people living in it. As a result, both Shanghai and Beijing, the Chinese capital, implemented population caps last year, leaving little room for additional growth – Shanghai plans to limit the population to 25 million, Beijing to 23 million.

Economics / Trade / Business

The economic integration of China and Russia (March 14, 2018, China Policy Institute)
Are the world’s journalists, diplomats and academics missing something? Or is economic integration between China and Russia less significant in world affairs than their individual status would suggest? 

Wary of China, Europe and Others Push Back on Foreign Takeovers (March 15, 2018, The New York Times)
As China looks to spread its wealth and influence, the United States is not the only country seeking to shield its industries under the guise of national security. Governments around the world, and especially in Europe, are increasingly inclined to use such concerns as a litmus test for Chinese investments to protect their competitive edge.

China to Finance Majority of New Egypt Capital's Tower District (March 18, 2018, Bloomberg)
Chinese banks will provide 85 percent of the funding needed for the $3 billion skyscraper-studded portion of Egypt’s new capital which is being developed by the China State Construction Engineering Corp., a senior official with the state-run company said Sunday.

Health / Environment

A Day in the Life of a Yao ‘Barefoot Doctor’ (March 15, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Armed with herbs and traditional knowledge, Zhou Zhaosong is both a healer of the sick and a pillar of his remote community.

The Long March to Changing Chinese Minds About Organ Donation (March 16, 2018, Sixth Tone)
For decades, donor organs were taken from executed convicts in China — a controversial practice that was banned in 2015. Now, outside of the relatively small number of living volunteers who donate non-vital organs to family members, organ transplants rely on brain-dead patients whose relatives consent to donation.

Science / Technology

WeChat Banned From Australian Defense Staff’s Work Phones (March 17, 2018, China Digital Times)
Last Sunday, the Australian Financial Review reported that Australia’s Defense Department has banned Tencent’s WeChat messaging app from its staff’s work devices. The move comes amid mounting concern about Beijing’s influence in Australia and a steadily mounting pile of observations and accusations of monitoring and censorship of WeChat messages.

China’s Artificial Intelligence Plan — Stage 1 (March 19, 2018, China Law Blog)
The Chinese government has made clear it believes the largest and most successful manufacturing companies in the world have achieved that status in large part through software/information technology. This has led China to focus on artificial intelligence (人工智能). 

China’s New Frontiers in Dystopian Tech (April 20, 2018, The Atlantic)
The technology’s veneer of convenience conceals a dark truth: Quietly and very rapidly, facial recognition has enabled China to become the world’s most advanced surveillance state.

History / Culture

When American Pilots Fell out of the Chinese Sky: A Sinica Podcast (March 14, 2018, China File)
Melinda Liu, the Beijing Bureau Chief for Newsweek, joins Kaiser Kuo and David Moser to tell the story of the Doolittle Raiders, whose unprecedented—and successful—mission to bomb Tokyo from an aircraft carrier ended with scattered landings throughout Japan-occupied eastern China.

Travel / Food

The 8 Main Chinese Cuisine Traditions (March 16, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
Traditionally, Chinese food is divided into the eight culinary traditions, each named after a different region of China. Because of the huge variety in climate, local agriculture, trade, and many other factors, there can be serious differences between these eight varying schools of cooking.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Film of Shanghai Marriage Market by “Leftover Woman” Goes Viral (March 19, 2018, Radii China)
Shanghai’s Marriage Market, where elderly residents gather in the hopes of setting up their children or grandchildren with “suitable” spouses by advertising their qualities and then matchmaking – often behind the young peoples’ backs – is back in the spotlight thanks to a film project by Yingguang Guo.

Living Cross-culturally

Funny or Beautiful? (March 16, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
I once taught at a university where the English majors told new students about their two foreign teachers. “One is beautiful and one is funny.” We both struggled with the pictures that had formed in their minds.


How Christian Faith Led a Single Woman to Defy Chairman Mao (February 20, 2018, Christianity Today)
Lian began researching the life of Lin Zhao in 2012, and he received a copy of her prison writings the following year. The resulting book, Blood Letters: The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, a Martyr in Mao’s China, draws from those prison writings, years of interviews and correspondence with those who knew Lin Zhao intimately, and extensive field research in Suzhou and Beijing.

Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World (March 16, 2018, China File)
From single-child pressure to test-taking madness and the frenzy to buy an apartment as a prerequisite to marriage, from one-night-stands to an evolving understanding of family, Young Chinaoffers a fascinating portrait of the generation who will define what it means to be Chinese in the modern era.

Image credit: Esther Nelson Photo Collection (used by permission)
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource 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