ZGBriefs | March 23, 2017

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

Alienation 101 (April/May, 2017, 1843 Magazine)
The Chinese population is so large that it forms a separate world. Many Chinese speak only Mandarin, study only with other Chinese, attend only Chinese-organised events – and show off luxury cars in Chinese-only auto clubs. The Chinese government and Christian groups may vie for their hearts and minds. But few others show much interest, and most Chinese students end up floating in a bubble disconnected from the very educational realms they had hoped to inhabit. “It takes a lot of courage to go out of your comfort zone,” Sophie says. “And a lot of students on both sides never even try.”

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Journeying with the Church in China
(Spring 2017, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Decades of service to the church in China have brought great blessing both to China’s church and to believers outside China. Today with the maturing of the church has come a desire to truly serve with the global church. The future success of churches and organizations that serve China will depend in large part on their ability to make this shift in their relationships with China’s church.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s New Cybersecurity Law to be Implemented on June 1 (March 16, 2017, China Briefing)
Although the new Cybersecurity Law of China is due to come into effect June 1, many companies are still unclear about the specific terms of the law. Given the potentially high cost of non-compliance associated with the law, and the uncertain nature of the guidelines that the government will release, managers should review draft measures and monitor related developments to ensure that their business is prepared.

Xi Jinping: The Illusion of Greatness (March 17, 2017, New York Review of Books)
Xi came to power offering a similarly broad range of reforms and pledging to “rejuvenate” the nation. But his measures have been limited to the classic nationalist-authoritarian-traditionalist playbook. He has pursued an expansionist foreign policy, occupying and militarizing vast reaches of the South China Sea, while at home he has cracked down on corruption and promoted traditional values.

Has Xi Jinping Gotten His Crown? (March 19, 2017, China Media Project)
The recent pagentry surrounding the fifth and final session of China’s 12th National People’s Congress — and all of the hubbub over growth targets, budgets and measures to curb (still) rising housing prices — was all in a sense window dressing for a far more important political message: the unassailable position of President Xi Jinping as “the core” of the Chinese Communist Party leadership. As we draw closer to the crucial 19th National Congress of the CCP, to be held later this year, we can expect that message to intensify.

Rex Tillerson, Xi Jinping meet in China as Secretary Of State wraps Asia tour (March 19, 2017, NPR)
Rex Tillerson concluded his first trip to Asia as secretary of state, sounding optimistic about the prospects for U.S. cooperation with China on the North Korean nuclear issue.

What China wants from Trump (March 20, 2017, Axios)
Xi is entering the most sensitive period of his time in office, the year in which he's poised to secure a second five year term as head of the Communist Party. The transition is a volatile and tense period, and he does not want all of the complications that would come with an unstable relationship with the U.S. To get a preview of the talks I spoke with Richard McGregor, who wrote "The Party," a seminal book on China's Communist Party. The takeaway: China does not want (for the moment) to upend the status quo.

How China is preparing for cyberwar (March 20, 2017, Christian Science Monitor)
Chinese leaders view cyberspace as essential to fostering economic growth, protecting and preserving the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, and maintaining domestic stability and national security.

China's Xi maneuvers to extend his reign (March 20, 2017, Nikkei Asian Review)
If Xi follows custom, he will have to narrow down his potential successors. That was the case in 2007, when Xi himself emerged as a shoo-in to take over from Hu Jintao as general secretary and president of China. But 10 years on, the political atmosphere is quite different, and Xi has made no move to choose the next in line from among the younger generation of party leaders. 


Insurance? Retirement? Shouldn’t We Just Trust God? (March 17, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Chinese missionaries face similar financial pressures to missionaries everywhere. Although they don’t doubt that God will supply their needs, a significant proportion of the current attrition of Chinese missionaries from the field is ascribed to financial considerations.

'No beards, no veils': Uighur life in China's Xinjiang (March 18, 2017, BBC)
China says Islamist separatists in Xinjiang are the greatest threat to national security. The far western region is home to a community of some 10 million Uighurs, who are mostly Muslim. Beijing is concerned that young Uighurs are vulnerable to radicalisation.

Beijing Haidian Church Holds Missionary Commissioning Service for Three New Campuses (March 19, 2017, China Christian Daily)
On March 12, 2017, the Beijing Haidian Church held a commissioning service for three new campuses after the third Sunday service. According to the church, senior pastor Rev. Wu Weiqing presided the service and he citing Psalm 34 to encourage three commissioned staff.

New Church of Lahu People Dedicated in Yunnan (March 19, 2017, China Christian Daily)
Recently, the Lahu-inspired Naama Church, located in Lancang Lahu Autonomous County, Pu'er, Yunnan, held its dedication ceremony recently with 1,300 believers attending the event.

Church Staff Salary—How Much Is Enough? (March 21, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
Chinese Christians have traditionally expected their pastors to live frugally and to receive little to no compensation for their pastoral duties. It was expected that those in the ministry would endure much suffering as a result of their call to ministry. As a result, some pastors and ministry staff live on quite meager means and many are bi-vocational in order to make ends meet.

The Bells in China Are Not Silent (March 21, 2017, The Gospel Coalition)
After we were back in the sanctuary I asked the pastor: “How did this bell survive the political campaigns?” “They tried to destroy it,” he said, “but they couldn’t; it was too strong.” Just like the church in China, I thought. They tried to destroy it, but it was too strong. At that moment the bell became a symbol for me of God’s faithfulness to his people in China. 

From Training to Mentoring (March 22, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Going forward, however, these leaders anticipate that the need for training from outside China will fall in proportion to the need for mentoring.

Is the Chinese Church a Test-Case for “The Benedict Option”? (March 23, 2017, Jackson Wu)
While the book offers “a strategy for Christians in a post-Christian nation,” I found my thoughts returning to China, a “pre-Christian” nation with over 100 million Christians. This post is an open reflection, an invitation for us to reflect further on the potential significance of The Benedict Option and the state of the Chinese church.

Society / Life

What China’s Migrant Numbers Say About Labor Discrimination (March 16, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Every year, the Chinese government publishes two numbers for its millions-strong army of migrant workers. But what to make of the fact that one of these numbers is growing, while the other is shrinking? One figure, called “liudong renkou” or “floating population,” stood at 245 million people in 2016, and has been shrinking since 2014. However, on Tuesday the vice minister of human resources and social security, Qiu Xiaoping, said the country’s population of nongmingong or “rural laborers,” grew to 282 million last year, increasing by 4.24 million compared to 2015.

Tai Chi Encourages Calm. So Why Are Its Chinese Fans Stressing Out? (March 17, 2017, The New York Times)
Although tai chi may have its roots in self-defense, in recent years it has gained broad popularity as a therapeutic exercise, promoting physical fitness while reducing stress. Across China and beyond, its practitioners can be seen gathered in parks and other public spaces, moving slowing in unison through prescribed routines. But that very popularity is adding to its advocates’ concerns.

For Years, I've Been A Correspondent In China. This Month, I Became A Viral Star (March 18, 2017, NPR)
The clip shows me asking a question at a government press conference on March 6. Less than a day after its posting, the clip had been viewed 5 million times. Not bad for an admittedly wonky foreign correspondent, who couldn't make his own reporting go viral even if he injected it with smallpox.

In Beijing, Two Wheels Are Only a Smartphone Away (March 19, 2017, The New York Times)
Now, Beijing may be returning to its roots — with a modern twist. Thanks to about two dozen technology start-ups, brightly colored shared bikes have flooded Beijing since last year, dotting a normally drab cityscape with flashes of bumblebee yellow, kingfisher blue and tangerine.

China adds Pinterest to list of banned sites (March 17, 2017, CNN)
The Pinterest block started earlier this month, according to watchdog group Greatfire.org, which monitors censorship and accessibility of websites in China.  The timing coincided with China's annual National People's Congress, a sensitive time in Beijing when China's top leadership and thousands of delegates gather to set the country's political and economic course for the year.

China’s High-Tech Tool to Fight Toilet Paper Bandits (March 20, 2017, The New York Times)
Before entering restrooms in the park, visitors must now stare into a computer mounted on the wall for three seconds before a machine dispenses a sheet of toilet paper, precisely two feet in length. If visitors require more, they are out of luck. The machine will not dispense a second roll to the same person for nine minutes.

More than 100 Chinese cities now above 1 million people (March 20, 2017, The Guardian)
China now has more than 100 cities of over 1 million residents, a number that is likely to double in the next decade. According to the Demographia research group, the world’s most populous country boasts 102 cities bigger than 1 million people, many of which are little known outside the country – or even within its borders.

My village didn't even have a traffic light. Now it has 1.4 million people (March 20, 2017, The Guardian)
Today, Wenling is a typical medium-sized metropolis in Zhejiang province, southern China. Like many of the hundreds of Chinese towns that have grown into cities over the past 30 years, it is full of brand-new but cheaply constructed skyscrapers, casting shadows on rough-looking peasants, their root vegetables stuffed in shoulder bags as they trudge along newly paved highways.

Autistic Boy’s Death One of Many Linked to Squalid ‘Care Center’ in China (March 20, 2017, The New York Times)
The deaths at the facility in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province, came to light in an unusual exposé published by a state-run newspaper. The case tapped into broad concerns in China over the government’s treatment of the poor and disadvantaged, especially rural migrants vulnerable to discrimination and detention in Chinese cities.

China goes west: a ghost city in the sand comes to life (March 20, 2017, The Guardian)
Mountains have been flattened and villages bulldozed to build Lanzhou New Area in China’s wild west. Four years ago Tom Phillips met empty streets and an eerie hush, but now he finds this improbable desert mirage finally filling up.

Naming Trends Across the Decades (March 21, 2017, The World of Chinese)
For newborns, the most popular given name for boys is currently 浩然 (hàorán), which is a word from Mencius describing an upright, noble, generous, and brave personality. The most popular name for newborn girls is 梓萱 (zǐ xuān), with 梓 (zǐ) meaning catalpa tree and 萱 (xuān) meaning tawny daylily.

For China’s middle class, Brooklyn real estate offers more than a green card (March 21, 2017, CNBC)
Chinese residents comprise the largest immigrant group in Brooklyn; the Chinese population in New York City is the largest outside of any Asian city. Seismic cultural shifts that occur as one immigrant population eclipses another are a classic part of New York life and are now responsible for dim sum and dumplings outnumbering pizza joints and spumoni shops. 

Xinjiang Herdsman’s Fight for His Meteorite (March 22, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Zhuman Ramazan didn’t have to venture far afield to wish upon a shooting star. More than 30 years ago, the herdsman of Kazak ethnicity discovered an immense meteorite in his pasture in Altay, northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, near China’s borders with Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

Economics / Trade / Business

Shadow Lending Threatens China’s Economy, Officials Warn (March 18, 2017, The New York Times)
Shadow banking, or lending that takes place outside official banking channels, plays a major role in the Chinese economy, where big government-controlled banks are often slow to lend to private businesses and entrepreneurs. But experts worry that untrammeled shadow lending could lead to ticking time bombs that could threaten the financial system of the world’s second-largest economy.


Two Children Have Died in a Stampede at an Elementary School in China (March 22, 2017, TIME)
Two children were killed in a stampede at an elementary school in central China's Henan province on Wednesday, according to state media. Another 20 pupils were injured — two of them critically — during the crush at Puyang county's Third Experimental Primary School, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reports.

Health / Environment

Can China fix its mammoth water crisis before it's too late? (March 21, 2017, CNN)
The plight of Dawu village is just one small part of a massive water crisis unfolding in China. The problem isn't just the pollution that has contaminated much of northern China's groundwater — there are also chronic shortages in the major cities, including the capital Beijing, that are putting the country's economic growth at risk.

History / Culture

The great sprawl of China: timelapse images reveal 30-year growth of cities (March 21, 2017, The Guardian)
To identify the fastest-growing Chinese cities over that period, we used the latest UN World Urbanisation Prospects population data, and calculated the highest percentage growth from 1985-2015, filtering for cities with current estimated populations above 1 million. Below are the 10 fastest growers.

Pictures: 30 years in the life of one Chinese square – in pictures (March 22, 2017, The Guardian)
For three decades, Chen Zhixian has captured the action in the People’s Square of Jincheng. Moving from black and white to colour, then slide film and now digital, the only constant in his photos has been the statue of Chairman Mao.

Travel / Food

Top 5 Challenging Hikes in China (March 16, 2017, Wild China Blog)
From the crumbling, unmaintained “Wild Wall” to the desolate mountains of Tibet to the Himalayan wonderland of the true “Shangri-La,” challenging trails and epic adventure can be found all across China, and the raw beauty of it all is sure to leave you speechless. Here are five of our favorite hikes for those brave enough to walk on the wild side.

Illuminate the bike: A race through NW China (March 16, 2017, Matador Network)
We followed a team of young professional cyclists on a 14-day adventure as they raced 1,256 grueling miles through the world’s highest plateau in the rural Qinghai region of Northwest China.

Our guide to street food in China (March 17, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
The first time you go to China you’ll hear recommendations of what not to eat from friends and relatives. According to many people, you shouldn’t even go near street food, but it’s so delicious that it would be a real shame not to! With a little prudence and a little good sense (a good rule would be to only eat cooked foods), you should survive street food without any problems.

Why China Is Right to Dispense With Its Tea Masters (March 18, 2017, Sixth Tone)
The long history of China’s tea-drinking culture is well-known. Two millennia ago, during the Eastern Han Dynasty, it was written that the doctor Shen Nong had discovered the properties of various teas. Despite tea’s hallowed position in Chinese culture, however, certified tea masters have only been around for about two decades.

Macau About That? (March 18, 2017, The World of Chinese)
However, whereas most go to try their luck in roulette and ribaldry, I was unsure how Macau would be with two hyperactive rugrats in tow. It’s a playground for adults with cash to burn, yes, but can this city of serial sin keep the family entertained? In short, yes. Though it’s famous as being Asia’s Las Vegas (which is an understatement because it far surpasses Vegas in terms of gambling revenue), it’s also a city of history, culture, and leisure—if you know where to look.

What Food Tells Us About China’s Confused National Identity (March 20, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Undoubtedly, food helps to draw the boundary between “us” and “them.” In China, food contributes to a dualistic vision of “China” versus “the rest of the world,” where “the world” is almost always defined as “the West.” In fact, all non-Chinese dishes in early 20th-century Shanghai were referred to as xicai, or “Western cuisine.”

China Opens Yet Another Enormous Glass Bridge (March 20, 2017, The Points Guy)
The newest structure, suspended 1,476 feet in the air on Mount Langya in Hebei, China, opened to visitors last month. The 5,015-square-foot glass walkway, which hovers high over a rocky gorge, leads to a giant circular viewing platform that can hold up to 200 people. 

Language / Language Learning

10 ways of using games to learn and teach Chinese (March 19, 2017, Hacking Chinese)
Below, I have tried to present different ways games can be used to learn and teach Chinese, not so much based on the type of game, but how that game can be used. For each category, I will explain roughly how games can be used, and I will also provide a few examples.


Hollywood Made in China (March 16, 2017, China File)
With insightful policy analysis, ethnographic research, and interviews with CEOs, directors, and film workers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Los Angeles, Aynne Kokas offers an unflinching look at China’s new role in the global media industries. A window into the partnerships with Chinese corporations that now shape Hollywood, this book will captivate anyone who consumes commercial media in the twenty-first century.

Links for Researchers

Random comments on China's new civil code (March 19, 2017, Chinese Law Prof Blog)
On March 15th, the National People’s Congress passed the long-awaited General Rules of Civil Law (中华人民共和国民法总则) (GRCL), a collection of general principles that will come into effect on October 1, 2017. Interestingly, the GRCL will not replace the 1986 General Principles of Civil Law (民法通则) (GPCL) when they come into effect; for various reasons, the decision was made to have the GPCL continue in effect to the extent that their provisions do not conflict with GRCL provisions.

Image credit: Welcome to Iowa City, by Adam Simmons, via Flickr
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