ZGBriefs | March 23, 2023

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Featured Article

Xi and Putin pledge to shape a new world order as the Chinese leader leaves Russia with no peace in sight for Ukraine (March 22, 2023, NBC News)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin set their sights on shaping a new world order as the Chinese leader left Moscow on Wednesday, having made no direct support for Putin’s war in Ukraine during his two-day visit. […] Yet, as Xi departed he told Putin: “Now there are changes that haven’t happened in 100 years. When we are together, we drive these changes.”

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ChinaSource Quarterly: Christian Responses in China’s New Era (March 13, ChinaSource)
How do you sense and describe an inflection point? When riding in a sports car through an S-curve you can feel the shift in acceleration. However, this kind of shift is harder to sense in the unfolding history of a country or culture. Fortunately, China’s leaders have named and defined the start of the New Era (2012) as an inflection point for China’s development. Building on the articles in the Winter 2022 ChinaSource Quarterly, in this issue we continue reflecting on these shifts and their implications for Chinese Christians.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

How to Read Xi’s Muscular Message on China’s Global Role (March 17, 2023, Council on Foreign Relations)
Xi Jinping used the annual legislative session to lock in his tenure as president and reinforce China’s assertive foreign policy and the reemergence of its economy.

China’s religious affairs chief Cui Maohu under investigation for corruption (March 18, 2023, South China Morning Post)
State news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday that Cui Maohu, 57, has been placed under investigation for suspected severe violations of party discipline and the country’s laws, the customary euphemism for corruption. A native of Yunnan province, Cui spent his entire political career in his home province until he was promoted to head the religious affairs body and made deputy head of the United Front Work Department in June last year.

Armed men kill nine Chinese nationals in Central African Republic (March 20, 2023, The Guardian)
China’s embassy in the Central African Republic has urged its citizens to avoid travelling outside the capital, Bangui, after nine Chinese nationals were killed in an attack by militants at a goldmine outside the city. The embassy said in a statement on Sunday there had been many “vicious” security incidents against workers of foreign mining enterprises in the area, and Chinese citizens still outside Bangui were requested to evacuate immediately.

The leaders of China and Russia have finished talks. Here are some takeaways (March 22, 2023, NPR)
This visit was an especially strong sign of support from China for Russia, coming just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin for alleged war crimes. Xi gave no indication he brought up the arrest warrant. Instead, the two men greeted each other warmly as “dear friend.”

‘Pandora’s box’: EU weighs changing relations with China (March 22, 2023, DW)
China’s show of solidarity with Russia displeased officials in Brussels, where concerns are growing that Beijing is considering supplying arms to Moscow. But for now there is no real desire to decouple from China.

China Is Starting to Act Like a Global Power (March 22, 2023, The Wall Street Journal)
China now sees itself as a global power—and it is starting to act like one. Long reluctant to inject itself into conflicts far from its shores, Beijing is showing a new assertiveness as Xi Jinping begins his third term as the country’s head of state, positioning China to draw like-minded countries to its side and to have a greater say on global matters.


New Era and New Roles: Changes and Issues for Chinese Ministries in a New Context (March 13, 2023, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The gap between the first and second decades is so great that it made us feel like we were sitting on the banks of the rivers in Babylon reminiscing about Zion (Psalm 137:1). This article explores the changes that have occurred in Chinese society and the Chinese church during the New Era. From this, we can think about what God is doing through these changes. Finally, we explore the roles overseas workers can play in the churches in China.

Ministry Insights under a Nationalistic Trend (March 13, 2023, ChinaSource Quarterly)
For more than seventy years, we have connected China with Communism. Rather, we should recognize that nationalism, possibly being presented in the name of socialism or communism, has become a main ideological thread. I hope the exploration of these factors will provide insights for gospel ministry in the coming decade.

Changing the Rules of the Game: China’s New Era and New Media (March 13, 2023, ChinaSource Quarterly)
All of these efforts were intended to help churches understand that the online-merge-offline (OMO) lifestyle is the trend for both technological and social development; the pandemic only served as an accelerator. Both as the church and in our evangelism, we must seriously consider and actively respond to this OMO development.

Uyghur Christian Released After 15-Year Sentence (March 15, 2023, China Aid)
Alimujiang Yimiti, also known as Alim, converted from Islam to Christianity in 1995 and served as a house church pastor to Uyghurs in Kashgar, Xinjiang. His work in Xinjiang painted a target on his back, as the Chinese government began to scrutinize Uyghurs in the area. In 2007, authorities initially accused Alim of using his business to “infiltrate” Christian ideology into Kashgar. 

Guangdong Church Opens Its Door for Gospel on Saturdays (March 17, 2023, China Christian Daily)
Guangzhou CC&TSPM stated the Church of Our Savior in Guangzhou opened its door to provide consultation of faith for tourists on March 11, and about 100 persons participated in the interactive activities such as faith consultation, spiritual stations, games, and paintings, which were carried out to spread the Lord’s love and faith in an outdoor small market in the east square.

Emigration As In The Bible: To Run Or Not? (March 20, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
“Chariot of Fire” points Chinese Christians to the Bible and its examples of believers who left their homes and went to a new land. He is personally unwilling to say whether or not safety calls for Christians to leave China, but instead points Christians to biblical principles found in the stories of Abraham, the Exodus from Egypt, the Exile to Babylon, the Incarnation, and the Book of Acts.

Society / Life

China capital Beijing experiences first population decline since 2003 (March 2021, Reuters)
The death rate in China’s capital Beijing surpassed its birth rate in 2022, official data showed on Tuesday, pushing its natural population growth into negative territory for the first time since 2003. The death rate in the city of 21.84 million, one of the country’s most populous urban centres, rose to 5.72 deaths per 1,000 people, while the birth rate fell to 5.67 births per 1,000 people, official statistics released by the Beijing government showed.

Economics / Trade / Business

China to boost support for high-end manufacturing – Premier Li (March 22, 2023, Reuters)
China will strengthen its policy guidance to support advanced manufacturing, Premier Li Qiang was quoted as saying by state radio on Wednesday. The world’s second-biggest economy is under increasing pressure from the United States, which has cited national security in restricting access to Chinese semiconductors and artificial intelligence technology.

Health / Environment

China approves first home-grown mRNA Covid vaccine (March 22, 2023, BBC)
China has approved its first home-produced mRNA Covid vaccine, months after ending strict pandemic rules. Drug regulators cleared the vaccine, developed by CSPC Pharmaceutical Group, for emergency use, the company said. China’s labs have been trying to create an mRNA vaccine for years – the country refused to clear foreign-made ones for widespread domestic use.

Sandstorms blanket Beijing and northern China as air pollution soars off the charts (March 22, 2023, CNN)
Weather authorities in Beijing warned people not to go outdoors for exercise and other activities, and have asked drivers to stay vigilant and reduce speed because of low visibility. Concentrations of PM10 particles hit 1,667 micrograms per cubic meter by 6 a.m. local time, according to Beijing’s monitoring center on Wednesday, with the agency calling it “the most severe sandstorm to date this year.”

Science / Technology

China’s ChatGPT Rival Needs to Watch Its Words (March 21, 2023, Wired)
“Baidu is going to face a tension between making a useful chatbot and making one that conforms to Chinese speech controls,” says Matt Sheehan, a  fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who studies China’s AI industry. “I’m skeptical they’ll be able to create a general-purpose chatbot that users can’t trick into spitting out speech that’s unacceptable in China.”

Baidu’s smart car business to test autonomous vehicles in Shanghai (March 22, 2023, Reuters)
Apollo, Chinese tech giant Baidu’s smart car business, has received approval to be among the first companies to test fully autonomous vehicles in Shanghai, China’s largest city, it said on Wednesday. The business currently operates driverless robotaxi services in specially designated areas of Wuhan, Chongqing and Beijing.

History / Culture

Video: Improbable Diplomats: How Ping-Pong Players, Musicians, and Scientists Remade U.S.-China Relations(March 17, 2023, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
In an interview conducted on March 9, 2023, Pete Millwood discusses with Alison Friedman how a diverse cast of Chinese and Americans – athletes and physicists, performing artists and seismologists – played a critical, but often overlooked, role in remaking U.S.-China relations.

Hi-res art scans from famous Taiwan museum leak online… and turn up for sale on Chinese online shopping platform (March 16, 2023, CNN)
A Taiwanese museum that houses some of the world’s most precious Chinese artworks has confirmed that up to 100,000 high-resolution images of paintings and calligraphy leaked online – some of them turning up for sale on a Chinese shopping platform for less than $1. The National Palace Museum in Taipei said Tuesday it had reached out to Taobao, a shopping website popular in mainland China, to prevent the images from spreading.

Travel / Food

As Tourism Bounces Back, China’s Travel Bloggers Ride the Rebound (March 16, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Most had no place to go while restrictions were in place. But as China looks past the pandemic, travel influencers, on whom many increasingly depend to make decisions, may hold the key to a quick revival.

Covid tests for China travellers to England ending (March 17, 2023, BBC)
Travellers flying into England from mainland China will no longer have to provide proof of a negative pre-departure test from next month. The change will come into effect on 5 April – exactly three months after the measures started. Ministers brought in controls after a spike in cases following Beijing’s relaxation of its zero-Covid policy.

China’s best new outdoor attractions (March 19, 2023, CNN)
From cruises along the world’s longest canal to a post-earthquake fairyland, various outdoor attractions have opened or undergone dramatic makeovers, giving travelers more reasons than ever to visit China. Now that the country has announced it’s reopening its borders to foreign travelers and resumed issuing tourist visas, international visitors can finally check out some of these popular new offerings that have been winning the hearts of domestic travelers during the pandemic.

Language Learning

Video: Hanzi, From Print to Screen (March 17, 2023, Sixth Tone)
The tale of how that came to pass is not your typical “China story.” It involved designers, scientists, and bureaucrats from China to Japan, even Massachusetts, collaborating and competing for over a century. The result of their work is something once thought impossible: bringing Hanzi into the digital world.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The Ins and Outs of the China Daily USA (March 16, 2023, China Media Project)
According to its latest filings to the US government, the China Daily makes no profit, spends little on reporting, and outsources printing. So what business is this “newspaper” really in? 

Links for Researchers

Special Issue: National People’s Congress Digest (March 16, 2023, MERICS)
“For Xi, the NPC marked the beginning of a new five-year term in which he holds all the reigns – he controls the agenda, key people and institutions,” says Nis Grünberg, MERICS Lead Analyst. “Xi is adamant about making China strong and globally influential again. But his third term will be defined by the tension between this vision, and the determination of the US to keep China from rising to become a global peer.“


Online Book Club – Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China, by Lian Xi (ERRChina/CAC)
Come alongside ERRChina/CAC friends and scholars as you engage with works that reflect on past and present Chinese worldviews. You will gain a greater understanding of China and the church, past and present, and its meaning and impact in our current world situation. Together, we’ll make the most of a time of uncertainty, waiting, and strained isolation and spend it in patience, hope, and exploration. Read more about the book here. Go here to register to join the book club discussion. Date: April 19, 7:00 pm. 

Public Lecture | Spreading the Gospel: Christian Posters in Early 20th Century China (ChinaSource)
Between 1919 and 1949, posters were the most common Christian visual imagery in China. They were printed by the millions and hung in tea rooms, on city walls, and on temple gates. Posters were put up in houses and churches; they were unfolded for street evangelism. They were extremely popular because they were aesthetically pleasing and symbolically rich, yet easy to understand. Unlike theological treatises written by Chinese theologians, these images were designed by laypeople and intended for popular consumption. In this lecture, Daryl Ireland of Boston University will showcase some of the 700 Chinese Protestant and Catholic posters he has located and explain why they are changing the way we think about Chinese Christianity.

April 26, 2023, 7:00pm
Barrows Auditorium – Billy Graham Hall
Wheaton College
here to register for this free event

Pray for China

March 29 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Mar. 29, 2010, Moses Yu (于力工牧师) died at age 89 in Hawaii. Yu was born into a devout Christian family and trusted the Lord in 1931 during the Shandong Revival. After working with InterVarsity, he took his young family to the United States in 1949. During his long life, he planted several churches, wrote prolifically, and founded the Christian Witness Theological Seminary. Pray for children in Christian families to learn at an early age that real joy is found only through loving the Lord. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8

Image credit: Peggy Marco, via Pixabay
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