ZGBriefs | March 26, 2015

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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.

Featured Article

How a Rock Musician from China Brought Uyghur Food to Boston (March 20, 2015, Munchies)
Payzulla Polat doesn’t want to talk about politics. And who can blame him? If his homeland of Xinjiang—a massive frontier province in northwest China—is ever in the news, it’s for terrorist attacks and human rights violations. He prefers to talk about music and food. The 33-year-old Boston resident is the owner of Uyghur Kitchen, the only Uyghur food truck in America.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s Tradition of Public Shaming Thrives (March 20, 2015, The New York Times)
This Chinese tradition has flourished in new forms in the past two years since President Xi Jinping took the helm. The Communist Party under Mr. Xi has made public shaming an exquisite Chinese art, like our fine silk and porcelain.

‘No Time to Duck’: Myanmar Fighting Takes Lives in Chinese Village (March 23, 2015, China Real Time)
To Yang Jinrong and others living in his Chinese border village, the fighting just across the frontier between Myanmar’s military and ethnic rebels didn’t much concern them. When warplanes darted across the sky on March 13, Mr. Yang and about two dozen other farmers continued to work their sugar cane field. They had, Mr. Yang said, seen the planes over previous days, circling and occasionally bombing targets across the border. “We didn’t feel threatened,” Mr. Yang, 26 years old, recalled last week. “The fighting was on the other side and we didn’t expect it to come over here.” Then, a deafening blast went off just 30 meters away from Mr. Yang.

In China and West, contrasting views on legacy of Singapore’s patriarch (March 23, 2015, The Washington Post)
Such was Singapore’s success that Lee’s influence was felt far beyond his tiny island state. His autocratic, technocratic and development-focused approach was emulated across Southeast Asia. And the idea of an economically free and prosperous nation under authoritarian rule also helped inspire China’s Communist Party and its opening to the world under Deng Xiaoping.

China rejects calls to free women's rights activists (March 25, 2015, BBC)
China has rejected calls from several foreign governments to free five women's rights activists who have spent nearly three weeks in detention. Foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that nobody had the right to ask China to release the group. The activists were planning public campaigns against sexual harassment.


Living Out Theology To The Utmost, Part 2: A Motto That Isn’t Just Talk (March 17, 2015, China Partnership Blog)
But if we only looked at buildings and ministries, we wouldn’t be able to learn anything or bring anything back with us. Which house church in China would be able to mobilize over a thousand people and care for a dozen full-time staff members?

Living Out Theology To The Utmost, Part 3: A Church That Preaches The Gospel Every Sunday Morning (March 18, 2015, China Partnership Blog)
Today, ideas such as Christ-centered preaching and hermeneutical preaching are gradually influencing the pulpits of China’s city house churches. Regrettably, we have also encountered the [phenomenon] where an excellent speaker preaches a Christ-centered sermon, but for a variety of reasons the audience can only absorb 60% of the content, with only 40% left after lunch, and one is lucky to have retained 20% of it by Monday.

Living Out Theology To The Utmost, Part 4: Seeing The Gospel In The Details (March 20, 2015, China Partnership Blog)
In this section, I will be sharing some more practical observations; this is what Chinese churches like the most, because it is easy to pick up and learn. [But] I hope that when everyone reads it, they don’t just imitate it [blindly], but that it helps them have more gospel-centered thinking, such that our worship has more of the gospel’s power. 

Living Out Theology To The Utmost, Part 5: A Welcoming Lord’s Supper Without Chaos (March 21, 2015, China Partnership Blog)
As we struggle with how to be friendlier towards seekers during communion, some simple words and practices will turn this sacrament into a good chance to witness the gospel, live out the communion of saints, and call seekers to Christ. China’s house churches have never faced such a vast field of harvest for the gospel. Of course, we hope to keep seekers in church, lead them to believe, train them to become disciples, send them to plant churches. But is the church ready to take this first step?

The Greying of China and the Church’s Response (March 20, 2015, ChinaSource Blog)
As China’s elderly population mushrooms and its working-age population shrinks, Christian families find themselves caught in the middle of this demographic divide. Cultural expectations and legal requirements put the onus on them to care for older family members, but neither the government nor the society at large are adequately prepared to support this effort.

The golden urn (March 21, 2015, The Economist)
The theology of Tibetan Buddhism seems an improbable area of expertise for the Chinese Communist Party. But the Dalai Lama’s latest suggestion that he may be the last in the line has provoked fury from Chinese spokesmen and the official press.

Is the Church Demolition Campaign Coming to an End? (March 23, 2015, ChinaSource Blog)
In the year that this campaign in Zhejiang has been going on, an ocean of ink (or should I say pixels) has been consumed in writing about this. Was it a nation-wide crackdown? Did Beijing order it, or were they just tolerating it? Why were they going after Three Self Churches? Truth be told, those outside of the inner circle of Party politics in China have no idea.

Using WeChat for Evangelism (March 24, 2015, Chinese Church Voices)
With the growing popularity of social media on the Internet, pastors are increasingly thinking and talking about how to use this platform for evangelism. On February 7, Pastor Dai, of a gospel ministry in Beijing shared some of his thoughts on how to use private and public accounts on the Weixin social media platform for evangelism.

Christian Pastor in China Gets One-Year Prison Term in Battle Over Crosses (March 24, 2015, The New York Times)
A Christian pastor who defended local churches when the Chinese authorities removed church crosses was sentenced to one year in prison on Tuesday night by a court in Zhejiang Province. The pastor, Huang Yizi, was sentenced by the People’s Court in Pingyang County after being convicted of “gathering crowds to disturb social order,” said Mr. Huang’s lawyer, Zhang Kai. Mr. Zhang said that he would appeal the court’s verdict.

Society / Life

Dark Days for Women in China? A ChinaFile Conversation(March 18, 2015, China File)
With China’s recent criminal detention of five feminist activists, gender inequality in China is back in the spotlight. What does a crackdown on Chinese women fighting for equal representation say about the current state of the nation’s political landscape? Who is served by rolling back the progress Chinese women have made and why are women being targeted now?

Look: World's largest dumpling made at Liaoning's Carrot Cultural Festival (March 22, 2015, Shanghaiist)
Attendees at Liaoning's Carrot Culture Festival were yesterday privileged to witness the construction of the world's largest dumpling. According to Tencent, the giant dumpling, measuring 2 meters long, 0.8 meters wide and 0.85 meters tall, was made yesterday morning at the opening of the Carrot Culture Festival in Shenyang, Liaoning province, attracting a great number of spectators.

Foreigners Leaving En Masse? China Says It’s Not So (March 23, 2015, The Nanfang Insider)
Despite a number of reports saying foreigners are getting fed up with China and leaving in droves, stats from the Chinese government show the exact opposite is happening. China says there were 848,500 foreigners living in the country in 2013, up 3.9 percent compared to a decade ago. As well, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange says over 612,000 work visits were handed out in 2014, 83,000 more than were handed out in 2011.

Photos: Light Load: Villagers steal natural gas from an oilfield in the coastal province of Shandong (March 24, 2015, Caixin Online)

China executes three over Kunming station attack (March 24, 2015, BBC)
Three men convicted of involvement in the Kunming knife attack have been executed, a court in China says. Iskandar Ehet, Turgun Tohtunyaz and Hasayn Muhammad were convicted in September of murder and terrorism offences. The attack at Kunming station in March 2014, left 31 people dead and more than 140 injured. It caused shock across China.

The “cancer” of all things Western (March 24, 2015, China Media Project)
In China’s state-run press of late, there seems to be a renewed (though certainly not new) animus against things Western. The ideas, language and culture of the West — even the foodstuffs of the West — pose a threat, we are told, to Chinese identities, paradigms and physical well-being.

2 Brothers In Rural China Beat The Odds; Practice Law In Shanghai (March 25, 2015, NPR)
The two brothers credit their parents for hard work and the expansion of university education in China, which gave them a springboard to white-collar careers.

Brother, Can You Spare a Renminbi? (March 25, 2015, Foreign Policy)
Has China suddenly become a nation of (admittedly entrepreneurial) scammers? It’s not entirely clear whether fake begging is relatively new, or a longstanding trend that social media has made easier to detect. But there’s no debate that since China’s economic reforms began in 1978, the party has dismantled much of the country’s welfare system, leaving only a thin social safety net for the urban poor.


China Needs to Open More Preschools in Villages, Expert Says (March 20, 2015, Caixin)
The leader of a non-profit foundation has called on the government to build more kindergartens in villages to improve preschool education in rural areas. In 2011, the State Council, the cabinet, said it wanted to provide 70 percent of the country's children with three years of preschool education by 2020. However, Lu Mai, secretary-general of the government-backed China Development Research Foundation, said on March 19 that the target would fall short of helping children in the country's nearly 600,000 villages.

China’s Coming Education Crisis (March 20, 2015, China Real Time)
One the knottiest problems China faces as its economy slows is a mismatch between people’s education levels and the needs of an economy increasingly reliant on technology and innovation, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development said Friday in a report on China.

China, Gulf Feature Heavily in U.S. Homeland Security Report on Students (March 25, 2015, Wall Street Journal)
A new report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security highlights just how rapid growth has been in the number of international students — most from China and oil-rich Gulf states — attending American universities.

Health / Environment

In rural China, once-hated family planners turn toddler advocates (March 20, 2015, Christian Science Monitor)
Intense focus on the number of children per family is giving way to concern about preparing them to thrive in adulthood. In the countryside, that means teaching parents and grandparents long focused on providing food and clothing how to read to and play with their offspring. 

Economics / Trade / Business

China's Marxist communal farming makes way for agribusiness (March 20, 2015, LA Times)
China faces daunting farm statistics: One-fifth of the world's population feeds off one-twelfth of the planet's arable land. And that acreage is shrinking: In the last 30 years, an area the size of New York state has been paved over as China urbanized. An additional 8 million acres became so polluted that the government announced in late 2013 that they shouldn't be used for agriculture. China's solution is to industrialize farming, as the United States did in the last century.

China's Farmers Have Been Left Behind (March 20, 2015, Bloomberg)
China's unprecedented era of urbanization has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. It has also left farmers behind. In its economic survey of China, the OECD identified some of the problems holding back the rural economy — land tenure rights are too short, deterring investment; limited access to credit for people who want to borrow to improve their farms; and farms are too small. 

China's new investment bank already paying diplomatic dividend to Beijing (March 22, 2015, Sydney Morning Herald)
As the list of traditional United States allies signing on to the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank continues to swell – despite direct pleas from the Obama administration – the reaction among Western analysts has been all but universal. Beijing has won this round, and convincingly, and Washington needs to reassess its game plan as China looks to assert its influence on the international stage with greater frequency, intensity and nuance.

China loves buying European companies (March 23, 2015, CNN)
China is on a shopping spree in Europe, snapping up companies on the cheap thanks to the weak euro. The latest big acquisition came Monday with news of an $8 billion bid for Italian tiremaker Pirelli. The world's second largest economy poured more than $22 billion into deals in western Europe in 2014, according to global merger and acquisition tracker Dealogic. That's about four times as much as the previous year.

Chinese Urbanites Reconsidering Car Ownership, Study Finds (March 24, 2015, China Real Time)
In China, some drivers are saying that owning a car is a hassle they could do without. Expensive license plates, traffic snarls and fuel costs are among the reasons why a significant proportion of Chinese say they would give up their cars, according to a report issued Tuesday by consultancy Bain & Co. “Owing a car is not as cool as it was five years ago,” said Raymond Tsang, a China-based partner with the firm and coauthor of the study.

Science / Technology

China Outlines New Rockets, Space Station and Moon Plans (March 18, 2015, Space)
Rocket builders in China are slated to augment their Long March family of boosters this year and in 2016. According to Chinese news services, the country will soon fly their Long March 6 – likely in the middle of this year.

Chinese anti-censorship group Greatfire.org suffers massive hack (March 20, 2015, The Guardian)
An advocacy group that helps internet users inside China bypass blocks on censored content says it is suffering a denial-of-service attack disrupting its operations. US-subsidised Greatfire.org says the attack started two days ago and traffic is 2,500 times above normal.

History / Culture

Photos of a forgotten China drop in one man's lap (March 17, 2015, PRI)
Have you ever had one of those moments where you couldn't believe your luck? Perhaps a promotion at work? Finding much-needed cash in the couch cushions or on the ground? Or, how about being at that perfect time at that perfect place when you're handed something of historical value? That happened to Joseph Ho while he was working the front desk at the Chinese Historical Museum in San Diego. "This gentleman came in with materials he wanted to donate to the museum and he told me that his parents were Presbyterian missionaries in China. And that he was born in China in 1934."

Minnesotans recall fleeing Holocaust to relative safety in Shanghai's camps (March 18, 2015, Minnesota Public Radio)
People fleeing the Holocaust found few places that would give them sanctuary. Shanghai accepted thousands of Jewish refugees and some Minnesotans are recalling their experiences there during that turbulent time.

Big lives, small feet: Photographing China's bound women (March 23, 2015, BBC)
Decades after foot-binding was outlawed in China, a British photographer has met some of the last women subjected to the practice. It was with a sense of pride that Su Xi Rong revealed her feet to British photographer Jo Farrell.

China Moves to Rectify Public Dance Routines (March 24, 2015, China Real Time)
A half-century after the Communist Party remade traditional entertainment with the creation of eight model operas and ballets, Chinese authorities are undertaking another state-led rectification of popular entertainment. The target this time: mass dancing. China’s General Administration of Sports and the Ministry of Culture jointly announced plans to roll out a set of 12 officially sanctioned public dance routines specially choreographed by experts to appeal to groups of multiple ages, the official Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday.

Travel / Food

The Chinese are Coming! (March 20, 2015, Outside-In)
During my first year in China (1984) I was an English teacher at a small teachers college in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. My students were middle school English teachers in smaller cities around the province. Many had previously been Russian teachers, but were now being re-trained as English teachers. For most of them, I was the first foreigner they had ever seen.

China Traveler: China Tops List Of World's Worst Airports For On-Time Flights (March 22, 2015, Forbes)
China’s proudly boasts many of the world’s No. 1s, but a new survey last week shows it dominating a list that many travelers in the country would rather it didn’t: the world’s worst airports for on-time departures.

Snapshot: Life in southwestern Yunnan (March 24, 2015, Go Kunming)
Menglian Dai, Lahu and Wa Autonomous County (孟连傣族拉祜族佤族自治县) is, as its name suggests, home to multiple minority groups. Nestled in southwest Pu'er Prefecture in the hill country where China bumps up against Myanmar, it is much more pastoral when compared to many other parts of Yunnan. Some tourists do come and go, but unlike more developed areas, it retains an authentic ambience and largely untouched feel.

Language / Language Learning

11 Ways Running is Like Learning a Foreign Language (January 11, 2011, Djibouti Jones)
Two accomplishments I feel rather proud of were accomplished in Africa. Here, I became a runner and here I learned a foreign language. Both were incredibly hard and both changed the way I see the world. Amazingly, they have some things in common. Here are eleven ways that running is like learning a foreign language, in my case, Somali.

In Hong Kong, Should Expats Learn Cantonese? (March 19, 2015, China Real Time)
The inevitable finally happened. Last month, during a Chinese New Year dinner at a seafood restaurant in Sham Shui Po, a working-class neighborhood in Kowloon, my wife’s uncle said something that I had been asking myself for years: “You’ve lived in Hong Kong for so many years–and you still don’t speak Cantonese?”

A minimum-effort approach to writing Chinese characters by hand (March 25, 2015, Hacking Chinese)
If you love writing Chinese characters by hand, this article is not for you, but if you feel that you want to learn to write Chinese characters, but that you don’t want to spend more time than necessary, you’ve come to the right place!


10 Best Chinese Classic Novels of All Time (March 20, 2015, China Whisper)
Chinese classic literature offers some of the most excellent novels ever written. We pick the classic novels all Chinese novel fans should read.

Sinica Podcast: In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland (March 23, 2015, Popup Chinese)
This week, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are delighted to be joined by Michael Meyer, the author of The Last Days of Old Beijing and now In Manchuria, a part literary travelogue and part journalistic account of three years spent living with family in rural Jilin.

The China Collectors: America’s Century-Long Hunt for Asian Art Treasures (March 23, 2015, China Rhyming)
An interesting new book from Shareen Blair Brysac and Karl Meyer on the origins and controversies around America’s great China collections….

Articles for Researchers

Grasp the large, let go of the small: The transformation of the state sector in China (March 19, 2015, Brookings)

Xi’s Bold Foreign Policy Agenda: Beijing’s Pursuit of Global Influence and the Growing Risk of Sino-U.S. Rivalry (March 19, 2015, China Brief)
Refinements in the Chinese leadership’s strategic assessment have spurred a set of policy directives aimed at bolstering the country’s political and economic leadership at the regional and global level. Because these policies are driven by imperatives to sustain economic development, which undergirds the Party’s legitimacy, Beijing is unlikely to be dissuaded from pursuing this course. While the risk of military conflict remains low, Sino-U.S. relations appear headed towards an increasingly acrimonious and bitter competition.

Image Credit: Street Food! by palindrome6996, on 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