ZGBriefs | March 29, 2018

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Featured Article

Nobody Knows Anything About China (March 21, 2018, Foreign Policy)
We don’t know China because, in ways that have generally not been acknowledged, virtually every piece of information issued from or about the country is unreliable, partial, or distorted. The sheer scale of the country, mixed with a regime of ever-growing censorship and a pervasive paranoia about sharing information, has crippled our ability to know China.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China Refuses Entry to Australian Critic of Communist Party (March 21, 2018, The New York Times)
John Hugh, 51, who has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to influence Australian politics, said he was sent back to Sydney soon after his flight landed in Shanghai on Tuesday night. He said he was met by Chinese officials before disembarking and told that he would be put on the next flight back to Australia.

China’s Heavy Hand in Africa (March 22, 2018, Council on Foreign Relations)
Is China’s “charm offensive” losing its charm and becoming just offensive?

Xi Jinping’s grasp on power has captured the West’s attention – now what? (March 22, 2018, China Policy Institute)
The West has held out hope that each leader after Mao Zedong, including Xi, would move in the direction of democracy. Now, constitutional reform has snapped the West back to reality. But can the West fashion a unified, viable strategy to deal with an emerging superpower that refuses to accept Western political values?

Communist Party aims for more 'unity of thought' in state media (March 22, 2018, Christian Science Monitor)
Chinese state media will be getting more propaganda now that the Communist Party has announced it will be in direct control of broadcasters and the regulators of everything from movies and TV to books and radio programs.

Guerrilla Ideology (March 26, 2018, China Media Project)
The following commentary, written by former CMP fellow Chang Ping (长平), was published in Chinese last week by Deutsche Welle. We offer our translation here to help shed light on China’s recent move to combine its three major state-run broadcast networks into a single super-network to be called, in its external dimension, “Voice of China.”

Belt and Road Initiative: Beijing’s ambition to be a player in global energy governance (March 27, 2018, China Policy Institute)This article examines China’s growing energy demand, the energy transition taking place in the country and China’s ambition to position itself as a major player in global energy governance. It discusses the implications of such developments in the context of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Talks Ease Concerns Over Potential Trade War With China (March 27, 2018, NPR)
The U.S. stock market rocketed higher as fears of a possible trade war with China eased. The two countries have begun talks aimed at avoiding tit-for-tat sanctions that could damage both sides.

China Boosts Ideological Monitoring of Overseas Chinese, Returnees (March 27, 2018, Radio Free Asia)
China's ruling Chinese Communist Party appears to be stepping up its monitoring of citizens with overseas links following a massive restructuring of state agencies earlier this month to bring them under direct party control. Among the changes are an expanded and more visible role for the party's formerly secretive United Front Work Department, which works to ensure cooperation from groups outside the party and government apparatus.

Xinjiang Authorities Detain Uyghurs ‘Wanting to Travel Abroad’ (March 27, 2018, Radio Free Asia)
Chinese authorities in Ili Kazakh (in Chinese, Yili Hasake) Autonomous prefecture have added “interest in travel abroad” to the list of reasons they are detaining ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region’s vast network of political “re-education camps” and prisons, according to an official source.

When Xi Met Kim: How China and North Korea Depicted It (March 28, 2018, The New York Times)
Here’s a look at how the Chinese and North Korean news media portrayed the meeting.

Kim Jong-un Visits Beijing: A ChinaFile Conversation (March 28, 2018, China File)
How should Beijing handle its relationship with North Korea? What does the visit augur for the future of North Korea’s nuclear program? And what does Kim’s meeting with Xi mean for Kim’s potential upcoming meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump?

What we know—and don’t—about the meeting between Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping (March 28, 2018, Brookings)
First, Beijing reasserted itself as a central actor in managing security issues in Northeast Asia. Second, Kim maintained initiative in dictating the direction and speed of developments on the Korean Peninsula. Third, the visit gave the impression of a White House that was caught off guard rather than leading international efforts to confront North Korea and push it toward denuclearization.


Contextualization—a Broader Perspective (March 19, 2018, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Effective contextualization is not primarily about methodology and strategy; rather, it concerns perspective. How do our cultural experiences cause us to read the Bible in fresh ways? How does a robust biblical perspective shed light on needs and values of culture?

Advance and Retreat: Opportunities and Challenges of Han Mission Work among Ethnic Minorities (March 19, 2018, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Moving to the Northwestern Plateau, I, as a Han Chinese, have now experienced firsthand the difficulties of serving among ethnic minorities. I do not attempt to speak for all Han Chinese since even Han in the northeast are very different from Han in the southeast. However, I will share some of my feelings as a southeastern, coastal, Han Chinese.

A Pastoral Perspective on Contextualization: An Interview with Pastor "Peter" (March 19, 2018, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Jackson Wu conducted an interview with “Peter,” a pastor in eastern China, asking about the following issues dealing with contextualization in China.

Communicating the Gospel with Power among China’s Animistic Peoples: Cultural Contextualization in China (March 19, 2018, ChinaSource Quarterly)
In these groups, power and fear are primary concerns. In Asian collectivistic societies, the influence of honor and shame is pervasive. However, with certain groups, peoples’ daily concerns are shaped by a worldview that emphasizes religious practice and is more akin to the worldview of traditional African religions. In short, shades of animism exist.

Traditional Culture’s Effect on China’s Younger Generations: Cultural Contextualization in China (March 19, 2018, ChinaSource Quarterly)
When it comes to youth and culture in today’s China, there is simply no one-size-fits-all approach. The practices and beliefs of Chinese—urban and rural—born after 1980 are increasingly shaped by a plurality of cultural forces (e.g., urbanization, commercialization, and globalization) mixed with the continuing influence of aspects of traditional Chinese culture.

Chinese Culture and Christian Stewardship (March 21, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
As part of the Faith and Generosity in China Initiative, Dr. Scott Rodin, author of The Steward Leader, interviewed believers in China about how stewardship is perceived in Chinese culture.

Cardinal Tong says opposing Vatican-China deal is 'unreasonable' (March 23, 2018, Catholic News Agency)
Cardinal John Tong Hon has voiced support for a proposed deal on the appointment of bishops between the Vatican and China, saying he believes the Chinese government has generally become more tolerant, and an accord would help bring further openness and unity to the Church.

Christian Philanthropist: How Chinese Church Seizes Opportunity of Fostering Community Social Organizations (March 27, 2018, China Christian Daily)
How should the Chinese church and Christians engage in the trend of boosting community social organizations? Feng Lifeng, a Christian philanthropist, shared his views.

Podcast: Soul of a Superpower - Ian Johnson & Richard Madsen (March 27, 2018, UC San Diego via Sound Cloud)
Ian Johnson joins Richard Madsen to discusses how today’s Chinese Communist Party is striving for a national set of values, and how ordinary Chinese are seeking for deeper meaning in their lives, and the lessons for the rest of the world in this global populist moment.

Faith on the Ice: The Story of Li Yan (March 27, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
This article from Territory delves into the life of Li Yan and her impact on Olympic speed skating. The writer, Zhou Yi, explores how Li approaches coaching through her Christian faith.

China Moves to Sideline Underground Bishop, His Colleagues Say (March 28, 2018, The New York Times)
A Rome-based news agency has reported that Guo Xijin was briefly detained on Monday because he refused to celebrate the upcoming Easter Mass with the government-approved bishop, but people working in his parish office said the aim was to keep him out of the spotlight during the days around Easter, which is celebrated this coming Sunday.

China Sentences American Pastor to Seven Years in Prison for 'Illegally Crossing the Border' While Doing Humanitarian Work (March 28, 2018, Gospel Herald)
A North Carolina pastor has been sentenced to seven years in prison and fined a hefty charge after he allegedly "organized an illegal border crossing." According to persecution watchdog China Aid, a court in China's southern Yunnan province handed down the sentence on March 23, one year after Pastor John Cao was detained while engaging in humanitarian work along the China-Burma border.

How Hmong Christians navigate the border tensions between China and Vietnam (March 28, 2018, The Conversation)
Nevertheless, Hmong Christians have been growing in numbers and strength. In the 1990s, church leaders crossed the border into China in order to attend Bible schools, since they were not allowed to study theology in Vietnam at the time.

Chinese Catholic-run kindergarten seized (March 28, 2018, UCA News)
A Catholic-run kindergarten in China's populous Henan province has been seized by authorities. Tian-ai Kindergarten, run by Zhifang Church in Weihui parish of Anyang Diocese, was sealed after police stamps were posted on the school's gate on Feb. 14 and March 14. A person familiar with the situation told ucanews.com: "Posting twice means the school is not allowed to run."

Society / Life

Photos: The Bike-Share Oversupply in China: Huge Piles of Abandoned and Broken Bicycles (March 22, 2018, The Atlantic)
Bike sharing remains very popular in China, and will likely continue to grow, just probably at a more sustainable rate. Meanwhile, we are left with these images of speculation gone wild—the piles of debris left behind after the bubble bursts.

And So It Begins (March 26, 2018, Outside-in)
The return of the exalted-political-leader-on-a-plate souvenir, something we haven’t seen for a very long time.

Podcast: Race and Representation in China (March 26, 2018, Sixth Tone)
In this episode of Sixth Tone’s podcast, freelancer and contributor Niesha Davis looks at “Black Panther” and views on blackness in contemporary China.

Are Chinese People ‘Less Sensitive’ About Privacy? (March 27, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Baidu CEO Robin Li says most Chinese net users are willing to trade their personal data for safety and convenience.

The Orphans of China’s Economic Miracle (March 27, 2018, The New York Times)
In the last three decades, 280 million Chinese people have left their villages for the booming cities in search of work, making up the greatest wave of migration in human history. But while seeking a better long-term future for their families through more lucrative employment, millions of these migrants left their children behind in the villages — sometimes to live with family members, sometimes to fend for themselves.

Economics / Trade / Business

Why Borrowers on China’s Belt and Road Will Go From Euphoria to Depression (March 26, 2018, South China Morning Post)
China is investing heavily in international infrastructure projects to advance its own interests, but when the bills come due the deals may wreak havoc on poorer nations with nowhere to turn.

Surviving March Madness in U.S.-China Trade Relations (March 27, 2018, Center for Strategic and International Studies)
But before observers pop the champagne, we should realize that a cessation of hostilities is not the goal; rather, constraining Chinese industrial policy is. There is, in fact, a danger that the trade war could end prematurely. The right outcome is more important than a fast outcome.

Six signs China wants to avoid a trade war (March 28, 2018, China Policy Institute)
Yet there is reason to believe that this is not a battle that China wants to fight. Numerous signals at the recent “two sessions” gathering of China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC) and its top political advisory body, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made evident China’s desire to keep its economy open.


What Chinese High School Students Learn in America: A Q&A with Miao Wang, Director of ‘Maineland’ (March 21, 2018, China File)
Maineland is a snapshot of what at least a few teenagers from China think of America (“nobody studies”) and what kids in rural Maine know about China (once upon a time, there was “Tank Man”). Wang hopes that kids from both her homeland and her adopted home will continue to learn about one another through educational exchange. “How can they fail to impact one another?”

Health / Environment

HIV Transmission Continues to Rise at Beijing Universities (March 23, 2018, The Beijinger)
The number of HIV transmissions at Beijing universities continue to rise at an alarming over the past year, say local health authorities. Citing incomplete statistics, the municipal Education Commission said the city's total number of universities students infected with HIV has risen to 1,244 as of June of last year.

Who Uses Chinese Medicine, and Why? (March 24, 2018, Radii China)
But in China proper, TCM is less stigmatized. It’s not an alternative medical practice — it’s just a medical practice. All sorts of people use it in different ways and for different reasons. Noting that, we took to the streets to ask people about how they use TCM in their daily lives.

Science / Technology

Smart Meters Installed in 10,000 Beijing Taxis (March 26, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The integrated GPS machine requires each driver to swipe their staff identity card before they can start the meter, and allows the taxi company to monitor each trip live. The device also supports multiple forms of payment, including bank cards and mobile payment platforms like WeChat Wallet and Alipay.

China’s New Frontiers in Dystopian Tech (April 28, 2018, The Atlantic)
China is rife with face-scanning technology worthy of Black Mirror. Don’t even think about jaywalking in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province. Last year, traffic-management authorities there started using facial recognition to crack down. 

History / Culture

Video: The Transformation of Ancient Peiping (Peking), 1935 (March 25, 2018, Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

What happened to China’s early Christians and why did the Nestorian doctrine die out? (March 21, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The religion arrived during the Tang dynasty via Middle Eastern missionaries, but its fate was forever in the fickle hands of ancient China’s emperors.

Travel / Food

Discover Hong Kong street food in Kowloon (March 22, 2018, USA Today)
There may be a few unique textures or sights to get accustomed to, but Hong Kong's food markets, vendors and street stalls offer more approachable bites, too. Delicious handmade dumplings, hot pot soup, roast goose, endless varieties of dim sum, and fresh baked pineapple buns washed down with milk tea are but a few of the tantalizing offerings that collectively make Hong Kong a food lover's paradise.

How to Book an Hotel (or Hostel) in China (March 22, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
There are a variety of online portals to book hotels, but in my opinion, for China, the three best are: Agoda, Booking and cTrip.

24 Hours in Hangzhou (March 28, 2018, Wild China Blog)
The city of Hangzhou is just a short train ride from Shanghai and makes an excellent extension to any tour. The city’s romantic scenery has inspired poetry throughout the ages and it’s a destination often referred to in China as ‘heaven’ or ‘paradise’ on Earth.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

China’s Revamp of Broadcasting Systems Pushes Soft Power, Hard (March 22, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The central government will create a new organization called the State Administration of Radio and Television to oversee radio and television. Film, press, and publishing, meanwhile, will come under the supervision of the Party’s publicity department.

How Onscreen ‘Losers’ Mirror the Lives of Young Professionals (March 26, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Depicting characters who fail in their attempts to attain higher social status, film and TV evoke harsh realities of life in today’s China.

“My Dad’s a Rocker” Tells the Story of a Chinese Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneer (March 26, 2018, Radii China)
The film features appearances from renowned Chinese rock pioneers He Yong and Zhang Chu, as well as the “Father of Chinese Rock” (a title he often bears reluctantly), Cui Jian.

Language / Language Learning

Mastering Mandarin Pronunciation: A New Resource (March 26, ChinaSource Blog)
So the question then is, what can be done to tackle these problems, conquer these challenges, and increase the Mandarin student’s chances for ultimate success? The answer to that question is simple—take six hours to master how to correctly pronounce all the words in the Chinese dictionary using the pinyin system before starting any course of Mandarin study.

Living Cross-culturally

Making home an emotional oasis for your TCKs (March 21, 2018, A Life Overseas)
I receive a lot of questions as I travel and speak about TCKs, but the question people most often ask is this: “If there was one thing you would recommend parents do to help their TCKs, what would it be?” My short answer? Make your home an emotional oasis for your TCKs.

You Don’t Know What You Want. The Chinese Seamstress Know What You Want. (March 28, 2018, Small Town Laowai)
I had to do a double take. I remembered picking out the pink satin, the white satin, and the sheer white fabric on my previous visit. I remember her nodding over the illustration I gave her. The SIMPLE dress illustration. I thought that was the plan. But she had apparently decided that plan was not frilly or girlie enough.


Home, James: A Book Recommendation (March 23, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Home, James by Emily Steele Jackson is the tale of James, an 8th grader who is transitioning from Nanning, Guanxi, to Missoula, Montana and from an international school to an American public school.

Curating Revolution: Politics on Display in Mao’s China (March 23, 2018, China File)
How did China’s Communist revolution transform the nation’s political culture? In this rich and vivid history of the Mao period (1949-1976), Denise Y. Ho examines the relationship between its exhibitions and its political movements. 

Global Chinese Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity: A Book Review (March 28, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
This is a superb book about a very significant topic. The editors have assembled a competent team of researchers to study Chinese Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity (CPCC) around the world from a variety of angles, and the result is a volume that achieves something very rare: It delivers more than the title promises!

Links for Researchers

Assessing the Resiliency of the Chinese Communist Party (March 21, 2018, Asia Eye)
At the 19th Party Congress in Beijing, Chinese leaders projected an image of China (People's Republic of China, PRC) as a strong and united country destined to become a new global leader. However, the extraordinary measures undertaken to control information, assembly, and capital outflows suggest the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may be weaker than it appears.


2018 NPC Session: Documents List (March 25, 2018, NPC Observer)
The following is a list of all official documents presented to, adopted by, or otherwise related to the 1st Session of the 13th NPC, which concluded last Tuesday (March 20). Xinhua only finished publishing these documents today. Currently, only Chinese versions of these documents are available. Official English translations of four reports (noted below) will become available soon. 

Testimony to US House Armed Services Committee, 21 March 2008. John Garnaut, in personal capacity. (March 21, 2018, docs.house.gov)
The party works hard to find common interests and cultivate relationships of dependency with chosen partners. The modus operandi is to offer privileged access, build personal rapport and reward those who deliver. From open source materials we know this is happening in universities, in business communities, in ethnic Chinese communities, in media and entertainment, and in politics and government.

Image credit: Joann Pittman, via Flickr

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