ZGBriefs | March 30, 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

Young, Restless, and Reformed in China (March 27, 2017, The Gospel Coalition)
Chinese church leaders are writing books of church order. They’re organizing into networks. They’re starting Christian grade schools and seminaries. They’re reading everything they can get their hands on, buying out Reformed authors at bookstores and heading to Reformed websites. And some are also stumbling, passing quick judgment on those who aren’t five-pointers. Some are proud. A number are splitting up congregations. In many ways, Reformed theology in China looks like a newborn colt attempting that first walk—eager, stumbling, up and down and up again.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Murder in the Lucky Holiday Hotel (March 17, 2017, BBC)
Five years ago, China's most charismatic politician was toppled from power. His disgrace allowed his great rival to dominate the political stage in a way unseen in China since the days of Chairman Mao. All this was made possible by a murder. And the story of that murder begins not in China but in a British seaside town.

What a Buddhist Monk Taught Xi Jinping (March 24, 2017, The New York Times)
In 1982, two men arrived in this dusty provincial town. One was Shi Youming, a Buddhist monk who was taking up a post in the ruins of one of Zhengding’s legendary temples. The other was Xi Jinping, the 29-year-old son of a top Communist Party official putting in a mandatory stint in the provinces as a bureaucrat in the government he would eventually lead. The two forged an unusual alliance that resonates today. 

China captures more than 2,500 fugitives who fled overseas: Xinhua (March 25, 2017, Reuters)
China has captured 2,566 fugitives who had fled to more than 90 countries and regions and recovered 8.6 billion yuan ($1.25 billion) of illicit funds from 2014 to 2016, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

Shuanggui: The harsh, hidden side of China’s war on graft, and how one man disappeared into it (March 26, 2017, The Globe and Mail)
Members of the Communist Party accused of graft routinely disappear into buildings like those behind the grey wall after being placed under a form of extralegal custody called shuanggui. When they eventually emerge – sometimes after weeks, sometimes not for a year – they have prepared confessions of wrongdoing, for which they are then tried in court. Sentences include lengthy jail time, asset seizures and orders to repay large sums of money.

Carrie Lam, Beijing's Favored Candidate, Elected To Lead Hong Kong (March 26, 2017, NPR)
After winning an election conducted amongst Hong Kong's biggest Beijing supporters, 59-year-old former civil servant Carrie Lam said her priority would be to "heal the divide" in Hong Kong society, vowing to form a government based on talent, not connections.

Hong Kong democracy activists charged hours after election of new city leader (March 27, 2017, The Guardian)
Hong Kong police have started a crackdown on pro-democracy lawmakers and activists, informing at least nine people they will be charged for their involvement in a series of street protests more than two years ago. The charges come a day after Carrie Lam was elected to be the city’s chief executive.

Warning that Beijing's military bases in South China Sea are ready for use (March 28, 2017, The Guardian)
China has largely completed three major military bases in the South China Seathat have naval, air, radar and missile-defence facilities, according to a US thinktank.

China calls for explanation after Paris police fatally shoot Chinese man (March 28, 2017, Reuters)
French police said on Tuesday they opened an inquiry after a Chinese man was shot dead by police at his Paris home, triggering rioting in the French capital by members of the Chinese community and a sharp reaction from Beijing.

Missing Taiwan Political Activist With NGO Links Detained in Mainland China (March 28, 2017, Radio Free Asia)
Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) worker and human rights activist Lee Ming-cheh is being held by Chinese police at an undisclosed location, his wife said on Tuesday. "I received indirect evidence from a government department late last night that Lee Ming-cheh has been detained by a branch of the state security police," Lee's wife Lee Ching-yu told reporters in Taipei.

Podcast: Outcomes of China’s “Two Sessions:” A Conversation with Carl Minzner (March 22, China Power Podcast)
In this episode, we sit down with Carl Minzner to discuss the outcomes and significance of this year’s “Two Sessions” and look ahead to the 19th Party Congress this fall.

Beneath the surface of China’s relentless rise (March 29, 2017, East Asia Forum)
Amid China’s seemingly relentless economic rise, why has its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) centralised power under Xi Jinping? Answering this question requires an understanding of the sense of impending crisis that has plagued the CCP leadership in recent times.


Bonhoeffer in China: An Interview (Plough)
That is why I will never leave the church community in which I was baptized and became a Christian. Even though I’ve now lived in the United States for five years, I am still a member of that church and stay in touch with the brothers and sisters.

Perceptions and Priorities of Christian Leaders in China (March 20, 2017, ChinaSource Quarterly)
As China and its church have undergone rapid change, varying perceptions have emerged inside and outside China regarding the situation of the Chinese church, its priorities, needs, and expectations for working with the church outside China.

The Expectations of the Chinese Church (March 20, 2017, ChinaSource Quarterly)
In supporting the Chinese church’s cross-cultural missions, the primary emphasis of Christian overseas should be coaching with financial support as secondary.

History of the Yanjing Church, the Only Catholic Church in Tibet (March 23, 2017, China Christian Daily)
In the Buddhist-dominated Tibet, there is one village where 80 percent of its people believe in Jesus and it is located in the village of Yanjin, in Minzu Zone, Changdu District, Tibet.

Local Christianity Cultural Tour Kicks Off in Hangzhou (March 23, 2017, China Christian Daily)
On March 18, 2017, the praising team from the Sicheng Church of Hangzhou, a campus of Chongyi Church, started the long-awaited cultural tour on Christianity in Hangzhou. They visited a foreign missionary cemetery, a leprosy hospital, local church relics, and others. 

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.

Jailed Living Stone House Church Pastor Now in Critical Condition; Lawyers Request Medical Bail (March 25, 2017, China Change)
The Living Stone church of Guiyang is an emerging urban house church that grew rapidly beginning in 2008. It has been subject to constant suppression and surveillance by the authorities.

If We Say Chinese Have No Sin, We Deceive Ourselves (March 29, 2017, Jackson Wu)
It began last summer. I awoke to read an email suggesting that Danny Hsu’s article is “now required reading for all who work among Chinese.” Hsu is a sound scholar of Chinese history. So, I read with curiosity. According to Hsu, I (and others) “question the compatibility between Chinese culture and the idea of sin.” This was surprising news to me, since I’ve never held that belief. I fully believe Chinese can understand the biblical notion of sin.

Rethinking Youth Ministry (March 28, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
Do Chinese parents and pastors need to rethink how they raise their youth in the faith? In this article, originally posted on at Gospel Times, a pastor encourages believers to challenge traditional views of ministry to youth. The pastor sketches modern challenges to youth ministry and then offers practical recommendations for ministry workers.

From Leading to Modeling (March 29, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Whether or not it is stated clearly up front, most foreign nonprofit organizations in China have a long-term goal of turning their work over to local staff who can then continue the work long after the foreigners have left. Achieving this goal is a long-term endeavor. A successful hand-off takes time.

Infographic: A Journey of Opportunity Following God's Direction in China (Missiographics, Global Mapping Institute
China has experienced rapid change, and so has the church in China—now numbering over 100 million Christians!  How can we better partner with the church in China as to sustain growth and increase effective sending?  One way is listening to the needs and perspectives voiced by 1,200 Chinese church leaders in the China Gospel Research Alliance's 2016 survey.

Struggle Against the Gods (April 2017, First Things)
While handling the legal defense of Pastor Cai Zhuohua, who was charged with “illegal business practices” in 2004 for possessing Bibles, I first read Scripture. At the time, it left me cold. My attitude changed when the Beijing authorities began to persecute me. In time, I came to know God and join the brotherhood of Christians. Since then, God has given me great strength through difficult times. He has also given me visions, the first coming after I was abducted in August 2006.

Society / Life

'Half these apartments are empty': Mao’s former home city struggles with growth (March 20, 2017, The Guardian)
Like many second-tier Chinese cities, historic Changsha is growing at a staggering rate – 460% in 10 years – leading to gridlocked roads, polluted air, surplus housing and overstretched services. What is it like to live amid such change?

Demolishing Dalian: China's 'Russian' city is erasing its heritage – in pictures (March 23, 2017, The Guardian)
Founded by the Russians, Dalian boasts a wealth of architectural history. But now its treasured buildings are marked for demolition – and the government is being sued. One student went to capture the area before it disappears

China, South Korea Meet in World Cup Qualifier Amid Tensions (March 24, 2017, NBC News)
Thousands of riot police were deployed for a soccer showdown Thursday night that was more than the average grudge match. The World Cup qualifying game in Changsha pitted hosts China against South Korea. It also whipped up Chinese nationalist sentiment at a time of high political tension over the rollout of a U.S.-made missile defense system in Asia.

'I'm very sceptical': residents of China's growing cities discuss life amid change (March 24, 2017, The Guardian)
This situation happens in almost every third-tier city in China. Our families invest time and energy to ensure we have a good-quality higher education, and they hope we can find a job in megacities worldwide where resources are much more abundant than our humble hometowns. People from rural areas surge into my hometown to work, whereas natives like me seek every possible way to escape.

Why Are Chinese Moving to Malaysia By the Thousands? (March 25, 2017, South China Morning Post)
With an election looming, the country’s often fraught race relations are as complicated as ever, but that hasn’t dented its appeal to a ‘third wave’ of immigrants from China.

Jing-Jin-Ji: China Planning Megalopolis the Size of New England (March 25, 2017, NBC News)
China's rulers are planning a megacity that would be home to 130 million people and cover an area the size of New England. Sitting on the northeast coast of China, Jing-Jin-Ji — which stands for "Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei" — is a central plank of the country's economic development plan over the next century.

How the rise of a liberal, social media–savvy generation is changing Chinese society (March 26, 2017, Vox)
While the Chinese leadership is repressive, Chinese society is becoming increasingly liberal. That is especially true of the younger and urban generation, which I have been following, befriending, and writing about since I first arrived to live in Beijing in 2008, fresh out of college.

Expert Doubts Incentives Would Boost China’s Birth Rate (March 27, 2017, China File)
Enticements were proposed in Beijing this month at the National People’s Congress and a coinciding gathering of top government advisers as a way to ease the financial burden for couples who decide to have a second child. But Liang said he doubts that incentives will be enough to prompt couples to have a second child because young Chinese women are inclined to have only one child—or none at all.

China keeps finding millions of people who never officially existed (March 27, 2017, Quartz)
China, the country with the largest population in the world, has just found another 14 million people, equal to about one percent of its population of 1.37 billion. The group was never officially registered on the country’s household registration record system, known as hukou, which is closely linked to a person’s legal identity. That means they didn’t officially exist—until recently.

“No Use Getting a Divorce” – Stricter Rules for Couples Separating for a Second Home (March 28, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
Beijing is tightening its mortgage rules in order to put a halt to the ‘divorce loop’ that has made it possible for people to get a cheaper mortgage within a year of getting a “fake divorce.” But many Weibo netizens think the measure comes too late.

The End of Poverty in China? (March 28, 2017, Project Syndicate)
One of the most cited statistics about China may well be the number of Chinese who have been lifted out of poverty over the last 35 years. At over 800 million, it is a huge number – and an extraordinary feat. Indeed, no other country has achieved such a level of poverty reduction in such a short period. But what about the millions of Chinese who have remained behind?

Underground labs in China are devising potent new opiates faster than authorities can respond (March 29, 2017, Science Magazine)
The opium poppy is no longer the starting point for many of the opiates on the street. The new compounds, often sold mixed with heroin, originate in illicit labs in China.

Man Chains Wife to Computer to Chat Up Strangers for Money (March 29, 2017, Sixth Tone)
“I’m begging you to rescue me,” began a recent message received by police in Chongqing, an inland megacity in southwestern China. “I’ve been locked up to take part in fraud.” When officers traced its source to a 28th-floor apartment in the city’s Shapingba District, they found a woman shackled to a desk, the computer screen flashing with blinking lights accompanied by the merry chimes of social media notifications.

Economics / Trade / Business

Airbnb makes a late play for China (March 22, 2017, CNN)
The short-term rental startup paid little attention to the world's most populous country for years. But it's now stepping up efforts to appeal to China's growing ranks of young people with money to spend on travel. Airbnb said Wednesday it will triple its China workforce from 60 to 180 this year and double its investment in the country. 

New Online Employment Visa Application Debuted in Shanghai (March 23, 2017, China Briefing)
The Shanghai Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) recently announced that alien employment services counters in Shanghai will stop accepting new Employment Permit applications at 5pm on March 24, 2017. From the following day, all employers in Shanghai will be required to apply for employment permits via the online management system for foreign workers in China (Management System).

Why NOW is the Time to Comply with China’s Employment Laws, Part 2 (March 27, 2017, China Law Blog)
In this part two, I explain what our China employment lawyers do in our HR audits to ensure that our clients are in compliance with China’s increasingly complicated, increasingly localized and increasingly important labor and employment laws.

In China, As in The U.S., The Fight Over Ride Hailing Is Local (March 27, 2017, NPR)
In China, it's a migration issue, with local regulators concerned that these ride-hailing jobs are bringing too many migrants into their cities. Meanwhile in the U.S., municipalities are often concerned for the legacy taxicab industry. In both countries, the companies have to pour resources into lobbying and public relations campaigns.


Recruitment and the Great Firewall of China (March 17, 2017, Inside Higher Ed)
Even institutions with long track records of recruiting Chinese students struggle to provide accessible content. For example, of the top-25 universities in America enrolling the most international students, 68 percent had admissions content that was blocked in China. While some schools were missing secondary content, such as student interviews or campus photos, other schools had entire admissions pages that were inaccessible.

Getting Out of the Bubble (March 24, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
So, Fong joined us for a month. He ate meals with us, we talked, he made notes on English usage, and he helped me cook. He did get to know some Americans before he left and we were introduced to the remarkable sub-culture that exists on many US campuses—the Chinese bubble that makes it possible to get a US university degree without really encountering Americans or the American life.

Students must swim before they graduate, says China university (March 28, 2017, BBC)
tudents applying to one of China's most prestigious universities have been told they must learn to swim before they graduate. Tsinghua University, known as the Harvard of the East, has ruled that the nation's top minds must also prove themselves in the pool. The news made waves on Chinese social media, with some questioning the move in a country struggling with drought. But the university said swimming was a key survival skill.

Health / Environment

China to Plant ‘Green Necklace’ of Trees Around Beijing to Fight Smog (March 23, 2017, The New York Times)
The plan aims to increase forest coverage on the Hebei-Beijing border, in part by tapping into rivers, reservoirs, wetlands and farmland, an official statement said. Though the plan calls for greater wetlands preservation, it does not mention that Beijing suffers from a chronic drought, so there is very little water on which to draw.

A river of rubbish: the ugly secret threatening China's most beautiful city (March 24, 2017, The Guardian)
A 2016 study found that the Qingshitan reservoir, an important source of Guilin’s reservoir, was polluted, reporting above average nitrogen and organic carbon content. The report credits agricultural, industrial and domestic sources as the pollution culprits.

Science / Technology

Apple wins iPhone 6 patent battle in China (March 27, 2017, BBC)
A ban that threatened to stop the sale of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus phones in China has been overturned after a court ruled in favour of Apple in a patent dispute. Chinese firm Baili sought a ban last year saying the iPhone infringed on the design of its 100C smartphone.

Chongqing police to punish those skirting China’s Great Firewall (March 28, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Security authorities update rules that target individuals and companies seeking to get around censors, with warning of fines.

China's Great Firewall Gives Rise to a Robust Industry of Information Smugglers (March 28, 2017, Global Voices)
Hong Kong investigative news platform The Initium has interviewed a number of media workers or so-called “information smugglers” who run social media accounts to translate or repackage content from overseas news sites to mainland China's domestic network.

China's secret plan to crush SpaceX and the US space program (March 28, 2017, CNBC)
The majority of China's space ambitions remain focused on boosting Chinese prestige at home and abroad. But a push within Xi's government to triple spending on space science as well as the emergence of a small but growing group of privately backed space start-ups suggest that both Chinese industry and government see long-term economic benefits in their investments in space technologies.

Watch This Train Pass Straight Through an Apartment Building in China (March 28, 2017, The Points Guy)
When a light railway needed to be built and an apartment building was blocking its path, city planners came up with an extremely innovative idea: to keep from tearing the structure down so the tracks could be set up, they chose to have the train pass straight through floors six to eight.

Google makes its Translate mobile apps available for users in China (March 28, 2017, Tech Crunch)
Google has reintroduced its Translate mobile apps to China, where they can now be accessed and used without the need for software to bypass local censorship.

Arts / Entertainment / Media / Sports

The Uighur pop singer trying to build bridges (March 17, 2017, BBC)
Uighur pop singer Ablajan Awut Ayup, or "AJ", is a local sensation, who says he wants to bridge the cultural gap by appealing to both China's majority Han and Uighur audiences.

Athens Chinatown: Meet the Chinese Community of Greece (Full Documentary) (March 18, 2017, Greek Reporter)
Although the Chinese started immigrating to Greece very late compared to other countries, today Athens is home the newest Chinatown in Europe. We visited the Chinese school, different businesses, and met with the many individuals in the Greek capital. Trying to get a good grasp of the Chinese community in Greece, we realized the two ancient nations have much more in common than they think.

Adrenalin-fueled TV drama to spur on China's war on graft (March 24, 2017, Reuters)
"In the Name of the People", a new show by propaganda department of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), China's top prosecutor, follows an intrepid SPP anti-graft investigator sent to a fictional province from Beijing to tackle corruption at the highest levels of local officialdom.

History / Culture

The Legacy Of The Mississippi Delta Chinese (March 18, 2017, NPR)
Think of the Mississippi Delta. Maybe you imagine cotton fields, sharecroppers and blues music. It's been all that. But for more than a century, the Delta has also been a magnet for immigrants. I was intrigued to learn about one immigrant group in particular: the Delta Chinese.

A large collection: The Cultural Revolution in Chengdu, 1966-1968 (March 24, 2017, Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Podcast: Rural Women under Mao - Oral Histories of China with Gail Hershatter (March 28, 2017, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies)
Today’s guest on the Harvard on China podcast is Gail Hershatter, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California Santa Cruz. Her research spans the history of China’s long twentieth century. She re-examines the immense societal changes of China's communist past through oral histories of rural women.

Travel / Food

Discovering Pu’er Prefecture, the green heart of Yunnan (March 24, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
Pu’er is one of the most important areas in the world for the production of tea (particularly its namesake version) and for several years the Chinese authorities have been heavily sponsoring this aspect for tourism ends, so much so that in 2007 they changed the name of the prefecture itself, previously known as Simao.

Qingdao! (March 27, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
One of the striking things about the coastal city of Qingdao is the surviving European feel of much of the older sections of town. Qingdao was a German colony from 1898 to 1914, and unlike most other cities that had once been under colonial rule, the old European zone was not razed.

6 Breakfast Items You Must Try in Beijing (March 28, 2017, The Beijinger)
Whether you’re hiking the Great Wall or exploring the hutongs, starting your day with a good breakfast is essential when traveling in Beijing. Luckily, the streets of the capital are brimming with breakfast options, from the familiar to the outlandish – fermented bean milk, anyone? Sure, you could stick with a coffee and an egg McMuffin from McDonald’s, but where’s the fun in that? 


Wish Lanterns (March 27, 2017, China File)
Wish Lanterns offers a deep dive into the life stories of six young Chinese. […] Following them as they grow up, go to college, and find work and love, all the while navigating the pressure of their parents and society, Wish Lanterns paints a vivid portrait of Chinese youth culture and of a millennial generation whose struggles and dreams reflect the larger issues confronting China today.

Links for Researchers

The Chinese Approach to Radical Islam (March 27, 2017, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Image credit: 鶴鳴茶社, by Simon D, 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