ZGBriefs | March 30, 2023

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Featured Article

Easter and the Tomb Sweeping Festival Share a Nerdy Connection (March 27, 2023, Christianity Today) (registration required)
While one holiday has strong theological significance and the other mostly secular, the calendars for both traditions share a common origin. An order known for astronomy and mathematics, the Jesuits drove the reforms in both the Western world and China that dictate how we plan our days, months, and holidays.

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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 

(in-person or to receive a link to post-event recording)

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s Expanding Influence in Iraq (March 22, 2023, The Diplomat)
Iraq’s geostrategic location and oil resources make it a crucial point in China’s Belt and Road Initiatives.

Xi Jinping Goes to Moscow: A ChinaFile Conversation (March 22, 2023, China File)
How has much changed during this meeting and what does it mean for the Russia-China relationship going forward?

Chinese state TV’s full throated endorsement of Putin’s war (March 23, 2023, The China Project)
A veteran observer of Chinese state media has been tracking CCTV’s coverage of the war in Ukraine. It does not even pretend to be balanced.

Video: Two Sessions, Many Implications (March 24, 2023, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
What are the implications of this year’s Two Sessions for President Xi Jinping and the latest roster of Party leaders, for those in the United States with a close eye on the U.S.-China relationship, and for the Chinese people? In an interview conducted on March 20, 2023, Dimitar Gueorguiev speaks with Rory Truex, and Ling Li about the 2023 Two Sessions in the context of China’s domestic and international policies.  

Former Taiwan president arrives in China pledging peace (March 27, 2023, Reuters)
Taiwan’s ex-President Ma Ying-jeou became on Monday the first sitting or former Taiwanese leader to visit mainland China since the Communist revolution in 1949, saying he hoped to bring about peace and improve relations. 

China warns of retaliation if Taiwan’s president meets US House speaker during visit (March 29, 2023, The Guardian)
The Chinese government has threatened retaliation if Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, meets the US House speaker this week, and urged the US not to let her transit through the country, saying it would be a “provocation”. Tsai left Taiwan on Wednesday afternoon for a 10-day trip to visit Central American allies, Belize and Guatemala.

White House to China: Don’t use Taiwan visit as ‘pretext’ (March 29, 2023, Reuters)
The White House urged China on Wednesday not to use a “normal” stopover in the United States by Taiwan’s president as a pretext to increase aggressive activity against Taiwan. John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, told reporters that Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s arrival soon in the United States is the latest in a series of routine transits.

Saudi partners with China-led security bloc as ties grow (March 29, 2023, Al Jazeera)
Saudi Arabia has agreed to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a “dialogue partner”, state media reported on Wednesday, the latest indication of closer political ties with China. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established in 2001 as a political, economic and security organisation to rival Western institutions.


To Testify to Eternal Life (March 23, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
This is the transcript and video of a recent interview with a house church pastor, in which he shares his journey of faith, from leaving a heretical sect, to being arrested for following Christ.

Chinese Pastors Explore What True Revival Is Through Asbury Revival (March 23, 2023, China Christian Daily)
There were also quite a number of pastors in China, especially those in the young adult ministry, who took great interest in and discussed the Asbury Revival.

Ramadan and the Gospel (March 24, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Today we are reposting “The Two Eids and Other Hui Celebrations,” from the series “Know Thy Hui Neighbor” by Julie Ma. She describes the importance of Ramadan, how it is celebrated by the Hui, and how Christians can share the good news of Jesus in the context of the festival. 

Chinese Worship Music Website Closes down Due to ‘Force Majeure’ (March 27, 2023, China Christian Daily)
Zanmeishige.com, a popular website for worship music among Chinese Christians, has ceased operations due to “force majeure.” “Due to force majeure, all services on this website will be closed from now on. Thank you for your support all along the way. Goodbye!” said the notice signed on March 22, available on its main page.

Shanghai International Church to Reopen on Easter Sunday After Repairs (March 28, 2023, China Christian Daily)
Shanghai International Church roughly completes renovation and is about to resume in-person worship services on Easter. Shanghai International Church last Sunday issued a notice, stating that it will reopen on Easter Sunday, April 9th. The church has remained closed since January 2020. 

Society / Life

Study reveals mental health impact of Shanghai’s harsh Covid lockdown (March 26, 2023, South China Morning Post)
Researchers find prevalence of depression at 26 per cent and anxiety at 20 per cent – ‘substantially higher than previously observed estimates’. They say mental health problems more commonly seen among vulnerable groups such as migrant workers and young adults

In China, Marriage Rates Are Down and ‘Bride Prices’ Are Up (March 26, 2023, The New York Times) (subscription required)
China’s one-child policy has led to too few women. Grooms are now paying more money for wives, in a tradition that has faced growing resistance.

“I Think You’re Just Bored”: China’s Depressed Teens Struggle for Understanding and Treatment (March 27, 2023, The World of Chinese)
According to the National Health Commission, this mental health crisis among Chinese teens is mainly caused by school bullying, intense academic pressure, and family trauma such as corporal punishment or a lack of a close relationship with one’s parents. 

Economics / Trade / Business

China to crack down on malicious online comments damaging reputation of businesses (March 28, 2023, Reuters)
China’s cyberspace regulator vowed on Tuesday to clamp down on malicious online comments that damage the reputation of businesses and entrepreneurs, amid an official drive to shore up the private sector and spur economic growth.

Alibaba to split into six units, paving way for separate listings (March 29, 2023, Tech Node)
Alibaba announced on Tuesday that it intends to split its operations into six standalone units, each managed by a different chief executive. CEO Daniel Zhang announced the restructuring in an internal email on Tuesday, stating that each unit needs to prove itself in the market environment and accomplished units can go public and raise funds on their own.

China: Is its ‘socialist market economy’ era over? (March 29, 2023, DW)
Three decades after China enshrined the goal of a “socialist market economy” in its constitution, the era of “reform and opening up” appears to have ended, say experts.

Health / Environment

China’s Lackluster Vaccination Drive: A Tale of Local Cadre Incentives (March 29, 2023, The Diplomat)
The data is very counterintuitive. If China had the institutional capacity to enforce the zero-COVID policy for three years, why couldn’t it monitor and enforce vaccinations?

History / Culture

Podcast: Drum Tower: Bricks and people (February 21, 2023, The Economist)
It is impossible to imagine Beijing without its hutongs. The ancient alleyways harbour the city’s character, culture and history inside their low, grey walls. But for decades the hutongs have been in peril. The Economist’s Beijing bureau chief, David Rennie goes in search of the last of the hutongs and meets Hu Xinyu, a historian who’s trying to preserve them and their way of life.

Opinion: The long and tense history of American journalists trying to understand China (March 22, 2023, CNN)
In many ways, the situation facing reporters today feels like an ironic throwback to the years of the Hong Kong-based “China-watchers” after the Communist revolution of 1949, when American and other western journalists were barred from China.

Travel / Food

Off-the-radar destinations every visitor to China should consider (March 28, 2023, CNN)
But for travelers looking to experience some of the country’s less-visited regions, we’ve put together a list of culturally-rich and beautiful places to consider as you start planning your next trip to China.

Language / Language Learning

6 benefits of learning Chinese through sports (March 27, 2023, Hacking Chinese)
While the general benefits of physical activity are well-known, I think the more specific benefits for learning languages are less widely known, so let’s look at 6 benefits of learning Chinese through sports!

Best Chinese Language Summer Courses in China (March 29, 2023, Sapore di Cina)
In this post, we will explore some of the best cities in China to study Chinese during the summer, highlighting the top language programs and cultural experiences each city has to offer. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, studying Chinese in China during the summer is an experience you won’t want to miss.


From Brush Strokes to Unicode—How China Became Modern: A Book Review of Kingdom of Characters (March 29, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
More than just a fascinating historical tale of linguistic and technological innovation—which it certainly is—Tsu’s book is an exploration of the role language has played in China’s nation-defining pursuit of modernization.


Towards the Mobilization of Chinese Cross-Cultural Workers (March 27, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
We are happy to add to the collection of articles and posts related to sending and caring for Chinese missionaries with the addition of a research paper to our ResearchShare section of the website. 


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, 7:00pm 

Pray for China

April 5 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
The Tomb Sweeping Festival (清明节) always falls on April 4th or 5th. On Apr. 5, 1992, Christian evangelist Cui Shaoshu (崔弟兄) was beaten to death by authorities in Yunnan Province. A quarter of a century later, house pastor John Cao Sanqiang (曹三强牧师) was arrested in Yunnan and given a 7-year prison sentence for allegedly crossing the border illegally to help establish schools for poor children in neighboring Burma. Pray for Christians to remember those who have laid down their lives or are in prison for the Risen Lord of the Empty Tomb. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:5-6

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
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