ZGBriefs

ZGBriefs | March 7, 2019

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Featured Article

Prepare to Drool: Chinese Food Documentary “Flavorful Origins” Hits Netflix (February 28, 2019, Radii China)
The 20-episode culinary documentary series highlights the regional cuisine of Chaoshan in southeastern Guangdong, China. First released on Tencent Video on February 5, to coincide with Chinese New Year, it was syndicated and released on February 12 on Netflix — making this the first-ever documentary series produced by a foreign video platform to do so.


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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Factbox: What to expect from China's annual meeting of parliament next week  (February 28, 2019, Reuters)
Here is an overview of China’s top legislature and this year’s meeting, which will last around 10 days.

The Future of China-U.S. Military Relations (March 1, 2019, China File)
How much cooperation can be expected throughout 2019? What should the agenda be for U.S.-China military relations, and what obstacles will need to be overcome?

Canada Says Extradition Hearing For Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou Can Proceed (March 1, 2019, NPR)
"The decision follows a thorough and diligent review of the evidence in this case," the Canadian government said in a statement. "The Department is satisfied that the requirements set out by the Extradition Act for the issuance of an Authority to Proceed have been met and there is sufficient evidence to be put before an extradition judge for decision."

China Says Detained Canadian Michael Kovrig Was Spying Illegally (March 4, 2019, NPR)
China says it suspects former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig of spying, with a powerful Communist Party panel airing new details about China's accusations against Kovrig. When he was arrested in December, officials said only that Kovrig was suspected of jeopardizing national security.

Chinese Rights Lawyer Jiang Tianyong Allowed Home Visit, Still 'Not Free' (March 4, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
Authorities in the central Chinese province of Henan have allowed prominent human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong to return to his parents' home, three days after his release at the end of a two-year jail term. Jiang had been scheduled for release from Henan's Xinxiang No. 2 Prison on Thursday, at the end of his incarceration for "incitement to subvert state power." 
But his family and supporters were told that "he has already been taken away by someone else" by prison authorities when they went to meet him outside the prison gates.

Six key takeaways from China Premier Li Keqiang’s annual policy blueprint (March 5, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The government set the economic growth target for 2019 in a range of 6.0 to 6.5 per cent during the opening of the National People’s Congress. Beijing also announced a significant 3 percentage points cut in value-added tax rate for manufacturers to 13 per cent.

China’s Communist Party is battening down the hatches as the economy slows (March 5, The Washington Post)
“Looking out the next 12 months, Beijing sees the possibility of a significant deterioration in the economy,” said Jude Blanchette, head of the China practice at the Crumpton Group, a business intelligence firm. “There’s an increasing consensus in the private sector that Xi is mismanaging the economy, which has sparked an uptick in discontent over his leadership.” 

China’s 2019 Work Report: Growth Target, Tax Cuts Announced (March 6, 2019, China Briefing)
Every year, China’s premier delivers a Work Report at the Two Sessions meetings, which acts as a policy agenda for the coming year. Here, China Briefing delves into the details and impacts of the 2019 Work Report.

How to Cheat at Xi Jinping Thought (March 6, 2019, Foreign Policy)
A newly mandatory app is eating up Chinese workers’ time—so they’re finding ways around it.

The Problem With Xi’s China Model (March 6, 2019, Foreign Affairs)
As Xi begins his second five-year term as CCP general secretary and (soon) president, there are signs that the new model’s very successes are becoming liabilities. Too much party control is contributing to a stagnant economy and societal discontent, while too much ambition has cooled the initial ardor with which many in the international community greeted Xi’s vision of a new global order “with Chinese characteristics.”

'Time for the Chinese miracle': Beijing's new English language propaganda push (March 6, 2019, The Guardian)
Chinese state media dropped a music video over the weekend featuring a little-known Chinese performer named Su Han. In the video Su raps over images of his country’s achievements, including a rover landing on the far side of the moon, a pair of cloned monkeys, high rise buildings, a group of smiling women in ethnic dress, and curiously, a server room.

Religion

What Is Christianity in Macau Like ? (February 28, 2019, China Christian Daily)
Christianity in Macau has a long history. Macau was the first point in China to which the Gospel came, brought by Jesuit missionaries in 1552, as the Portuguese came to establish a foothold in China. 

Churches Across China Celebrate World Day of Prayer (March 4, 2019, China Christian Daily)
According to Gospel Times, a Chinese Christian daily news website, services in churches and seminaries in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Changsha, Kunshan, Guangzhou, and other cities were held as believers joined those in 180 nations to pray for the women in Slovenia, their communities and other countries. 

Yunnan Multiethnic Christian Church Tells Its History, Status Quo (March 4, 2019, China Christian Daily)
On November 8, 2017, a 100-year celebration was held at the Manyun Christian Church in Jinghong City, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province. For commemorating the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Gospel for this locality. A few days ago, the Manyun Christian Church published an article about the history and status quo of the church.

Interview With a Pastor’s Wife From Shanghai – The Power of the Gospel Can Deliver Me From Darkness (March 4, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
This interview is with a young pastor’s wife from Shanghai. She discusses the pressures she faces in the church; the challenges and benefits of discipleship; the gospel’s impact on her relationship with her mom; spiritual friendships; and the cultural idols of Chinese women.

Hannah Lau: Spreading the Gospel amidst 16-hour work days (March 4, 2019, Salt and Light)
In a business environment where 16-hour work days were the norm, Lau recognised the opportunities that arose: “We were in the ‘barracks’ together. Think about it: I spent more time with these people than they do with their spouses and kids!

Where the Church Gathers in Difficult Times (March 5, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article from ChurchChina, Bian Yun-bo shares about all the interesting places Chinese Christians have secretly gathered during difficult times. From caves, to cellars, and even boats, Bian emphasizes how important the gathered church is, especially when times are tough.

Beijing plans to continue tightening grip on Christianity and Islam as China pushes ahead with the ‘Sinicisation of religion’ (March 6, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Delivering his annual government work report on Tuesday, Premier Li Keqiang told the national legislature that “we must fully implement the [Communist] Party’s fundamental policy on religious affairs and uphold the Sinicisation of religion in China”.

Society / Life

Can China recover from its disastrous one-child policy? (March 2, 2019, The Guardian)
Families are now being urged to have at least two children, but it may be too late to convince parents to embrace the change.

Beijing Lights: "Nothing Is Ridiculous to Someone Who Takes It Seriously"  (March 3, 2019, The Beijinger)
The house Wei lives in is less than 10 square meters; you could pass it without a second glance. The small room is lined with nothing but the delicate stone jewelry and ornaments he made. Wei showed me his collection, his eyes lit with childlike enthusiasm.

Moving Out: Beijing’s “Rejuvenation” Enters a New Phase (March 4, 2019, Radii China)
The continuing “Rejuvenation” of Beijing enters a new phase this spring as local authorities are starting to ask for volunteers to relocate out of the city center. Signs first posted last month in the Wudaoying area near the Lama and Confucian temples offered cash incentives for residents willing to move.

China in unfamiliar territory as rust belt cities flatline (March 4, 2019, The Guardian)
She says Harbin is better understood not as a city in decline so much as a city playing catch-up. “[Harbin] is still developing, just nowhere near as quickly as first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai,” she says. Growth in GDP across the Heilongjiang region in 2017 was 2.7%, which although not in the same league as coastal Jiangsu (10.1%) is not recession either.

Bowing Out: Why Traditional Kowtowing Rituals Are Under Threat (March 5, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Even in my conservative hometown, the tradition of kowtowing is under threat — not from silly students like myself, but from a far more authoritative source: the government-run village loudspeaker system. 

Megacities and more: A guide to China's most impressive urban centers (March 5, 2019, CNN)
According to the United Nations' data booklet, China has six of the world's 33 megacities. The China Statistic Yearbook, however, indicates that there are at least 10 cities with more than 10 million permanent residents.

Economics / Trade / Business

The World’s Most Innovative Company is Chinese (March 4, 2019, Radii China)
At least it is according to Fast Company‘s 2019 rankings. The magazine’s annual list of “the businesses making the most profound impact on both industry and culture” was recently announced with China’s Meituan Dianping sitting pretty in top spot. The company, which has merged restaurant reviews and discount bookings with a whole host of other services, was named number one on the list “for pioneering transactional super apps.”

US Businesses in China Grow Despite Recent Tensions: AmCham China 2019 Survey (March 5, 2019, China Briefing)
US-China trade tensions and a slowing Chinese economy were key challenges for US businesses last year as captured by the latest AmCham China Business Climate Survey. China Briefing summarizes the key takeaways from the survey, including changes in business sentiment during this turbulent period.

China’s foreign investment law will apply to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan (March 5, 2019, South China Morning Post)
China’s new foreign investment law – to be passed during the annual legislative session that opens on Tuesday – will also apply to investors from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the 11-day National People’s Congress, clarified on Monday that the new legislation would cover investments from the three places – something that was not explicitly stated in the draft bill that has been out for consultation since December.

China's Close Government-Business Ties Are A Key Challenge In U.S. Trade Talks (March 6, 2019, NPR)
Over the years, companies in his field have faced bruising competition from Chinese firms that could undercut his prices because they were heavily subsidized by the government, he says. "The government runs the economy," he concluded. "To think the government's not involved in any business practice in China is really I think a bit naïve."

Chinese Workers Flee Japan’s Controversial Work-Training System (March 6, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Unscrupulous agents in China are luring workers into overseas placements with low pay and poor conditions.

Huawei: The story of a controversial company (March 6, 2019, BBC)
Soon 5G mobile internet will be everywhere. Huawei is a pioneer but is accused of being a gateway for China to spy on Western nations. Is the firm guilty? Or the victim of unfair rumours?

Education

Even in China’s Boomtowns, Some Schools Are Going Bust (March 1, 2019, Sixth Tone)
But Yuxikou Primary’s decline hints at a different reality. Located on the outskirts of Wuhu, a thriving city of more than 3.6 million people on the Yangtze River around 350 kilometers from Shanghai, the school’s story shows how certain communities in otherwise booming Chinese cities are fading away as they lose their economic lifelines.

Why More Chinese Parents Are Timing Their Due Dates for the Fall  (March 2, 2019,  Sixth Tone)
Once the envy of their classmates, China’s summer-born ‘little monthlings’ are increasingly at a disadvantage in the race for spots at top primary schools.

University of Minnesota cuts ties with tech giant Huawei (March 3, 2019, MPR News)
Administrators recently announced that the university will no longer accept money, enter into contracts or exchange information with Huawei, the world's largest telecommunications equipment company. Huawei funds research at the university through gifts to the University of Minnesota Foundation, the Minnesota Daily reported.

Health / Environment

Why Chinese mothers turned away from C-sections (March 2, 2019, BBC)
Doctors and researchers have long been warning of alarmingly high Caesarean-section rates globally. Among countries with such high C-section rates, only one has managed to change - China. The story of how China succeeded where others failed is exemplary but also somewhat troubling.

China Mustn’t Forget Its Dementia Caregivers (March 4, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Most of the country’s dementia patients are being looked after by family members, but a lack of training and support makes it hard for them to receive high-quality care.

Living with HIV in China (March 4, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
According to Chinese law, if a person tests HIV positive the results must be submitted to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and logged into government records. Sometimes this testing happens at birth if a parent is a known carrier. Otherwise the first base of testing often happens when a child applies for school. All Chinese children undergo blood tests before they can enter government institutions. This is when some children who test positive for HIV are abandoned by their families.

Beijing Not Even in Top 100 Most Polluted Cities in the World (March 5, 2019, The Beijinger)
According to a report released by Greenpeace today, Beijing now ranks 122 in the list of the world's most polluted cities. The report was compiled using data from the IQAir AirVisual's 2018 World Air Quality Report and their interactive World’s Most Polluted Cities ranking. 

Science / Technology

The U.S.-China Tech War Is Being Fought in Central Europe (March 6, 2019, The Atlantic)
With Huawei at the heart of the Trump administration’s wide-ranging trade dispute with China, the Czech Republic’s quandary is a microcosm of a debate raging across Europe—whether to stand with Washington, at the risk of delays in integrating a new technology that could set the course for business in the modern age.

History / Culture

The Railway Relics of the Russo-Japanese War (February 27, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Once one of China’s most strategically vital and economically prosperous transportation nodes, the Chinese Eastern Railway and the cities along it have fallen on hard times.

The last king of Xinjiang: how Bertram Sheldrake went from condiment heir to Muslim monarch (March 4, 2019, South China Morning Post)
You may never have heard of Islamestan, in Chinese Turkestan, or its one-time “king”, Bertram Sheldrake. Islamestan is long gone, swallowed up in the historical shifts of a turbu­lent region, but for a brief and unlikely moment, an English pickle-factory heir ruled, with his wife, Sybil, over the newly independent Muslim country, to the far west of China.

The grandeur of the old city wall in Peiping(Peking), 1933, an air view by German Graf Zu Castell. (March 6, 2019,Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Travel / Food

Prepare to Drool: Chinese Food Documentary “Flavorful Origins” Hits Netflix (February 28, 2019, Radii China)
The 20-episode culinary documentary series highlights the regional cuisine of Chaoshan in southeastern Guangdong, China. First released on Tencent Video on February 5, to coincide with Chinese New Year, it was syndicated and released on February 12 on Netflix — making this the first-ever documentary series produced by a foreign video platform to do so.

China bans 23m from buying travel tickets as part of 'social credit' system (March 1, 2019, The Guardian)
According to the National Public Credit Information Centre, Chinese courts banned would-be travellers from buying flights 17.5 million times by the end of 2018. Citizens placed on black lists for social credit offences were prevented from buying train tickets 5.5 million times. The report released last week said: “Once discredited, limited everywhere”.

Finger lickin’ Lei Feng: KFC opens restaurant in China to promote spirit of model soldier  (March 4, 2019, South China Morning Post)
American fast food giant KFC has opened its first Lei Feng-themed restaurant in the hometown of the Mao Zedong-era model soldier lauded by the Chinese authorities for his selflessness. The restaurant opened its doors on Sunday in the Hunan provincial capital of Changsha, Lei’s hometown, just in time for the annual Lei Feng Day on March 5, municipal news portal Voc.com.cn reported.

China says Tibet access is restricted because some foreigners get altitude sickness (March 6, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Tibet welcomes foreign tourists and media and travel restrictions are imposed by the government to ensure their safety, according to the top official in charge of the remote, mountainous region. Wu Yingjie, the Communist Party secretary for Tibet, on Wednesday said the region remained open to foreigners but restrictions were necessary because some visitors suffered from altitude sickness.

Photo: Hong Kong from Space (March 3, 2019, Daily Overview, via Instagram)

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Rapping The China Monologue (March 5, 2019, China Media Project)
In my view, what we are witnessing here is not a coordinated or well-considered strategy of external propaganda or attempts at foreign influence. What we are seeing is the inevitable outcome of a propaganda system that is cash-rich and culturally and intellectually bankrupt. 

Top 5 of China’s Most Popular Short Video and Live Streaming Apps (March 6, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
The live streaming and short video app market is (still) absolutely booming in China. What’s on Weibo lists China’s most popular apps within this category for you: these are the top Chinese apps to watch.

Links for Researchers

Report On The Work Of The Government: Delivered at the Second Session of the 13th National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China on March 5, 2019 (via The Wall Street Journal)
 

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