ZGBriefs | March 7, 2024

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Featured Article

Two sessions: Can a rubberstamp parliament help China’s economy? (March 3, 2024, BBC)
The Chinese government is under massive pressure to come up with solutions for its troubled economy. So people will be watching the National People’s Congress to see what’s on offer when it starts on Tuesday.

Sponsored Link

Free Public Lecture | Human Flourishing in Confucian Thought: A Christian Response, by I’Ching Thomas (ChinaSource)
I’Ching Thomas will explore the notion of human flourishing in Chinese thought, focusing especially on Confucius’ teaching on self-cultivation and benevolence as keys to achieving the ideal of the Noble Man. Then, drawing on parallels with the biblical faith, she proposes that the Christian Gospel holds relevance to the aspirations of Cultural Chinese concerning human flourishing as defined by Confucian ideals. 
Date: April 5, 2024
Nazareth Hall, University of Northwestern-St. Paul, 3003, N. Snelling Ave, Roseville, MN 55113
Time: 6:15 pm – light refreshments
           7:00 pm – lecture

This event is part of our ongoing collaborative lecture series cohosted by ChinaSource, the US-China Catholic Association, and the China Academic Consortium.
It is co-sponsored by the
University of Northwestern-St. Paul.
Go here to register.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

What to expect at China’s ‘Two Sessions’ amid sagging economy, party drama (March 3, 2024, Al Jazeera)
Known as lianghui in Chinese, the concurrent meetings are an annual fixture of China’s legislative agenda and run for approximately two weeks. During the period, legislators will approve new laws, political appointments, and government work reports detailing the progress of various departments such as the Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission.

China ends 30-year tradition: premier’s annual press conference (March 4, 2024, Reuters)
China has scrapped one of the most widely-followed events on its economic and policy calendar, the premier’s post-parliament news conference, a move seen by some observers as a sign of the country’s increasingly inward focus and centralised control. For three decades, during a period when China was opening up, the briefing had offered foreign investors and governments insights into how Chinese policymakers regard the challenges of managing what is now the world’s second-largest economy.

NPC 2024: Agenda and Daily Schedule (March 4, 2024, NPC Observer)
This year’s session will open on the morning of March 5 and close on the afternoon of March 11, lasting seven full days, consistent with Covid-era norms. 


New Media Missions: Igniting Mission Life (March 1, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
On February 15, CCCOWE hosted an online event to unveil a global survey on Chinese mission and discipleship. The survey,1 conducted between May and August 2023, revealed that discipleship within the church primarily focuses on nurturing internal relationships and spiritual growth, alongside encouraging “localized gospel ministry” and “community service.” However, involvement in “overseas missions” and “local cross-cultural missions” was less pronounced, with only about 10% of churches actively pursuing mission-oriented discipleship. 

How the Lord of History Is Working Through the Diaspora (March 4, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
The Chinese diaspora has deep roots in many countries, with strong faith communities. Due to multiple political events over the past decade, Chinese immigration from both the mainland and Hong Kong have increased significantly. Churches are working to welcome newcomers and show Christ’s love to them, while at the same time reckon with the many views that old and new immigrants have of China.

Busy Intellectuals: Interview with Shenyang Academics (March 4, 2024, China Partnership Blog)
Brother Li and Sister Cai are lay leaders in their church, which is made up of busy graduate students at one of Shenyang’s prestigious science institutes. Because they minister mainly to scientific intellectuals, finding time for both evangelism and discipleship are big challenges. They also find that many of their friends respect their faith, but personally reject it.

Society / Life

Censored Essay: Peter Hessler Sells His Car (FEbruary 29, 2024, China Digital Times)
Acclaimed writer Peter Hessler is selling his car in Chengdu, after leaving China in 2021 when his teaching contract was abruptly terminated. Online, the sale of his Honda CRV has spurred a series of reflections on Hessler’s impact on China and on the closing of a chapter in U.S.-China relations. […]  Some of the reflections on Hessler have proven politically sensitive. In an essay that was later censored, the writer Zhang Feng took to WeChat to lament Hessler’s departure as a symbol of China’s loss of confidence: 

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s factory activity shrinks for 5th month, raises pressure for more stimulus (February 29, 2024, Reuters)
China’s manufacturing activity in February shrank for a fifth straight month, an official survey showed on Friday, raising pressure on Beijing to roll out more stimulus measures as the parliament prepares for a key annual meeting next week. […]  Seasonal factors contributed to some of the weakness as the Lunar New Year (LNY) fell on Feb. 10 this year and saw factories shut as workers returned home for the holiday.

What’s Wrong With China’s Economy, in Eight Charts (March 1, 2024, The Wall Street Journal)
China’s economy is at a turning point. An old economic model underpinned by heavy investment in infrastructure and real estate is crumbling. Growth is slowing and prices are falling, raising the specter of a Japan-style slide into stagnation. How did the world’s second-largest economy get into such a mess? These charts lay out what is ailing China’s economy and the challenges it will face for years to come as a result.

“There Is No CPEC in Gwadar, Except Security Check Posts” (March 1, 2024, ChinaFile)
Despite growing local discontent and an insurgency that targets Chinese interests, Pakistani and Chinese officials continue to talk up Gwadar’s potential. During a press junket last year in Beijing that included journalists from Pakistan, Assistant Foreign Minister Nong Rong called Gwadar “the second Shenzhen,” likening it to the onetime southern Chinese fishing village that has become a symbol of China’s economic and technological success.

China’s middle-income population passes 500 million mark, state-owned newspaper says(March 3, 2024, South China Morning Post)
The country is currently trying to boost domestic consumption and the front-page article in Economic Daily – published under the byline Zhao Caiwen, a pen name linked to the Communist Party’s Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission – said the buying power of this group, along with urbanisation and technological innovation, will be major forces driving China in the future.

Two sessions: Can a rubberstamp parliament help China’s economy? (March 3, 2024, BBC)
The Chinese government is under massive pressure to come up with solutions for its troubled economy. So people will be watching the National People’s Congress to see what’s on offer when it starts on Tuesday.

Health / Environment

3,000 petition Chinese political elites over COVID vaccines (March 1, 2024, Radio Free Asia)
Nearly 3,000 people who say they have suffered illnesses and severe side effects from the vaccine have issued a petition calling on the authorities to take responsibility, as representatives vowed to take their grievances to Beijing during the “two sessions” meetings that will open next Tuesday. 

Science / Technology

China launches first high orbit internet satellite (February 29, 2024, Space News)
China launched the first of a new “high orbit” internet satellite series Thursday, apparently to provide internet services to China and surrounding areas. A Long March 3B/G rocket lifted off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China at 8:03 a.m. Eastern (1303 UTC) Feb. 29.

History / Culture

Wang Zhiming: Miao Martyr Memorialized in Westminster Abbey (February 28, 2024, Christianity Today) (subscription required)
Since 1998, ten statues of 20th-century Christian martyrs from around the globe have graced the Great West Door of the abbey, including Maximilian Kolbe, Martin Luther King Jr., and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Also among these revered figures, however, is a less widely known martyr from China: Wang Zhiming (王志明, 1907–1973), a Miao pastor from Wuding County, Yunnan Province, who was persecuted during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and executed after a violent denunciation rally in 1973.

A story of Jewish Shanghai, told through music (February 29, 2024, NPR)
Among all the fabled stories of struggle and survival during World War II, the tale of the Jewish community in Shanghai is not well known. A new musical work, Émigré, which premieres Thursday at the New York Philharmonic, seeks to shed light on that nearly forgotten corner of history.

Pray for China

March 7 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Mar. 7, 2007, Back to Jerusalem pioneer Zhao Maijia (赵麦加弟兄) went to be with the Lord. Zhao served the Lord in Xinjiang for over 60 years—many with his wife, He Enzheng (何恩证姊妹). After her death in 2009, their descendants cooperated with agricultural experts from Taiwan to build “Canaan Farm,” a modern agricultural demonstration farm in Kashgar that planned to employ young Uyghurs with the purpose of introducing them to the love of Jesus. Pray for Uyghurs in Xinjiang to experience God’s grace and salvation during the government’s harsh crackdown on all aspects of Uyghur culture. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Image credit: Bill Perry via AdobeStock.
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