ZGBriefs | March 9, 2023

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Featured Article

Xi Jinping Says He Wants to Spread China’s Wealth More Equitably. How Likely Is That to Actually Happen? (March 3, 2023, China File)
After Xi began invoking “common prosperity” in 2021, a rash of new regulations and fines on private capital and technology companies suggested that rhetoric was translating quickly into action. But in the 18 months since, even as it continues to be invoked, common prosperity has seemed to play a much more minor role in policymaking.

Sponsored Link

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
Barrows Auditorium – Billy Graham Hall
Wheaton College
Go here to register for this free event

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Two Sessions: China looks at reforms to deepen Xi Jinping control (March 5, 2023, BBC)
The Two Sessions, as the meetings are known, are an annual affair. But this year’s sessions are particularly significant as delegates are expected to reshape several key Communist Party and state institutions. They will also tighten control over bodies overseeing the finance sector and scientific and technology work, while “strengthening party-building work” in private businesses, according to state media.

Canada roiled by leaked intelligence reports of Chinese election ‘meddling’ (March 7, 2023, The Guardian)
A flurry of leaked intelligence reports has reignited allegations that China interfered in Canada’s recent federal elections, kicking off a fierce debate over possible responses to Beijing’s meddling. But the leaks also run the risk of harming Canada’s reputation among its allies, experts warn, as the country’s spy agency struggles to respond to mounting public concern.

It’s complicated: China and North Korea’s difficult relationship (March 7, 2023, The China Project)
What is the true nature of the relationship between North Korea and China? China entered the Korean War in support of the North in 1950, and since then the DPRK has often been called China’s closest ally. But the relationship has, in more recent years, come under strain because of North Korean nuclear testing and other factors.

In Xi’s ‘New Era,’ China’s Foreign Policy Centers on ‘Struggle’ (March 8, 2023, The Diplomat)
While Qin rejects the premise of “wolf warrior diplomacy” as a “narrative trap,” it’s clear that the underlying ethos in here to stay. China will continue to pursue an unapologetically aggressive diplomatic approach in response to what it sees as exceptionally difficult international challenges.

The rhetoric between China and the U.S. is heating up again (March 8, 2023, NPR)
NPR’s Steve Inskeep talks to Jude Blanchette of the Center for Strategic and International Studies about escalating rhetoric between China and the U.S.

Chinese minister warns of conflict unless US changes course (March 8, 2023, AP)
China’s foreign minister has warned Washington of “conflict and confrontation” if it fails to change course in relations with Beijing, striking a combative tone amid conflicts over Taiwan, COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Germany moves toward restrictions on Huawei, as Europe sours on China (March 8, 2023, NPR)
A ban would make Germany the latest European country, albeit the largest economy and with the closest commercial ties, to sour on China. Analysts and experts say this is a trend expected to accelerate in the coming years, as China’s ties with the U.S. especially — and the West in general — sour over everything from trade and human rights, to support for Russia in its war in Ukraine, and over Taiwan.

China ‘seriously concerned’ by Taiwan president ‘transit’ plans amid reported US trip (March 8, 2023, Reuters)
McCarthy plans to meet Tsai in the United States in coming weeks, two sources told Reuters on Monday. That could be instead of the Republican Speaker’s anticipated but sensitive trip to the democratically governed island claimed by China. McCarthy on Tuesday confirmed plans to meet Tsai in the United States this year and stressed this did not preclude a later visit to Taiwan, Bloomberg news agency reported.


Lived to Be Forgotten: Dixon E. Hoste, Missionary to China (March 2, 2023, Christianity Today) (subscription required)
Dixon Edward Hoste (1861–1946) was a British missionary who served in China for over 40 years. Although he succeeded James Hudson Taylor as the general director of the China Inland Mission (CIM), much less has been written and recorded of his life and ministry than of Taylor’s.

Looking Forward with Concern and Hope (March 6, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
How do you sense and describe an inflection point? When riding in a sports car through an S-curve you can feel the shift in acceleration. However, this kind of shift is harder to sense in the unfolding history of a country or culture. Fortunately, China’s leaders have named and defined the start of the New Era (2012) as an inflection point for China’s development. Building on the articles in the winter 2022 ChinaSource Quarterly, in this issue we continue reflecting on these shifts and their implications for Chinese Christians.

Poetry as Doxology: “Where Are You Going” (March 8, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
The poem “Where Are You Going?” was birthed during a long contemplative walk in a forest. I heard a gentle call from afar as the moist wind breezed softly against my face and the leaves under my feet made a rustling sound in this sanctuary of nature.

Society / Life

Chinese city claims to have destroyed 1 billion pieces of personal data collected for Covid control (March 3, 2023, CNN)
Wuxi, a manufacturing hub on China’s eastern coast and home to 7.5 million people, held a ceremony Thursday to dispose of Covid-related personal data, the city’s public security bureau said in a statement on social media. The one billion pieces of data were collected for purposes including Covid tests, contact tracing and the prevention of imported cases – and they were only the first batch of such data to be disposed, the statement said.

More Women Want Career Over Marriage, Having Kids: New Survey (March 8, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Zhilian Zhaopin survey also finds that the pay gap between men and women has shrunk by half over the last four years.

China Cracks Down On ‘Bride Price’ Custom To Boost Falling Birth Rate (March 8, 2023, NDTV)
China’s latest attempt at boosting its flagging birth rate is a crackdown on an expensive wedding custom. Few people – including officials themselves – expect the measure to make a difference.

Economics / Trade / Business

Walmart is a China survivor thanks to its wholesale chain Sam’s Club (March 2, 2023, The China Project)
Big box retailer Carrefour is failing in China, and Walmart has not exactly been a resounding success either. But Walmart is still profitable thanks to its wholesale chain, which is enjoying a post-COVID spring.

China Square: The cheap Chinese shop at the centre of Kenya row (March 6, 2023, BBC)
A Chinese-owned shop selling cheap household goods at the centre of a dispute in Kenya has reopened after a counterfeit complaint against it was dismissed. The row got to the heart of a debate about whether this kind of outlet hurts or helps Kenyans.

Science / Technology

In wake of gene-edited baby scandal, China sets new ethics rules for human studies (March 7, 2023, Science)
The new rules extensively revise regulations adopted in 2016 and aim to close loopholes exposed by biophysicist He Jiankui in 2018 when he claimed his team had made heritable alterations to the DNA of human embryos that were later born as twin girls. He spent 3 years in prison for conducting “illegal medical practices.”

Travel / Food

China’s embassy in US to step up visa processing as applications – and frustration – rise (March 4, 2023, South China Morning Post)
On Friday, the embassy said holders of the multiple-year visas could “still travel to China once the visa is reinstated”. But those who “have no urgent or special reasons to travel to China in the near future” should wait to “avoid the current peak of visa applications and schedule application wisely”, the embassy said.

Mistaken Identity: The Chinese Cuisine with Misunderstood Origins (March 6, 2023, The World of Chinese)
From Lanzhou lamian to Hangzhou xiaolongbao: Pack your compass and your cutlery as we carve up Chinese foods with mistaken place of origin.

US to relax Covid testing restrictions for travelers from China as soon as Friday (March 7, 2023, CNN)
The US is planning to relax Covid-19 testing restrictions for travelers from China as soon as Friday, a source familiar told CNN Tuesday, citing a decline in Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths and more data surrounding the variants that were circulating in China.

China logs nearly 40 million entry-exit trips in two months (March 7, 2023, Reuters)
China logged 39.72 million entry and exit trips between Jan. 8 to March 7, according to National Immigration Administration data, showing the revival in travel after COVID-19 restrictions were dismantled. The numbers were up 112.4% year-over-year. Data showed 122,000 visas and residence permits for foreigners were issued by immigration administration agencies nationwide by March 7, up 33.1% from before the policy U-turn.


Five Must-Read Works By Chinese Female Writers (March 8, 2023, The World of Chinese)
These exceptional works by female Chinese authors reflect on topics from the impact of rapid urbanization on Chinese women to the trauma of sexual abuse victims.

Links for Researchers

A Guide to China’s 2023 State Council Restructuring (March 7, 2023, NPC Observer)

Fractured foundations: Assessing risks to Hong Kong’s business environment (March 7, 2023, Atlantic Council)
This report attempts to provide an objective framework to assess the wager that business conditions for most firms operating in Hong Kong will remain unchanged, despite the dramatic changes that Hong Kong has seen within its legal and institutional infrastructure. The report analyzes in detail the risks to the commercial operating environment in Hong Kong that have emerged since the 2020 introduction of the National Security Law, including currency risks, compliance challenges, threats to judicial independence, access to accurate information, and data security.

Pray for China

March 9 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Mar. 9, 1872, pioneer missionary George L. Mackay (马偕) arrived in Tamsui, Taiwan, and lived there for nearly three decades until his death in 1901. His work was greatly assisted by his zealous Taiwanese wife, Tiuⁿ Chhang-miâ (张聪明). Pray for lukewarm Christians in Taiwan to remember their first love for the Lord and become active church members. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Revelation 2:4

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