ZGBriefs | May 10, 2018

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Featured Article

The Chinese American Protestant Christians of Flushing, Queens (May 4, 2018, NYC Religions)
Flushing’s Chinese American Christian churches are becoming global hubs for Chinese Christians, retirement centers, and new immigrant way-stations.

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In the same way that shifting winds affect the environment in Beijing, the shifting political and social winds affect the environment for those serving the church in China. In this e-book, Brent Fulton unpacks seven emerging trends that we see impacting the nature and scope of foreigners serving in China.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Does China Want the Koreas to Reconcile?: A ChinaFile Conversation (April 25, 2018, China File)
Would Beijing benefit from closer ties between North Korea and South Korea or North Korea and the U.S.?  What would Beijing gain from North Korea’s continued isolation? 

How Many Foreign NGOs Have Registered Offices in China and Where Are They? (May 3, 2018, The China NGO Project)
As of April 30, 2018, 306 organizations had established 369 representative offices in mainland China.

Liu Xia, in Call From China, Tells of the Agony of Endless Captivity (May 4, 2018, The New York Times)
In the telephone call, a Chinese woman vents her despair between hoarse sobs. It would be easier to die, she says. Her appeals to escape stifling house arrest have failed repeatedly, despite offers from Germany to take her in, she says.

China is afraid of its ethnic minorities (May 4, 2018, Axios)
The Chinese Communist Party has no tolerance for dissent from ethnic minorities, and fears it could be damaged if word of human rights violations against those groups spreads outside China’s borders.

China’s huge celebrations of Karl Marx are not really about Marxism (May 4, 2018, Quartz)
On some level, the Communist Party is always dependent on Marxism to prove its legitimacy and justify its ways of ruling—and Xi, who has upended key party conventions in recent months, perhaps feels the need to fervently emphasize the party’s commitment to its ideological underpinnings.

Is China a Colonial Power? (May 4, 2018, The New York Times)
Is China presenting a new model of development to a world that could use one, or is One Belt, One Road itself the new colonialism?

Mattis urges anti-China measure to be included in U.S. defense bill (May 7, 2018, Reuters)
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis urged top lawmakers shepherding a must-pass defense bill through Congress to include measures that would tighten oversight of foreign investment in the United States in hopes of hampering Chinese efforts to gain access to sensitive U.S. technology.

Rubio Questions D.C. Panel on China Influence (May 7, 2018, Foreign Policy)
Rubio’s letter is a sign that the activities of United Front officials operating in the United States are likely to face greater scrutiny than in the past.

Kim’s Second Surprise Visit to China Heightens Diplomatic Drama (May 8, 2018, The New York Times)
The Chinese leader appeared intent on showing that the frayed relationship with North Korea was now repaired, and that China was as important to resolving the problems of North Korea’s nuclear weapons as the United States.

Bishop warns Beijing against political pressure on Qantas over Taiwan (May 7, 2018, Sydney Morning Herald)
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has warned Beijing against using threats to pressure Qantas to adopt the communist party’s political line by referring to Taiwan as part of mainland China rather than a separate country.

Sun Zhengcai, Once A Rising Star in China, Gets Life Sentence On Bribery Charges (May 8, 2018, NPR)
Sun is said to have committed the crimes while in various posts – in Beijing in 2002 while he was Communist Party boss there, as minister of agriculture and, most recently, while he was party chief in Chongqing. 

Former CIA Officer Charged With Spying For China (May 9, 2018, NPR)
An ex-CIA officer arrested in January at New York's John F. Kennedy airport has been charged with conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of China years after FBI agents turned up notebooks containing classified information in a search of his hotel room.

Podcast: Are We Seeing the Emergence of a New Imperial China? Xi Jinping and the Third Chinese Revolution? (Hidden Forces Podcast)
In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Elizabeth Economy about the emergence of a new imperial China and the rise of Xi Jingping. 


Why the Chinese government is targeting young Christians in its latest crackdown (May 1, 2018, America Magazine)
Experts on Christianity in China say the Chinese Communist Party sees young people turning to religion as an alarming trend, particularly in Henan, where there has been rapid growth in recent years.

Dialogue with China: There is no magic wand (May 2, 2018, Vatican News)
Although a number of recent signs may indicate that important steps are being made in the Holy See’s dialogue with China, any formal Agreement between the two does not seem imminent.

What Healthy Churches Ought to Look Like (May 8, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
What does it mean for a church to be “healthy” anyway? In this article, Cheng Fengsheng, a Three-self church pastor in Wenzhou, gives four practical concepts for developing healthy churches.

Persecution or Potential? (May 9, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
By focusing on what they see as impending persecution, said Yan, many Christians fail to appreciate the opportunity presented by the government’s openness toward local NGOs:

Lost Jews: From China to Jerusalem (May 9, 2018, Arutz Sheva)
Five young women from China reconnect with their Jewish roots, convert to Judaism in emotional ceremony in Jerusalem.

Society / Life

Romance Without Borders (May 4, 2018, Sixth Tone)
It is more a blending of various cultural elements that makes [Chinese-African children’s] identity, including their racial identity in China, unique.

"Red Wall Style" Beijing Propaganda Video Rips Off "Gangnam Style" (May 4, 2018, The Beijinger)
Six years after inspiring dozens upon dozens of regional versions as well as its own bonafide dance hit, "Gangnam Style" is responsible for inspiring yet another Chinese version – this time to serve as propaganda for one of Beijing's most famous public security volunteers.

US accuses China of pointing lasers at its pilots from Djibouti base (May 4, 2018, BBC)
The Pentagon said it had asked China to investigate several "very serious incidents". It said people at the east African base had been shining military-grade lasers at US pilots coming in to land.

How Chinese Parents Pick Baby Names with Character (May 4, 2018, ˆ)
To some, like Shakespeare’s Juliet, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. To others, like Chihiro in the animated Hayao Miyazaki film “Spirited Away,” a name defines a person’s life. Most Chinese parents-to-be tend to side with the latter perspective — that names should be elegant, auspicious, and if possible, unique.

Photos: China’s Bicycle Graveyards (May 4, 2018, Amusing Planet)

How Should We Combat the Stress of Living in Chinese Megacities? (May 5, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Cities like Beijing and Shanghai arguably contain more low-level stress than most. The noise of our neighbors, the overcrowded subways, the lack of parking space, the competition for jobs — all of these drain our mental energy.

Crackdown shakes Chinese city’s ‘Little Africa’ (May 6, 2018, The Citizen)
The Ghanaian university student was roused after midnight by police shouting and pounding on his door in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, where a crackdown on illegal immigration has left many residents of its “Little Africa” neighbourhood feeling scared and angry. 

Podcast: The Wenchuan Earthquake (May 6, 2018, Sixth Tone)
In this episode of Sixth Tone’s podcast, reporters Wang Lianzhang and Lin Qiqing look back on one of modern China’s most devastating disasters, the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake that struck southwestern China’s Sichuan province.

Video: Sichuan earthquake: The ghost town visited by millions (May 9, 2018, BBC)
The devastating Sichuan earthquake which struck 10 years ago left around 87,000 people dead. In some places, it feels like time has stood still, and the ruins draws millions of tourists.

100 Photos that Shook China: Memories of the Wenchuan Earthquake (May 9, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The images bring memories of the disaster to life – serving as a reminder not to forget the victims’ pain, even as the nation must try to move on.

After-Shocks of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake (May 9, 2018, New York Review of Books)
The quake occurred during a time of enormous social ferment in China brought on by rising expectations and the ability to express them through the Internet, which the authorities had not yet brought to heel. This made the earthquake seem like a portent of enormous change, perhaps leading to a more open society. A decade on, the quake was indeed an omen of change, but not in the way that many expected.

Tilling the Data Farms of Guizhou (May 9, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Vocational schools and corporate data centers have become a boon to the province’s young people and their impoverished families.

Manila’s top envoy to Beijing hails landmark deal opening up China to influx of 500,000 migrant workers – but Hong Kong may pay the price (May 9, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The landmark agreement would grant legal employment status to 300,000 Philippine nationals and was expected to be signed by the end of this year, William J Lima, Manila’s special envoy to China, said.

Economics / Trade / Business

“Trade War” in the Offing? (May 7, 2018, China Policy Institute)
The current polemics and tension between the US and Chinese government reflect a period of global instability. We observe two Great Powers, one long-established, the other establishing itself.


The disappearing Chinese student visa (May 6, 2018, Axios)
There was a 17% drop in international students in the U.S. last year, mostly due to the 28% decline in Indian students and a 24% decline in Chinese students receiving visas.

How China Managed to Play Censor at a Conference on U.S. Soil (May 9, 2018, Foreign Policy)
On campuses across the United States, funding gaps are leaving departments with little choice but to turn to those groups with the deepest pockets — and China is keen to offer money, especially through its global network of Confucius Institutes. But when academic work touches on issues the Chinese Communist Party dislikes, things can get dicey.

Health / Environment

China’s Palliative Care System Gives Little Comfort to the Dying (May 6, 2018, Sixth Tone)
More and more Chinese are seeking holistic approaches to end-of-life care, but poor infrastructure and traditional taboos are hindering change.

Science / Technology

 ‘New Era, New Thought, New Journey’: Chinese tech firms tilt toward the Communist Party (May 6, 2018, Hong Kong Free Press)
Private technology firms in China are being drawn closer to the Chinese Communist Party across a range of technological development initiatives — from self-driving cars to social credit scoring, from voice and facial recognition to satellite navigation.

The $20 billion 'umbilical cord': China unveils the world's longest sea-crossing bridge (May 7, 2018, CNN)
As we drive down the eerily deserted Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the murky waters of the Pearl River Delta stretch as far as the eye can see. There is no land in sight.

The Revolution China Intends to Lead (May 8, 2018, China Media Project)
The basic sense in Zhi Zhenfeng’s piece, which mirrors much official writing on new technologies, is that China, while globally pre-eminent in the agrarian phase of human history, missed out on the industrial revolution and therefore lost its rightful position in the world. China — or so goes the story — will not make the same mistake again, as the world is on the brink of the next great revolution.

History / Culture

Video: Various transportations in Beijing, 1958. By CIA, from the US National Archives. (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

A Fragile Peace: Photographs from Republican China (May 2, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Snapshots of daily life in the run-up to the country’s 1949 reunification show that China’s early 20th century was not a time of constant conflict.

Drones to the Rescue, Restore Great Wall of China (May 3, 2018, Radii China)
Drones. We love ’em. You love ’em. They’re everything we wanted fifteen years ago, and now they’re helping rebuild the Great Wall.

May Fourth at Ninety-nine (May 4, 2018, China Heritage)
Today, May Fourth as commemorated in the People’s Republic of China is entwined with the distorting history of the Communist Party.

Render Unto the Emperor: How Yongzheng Dealt with His Christian Conundrum (May 7, 2018, China Heritage)
Eugenio Menegon’s study of the imperial mindset three hundred years ago provides unexpected insights into the calculations of the self-appointed moralisers who rule in Beijing today. 

Travel / Food

9 reasons to visit Guizhou, China's next big travel destination (May 6, 2018, CNN)
From jaw-dropping superlative achievements to some of the most breathtaking scenery in China, here are nine reasons you should visit this southwest province before everybody else picks up on its allures.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Maineland: A Film Review (May 4, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Maineland follows two Chinese students, Zhu Xinyi (Stella) and He Junru (Harry) as they pursue their dreams of an American education, and by extension, a bright and prosperous future—not in a tony school in the Upper Westside of Manhattan, but in a boarding school in a Maine village.  

On This Chinese TV Show, Participants Have Nothing to Lose but Their Chains (May 5, 2018, The New York Times)
It looks like another Chinese talk show, but the bearded man is Karl Marx. This is “Marx Got It Right,” a slickly produced program that is part talk show, part indoctrination session — and a vivid illustration of the quirky efforts that the Communist Party under Xi Jinping is making to win over China’s millennials.

Living Cross-culturally

64 Things You’ll Never Take for Granted after Living in China (May 8, 2018, Small Town Laowai)
“You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone,” Cinderella lamented, and it’s true. And when you live in China, you realize certain things are precious indeed because now you’re living without them.


High-Speed Empire: Chinese Expansion and the Future of Southeast Asia (May 3, 2018, China File)
Now, China is pushing its tracks into Southeast Asia, reviving a century-old colonial fantasy of an imperial railroad stretching to Singapore, and kicking off a key piece of the One Belt One Road initiative, which has a price tag of U.S.$1 trillion and reaches inside the borders of more than 60 countries.

Great Books of China: A Book Review (May 7, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
A suitable subtitle for Great Books of China would be “China’s Literature as a Window on Culture and History.” In this anthology of sixty-six works, Frances Wood provides a succinct but rich overview of the “doings” of the oldest continuous civilization on earth.

Links for Researchers

China's Social Credit System: An Evolving Practice of Control (May 9, 2018, SSRN)

This paper will identify the objectives, perspectives and mechanisms through which the Chinese government has sought to realise its vision of "social credit".

The Uyghurs in Modern China (Oxford Research Encyclopedia)

Image credit: by Andreas Komodromos, 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