ZGBriefs | May 11, 2017

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

Sing the national anthem, says China – but only at this speed (May 9, 2017, Sky News)
China has already banned its national anthem from being belted out at weddings and funerals – but now, even more restrictions are on the way. A law is being prepared to set the tempo at which the ballad should be played and sung, with consequences for those who put the anthem in a "damaging situation".

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Overseas NGO Law

More Analysis of the 69 Registered Foreign NGOs (May 8, 2017, NGOs in China)
Following up on my last blog post showing the most recent stats on foreign NGOs that registered a representative office by month and province (Table 1), I decided to also break them down by sector (Table 2) and by country/territory of origin (Table 3) to see what the numbers would reveal. The source was a list of registered foreign NGOs available on the Ministry of Public Security's website. 

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Party Sets Up Special Bureau for Xinjiang (May 6, 2017, China Digital Times)
The Chinese Communist Party has established a new bureau for Xinjiang within its United Front Work Department to streamline policy coordination and provide strategic regional advice to the country’s leaders. The bureau’s creation comes amid President Xi Jinping’s call for the building of a “great wall of iron” to safeguard stability in the autonomous territory.

China begins trial of rights lawyer for 'subversion of state power' (May 8, 2017, Reuters)
Prominent human rights lawyer Xie Yang has admitted to charges of "subverting state power", a Chinese court said on Monday, releasing a video of him reading a statement in which he advises other rights lawyers to shun contact with foreign and independent media. Xie, 45, was reported missing by rights groups in mid-2015 and was then held without any charges being made public until January 2016, when authorities formally announced his arrest on suspicion of "inciting subversion.

U.S. diplomats help Chinese lawyer’s family stage dramatic escape (May 8, 2017, The Washington Post)
Now, a dramatic account has emerged of a rescue staged by U.S. diplomats in Thailand in March, snatching the wife of a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer and their two daughters, 15 and 4, out of the clutches of Chinese security agents and escorting them to safety in the United States. The youngest daughter was born in the United States.

Syria says up to 5,000 Chinese Uighurs fighting in militant groups (May 8, 2017, Reuters)
Up to 5,000 ethnic Uighurs from China's violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang are fighting in various militant groups in Syria, the Syrian ambassador to China said on Monday, adding that Beijing should be extremely concerned about it. China is worried that Uighurs, a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language, have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for militants there, having traveled illegally via Southeast Asia and Turkey.

China is tightening the screws on Taiwan. Here are the ways it is exerting pressure (May 8, 2017, The Los Angeles Times)
China has been turning up the heat on Taiwan since Tsai took office a year ago. Here are five other ways the country has exerted pressure — all reversible should Tsai eventually warm to Beijing.

China’s Newest Propaganda Format: Children’s Bedtime Stories (May 9, 2017, The New York Times)
Sometimes “Goodnight Moon” just won’t do the trick. So for parents struggling to get their little ones to rest their eyes for the night, China’s state propaganda apparatus has a suggestion: Tell your child about President Xi Jinping’s ambitions to extend China’s political and economic power across Asia and the Middle East.

Beijing Is Weakening Hong Kong’s Rule of Law. How Far Will It Go? (May 9, 2017, China File)
The state of Hong Kong’s rule of law has been argued over since well before the city’s reversion to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. However, developments in recent months, such as the Hong Kong government’s recent spate of vague charges against pro-democracy politicians and activists, have given new urgency to the debate. But a key idea persists, namely that Beijing should, or will, maintain rule of law in Hong Kong because doing so is “good for business.”

'Emaciated, unrecognisable': China releases human rights lawyer from custody (May 10, 2017, The Guardian)
On Tuesday afternoon, after almost two years languishing behind bars, Li finally emerged, having been secretly tried and handed a suspended sentence for “subversion of state power” at the end of last month. Photographs and a brief video clip posted online showed the Christian attorney, now 46, being reunited with his wife and daughter, Wang Qiaoling and Li Jiamei, at their family home in Beijing.

Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Rally Displaced by Pro-Beijing Event, Organizers Say (May 10, 2017, The New York Times)
Organizers of a pro-democracy rally held annually in July on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China said on Wednesday that they had been denied permission to use a downtown park, a move that threatens to raise tensions ahead of an expected visit by President Xi Jinping of China.


After a 66-Year Estrangement, Can China and The Catholic Church Kiss and Make Up? (May 2, 2017, Newsweek)
And now, after more than two years of negotiations, China and the Roman Catholic Church are nearing a historic deal to re-establish ties through a unified Catholic Church in China —and possibly even a formal diplomatic relationship.

Healing Testimonies in Chinese Churches: Four Reasons Why It Is Common (May 4, 2017, China Christian Daily)
According to the statistics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, nearly two-thirds of the Chinese people believe in Christianity because they have been cured of their illness. It can be fairly said that miraculous healing is the most common testimony of the church. But, what caused it?

House Fellowships in China Form the Backbone of the Christian Community (May 5, 2017, China Christian Daily)
Each week my in-laws host a gathering of friends from their village for a Bible study.  It’s not a house church, but it is what here is called a “House fellowship”

If money can't buy happiness, many Chinese now seek spiritual meaning (May 5, 2017, PRI)
Over the past couple of decades, the number of Chinese who call themselves spiritual adherents has shot up; now, about one-third of all Chinese self-identify as belonging to a religion. The majority follow Buddhist or Daoist practices, but the number of Christians in China has grown fast too. There are now an estimated 60 to 100 million Protestant Chinese, and about 10 million Catholics, with many in social justice endeavors in China citing Christianity as an inspiration for their work. 

Strategies for Evangelism in the House Church (May 6, 2017, China Christian Daily)
The mission of church is not to preserve the goodness inside the church. We should step out of the church and show our concern to the society. The concern should not only be reflected in our prayers; but, also in our actions. The church should be courageous and witness the existence of God actively at any time.

A Monument to Jesus in the City of Mao (May 7, 2017, The New York Times)
“In Hunan, contradictions are not contradictions. They’re normal,” said Han Shaogong, the author of “A Dictionary of Maqiao,” a novel that explores the hilly region’s extraordinary linguistic diversity. “Life here is a bit like Chinese food. Throw lots of different things into a wok and stir them around.”

Chinese Police Detain, Interrogate Dozens of Worshippers, Including Children (May 8, 2017, Gospel Herald)
While worshipping, dozens of Christians — including children — were detained by police officers who raided a house church meeting in China's southern Guangdong province. Wednesday evening, more than 20 officers broke into Zhongfu Wanmin Church approximately a half hour into their evening service and detained 31 church members, reports persecution watchdog China Aid.

A Gospel Choir in China, Part 2 (May 9, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
This week in part two we see how Huang has led members of the team to grow both in their performance skills and in their faith.

Asking the Right Questions (May 10, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
If your “cheese” is opportunities for effective service in China, then adapting to the new environment means leaving behind those that are no longer viable and seeking out those that are emerging.

Society / Life

Endless cities: will China's new urbanisation just mean more sprawl? (May 5, 2017, The Guardian)
She is one of almost 10 million rural migrants in Shanghai, part of the world’s most rapid urbanisation, moving almost 500 million rural Chinese people into cities over the last 35 years. China now has more than 600 cities, many of which were small towns just a few decades ago.

Photos: Scenes From Xinjiang (May 8, 2017, The Atlantic)
In northwestern China, the vast Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is home to nearly 22 million residents. Xinjiang, roughly half the size of India, is a historic crossroads, sharing a border with Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, and Tajikistan. The region is also home to about 10 million Uighurs—making up roughly half of China’s 22 million Muslims.

China knife attack: 18 injured in mass stabbing, suspect shot and arrested (May 10, 2017, Fox News)
Police in northern China say 18 people were injured when a man attacked people on a city street with a knife. The Changchun police department said on its microblog that the 50-year-old suspect in Tuesday's attack was taken into custody after being shot.

Economics / Trade / Business

Think China Home Prices Can't Topple? Think Again (May 9, 2017, Bloomberg)
Property prices in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing have been soaring. There are several reasons why those sorts of figures can't last.

China has now become the biggest fear for markets (May 9, 2017, CNBC)
Topping the list of market worries is China, which has been on the back burner for months now. Some weaker-than-expected data, however, has put a spotlight on the country's economy.

What's hot in China's sharing economy (May 10, 2017, China Daily)
The bike-sharing industry has brought many lifestyle changes in China. But also importantly, the business has inspired entrepreneurs in other industries. From basketball to umbrella, let's take a look at what's hot in the booming sharing sector.


U.S. charges four Chinese nationals in college entrance exam scam (May 4, 2017, Reuters)
U.S. authorities said on Thursday they arrested four Chinese nationals who were involved in a scheme to falsely take college entrance exams. Yue Wang, a Chinese student at Hult International Business School in Cambridge, agreed to sit for the TOEFL, the English-language exam widely used to assess foreign applicants, for the trio, federal prosecutors in Boston said.

Chinese Students Flock to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (May 4, 2017, Medill News Service)
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enrolls more Chinese students than almost any other university in the country. The 5,629 Chinese students enrolled at the U of I make up more than half of the international student body, according to the university’s International Student and Scholar Services.

Peking University turns 119, sets eyes on future (May 4, 2017, China Daily)
Peking University was set up in 1898 as the first national university in contemporary China and got its current name in 1912. Over the past century, this top institution has played a leading role in China's higher education and has generated numerous talents, scholars and celebrities in all walks of life. Hao Ping, Party chief of the university, said the fate of Peking University has always been connected with that of the whole country.

China’s Autism Schools a Last Resort for Youth on the Spectrum (May 8, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Seven years ago, Li Xiaojiao, then 20 years old, started the school in a small apartment in Taiyuan. Li had just graduated from college with a degree in education management and had decided to join her family’s hotel business — until a phone call changed her plans. The father of Chaochao, a young boy with autism whom Li had gotten to know, called seeking help. “He said Chaochao was in bad condition, and he had nowhere to go for school,” Li recalled.

Schools Investigated for Testing Parents of Prospective Students (May 8, 2017, Sixth Tone)
An education authority has launched an investigation into a primary school’s admissions procedures upon learning that it tested both prospective students and their parents.

American Universities Are Welcoming China’s Trojan Horse (May 9, 2017, Foreign Policy)
China’s Confucius Institutes sound similar enough to these Western institutions. But their activities are far more pernicious. Though the Confucius Institutes present themselves as a vehicle for cultural diplomacy, it would be more accurate to think of them as a way for China to subvert American higher education. And, without greater vigilance by American universities, this is precisely what they will accomplish.

50-year-old attempts Gaokao for 21st time (May 10, 2017, China Daily)
Burying himself in a pile of papers, 50-year-old Liang Shi from China's Sichuan province might be the country's most tenacious student for he has tried to crack the Gaokao, or National college entrance exam, 20 times, and this year he is ready to tackle it again. Never giving up on his dream, Liang has decided to continue his attempt – to get into Sichuan University, for mathematics study.

Health / Environment

The Man Behind China’s Ebola Vaccine (May 4, 2017, Sixth Tone)
When Ebola ravaged West Africa in 2014, it quickly became clear that a vaccine was urgently needed. As the death toll rose to over 10,000, and Europe and the U.S. began reporting cases, the only hope seemed to be a vaccine based on a four-decade-old Ebola strain, which was still not ready for the market. Then, out of the blue, little-known Chinese company CanSino Biologics announced that it would be able to mass produce a vaccine based on the 2014 Ebola strain that could save millions of lives.

Dust Storms Blanket Beijing and Northern China (May 5, 2017, The New York Times)
This week’s dust storms led to the cancellation of scores of flights and caused pollution in northern China to soar. Beijing’s air-quality index hit a dangerous level of 623 on Thursday; the United States government rates readings above 200 as “very unhealthy” and 301 to 500 as “hazardous.”

Science / Technology

Chinese-Made Passenger Jet Takes Off For Its First Test Flight (May 5, 2017, NPR)
The C919, made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., or Comac, took off from Pudong International Airport in Shanghai. The new plane is expected to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing's 737. The lucrative narrow-body market accounts for more than 50 percent of the aircraft in service worldwide.

China to further tighten its internet controls (May 7, 2017, Reuters)
China will further tighten its internet regulations with a pledge on Sunday to strengthen controls over search engines and online news portals, the latest step in President Xi Jinping's push to maintain strict Communist Party control over content. Xi has made China's "cyber sovereignty" a top priority in his sweeping campaign to bolster security. He has also reasserted the ruling Communist Party's role in limiting and guiding online discussion.

Russia blocks Chinese social media app WeChat (May 8, 2017, CNBC)
Vadim Ampelonskiy, spokesman for the Roskomnadzor watchdog, said on Saturday WeChat was blocked because it did not provide contact details for Russia's register of "organizers of information distribution on the internet." Tencent told Reuters it was checking the status of WeChat in Russia and was in talks with the relevant authorities.

China to Create its Own Version of Wikipedia (May 8, 2017, Voice of America)
The Chinese government is creating its own version of the online source of information, Wikipedia. China’s version is expected to be released next year. It will include around 300,000 entries on subjects including science, literature, history and politics. The government chose professors and experts to write the entries.

Can China’s Approach to Internet Control Spread around the World?A ChinaFile Conversation (May 9, 2017, China File)
How much does China influence the shape of the Internet around the world? Where are the cracks in this seeming plan to press an agenda of total control?

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Stonehead — A Film Review (May 5, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
The film is set in a small village in China where children are raised by their grandparents because their parents have all moved to urban cities for better jobs. These children are often referred to as “left-behind children” who, in this environment, aren’t really being raised—they just kind of exist. 

History / Culture

Chinese wedding: Why must a pregnant relative stand up to accept tea (May 7, 2017, Asia One)
Chinese weddings are steeped in cultural beliefs or sometimes, even superstitions. Whether practical or not, some of these customs are still being observed. Wedding chaperone Kenneth Steven Chan sheds light on some Chinese wedding traditions:

Travel / Food

25 incredible images of China from space (May 5, 2017, The Telegraph)

China's Tourism Industry Ordered to Monitor, Report on Visitors to Xinjiang (May 5, 2017, Radio Free Asia)
Chinese authorities in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have issued a region-wide clampdown on the tourism industry, asking tour guides to monitor the behavior of visitors ahead of the ruling Chinese Communist Party's regional economic cooperation summit next week, RFA has learned.

Urumqi! (May 8, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
I have been to Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region twice. The first time was in 1992; a teammate and I took the train. Back then it was a journey that took two days and three nights; today the fastest train makes the journey in 30 hours.

Palace Museum plans web-only tickets (May 8, 2017, China Daily)
The Palace Museum in Beijing, the most visited museum in the world each year, plans to stop selling paper tickets from its box office, perhaps by later this year. Shan Jixiang, the museum's director, said an Internet-based system will be set up to better coordinate the number of visitors for different hours of the day.

China in Summer: Our Top 5 Destinations (May 8, 2017, Wild China Blog)
During summer many of us are dreaming of escaping our daily routines and capitalizing on sunshine, fresh air and the great outdoors. China is filled to the brim with exciting adventures waiting to be had and we have picked out a few of our favorite summer destinations. While they have their charms year round, if you are planning to travel in China this summer we’d recommend including at least one of these destinations:

First high-speed rail in Inner Mongolia starts test run (May 8, 2017, China Daily)
The high-speed train ran at a speed of 250 to 275 km per hour on a section from Ulanqab to Hohhot, capital of the region, during Sunday's trial, according to Hohhot Railway Bureau. The section in Inner Mongolia is part of the high-speed railway that links Hohhot to Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province, the co-host city of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. When it is operational by the end of July, the travel time between Ulanqab and Hohhot will be shortened to 35 minutes from the current one hour. 

China's airports see surging international flights in 2016 (May 9, 2017, China Daily)
Over 51.6 million passenger trips to international destinations were made in 2016 via the country's civil aviation service, rising 22.7 percent year on year, according to a report by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Domestic flights saw about 436 million passenger trips last year, up 10.7 percent year on year. 

Language / Language Learning

How narrow listening and reading can help you learn Chinese (May 5, 2017, Hacking Chinese)
In other words, instead of using material that is very challenging and introduces new words and grammar patterns in every sentence, you should  focus on content you can understand comfortably. Since this is much quicker, you can cover many times more content, giving you the breadth and repeated exposure you need to really learn understand Chinese.

Learn the Structural Patterns of Chinese Characters (May 10, 2017, Sinosplice)
It’s hard to succinctly explain what I mean by this title, because “character structure” and “character composition” are pretty much always used to mean “the character components that make up a character” (or, to use the more outdated term, “radicals”). But the character components would be the content. The limited number of spatial configurations in which those components routinely combine are the “character structure patterns” I’m talking about in this post.

Links for Researchers

How International Students Are Changing U.S. Colleges (Wall Street Journal)
China accounts for roughly a third of money spent by international students in the U.S. on tuition, fees and living expenses, dwarfing that from other countries.

Whitepaper: China Internet Statistics 2017 (China Internet Watch)

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