ZGBriefs | May 11, 2023

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Featured Article

Podcast: Should foreign businesses have contingency plans? (May 5, 2023, The China Project)
In this week’s episode of The Signal, Lizzi Lee speaks with Anne Stevenson-Yang, the co-founder of J Capital Research, about the broadening of the anti-espionage laws in China and how it will affect foreign businesses in the country. 

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Video: Chinese Christian Posters in Early 20th Century China (ChinaSource, via YouTube)
In this lecture, Daryl Ireland of Boston University showcases some of the 700 Chinese Protestant and Catholic posters he has located and explains why they are changing the way we think about Chinese Christianity. This lecture was held at the Billy Graham Hall at Wheaton College on April 26, 2023.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s ‘Xivilizing’ Mission (May 4, 2023, China Media Project)
Beijing says it has created “a new form of human civilization” for other countries to emulate, built around Xi Jinping’s theories. But what exactly is China talking about when it talks about civilization, and what will it mean for the world to be Xivilized?

China says relations with US on ‘cold ice,’ but stabilizing ties a ‘top priority’ (May 8, 2023, CNN)
China’s foreign minister said Monday a “series of erroneous words and deeds” by the United States had placed relations between the two superpowers on “cold ice,” but stabilizing ties is a “top priority.” Qin Gang made the comments during a meeting in Beijing with US ambassador Nicholas Burns, their first since a dispute over a Chinese balloon shattered efforts to mend ties earlier this year.

China expels Canadian diplomat in tit-for-tat move (May 9, 2023, BBC)
China has expelled Canada’s consul in Shanghai in retaliation for Ottawa sending home a Chinese diplomat accused of trying to intimidate a Canadian MP. On Monday, Canada declared China’s diplomat Zhao Wei “persona non grata” and ordered her to leave the country. In response, China on Tuesday ordered the removal of Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, Canada’s diplomat in its Shanghai Consulate.

Cheng Lei: 1,000 days imprisoned in China for an unknown reason (May 9, 2023, BBC)
Cheng Lei was working as a business reporter at China’s state-run English language television station CGTN when she was suddenly grabbed by state security officers on 13 August 2020, and later accused of “illegally supplying state secrets overseas”. Her first six months were spent in solitary confinement, being placed in stress positions and, though being interrogated, with no access to a lawyer. Since then, she has been held with other prisoners.

Afghanistan joins China’s infrastructure plan as Beijing pushes interests (May 9, 2023, Axios)
The Taliban needs Chinese investment after much of the international community cut ties with Kabul. Beijing says it wants Afghanistan to take more steps to protect Chinese nationals and coordinate more closely with China on controlling Uighur militant groups based there.

China’s foreign companies on edge after ‘state secrets’ raids (May 10, 2023, Al Jazeera)
Foreign companies in China are on tenterhooks following a series of national security raids on consultancy firms that have highlighted the risks of doing business in the era of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Eric Zheng, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce, said on Tuesday he was concerned about reports that due diligence firms had been targeted by authorities as their work is “essential to doing business in China.”

Xi’s new growth synthesis (May 10, 2023, Tangled Woof)
What Xi has been up to since the two pivotal events of late 2022, the Party Congress in October and the reopening from Covid controls in November, is in my interpretation pretty simple: he is trying to re-establish a mobilizational goal for the whole political system after that breakdown. A lot of people hope that a chastened Xi will go back to the old mobilization strategy of economic growth first, everything else second. I am pretty sure that is not happening…


Video: The Chinese Christian Community in Britain: Spirituality, Unity, and Division (April 18, 2023, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies)

Video: Missiology beyond the Lion Rock Spirit: An Exploration of British Hong Kongese Christianity through the Book of Numbers (April 25, 2023, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies)

Church Cares for Elderly in Zhangzhou City Nursing Home (May 2, 2023, Chinese Church Voices)
This article from China Christian Daily describes how a church has opened a Christian nursing home to care both physically and spiritually for local elderly people.

Video: Chinese Theological Education in the UK: Past, Present and Future (May 2, 2023, May 2, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies)

The Word Over the Sword: Thy Kingdom Come (May 8, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
For the time being, God has given the power of the sword to the governments of this earth. The church’s role is to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom throughout all the world. But when the church comes into conflict with earthly rulers, God’s word is guaranteed to win the victory.

New Wine Means New Wineskins (May 8, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
It is hard not to look at the changes in China over the last several years as a loss. And it is natural as we go through the mourning process to wonder, “Did we do something wrong?” This is a loss that has certainly traumatized many. I still talk with people who can’t help but tear up as they recount the experience of leaving China.

Society / Life

Words of the Working Class: Poems From Everyday China (May 8, 2023, Sixth Tone)
From fields to vegetable farms to steel mills, ordinary workers across China document everyday mundanities in extraordinary verse.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s war chest: how Beijing is using its currency to insulate against future sanctions (May 7, 2023, The Guardian)
In the wake of sanctions on Russia, China has pushed to conduct more trade using the yuan in an effort to reduce its reliance on the dollar.

China’s shrinking imports, slower exports growth darken economic outlook (May 9, 2023, Reuters)
China’s imports contracted sharply in April, while exports rose at a slower pace, reinforcing signs of feeble domestic demand despite the lifting of COVID curbs and heaping pressure on an economy already struggling in the face of cooling global growth.

These maps show how far China’s freight railways are stretching across Asia (May 9, 2023, CNBC)
It’s all part of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, a complex network of infrastructure projects connecting China to its trading partners. The projects include high-speed passenger trains. While it’s difficult to verify how operational all the rail lines are, official reports offer a glimpse at how China’s Belt and Road ambitions are panning out.

US Airlines Are Sitting Out China’s Reopening (May 10, 2023, Bloomberg) (registration required)
United, Delta and American are pressing Washington to ban Chinese planes headed to or from the US from flying over Russia.

Australia’s trade minister says ‘de-escalation of rhetoric’ bearing fruit in trade spat ahead of China trip (May 10, 2023, The Guardian)
Australian exporters are starting to see benefits from the “de-escalation” of tensions with China, the trade minister, Don Farrell, said on the eve of crucial talks in Beijing.

Which 8 countries are using China’s yuan more, and what does it mean for the US dollar? (May 10, 2023, South China Morning Post)
China is ramping up efforts to boost the yuan’s appeal as an alternative currency in international trade and as a reserve currency in the face of US dollar hegemony. From South America to the Middle East, nations are finding ways to sidestep the long-dominant American currency in lieu of China’s yuan.


Chinese students cooling on U.S. higher education (May 8, 2023, Axios)
A U.S. college education, once a status symbol for Chinese families, appears to be losing its appeal as many consider alternative destinations, experts tell Axios. […] China has been the top country of origin for international students in the U.S. for more than a decade, making it a key source of revenue for many American universities and colleges.

Extinguishing a Scandal at Zhengzhou University (May 10, 2023, China Media Project)
A post going viral late Tuesday night on Weibo could be seen as proof of the crucial role social media can play in exposing wrongdoing by those in positions of power. But its subsequent treatment in the media more broadly is a lesson in how authorities in China effectively exercise controls on public opinion.

History / Culture

How a Forgotten Park Birthed a Revolution (May 4, 2023, Sixth Tone)
After the collapse of the Qing dynasty, Taoran Pavilion in Beijing became a ghost town — and a hangout for the country’s aspiring revolutionaries.

Travel / Food

Amid Recovery Push, Street Vendors Make a Comeback Across China (May 6, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Stuck in legal limbo for years, China’s street vending economy is finally making a comeback. Amid a countrywide economic recovery push after the pandemic, major cities are lifting their strict regulations on street vending, giving vendors a chance to operate in designated areas and boosting local consumption. 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Podcast: Two Top Guns (May 9, Drum Tower)
“Born to Fly”, a new film made in collaboration with the People Liberation Army’s Air Force, recently jetted to the top of the Chinese box office. It’s drawn comparisons with “Top Gun: Maverick”, the Hollywood blockbuster starring Tom Cruise. The Economist’s Beijing bureau chief, David Rennie, and senior China correspondent, Alice Su, discuss what these two films say about how China and America see themselves?


‘Red Memory’ aims to profile people shaped by China’s Cultural Revolution (May 8, 2023, NPR)
“I wanted to understand not only what the Cultural Revolution had done to China but how it was still shaping it,” Branigan writes, about a decade beginning in 1966 of extreme political violence and, frequently, physical violence against anyone deemed bourgeois and counterrevolutionary. 


Webinar: WeChatting to the Glory of God – Serving China Through Digital Engagement (ChinaSource)
In this webinar, we will present a picture of what God is doing through four different ministries involved in digital engagement.  We have invited four speakers who have extensive knowledge and experience in this burgeoning field, all of whom are involved in developing innovative digital engagement strategies. Each one will present their work and resources, as well as tips on how to use digital engagement to minister to your Chinese friends. Following the presentations, there will be time for you to ask questions.
Date: May 31, 2023 
Time: 7–8:30PM (US CDT) 
Online via Zoom 

Register here.

Pray for China

May 12 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On May 12, 2008, a massive earthquake centered on Wenchuan County, Sichuan, left over 88,000 people dead or missing. Churches from across China sent relief workers and many stayed until forced to leave by the government. Dancer Liao Zhi (廖智姊妹) lost her family and both legs. She came to Christ after Christians ministered to her and helped her learn to dance again with prosthetic limbs. Liao Zhi re-married and now has two children. Pray for Christian women in Sichuan to have the wisdom of Huldah, as they minister to women in troubled circumstances. So Hilkiah and those whom the king had sent went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tokhath, son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter) and spoke to her to that effect. 2 Chronicles 34:22

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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