ZGBriefs | May 13, 2021

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Featured Article

6 Stunning Statistics from China’s Population Census (May 10, 2021, Radii China)
The results of China’s Seventh National Population Census have finally been released, triggering a wave of headlines and social media hot takes. There’s a lot of data to sift through, but here are six bits of info that made us sit up and take notice.

Sponsored Link

Free Webinar: Christian Theology in a Chinese Idiom: Reshaping the Conversation (ChinaSource)
The Christian theological conversation spans two millennia. Recently, however, more and more scholars have begun to recognize that, in the words of Andrew Walls, “the theological agenda is culturally induced; and the cross-cultural diffusion of Christian faith invariably makes creative theological activity a necessity.” What does that look like in practice? Doesn’t that lead to syncretism? Can’t we just teach a pure gospel? In this webinar, Dr. Jesse Ciccotti will investigate theologizing in Chinese contexts by first discussing theology as an “idiomatic activity,” that is, an activity by which Christian thought is expressed in ways that are natural to a cultural native. 
Thursday, June 10, 7PM (US CDT)
Go here for more information and to register.

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

New Zealand wants a mature relationship with China, foreign minister says (May 7, 2021, Reuters)
Nanaia Mahuta’s comments come after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this week that differences with its top trading partner were getting harder to reconcile, and the country’s parliament unanimously declared human rights abuses were taking place against Uyghur people in China’s Xinjiang region, angering Beijing.

Army of fake fans boosts China’s messaging on Twitter (May 12, 2021, AP)
China’s ruling Communist Party has opened a new front in its long, ambitious war to shape global public opinion: Western social media. Liu Xiaoming, who recently stepped down as China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, is one of the party’s most successful foot soldiers on this evolving online battlefield.

Running Defense for China’s Global Media Push (May 12, 2021, China Media Project)
At a routine press conference yesterday, Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying rebutted a report due for release today on China’s Overseas influence activities. Ignoring clearly stated policies on the role of the media in China that emphasized the CCP’s dominance of agendas, she suggested that outlets like Xinhua are objective and truthful. 


A New Way of Dao (May 7, 2021, The World of Chinese)
High in the clouds on Leigutai Mountain—known as “Shaanxi’s Little Wudang Mountain” after the holy Daoist site in northern Hubei province—Priest Xuan Zhao pours green tea and discusses the newest young additions to the temple ranks. “It is difficult to compete with smart phones,” he says.

Theology in a Chinese Idiom: A Webinar on Reshaping the Conversation (May 7, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
The word “idiom,” however, has another meaning, namely a “characteristic mode of expression.” It is with that meaning in mind that Jesse Ciccotti will present a webinar titled “Christian Theology in a Chinese Idiom: Reshaping the Conversation.”

Serving with Wisdom in the Changing Ideology (May 10, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
When the ruling government remains unchanged, the pendulum simply swings either a bit more to the right or to the left within a fixed limit. The outcome of certain happenings is often predictable. Along this line of thought, understanding the history of mission and church development in China definitely helps us foresee what Christians will face in Hong Kong’s new normal.

House Church Seminaries in Mainland China: Mimicking the Western Model? (May 10, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
Today, we are sharing the first part of an interview with a leader in the field of theological education within China. While he himself was trained according to the traditional Western model, he believes that the Internet will change long-established, worldwide patterns, just as the printing press changed education forever around the time of the Reformation. The Chinese house church may be one of the first to embrace and experience this revolution.

US hits China and others for repressing religious freedom (May 12, 2021, AP)
Much as his predecessor did, Secretary of State Antony Blinken used the release of the State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report to lambaste China for severe restrictions on its citizens’ ability to worship freely. He also announced a travel ban on a former senior Chinese official the U.S. accuses of persecuting members of the Falun Gong religious sect.

Prolife Work—an Entry Point for the Gospel (May 12, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
When people of faith are directly involved with people experiencing a crisis of faith, gospel ministry happens. Now this is true in all times and all places. But it is especially true in reaching into communities walled off by religion or in piercing a materialistic worldview.

Society / Life

Hidden Metropolis: My Year Riding the Shanghai Metro (May 6, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Unable to travel due to COVID-19, photojournalist Zhou Pinglang spent months exploring Shanghai’s lesser-known districts by rail — an experience that transformed his view of the Chinese megacity.

What it’s Like to Grow Up Female and Disabled in China (May 6, 2021, The World of Chinese)
Feminists with disabilities speak about growing up, building a life, and advocacy in the face of physical and social barriers.

What Should China Do about Its Aging Population?: A ChinaFile Conversation (May 6, 2021, China File)
In Beijing, meanwhile, policymakers have discussed everything from reducing the legal marriage age to introducing a third-child policy. Is there anything China can do to reverse the trend? And, if it fails, what will the impact be in decades to come?

China’s population growing at slowest rate in generations (May 11, 2021, The Guardian)
China has reported the slowest population growth since the early 1960s, despite scrapping its one-child policy in 2015 to encourage more births and stave off a looming demographic crisis.

China’s Newly Released Census Data in Four Charts (May 11, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Last year China recorded more people, a higher proportion of very young and very old, a lower sex ratio at birth, and more urban migration compared with 2010.

China census reveals the true scale of the Northeast’s decline (May 12, 2021, Andrew Batson’s Blog)
According to the results, the three northeastern provinces have actually seen their combined population decline by 11 million people, or roughly 10%, since the 2010 census. 

Over 1.4 mln foreigners, non-mainland Chinese take part in China’s 7th national census (May 11, 2021, China Daily)
More than 1.4 million people from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as foreigners, who live in the Chinese mainland, took part in China’s seventh national census conducted last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Tuesday. The census covered a total of 1.430695 million foreigners and people from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan who live in the mainland’s 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, according to the NBS. Of the total, 845,697 are foreigners.

Economics / Trade / Business

Inside the Communist Party’s Private Sector Push (May 10, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The Communist Party of China is building grassroots organizations in the private sector in a bid to bring corporations and the state closer together.


To Protect Kids’ Eyesight, China Calls for Less Work, More Play (May 12, 2021, Sixth Tone)
In recent years the country has been intensely focused on reducing its childhood myopia rate, one of the highest in the world.

Health / Environment

WHO Approves First Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use (May 8, 2021, Sixth Tone)
While Sinopharm’s product is less effective than some vaccines developed in the West, the fact that it is easier to store and distribute could make it a practical choice for less-developed countries.

Coronavirus: late-stage trial of Chinese mRNA vaccine candidate to begin in Mexico (May 12, 2021, South China Morning Post)
Mexican foreign minister says 6,000 people will take part in phase 3 trial of experimental drug made by Walvax Biotechnology from May 30. It is the first shot developed in China using the same technology as the Pfizer and Moderna jabs.

Science / Technology

China Says Most Rocket Debris Burned Up During Reentry (May 9, 2021, NPR)
China’s space agency said a core segment of its biggest rocket reentered Earth’s atmosphere above the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and most of it burned up early Sunday.

History / Culture

Jingdezhen’s Ancient Ceramics Industry Faces an Uncertain Future (May 11, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The city’s artisans are famed for their skill and attention to detail, so why can’t they make a good living?

Video: Beijing in 1929 (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

The best Airbnbs in Beijing, from a Forbidden City home to a summer palace (May 10, 2021, Matador Network)
A place with a distinctive atmosphere, it’s a diverse metropolis and if you’re looking for a more authentic stay check out our selection of the best Airbnbs.

Man left dangling from bridge after glass breaks (May 10, 2021, BBC)
A man in China was left dangling from a bridge after its glass panels were damaged in high wind. The man was visiting the 100m-high bridge (330 ft) in the Piyan Mountain, in the north-east of the country, when the incident occurred on Friday. Several pieces of the glass floor were blown away by winds that reached up to 150km/h (90mph).

Everest: China to set up ‘separation line’ at summit (May 10, 2021, BBC)
China says it will set up a “line of separation” at the summit of Mount Everest in order to prevent climbers mingling with others from Nepal. It comes less than a week after mountaineers and authorities at base camp in Nepal warned of rising cases of Covid among climbers.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Watch: 24 Classic Chinese Films with English Subtitles Showing for Free (May 12, 2021, Radii China)
A 1928 movie involving “light sabers” is one of a number of classic Chinese films in the works on this Ang Lee-endorsed channel.

Language / Language Learning

The Curious Case of Slang “flag” in Mandarin Chinese (May 11, 2021, Sinosplice)
Over the past few years, I’ve personally observed that the expression “flag” has become quite popular. It simply means to set a goal (定目标), in younger net-slang parlance (网络语). It’s usually a personal goal, not something like a company’s revenue goals or anything that formal.

Living Cross-culturally

Census: Beijing’s Foreign Population Dips (May 12, 2021, The Beijinger)
Instead, the number of foreigners in the capital dropped from over 107,000 in 2010 to just under 63,000 in 2020. (Interestingly, that mirrors the numbers coming out of Fujian province, which saw a bump from 62,000 to over 107,000 foreigners). Shanghai joined Beijing in leaking foreigners, dropping from 208,000 to 163,000. So far, data has not been provided for any other cities.

China’s National Security Law Could Spark Expat Exodus From Hong Kong (May 12, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
A draconian national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from July 1, 2020 appears set to spark an exodus of expats from the city, according to a survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham). More than 40 percent of the 325 AmCham members who responded to the poll are definitely planning to leave, or are thinking about it, according to the survey published on Wednesday. 

Online Event Recordings and Podcasts

National Chinese Language Conference 2021 Report: Hope for all Chinese learners (May 3, 2021, Sup China)
Recently, Mandarin Companion participated in the 2021 National Chinese Language Conference (NCLC). The topics discussed provided much insight into what is in store for the future of Chinese learning. Spoiler alert: The future is bright!

Beijing Diary (May 5, 2021, Pacific Century)
Misha and John are joined by Eunice Yoon, the Beijing bureau chief for CNBC. They discuss China’s view of Biden and the US, whether the Chinese economy is as strong as touted, Xi Jinping, Belt and Road, and the AI race.  Eunice also talks about how she wound up in Beijing, whether she’s surveilled by the police, and why she’s such a fan of cars.

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy (May 6, 2021, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
On April 28, 2021, the National Committee hosted a virtual celebration of the 50th anniversary of ping pong diplomacy. Ms. Jan Berris, vice president of the National Committee who accompanied the Chinese ping pong delegation on its travels; Ms. Judy Hoarfrost, a former United States table tennis champion who visited China with the U.S. team; and Dr. Doug Spelman, a retired foreign service officer and academic who served as an interpreter for the Chinese team discussed ping pong diplomacy – how it came to be, its historical and political context, and its significance then and now.

Let’s get this party started: China’s global propaganda push (May 9, 2021, Little Red Podcast)
For a Party chosen by history, the CCP spends a lot of money targeting foreign media outlets and governments. In this episode, a panel of researchers discusses why China—or any autocracy—cares what the world thinks of it, and how it tries to shape its global image.

Links for Researchers

2020 Report on International Religious Freedom (May 12, 2021, U.S. Department of State)
The annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom – the International Religious Freedom Report – describes the status of religious freedom in every country. The report covers government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world. The U.S. Department of State submits the reports in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.


Chinese Film Classics (chinesefilmclassics.org)

China’s Communist Party: everything you need to know (May 10, 2021, South China Morning Post)
The Communist Party of China will mark its 100th anniversary in July. In this series of explainers, the South China Morning Post looks into the past, present and future of the world’s second-largest political party.

Pray for China

May 18 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On May 18, 1928, Handel’s Messiah was performed in Beijing by Yenching University students under the direction of Prof. Bliss Wiant (范天祥). After a Christmas 1951 performance in Beijing,  Messiah was not performed publically in China until 1998 in Tianjin. Beginning in 2001, Christian conductor Timothy Su Wenxing (苏文星弟兄) directed several public performances in Beijing and other cities; however, public performances have been effectively banned since the conclusion of the Beijing Olympics. Pray for the hearts of Christian musicians and worship leaders to overflow with praise of the Loving Heavenly Father. And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,“Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 20:20-21.

Image credit: Drew Bates, via Flickr
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