ZGBriefs | May 16, 2019

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Featured Article

Can China become the wine world’s next California? (May 12, 2019, South China Morning Post)
China is poised to define this century’s global wine market, with experts predicting it will not only become one of the world’s largest producing nations, but Chinese consumers will be the ones deciding which wines are the best.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s New Carrier Shows Beijing Is Done Playing Defense (May 10, 2019, Foreign Policy)
This new vessel will be a major leap in capability compared to the two ships the Chinese navy has sailed so far—and it represents the evolution of Chinese carrier aviation from an adapted Soviet model to a Western-style fleet, one that speaks to China’s ambition to be the leading strategic power in Asia.

Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law (May 11, 2019, BBC)
Fighting erupted in Hong Kong's legislature on Saturday over planned changes to the law allowing suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Several lawmakers were injured and one was taken to hospital as politicians clashed in the chamber. Critics believe the proposed switch to the extradition law would erode Hong Kong's freedoms.

China’s Communist Party made a flashy graphic to show everyone what it thinks about the trade war (May 14, 2019, CNBC)
The post contained just one image, with three slogans in gold lettering printed over the red Chinese flag and a picture of shipping containers. CNBC’s translation of the Chinese phrases reads: “Negotiate, sure!” “Fight, anytime!” “Bully us, wishful thinking!”

Canadian officials visit former diplomat Michael Kovrig in custody in China (May 14, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Diplomats have visited a Canadian whose detention in China is believed to be an attempt to pressure Canada to release Huawei executive Sabrina Meng Wanzhou. Consular officials visited Michael Kovrig on Monday, the country’s diplomatic service said.

China’s Influence Operations in Asia: Minding the Open Door Challenge (May 14, 2019, The Diplomat)
While attention to Beijing’s conduct is important, addressing the permissive conditions that create an enabling environment for its activities should remain front and center.

Family of China's Detained Former Interpol President Gets Asylum in France (May 14, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
France has granted political asylum to the family of former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei after placing them under police protection, their lawyer has said. Meng's wife Grace and the couple's two children were granted politicalasylum by the French immigration authorities on May 2, her lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny told AFP.

Trump and Xi: Are Things Getting Personal? (May 14, 2019, China Media Project)
Responding to the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China, Stephen Collinson wrote at CNN today that this is getting personal, and is shaping up as “a personal duel between two rival presidents.” Today, however, it seemed that the People’s Daily, generally the best visible measure we have of the mood within the Chinese Communist Party, did its utmost to avoid personal attack.

Trump Adviser On China Offers Grim Assessment Of Escalating Tariffs   (May 14, 2019, NPR)
Michael Pillsbury is sometimes called a China hawk, meaning someone who believes the U.S. needs to be tough with Beijing. He's got a book about the U.S. and China called "The Hundred-Year Marathon." He has from time to time advised President Trump at the White House, and he offers his grim assessment just as escalating tariffs drove down stock markets in both the United States and Asia.

China Has Been Running Global Influence Campaigns for Years (May 14, 2019, The Atlantic)
Pro-China protests ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics were orchestrated by Chinese officials. The world thought they were a spontaneous showing of Chinese nationalism.

China’s Xi rallies Asia by appealing to shared culture — with subtle dig at U.S.  (May 15, 2019, Washington Post)
In speeches and a flurry of new cultural exchange programs in the last year, Xi has increasingly called on Asian countries to stand together with self-confidence and promote their culture as the world becomes “multipolar.”

Video: ChinaFile Presents: Hong Kong’s Relationship with Beijing, An Update  (May 15, 2019, ChinaFile)
ChinaFilehosted a conversation at the Asia Society on May 9, with veteran Hong Kong legislator and rule of law advocate Martin Lee, longtime journalist and media rights expert Mak Yin-ting, and democracy activist Nathan Law, moderated by ChinaFile Editor Susan Jakes.

Baloch versus Beijing: how Chinese investment in Pakistan has energised a violent separatist movement  (May 15, 2019, South China Morning Post)
“We warn China to stop her exploitative projects in Balochistan and do not support Pakistan in the genocide of Baloch people, otherwise, we would respond with more attacks,” the English-language message to media read.

The China challenge and critical next steps for the United States (May 15, 2019, Brookings)
The following is a light adaptation of a speech delivered at Brookings on May 9, 2019 by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA).

Trump Has 'Promise Fatigue' From Dealing With China (May 15, 2019, Real Clear Politics)
No longer do U.S. policymakers believe Beijing’s protestations of good faith, of asserting that it will stop taking advantage of the U.S. in trade, that it will honor intellectual property rights, and that it will uphold freedom of navigation in critical waterways. Years of broken promises and a doubling down on exploitative behavior has worn thin Beijing’s welcome in Washington. 


The New Normal for Christianity in China (May, 2019, Lausanne Global Analysis)
The new environment, or ‘new normal’ as it is sometimes referred to, is making things more difficult for local believers.

Islamophobia in China: A ChinaFile Conversation (May 14, 2019, ChinaFile)
What are the roots of popular fear of Islam in China today, and how is it connected to the actions of the Chinese government in Xinjiang?

People seeking the truth, part 1: “There are no spiritual things, we are just here” (May 14, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
This is the first of a five-part interview series with “Tim,” a Chinese ministry leader. In this series, Tim shares his story of faith.Our hope is that these interviews challenge and encourage Western believers to examine their own faith and remind them to pray for their brothers and sisters in China.

Seeking God for International Student Ministry in China (May 14, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
Ministry in China is not exclusive to reaching local Chinese. As explored on ChinaSource (in both English  and Chinese), a significant ministry need exists in China for work among international students studying in China. 

China Wants the House Church to Vanish (May 15, 2019, International Christian Concern)
The campaign is supervised by the Central Leading Group for Inspection Work, a coordination body set up under the Central Committee of the CCP for the purpose of managing party disciplinary inspections nationwide. Public Security is responsible for striking out illegal activities; the Sub-district Office is responsible for prevention and safety, while the Religious Bureau’s main task is to absorb house churches into Three-Self churches.

‘One Seed Can Make an Impact’: An Interview with Chen Hongguo (May 14, 2019, New York Review of Books)
In this conversation, Chen discusses his Christian faith, the importance of being honest with the police, and how doing long-term work in one city is more useful than jetting around the world giving lectures.

Society / Life

China’s mothers say no to more babies, they can’t afford them (May 11, 2019,South China Morning Post)
Half of China’s working mothers do not want a second child, mainly because of financial pressures, a survey released ahead of Mother’s Day has found. […]  The biggest obstacle deterring the mothers from having a second child was economic pressure, with 85 per cent saying they could not afford the high cost of raising children.

In China, a Podcast Inspired by ‘This American Life’ Gives Voice to the Real (May 12, 2019, The New York Times)
The show highlights stories from both the margins and the mainstream of society. They are tales of loneliness, heartbreak, adventure, betrayal, love, loss and the absurd — stories of a kind not often publicly shared in this age of so-called humblebrag social media.

The Pakistani brides being trafficked to China (May 15, 2019, BBC)
Saleem Iqbal, a Christian human rights activist who has been tracking such marriages, said he believed at least 700 women, mostly Christian, had wed Chinese men in just over a year. What happens to many of these women is unknown but Human Rights Watch says they are "at risk of sexual slavery".

Women’s Work: How ‘Ernai’ Mistresses Bolster Fragile Masculinity (May 15, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Ah-Fei isn’t a run-of-the-mill mistress or extramarital fling: She’s what’s known in China as an ernai, a colloquial term for a woman involved in a financially dependent relationship with a married man.

Economics / Trade / Business

How China's online delivery boom is creating ghost restaurants (May 9, 2019, Timeout Beijing)
In a recent report by Nikkei Asian Review, China, Japan, India and numerous other countries in Asia have seen in increase in the number of ghost restaurants, food businesses which serve customers exclusively through online ordering and delivery. 

China's relationship with Africa is illustrated by garlic tensions (May 12, 2019, NBC News)
Munyua, 38, and other local farmers say they are being undercut by producers who ship garlic almost 7,000 miles by sea from the world's most populous country. They accuse Beijing of "garlic dumping" and say they can't compete.

In China, Some Fear the End of ‘Chimerica’ (May 14, 2019, The New York Times
Now many people in China are wondering what will happen if the countries decouple. They question whether the country can continue its miraculous rise as borders and barriers go up.

China's empty homes may prove a bigger threat than Donald Trump's tariffs (May 15, 2019, ABC (Australia))
The reason for the long-term concern? The number of empty properties in a country already renowned for its ghost cities is still rising.

Huawei says willing to sign 'no-spy' agreements (May 15, 2019, BBC)
Huawei is "willing to sign no-spy agreements with governments" including the UK, its chairman Liang Hua said. It follows concerns from some countries that China could use products made by the telecoms firm for surveillance. The Chinese company has denied that its work poses any risks of espionage or sabotage.

Foreign Investment into China up 19.8% in 2018. What Does this Mean? (May 15, 2019, China Briefing)
Considering the huge amount of negative media attention paid to China in the past 18 months – whether from the perspective of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the perceived China slowdown, and the ongoing rumblings of a trade war – these results could come across as surprising. But are they?


The Changing Faces of China’s Elite Academicians (May 9, 2019, Sixth Tone)
After initial controversy over Baidu CEO Robin Li being nominated for China’s most prestigious academic title, Sixth Tone takes a look at how the selection criteria for academicians have evolved over the years.

Kids Need Money Management Training, Say China’s Teachers  (May 15, 2019, Sixth Tone)
How can parents keep their children from spending small fortunes on virtual gifts for their favorite livestreamers? Educators suggest the answer lies at home.

Health / Environment

What is China going to do with millions of dead pigs? (May 14, 2019, Inkstone)
As a deadly pig virus continues to spread globally, China and several other East Asian countries have turned to the mass slaughter of pigs as a way to contain the epidemic. But the culling poses another urgent challenge to the world’s largest pork producing country: what do you do with the bodies of millions of pigs?

Medical costs force Chinese family to choose who gets treatment (May 15, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The family’s meagre income could not cover the medical costs and the decision was made at the beginning of April to bring Chen home, where he is fed through a permanent IV drip and needs round-the-clock care from his parents.

History / Culture

May 12, 2019, 100 Photos That Shook China(May 12, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Sixth Tone and its sister publication, The Paper, interviewed 20 front-line photographers who reported on the earthquake and compiled 100 shots at the scene. The images bring memories of the disaster to life—serving as reminder not to forget the victims’ pain, even as the nation must try to move on. 

Chinese Exclusion: Celebrating the Workers Who Helped Build the Transcontinental Railway  (May 14, 2019, Radii China)
150 years ago this month, one of the most famous photographs in American history commemorated the completion of the transcontinental railway. But where are the Chinese workers who played a key role in building the railroad?

30 Years Ago: Students Flood Tiananmen Square (May 15, 2019, China Digital Times)
To commemorate the student movement, CDT is posting a series of original news articles from 1989, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring.

Travel / Food

Chinese Takeout: A Brothers’ Bond Over Beef in Chengdu (May 8, 2019, Radii China)
Brother’s Beef Restaurant (兄弟牛肉馆) sits defiantly at a fork in the road up against a towering new apartment complex, seemingly unshaken by the changes that swirl around it. The unpretentious eatery is located on Baojia Alley, northwest of People’s Park, on the edge of the neighborhood once known as Shaocheng (少城).

Tianjin! (May 10, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Being the smaller of the two, and the one that is not the national capital, Tianjin has always lived in the shadow of Beijing. At the same time, Tianjin plays in important part in making Beijing the great city that it is by being its port city, thus providing it access to the outside world.

12,000 Chinese Descend on Switzerland in Record-Setting Tour (May 14, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The 12,000 have been divided into three subgroups that are each taking six-day tours of cities such as Lucerne and Bern, with the first batch of 4,000 having arrived in Zurich on Thursday.

Cuba’s Chinatown Comeback(May 14, 2019,Inkstone)
Nestled alongside Havana’s old town lies a district once considered the biggest Chinatown in Latin America. Today it is known as the “Chinatown with no Chinese people” and only about 120 people still claim 100% Chinese heritage in Cuba.

Chinese tourists are shunning the US for Europe (May 15, 2019, Inkstone)
Chinese tourists are shunning the United States amid the trade war and opting for destinations in Europe, said Jane Sun, chief executive of Ctrip, Asia’s largest online travel platform. The US slid to 10th spot in the list of China’s top overseas destinations in a week-long national holiday in October known as the “golden week” from fifth in the previous year, according to Ctrip.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

A Family Tour: A Film Review (May 13, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
The movie tells the story of a dissident filmmaker named Yang Shu who, after producing a film that angered Chinese authorities, is now living in Hong Kong with her husband and son. She has not seen her aging mother in China for five years, so when she is invited to screen her movie at a film festival in Taiwan, she and her husband plot a reunion, arranging for Yang Shu’s mother to join a guided tour to Taiwan at the same time. 

Wikipedia Is Now Banned in China in All Languages (May 14, 2019, BBC)
All language editions of Wikipedia have been blocked in mainland China since April, the Wikimedia foundation has confirmed. Internet censorship researchers found that Wikipedia had joined thousands of other websites which cannot be accessed in China. The country had previously banned the Chinese language version of the site, but the block has now been expanded.

Living Cross-culturally

Faith. Hope. Love. (May 15, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
A simple scroll on my wall. I doubt the giver had any idea the conversations it would start. I’m curious. What hangs up in your home, sits on your desk, or lines your bookcase?

Links for Researchers

Reorganizing the United Front Work Department: New Structures for a New Era of Diaspora and Religious Affairs Work (May 9, 2019, China Briefing)
United front work (tongzhan gongzuo, 统战工作) is the process of building a “united front” coalition around the CCP in order to serve the Party’s objectives, subordinating targeted groups both domestically and abroad. United front work is viewed by Party leaders as a crucial component of the CCP’s victory in the Chinese Civil War (1945-1949), and is now central to controlling and utilizing domestic groups that might threaten the CCP’s power, as well as projecting influence abroad. 

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