ZGBriefs | May 16, 2024

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Featured Article

China’s Chang’e 6 Moon Mission is a Game Changer (May 13, 2024, The Diplomat)
China’s bid to return lunar samples from the far side of the Moon will have long-term strategic and geopolitical implications.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s Complex Presence in Southeast Asia (May 10, 2024, East Asia Forum)
Due to the immense size of the Chinese economy, its vast population and its enigmatic authoritarian government, China’s intentions towards the region remain a significant question mark for Southeast Asian countries.

Why Are More Chinese Migrants Arriving at the U.S. Southern Border? (May 7, 2024, Foreign Policy)
Leaving China is a tricky business, especially for ethnic minorities and persecuted groups. Chinese emigration figures are still low per capita. But the strong U.S. economic recovery from the pandemic makes the United States a more attractive destination for some Chinese migrants, especially low-wage workers.

On Rare Visit, Xi Jinping Tries to Rescue China’s Relationship with Europe (May 9, 2024, The Christian Science Monitor)
For years, amid its escalating trade battles with the United States, Beijing has been able to count on its other key Western trading partner, the 27-nation European Union, to steer clear of the superpower storm and keep economic relations on an even keel. No longer.

‘Countries Are Now Forced to Confront It’: Rise in Chinese Espionage Arrests Alarms Europe (May 8, 2024, The Guardian)
As China’s president, Xi Jinping, arrived in Serbia for the second leg of his European tour, authorities across the continent were grappling with a wave of allegations about Chinese spying. Experts say the recent increase in arrests and investigations reflects a changing mood in Europe towards Chinese threats.

China’s Advance in Central America and Its Strategic Importance (May 8, 2024, The Diplomat)
During the past year, China and its companies have expanded their position in politics, security, information, logistics, and other key areas in Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador, raising strategic concerns due to the region’s proximity and connection to the United States.


I Knew I Would Pay a Price for My Faith: China Releases Missionary After Seven Years (May 10, 2024, Christianity Today)
When pastor John Sanqiang Cao, 64, crossed the border back into China from Myanmar’s Wa State on March 5, 2017, Chinese officials were waiting to arrest him. For years, he had traveled across the porous border from Yunnan Province to the impoverished Wa State, where he founded more than 20 schools, established drug rehabilitation centers, and provided medicine, books, school supplies, and Bibles to locals.

Taking Confucian Spirituality Seriously (May 13, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
We need to engage with East Asian spiritualities, first and foremost, by acknowledging their historic contribution to the cultivation of the human interior life. Without such contributions, Chinese civilization would be in the same fate as Babylonian and Egyptian civilizations—they would be museum exhibits only.

Christ’s Relevance to ABC Gen Z (May 10, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
In an ever changing political and cultural environment, the Chinese diaspora in the US has many cultural differences from generation to generation. With so much bombarding the generation today, where is there space for Christ to fit into all of this?

(Video) Human Flourishing in Chinese Thought: A Christian Response (May 8, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
On April 5, in the gorgeous Nazareth Chapel at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, I’Ching Thomas delivered a fascinating lecture titled “Human Flourishing in Chinese Thought: A Christian Response.” Drawing on themes from her book Jesus: The Path to Human Flourishing, I’Ching explored the notion of human flourishing in Chinese thought, focusing especially on Confucius’ teaching on self-cultivation and benevolence as keys to achieving the ideal of the Noble Man. Then, drawing on parallels with the biblical faith, she proposed that the Christian gospel holds relevance to the aspirations of cultural Chinese concerning human flourishing as defined by Confucian ideals.

China’s Sinicisation Campaign Puts Islamic Expression On the Line (May 13, 2024, East Asia Forum)
China has been pursuing a ‘sinicisation’ policy to make Islam in China more ‘Chinese,’ leading to transformations such as the removal of ‘foreign’ architectural features from mosques and the introduction of Chinese-language equivalents for Arabic ‘halal’ signs in restaurants.

Society / Life

In Rapidly Ageing China, Millions of Migrant Workers Can’t Afford to Retire (May 8, 2024, Reuters)
After three decades selling homemade buns on the streets of the Chinese city of Xian, 67-year-old Hu Dexi would have liked to slow down. Instead, Hu and his older wife have moved to the edge of Beijing, where they wake at 4 a.m. every day to cook their packed lunch, then commute for more than an hour to a downtown shopping mall where they each earn 4000 yuan ($552) monthly working 13-hour shifts as cleaners.

New Rules Let China’s State Security Police Check People’s Devices (May 8, 2024, Radio Free Asia)
China’s state security police will be given sweeping powers to search electronic devices including smartphones and laptops from July 1, as part of a nationwide campaign to ensure “national security,” a broad term often used by the government to include detailed economic data and political dissent.

Chinese PR Boss Says Sorry After Glorifying Work-Til-You-Drop Culture (May 9, 2024, The Guardian)
The head of public relations at China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, has apologised after creating her own PR crisis with a series of videos glorifying the country’s work-till-you-drop culture.

China’s ‘Supernanny’ Stirs Controversy with Ultra-Harsh Methods (May 8, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Zhao Juying’s approach to motivating students to study harder is extremely simple: smash their toys with a hammer and whip them with a bamboo cane if they slack off.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s Economy Is Headed for a ‘Dead-End’ and Beijing Won’t Do Anything to Stop It, Scholar Says (May 11, 2024, Fortune)
China’s leadership is relying on an export surge to revive slumping growth, but those policies won’t extract the world’s second largest economy from the malaise that it’s in, a top China watcher said.

Biden Will Keep Trump’s China Tariffs, and Add New Ones on Electric Vehicles (May 10, 2024, NPR News)
The Biden administration is getting ready to announce new tariffs on imports of goods from China—products like electric vehicles deemed to be policy priorities.

China’s Green Energy Investment Aim at Latin America Amid Competition With the US (May 11, 2024, The Diplomat)
China’s growing presence in the trade and investments landscape in Latin America has drawn attention from policymakers and businesses in the United States. Accustomed to the status of leading regional power, the US and its traditional allies are now facing competition coming from China.


Amnesty International Details Transnational Repression Against Overseas Chinese Students (May 13, 2024, China Digital Times)
Transnational repression by Chinese state-affiliated actors has long targeted Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers and members of the Chinese diaspora. One subset of these groups is Chinese overseas students, who are now the focus of Amnesty International’s latest report.

China Launches Campaign to Halt School Bullying, Excessive Homework (May 14, 2024, Reuters)
China’s Ministry of Education said on Tuesday it was launching a campaign to address issues including excessive homework and bullying in schools, as part of efforts to boost students’ mental health.

Health / Environment

Chinese COVID Whistleblower Due for Release After 4 Years in Jail (May 13, 2024, Reuters)
Authorities in China were expected on Monday to release a citizen journalist jailed for four years after she documented the early phases of the coronavirus outbreak from the central city of Wuhan in 2020.

Zhang Zhan, 40, had travelled to Wuhan in early 2020 from Shanghai where she was based, posting first-hand accounts from crowded hospitals and empty streets that painted a more dire picture of the pandemic than the official narrative.

Can China Protect Its Whales? (May 13, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Researcher Chen Mo confirmed the existence of China’s only known whale pod in 2018. Now he’s trying to protect them.

Science / Technology

China’s Digital Silk Road Taking Its Shot at the Global Stage (May 8, 2024, East Asia Forum)
The rise of China has strengthened its resolve to challenge global markets and the United States’ technological hegemony. A key part of China’s strategy is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a multitrillion-dollar project that facilitates investments in foreign countries. It gambles on risky yet comprehensive loans for developing countries to build key infrastructure. Yet China’s attention has recently shifted to its rapid expansion of a BRI offshoot—the Digital Silk Road (DSR). The DSR targets digital technologies in developing countries by offering cheap alternatives to Western data systems and security.

Chinese Network Behind One of the World’s Largest Online Scams (May 8, 2024, The Guardian)
More than 800,000 people in Europe and the US appear to have been duped into sharing card details and other sensitive personal data with a vast network of fake online designer shops apparently operated from China.

History / Culture

A Feminist Odyssey (May 9, 2024, China Media Project)
Lü Pin began her involvement in women’s rights in the 1990s, as a new generation of women’s activism was bubbling in the wake of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in September 1995. Last month, CMP’s Dalia Parete sat down with Lü Pin to discuss her journey as a feminist and the ways women’s issues are portrayed in China today.

The Escaped Dissident Still Pursued Decades On By China (May 11, 2024, BBC News)
Three decades ago, Chinese dissidents were being smuggled out of the country in a secret operation called Yellow Bird—but as one of them tells the BBC, Beijing is still pursuing them.

Aesthetic Evolution: Tracing Female Beauty in Ancient Chinese Art (May 10, 2024, Sixth Tone)
The emergence and development of any art form are always intertwined with various social and cultural phenomena of their time, and artistic representations of women are no exception. Images of female subjects in ancient Chinese art across different stages of history present society’s shifting ideas about them.

(Podcast) Here Be Dragons (May 12, 2024, Little Red Podcast)
For our hundredth episode, there was only one choice in the Year of the Dragon. We tackle the scaly mythical beast, which now finds itself central to the Party’s image.

Travel / Food

Domestic Tourism Soars in China but Foreigners Stay away (May 9, 2024, BBC News)
With the Chinese economy facing massive challenges, there have been concerns over its growth potential, at least in the immediate future.

Yet a key exception is emerging in the form of domestic tourism.

Last week’s five-day public holiday to mark labour day saw 295 million trips made within China, according to figures from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. This was 28% higher than pre-pandemic figures recorded in 2019.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Taiwanese Star Forced to Support ‘One China’ Policy (May 10, 2024, Radio Free Asia)
Taiwanese TV and movie actor Wu Mu-hsuen was recently forced to sign a pledge to support China’s territorial claim on democratic Taiwan, or the show she had just finished filming would be ditched, according to multiple local media reports.

‘Eat Bitter’: A Conversation with Ningyi Sun and Pascale Appora-Gnekindy (May14, 2024, Global China Pulse)
Touching, absorbing, and, at times, hilarious, the 2023 documentary Eat Bitter reveals the human face of Chinese involvement in Africa.


Book Review—America’s Lost Chinese: The Rise and Fall of a Migrant Family Dream (May 14, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
As a practical theologian who also specializes in critical mixed-race perspectives, I found this book to be a valuable gift when considering the roles that faith and spirituality can play in cultivating mixed-race identities.

Links For Researchers

Congressional Executive Commission on China 2023 Annual Report (May 10, 2024, Congressional Executive Commission on China)
CECC Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chair and Co-chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) issued today the Commission’s 2023 Annual Report on human rights conditions and rule of law developments in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The full report and an executive summary are available for download on the CECC’s website.

Pray for China

May 13  (Pray For China: A Walk Through History)
On May 13, 1876, Dr. Edward H. Hume (胡美) was born to missionary parents in India. Hume and his wife Charlotte came to Changsha, Hunan, in 1906 to work in the Yale-in-China Mission and founded a medical school and hospital. Hume resigned in 1926 when his proposal to turn the work over to nationals was rejected, and he left China with his wife and their five children. A biographical sketch of Hume is found in Jonathan Spence’s To Change China: Western Advisers in China, 1620-1960. Pray for Chinese and foreign Christians in Hunan to partner together to benefit the church.

As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 2 Corinthians 8:23

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Image credit: Shujianyang, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Jon Kuert

After his first trip to China in 2001, Jon Kuert served as the director of AFC Global for seven years and was responsible for sending teams of students and volunteers to China and other parts of Asia. After that, he and his wife Elissa moved to Yunnan province where they …View Full Bio