ZGBriefs | May 18, 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

How Chinese Couples Became Wedded to the Perfect Picture (May 11, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Known in Chinese as hunsha zhao, which literally translates as “bridal dress photographs,” this style of wedding photography in China generally does not take place at the wedding itself, where there is usually a cheaper run-of-the-mill photographer arranged by the venue or the wedding planner. In the case of Qian and Pan, the real wedding photos were taken a whole six months before the ceremony.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China’s New World Order (May 12, 2017, CNN)
From investing in Pakistan to deploying peacekeepers in South Sudan, China’s growing clout is being felt around the globe. But does the country’s influence come with a price?

Joshua Wong, the student who risked the wrath of Beijing: ‘It’s about turning the impossible into the possible’ (May 14, 2017, The Guardian)
Two-and-a-half years on, the battle has shifted from the streets to the polling booths. Wong, now 20, has co-founded a new party, Demosisto, and is studying for a politics degree, although, he says: “Sometimes it feels as if I major in activism and minor in university.”

For Family Of Embattled Chinese Lawyer, A Long Road To Safety — With U.S. Help (May 14, 2017, NPR)
U.S. diplomats staged a rare intervention to rescue the family of a human rights lawyer held in China. The attorney was released last week, after having been swept up in a two-year-old crackdown that has put most of the country's rights lawyers and legal activists out of business.

What is China’s belt and road initiative? (May 15, 2017, The Economist)
Launched in 2013 as “one belt, one road”, it involves China underwriting billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in countries along the old Silk Road linking it with Europe.

For China's 'New Silk Road,' Ambitious Goals And More Than A Few Challenges (April 16, 2017, NPR)
Over the weekend, China pledged tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure financing and development aid, and elicited support from scores of countries to promote economic integration and free global trade through the creation of what Beijing is calling a "new Silk Road."

North Korean hackers test China’s patience (May 16, 2017, Politico)
The spreading malware crisis has security advocates hoping Beijing will finally slap down its aggressive neighbor, something the U.S. has been seeking for years.

China reportedly installs rocket launchers on disputed South China Sea island (May 17, 2017, CNBC)
China has installed rocket launchers on a disputed reef in the South China Sea to ward off Vietnamese military combat divers, according to a state-run newspaper, offering new details on China's ongoing military build-up. China has said military construction on the islands it controls in the South China Sea will be limited to necessary defensive requirements, and that it can do what it likes on its own territory.

China quietly releases draft of tough new intelligence law (May 17, 2017, Reuters)
China on Tuesday quietly released the first public draft of an intelligence law giving authorities powers to monitor suspects, raid premises, and seize vehicles and devices while investigating domestic and foreign individuals and groups. President Xi Jinping has overseen a raft of legislation to bolster national security against threats from both within and outside China.

Nation's Longest-Serving Governor Set To Become Top Diplomat In Beijing (May 17, 2017, NPR)
Later this week, the Senate will likely vote to confirm Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as ambassador to China. Although he's not a member of the foreign policy establishment, Republicans and Democrats alike hope his long-standing relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping will ease tensions with a rising global power that's also one of the United States' biggest trading partners.


Evangelism, Reformed Theology, and Church Life, Part 1 (May 16, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
A growing movement of churches attracted to the Reformed faith is gaining steam in China. Although still comparatively small in number, these churches and several of their prominent leaders are gaining influence among Christians across China.

3 Questions: Honor, Shame, and the Gospel (May 17, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Werner Mischke is author of The Global Gospel: Achieving Missional Impact in Our Multicultural World (2015, Mission One) and serves as coordinator for “Honor, Shame and the Gospel: Reframing Our Message for 21st Century Ministry,” to be held June 19-21 in Wheaton, Illinois.

Dragon Leaders And Older Sons – How The Doctrine Of Grace Alone Impacts Chinese Pastors (May 17, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
The gospel of “grace alone” brings church leaders to think hard about true grace: Jesus Christ has accepted who we are, even while we were sinning against him. We do not need to earn our salvation; we do not need to earn our sanctification. We already have them in Christ. For church leaders, this is the source of power to imitate our Lord and serve the local church. Change in the lives of leaders brings about change in local churches. The culture of “saving face” can be replaced by the culture of grace.

Society / Life

Solo 2: 10 signs of you have studied abroad and returned to China (July 30, 2014, C Channel, via YouTube)

Preserving Ruins and Memories in an Earthquake-Stricken Town (May 12, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Chen Qinggang and Gu Yifan, two multimedia journalists at The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, visited Beichuan County, one of the hardest-hit areas in Sichuan, in April. They spoke with some of the people most directly affected by the earthquake, including those tasked with physically preserving its devastation. This year marks the first time since the disaster that media have been allowed into the ruins of Beichuan’s old town, which were never cleared away to serve as a memory to the disaster.

Celebrating Mothers—in China (May 12, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Until they make the switch to April 2, I think we should still celebrate the moms of China this weekend. A good way to do that would be to read about another of the great mothers of China, Chen Zhi-Niang. Her story is told in 陈织娘的一 (A Wind in the Door)

The Old Country (May 14, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Not all rural villages packed with elderly are doing as well as Bama and Shuping. Health problems, increased rates of suicide, and families that have been separated by the forces of urbanization are all features that have come to define the experience of living in China’s countryside as an elderly person.

Qingdao in the spotlight: Hollywood descends on China's east coast city (May 15, 2017, The Guardian)
Make no mistake, though, Qingdao is growing. It’s one of the biggest ports in China, and is one of the top 10 busiest in the world. Now the focus is on the construction of the Qingdao Movie Metropolis in Huangdao district: a massive film-production facility and theme park that is hoped will make the city, in the words of the giant hànzi on the overlooking hill, “Movie Metropolis of the East”.

Economics / Trade / Business

World's biggest building project aims to make China great again (May 11, 2017, The Guardian)
Zhou said he was part of a wave of entrepreneurs now pouring into this isolated frontier near Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, hoping to cash in on President Xi’s “Belt and Road initiative”, a multi-billion dollar infrastructure campaign that looks set to transform large swaths of Asia and the world beyond.

American ranchers buoyed by China beef deals (May 14, 2017, USA Today)
Starting later this year, U.S. cattle ranchers will be able to sell their beef in China, which has refused American imports since the mad cow disease breakout in 2003. Trade bans of U.S. beef around the world, including China, contributed to the value of U.S. beef exports falling from $3 billion in 2003 to $1.1 billion in 2004, according to trade publication Food Safety News.

You Don't Need A Wallet In China, Just Your Smartphone (May 15, 2017, Forbes)
No cash? Your smartphone will do nicely. Chinese consumers used to spending their hard-earned cash on technology are increasingly relying on a tech solution to pay for just about anything, from breakfast to booking a vacation. To see how far I could go in Beijing without a wallet, I spent a day armed only with my smartphone.

China's Copy of Manhattan Is No Longer a Ghost Town (May 16, 2017, Bloomberg)
The once empty skyscrapers, vacant office towers and unfinished hotels and apartments are gradually filling up amid the central government’s renewed push to refashion the city into a crucial gateway for a revitalized Northern China.

Here's the biggest worry on Wall Street right now (May 16, 2017, CNBC)
China's latest efforts to curb risky debt levels are not only shocking local markets but raising worries globally about another market shock. As a result, China has replaced Europe as the top worry for global money managers, according to the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey published Tuesday.


Is Beijing Getting Scared of Homeschooled Confucian Activists? (May 16, 2017, Tea Leaf Nation)
In February, the country’s Ministry of Education issued a notice aimed at reigning in one aspect of the multivalent Confucian revival: private schools that emphasize classical philosophical texts and practices. 

Health / Environment

Three Reasons to Believe in China's Renewable Energy Boom (May 12, 2017, National Geographic)
After years of ignoring the air quality crisis that has resulted from decades of breakneck industrialization, China’s leaders have finally begun trying to solve it.

Chinese appetite for totoaba fish bladder kills off rare porpoise (May 16, 2017, The Guardian)
The world’s rarest marine mammal is on the verge of extinction due to the continuing illegal demand in China for a valuable fish organ, an undercover investigation has revealed. There are no more than 30 vaquita – a five-foot porpoise – left in the northern Gulf of California today and they could be extinct within months, conservationists have warned. The population has been all but eradicated by pirate fishermen catching the large totoaba fish and killing the vaquita in the process.

Privacy concerns as China expands DNA database (May 17, 2017, BBC)
China is building a vast DNA database with no appropriate privacy protection, human rights activists warn. While a genetic database of convicted or suspected criminals exists in many countries, China is thought to include anyone, regardless of valid grounds for suspicion.

Science / Technology

Why China’s universities are so vulnerable to WannaCry global cyberattack (May 16, 2017, South China Morning Post)
More than 4,300 Chinese educational institutions were infected by the WannaCry ransomware that spread across the globe last Friday, according to Chinese cybersecurity giant Qihoo 360’s Threat Intelligence Centre. Almost 30,000 organisations across the country were affected in all. But the Ministry of Education’s China Education and Research Network (Cernet) said just 66 out of 1,600 Chinese universities were affected, rejecting reports of widespread damage in higher-education computer systems as “malicious” hype.

Twitter user numbers overtaken by China's Sina Weibo (May 17, 2017, BBC)
There are now more people using Sina Weibo, the Chinese micro-blogging platform, than there are using Twitter. According to the Chinese company's first quarter results, it has 340 million active monthly users, 30% up on the previous year.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

What It Takes to Be a Good China-Watcher (May 12, 2017, Sinica Podcast)
Today, China-watching is different: The old “China hands” are still around and remain authoritative, but an increased number of younger travelers in a much more open China, people with specialized academic backgrounds and advanced language skills, and women—see last week’s Sinica Podcast on female China expertise—are changing the face of this field.

Universal agrees deal to stream on China's Tencent's services (May 17, 2017, BBC)
Tencent has struck a licensing deal to distribute Universal Music's content on its streaming platforms in China. Artists with Universal, the world's largest music company, will be available on Tencent's QQ Music, KuGou and Kuwo services.

History / Culture

Called to Heel: Why Chinese smear Jiangsu people as ‘dogs’ (May 17, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Forget the harmonious society. One of the largest, most populous countries in the world, China is—unsurprisingly—rife with local prejudices. One popular form of insult projects animal traits onto those from different regions: Sichuanese become dogs, Guizhou locals are donkeys, and those in the Wu (Yangtze-Huai River) region are associated with cows. However, not all insults are born from the same “logic.” Take the province of Jiangsu for example.

Travel / Food

Cruises Boom as Millions of Chinese Take to the Seas (May 14, 2017, Bloomberg)
With so much potential — China is still nowhere close to the 11 million plus Americans who cruise each year — companies are bringing bigger and better ships to the Yellow Sea, tailoring their offerings and seeking new destinations in an effort to persuade Chinese travelers that a cruise is more than just a form of transportation.

“Walking the City: A Guide to Exploring Beijing by Foot,” (May 14, 2017, The Beijinger)
Beijing is not a walkable city. In fact, it can be fairly hostile to pedestrians. But that doesn’t mean it lacks interesting places to explore by foot. Despite the best efforts of the municipal government and avaricious developers, Beijing still has back lanes and historic sites worth discovering. It just takes a little effort sometimes to see through the grit, grime, and around that huge black SUV/cadre mianzi­ mobile barreling down the hutong right at you.

Language / Language Learning

Into the Haze: A new text adventure game for Chinese learners (May 12, 2017, Hacking Chinese)
Like it’s predecessor, Escape, it’s a text adventure game for Chinese learners. In short, think of it as an interactive graded reader. You can read or listen to the text, make your choice about how to proceed and the game will develop differently depending on what you choose. If you make bad choices, perhaps because you didn’t fully understand the options, you might fail and will have to try again.


Unfinished Journey: How Christianity Came to China (May 11, 2017, The Gospel Coalition)
Lodwick’s pursuit of her thesis that the missionaries were largely ineffective in making converts (except among China’s marginalized) leaves little room for serious reflection on how the gospel actually took root in Chinese soil. […] Lodwick’s argument that Christianity can’t ultimately flourish in China is negated by one simple fact: It already has.

On China’s Great Books: An Interview with Frances Wood (May 10, 2017, Los Angeles Review of Books)
Titled Great Books of China: From Ancient Times to the Present (published by BlueBridge in the U.S. and Head of Zeus in the U.K.), her latest work contains over 60 excerpts, presented in rough chronological order, from novels, poems and philosophical works, each introduced by Wood to set them in context and explain their importance. The collection is at once a serious study of the progression of Chinese writing for the scholar and, for those less scholarly inclined, a fine miscellany to dip into at random given a free hour and a glass of something warming.

A World Trimmed with Fur (May 14, 2017, China File)
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, booming demand for natural resources transformed China and its frontiers. Historians of China have described this process in stark terms: pristine borderlands became breadbaskets. Yet Manchu and Mongolian archives reveal a different story. Well before homesteaders arrived, wild objects from the far north became part of elite fashion, and unprecedented consumption had exhausted the region’s most precious resources.

Image credit: Photo Shoot, by Grey World, via Flickr
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 of Northwestern-St. Paul …View Full Bio