ZGBriefs | May 2, 2019

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Featured Article

Chiang Mai’s Chinese Transfer Students  (April 26, 2019, China File)
Parents pleased with Chiang Mai’s international schools have been promoting them in China through word of mouth, in blog posts and WeChat groups. Their efforts seem to be attracting a growing number of Chinese applicants to the city. Though schools in Chiang Mai don’t release information on enrollment by country of origin, three parents Wu interviewed say they see more and more Chinese faces on their children’s campuses. An remembers when Zac started at NIS five years ago, there were only a dozen Chinese children enrolled. She estimates that there are now about 100.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Six key takeaways from Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Forum speech to world leaders  (April 26, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Compared with the inaugural 2017 event, Xi’s speech was shorter and contained fewer concrete proposals. Instead, he seems to have focused more on deflecting criticism and doubts about the multibillion-dollar initiative. Even though he did not name the United States – with which China is having a trade war – or Europe, Xi’s speech appeared to be directed at their concerns over the belt and road plan.

Two More Ethnic Mongolians Jailed in China, WeChat Groups Deleted  (April 26, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
Chinese authorities in the northern region of Inner Mongolia have detained two more group chat moderators on the social media platform WeChat after they took part in demonstrations in support of herding communities, a New York-based rights group said on Friday.

How the tiny African nation of Djibouti became the linchpin in China’s belt and road plan  (April 28, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Djibouti, located at the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, the gateway of the Suez Canal – through which 10 per cent of the world’s oil exports and 20 per cent of all commercial goods travel, is at the forefront of that plan.

Hong Kong: Thousands protest against China extradition law  (April 28, 2019, BBC)
Police estimate that about 22,000 people took part, while organisers say this figure was closer to 130,000. Either way, these estimates would make it the largest demonstration since pro-democracy rallies in 2014 known as the Umbrella Movement.

Two US warships sail through Taiwan Strait in challenge to China  (April 29, 2019, The Guardian)
The US military has sent two navy warships through the Taiwan Strait as the Pentagon increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China. Sunday’s voyage risks further raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

Xi Praises a Student Protest in China. From 100 Years Ago.  (April 29, 2019, The New York Times)
The May 4, 1919, protest against Western colonialism had inflamed Chinese nationalism and helped spread a wave of ideas rejecting Chinese tradition and hierarchy. In a speech marking the centenary of the event, Mr. Xi extolled the patriotic image of May 4 while ignoring its anti-authority themes.

Is China Dispensing With “Hurt Feelings”?  (April 30, 2019, China Media Project)

For all of its talk of doing so, China’s information control and messaging machine has never been very adept at calibrating its language for foreign audiences, and one major reason for this is that much of this jargon is really directed as domestic audiences, not least within the Party itself.

If the U.S. and China Make a Trade Deal, Then What?  (April 30, 2019, China File)
What issues would the resolution of the trade war help solve? And what problems in the U.S.-China relationship are more likely to fester? How would a deal play in each country’s domestic politics, and how might that influence the overall state of the bilateral relationship?

China sentences second Canadian to death  (April 30, 2019, BBC)
A court in China has sentenced a Canadian citizen to death for producing and trafficking methamphetamine. Fan Wei is the second Canadian to be sentenced to death this year. Ten others, including five foreigners, were also sentenced on Tuesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulates Japan’s new emperor as neighbours edge closer  (May 1, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Xi sent greetings on Wednesday, stressing the importance of relations between Beijing and Tokyo, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The two countries should “work together to promote peaceful development and create a bright future for bilateral relations”, Xi said.


As churches are demolished at home, Chinese Christians find religious freedom in Kenya  (April 29, 2019, CNN)
Every Sunday morning in an affluent suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, the soaring song of Chinese hymns fills the empty corridors of a Monday-to-Friday office block. Inside a small makeshift chapel, a kaleidoscopic congregation of Chinese migrants gather to pray. Among them are underwear importers, health workers and operators of the controversial new $3.8 billion Chinese-built railway that slices through Kenya, the country's biggest infrastructure project since independence -- and a sign of China's growing investment and footprint on the continent.

Teaching Children to Pray  (April 30, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
The ultimate and eternal aim of raising children is to lead them to become people who worship God, which is the fundamental difference between how disciples of Christ and the people of the world raise children. Praying with children and leading them to pray is essential to achieving this aim.

Henan, Catholic church crosses demolished in Weihui (VIDEO)  (April 30, 2019, Asia News)
The repression and sinicization of the Catholic Church continues in the Henan. Two days ago the local authorities of Weihui, in the diocese of Anyang, destroyed the huge iron crosses that stood out on the two bell towers. Two videos of the operation, which have been sent to AsiaNews, show workers on tall cranes removing the crosses. 

Religious Liberty Report Highlights China's Repression of Muslims, Christians  (May 1, 2019, National Catholic Register)
The majority of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom are found in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, according to a report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released Monday. The report's introduction focused on abuses against China's Uyghur Muslims.

7 Reasons Why Sinicization Is Not Rhetoric This Time  (May 1, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
We’ve been there, done that. Or have we? I suggest there are at least seven ways that this current plan to Sinicize Christianity represents more than mere saber rattling. 

Society / Life

Flower power: China digs for diplomacy with world's largest gardening show  (April 27, 2019, The Guardian)
The vast show boasts more than 1,000 varieties of Chinese flowers, 100 indoor and outdoor gardens, and pavilions hosted by more than 80 countries. Organisers expect 16 million visitors – more than the number of tickets sold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London – to pass through its doors.

Indebted Chinese seek wisdom of credit card 'goddesses' as retail lending surges  (April 29, 2019, Reuters)
Credit-starved small business owners under financial stress are also joining in the fray, seeking ways to overcome cash-flow problems. Beijing has called on banks to increase access to consumer finance in an effort to boost retail spending and bolster the economy. 
Many banks are issuing more credit cards - an extra 98 million last year - as well as marketing new types of cards and bumping up credit limits.

“Be as Good as Your Word”: The Chinese Social Credit Song is Here (April 30, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
“Be as Good as Your Word” is a pop song featuring young Chinese celebrities who sing about the importance of being ‘trustworthy.’ The new music video is part of a bigger initiative propagating China’s Social Credit System among the younger generation.

Chinese Media Warn WeChat Group Admins: “You Can Be Arrested for What Happens in Your Group Chat”  (May 1, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
These “internet groups” (互联网群组) are not just limited to WeChat. The term refers to any online group or community, including group chats on Weibo, Baidu, QQ, Momo, Alipay, or other social media platforms that enable users to set up and manage a group. Chinese state media, however, particularly focus on WeChat group admins in reminding them that they need to pay careful attention to the information that is posted within the group they manage.

China’s fertility woes  (May 1, 2019, East Asia Forum)
Is China going to see a major fertility surge in the near future? It is very unlikely. Although relaxing the birth control policy has offered an opportunity for all couples to have more than one child, its influence is likely to be surpassed by forces contributing to fertility reduction. These forces consist of the following demographic factors: changes in marriage patterns, an increase in age at first birth, an increase in the proportion of couples not having children and an increase in non-conventional marriages and families.

Overclocked: How ‘996’ Schedules Exhaust Workers and Enrich CEOs  (May 1, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Known as “996,” the name refers to the requirement, either implicit or explicit, for employees to work from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., six days a week. In recent weeks, the discontent of long-suffering Chinese IT professionals subjected to this system finally bubbled into the public consciousness, thanks to an online protest known as “996.ICU.”

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s New Foreign Investment Law Benefits: Like Putting Lipstick on a Pig  (April 25, 2019, China Law Blog)
China’s new Foreign Investment Law is a sleight of hand magic trick of the type so popular on Chinese television. Seeing through this illusion is the first step. The second step would be to force the Chinese government to open its domestic market in all the areas where it is currently.

“The Big Error Was That She Was Caught”: The Untold Story Behind the Mysterious Disappearance of Fan Bingbing, the World’s Biggest Movie Star  (April 2019, Vanity Fair)
She vanished without a trace last year. But it was what happened next that sent a shudder through the Chinese film industry.

A Guide to Shutting Down Your China WFOE  (April 30, 2019, China Law Blog)
As you should expect, the shutting down a China WFOE has its own long set formal and complicated procedures and regulations. You cannot simply abandon your Chinese company. PRC law requires a formal de-registration procedure be followed for closing down any foreign entity. 

Beijing and Shanghai Remove Bank Account Approval Requirements  (May 1, 2019, China Briefing)
Beijing and Shanghai are the latest cities to remove the permits required for opening a corporate bank account in China, a move consistent with the government effort to reduce administrative red tape for small businesses. Beginning this April 2019, companies in Beijing and Shanghai will no longer require a permit from the People’s Bank of China (PBC) for opening a basic and temporary corporate bank account in China.

China’s army of migrant workers is becoming older and less mobile, new government data shows  (May 1, 2019, South China Morning Post)
A report published by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday showed that China had 288.36 million migrant workers at the end of 2018, a rise of 0.6 per cent from a year earlier. However, these migrant workers have become less willing to travel far from home to look for work, with many inland governments encouraging them to return home to start their own businesses.


Tsinghua University Scraps Publication Requirement for PhDs  (April 26, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Some experts say the move will have little practical impact at top-tier schools; others worry it will exacerbate the power imbalance between faculty mentors and their students.

Health / Environment

Donkeys Are Dying Because China Wants Their Hides For A Traditional Remedy  (April 30, 2019, NPR)
Ejiao is the name of a traditional Chinese medicine that supposedly treats anemia, reproductive issues and insomnia – though the alleged medicinal properties are unproven. Nonetheless, it's an ingredient in tonics and face creams. Sales of the products are a multimillion dollar business. And it's quite literally killing the world's donkeys.

History / Culture

Podast: Thirty Years After Tiananmen Square  (April 26, 2019, Foreign Policy)
On the podcast this week, John Pomfret, who covered China for The Associated Press at the time, recounts the ordeal and the legacy of Tiananmen. Pomfret had studied in China, spoke fluent Mandarin, and had many contacts in the student movement.

Dragon Boat Festival: how an ancient Chinese tradition became a global sport  (April 28, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The festival has its roots in ancient China, when a poet committed suicide.  Now a team sport, dragon boat racing benefits from athletes with different skills.

30 Years Ago: Li Peng “Come Out! Come Out!”  (May 1, 2019, China Digital Times)
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the nationwide, student-led democracy movement in China, and the subsequent military crackdown in Beijing. To mark the occasion, CDT is posting a series of original news articles from that year, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring. 

Travel / Food

How to Eat Vegetarian in China – Practical Advice and Dishes to Order  (April 26, 2019, Sapore di Cina)
After getting through the first few difficult moments of “I don’t know what to eat”, or better yet “I don’t know what I’m eating”, being vegetarian in China showed itself to be an amusing way to learn much more than just the Chinese language and culture. Therefore I recommend that you don’t look at it as an obstacle, but a challenge to prove your resistance in a hostile environment and to grow your personal experience.

5-Minute Docuseries Maps China’s Best Breakfasts  (April 30, 2019, Sixth Tone)
As connoisseurs of colorful cuisines celebrate the unofficial World Jianbing Day on Tuesday, an unconventional online series is serving up more than just the savory Chinese crepes.

Food Photographer of the Year 2019: Noodle feast scoops top prize  (May 1, 2019, BBC)
Liao's photo, entitled Cauldron Noodles, shows a celebration of the goddess Nuwa in Shexian County in the Hebei Province, China. As part of the annual festivity, villagers wear Qing Dynasty costumes to celebrate Nuwa's birthday and eat pots of noodles at noon.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

There’s a Whole Bunch of China-Related Cinema Showing in the US this Week  (May 1, 2019, Radii China)
A gangster grandma, a gay rabbit god, and a rich kid sent back to the factory feature among the China-related cinema offerings showing Stateside this week.


When Meridians Guide Needles Not Ships  (April 26, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
All that the layman could ever want to know about the historical development and philosophical roots of both Chinese and Western medicine in a condensed and readable form: that is Dr. Pak-Wah Lai’s gift to the readers of The Dao of Healing. 

'Truth Is Under Threat.' Ten Questions for Chinese Dissident Author Ma Jian  (April 26, 2019, TIME)
His latest work is, without a doubt, a political statement. China Dream—a phrase borrowed directly from Xi who commonly uses it to describe a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”—is a scathing, dystopian novel that follows a fictional Chinese provincial leader as he works to replace people’s dreams with government propaganda.

Life in Motion: A Resource for Those in Transition  (April 29, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Drawing on years of experience exploring and writing about themes of transition, well-known and respected TCK (Third Culture Kid) author, Ruth Van Reken has teamed up with Amy Casteel to produce a ten-week Bible study entitled Life in Motion. The explanatory subtitle Growing through Transition explains the focus. It encourages the internationally mobile to turn to see what the Bible says about transition through considering the stories of various biblical characters and their transition experiences as a basis for reflection. It provides useful questions to assist individuals or groups in doing so.

Links for Researchers

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom 2019 Annual Report (April 29, 2019, USCIRF)

Chen Ming, "Confucian Civil Religion"  (Reading the China Dream)
Chen Ming 陈明 (b. 1962) is professor of philosophy at Capital Normal University 首都师范大学 in Beijing and one of contemporary China’s most prominent Mainland New Confucians.  This 2010 interview (published in 2013) with the Taiwanese scholar Chen Yizhong 陈宜中 (b. 1970) offers an accessible yet detailed overview of Chen’s life and thought, his views on other New Confucians both inside China and from the Chinese diaspora, and the logic of his project to fashion a “Confucian civil religion” to provide cultural and social cohesion and stability for a rapidly changing China. 

Image credit: Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash.
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