ZGBriefs | May 2, 2024

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A note from the editor: Beginning next week, I will be on a six-month sabbatical from my work at ChinaSource. Jon Kuert will be taking over as the ZGBriefs editor in my absence, curating the key stories from China each week.  Thanks, Jon!

Featured Article

Visa-free policies alone will not revive China’s inbound tourism (April 30, 2024, East Asia Forum)
The decline in China’s inbound tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns, leading to the expansion of its 15-day visa-free travel policy to incentivise tourist visits. But further efforts, such as improving travel convenience, addressing structural and ideological barriers and leveraging technological advancements, are required to rejuvenate the sector and meet the needs of international tourists.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

For Americans detained in China, a return home could depend on better ties (April 26, 2024, NBC News)
As Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China this week, the most important issue for hundreds of U.S. families was the fate of their loved ones imprisoned in the country.

China’s revised state secrets law has come into force. Here’s what to know (May 1, 2024, Al Jazeera)
A revised state secrets law has come into force in China, prompting Taiwan to warn its citizens against travelling to China and rattling foreign companies amid fears the legislation could be used to punish regular business activities. […]  Here’s what you need to know about the latest law.

China erases memory of ‘white paper’ protests in further threat to journalism (May 1, 2024, The Guardian)
Silencing of a film-maker documenting the widespread 2022 demonstrations against Covid controls is part of rising suppression of press freedom.

Podcast: Elon Musk’s Surprise Trip to Beijing; A Third Plenum Set for July; An Uneventful Blinken Visit; Xi’s Trip to Europe (May 1, 2024, Sharp China)
On today’s show Andrew and Bill begin with a surprise, 24-hour trip to China for Elon Musk, and a Sunday meeting with Premier Li Qiang. Topics include: The Musk meeting as PRC response to mounting scrutiny in the US, the benefits to both sides of the Tesla-PRC relationship, and why this week’s news may not answer Tesla’s long term questions in the Chinese market.


Why Should I Love My Enemies? (April 24, 2024, China Partnership Blog)
Who are our enemies? What is love? These terms are practically antonyms. They are inherently opposed, like two people who cannot stand each other and argue upon meeting. Yet, in this passage, Jesus commands, “Love your enemies.”

Sharing the Gospel: Franchise or Indigenization? (April 26, ChinaSource Blog)
Jesus designed the gospel to be sown as a Word seed to grow and mature within indigenous peoples’ languages and cultures.

Vision for Tomorrow: Opportunities in China’s New Era (April 29, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
Fishbowl ministry means that in a collective society like China, everything one does is on public display, with little personal space. While this can be bothersome at times, on another level, it means that one’s Christian life and witness is always on display. One doesn’t need to manufacture ministry; one’s life is ministry.

American Evangelicalism and China: A Necessary Conversation (April 30, 2024, ChinaSource)
As Ren suggests, viewing the church in contemporary China through the lens of Noll’s Scandal raises some uncomfortable questions. These include how denominational distinctives born out of historical events that took place far from China have contributed to disunity within China’s church, how notions of American exceptionalism have animated visions of a “Christian China,” and how a massive influx of outside theological resources can disrupt the local faith “ecology.”

Society / Life

Labor Day isn’t the holiday it once was for China’s workers (April 30, 2024, CNN)
The practice of moving workdays to weekends to create a longer vacation during major Chinese holidays is known as “tiaoxiu” or adjusted rest. Introduced in 1999 to stimulate consumer spending following the Asian financial crisis, it has been the subject of much online anger in the weeks leading up to this year’s May 1 holiday.

China highway collapse kills 24 people (May 1, 2024, BBC)
Twenty-four people have died after a section of a mountainside highway collapsed in China’s Guangdong province, following days of heavy rain. Thirty others were taken to hospital after a 17.9m (58 feet) stretch of the Meilong expressway crumbled at 02:10 local time (19:10 BST) on Wednesday. Authorities have yet to state the cause of the incident.

Economics / Trade / Business

Tensions grow as China ramps up global mining for green tech (April 28, 2024, BBC)
The protest, sparked by the firing of a number of Argentine staff, is just one of a growing number of cases of friction between Chinese businesses and host communities, as China – which already dominates the processing of minerals vital to the green economy – expands its involvement in mining them. It was just 10 years ago that a Chinese company bought the country’s first stake in an extraction project within the “lithium triangle” of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, which holds most of the world’s lithium reserves.

New Chief in Town: Can Wu Qing Halt the Decline of China’s Stock Market? (April 28, 2024, The Diplomat)
The “Brokerage Butcher” is now the chair of the CSRC, with a mandate to address long-standing inefficiencies and rejuvenate market stability.

A Close Look at China’s Changing Economy (April 29, 2024, NPR)
We take a look at China’s economy as it has emerged from the pandemic experiencing slower growth than in years past. We hear that economic ties between the U.S. and China have loosened and that high unemployment among young people has meant far less optimism about the future.

China prepares to start building EVs in Europe (April 30, 2024, VOA News)
China’s share of the European electric vehicle market has doubled in less than two years, with Chinese automakers accounting for 20 percent of EVs sold in Europe last year. The trend is raising alarm among European carmakers, and they are considering pushing for new tariffs. 


Number of US students in China has plunged in wake of COVID curbs (April 29, 2024, Radio Free Asia)
The number of Americans studying in China has plummeted, falling to just 700 – down from 15,000 six or seven years ago, U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns told a seminar at the Brookings Institution in December 2023. “Last year we were down to 350 American students in all of China,” he said. “Now we’ve doubled that population to 700 American students [in China].”

Chinese universities accused of overstepping the mark with restrictions on students’ off-campus holiday travel(May 1, 2024, South China Morning Post)
Controversy and accusations of excessive control have arisen in China after some universities and colleges banned their students from travelling on their own during the May Day holiday for “safety” reasons. Local media is reporting that a handful of schools in the country have told students in the past week that group travel in the name of “classes or departments” is forbidden. Some also opposed students taking self-initiated group trips by car or group tour during the five-day break.

Health / Environment

Is China Ready for Hospice Care? (May 1, 2024, Sixth Tone)
China is staring down a massive shortage of hospice services. The country’s over-60 population is nearing 300 million, or some 21% of the total population, and approximately 2.29 million Chinese die of cancer every year. 

Science / Technology

China Launches New 3-member Crew to Its Space Station (April 26, 2024, The Diplomat)
This year, the Chinese station is slated for two cargo spacecraft missions and two manned spaceflight missions.

First scientist to publish Covid sequence in China protests over lab ‘eviction’ (April 30, 2024, The Guardian)
The first Chinese scientist to publish a genomic sequence of the Covid-19 virus, in defiance of government orders, staged a sit-in protest after claiming he was locked out of his laboratory over the weekend. Zhang Yongzhen, a virologist, said in an online post on Monday that he and his team had been given a sudden eviction notice from their lab, and guards had barred him from entering it over the weekend. 

Beijing tightens grip on China social media giants (May 1, 2024, BBC)
New rules that tighten Chinese government restrictions on the country’s internet companies have come into effect today, raising concerns about how they will be applied. The expanded State Secrets Law compels firms – including social media giants Tencent, ByteDance and Weibo – to take action if users post sensitive information.

History / Culture

Bucking the system: China’s underground historians (April 28, 2024, China Law and Policy)
To understand more the role that underground historians currently play in China, China Law & Policy sat down with Ian to discuss the impact of their work in an increasingly surveilled society and with a leader even more hell-bent on maintaining CCP control of history. How are they able to get anything done, let alone change society?

Travel / Food

How to Taste Tea Like an Expert (April 24, 2024, Sixth Tone)
What do Chinese mean when they talk about things like a tea’s “qi” and “yun.”

The longest commercial passenger flight from China will take you to Mexico City (April 29, 20204, CNN)
China Southern Airlines is launching its first-ever direct passenger flight from the megacity of Shenzhen to Mexico City, which will set the record as the longest nonstop regular commercial flight to originate in China. The flight will cover an intercontinental distance of around 14,147 kilometers (8,790 miles) in each direction.

Lotteries to Cowshed Cafés: How China’s Small Coffee Shops Survive (April 30, 2024, Sixth Tone)
With space for independent and small-scale cafés shrinking in China’s competitive coffee shop market, many are carving out niches to challenge big brand chains.

Language / Language Learning

游: Learn the Chinese Character for Journeys and Adventures (April 30, 2024, The World of Chinese)
The character 游 first appeared etched on oracle bones over three millennia ago, with a simple yet evocative pictograph: a child holding a flag.


Book Review – The Registered Church in China: Flourishing in a Challenging Environment (April 22, 2024, Global China Center)
Most literature about the Protestant church in China concentrates upon unregistered or “house” churches, to the neglect of the “official” or “registered” churches working with the government-sponsored “Two Councils” or “Two Committees” – the China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Wayne Ten Harmsel seeks to redress that imbalance, provide essential information about the registered churches, and correct some mistaken impressions that have dominated the narrative about these congregations.

Links for Researchers

Majority World Mission Movements (Lausanne Movement)
David Ro summarizes the Asian mission movement focusing on Korea, China, and India with mentions of other Asian countries. Uchenna Anyanwu writes about the African mission with the migration of peoples into the West, along with missions to unreached peoples within the continent of Africa.


State of the Great Commission Report (Lausanne Movement)
We are pleased to release the much anticipated State of the Great Commission Report. This key document in the Lausanne 4 journey shares insights from more than 150 global mission experts and sheds light on how we as a global church can be obedient to Jesus’ Great Commission today.

Pray for China

May 4 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On May 4, 1919, Chinese students in Beijing took the streets to protest against the Chinese government for accepting unfavorable terms under the Treaty of Versailles. As part of the May 4th Movement (五四运动) and a heightened sense of nationalism, many Chinese intellectuals turned away from democratic values and embraced Marxism. Pray for those Chinese intellectuals who have rejected Marxism and embraced Christ to serve the people with God’s love. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. Acts 18:27-28

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Image credit: Joann Pittman
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