ZGBriefs | May 20, 2021

ZGBriefs is for those who want and need to keep up on what is happening in China, but don’t have the time to monitor and track it all. We monitor more than 50 different news sources and curate the most relevant and interesting stories out of China each week. Topics include government, religion, society, economics, education, travel, and language, and books.


Featured Article

Head of Chinese Jesuits named new bishop of Hong Kong (May 17, 202, America Magazine)
In a surprise move, after a search that lasted more than two years, Pope Francis has named the Jesuit Stephen Chow Sau-yan, 61, the provincial of the Chinese province of the Jesuits, as the ninth Catholic bishop of Hong Kong.

Sponsored Link

Free Webinar: Christian Theology in a Chinese Idiom: Reshaping the Conversation (ChinaSource)
The Christian theological conversation spans two millennia. Recently, however, more and more scholars have begun to recognize that, in the words of Andrew Walls, “the theological agenda is culturally induced; and the cross-cultural diffusion of Christian faith invariably makes creative theological activity a necessity.” What does that look like in practice? Doesn’t that lead to syncretism? Can’t we just teach a pure gospel? In this webinar, Dr. Jesse Ciccotti will investigate theologizing in Chinese contexts by first discussing theology as an “idiomatic activity,” that is, an activity by which Christian thought is expressed in ways that are natural to a cultural native. 
Thursday, June 10, 7PM (US CDT)
Go here for more information and to register.

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Ahead of Its Centennial, the Chinese Communist Party Frets Over Unsanctioned Takes on Its History (May 14, 2021, China File)
On July 1, the Chinese Communist Party will commemorate its founding in Shanghai one hundred years ago. Unsurprisingly, Beijing is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that nothing untoward takes place in the run-up to the great day. On April 9, the Reporting Center for Illegal and Unhealthy Information, a division of the Cyberspace Administration, which oversees and regulates China’s Internet, announced that it had launched a new facility on its portal to fight “historical nihilism.”

Pelosi calls for ‘diplomatic boycott’ of 2022 China Olympics on human rights grounds (May 18, 2021, CNBC)
Pelosi suggested in her remarks that athletes should still be able to compete in the games but that world leaders and royalty should not travel to attend them in person.

Red Genes (May 18, 2021, China Media Project)
The phrase “red genes,” or hongse jiyin (红色基因), refers to the revolutionary spirit and history of the Chinese Communist Party as a kind of political and cultural inheritance, the celebration of which is a means of consolidating the Party’s position within the national identity and thereby constructing the legitimacy of the CCP regime.


House Church Seminaries In Mainland China: Let The Machines Do The Data Transfer (May 13, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
Today, we are sharing the second part of an interview with a leader in the field of theological education within China. While he himself was trained according to the traditional Western model, he believes that the Internet will change long-established, worldwide patterns, just as the printing press changed education forever around the time of the Reformation. The Chinese house church may be one of the first to embrace and experience this revolution.

To WeChat or Not to WeChat? (May 14, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Then there are the questions that many of us outside of China who want to stay connected with our friends there have: What can we do? What can we not do? What should we do? What should we not do?

The Families Torn Apart by Eastern Lightning (May 15, 2021, The World of Chinese)
According to Wang Yu, a religion researcher at the Communist Party school of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and one of China’s foremost experts on Eastern Lightning, leaving the group is not as easy as joining it. The group’s preachers approach people, pretending to be regular Christian clergy. They then draw them in with small talk about their everyday problems, a theme also present in their preaching.

Rethinking Church in Today’s World (May 17, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
In the past few years, we have seen a lot of changes in the context and circumstances in which the church in China follows Christ. The way that churches and individual believers view the new normal and respond to it varies greatly. We have explored that a bit in recent posts about the use of WeChat. We hope to continue the discussion in the coming months looking at the use of other digital tools and trends in how the church is gathering for worship and teaching and how they are serving their communities.

English Church Services Resume in Shanghai (May 19, 2021, Sinosplice)
Starting in February 2020, all English-language church services were suspended until further notice. (I believe this was a nation-wide policy, but cities like Shanghai and Beijing, with large foreign populations, and most affected.) […] Well, about 15 months later, the time has finally come. Last Saturday, May 15, services in English resumed:

Society / Life

China’s “Involuted” Generation (May 14, 2021, The New Yorker)
Commentators proceeded to roast the insane work ethic on display and tag the students as part of a rising generation of “involuted” young people. The cyclist became a meme—“Tsinghua’s Involuted King”—and a flurry of blog posts on Chinese social media criticized the “involution of élite education,” while an article published by the state-run Xinhua News Agency dissected the “involution of college students.” 

China divorces drop 70% after controversial ‘cooling off’ law (December 18, 2021, The Guardian)
Law requires couples to wait 30 days before formalising divorce – but some say it has made young people more likely to avoid marriage.

A Letter to My Editors and to China’s Censors (May 18, 2021, China File)
he following letter was written after an encounter that Xu Zhangrun had with a number of his former editors in late December 2020. In a record of that occasion, he noted that “my remaining friends are as few as the scattered stars at dusk” and that “here I was, an unemployed nobody who, having come into town to buy groceries, had happened to encounter a gathering of ‘somebodies’ celebrating their latest academic achievements.” It was a painful affair for all involved. 

China registers an average of 10m new marriages every year (May 19, 2021, China Daily)
An average of 10 million new marriages are registered annually in China, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Wednesday. Marriage registries across the country handle an annual average of nearly 4 million divorces, according to statistics released by the ministry.

People flee in panic as skyscraper wobbles in China, despite no earthquake and fine weather (May 19, 2021, CNN)
Thousands of shoppers in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen fled the vicinity of a 957-foot (291-meter) skyscraper Tuesday, after it inexplicably began swaying. Videos circulating on Chinese social media showed crowds running from the wobbling building, with some screaming and looking back over their shoulders. The weather was fine at the time and there were no reports of an earthquake in the region. No deaths or injuries were reported.

To China’s Elderly, Apps Present Hurdles, Not Help (May 19, 2021, Sixth Tone)
More and more older people are turning into “digital refugees.” Even those who try their best to learn, like Zheng, are often overwhelmed by their devices, confused by misinformation, and even targeted by scammers.

Economics / Trade / Business

The History of China’s Largest International Market (May 13, 2021, The World of Chinese)
The three-square-kilometer market sees 200,000 visits per day, with importers hailing from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Some stay only long enough to stuff suitcases full of clothing and trinkets to sell back home, but around 13,000 permanent foreign residents have put down roots in the city as traders, business consultants, international school teachers, and small business owners.

Apple’s Bargain in China (May 18, 2021, The New York Times)
Chinese state employees physically manage the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in the data centers they’re meant to secure. (subscription required)

Bitcoin falls further as China cracks down on crypto currencies (May 19, 2021, BBC)
The price of Bitcoin has fallen below $34,000 (£24,030) for the first time in three months, after China imposed fresh curbs on crypto-currencies. Beijing on Tuesday banned financial institutions and payment companies from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions. It also warned investors against speculative crypto trading.


China overhauls its public health bureaucracy (May 18, 2021, Science Magazine)
On paper, at least, the new structure should help bypass the layers of bureaucracy that stymied the timely flow of information from local authorities in Wuhan and Hebei province to top national officials in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.

Health / Environment

COVID-19 Clusters in Anhui, Liaoning Traced to Photography Workshop (May 17, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The 29 new positive cases across two provinces represent China’s largest coronavirus outbreak in over a month.

Science / Technology

China on Mars: Zhurong rover returns first pictures (May 19, 2021, BBC)
China has released the first pictures taken by its Zhurong rover on Mars. The forward view shows the landscape ahead of the robot as it sits on its landing platform; the rear-looking image reveals Zhurong’s solar panels. The rover touched down on the Red Planet early on Sunday, Beijing time.

History / Culture

China to open CPC museum (May 19, 2021, China Daily)
The Museum of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is set to open soon in Beijing, the National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) said Wednesday. From June, the new museum will host an exhibition on the history of the CPC, according to an NCHA press release.

Travel / Food

Last tunnel completed on new highway in Tibet (May 18, 2021, China Daily)
Construction of the road, the Paimo Highway, started in 2014 by the China Huaneng Group Co. It took the company almost seven years to complete, with an estimated investment of more than 2 billion yuan ($310 million) poured into the project. After the highway opens to traffic in September 2022, the distance from urban areas of Nyingchi to Metog county will be reduced to 180 kilometers from 346 km, with travel time reduced to about four hours from the previous 12.

China’s Most Famous Poetic Water Town (May 19, 2021, The World of Chinese)
With over 2,500 years of history, Shaoxing is one of the oldest cities in China. It has long been a center of culture, and home to countless literati, scholars, and social activists. To use Ming (1368 – 1644) scholar Yuan Hongdao’s (袁宏道) words, “there are more celebrities in Shaoxing than fish in water.”

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Top 10 Overview of China’s Most Popular TV Dramas May 2021 (May 17, 2021, What’s on Weibo)
In a year in which China is focusing on its space program and is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party, it is noteworthy that several TV dramas have come out themed around the military and historical topics that are being pushed in recent propaganda efforts.

Language / Language Learning

Training Our Tongues to Forget (May 19, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Chinese families are losing their linguistic diversity, and with it, the threads linking them to the past.


When Your Friends Speak Another Language: A New Resource from China Academic Consortium (May 19, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
CAC has published the Chinese translation of an introductory but comprehensive theological book, An Exploration of Christian Theology by Dr. Don Thorsen, as a gift to Chinese church leaders, and Chinese seminaries.

Pray for China

May 24 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On May 24, 1933, missionary Percy Mather (马之华) died of typhus at age 40 in Ürümqi, Xinjiang while caring for people wounded during the Kumul Rebellion. The spread of this fighting led to the expulsion of Swedish missionaries from Xinjiang and to the decimation of the small Uyghur church, including the death of the first Uyghur martyr, Habil. In recent years hundreds of Uyghurs have come to Christ in Xinjiang and neighboring areas. Pray for the small Uyghur Church and for Christians working in Xinjiang to have wisdom and courage during this current massive government crackdown. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
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