ZGBriefs | May 23, 2024

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Featured Article

Laugh in Translation: Shanghainese Comedy Stands Up to the Mainstream (May 17, 2024, Sixth Tone)
Amid a surge of interest in local culture, young Chinese are reconnecting with their heritage through stand-up comedy in various dialects. Comedians are now drawing packed houses and even taking their acts overseas.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

“Stop Threatening Taiwan,” Its New President William Lai Tells China (May 20, 2024, BBC News)
Beijing dislikes Mr. Lai and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which they see as pro-independence. And it has ramped up military incursions around Taiwan’s waters and airspace since his election win in January.

How China’s New Left Embraced the State (May 16, 2024, China Books Review)
China’s leftist intellectuals, once regime critics in the 1990s, have shifted from their socialist origins to support statism and the China model. Where does that leave their thinking now?

Why Is This Small-Town Mayor Accused of Being a Chinese Spy? (May 17, 2024, BBC News)
A sleepy town in the Philippines has been thrust into the national spotlight after its mayor was accused of being a Chinese agent.

Chinese Agents Highly Active in Democratic Taiwan, Dissidents Say (May 19, 2024, Radio Free Asia)
On Jan. 13, 2023, Guangdong dissident Xiao Yuhui crossed the 10-kilometer (6-mile) stretch of water from China to Kinmen, a small island that is still controlled by Taiwan, paddling across on a surfboard. But Xiao’s bid to escape the influence of the Chinese government didn’t end there.

Putin Concludes a Trip to China by Emphasizing Its Strategic and Personal Ties to Russia (May 17, 2024, AP News)
Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded a two-day visit to China on Friday, emphasizing the countries’ burgeoning strategic ties as well as his own personal relationship with Chinese leader Xi Jinping as they sought to present an alternative to US global influence.


God’s Way Is Higher than Our Way (May 21, 2024, Chinese Church Voices)
Ours is just one story among millions in China facing similar challenges. Due to the rigorous demands of the college entrance exams and pervasive competitive pressures in education, many Christian families here opt to send their children to unregistered Christian schools, subsequently pursuing higher education abroad, in places like the United States, the Philippines, or Thailand.

How I Learned to Love the CUV (May 17, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
I have learned through shared faith and life experiences with my Chinese sisters and brothers to view the Chinese Union Version of the Bible as a faithful, elegant, and eminently readable translation (信、雅、达)—one that consistently draws me closer to my Lord.

Dragons and Devotion: Bridging Cultural Heritage with Christian Faith (May 20, 2024, ChinaSource Blog)
Can I display an artistic representation of a dragon dance in a home that puts Jesus at the center of its allegiance? Is there some evil spiritual influence that the mere embroidery of the dragon has over my soul and home? Does my refusal to take the artwork down show a perverseness of temper in my heart? Am I displeasing God?

Christian Education: Jesus and Chinese Culture (May 16, 2024, China Partnership Blog)
The biggest thing China lacks now is the grace of Jesus Christ. They need Jesus’s grace because people take hold of some elements of traditional Chinese culture—for example, the desire to pursue beauty and goodness—but they only follow after a shadow.

Society / Life

Worry as Wuhan Blogger’s Release Remains Unclear (May 16, 2024, BBC News)
Concerns are growing for the safety of a Chinese blogger, who has not surfaced days after she was meant to be freed from jail.

16 Years On, Sichuan’s Bereaved Quake Parents Still Angry (May 14, 2024, Radio Free Asia)
Sixteen years after a devastating earthquake killed thousands of schoolchildren in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, bereaved parents say they still have nowhere to publicly commemorate their lost children, and that the government has yet to deliver on promises made in the aftermath of the disaster.

Audio Report—A Visit to a Marriage Market in China (May 15, 2024, NPR News)
China, the country that once feared overpopulation, is now experiencing a falling birthrate. The government is encouraging its citizens to have children. We visit a “marriage market” where hopeful young people are looking for a match.

Chinese Social Media Companies Remove Posts “Showing Off Wealth and Worshipping Money” (May 17, 2024, The Guardian)
Chinese social media companies have launched a new crackdown on user content, targeting posts that show off personal wealth and financial extravagance.

Economics / Trade / Business

Is China’s Bubble Tea Bubble about to Burst? (May 16, 2024, BBC News)
Bubble tea has certainly hit a sweet spot with its many fans, but it has left some investors with a bitter taste. Stock market debuts of two China-based chains have already flopped. And there are at least two more share sales in the pipeline.

How Resilient is China’s “World’s Factory” to Supply Chain Shifts? (May 17, 2024, East Asia Forum)
While China delivers affordable products globally, overcapacity has increased geopolitical risks and trade tensions, highlighted by Xi Jinping’s recent European trip, aimed at mitigating these tensions.

Biden’s China Tariffs Are the End of an Era for Cheap Chinese Goods (May 17, 2024, The New York Times)
The president’s move to protect strategic manufacturing sectors from low-cost competition aims to increase jobs, but consumers might not like the costs.

Putin Says Oil Pipeline Could Run Alongside Planned New Gas Link to China (May 17, 2024, Reuters)
Russia could deliver oil as well as gas to China along a planned route via Mongolia, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.


China Launches Campaign to Bring Order to Unruly Classrooms (May 16, 2024, Sixth Tone)
China’s top education authority has vowed to take stronger action to protect the well-being of minors on school campuses, following a raft of high-profile incidents that have raised public concern.

Health / Environment

The Villagers Turned “River Chiefs” Helping to Protect China’s Waterways (May 17, 2024, Sixth Tone)
As a volunteer and resident of Mianbei Village in eastern Shanghai, 68-year-old retired worker Zhu Minghua dedicates two days each week to patrolling the area’s river channels.

Science / Technology

How China Is Using AI News Anchors to Deliver Its Propaganda (May 18, 2024, The Guardian)
News avatars are proliferating on social media and experts say they will spread as the technology becomes more accessible.

What China’s Renewable Energy Boom Means for the World (May 17, 2024, Christian Science Monitor)
Experts say China’s rapid adoption of renewable energy is helping move the country toward its climate goals faster than expected. Last year, China made historic increases in installations of solar, wind, and other renewable energy, including adding 216 gigawatts of solar capacity—more than what exists in the United States.

Chinese State-Backed Company to Launch Space Tourism Flights by 2028 (May 16, 2024, Reuters)
Chinese commercial space company CAS Space announced its “space tourism vehicle” will first fly in 2027 and travel to the edge of space in 2028, state media reported.

Travel / Food

Understanding MSG: Myths and Facts on This Controversial Food Additive (May 15, 2024, The Beijinger Blog)
It’s pervasive. You can find it in Kung Pao chicken, ramen, instant noodles, fried chicken and in most Asian dishes across Beijing and China, be they dine-in and delivery. With an abundance of dietary choices, should we be worried about food flavoring?

How the Chilli Pepper Has Set Fire to the Internet in China (May 8, 2024, The Economist)
Tianshui, a city tucked away in China’s north-western hills, does not normally make headline news. But a fiery soup that owes its unique flavour to locally grown Gangu chillies has lit up the internet.


Book Reviews—Wuhan: How the Covid-19 Outbreak in China Spiraled Out of Control; Wuhan: A Documentary Novel (May 19, 2024, The Guardian)
Dali L. Yang’s critique of China’s response in the early days of the covid pandemic is thoroughgoing if academic, while poet Liao Yiwu’s account mixes fact and fiction to extraordinary effect.

Links For Researchers

Is It Possible to Win the US-China Trade War? (May 17, 2024, National Committee on US-China Relations)
A full-out trade war erupted between the United States and China during the Trump administration, increasing tariffs on Chinese imports in dozens of sectors and leading to rising business competition and costs to consumers. How has this ongoing trade war impacted everyday US and Chinese citizens? And how will the Biden administration handle the current tariffs placed on Chinese goods?

Language Learning

Chengyu For Xi Jinping’s New Era (Part 1) (May 14, 2024, China Digital Times)
Xi Jinping’s New Era has inspired the creation of a host of “new chengyu”: inspired idiomatic, often four-character, literary expressions that are the kernel of a larger tale. The following New Era chengyu are all references to infamous incidents that have taken place within the last calendar year.

Pray for China

May 21 (Pray For China: A Walk Through History)
On May 21, 1891, James Gilmour (景雅各), a pioneer missionary to the Mongols, died in Tianjin at age 47. Gilmour made his first trip to Mongolia in 1870, saw the first conversion in 1884, and buried his wife in Beijing in 1885. Today, the rapid growth experienced by the Mongolian church after independence in 1990 has ended, and current estimates are 15,000-25,000 Christians among nearly 10 million Mongolians worldwide. Pray for the tiny Mongolian church to have an effective witness to those struggling with alcoholism and unemployment.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 12:3

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Image credit: Ave Calvar via UnSplash.

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