ZGBriefs | May 24, 2018

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Featured Article

Baozi vs. Jiaozi (May 20, 2018, Transparent Language)
Life is full of difficult choices. Tea or coffee, chicken or fish, but most of all, baozi (包子– bāo zi) or jiaozi (饺子– jiǎo zi). Both are cheap, delicious little bundles of joy, so you really can’t go wrong either way. Let’s take a closer look at these two famous Chinese dishes and try to find a winner in the battle of baozivs. jiaozi.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China: Back to the Future (May 10, 2018, China File)
Chinese are proud of what China has achieved, but obeisance to the Xi cult is more form than faith. So long as Xi continues to achieve great things, the Chinese people will be grateful. If he stumbles, they will turn on him. Meanwhile, for intellectuals, activists, and national minorities, his China dream increasingly resembles a 21st-century, high-tech, less bloody version of Mao’s China.

Details Emerge About Xinjiang Reeducation Camp System (May 17, 2018, China Digital Times)
New reports, based on interviews with former detainees and data collected from official sources, have provided previously unknown details about the extent of mass re-education camps in Xinjiang. While the government has denied the existence of such camps, reports have estimated that between tens of thousands and a million people have been detained in them in recent years.

China Has a Vast Influence Machine, and You Don’t Even Know It (May 21, 2018,The New York Times)
The Confucius Institutes and Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) cells being established on campuses outside China are but a few dots in this picture — when the whole lot are properly connected they outline a vast, smooth-running machine that taps Chinese people throughout the world to spread its influence and harvest intelligence in the service of the Chinese state.

How China acquires ‘the crown jewels’ of U.S. technology (May 22, 2018, Politico)
The U.S. fails to adequately police foreign deals for next-generation software that powers the military and American economic strength.

Beijing’s Threats Against Taiwan Are Deadly Serious (May 22, 2018, Foreign Policy)
China's leaders are giving up on political hopes of reunification — and considering military options.

What the Inside Of One Of China's Re-Education Camps Looks Like (May 22, 2018, NPR)
NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Associated Press reporter Gerry Shih about China's re-education camps in Xinjiang.

Pompeo says China incident is 'entirely consistent' with Cuba 'sonic attacks' (May 23, 2018, CNN)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that an incident involving a US government employee stationed in China who reported "abnormal sensations of sound and pressure" suggesting a mild brain injury has medical indications that are "very similar" and "entirely consistent" to those experienced by American diplomats posted in Havana. US officials have issued a health alert in China following the incident.

Will 2018 Be the Year of a Silent Foreign NGO Exodus? (May 23, 2018, China File)
Some groups managed to hang on through an uncertain first year and gain official status in 2018; some may well continue to do so in the future. But we suspect that some number of foreign NGOs will begin the process this year of quietly packing up and heading out of the P.R.C., stymied by a registration process that depends on the political courage or bureaucratic initiative of Chinese government agencies in an environment that doesn’t necessarily incentivize either.

China Shutters Top Leftist Website (May 23, 2018, China Media Project)
One key characteristic of Xi Jinping’s “New Era” has been the progressive elimination of all forms of ideological variance within the Party. Growing centralization of Party power has come with a pronounced narrowing of the discourse spectrum. Everyone must converge at the center — or remain silent. Now comes the news, not altogether surprising, that Utopia, the leftist website espousing that “our only firm belief is in Mao Zedong Thought,” could be shuttered indefinitely.


Chasing the Fire-Worshippers of Tashkurgan (May 17, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The discovery of the Quxman tombs challenges the notion that Zoroastrianism — known in Chinese as baihuojiao, or “flame-worshipping religion,” due to its followers’ reverence for fire — originated in Persia. Historians are now examining evidence that it originated in Central Asia, perhaps even on the Pamir plateau that stretches along China’s western border.

China Escalates Nationwide Crackdown on Protestant Churches (May 17, 2018, Radio Free Asia)
The ruling Chinese Communist Party's crackdown on Protestant churches continued on Thursday with warnings to churches in several provinces that they should shut down and the demolition of property funded by believers.

Sunday Sermon By Pastor Wang Yi: The Way Of The Cross, The Life Of The Martyrs (May 18, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
This is a translation of Wang Yi's sermon on Sunday morning after his return and reminder of the commitment he is asking his church to make on behalf of their brothers and sisters across the country.

Vatican, Beijing deadlocked on appointment of bishops, senior Taiwanese clergyman says (May 18, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan, who recently returned from an eight-day trip to Rome, said also that the Holy See would maintain ties with Taiwan no matter the outcome of its talks with Beijing. “We don’t know if the Vatican will ever build ties with China but we know there is no agreement being made on bishop appointments,” Hung told the South China Morning Post in a telephone interview.

We’ve Got to Stop Calling Taoism a ‘Superstition’ (May 22, 2018, Sixth Tone)
As China’s sole homegrown religion, Taoism is fertile ground to be claimed by hyper-patriotic revivalists of traditional Chinese culture. It is essential that Taoists remain level-headed and oppose radical and exclusionary political attitudes.

10 Women Who Served China (May 22, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
The staff at China Christian Daily recently profiled ten pioneering Western female missionaries to China. These women and the Chinese with whom they served made significant  contributions to missions work in China.

China’s five-year plan for adapting Christianity to Chinese socialism(May 23, 2018, Jackson Wu)
If this does not motivate Christians to establish and prioritize theological education in China, nothing will.

Society / Life

China's Teenage Mothers (May 21, 2018, The Diplomat)
According to research conducted by All-China Women’s Federation on “China’s Happy Marriage and Family,” the average marriage age for women in China was 26 in 2015. Lin’s life doesn’t fit this mold. She married at 16, ten years earlier than the average.

China may scrap limits on family size by end of year (May 21, 2018, South China Morning Post)
China is considering a plan to scrap all limits on the number of children a family can have, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be a historic end to a policy that spurred countless human-rights abuses and left the world’s second-largest economy short of workers.

Video: A dating school for China’s many men (May 22, 2018, BBC)
Dating in the 21st Century is tough: busy schedules and dating apps can make meeting a partner a huge headache. But it can be even more of a challenge in countries like China – where the number of men vastly outnumbers the number of women.

Most white-collar workers in China anxious and lonely: survey (May 23, 2018, China Daily)
An overwhelming majority of Chinese white-collar workers are experiencing anxiety and loneliness, according to a recent survey in China. Chinese hiring website Zhaopin.com released the survey results on Friday. A total of 28,270 people responded to the survey. It was discovered that 94.9 percent of respondents constantly feel anxious. The two major causes concern their jobs; 29.9 percent said their "salary is too low to meet the demands of a quality life," while 27.9 percent felt their "career plan is not clear."

Chinese province introduces 'divorce test' for couples planning to split (May 23, 2018, The Guardian)
“What is the best memory between you and your partner?”; “How many times have you travelled together?”; “What is your partner’s favourite food?”; “What is your child’s favourite snack?” 

China’s Uyghurs – What You Need to Know (May 23, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
With increased attention being given to the treatment of Muslim minority peoples in far-Western China, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia’s recent article on "The Uyghurs in Modern China""is a timely addition.

Economics / Trade / Business

Video: China needs to show real opening, says James McGregor of APCO (May 16, 2018, AmCham Shanghai)
We talked with James McGregor of APCO for his views on the state of U.S.-China trade relations, including what's happening with ZTE, how to deal with "Made in China 2025", the mood in Washington, and why China needs to make significant changes.

Does China Have a Jobs Problem? – A ChinaFile Conversation (May 18, 2018, China File)
What sorts of labor issues does China face? And how might U.S.-China trade tensions exacerbate them?

China's Got a $46,000 Wealth Gap Problem (May 20, 2018, Bloomberg)
China is no monolith. While residents in Shanghai and Beijing are almost as well off as those in Switzerland by some income measures, parts of the country live more like they were in Guatemala.

China to Simplify Business Registration for Foreign Investors (May 21, 2018, China Briefing)
The measures, which will go into effect on June 30, 2018, include the “One Window, One Form” policy that is poised to streamline business filing and registration and cut bureaucratic red tape. With the change, foreign investors will have a centralized point to liaise with the government for business registration instead of having to deal with multiple departments and offices.

The Problem With Buying Cheap Stuff Online (May 22, 2018, The Atlantic)
Wish and sites like AliExpress, LightInTheBox, and even Amazon have enabled more Chinese sellers to penetrate the U.S. market, where they compete with U.S. manufacturers and U.S. retailers who themselves have been importing goods from China.

Why China’s Payment Apps Give U.S. Bankers Nightmares (May 23, 2018, Bloomberg)
Western bankers and credit-card executives who travel to China keep returning with the same anxiety: Payments can happen cheaply and easily without them.

China, US Suspend Trade War (May 23, 2018, China Briefing)
China and the US struck a trade agreement over the weekend that will see the two countries ease trade tensions and avoid a trade war – for the time being. The US will suspend plans to slap tariffs on up to US$150 billion worth of Chinese goods, while China will halt the imposition of retaliatory tariffs on US products. 

China Inc returns to U.S. soybean market as trade tensions ease (May 23, 2018, Reuters)
China’s state grain stockpiler has returned this week to the U.S. soybean market for the first time since early April, a sign Beijing is preparing to resume purchases as trade tensions between the world’s top two economies ease, two sources said.

Health / Environment

Want to See Your Baby? In China, It Can Cost You (May 22, 2018, The New York Times)
In most developed countries, patients who need urgent care are given it first, regardless of whether they can pay. That isn’t always the case in China. […] Then there are the remnants of the country’s “pay as you go” system. People who can’t cough up the money are often denied care — even in life-or-death situations. Some hospitals require patients with particular diseases to pay a hefty deposit first.

Air quality worsening in China’s Yangtze River Delta in 2018, figures show (May 23, 2018, South China Morning Post)
In the region, which includes Shanghai, concentrations of the lung-damaging particles PM2.5 (particulate matter) rose 1.9 per cent from a year earlier to hit an average of 55 micrograms per cubic metre over the period, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in a statement.

Science / Technology

Do VPNs Still Work in China? Is It Illegal to Use a VPN in China? (May 8, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
The goal of this article is to try to organize and clarify all of the information that has come out in 2017 and 2018 on the subject.

How to Unblock WhatsApp in China (May 10, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
Is it possible to access WhatsApp in China? Despite the fact that since September 2017, China has been blocking video calls, messages, and file transfers on the app, it’s still possible to access WhatsApp in China if you know how. In this article, we will give you a step-by-step explanation of how to use WhatsApp in China.

Video app Douyin brings Chinese out of their shells, beats YouTube, Facebook in download charts (May 20, 2018,South China Morning Post)
Chinese are often known for being shy and reserved, but when using a 19-month-old China-developed app for people to produce and share 15-second videos with background audio and special effects, everybody turns into a genius performer with a good sense of humour.

China launch will prep for Moon landing (May 21, 2018, BBC)
China has launched a relay satellite to prepare for a lunar rover mission planned for later in the year. The Queqiao spacecraft will establish a communications link between Earth and the landing mission, which looks set to launch in the next six months.

Facial Recognition to Soon Be Introduced to Beijing Subway Lines (May 22, 2018, The Beijinger)
Your privacy in exchange for convenience: that's the continuing trade-off the Beijing Metro commuters as the city's public transportation system is set to introduce facial recognition technology to subway station entrances before the end of the year.

History / Culture

How Strong Social Hierarchies Shape Chinese Views of Work (May 22, 2018, Sixth Tone)
As a result, Chinese people tend to support the existence of hierarchies and unequal power relations, while also attempting to maintain harmonious interpersonal relationships, including those between subordinates and superiors.

Archaeologist Who Uncovered China's 8,000-Man Terra Cotta Army Dies At 82 (May 20, 2018, NPR)
A Chinese archaeologist who identified a long-lost clay army consisting of 8,000 soldiers died Wednesday, according to China's state media. Zhao Kangmin first laid eyes on fragments of terra cotta warriors in 1974. 

Travel / Food

How to Explore Beijing’s Historical Hutongs (May 17, 2018, New York Magazine)
To many, the true essence of Beijing is found in the nooks and crannies of the city’s hutongs: traditional lanes packed with single-story houses. Gentrification is common in these rustic havens, but intriguing traces of the capital’s past remain embedded among the coffee shops and boutiques.

Suzhou! (May 21, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Situated in Jiangsu Province, and sometimes known as the “Venice of the East,” Suzhou is an ancient city famous for canals and gardens. Its proximity to Shanghai has allowed it to get in on the economic boom driven by China’s rise as a global manufacturing base.

Why China’s Newest Tea Trend Leaves a Little to be Desired (May 23, 2018, Radii China)
White tea is a tea that is merely dried, it goes under no high heat cooking step. It is first sun dried then baked to finish off, preferably by charcoal. 

Remote Getaways in China to Escape the Hustle and Bustle (May 23, 2018, Wild China Blog)
So, you’re planning a vacation and want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. We have great news – China has the appeal of being so huge that, once you get off the beaten path, you can easily forget the rest of the world exists. Here are three of our top picks for remote getaways in China you should consider venturing off to.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Meet the American making waves by rapping in Shanghainese (May 23, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Titled “Reasons to love Pudong”, the clip shows Marks, 23, in different locations across the Shanghai district, declaring his love for the area, which is home to many of the city’s skyscrapers.

Language / Language Learning

Tibet activist jailed in China over language campaign (May 22, 2018, BBC)
A Tibetan activist has been jailed for five years in China for "inciting separatism," after he spoke to the New York Times about efforts to preserve his native language. Tashi Wangchuk was arrested in 2016, after featuring in a video by the newspaper. In the interview, he spoke of his fear that Tibetan culture was being destroyed in China.

Living Cross-culturally

25 Things They Don’t Put in the Life Abroad Brochure (May 23, 2018, A Life Overseas)
This post is especially for those of you on the cusp of the BIG MOVE. What an exciting time, right? Packing the bags. Selling the stuff. Applying for visas. Family farewells.


How Britain’s First Mission to China Went Wrong (May 18, 2018, Los Angeles Review of Books)
The 1793 mission of Lord Macartney, Britain’s first ambassador to China, is infamous for its failure to curry favour with the Chinese court. In this excerpt, adapted from Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age, Stephen R. Platt fleshes out the story. 


3 Questions: Tsern TEFL Scholarship — A New Scholarship for English Teachers Preparing for Careers in China (May 18, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
The application deadline for the Tsern Teaching English as a Foreign Language Scholarship at Azusa Pacific University (APU) has been extended until May 30, 2018. We recently talked with Dr. Mary Shepard Wong, Director of Field-based TESOL Programs at APU. Here she introduces this new scholarship, which is designed specifically for MA students preparing to teach in China.

Image credit: 饺子(Dumplings), by Ruocaled, via Flickr
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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