ZGBriefs | May 25, 2023

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Featured Article

They Sang ‘a Heavenly Song’ in a Dark Chinese Jail (May 24, 2023, Christianity Today)
As Xiaohui moved from cell to cell, she told her new roommates about Jesus and his sacrificial love. She told so many prisoners about Jesus that a police officer reprimanded her. After he interrogated her about gathering to worship with her house church, he said, You can’t gather here in the detention center either.”

Sponsored Link

Free Webinar: WeChatting to the Glory of God-Serving China Through Digital Engagement (ChinaSource)
Many people think that, due to security concerns, nothing of a spiritual nature can be said or done online in China. As always, when it comes to China, reality is quite a bit more complicated. Despite restrictions and an increasingly tight environment, there are still creative ways that Christians are using the internet for evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, and encouragement. In this webinar, we will present a picture of what God is doing through four different ministries involved in digital engagement.  We have invited four speakers who have extensive knowledge and experience in this burgeoning field, all of whom are involved in developing innovative digital engagement strategies. 
Date: May 31, 2023 
Time: 7–8:30PM (US CDT) 
Online via Zoom

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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

China’s Xi unveils grand development plan with Central Asia states (May 18, 2023, Euractiv)
China stands ready to synergise development strategies with the five Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and make joint efforts to promote the modernisation of all six countries, said Xi in an address at the China-Central Asia Summit in northwest China.

New Reports On China’s International Media Strategy (May 19, 2023, China Digital Times)
Chinese state media’s external-facing content has become increasingly known for its aggressive stance towards Western geopolitical rivals and its ideological consistency under centralized leadership. Recent reports about Chinese state media, as well as reports from Chinese state media, emphasize this trend and demonstrate how it plays into Beijing’s efforts to exert international discourse power. 

G7 takes stand against China’s “economic coercion” (May 21, 2023, BBC)
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said China posed “the greatest challenge of our age” in regards to global security and prosperity, and that it was “increasingly authoritarian at home and abroad”. And in not one but two statements, the leaders of the world’s richest democracies made clear to Beijing their stance on divisive issues such as the Indo-Pacific and Taiwan. But the most important part of their message centred on what they called “economic coercion”.

New Chinese ambassador warns of ‘serious difficulties’ in US-China relations upon arrival in US (May 23, 2023, CNN)
China’s new ambassador arrived in the United States on Tuesday as both the US and Chinese governments have indicated that they want to put relations between their two nations back on track. Xie Feng said he aims to enhance US-China relations at a time of “serious difficulties and challenges.”

Chinese hackers seeking to disrupt communications between US and Asia in event of crisis, Microsoft says (May 24, 2023, CNN)
The Chinese hackers have been active since mid-2021 and targeted critical infrastructure organizations in the US territory of Guam and in other parts of the US as part of a stealthy spying and information gathering campaign, Microsoft said in a new report.


Chinese Christianity and the Missio Dei (May 19, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
The idea of a “Golden Age” tends to make two assumptions. Either foreign workers had open access to China during this period, or their mission activities led to significant growth of the church in China. Sometimes both of these assumptions are simultaneously present.

International Director of the Luis Palau Association Visits China (May 19, 2023, China Christian Daily)
Rev. Wu Wei, president of CCC, received Mr. Levi Park, international director of the Luis Palau Association. The two parties exchanged views and insights on their current major ministries, the talent training in the church, and the development of youth ministry, according to CCC&TSPM. This is the first visit paid by a North American Evangelical church after the outbreak of the pandemic.

This Is Clearly Religious Persecution (May 22, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
Today, China Partnership is releasing the first season of our first podcast, “The House Church in China.” Season One focuses on the experience of Tan Jian’s wife, Yang Xiaohui, before, during, and after her own time in jail. It is a story of how light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Loneliness in the World, Unity in Solitude (May 22, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV) tells us “The Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’” But such instruction is rarely heeded or is hard to follow alone. Setting up the physical, emotional, and spiritual environment for obedience to “stand at crossroads” in unity—deciding which path to take together—allows followers of Jesus to practice both small and big decisions in the Christian life of unity.

Beyond the Golden Era (May 24, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
As the experience of our brothers and sisters in China reminds us, suffering is not the end of the story. In many ways it is the beginning. It is in the unexpected interruption of our own plans that we see God’s plan unfolding. In the pain of loss and separation we experience the sufficiency of Christ.

Pope Francis: Pray that the Gospel can be freely shared in China (May 24, 2023, Catholic News Agency)
At the end of his general audience on May 24, the pope recalled the Church’s celebration of “the World Day of Prayer for China, which coincides with the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, venerated and invoked in the Shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai.” He said he wanted to use that occasion to remember and express his closeness to Catholics in China, “sharing their joys and their hopes.”

Society / Life

Repurposing China’s Abandoned Nucleic Acid Booths: 10 Innovative Transformations (May 19, 2023, Whats on Weibo)
Since the start of 2023, different cities and districts across China have already begun to repurpose testing booths. Here, we will explore ten different way in which China’s abandoned nucleic test booths get a second chance at a meaningful existence.

How a Tibetan Village Became a Giant Factory for Buddhist Art (May 20, 2023, Sixth Tone)
China’s growing obsession with Buddhist paintings has transformed life in the historically Tibetan village of Wutun — and sparked local soul-searching about the trade-offs between economic progress and religious faith.

China issues guidance for basic elderly care system by 2025 (May 21, 2023, Reuters)
Who takes care of the elderly in China, where pensions are tiny, is one of the major headaches policymakers face as they deal with the country’s first demographic downturn since Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. The ruling Communist Party has mobilised resources to ensure that more vulnerable age groups are cared for as society ages.

China’s record unemployment has some young people seeking simpler life (May 22, 2023, Christian Science Monitor)
A difficult job market demands compromise. In China, record-high unemployment has leaders urging youth to “struggle” in the name of national rejuvenation, but young job seekers are hoping for a more balanced lifestyle.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s Crackdown on Foreign Firms Is a Symptom of a Much Deeper Problem (May 22, 2023, The Diplomat)
Investigations in the business sector are just the tip of the iceberg. Politicized prosecutions are a growing blight on Chinese society.

China bans major chip maker Micron from key infrastructure projects (May 22, 2023, BBC)
China says products made by US memory chip giant Micron Technology are a national security risk. The country’s cyberspace regulator announced on Sunday that America’s biggest maker of memory chips poses “serious network security risks”. It means the firm’s products will be banned from key infrastructure projects in the world’s second largest economy.


Why China is turning away from English (April 13, 2023, The Economist) (subscription required)
Two decades on, amid a surge of nationalism, English seems to be falling out of favour. Metro-riders in Beijing, the capital, will notice that the language has been removed from some station placards and maps (often replaced with pinyin, the romanised form of Mandarin). 

Chinese University Streamlines Student Marriages, Sparks Debate (May 22, 2023, Sixth Tone)
A prominent Chinese university’s announcement to help facilitate the process of getting married for its students earlier this week has sparked widespread debate across social media on whether young individuals should be tying the knot while in college. 

Science / Technology

ChatGPT: Can China overtake the US in the AI marathon? (May 23, 2023, BBC)
For now, the US seems to be ahead in the AI race. And there is already the possibility that current restrictions on semiconductor exports to China could hamper Beijing’s technological progress. But China could catch up, according to analysts, as AI solutions take years to be perfected. 

China overtakes US in contributions to nature and science journals (May 24, 2023, The Guardian)
China has overtaken the US to become the biggest contributor to nature-science journals, in a sign of the country’s growing influence in the world of academic research. The Nature Index, which tracks data on author affiliations in 82 high quality journals, found that authors affiliated with Chinese institutions are more prolific than their US counterparts in physical sciences, chemistry, Earth and environmental sciences. 

History / Culture

The Shanghai Museum Keeping Memories Of Jewish Refugees Alive (May 18, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Established in 2007, the city’s Jewish Refugee Museum is dedicated to telling the stories of Holocaust survivors.

Watch owned by China’s last emperor sells for record $6.2 million (May 24, 2023, NBC News)
The rare Patek Philippe timepiece was once owned by Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty whose life was the basis for the 1987 film “The Last Emperor.” It was sold over the phone on Tuesday to an Asian collector in Hong Kong after six minutes of bidding, according to Phillips, the London-based auction house which managed the sale.

Travel / Food

Was China’s Love for Camping Just a Pandemic-Fueled Fad? (May 20, 2023, The World of Chinese)
The media has reported on a “wave of campsite bankruptcy,“ while the hashtag “Why doesn’t anyone like camping anymore?“ has garnered over 3.8 million views on Weibo since April. Camping soared during the pandemic, but now many businesses are suffering, or having to adapt.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Review: ‘Born to Fly,’ China’s heavy-handed ‘Top Gun’ knockoff (May 19, 2023, The China Project)
From its plot structure and setting to specific shots, such as flying upside-down over an opponent’s aircraft in the opening sequence, Born to Fly is clearly a second-rate knockoff of Tony Scott’s 1986 Top Gun


The battle against amnesia (May 4, 2023, The China Project)
For most of her life, Wang Youqin has strived to document victims of the Cultural Revolution, telling their stories without sentimentality or — in many cases, when the victims were also perpetrators of violence — remorse. For the first time, her work is now available in English.

Fortune’s Bazaar: The Making of Hong Kong (May 18, 2023, China Rhyming)
Vaudine England’s Fortune’s Bazaar: The Making of Hong Kong (Little, Brown) is an absolutely excellent history of the city and much recommended. Vaudine accentuates the multicultural ascpect of Hong Kong, right from the start – English, Portuguese, Parsi etc etc and, of course, Chinese from all over too – Fortune’s Bazaar returns Hong Kong to us as what it essentially is and always has been – a port city.

Links for Researchers

The Rise of Xi Jinping’s Young Guards: Generational Change in the CCP Leadership (May 23, 2023, Asia Society)
Many fresh faces have risen to national, provincial, and ministerial offices, several of whom are relatively young by the standards of Chinese elite politics. CCP cadres born during the 1970s are now gaining long-overdue opportunities to rise to the system’s higher echelons, while those born in the mid- to late 1960s have climbed to the top of the hierarchy, occupying positions in the Politburo and State Council and key provincial leadership slots.


Chinese Translations of books by Tim Keller (Amazon)

Pray for China

May 27 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
He Fengshan (何凤山) was a Chinese diplomat who became known as the Oskar Schindler of China. He served as Consul General in Vienna from May 1938 to May 1940. During that time, he courageously issued unauthorized visas that helped many thousands of Austrian Jews escape being sent to certain death in German concentration camps. Pray for minorities in the PRC, especially Tibetans and Uyghurs, to see the time come when they know the Lord of Hosts and are able to live free from fear. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. Micah 4:4

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Image credit: Ye Jinghan, via Unsplash
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