ZGBriefs | May 27, 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

China’s Mars Rover Touches Ground On Red Planet (May 22, 2021, NPR)
China’s first Mars rover has driven down from its landing platform and is now roaming the surface of the red planet, China’s space administration said Saturday. The solar-powered rover touched Martian soil at 10:40 a.m. Saturday Beijing time (0240 GMT), the China National Space Administration said. 

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

Taiwan’s foreign minister says China is ‘preparing for war.’ Here’s Taiwan’s response plan (May 25, 2021, PBS News Hour)
Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province, is the most tense issue between Beijing and the U.S. Taiwan argues it is on the frontline of democracy against Chinese authoritarianism and is increasingly facing military harassment. Nick Schifrin speaks to Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s foreign minister, about the issue, and the role the U.S. can play in mediating conflict in the region.

Chinese Communist party’s 100th anniversary preparations – in pictures (May 26, 2021, The Guardian)
The Chinese Communist party is promoting a campaign to study its history before the 100th anniversary in July. ‘Red’ tourism to historically significant hotspots like Yan’an and Xibaipo has increased accordingly.

Hundreds of illegal Chinese fishing boats are taking our catches: South Korea (May 26, 2021, South China Morning Post)
A surge of Chinese fishing vessels has entered the waters near the sea border between South and North Korea, reigniting a long-standing maritime dispute. South Korean authorities and fishermen say the boats enter under the cover of darkness and ‘sweep up everything’ in their path, while leaving a trail of environmental destruction behind them.


Can the Chinese Church Avoid the Disconnect Between Theological Education and Pastoral Work? (May 20, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
However, I believe that the greatest theological education need in the Chinese church today is to remedy the disconnect between seminary studies and pastoral ministry in the local church. Many seminarians are unable to apply what they learned in seminary to the pastoral ministry of the church. 

Common Sense, Nonsense, and CantoSense: A ChinaSource Conversation (May 24, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Hannah and I’Ching have started a video podcast called CantoSense in which they attempt to answer the question “Can we be fully Chinese and fully Christian?” Their answer to that question is, of course, a resounding Yes! CantoSense,” they say, “is here to help navigate the complexities of Chinese culture through the Christian lens. As followers of Christ, let us not reject, but redeem the Chinese culture for the Kingdom.”

God, Caesar, and the Chinese Legal System (May 26, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Western narratives about China and its church are built on a fundamental, but often unspoken, assumption about the relationship between law and society.

Society / Life

China offers a minority a lifeline out of poverty — but what happens to its culture? (May 20, 2021, Los Angeles Times)
The dean of the School of Yi Studies at Southwest Minzu University
in Chengdu, Aku is among a handful of intellectuals from Liangshan, one of China’s poorest and long-left-behind regions, trying to preserve Nuosu culture amid sweeping economic development and social change.

5 Killed in Dalian ‘Revenge Against Society’ Attack (May 23, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The suspect, a hairdresser surnamed Liu, had decided to take revenge against society after losing money in a failed investment scheme, according to the police. At 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, Liu accelerated through a red light at 108 kilometers per hour and plowed into pedestrians crossing the street at a busy intersection in the city’s downtown area.

Thousands Evacuated to Tents as Aftershocks Shake Qinghai (May 25, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Aftershocks from the magnitude 7.4 earthquake that hit the northwestern Qinghai province on Saturday have continued to shake the ground, as thousands of residents camp outside in cold temperatures fearing another jolt.

China’s orphan population declines by 66 percent (May 25, 2021, China Daily)
The number of orphans dipped 66 percent between 2012 and 2019, from about 570,000 to 190,000, a Ministry of Civil Affairs official said Tuesday. Zhao Yong, deputy head of the ministry’s child welfare department, said 59,000 of them are reared in the country’s sprawling orphanage network, down 30 percent from 86,000 in 2017, and more than 70 percent of county-level orphanages have less than 10 children.

China’s Shenzhen to tighten residency rules to curb population boom (May 26, 2021, Reuters)
China’s tech hub of Shenzhen aims to make it harder for people from out-of-town to settle in a rare tightening of residency rules, as its population balloons and resources and services come under pressure.

Survivors and bereaved seek answers after 21 deaths in China ultramarathon (May 26, 2021, The Guardian)
Loved ones and fellow competitors of 21 runners who died in extreme weather during an ultramarathon in north-west China are seeking answers and accountability, as further accounts emerge of survivors’ harrowing experiences.

Economics / Trade / Business

Unmanned delivery vehicles to hit Beijing roads (May 26, 2021, China Daily)
Three companies on Tuesday were given permits to run their unmanned delivery vehicles on designated open roads in Beijing, the first time the Chinese capital will allow such vehicles. The e-commerce giant JD.com, the online service company Meituan, and the autonomous driving vehicle producer Neolix received ID numbers for these vehicles at the eighth international congress of intelligent connected vehicles technology in Beijing.


The Problem With China’s English-Only Schools (May 21, 2021, Sixth Tone)
English as a medium of instruction is increasingly popular with parents looking to prepare their kids for an overseas education, but what do the students think?

Chinese parents are keen on a more Confucian education (May 22, 2021, The Economist)
The kindergarten opened in September but already has a year-long waiting list. It taps into a growing nationwide demand for guoxue, or “national studies”. This usually involves learning classical Chinese thought, texts and morals, especially those associated with Confucius. (subscription required)

Health / Environment

Coronavirus: China passes 500 million doses in rush to meet vaccination target (May 24, 2021, South China Morning Post)
China passed the 500 million-dose vaccination milestone mark on Sunday as the country pushes on to inoculate 40 per cent of the population  against the coronavirus  by June 30. The National Health Commission said more than 13.5 million doses were administered nationwide on Sunday, bringing the total number of inoculations since mass immunisation began in December to 510.8 million. It took 25 days to reach 200 million shots, another 16 to reach 300 million and only nine to achieve 400 million on May 15. (subscription required)

A mega dam on the Great Bend of China (May 24, 2021, ABC News (Australia))
As China seeks to meet its targets of becoming carbon neutral by 2060, it is turning its sights to some of the wildest reaches of the Tibetan Plateau, where it plans to build a hydropower plant so ambitious that it could produce three times as much power as Three Gorges.

Science / Technology

China skyscraper wobble due to ‘winds, rail lines and warmer weather’ – reports (May 20, 2021, The Guardian)
The wobbling of a skyscraper in the Chinese city of Shenzhen was likely caused by a combination of winds, underground rail lines, and fluctuating temperatures, according to preliminary findings reported by local media. The near-300m-high (980ft) SEG Plaza first began shaking on Tuesday afternoon, prompting an evacuation of people inside while pedestrians looked on in horror.

China establishes company to build satellite broadband mega-constellation (May 26, 2021, Space News)
The Chinese government has created a company dedicated to creating and operating a 13,000-satellite broadband constellation. The State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), a government body overseeing state-owned enterprises, issued a press release April 29 announcing the creation of the China Satellite Network Group Co. Ltd.

History / Culture

The Challenges of Adoption in Imperial China (May 22, 2021, The World of Chinese)
This exchange, translated by Madeleine Zelin in her 2004 book Contract and Property in Early Modern China, represented one of the commonest forms of ancient adoption: The transfer of a male heir from one brother to another. But adoption in late imperial China was rarely simple, and always involved careful negotiation of ritual, filial piety, law, and lineage.

The secret deportations: how Britain betrayed the Chinese men who served the country in the war (March 25, 2021, The Guardian)
During the second world war, Chinese merchant seamen helped keep Britain fed, fuelled and safe – and many gave their lives doing so. But from late 1945, hundreds of them who had settled in Liverpool suddenly disappeared. Now their children are piecing together the truth.

Travel / Food

The Village Where Chairman Mao’s Legacy Lives On (May 20, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Dazhai is one of a handful of “collective villages” that are attempting to straddle two periods of Chinese history. Though they have adapted to today’s market-driven economy, they’ve also tried to preserve the collectivist ethos espoused by Chairman Mao.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Fast & Furious star John Cena apologises for calling Taiwan a country (May 26, 2021, Reuters)
U.S. wrestling superstar and actor John Cena apologised to Chinese fans on Tuesday after calling Taiwan a country during an interview to promote his latest movie “Fast & Furious 9”. Speaking to Taiwanese television TVBS earlier this month, 44-year-old Cena said Taiwan would be the first “country” to see the latest Fast and Furious.

Language / Language Learning

On the Character: 助 (May 20, 2021, The World of Chinese)
Among all the Chinese characters, 助 (zhù, help, support) can always be counted on to lend a helping hand. Its form is self-explanatory: On the right side is the radical 力 (lì), meaning strength, and on the left is 且 (qiě), which was historically a synonym of 祖 (zǔ), meaning family. Together, they suggest members of a family using their combined powers to support one another.

Living Cross-culturally

7 Ways We Secretly Rank Each Other (May 24, 2021, A Life Overseas)
Last week a friend wondered in passing, at the end of email, why some reasons to leave the field are more respected than others. She knew a couple who was leaving because their young adult children were not doing well in the US. Instead of being supported in their decision, they were asked why they didn’t “trust their children to the Lord.” Yesterday I had tea with a woman who will move to the field in August. She is in the midst of sorting and pre-packing. We were discussing the number of bags she planned on taking. You could almost see the veil of shame come over her as she recounted other people’s comments.


We Have Been Harmonized: A Book Review (May 21, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
In addition to understanding the author’s analysis and examples, it is important to balance his concerns against the views of average Chinese citizens. Despite aspects that concern and even alarm Western observers, most Chinese citizens are generally positive and supportive of overall changes in recent years.


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 28
On May 28, 1938, John Kuhn (杨志英) and his wife Isobel Miller Kuhn (宓贵灵) opened their first Rainy Season Bible School for Lisu Christians in Oak Flat Village (麻栗坪村), Yunnan. Over 50% of the 200,000 Lisu in China are now Christians, but legalism has infected many. Pray for Lisu Christians to be free from legalism and live as grace-filled lovers of Christ. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…1 Peter 4:10

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