ZGBriefs | May 28, 2020

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Featured Article

“The end of Hong Kong”  (May 22, 2020, World Magazine)
Many decry the action as the end of the “one country, two systems” framework that promised Hong Kong autonomy to develop separately from the mainland. The national security law would ban “treason, secession, sedition, and subversion,” and criminalize foreign influence.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Chinese government drops references to ‘peaceful’ reunification with Taiwan  (May 22, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Beijing has hardened its rhetoric towards Taiwan, removing references to “peaceful reunification”, in the government’s annual work report. Observers said the change reflected the stronger stance Beijing would adopt in tackling the Taiwan issue, which it regards as one of its key national interests.

How The Coronavirus Has Strained U.K.-China Ties  (May 22, 2020, NPR)
Political analysts say the growing assertiveness of the Chinese government and its recent coronavirus disinformation campaign have soured relations and encouraged lawmakers and members of the British government to reconsider its China policy.

Beijing to impose Hong Kong security laws ‘without delay’  (May 24, 2020, The Guardian)
Speaking in Beijing, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said enacting the proposed anti-sedition law to stop anti-government protests that have persisted for the past year had become a “pressing obligation”. “We must get it done without the slightest delay,” he said.

Hong Kong security law: Carrie Lam dismisses concerns over rights  (May 26, 2020, BBC)
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has said other countries “have no place” interfering in the territory, as she robustly defended a controversial national security law planned by China. 

Stuck in the Middle  (May 26, 2020, Echo Wall)
Like other powers, the UK will have to define a balance between economic and political considerations in its relationship with China. That balance, at present, seems some way off.

China’s defense budget shows Xi’s priorities as economy tightens  (May 27, 2020, CNN)
When China announced a 6.6% increase in its military budget last week while cutting substantially in other areas, analysts said it made one thing clear: Beijing senses an increasing security threat and is giving the People’s Liberation Army the military muscle to deal with it.

Taiwan will help fleeing Hongkongers move to island, Tsai Ing-wen says  (May 27, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has assured Hongkongers that her government would come up with special measures to help them relocate to the island, in an apparent effort to counter claims that she is giving up on Hong Kong. Tsai said her cabinet would form an ad hoc committee to work out a humanitarian action plan for Hong Kong people.

China and India move troops as border tensions escalate  (May 27, 2020, The Guardian)
Thousands of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops are reported to have moved into sensitive areas along the eastern Ladakh border, setting up tents and stationing vehicles and heavy machinery in what India considers to be its territory. In response, the Indian army has moved several battalions from an infantry division usually based in the Ladakh city of Leh to “operational alert areas” along the border, and reinforcement troops have been brought in.

The End of Europe’s Chinese Dream  (May 27, 2020, European Council on Foreign Relations)
After years of pursuing closer bilateral economic ties with China, Europeans have suddenly realised that they have become dangerously dependent on Chinese trade and investment.

Hong Kong ‘no longer autonomous from China’ – Pompeo  (May 27, 2020, BBC)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told Congress that Hong Kong no longer merits special treatment under US law. The declaration could have major implications for Hong Kong’s trade hub status and is likely to anger Beijing. “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Move on Hong Kong Leaves Trump With Tough-or-Gentle Options  (May 27, Bloomberg)
The U.S. finding that China has effectively stripped Hong Kong of its political autonomy leaves President Donald Trump with a difficult choice about how harshly to penalize Beijing. He could take a lighter touch with modest sanctions aimed at putting China on notice. Or he could unleash a far harsher approach that would curtail the former U.K. colony’s special trading status with the U.S., potentially imperiling its position as a global financial hub.

Meng Wanzhou: Huawei executive suffers US extradition blow  (May 27, 2020, BBC)
A Canadian court has ruled that the case of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is fighting extradition to the United States, can go forward. A judge found that the case meets the threshold of double criminality – meaning the charges would be crimes in both the US and Canada. The US wants Ms Meng to stand trial on charges linked to the alleged violation of US sanctions against Iran.


History as a Theological Laboratory  (May 22, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Crossing cultures is an exercise in breaking out of the bubble, and learning to reject nationalism. It is not a blind acceptance of all models of human flourishing, for it is modelled on the Incarnate One who was a king and a servant, a prophet and a priest—who both judged and fulfilled. It requires us to embrace the incarnation, and to seek the Spirit’s guidance for how best to faithfully translate and then express Christianity within each culture.

An Offer the Church Can’t Refuse  (May 26, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
Observers noted that the authorities amassed a large number of resources to quash a relatively small number of worshippers. Reporting and social media posts about the event were quickly censored from Chinese online media. However, this piece from “Ruoshui Manhai,” evaded censorship by writing up a biting satirical report of the event.

Tibetan Students, State Workers Barred From Religious Events in Lhasa  (May 26, 2020, Radio Free Asia)
Chinese authorities are closely watching government employees and students in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa during the Buddhist holy month of Saga Dawa, forbidding them from participating in traditional religious gatherings, according to sources in Tibet.

Going Glocal in the Age of COVID-19  (May 27, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
These narratives, by creating distance, have served to objectify the church in China, diminishing the possibility of a true shared experience with China’s Christians. Defining China and its church in terms of what they are not, or according to what they lack, places Christians inside and outside China on unequal footing. The unspoken assumption is that when China’s Christians finally have what we have, then we can relate to one another as peers. 

Society / Life

‘You don’t know that feeling of terror’: Wuhan’s survivors find no closure from the coronavirus  (May 24, 2020, Los Angeles Times)
Yet anxiety lingers. Some fear a second wave of the coronavirus — new infections were recently reported, sparking citywide testing. Others worry about the economic toll: lost jobs, looming debts and the cost of continuing shutdowns as much of the world recoils from a scourge that has infected more than 5 million people and killed more than 340,000.

Coronavirus: Inside the pro-China network targeting the US, Hong Kong and an exiled tycoon  (May 27, 2020, BBC)
Hundreds of fake or hijacked social media accounts have been pushing pro-Chinese government messages about the coronavirus pandemic on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, a BBC investigation has found. The network of more than 1,200 accounts has been amplifying negative messages about those critical of China’s handling of the outbreak while praising Beijing’s response.

Economics / Trade / Business

China scraps annual economic growth target for first time  (May 22, 2020, BBC)
China will not set an economic growth goal for this year as it deals with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. It is the first time Beijing has not had a gross domestic product (GDP) target since 1990 when records began. The announcement was made by Premier Li Keqiang at the start of the country’s annual parliament meeting.

Dozens of Chinese companies added to U.S. blacklist in latest Beijing rebuke  (May 22, 2020, Reuters)
The United States said on Friday it would add 33 Chinese firms and institutions to an economic blacklist for helping Beijing spy on its minority Uighur population or because of ties to weapons of mass destruction and China’s military.

Coronavirus has hit China’s migrant workers harder than Sars and the financial crisis, but worst yet to come  (May 25, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Like most of China’s 290 million rural migrant workers , her jobless status has not been recorded in China’s official unemployment statistics and she has been excluded from state support. The official surveyed unemployment rate covers only the urban workforce, meaning it does not tell the full story of China’s job market.

China Manufacturing Risks are Sky-High Right Now. Act Accordingly.  (May 25 2020, China Law Blog)
Whenever China manufacturing sees  a big decline in their demand — as is happening right now — YOUR risks of getting nothing or getting junk instead of what you ordered goes way up. China’s manufacturing industry is hurting worse than I’ve ever seen it in my twenty or so years of dealing with China.

China’s Young Struggle for Jobs in the Post-Outbreak Era  (May 26, 2020, The New York Times)
Finding work for a generation has become a major priority for the country’s leaders, who have promised a better life in exchange for a lack of political freedom.

Getting a Satellite’s-Eye View of China’s Economic Recovery  (May 26, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Now, alternative data sources, from sensors to geolocation tools, are giving observers new, real-time windows into the country’s economic health. Through the use of artificial intelligence and big data, investors can perceive, quantify, and predict economic changes as they happen, all of which could help improve decision-making relating to major societal and economic issues.

China facing soybean dilemma as it tries to balance phase one trade deal with self-reliance  (May 27, 2020, South China Morning Post)
China’s demand for soybeans is expected to rebound in 2020 but the question remains where the supply will come from as it attempts to move away from over reliance on imports but also meet its commitments under the phase one trade deal with the United States.

China to roll out eleven measures to deepen financial reforms  (May 27, 2020, Reuters)
The measures would include accelerating capital replenishment of small and medium-sized banks, further opening up the credit rating sector, promoting the steady development of the “panda bond” market, and stepping up crackdown on financial irregularities.


How a 20-year-old student put the spotlight on Australian universities’ cosy relationship with China (May 23, 2020, The Guardian)
Drew Pavlou, dubbed ‘the most famous undergraduate in the world’, can’t understand why the University of Queensland is scared of him.

Chinese Students “Stranded” Overseas Vent Anger as Flight Restrictions Continue  (May 24, 2020, Radii China)
On Tuesday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced they will continue their “Five Ones” (五个一) policy until October, leaving thousands of Chinese students stranded in foreign countries. Those students didn’t hold back in venting their anger over the situation, ultimately resulting in the CAAC having to disable comments on some of their social media accounts.

Health / Environment

China Publishes Plan for Dealing With Future Pandemics  (May 22, 2020, Sixth Tone)
China will ensure there is at least one biosafety level three — or P3 — research laboratory in every province and one P2 laboratory in every city, according to the document jointly released by the National Development and Reform Commission and two other ministries.

China Faces Headwinds in Meeting Air Pollution Targets  (May 25, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Despite some progress, the country faces challenges in achieving environmental targets as it looks to jump-start its economy, disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This makes Chinese medicine look bad’: TCM supporters condemn illegal wildlife trade  (May 26, 2020, The Guardian)
Supporters and practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have warned that the discipline is threatened by those who continue to trade in endangered animals. The small segment of the TCM community that insists on using endangered animal parts in the pharmaceutical side of TCM, ignoring welfare considerations and the idea of respecting biodiversity, could destroy its reputation for good, they argue.

China’s ‘bat woman’ at centre of coronavirus theories says her work helped identify new strain fast  (May 27, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The Chinese virologist at the centre of conspiracy theories over the coronavirus  origin has publicly defended her work, saying it contributed to fast identification of the new pathogen and would help protect against future outbreaks.

Science / Technology

Fine For VPN Use Sparks Rare Backlash on Chinese Internet  (May 21, 2020, Radio Free Asia)
The fining of a Chinese internet user by authorities in the northern province of Shaanxi for using software to circumvent the Great Firewall has sparked a rare public backlash online. The Hanbin district police department in Shaanxi’s Ankang city said on May 19 that it had fined a local man 500 yuan for scaling the Great Firewall, a complex systems of blocks, filters and human censorship that limits what Chinese users can see online.

Chinese City Faces Backlash Over Proposal to Make Health Tracking App Permanent  (May 26, 2020, Radii China)
According to the proposal, the city government would be able to assign a precise health score and a corresponding color to each citizen, based on their personal medical records, results of physical exams, and lifestyle habits. That last category could potentially include things such as how much sleep a holder gets, how many steps they walk in a day and how many cigarettes they smoke.

YouTube automatically deleted comments that criticized China’s Communist Party  (may 27, 2020, CNBC)
YouTube has admitted that it automatically deleted comments that criticized China’s ruling Communist Party (CCP). The video platform — owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet — said the automatic removal of certain comments was down to “an error” with its automated enforcement systems. 

Mount Everest: Chinese team summit during pandemic  (May 27, 2020, BBC)
Chinese media report the team is there to re-measure the height of Everest, which is on the border with Nepal. Until now China has put the height at 4m lower than Nepal does. The huge 2015 earthquake may also have had an impact.

History / Culture

The History Of Hong Kong Rejoining China  (May 22, 2020, NPR)
But what happened really is, you go back to – I think 2012 is a real turning point when Xi Jinping got – came into charge in China. He took over a weak Communist Party. There were a lot of problems in China, and he moved to take control and bring Hong Kong to heel.

Travel / Food

Chopstick Revolution  (May 22, 2020, The World of Chinese)
These metropolises, like many other cities across China, have launched a “tongue-tip hygiene” campaign to encourage a “dinner table revolution” in response to Covid-19. The campaign aims to change aspects of China’s dining culture and etiquette, some of it centuries old, that might contribute to the spread of infectious diseases.

China Is Blocking U.S. Airlines From Resuming Service, Transportation Department Charges  (May 23, 2020, Skift)
The U.S. government late on Friday accused the Chinese government of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China and ordered four Chinese air carriers to file flight schedules with the U.S. government. […]  The U.S. Transportation Department, which is trying to persuade China to allow the resumption of U.S. passenger airline service there, earlier this week briefly delayed a few Chinese charter flights for not complying with notice requirements.

How Chinese Tour Operators Wound Up Lost in Russia  (May 27, 2020, Sixth Tone)
COVID-19 wiped out Chinese tourism to its northern neighbor. Reviving it will take more than an end to travel restrictions.

China to increase international flights if virus under control: regulator  (May 27, 2020, Reuters)
The maximum number of international flights now allowed is 134 a week under restrictions imposed on March 29 to stop cases of the novel coronavirus being imported. But the number would be increased to 407 a week from June 1, said Li of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Dancing with disinfectant: China’s nightclubs back in the groove  (May 25, 2020, Reuters)
Nightclubs in China have mostly come back to life as owners and customers feel increasingly comfortable the novel coronavirus epidemic is under control, but disinfectant, disposable cups and masks have become part of the experience.

Language / Language Learning

China’s HSK Language Test to be Overhauled for the First Time in 11 Years  (May 25, 2020, The Beijinger)
The announcement, released via the official HSK official twitter account on May 21, states: “HSK is about to be reformed. In 2020, the Chinese Proficiency Standards will usher in a new change: a hybrid paradigm of ‘Three Stages and Nine Levels’ characterized by integration and all-in-one.”

Living Cross-culturally

So, Are You Ready? Again?  (May 25, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
As I listened to those who had to leave China and resettle somewhere else, either in a new home in Asia or back in their home country—their passport country—one thing kept shining through and that is that God is faithful and compassionate. Sometimes it was said out loud, other times I heard it in between what was being shared. A fragrance of regained hope lingered in the air.

Getting Your Beijing Residence Permit Health Check Has Never Been so Easy  (May 27, 2020, The Beijinger)
First and foremost, the location of the International Travel Healthcare Center moved back in April 2019, so it may not be the same place you remember. No longer is it way out in the suburbs, but right in the heart of the city, just north of Ditan Park. Second, you can now book your appointment through a WeChat mini-app, eliminating the need to make the trip to the health center just to register two weeks ahead of time.

Links for Researchers

Reading the NPC Work Report  (May 22, 2020, China Media Project)
The work report itself deals only very briefly with the question of Hong Kong in the final section (in the fourth to last paragraph, in fact), following general language about the CCP’s leadership of the armed forces and the determined protection of “national sovereignty, security and development interests.”

Pray for China

June 1, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On June 1, 1924,  (姬望姊妹- Chi-Oang, was baptized in Hualien, Taiwan at age 52. God used this aborigine woman, notwithstanding several failed marriages, to spark a church growth movement during the Japanese Occupation. Today over 70% of Taiwan’s aborigines are Christians. Pray for the Infinite-Personal Creator God to be glorified by another church growth movement on Taiwan, especially among little-reached blue-collar workers.  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource 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 of Northwestern-St. Paul …View Full Bio

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