ZGBriefs | May 3, 2018

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Featured Article

Grid Management and Social Control in China (April 29, 2018, China Policy Institute)
This mode of management aims to impose a direct and close monitoring of society to collect information and pre-empt social instability in a timely manner. The adoption of grid management signals the government’s tightened monitoring of society in China.

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Overseas NGO Law

Giving out Glasses in Southwest China (April 30, 2018, The China NGO Project)
Though Education in Sight is not registered as a foreign NGO in China, its work and decision-making process, as described in the interview, are still quite relevant for international groups working there.

Temporary Activities Filterable Table (May 2, 2018, The China NGO Project)
This filterable table lists the temporary activities that foreign NGOs have filed for since January 2017, and includes foreign NGOs’ activity names, Chinese Partner Units, activity dates, and activity locations.

Registered Foreign NGO Representative Offices Interactive Map and Filterable Table (May 2, 2018, The China NGO Project)
The following interactive graphics display information about currently-registered foreign NGOs’ representative offices in China as provided by the Ministry of Public Security website. 

ICNL Releases 2018 China Philanthropy Law Report (May 1, 2018, The China NGO Project)
The report offers an overview of recent developments in civil society and philanthropy in China, including the passage of the Charity Law and the Foreign NGO Law.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China waging 'psychological warfare' against Australia, US Congress told (April 26, 2018, The Guardian)
Academic Clive Hamilton says Australia is subjected to Communist party campaign to undermine democracy.

'Eradicate the tumours': Chinese civilians drive Xinjiang crackdown (April 26, 2018, AFP)
Four months after the Communist Party sent the "work team" to Akeqie Kanle, a fifth of its adult population -- over 100 people -- had disappeared into detention and re-education centres.

China's Xi, India's Modi seek new relationship after summit (April 27, 2018, Reuters)
The leaders of China and India agreed to open a new chapter in their relationship on Saturday after an informal summit, just months after a dispute over a stretch of their high-altitude Himalayan border rekindled fears of war.

China Threatens U.S. Airlines Over Taiwan References (April 27, 2018, Foreign Policy)
Beijing is pressuring companies around the world to follow the party line on Taiwan sovereignty — or else.

Why Is Beijing So Obsessed with Order? It Fears the Alternative (April 28, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The Xi era is about achieving great historic goals. The mission to be a strong, powerful country is within reach. And disobedience, however small, however seemingly insignificant, is treason to this great effort.

A new class struggle: Chinese party members get back to Communist Manifesto basics (April 29, 2018, South China Morning Post)
First it was Communist Party discipline, then it was President Xi Jinping’s speeches and policies. Now party members across China will soon have another subject added to their already taxing political-study sessions – the Communist Manifesto

Podcast: The Rise of Populism and Implications for China (April 30, 2018, China File)
In this podcast, Paul Haenle sat down with Thomas Carothers, Senior Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, to discuss the rise of populist and anti-establishment movements and their implications for China.

Tianjin Police 'Investigate' Colleagues of Detained Human Rights Lawyer (April 30, 2018, Radio Free Asia)
Authorities in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin have launched an "investigation" into associates of detained human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, nearly three years after his incommunicado detention amid a nationwide police operation in 2015. Wang was initially detained amid a wave of police raids launched in July 2015 on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power."

China in the Persian Gulf: A delicate balance in global security (May 1, 2018, China Policy Institute)
The new politico-economic axis between the Gulf region and China has rightfully received increasingly more attention. Even though the US has provided the security umbrella in the region, its handling of ethnic conflicts and civil wars has irritated members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), especially during the presidency of Barack Obama.


Key Issues Impacting Returnees: Pre-return Preparation (April 27, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
To help Christian returnees grow in their faith, integrate into the Chinese Christian community, and serve the Chinese church, Return to China Partnership (RTCP), working together with others, has identified, as the foci of its returnee ministry, three major issues that impact returnees.

Party vs Profit in Tug of War Over Chinese Buddhism (April 27, 2018, China Digital Times)
While the boom has raised concerns over the threat that a massive influx of tourist traffic could have on the ancient sites, it has also raised alarm over the commercialization of the sacred. 

Public Transcripts and Official Agendas (April 30, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
This Five-Year plan, then, should be read as a public transcript produced by the CCC/TSPM to demonstrate that they are on board with the official Party-state agenda of 中国化(Zhonguo hua – Sinicization). It’s a signal that they have heard the message loud and clear. “You want Sinicization? We can do Sinicization!”

Henan’s difficult choices for the Catholic [Church] (April 30, 2018, Settimana News)
With developments like these, it looks like an open and shut case: the Holy See can’t and shouldn’t talk with Beijing. Yet as in a good detective story, there is more than meets the eye. The reality is that both the Chinese government and the Holy See are trying to wade through uncharted territory.

Is a New Door Opening for Churches? (May 1, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
In this article from Christian Times, Yan Yile draws attention to a new government policy that ostensibly opens up the possiblity for greater provision of social services from non-government organizations. Yan argues that the church in China has neglected its duty to “love your neighbor” and needs to become more involved in providing social care. Now is the time to get involved.

Taoist Tradition Stirs Controversy for Chinese Science Institute (May 2, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The foundation-laying ceremony for a nuclear power station in northwestern China’s Gansu province was supposed to be a run-of-the-mill affair for the country’s top scientific institution. Instead, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has become mired in controversy for allowing a Taoist ritual to be performed at the site.

The Chinese Church in America: Living in A Grand Mix of Cultures (May 2, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
In this post, Pastor Gao reflects on the Christian faith among overseas Chinese, the diversity of overseas Chinese, and his hope for increased connection between overseas and mainland Chinese believers. 

Society / Life

Wǒ Men Podcast: Searching for Home (April 28, 2018, Radii China)
Now 86, Grandpa Yu probably never imagined that his granddaughter would return to China on a quest to find the home he left over 66 years ago. In our latest podcast, we sit down with Dominique to talk about this special project, her efforts to find her family’s roots, and the fascinating stories she has uncovered along the way.

China stabbings: Nine students killed in Shaanxi (April 28, 2018, BBC)
Nine students have been stabbed to death and 10 injured in a knife attack outside a school in northern China, officials say. A man suspected of carrying out the attack is alleged to be a former student taking revenge for having been bullied at the school.

He was one of millions of Chinese seniors growing old alone. So he put himself up for adoption. (May 2, 2018, The Washington Post)
On a chilly day last December, the 85-year-old Chinese grandfather gathered some scraps of white paper and wrote out a pitch in blue ink: “Looking for someone to adopt me.”

No Trains or Planes for Badly Behaved Citizens (May 2, 2018, Sixth Tone)
From Tuesday, unruly passengers will be temporarily banned from taking planes and trains in China. People caught disrupting train services, traveling without tickets, or smoking onboard will be barred from buying tickets for up to 180 days, according to a guideline announced in March.

Zhongnanhai ‘in crosshairs’ of tallest building in Beijing (May 2, 2018, Asia Times Online)
Chinese national security officials are worried that a new skyscraper may become a vantage point for spies prying into the affairs of state.

Economics / Trade / Business

China Is Set to Take a Hard Line on Trump’s Trade Demands (April 30, 2018, The New York Times)
Staking an assertive negotiating stance, China says it will refuse to discuss President Trump’s two toughest trade demands when American officials arrive in Beijing this week, potentially derailing the high-level talks. The Chinese government is publicly calling for flexibility on both sides. 

Does the People’s Bank of China have “what it takes” to join the big league of central banks? (May 1, 2018, China Policy Institute)
Yet, unless China liberalises its capital account and makes the currency freely convertible, there is scant prospect of truly making the Chinese renminbi widely used. True international currencies have, as a rule, become freely convertible before they became internationalised. Economic theory regards convertibility as a precondition for internationalisation.

Key sticking points in the U.S.-China trade dispute (May 2, 2018, Reuters)
Even if the two sides strike a truce or agree to a cooling-off, deep differences over Chinese industrial policy are expected by many economists, industry officials and diplomats to persist for the foreseeable future.

Pentagon stops selling Huawei, ZTE phones in its bases, cites security (May 2, 2018, Reuters)
The action followed a series of U.S. moves aimed at stopping or reducing access by Huawei and ZTE to the U.S. economy amid allegations the companies could be using their technology to spy on Americans.


China’s Private Kindergartens Are Selling a Lie (April 29, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Behind the picturesque play areas and photos of smiling children, China’s kindergartens are neglecting their kids in pursuit of money.

Science / Technology

China is building a vast civilian surveillance network — here are 10 ways it could be feeding its creepy 'social credit system' (April 29, 2018, Business Insider)
Not much is known so far about how China will monitor its citizens for the social credit system, but some of the technology currently available in China could well be used in the system. Tech companies in China are required to share data with the government upon request.

Xi Tightens His Grip, and China’s Tech Giants Feel the Squeeze (May 2, 2018, The New York Times)
As Mr. Xi starts his second term, the Chinese government, which once viewed the internet primarily as a threat to its stranglehold on information, is harnessing big tech companies’ capital and knowledge to realize its broader goals for the country.

History / Culture

Video: A lesson from history: Exterminating Sparrows Campaign in 1958, part of China's Four Pests Campaign (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Video: Different scenes and people in TianAnMen Square, Beijing, 1958 ,by CIA, from the US National Archives (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

‘We Don’t Perform for People, We Perform for the Gods’ (April 17, 2018, The New York Times)
A community has formed around Chinese opera in Thailand, preserving one of the oldest dramatic art forms in the world.

China Guards Its Historical Heroes With New Law (April 27, 2018, The Wall Street Journal)
Enforcing control over Chinese history is a priority for President Xi Jinping, who has staked the legitimacy of Communist rule on claims that he and his ruling party are guiding China’s return to greatness.

Travel / Food

The Best Places to Visit in Western China (May 1, 2018, Wild China Blog)
Epic, untamed landscapes roll out across these western destinations, comprising lush green prairies, unforgiving deserts and desolate Himalayan plateaus meeting huge, unforgettably blue skies. This is a place for the curious, the world-wanderers and the wild traveler with a burning sense of wanderlust. 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

How Lanzhou’s Former Metalheads Made the City a Folk Music Mecca (April 26, 2018, Sixth Tone)
A remarkable number of Lanzhou’s middle-aged musical pioneers — once the screamers and growlers of the rock scene — have put away their amps and turned toward an earthier sound.

How China’s Filmmakers Became Nostalgic for a Socialist Past (April 28, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Movie producers and TV program-makers are re-examining the pre-reform era in a sympathetic light.

Peppa Pig, Unlikely Rebel Icon, Faces Purge in China (May 1, 2018, The New York Times)
Douyin, which is owned by the Chinese technology company Bytedance, has not commented on why it decided to ban videos about the children’s cartoon, which is meant for preschoolers but which some teenage fans have adopted as a sign of rebellion.

Living Cross-culturally

I Might Be Amish (April 23, 2018, A Life Overseas)
I live in a Chinese community that is also home to a lot of foreigners (like me).  While we come from all over the world most of the foreigners around here share two characteristics.  We are really “unique” and generally non-threatening.  Walking home today I saw a mother grab her daughter and playfully whisper something into her ear.  The little girl laughed and looked at me.

How to Drive an Expat Crazy: 10 Ways to Irritate Someone Who Has Lived Abroad (May 1, 2018, The Culture Blend)
It’s the high season for global reconnection.The expats are going “home”. Some for a whirlwind visit and others for good. If you’re on the welcoming end of that equation you’re probably giddy with anticipation. “FINALLY, the traveling prodigals are returning. This is going to be good.


Here be dragons (April 27, 2018, Reuters)
It’s a new era in Chinese politics. At least that’s the official line President Xi Jinping delivered to around 2,300 top officials last autumn, and later codified in the Communist Party’s constitution. Two excellent new books from respected scholars try to make sense of what it means.

The China Mission: George Marshall’s Unfinished War, 1945-1947 (April 29, 2018, China File)
The China Mission traces this neglected turning point and forgotten interlude in a heroic career―a story of not just diplomatic wrangling and guerrilla warfare, but also intricate spycraft and charismatic personalities.

Who Is Doing Public Theology in China? - A Book Review (May 2, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Alexander Chow, the author of Chinese Public Theology: Generational Shifts and Confucian Imagination in Chinese Christianity, carefully traces a few generations of Christian writings since the 1950s to discuss “a Chinese Christian public consciousness” (p. 4).

Links for Researchers

Authoritarian Gridlock? Understanding Delay in the Chinese Legislative System (April 26, 2018, Comparative Political Studies)
Division and public opinion play decisive roles in authoritarian legislative processes.

Nadège Rolland on the Potential Backlash against the Belt and Road Initiative (April 29, 2018, Asia Experts Forum)
The local discontent is quite important, but on the other hand, most of the countries in the Belt and Road are weak democracies or authoritarian countries, so the local people don’t really have their say. It’s the government imposing their will on the local population. That will come as a cost to the people themselves.

An American Lens on China’s Interference and Influence-Building Abroad (April 30, 2018, The ASAN Forum)
Coming to grips with the CCP’s efforts to interfere and otherwise shape the world outside of normal channels begins with three simple truths about the party’s activities. 

Image credit: North Bund, Hangkou Lane, by Solomon Matzner, via Flickr
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... View Full Bio