ZGBriefs | May 30, 2019

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Featured Article

Vatican’s Chinese Christian artworks go on display at Beijing’s Palace Museum (May 28, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Chinese artworks owned by the Vatican Museums have gone on display at the Palace Museum inside Beijing’s Forbidden City. Titled “Beauty Unites Us: Chinese Art from the Vatican Museums”, the exhibition opened on Tuesday and will run until July 14 in the first such cultural collaboration between China and the Holy See.

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Special Section: U.S.-China Trade War

'We'll fight to the end': China's media ramps up rhetoric in US trade war (May 23, 2019, The Gaurdian)
Over the last week, China’s state media outlets have called the US government delusional, compared it to apes shouting on a river bank, and offered to teach the Americans a Chinese idiom: diandao heibai, “to invert black and white”, or deliberately distort the truth. As trade tensions mount between the US and China, Beijing faces the difficult task of appealing to national pride to shore up confidence in the leadership while also keeping public anger in check. 

China says U.S. demand on its state-owned enterprises is 'invasion' on economic sovereignty  (May 25, 2019, Reuters)
The United States has called on China to curb the development of its state-owned enterprises (SOEs), a demand that China sees as an “invasion” on its economic sovereignty, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday.

China is indicating it’ll never give in to US demands to change its state-run economy (May 27, 2019, CNBC)
Previously, the vague “core interest” term was generally understood as referring to Beijing’s territorial claims, such as those on Taiwan. But a commentary piece published this weekend by state news agency Xinhua emphasized that China will not yield on its prerogative about how to manage its economy.

'Plenty Of Cards To Play': Chinese Media Suggest Cutting Rare Earth Exports To U.S. (May 29, 2019, NPR)
China is ready to capitalize on its dominance as an exporter of rare earth minerals by cutting its exports to the U.S., Chinese media reported Wednesday.

Trade war roils US, China, but it means jobs for rest of Asia (May 29, 2019, Christian Science Monitor)
From fashion to machinery to electronics, many companies are weighing shifting production and supply chains – in part or completely – out of China to evade the expanding regime of tariffs.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Getting the Australia–China relationship right (May 23, 2019, East Asia Forum)
The biggest risk is that Australia gets trapped in an uncertain US strategy towards China that will invite hostility from the country’s most important trading partner and change the global rules of engagement in a way that opens Australia to real damage.

Chinese Officials Tell Foreign Journalists in Hong Kong How to Cover Renditions Plan  (May 23, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
Deputy commissioner Song Ru'an told the journalists to be "fair, balanced and objective", and to "inject some positive energy" into their reporting of the issue, the commission said in a statement on its website.

Sino-Canadian ties ‘at freezing point’, says Chinese ambassador (May 24, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Relations between China and Canada have hit an all-time low and Ottawa should rethink its approach to Beijing, the Chinese ambassador to Canada said on Thursday. In a speech to business leaders in Toronto, Lu Shaye said Canada needed to start considering China as an equal rather than a strategic competitor.

The CCP's Learning / Learning Xi (Thought) app  (May 25, 2019, Language Log)
It's not just Party members who are required to download and use the Xuéxí / Xué Xi 学习("Learning / Learn Xi [thought]") app.  All citizens who wish to ingratiate themselves with the CCP are enjoined to do so.

Marxist Students Face Continued Pressure at Beida  (May 27, 2019, China Digital Times)
Amid an ongoing crackdown on labor rights activism in China, several students from Peking University(Beida) and other elite institutions have been detained, harassed, and violently attacked for their support of workers and of Marxist ideals. 

Australian navy pilots hit with lasers during South China Sea military exercise (May 28, 2019, The Guardian)
“Was this startled fishermen reacting to the unexpected? Or was it the sort of coordinated harassment more suggestive of China’s maritime militia? It’s hard to say for sure, but similar incidents have occurred in the western Pacific.”


Chinese Worship Music (May 24, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
A friend recently asked me about music in the church in China. Specifically, he was wondering if churches sing the psalms of lament. To my knowledge, they don’t specifically do so. Generally speaking Three-self churches use the New Hymnal, which is primarily translated western hymns. House churches use a combination of traditional hymns and contemporary praise songs produced in South Korea, Taiwan, or the United States.

China deploys Confucius in bid to boost religion controls (May 28, 2019, ABC News)
China has begun five-day Confucian culture immersion courses for religious leaders in the sage's hometown as part of a campaign to extend government control over faith communities through a process of sinicization. The ruling Communist Party's United Work Front Department said in a news release issued Monday that the activity was designed to ensure the primacy of traditional Chinese values above all.

A Story of Two Drug Addicts (May 28, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
This moving article from Territory shares how one drug rehabilitation ministry has impacted the lives of drug addicts in China. Qiu Han tells the faith stories of Huang Feng-hua and Bao-ling, two former drug addicts who also battled cancer. 

Society / Life

You Can Now Avoid a Traffic Ticket in China if You Post a Social Media Confession (May 25, 2019, Sixth Tone)
A series of cities in China’s northeastern Shandong Province have been allowing minor traffic violators to get off scot free so long as they post a WeChat confession about theirviolation. But not so fast — the social media post must get a minimum of 20 likes for it to count.

She Thought She’d Married a Rich Chinese Farmer. She Hadn’t. (May 27, 2019, The New York Times)
Arranged marriages are common in Pakistan, but this one was unusual. The groom, who said he was a rich poultry farmer, met Ms. Kanwal’s family during a monthslong stay on a tourist visa. He had to use a Chinese-Urdu translation app to communicate with them, but over all, he made a favorable impression.

Beijing Places Second to Last in Quality of Life Index (May 27, 2019, The Beijinger)
A new survey by Deutsche Bank Research, the eighth that the bank has undertaken, has ranked the Chinese capital in 55th place in terms of quality of life on a list of 56 cities from around the world. The only city deemed worse than Beijing in terms of living standards is the Nigerian city of Lagos. Meanwhile, Manila, Philippines; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Jakarta Indonesia; and Mumbai, India were major cities to slightly outperform Beijing. Zu

Last days of Beijing’s oldest bathhouse, a place for rubdowns, cricket fights, and Chinese chess  (May 28, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Demolition threatens Shuang Xing Tang, the Chinese capital’s last traditional bathhouse, built in 1916 but standing in the way of urban redevelopment. It’s a place for no-frills communal bathing popular with older men, and hardly makes money, but it’s a place for friends to meet – and bring their songbirds

The Luxury Care Centers Pampering China’s Newly Minted Moms (May 29, 2019,Sixth Tone)
Premium postnatal services are capitalizing on the Chinese custom of ‘zuo yuezi’ to provide middle-class mothers with high-end relaxation.

Economics / Trade / Business

China's industrial profits shrink in April, add to pressure on economy (May 26, 2019, Reuters)
Earnings at China’s key manufacturing sector have been declining since November last year, with the exception of March, as both domestic and global demand slackened.

DHL Starts Regular Drone Deliveries in China in World First (May 27, 2019, Radii China)
Courier company DHL has begun making regular drone deliveries in China after partnering with drone manufacturer EHang. The service in Guangdong Province is being billed as “the world’s first regular fully-automated and intelligent urban drone delivery service”.

China showing signs similar to Japanese housing bubble that led to its ‘lost decades’, expert warns (May 28, 2019, South China Morning Post)
China must exercise extreme caution in handling its housing sector because it is showing signs similar to those witnessed during Japan’s bubble period of the 1980s that contributed to the collapse of Japanese asset prices and its subsequent “lost decades” of weak economic growth and deflation, a Japanese financial system expert warned.

Huawei: US blacklist will harm billions of consumers (May 29, 2019, BBC)
A US move to put Huawei on a trade blacklist "sets a dangerous precedent" that will harm billions of consumers, the firm's top legal officer said. Speaking at a press conference, Song Liuping said the trade ban would also "directly harm" American companies and affect jobs.


Cross-Cultural Education in China—and in Chinese Families (May 27, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
In China there are both traditional EdCCKs and also children who hold foreign passports but have little or no connection to that country/culture. The latter group might technically be classed as TCKs but their experiences are more similar to EdCCKs. For the purposes of this post, I will class both as EdCCKs.

Science / Technology

China unveils 600km/h maglev train prototype (May 24, 2019, CNN)
A new floating bullet train capable of hitting speeds of 600 kilometers per hour (about 372 miles/hour) is one step closer to reality in China. On Thursday, the body prototype for the country's latest high-speed magnetic-levitation (maglev) train project rolled off the assembly line in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.

China Moves to Curb Excessive Data Collection by Apps (May 29, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The country’s cyberspace watchdog has proposed a guideline that would require mobile apps to be more transparent about and accountable for the data they collect from users.

History / Culture

Chaos, hope, change: stories from 70 years of the People's Republic of China (May 28, 2019, The Guardian)
Seven decades after Mao declared the beginning of a new era, Chinese people reflect on the dizzying and jolting changes that have forged the modern nation.

China's modern history – in pictures (May 28, 2019, The Guardian)
From the birth of the People’s Republic, through war, revolution, protest and prosperity – these images chart the changes that have taken place in China over the last 70 years

Travel / Food

How to Choose the Best Prepaid SIM Card for China (May 24, 2019, Sapore di Cina)
This article is especially written for people traveling to China for a short period of time, whether for tourism or business.

Beijing is building hundreds of airports as millions of Chinese take to the skies (May 25, 2019, CNN)
China currently has around 235 airports, but with many lacking the capacity to sustain the coming increase in passenger numbers and flights, government officials estimate around 450 airports will be needed across the country by 2035. That's the same year aviation analysts predict China will be handling a quarter of all the world's air passengers.

US destinations scramble to win back Chinese tourists (May 28, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The number of Chinese visitors to the US has fallen for the first time in 15 years, after more than a decade of rapid growth, but friction between the two countries is just one reason for the slowdown, according to travel industry insiders.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

First person, second language: Autobiographical documentaries by women in the Chinese diaspora (May 24, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
Thanks to the visibility of Nanfu Wang’s Hooligan Sparrow (2016) on feminist activist Ye Haiyan, and with her One Child Nation (2019)* about the One-Child policy currently making the festival rounds, films from China using a first-person lens are gaining much attention.

The global failure of cinematic soft power ‘with Chinese characteristics’ (May 27, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
This means that Chinese blockbusters remain exclusively a China-only endeavour, since even its former Asian neighbours who fall within the Confucian circle reject screening these films.

Language / Language Learning

7 things you were taught in Chinese class that are actually wrong (May 24 2019, Hacking Chinese)
Naturally, I don’t know exactly what you learnt in Chinese class, but I have studied dozens of textbooks and spoken to hundreds of students with varying backgrounds over the years, so I think I can say with certainty that the examples I give in this article are somewhat common.

Fangyan Friday #7: The Plains of Shaanxi (May 24, 2019, The World of Chinese)
A branch of Central Plains Mandarin, the dialect of Shaanxi province has connotations of being down-to-earth and rustic, though this may just be confirmation bias.

The belt and road isn’t just re-routing investment, but also foreign language instruction in China (May 27, 2019, South China Morning Post)
As China eyes partnerships across Asia, Oceania, Europe and Africa, new majors have sprung up at the country’s venerable institutions of foreign-language instruction.

The most common Chinese words, characters and components for language learners and teachers  (May 28, 2019, Hacking Chinese)
So, what should you learn? This is easy to answer in the abstract: you should study whatever is the most useful to you, based on your goals for learning Chinese.

Is Mandarin easy to learn after all? (May 29, 2019, Language Log)
As someone who has studied many languages (from Sanskrit to Russian, German, Japanese, etc.), I felt that Mandarin was easier than all of them. 

Living Cross-culturally

Podcast: Grief And Guilt Raising TCKs With Ruth Van Reken(Sundae Bean)
If you are raising your children abroad, chances are you’ve heard the term Third Culture Kid. If you haven’t, you will want to pay extra close attention. If you have, this episode has something brand new for you. Together with today’s special guest Dr. Ruth van Reken, co-author of the book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, we explore grief, guilt, and identity as well as the pride and absolute joys of raising our children abroad. If you think you’ve heard this all before, wait: we cover new territory.


China’s New Red Guards: The Return of Radicalism and the Rebirth of Mao Zedong (May 22, 2019, China File)
As Jude Blanchette details in China’s New Red Guards, contemporary China is undergoing a revival of an unapologetic embrace of extreme authoritarianism that draws direct inspiration from the Mao era. 

7 Reasons I Liked “China: A History” (and 1 Warning) (May 29, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)


MWM Conference 2019 China’s Mission to the World (31st May to 2nd June 2019, The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire)
The growth of Christianity has been strikingly strong in recent years. What has led to that situation? What are the strategies of Chinese Christianity? What can it teach us?

Image credit: by Angel Chavez, via Pixabay
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