ZGBriefs | May 31, 2018

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Featured Article

Will China finally end its one-child policy?(May 23, 2018, Lowy Institute)
Scrapping the one-child policy won’t undo the damage it’s caused over more than thirty years, creating a population that’s becoming too male, too old, and too few to sustain strong economic growth. China’s rulers – impervious to criticisms of human rights abuse during the policy’s implementation – have been undoing the policy because it needs to replenish the country’s shrinking stock of workers. 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China, Taiwan and the battle raging to ‘erase an identity’ (May 27, 2018, Asia Times Online)
If there is one metric that defines Taiwan in this context, it is the unequivocal opposition to China’s surveillance-state authoritarianism, even as Beijing’s state media claim otherwise.

China’s integral role in Korean War peace talks (May 27, 2018, East Asia Forum)
Listening to China’s input on how the Korean War should end will increase the odds of establishing a stable and long-lasting peace. As North Korea’s only ally, China maintains strong ideological bonds to Pyongyang via inter-party relations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met wives of jailed lawyers during China visit (May 28, 2018, The Guardian)
Merkel did not mention the meeting with the two women during her two-day visit on Thursday and Friday, though she said she brought up human rights during her talks with Premier Li Keqiang.

America Is Fumbling Its Most Important Relationship (May 28, 2018, The Atlantic)
China is an increasing problem for the United States. But the latest reactions and assumptions about China among America’s political-media leadership class hold every prospect of making China-related problems much worse. 

Chinese Students Protest in America, Face Danger at Home (May 28, 2018, Foreign Policy)
Organizing a campaign that questions the fundamental legitimacy of China’s top leader is a punishable crime in China. 

Mattis says U.S. to continue operations in South China Sea (May 29, 2018, Reuters)
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday that the United States would continue to confront what Washington sees as China’s militarization of islands in the South China Sea, despite drawing condemnation from Beijing for an operation in the region over the weekend.

US to impose limits on some Chinese visas (May 30, 2018, AP)
The State Department did not provide specifics. But a U.S. official said that according to instructions sent to U.S. embassies and consulates, Chinese graduate students will be limited to one-year visas if they are studying in fields like robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing. China identified those areas as priorities in its “Made in China” 2025 manufacturing plan.


Pope urges Chinese Catholics to show unity with Holy See (May 24, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Pope Francis urged Chinese Catholics on Wednesday to show they are in full communion with the Holy See, amid what appears to be another stall in the Vatican’s long-standing attempts to reach a deal with Beijing over bishop nominations.

Discipling Returnees (May 25, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
In this blog, we turn to discipleship training. This is training designed to help returnee believers develop a deeper relationship with Jesus, gain a better understanding of the in-depth purpose of salvation and, for those with a serving heart, be trained to become disciple-makers.

China orders crackdown on large outdoor religious statues to ‘prevent commercialisation’ (May 26, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The directive from the United Front Work Department, seen on its website on Saturday, appears to target mainly followers of Buddhism and Taoism, two of China’s five officially recognised religions.

A "New" New Normal? (May 28, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
The mandate of the UFWD, on the other hand is to promote Party-State policies and make sure that all segments and sectors of society remain loyal to (or at least don’t challenge) the Party.

Cults on Social Media (May 29, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
Although new media has been a valuable resource and tool for Chinese Christians, it can also be used to spread dangerous teachings. 

The Objects of God’s Affection – What We Need for Sustainability In Ministry (May 30, 2018, China Partnership Blog)
Over the past thirty to forty years, we have seen different waves of revival in China. The first wave was the revival in the countryside. The second wave of revival was in the cities as we began to see churches pop up in the city centers. Now we are seeing a great revival within the church. 

The Challenge of Contextualization: Another Perspective (May 30, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
As they navigate an uncertain future, Christians in China face a deeper challenge. It is not merely a matter of communicating through words a message that resonates with existing cultural ideas, but of communicating with their lives the truth of the gospel in a manner that impacts the lives of those around them.

Society / Life

Video: Just zipping out to the shops: mountain dwellers soar over angry rapids in China (May 24, 2018, Reuters)
Cha Huilan, a mother of two living in a Chinese mountain village cut off by a raging river, dangles from a harness hooked to a zipline every time she crosses its violent rapids and jagged rocks on frequent trips to buy medicine for her mother.

Why Beijing isn’t Marxist enough for China’s radical millennials (February 24, 2018, South China Morning Post)
In sharp contrast to the official Marxist line, this new generation of Marxists has emphasised individual freedoms, with some even expressing some interest in a constitutional democracy – a stand that the country’s mainstream Marxists and Maoists usually dismiss as hypocritical.

Young Chinese Communist Child: "I Want to Become Rich to Overcome a Meaningless Life" (May 27, 2018, The Beijinger)
As part of the recently held "I Have a Dream" speech contest, an unidentified boy told a crowd of onlookers that becoming rich is the only way to overcome the "vicious cycle" of a meaningless existence.

China has a $43,000 wealth gap problem (May 28, 2018, Los Angeles Times)
China is no monolith. While residents in Shanghai and Beijing are almost as well off as those in Switzerland by some income measures, parts of the country live more like they were in Guatemala.

The sign language lawyer who became a social media star (May 30, 2018, BBC)
When a lawyer posted a video in sign language about the danger of Ponzi schemes, his post went viral and hundreds of deaf people got in touch with their legal troubles, from fraud to domestic violence. He had uncovered a huge community in need of help.

Economics / Trade / Business

Chinese Companies Investing in American Companies: Meet the Free Look Investment Scheme (May 24, 2018, China Law Blog)
Though it is possible this investment interest from the Chinese side is completely legitimate, just over half the time, that is not what we are seeing. What we usually see is what our China attorneys have taken to calling the “free look investment scheme.”

Rude, red awakening: China’s theft of U.S. tech is hard to stop (May 25, 2018, Axios)
Rogue practices like intellectual property theft are built into Beijing's industrial policy, and China has used these policies to innovate so rapidly that it may soon be able to cut its reliance on the West.

Bike-sharing craze gives Phoenix new lease of life – but what’s next for the 120-year-old bike maker? (May 27, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Phoenix resonates in China like Raleigh does in the UK or Schwinn in the US. It was such a prestigious brand in its heyday that many took to counterfeiting its bikes – just as you can find fake Rolex watches today.

White House to impose 25% tariff on $50bn worth of Chinese goods (May 29, 2018, The Guardian)
The threat of new tariffs comes despite an apparent US decision, enunciated by the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, last week, to put a threatened trade war “on hold” as talks with China continue.

Foreign business in China fears US trade blowback (May 29, 2018, Financial Times)
So while foreign businesses fear the short-term impact of a possible trade war on their bottom lines, many believe the trade and investment relationship between China and the west is broken. They also lament that a decade of polite dialogue has produced few results, and feel that a tougher approach is warranted. 

China cuts tariffs again to boost consumer spending on local products (May 30, 2018, Christian Science Monitor)
China is reducing import duties on washing machines, cosmetics, and some other consumer goods amid U.S. pressure to narrow its multibillion-dollar trade surplus.


China’s Funding for Foreign Students Provokes Claims of Racism (May 29, 2018, Sixth Tone)
However, Chinese citizens have often voiced reservations about whether the country’s international education ambitions are fair, as some leading universities have lower admissions thresholds for foreigners than for domestic students.

Left-Field Careers for Farmers’ Kids (May 29, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The career events at Nanjian No. 2 are organized by an NGO, Tumeng, to inspire students to continue their studies beyond middle school, the end of China’s compulsory education period. Children are supposed to stay in school until ninth grade, when most children are around 15 years old.

Student special carriages put into use in NW China's Shaanxi (May 30, 2018, China Daily)
The train No 6063, which links 38 stations along the route from Baoji of Shaanxi province and Guangyuan of Sichuan province, serves thousands of students who live in mountainous areas and need to commute from schools to home every week. 

Health / Environment

How China’s Bat Caves Hold the Secret to Preventing Epidemics (May 24, 2018, Sixth Tone) “The ultimate target of our research is to find out the ways that bats fight against viruses and use these methods on people.”

Beijing Issues Digital Health Cards on WeChat (May 25, 2018, The Beijinger)
The pilot hopes to explore possible applications of the virtual card in the Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei urban areas, with plans to eventually integrate patient information from the three regions. 

Hungry cities, thirsty farms: China’s growing hunger is becoming the world’s thirst (May 28, 2018, China Policy Institute)
More likely, China will increasingly look to international trade and foreign investment to meet these demands, thereby indirectly ‘exporting’ water stress elsewhere around the globe.

China’s Xian chokes on smog specks ‘harder than steel’ (May 28, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Researchers in pollution-prone Xian test the properties of the city’s bad air but health specialists say the bigger concern is just how small the particles are.

Science / Technology

China and the Building of Africa’s Information Societies (April 26, 2018, Asia Global Online)
Despite suspicions, China's engagement in developing Africa's telecom infrastructure has not led to an imposition of an authoritarian model of information control on the continent. Concerns should rather focus on the promotion of a top-down governmental model of development, which has proved inefficient.

WeChat Issues New Rules for User Privacy (May 29, 2018, The Beijinger)
China’s most popular social platform is implementing new rules to protect user privacy and optimize the external link experience. The move is a part of WeChat’s wider privacy overhaul which comes amid increasing scrutiny around data privacy.

At Beijing security fair, an arms race for surveillance tech (May 30, 2018,Reuters)
The China International Exhibition on Police Equipment is something of a one-stop shop for China’s police forces looking to arm up with the latest in “black tech” - a term widely used to refer to cutting-edge surveillance gadgets.

In Shanghai, You Can Now Get Take-Out Food Delivered by Drone (May 30, 2018, Radii China)
Because of course you can. Waimai (delivery) giant Ele.me announced yesterday that it’d been granted approval by authorities in the Jinshan district of Shanghai to operate the first commercial drone food delivery routes in China.

Who’s Really Responsible for Digital Privacy in China? (May 30, 2018, China File)
Boundaries between the public and private sector are dissolving as Chinese tech platforms are increasingly required to march in lockstep with government imperatives, and as the state grows more reliant on tech companies to monitor and restrict citizens’ behavior on- and offline. 

History / Culture

The Lost Personal Tales of Mao-Era China (May 23, 2018, Sixth Tone)
About 20 years ago, not long after I started publishing “Old Photos,” I solicited submissions from people who had dug through their family albums to find photos from decades past. Many contributors wrote pleasant reminiscences of their own lives and those of their forebears captured in each shot. 

A Collection: Beijing After The Tangshan Earthquake In 1976 (May 25, 2018, Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

This is Why You Have to Try Street Food in China (May 25, 2018, Wild China Blog)
China is home to an extremely diverse street food culture that varies not only from province to province, but even city to city.

As Chinese ‘Crepe’ Catches On Abroad, a Fight to Preserve Its Soul (May 29, 2018, The New York Times)
The unassuming jianbing, an eggy street-food snack from China that resembles a French crepe, is increasingly trendy abroad — a symbol of Beijing’s growing soft power. It even inspired the creation of a superhero character in a hit Chinese comedy, “Pancake Man.”

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Review: A New Film Investigates the Time America Banned an Entire Race (May 28, 2018, The New York Times)
Directed by the PBS stalwart Ric Burns and his longtime collaborator Li-Shin Yu (who was an editor on the 2003 PBS series “Becoming American: The Chinese Experience,” which covered some of the same ground), the documentary is centered on the 1882 act of the title, the first American law to restrict the immigration of a particular ethnic group and ban its members from citizenship.

The “Honor” Of Simply Eating at Home (May 30, 2018, China Media Project)
Appearing recently on the public account of the official People’s Daily on the popular WeChat platform, the following editorial prompted a wave of interest. The piece bore the headline: “Party Members and Cadres Should Find Honor in Returning Home for Dinner.” [… ]  So why should the idea of “finding honor in returning home for dinner” (以回家吃饭为荣) be of interest to anyone?

Language / Language Learning

National standards for Chinese sign language released (May 28, 2018, China Daily)
Based on the most popular reference books about Chinese sign language, the list contains 5,000 common words in daily usage. It is expected to help disabled people around the country to communicate more effectively.

Proper Nouns Must Be Proper Chinese, Say Authorities (May 30, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Ministry mandates that housing developments with names like ‘California Town’ and ‘Norwegian Wood’ must find Mandarin monikers.

Living Cross-culturally

Leaving Poorly: A Whole New Set of Options for Departing Expats (May 29, 2018, The Culture Blend)
Here’s the thing. Not EVERYONE WANTS to leave WELL. What about those people? Don’t see many books or blog posts out there for them do you? So here you go. For those who are just done. Over it. SO ready to fly away, never look back and leave a trail of mess behind them.


Author Xueting Christine Ni Explains the Culture Behind China’s Crowded Pantheon (May 30, 2018, Radii China)
Understanding the histories, myths, and enduring spiritual and pop-cultural appeal of China’s long list of deities is essential to understanding the country as it exists today, says Xueting Christine Ni, who has a book on the subject out on Friday (June 1).

Links for Researchers

Rethinking Security: China and the Age of Strategic Rivalry (May 2018, Government of Canada)
This report is based on the views expressed during, and short papers contributed by speakers at, a workshop organised by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service as part of its academic outreach program.

Concrete and Coral: Tracking expansion in the South China Sea (May 24, 2018, Reuters)
U.S. military officials now say China’s military bases on man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea are virtually complete. Exclusive data and satellite imagery shows the pace of construction on reefs and reclaimed land in the Spratly and Paracel Islands.


2018 American Business in China White Paper (AmCham China)
As one of the most comprehensive assessments of the operating environment for foreign companies in China, the 2018 White Papers contains nearly 40 chapters and provides an in-depth description and analysis a variety of industries, cross-sector issues, and regions of importance to our membership. 

Image credit: Joann Pittman, 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