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Green Train Blues (April 30, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Gubeikou is just 140 kilometers northeast of Beijing, but we’ve been on the road since 9 in the morning. That’s an average speed of 25 kilometers an hour, one-fourteenth the speed of the Chinese rail system’s showpiece high-speed rail. Dubbed “green-skin trains” (绿皮火车) for their iconic forest green livery and yellow trim, trains like 4471 are, unsurprisingly, living on borrowed time in a country for which rail infrastructure has long been a matter of national pride.
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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs
China convicts rights lawyer Li Heping of 'subversion of state power' (April 28, 2017, The Guardian)
A respected Christian human rights lawyer has been convicted of “subversion of state power” at a secret trial in China, almost two years after he was first detained in a sweeping crackdown. Li Heping was sentenced to three years in prison with a four-year reprieve, the court in the eastern city of Tianjin said on an official social media account, meaning he should be released but could be arrested and jailed at any point.
Is China the World’s New Colonial Power? (May 2, 2017, The New York Times)
The question of how China is changing the world is often framed as a binary proposition: Is China the savior for developing nations, the only world power investing in their future — or is this the dawn of a new colonial era? The question itself, however, is misleading. In Namibia, as in much of the rest of the world, the narratives live uncomfortably side by side, impossible to disentangle.
Trump nominee for China ambassador promises firm line on Beijing (May 3, 2017, Reuters)
President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to China promised on Tuesday to take a firm line with Beijing on issues from North Korea to trade disputes and human rights, and seemed poised for an easy confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said he would use his decades of experience with China to press Beijing to do more to encourage North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions.
Why Is Gospel Renewal Important For The Average Chinese Person? (May 2, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
In these interviews, two young Chinese millennials share their spiritual journeys and experiences, helping to explain the challenges they face.
Learning from Matteo Ricci (April 23, 2017, China Institute)
Evangelical Christians seeking to serve God effectively among the Chinese can derive a great deal of profit from the example of the pioneer Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci.
Chinese state church Sunday school Lord’s Prayer (video) (April 30, 2017, China Hope Live)
The cute last few seconds of the 7-year-old-and-under Sunday school class at the Chinese state church we attend on Sunday mornings (the very end is the best part!):
My Beijing: The Sacred City (May 1, 2017, The New York Times)
This metropolis was once a total work of art, epitomizing the religious and political system that ran China for millennia. The remnants of that time are being restored anew.
A Gospel Choir in China, Part 1 (May 2, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
Thanks to its director, Huang Bo, the Baoti Cornerstone Choir has been making headlines and garnering attention around China for its overt Christian message and quality gospel music. A former professional music producer turned church choir director, Huang has trained amateur church members into professional performers. His Baoti Cornerstone Choir has appeared on popular Chinese television shows and has produced a Christian praise album.
From Entrepreneur to Catalyst (May 3, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
How can a shrinking generation of experienced China workers serve a growing number of Christian leaders who themselves have become increasingly entrepreneurial?
Getting Bibles into the hands of Chinese Christians (May 3, 2017, Mission News Network)
The stories are woven into the history of Christianity with exquisite detail — missionaries smuggling Bibles into areas of the world closed to the Gospel. But does the need to smuggle Bibles into China still exist? Wendell Rovenstine, President of Bibles for China, says there is a better — and safer — way to put the Word of God in the hands of believers.
Healing Testimonies in Chinese Churches: Four Reasons Why It Is Common (May 4, 2017, China Christian Daily)
According to the statistics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, nearly two-thirds of the Chinese people believe in Christianity because they have been cured of their illness. It can be fairly said that miraculous healing is the most common testimony of the church. But, what caused it?
Society / Life
Journey to the Rest: China’s Migrant Workers Top 280 Million (April 30, 2017, China Real Time)
Mr. Guo isn’t a backpacker. He is one of China’s migrant workers—rural laborers who left the farm to work in factories and construction. According to an official survey, they numbered 281 million in 2016, slightly more than the previous year.
China's 'mega-statues' are even more stunning than its towering skyscrapers (May 2, 2017, Business Insider)
Colossal replicas of ancient religious figures and recent political leaders, such as Chairman Mao and the Buddha, reinforce the values China has kept for thousands of years. Here are some of the most imposing.
Beijing Cracks Down on Steeply Priced ‘School District Homes’ (May 2, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Buying an apartment near a good school in Beijing will no longer guarantee enrollment, potentially curbing the trend of such homes being sold for record prices. The policy change was announced on Thursday by eight districts in the capital, and follows other measures to reign in skyrocketing housing prices in the city.
A Chinese Border City Gives Tourists A Glimpse Of Life In North Korea (May 3, 2017, NPR)
The ferryboat glides away from the skyscraper-lined Chinese side of the river into a channel of the Yalu surrounded by North Korean countryside. Tourists gaze through binoculars at North Korean farmers too busy plowing land with their water buffaloes to notice.
'I am Fan Yusu': China gripped by Dickensian tale of a migrant worker's struggle (May 3, 2017, The Guardian)
According to Chinese media reports, more than one million people have read an autobiographical essay in which Fan charts her attempts to build a life in Beijing since last week when it was published on the social network WeChat. The story, called I am Fan Yusu, has since been deleted, possibly as a result of the politically-charged themes on which it touches, including the often dismal plight of China’s 281m migrant workers.
Economics / Trade / Business
How to Open a Coffee Shop in China (April 28, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
There are two ways to open up a coffee shop in China: to do it yourself or to look for an intermediary. The first way is cheaper, but you’re going to have to deal with the Chinese bureaucracy and the speed of its employees.
China Craves Foreign Goods. Students in Australia Supply Them. (May 2, 2017, The New York Times)
Zhang Yuan’s business started with favors for relatives: an aunt who wanted baby formula, a cousin looking for Ugg boots. She was a college student here in Australia, and every dollar helped, so she mailed the items back to China and charged a bit of a commission. But then, through word of mouth, her business just kept growing. Between classes, she would shop for whatever was popular that week
HNA Group, Secretive Chinese Conglomerate, Takes Top Stake in Deutsche Bank (May 3, 2017, The New York Times)
HNA Group, a secretive Chinese conglomerate with ties to the Communist Party in Beijing, has emerged as a major global deal maker. But what, exactly, is HNA Group? Here is a rundown.
New Scrutiny for Confucius Institutes (April 26, 2017, Inside Higher Ed)
The report from NAS recommends that universities close their Confucius Institutes. “Confucius Institutes permit an agency of a foreign government to have access to university courses, and on principle that is a university function,” Rachelle Peterson, the author of the report, said in an interview. “Institutions should have full control over who they hire, over what they teach, and Confucius Institutes basically act like class-in-a-box kits that come ready-made for universities to use.”
Should the Chinese Government Be in American Classrooms? (April 28, 2017, New York Review of Books)
Confucius Institutes are an official agency of the Chinese government, which provides a major share, sometimes virtually all, of the funds needed to run them. Though they are housed in US institutions, their curriculum is largely shaped by Chinese guidelines.
Health / Environment
China’s Popular Energy Drinks and Their Potentially Harmful Effects (April 30, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
Now that a new research found energy drinks to be potentially harmful to health, Chinese state media warn netizens to “think twice” before drinking them. China currently has the largest energy drink market in the world.
China’s Appetite Pushes Fisheries to the Brink (April 30, 2017, The New York Times)
Having depleted the seas close to home, Chinese fishermen are sailing farther to exploit the waters of other countries, their journeys often subsidized by a government more concerned with domestic unemployment and food security than the health of the world’s oceans and the countries that depend on them.
China Is Building a $3 Billion Medical Tourism Hotspot (May 3, 2017, Skift)
In 2013, the provincial government of Hainan, often known as China’s Hawaii, earmarked more than 1,600 acres of fertile farm land along a river flowing to its eastern coast for a medical tourism hub. Since then fishing villages and rice paddies are slowly being replaced by palm-tree-flanked driveways. The zone’s first hospitals are opening their doors this summer, the effective beginning of this medical experiment.
Science / Technology
China to launch Wikipedia rival in 2018 (May 2, 2017, BBC)
China is to launch an online version of its national encyclopaedia next year, to compete with Wikipedia. Officials said more than 20,000 people had been hired to work on the project, which will feature 300,000 entries at about 1,000 words each.
10 Things NOT to Do on a Short-term Trip to China (May 1, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
To assist in your training and preparation, here’s a helpful list of things to avoid on a short-term trip to China. We hope that with these things in mind, your team will have a fruitful experience serving those in the Middle Kingdom.
Arts / Entertainment / Media
China’s Angriest Newspaper Doesn’t Speak for China (April 28, 2017, Foreign Policy)
Nationalist tabloid Global Times has the Communist Party’s backing, but its editorial strategy is more independent than you might think.
China’s Environmental Woes, in Films That Go Viral, Then Vanish (April 28, 2017, The New York Times)
His career as a documentary filmmaker has followed a distressing pattern: spectacular internet reactions to his movies and videos on environmental topics, followed by their rapid disappearance from the web in China. The latest, in January, was a video showing him standing before a large screen displaying appalling photos of indiscriminate quarrying and other environmental woes and delivering a talk about them.
China's all-girl boy band (May 1, 2017, CNN)
Made up of all girls, this "boy band" is the latest in the androgyny trend in China. Acrush made headlines even before dropping any music, attracting hundreds of thousands of fans on Weibo. A preview of the pop band's first single, "Action," was released on Friday, April 28.
In fresh crackdown, China wants online news sites to have approved staff (May 2, 2017, CNBC)
The rules, issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), become effective June 1 and apply to websites, blogs, livestreaming video, mobile messaging and social platforms. The government also specifically singled out topics including politics, economy, military, foreign affairs and "other areas of public interest."
History / Culture
‘Red Collectors’ Deal in Relics From China’s Past (April 30, 2017, Sixth Tone)
The roughly 50 “red” traders had gathered to buy, sell, and swap parts of their Mao-era collections: posters, badges, books, and military clothing.
Saving China's abandoned Tulou homes (April 30, 2017, CNN)
Looking like a design amalgamation of a Roman coliseum and a doughnut, tulou buildings, found in China's southwest Fujian province, are some of the most stunning historic structures in the country. But many of these residential buildings, which feature a courtyard surrounded by a perimeter of homes that rise several stories high, are under threat.
History on a String: How Chinese Kite Flying, and Kite Watching, Are So Much More Than a Hobby (April 30, 2017, The Beijinger)
While kite flying may seem like a fun, albeit quaint, pastime enjoyed by elders in parks, it was actually once an integral practice in day-to-day Chinese life.
Travel / Food
Chinese Tour Groups Suck: In Defense of Chinese Tour Groups (April 10, 2017, Medium)
We should certainly neither applaud nor forgive littering on the streets and rudeness to wait-staff by anyone. At the same time, how should we judge those who don’t like to queue up in your country when food rationing was still a thing until 1996 in theirs? For whom bumping into you on the street is typical behavior in their congested home town of 11 million people with a sink-or-swim daily reality and where ‘personal space’ is a contradiction in terms?
China’s Tallest Tower Suffers Visibility Problem (April 28, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In many ways, the Shanghai Tower is impressive: It is China’s tallest skyscraper, featuring the fastest elevator in the world and a modern, energy-efficient design. But the landmark has yet to make much of an impression on the city’s tourists.
Comfort Food: Good Even When It’s Bad (May 2, 2017, Roads and Kingdoms)
My eyes take in the food stalls as I walk though the dingy underground shopping mall. Dumplings, pork, and chives hugged in freshly kneaded dough bubble in a foamy pot. Tempting, but not what I’m looking for. Spicy wood ear mushrooms sprinkled with chili peppers and other Sichuan cold dishes beckon to me, but my mind is elsewhere.
14 Things to Know Before You Go to China (May 3, 2017, Johnny Jet)
I’ve swum with the sharks and run with the bulls— but nothing prepared me for China. Whatever preconceptions you might have of the country, put them aside. A few tips you should consider before you go to China:
Matteo Ricci: A Jesuit in the Ming Court (April 24, 2017, Global China Center)
This latest full-length biography of the pioneer missionary Matteo Ricci will set the standard for future accounts of his life. While there are other excellent treatments of Ricci – notably Vincent Cronin’s The Wise Man from the West (recently revised and re-issued) and Jonathan Spence’s The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci – Fontana’s narrative is in some ways the most helpful.
Frog—a Book Review (April 28, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Such is the lament that serves as a portion of the introduction to Book Five of Frog, a novel in five parts, written by Nobel laureate, Mo Yan. Frog is a rich amalgam of biography, social criticism, poignant introspection, fantastical dream sequences, and detailed autobiographical sketches from the author’s own Northeast Gaomi Township in Shandong province.
China’s Mobile Economy (May 2, 2017, China File)
China’s Mobile Economy: Opportunities in the Largest and Fastest Information Consumption Boom is a cutting-edge text that spotlights the digital transformation in China. Organized into three major areas of the digital economy within China, this ground-breaking book explores the surge in e-commerce of consumer goods, the way in which multi-screen and mobile Internet use has increased in popularity, and the cultural emphasis on the mobile Internet as a source of lifestyle- and entertainment-based content.
Writing China: Faith and Love in a Shenzhen Brothel (May 3, 2017, China Real Time)
In her debut novel “Lotus,” writer and journalist Lijia Zhang pulls back the curtain, taking readers inside the lives of a group of women working in a brothel in the southern metropolis of Shenzhen. Drawing inspiration from her grandmother, who was sold to a brothel outside the city of Nanjing as a teenager, Ms. Zhang taps years of reporting to draw figures rooted in real life.
Global Chinese Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity (Brill.com)
This is the first scholarly volume on Chinese Christian Pentecostal and charismatic movements around the globe. The authors include the most active and renowned scholars of global Pentecostalism and Chinese Christianity, including Allan Anderson, Daniel Bays, Kim-twang Chan, Gordon Melton, Donald Miller, and Fenggang Yang. It covers historical linkages between Pentecostal missions and indigenous movements in greater China, contemporary charismatic congregations in China, Singapore, Malaysia, and the United States, and the Catholic charismatic renewal movement in China.
Links for Researchers
Confucius Institutes (National Association of Scholars)
Since 2004, the Chinese government has planted Confucius Institutes that offer Chinese language and culture courses at colleges and universities around the world—including more than 100 in the United States. These Institutes avoid Chinese political history and human rights abuses, portray Taiwan and Tibet as undisputed territories of China, and educate a generation of American students to know nothing more of China than the regime’s official history. This is a study of the 12 Confucius Institutes in New York and New Jersey. It examines China’s soft power influence through American higher education, and reveals new data on China’s funding, hiring, and academic freedom policies.
Mapping the Sacred: Geospatial Studies on Chinese Religions (Volume 3, Issue 2, Review of Religion and Chinese Society)
Chinese Christian Resources (missionaryresources.com)
Image credit: Wikimedia
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