ZGBriefs | May 5, 2022

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Featured Article

Chinese Food Is a Celebration of Time and Place (April 19, 2022, Epicurious)
“Authenticity” is a loaded word that many chefs like Tong stay away from, because the very concept discriminates against food that has evolved over years and generations. It implies that food needs to conform to a set of standard dishes and flavors determined at an arbitrary time and place, even as new ingredients are introduced and as communities migrate. 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Bending the Knee for Xi (April 25, 2022, China Media Project)
With the 20th National Congress of the CCP now just months away, expressions of loyalty, or biaotai (表态) are on the rise. Local leaders are eager to signal their obedience to Xi Jinping and his rule of the Party. 

Shanghai’s Lockdown: A ChinaFile Conversation (April 29, 2022, China File)
In megacities like Shanghai, lockdowns have underscored vast inequality and the unequal distribution of government services—particularly for migrant workers. How sustainable are current government approaches to the latest wave of infections, and where are they likely to lead?

Beijing centralises power in the provinces ahead of Communist Party congress (May 2, 2022, South China Morning Post) (subscription required)
Guangdong reshuffle is a case study in growing practice of appointing hand-picked outsiders to key provincial roles. Analysts find the process has been speeding up at the same time the length of tenure is decreasing, with local issues taking a back seat

Six Signs That Will Tell Us When Secretive China Is Abandoning Covid Zero (May 4, 2022, Bloomberg)
Experts say Beijing will move gradually to dismantle its rigid zero tolerance policy rather than end all curbs overnight.


How Can God Reach These People?: A Look at the Chinese Diaspora in South Africa (April 29, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
God is using faithful people to reach into the world of diaspora peoples. He is working through believers to help carry out “reverse missions” back to their home communities, and to go beyond their communities to other unreached people groups nearby. 

Hearts United With the People of Ukraine (May 2, 2022, China Partnership Blog)
A few weeks ago, hundreds of Chinese house church Christians met online with a church planter in Ukraine to hear how Ukrainian Christians have responded to the Russian invasion. The Chinese believers heard about how Ukrainian Christians have reached out to refugees from the war and have served the displaced, both within Ukraine and now as they spread across Europe. After more than an hour of updates and questions, the session closed as a Chinese house church pastor prayed for Ukraine.

The Unexpected Journey of a University Student (May 3, 2022, Chinese Church Voices)
As a young adult raised in an atheistic education system, I would, time and again, puzzle over life. To “believe in God” was the most ridiculous, most impossible option. Yet, the creator God has a sense of humor and makes choices we cannot fathom. Indeed, that was, against all odds, exactly what happened.

China’s Ongoing Persecution of Christians and the Case of Pastor Wang Yi (May 4, 2022, The Heritage Foundation)
Wang, founder of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China, was arrested in December 2018, along with over 100 other members of his congregation.

10 priests of China’s ‘underground Church’ disappear under police custody (May 5, 2022, Matters of India)
At least 10 priests of the unofficial or “underground” Catholic community in the city of Baoding in the province of Hebei disappeared in the hands of the police since January this year. At least four of those who went missing disappeared on the 29th and 30th of April, said a report on AsiaNews.

Society / Life

When this Shanghai building went into COVID lockdown, my WeChat message group blew up (April 30, 2022, NPR)
Life inside the Summit means near-daily COVID testing, done by medical teams in full Tyvek suits. What was initially going to be a four-day lockdown has dragged on. And on.

Nine people arrested in China over Changsha building collapse (May 1, 2022, BBC)
Chinese police say they have arrested nine people over the collapse of a building in the south-east city of Changsha, where several people remain trapped or missing. Police said the building’s owner was detained, along with three others responsible for its construction. Another five were charged with writing a false safety report for the building, which collapsed on Friday.

Photographs of an Empty Shanghai (May 2, 2022, Sixth Tone)
Photographer Gao Zheng was one of the lucky few allowed to leave lockdown in mid-April. He felt like the last person in Shanghai.

Shanghai ‘Dead Man’ Taken Away to Morgue, Found to Be Alive (May 2, 2022, What’s on Weibo) (registration required)
An incident in which a Shanghai man, who was thought to be dead, was taken to a funeral home before he was found to be alive has become a big topic on Chinese social media. 

China’s Doomed Fight Against Demographic Decline (May 3, 2022, Foreign Affairs)
China’s rapidly aging society and plunging birth rate poses a host of challenges for its leaders, including a shrinking number of young workers and an increasingly unstable pension system. Beijing is steadily pivoting toward pro-natalism as a strategy to mitigate these risks. 

How Covid-scarred Shanghai will finally exit lockdown (May 4, 2022, BBC)
It’s taken more than a month, but Shanghai’s leaders now think the city’s Covid outbreak is almost contained. So they’ve ordered a mass clean-up – an army of people disinfecting thousands of compounds and residential areas aiming to eradicate the virus. Then China’s financial capital will open up, but it will be gradual, tentative, cautious.

Economics / Trade / Business

From Estee Lauder to Apple, big companies say China’s Covid restrictions are hitting business (May 4, 2022, CNBC)
Businesses face a number of challenges in addition to China’s Covid situation, and corporate sentiment among S&P 500 companies has fallen to the lowest since the second quarter of 2020, according to Bank of America’s proprietary model.


China’s record-high number of college graduates are facing a huge challenge to find work (May 4, 2022, Sup China)
Growth in China is slowing as COVID-19 restrictions continue to clog up the economy, so there are not a huge number of new jobs at entry-level positions. Enter a big crew of fresh college graduates…

Science / Technology

Shanghai Is Rewriting Chinese Censorship Amid Lockdown (May 4, 2022, Wired)
“No censorship apparatus is airtight,” says Guobin Yang, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies contemporary China. “Social media censorship in China still relies a lot on human labor. It’s entirely possible that not all censors were motivated to keep up with their job at full speed.”

Chinese researchers set up world’s highest weather station on Mount Everest to study roof of the world(May 4, 2022, South China Morning Post)
Chinese scientific researchers set up the world’s highest automatic weather station on Mount Everest, or Qomolangma, on Wednesday. The weather station will be the first to use high-precision radar to measure the thickness of snow and ice on the peak of the world’s highest mountain, which is on the China-Nepal border.

History / Culture

Webinar Video: Beethoven in Beijing: Music Across Cultures | Jie Chen, Jennifer Lin, Sheila Melvin, Booker Rowe (National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
The National Committee hosted a virtual program on April  7, 2022 with JIE CHEN, JENNIFER LIN, SHEILA MELVIN, And BOOKER ROWE as they discussed their experiences in musical exchange to date and prospects for the future. 

Travel / Food

The surprising complexity of a classic Chinese condiment (April 27, 2022, BBC)
Oyster sauce is a much-loved ingredient of the Chinese dinner table. How is it made, and why is it so irresistible?

Hong Kong eases COVID rules for aircrews, lifts overseas travel alert (April 29, 2022, Reuters) (registration required)
Hong Kong will shorten mandatory hotel quarantine for passenger flight crews to three days from seven, while cargo crews will be exempt, modest steps at unwinding coronavirus curbs that have turned the city into one of the world’s most isolated places.

Living Cross-culturally

Marketing 101 For Cross-Cultural Worker (April 21, 2022, Global Trellis)
We practice marketing every time we recommend a restaurant, invite someone to church, or raise money for our non-profit work. As cross-cultural workers, we must raise support, write newsletters, submit project proposals, and post photos on social media. It’s all marketing

Reverse Culture Shock (May 4, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
This is the journey of re-entry at the bottom of the reverse culture shock curve. I wonder if there’s a parallel for people coming out of their experience of COVID—when their lives have been changed by what they have gone through. For me, remembering what helped in culture shock when we first went overseas helps now. God is so very gentle and kind with us. His love is deeper than we can fathom. He is good. He is present. He is stable.


Book Review: Schism: Seventh-Day Adventism in Post-Denominational China (May 2, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
Christie Chow now demonstrates that assorted religious and denominational commitments can also profoundly influence the development and success of Christianity in China.


3 Key Transition Resources (April 28, 2022, Global Trellis)
Transitions aren’t just moves from one country to another. You might have a child heading off to college, a new role in your organization, or be adjusting to a slowly unfolding post-pandemic world. The good news is you don’t have to go it alone!

Pray for China

May 5 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. The law prohibited almost all immigration of Chinese nationals into the U.S. until its repeal in 1943. There are now 3.8 million Chinese-Americans and over 300,000 students from China in the U.S. Pray for Christians to model racial reconciliation. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. Luke 7:7-10

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