ZGBriefs | May 7, 2015

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources.
ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement.

Featured Article

Draft Law: Foreign NGOs Can Open Offices with Approval (May 6, 2015, China Digital Times)
The Foreign NGO Management Law has undergone a second reading by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, and will now be reviewed and revised before the third reading. The new draft contains a significant change from the first draft, which said that foreign NGOs were not permitted to open local offices in China under any circumstances. In the new reading, foreign NGOs can open offices but only with explicit permission from the State Council. 

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Chinese Fugitives (April 28, 2015, China File)
Meet China’s 100 international most-wanted: a history professor, a driving instructor, and a government propaganda office cashier. Chinese graft-busters want you to know that one of them might be your neighbor.

China, Pursuing Strategic Interests, Builds Presence in Antarctica (May 3, 2015, The New York Times)
China’s operations on the continent — it opened its fourth research station last year, chose a site for a fifth, and is investing in a second icebreaker and new ice-capable planes and helicopters — are already the fastest growing of the 52 signatories to the Antarctic Treaty. That gentlemen’s agreement reached in 1959 bans military activity on the continent and aims to preserve it as one of the world’s last wildernesses; a related pact prohibits mining.

China’s Exodus of Judges (May 4, 2015, China Real Time)
A sweeping program of legal reforms being undertaken by China’s Communist Party hinges on having capable, experienced people on the bench to dispense justice. The problem: the country’s disillusioned judges are continuing to leave the courts despite government efforts to entice them to stay.

The trouble with China's anti-corruption campaign (May 5, 2015, BBC)
A ruling in Shanghai banning the husbands, wives and children of top officials from running businesses is meant, of course, to allay the deep public concern about official abuse of power. But, as has so often been the case throughout China's much-vaunted anti-corruption campaign, the tougher the rhetoric grows the wider the ridicule becomes.

China’s Military May Be a Lot Less Dangerous Than It Looks (May 6, 2015, China Real Time)
How potent is China’s People’s Liberation Army? That question is assuming new importance as China ramps up reclamation activities in the South China Sea that will give it airstrips and docks to project military might if it chooses.


Central China town tries to revive 600-year-old Islamic tradition (April 29, 2015, Global Times)
In Central China's Hunan Province lies the largest habitation of Uyghurs outside of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the minority has lived in harmony with Han and other ethnic groups for six centuries. After such a long time, they have lost some of their traditional customs. Government-led and civil efforts are underway to retain and recover their culture and religion.

New Report Highlights Roots of Religious Persecution in China (May 1, 2015, ChinaSource Blog)
The report indicates a huge spike in the number of people sentenced for religious activities. On closer examination, it appears that the vast majority of these were members of the Almighty God cult, formerly known as Eastern Lightning. Here the China Aid report is problematic in that it claims to cover “predominately Christian persecution” and includes the Almighty God sect as a “Christian sect.”

Communist Party of China embraces virtues of religion in diplomacy (May 4, 2015, Global Times)
From recent public actions, it is clear the government has seen the importance of religion to current China. The government also realizes problems could hinder its goal and thus need to be seriously addressed. That is why many expect that the change in official rhetoric will soon be reflected by a major revision in the current Regulation on Religious Affairs, which took effect 10 years ago.

Baptism Questions (May 5, 2015, Chinese Church Voices)
Most Three-Self churches in China conduct baptism services on Easter Sunday each year. In this translated article from the Gospel Times, the writer shares questions that the pastors at two large churches in China ask each person being baptized.

Does China’s Constitution Guarantee Freedom of Religion? (May 6, 2015, ChinaSource Blog)
For the outside observer seeking to make sense of China’s religious policy, the Chinese Constitution presents quite a conundrum. Article 36 of the Constitution not only guarantees freedom of religious belief and forbids discrimination on the basis of religion; it goes further in mandating that the state protect “normal” religious activities. On the other hand, this same article also stipulates that religious activities shall not disrupt public order, endanger the health of citizens, or interfere with the state’s educational system. It further goes on to forbid foreign domination of religious affairs.

Society / Life

Rewriting the role of Chinese women (April 29, 2015, Al Jazeera)
Lijia was just one of the prominent Chinese women writers featured at this year's Bookworm International Literary Festival, held in Beijing and across six other Chinese cities from March 23 to 29. The independently run event is the biggest annual gathering of its kind in China, and drew more than 50,000 guests to its 300 events. One of the festival themes was gender equality, and as a guest author Lijia believes it helped provide a platform for discussion about women's rights .

Chinese build 57-storey skyscraper in 19 days – timelapse video (April 30, 2015, The Guardian)
A Chinese development company builds a 57-storey tower in a record 19 days in Changsha, Hunan Province in southern China. The video shows a Mini Sky City skyscraper built at a brick-by-brick rate of three full levels per day.

Heard in the Hutong: How Chinese People Feel About Using English (May 1, 2015, China Real Time)
China Real Time hit the streets in Beijing to hear how ordinary residents feel about learning English, and whether Chinese forays into foreign languages get judged more harshly than those of their Western counterparts. 

'Breaking Bad' in China: how meth is spreading across rural heartland (May 3, 2015, Christian Science Monitor)
Ah Chao is a witness to the silent spread of crystal meth into China’s vast rural areas, a blight sweeping the countryside – but out of the public eye – in a striking echo of America’s experience. In China today, says Zhang Yongan, a drug policy expert at Shanghai University, “the era of synthetic drug abuse is arriving secretly.”

Visas for “Short Term Tasks” (May 4, 2015, ChinaSource Blog)
Keeping track of visa regulations in China sometimes feels like a game of Whack-a-Mole. Ten-year tourist visas! Yay! Whack! Background checks required! Ugh! Whack! New categories! Huh? Whack! It never seems to end!

People's Republic Of Uber: Making Friends, Chauffeuring People In China (May 4, 2015, NPR)
Unlike in the U.S., most here say the main reason they drive is social. They want to chat with all sorts of people and — like Xu — try to make sense of this mega-city of 24 million. My Uber drivers have included a young airline pilot who picked me up at home one morning in his Land Rover. He said he spent all his time in the cockpit, so driving for Uber was his only way to talk to passengers of any kind.

Red Statue Violator Among First on China’s Tourism Blacklist (May 6, 2015, China Real Time)
Here’s a new addition to China’s growing list of do’s and don’ts for citizens when traveling at home and abroad: don’t snap a selfie while sitting on the head of a Red Army warrior when visiting a place that considers itself a holy land of Maoist China. That’s exactly what 18-year-old Li Wenchun did on a recent visit to what’s known as a red tourism site —and now he’s paying the price.

China Tries to Fix Skewed Sex Ratios (May 6, 2015, China Real Time)
The world’s most populous nation is also the most gender-imbalanced, an unenviable title that China’s government is desperate to shed. Chinese health authorities are renewing a crackdown on pre-birth gender testing and sex-selective abortions, the official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday, in Beijing’s latest effort to beat back a traditional bias against daughters and head off a demographic crisis. The campaign, which runs from April to November, is targeting health centers and family-planning clinics, as well as illegal fertility agencies and physicians, Xinhua said.


In China, Sleepy University Students Experience a Wake-Up Call (May 6, 2015, China Real Time)
Ms. Wu is part of a “wake-up association,” one of many such clubs that have sprouted across Chinese campuses in the past few years. Every day, she takes part in a phone-tree system in which volunteers make wake-up calls to their more sluggish classmates. “Our style is that of a mutual supervision and mutual-aid group,” said Ms. Wu, a 19-year-old mechanical engineering major.

Economics / Trade / Business

Video: China and Taiwan in trade talks (May 4, 2015, BBC)
China's President Xi Jinping meets the head of Taiwan's ruling party on Monday in the highest level talks between the two sides since 2009. Taiwan's Nationalist Party, also known as the Kuomintang, was last re-elected in 2008, and it's been pushing for closer economic ties with the mainland.

China to Allow One Location/Multiple Office Registrations (May 5, 2015, China Briefing)
China has recently announced its decision to simplify companies’ registration and establishment procedures.

China Employment Law: A Memo On The Practicalities (May 5, 2015, China Law Blog)
In cleaning out my computer this weekend, I came across this memo from one of our China lawyers (who does a substantial amount of China employment law work) to a client from nearly two years ago. I gave it a quick read and near as I can tell most of it is current. The only things I would note are that the rules can and do vary from province to province and from city to city and that in some cities it is relatively easy to secure permission to have your employee work without having to pay overtime.  

Video: Xiaomi: The biggest smartphone maker you've never heard of (May 5, 2015, BBC)
You may not have heard of Xiaomi, but the Chinese smartphone maker is now a global force. BBC News presents this 60-second guide to one of the world's largest handset makers.

Science / Technology

New bird species discovered in China (May 1, 2015, The Guardian)
A new bird species has been discovered in central China by an international team of scientists. This shy brown bird, named the Sichuan bush warbler, Locustella chengi, breeds in the mountainous region of the Sichuan Basin at 1000-2300 m elevation.

History / Culture

How Time Changes in China – And Why There are no Time Zones (May 4, 2015, China Rhyming)
One of the first acts of the new Republican government in 1912  was to divide China into five time zones ranging from GMT+5.5 to GMT+8.5 – Kunlun time, Sinkiang-Tibet time, Kansu-Szechuan time, Chungyuan Standard time and Changpai time. These time zones held till 1949 when Mao said there was only one leader and only one time.

The Legacy of China's May Fourth Movement (May 5, 2015, The Diplomat)
The long-term significance of the May Fourth Movement is debated, but most historians of modern China note its significance as a turning point in China’s post-imperial transformation. It represented a significant flare-up of Chinese nationalism, and was a clear populist manifestation of China’s “century of humiliation.”

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Footloose and Falun Gong (April 29, 2015, Foreign Policy)
An evening with the dance performance trying to bring down the Chinese Communist Party.

Peking Opera: Keeping an old Chinese art form alive (May 3, 2015, BBC)
Fu Wenyu is one of a few young students who chose to study this art from a very young age. She spoke to BBC News about what it is like to keep passing on this tradition.

China’s media under Mr. Positive (May 6, 2015, China Media Project)
In China’s highly centralised system of discourse deployment, we can think of the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party as the country’s pronouncer-in-chief. Whatever consensus has massed within the CCP — through a process less centralised and far messier — emanates like heavenly light from the man at the top.

Travel / Food

China Halts All Climbing on Tibetan Side of Mt. Everest (April 30, 2015, Skift)
Hundreds of climbers and Sherpas who were attempting to climb Mount Everest from the north side when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the region are packing their gear and heading out after expedition leaders said Chinese authorities closed all climbing in Tibet for the spring.

Essential regional cuisine of China (May 5, 2015, Lonely Planet)
Everyone has their own idea of Chinese cuisine, whether it’s informed by adventurous cookbook readings or late night trips to local take-out restaurants. You can get a taste of China’s long history through the cuisine of each region, whose leaping Buddhas, lion heads and lychee pork brims brim with stories from the Silk Road, Portuguese traders and wayward monks. The culinary discoveries to be had across China are nearly endless, but this list of notable noms should give any hungry traveller a great head start.

More Chinese Airlines Are Flying to the U.S. Than American Carriers to China (May 5, 2015, TIME)
This year, for the first time ever, more Chinese airlines will be flying to the U.S. than American carriers will be heading to China, according to CAPA-Center for Aviation. During this year’s peak July 1 to Sept. 20 time period, CAPA calculates that four major Chinese carriers — Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Hainan — will send 2,028 flights to the U.S. per week, compared to 1,853 a week from U.S. airlines.

How to Get Into China Without a Visa: The 72 Hour Visa-Free Transit and 24 Hour Airport Transit (May 5, 2015, Life on Nanchang Lu)
Getting a visa to visit China is nothing short of a monumental pain in the bureaucracy. Many friends and readers have asked me if there is a way around it, so I investigated further. Believe it or not, there are perfectly legal ways to get into China without a visa.

Tea Tuesdays: Butter Up That Tea, Tibetan-Style (May 5, 2015, NPR)
Yak butter tea is often referred to as the national drink of Dhorje's homeland, Tibet. Tibetans drink it all day long — up to 60 cups a day, it's said — though they're not the only ones who enjoy it: It's consumed in countries throughout the Himalayas.

Carnival’s Fifth Ship in China Is Built for the Chinese Cruiser (May 6, 2015, Skift)
The Miami-based company said that the new Princess Cruises ship will be the first under the Princess brand to be based in China year round. It will also be the first full-time luxury international liner designed and built with Chinese travelers in mind. Princess based its first ship in China last year when it deployed its Sapphire Princess to Shanghai from June to October. The 3,600 passenger-vessel, under construction by Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard, will have features aimed at Chinese tastes such as “ocean-view hot pot” dining, the company said.

Language / Language Learning

Hone your Chinese writing ability by writing summaries (May 6, 2015, Hacking Chinese)
In this article, though, I want to look at a high-intensity activity that combines reading and writing into one. It’s the best way of improving writing ability that I know of, and can be used at any level, but works best from intermediate and up when you can read and write sentences.


帕特里夏福音故事系列 Patricia St. John Story Books (ZDL Books)

China Book Author’s Guide (April 30, 2015,Imgur)
Should I write a popular non-fiction book about China?


No Regrets, No Retreat’: A Dispatch From China (May 6, 2015, The Gospel Coalition)
You may be surprised to hear how your Christian family in China is doing. No doubt, you will be in awe at the grace of our God and Father. Good news is spreading among those 1.35 billion souls, carried along by ordinary people who believe there is no wall great enough to contain Christ’s kingdom. Tim Keesee tells their story in “No Regrets, No Retreat” (Episode 8) in the Dispatches from the Front DVD series.

Articles for Researchers

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom 2015 Annual Report (China section)

Defining China's "Civilization State". Where Is It Heading (University of Sydney China Studies Centre)
How people internalize and conceptualise the nature of the political entity within which they live matters hugely. It is not just an abstract thing, which can be left to specialists to devote time to. It is a major part of their lives, and circumscribes their relationship both with themselves and the wider world.


Image credit: Lhade Students, by Tesmdo Thar, via Flickr

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