ZGBriefs | May 9, 2019

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Featured Article

The Hermit Culture Living On in China’s Misty Mountains  (May 4, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Zhang Shiquan, the recently converted Taoist devotee, draws a link between the popularity of hermitism and disillusionment with China’s fast-paced, capitalist economic development. “In the past, real hermits went somewhere quiet to muse about the world,” Zhang says. “Now, many people come here just because they’re sick of it.”

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China will build string of military bases around world, says Pentagon (May 2, 2019, The Guardian)
The US defense department expects China to add military bases around the world to protect its investments in it ambitious One Belt One Road global infrastructure program, according to an official report released on Thursday. Beijing currently has just one overseas military base, in Djibouti, but is believed planning others, including possibly Pakistan, as it seeks to project itself as a global superpower.

As Chinese Flock to Siberia’s Lake Baikal, Local Russians Growl  (May 2, 2019, The New York Times)
Yet, this supposed new era of Sino-Russian friendship is exhibiting pronounced strains in Listvyanka, an old resort town on the lake, as an influx of Chinese tourists and businesses stirs recurrent Russian fears of a Chinese land grab and raises concerns about polluting the lake.

Is New Zealand’s relationship with China on the rocks?  (May 2, 2019, East Asia Forum)
But as previous months have shown, maintaining a constructive and comprehensive relationship with China will remain challenging as New Zealand learns to deal with a more confident China increasingly engaging the world on its own terms and in the context of an intensified US–China rivalry.

How Chinese Spies Got the N.S.A.’s Hacking Tools, and Used Them for Attacks  (May 6, 2019, The New York Times)
Chinese intelligence agents acquired National Security Agency hacking tools and repurposed them in 2016 to attack American allies and private companies in Europe and Asia, a leading cybersecurity firm has discovered. The episode is the latest evidence that the United States has lost control of key parts of its cybersecurity arsenal.

Video: Trump's Trade War (May 7, 2019, Frontline, PBS)
The inside story of President Trump’s gamble to confront China over trade. Reporting from the U.S. and China, NPR and FRONTLINE investigate what led the world’s two largest economies to the brink, and the billions at stake.

Xi Jinping Wanted Global Dominance. He Overshot. (May 7, 2019, The New York Times)
The trade war, on the other hand, is the first real occasion to assess Mr. Xi’s leadership capabilities. And his performance might not look so good, even if one discounts the setbacks related to the trade war.

Images show construction of China's third aircraft carrier, thinktank says (May 7, 2019, The Guardian)
ChinaPower, a unit of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, published photos of a large vessel under construction at the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai.

China reportedly backtracked on nearly all aspects of U.S. trade deal (May 8, 2019, NBC News)
The 150-page trade document that had taken months to negotiate was sent back to Washington riddled with reversals by China that undermined core U.S. demands.

Extradition proceedings for Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou to begin in January (May 8, 2019, The Star)
The potentially years-long showdown that will see Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou resist attempts to send her stateside will begin in January, pending a review of scheduling conflicts by Associate Chief Justice Heather J. Holmes.


Reconciliation Is Good, But . . . (May 6, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Reconciliation is essential to Christian faith. On the level of ministry, Christian unity and reconciliation between divisive parties within the church have always been valued and sought for in the church throughout the ages. When we come to the Protestant church in mainland China today, the most profound division is between the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the so-called house church. Since the 1950s, these two segments of the Christian community have been dominant in the life of the Chinese church, and remains so today.

Revealed: new evidence of China's mission to raze the mosques of Xinjiang (May 6, 2019, The Guardian)
Using satellite imagery, the Guardian and Bellingcat open-source analyst Nick Waters checked the locations of 100 mosques and shrines identified by former residents, researchers, and crowdsourced mapping tools. Out of 91 sites analysed, 31 mosques and two major shrines, including the Imam Asim complex and another site, suffered significant structural damage between 2016 and 2018.

Chinese Bible Printing in China: The Story of Amity Printing Company (May 7, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first edition of the completed Mandarin Union Version Bible. Instrumental in the distribution of this Bible in China has been Amity Printing Press in Nanjing. Home to the world’s largest Bible printing press, Amity Printing Company in China prints millions of Bibles each year for Chinese Christians and for Christians around the world. This article from China Christian Daily details how Amity came to be.

Tongliao of Inner Mongolia Ordains 32 Church Workers, the Largest Number Ever (May 7, 2019, China Christian Daily)
This ordination and worship service marked the largest number of clergy to be ordained in the century-old history of Christianity in Tongliao. More than 1,000 believers of the church in Horqin District also witnessed this historical moment. 

Society / Life

Canadian drug smuggler to appeal against death penalty in China (May 8, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Schellenberg was sentenced to death on drug trafficking charges in January. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced that decision as one that was “arbitrarily” taken. Schellenberg’s appeal would be heard at Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in northeastern Liaoning province, a source said.

China’s northeastern rust belt struggling to retain population as economic slowdown speeds up exodus (May 8, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Tieling, in the north of Liaoning province, is a typical city in China’s northeastern rust belt as it is gradually hollowed out by population loss and economic weakness. By China’s standards, it is still a big city with more than 2 million residents. It lays claim to being the birthplace of several popular song and dance duets, but like the rest of the northeast, its economy has suffered as the traditional low-tech industrial sector has shrunk.

China's migrant worker population growth slows down (May 8, 2019, China Daily)
The number of migrant workers increased 0.6 percent year-on-year to 288.36 million in 2018, said a recent report from the National Bureau of Statistics. The growth rate dropped 1.1 percentage points from one year earlier. East and Northeast China saw fewer migrant workers last year, while the central and western regions maintained growth, the report said.

Economics / Trade / Business

Chinese banks quietly lower daily limit on foreign-currency cash withdrawals (May 3, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Chinese banks have increased their scrutiny of foreign-currency withdrawals and quietly reduced the amount of US dollars people are allowed to withdraw, tightening the country’s capital controls as the nearly year-long US-China trade war bites.

Belt and Road Initiative: A Reading Roundup (May 3, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
With the conclusion of the summit, I thought it would be a good time to round up some good reads on BRI that have been published recently.

Why is the white hot Chinese tech sector cooling down? (May 7, 2019, BBC)
But China's economy, which has enjoyed double-digit growth in six of the last 15 years, will slow to 6.3% growth in 2019, predicts the International Monetary Fund. This is still double the world's average, but China's slowest growth since 1990. And China's start-up scene, boasting a third of the world's "unicorns" - start-ups worth more than $1bn (£769m) - is plotting a "strategic restructuring" as the economy and tech sector cool, Ms Liu says.

The US-China Cold War Starts Now: What You Must do to Prepare (May 8, 2019,China Law Blog)
what is happening with China right now is extraordinary and it will no doubt lead to tough times for many companies, especially those that have been heretofore unprepared.


A Chinese Cheating Ring at UCLA Reveals an Industry Devoted to Helping International Students Scam Grades (April 26, 2019, Los Angeles Magazine)
According to prosecutors, Cai, along with four current and former UCLA students and another student at Cal State Fullerton, helped at least 40 Chinese nationals obtain student visas by fraudulently taking the TOEFL, an English proficiency exam, on their behalf. 

Admissions Scandal: When ‘Hard Work’ (Plus $6.5 Million) Helps Get You Into Stanford  (May 2, 2019, The New York Times)
The video was recorded in the summer before Ms. Zhao began her freshman year, in 2017. It now stands in sharp contrast with recent news: that her parents paid $6.5 million to a college consultant at the center of an international college admissions scheme, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The Chinese Parents in the US College Admissions Scandal: Why I Believe Them and Why this Matters to You  (May 5, 2019, China Law Blog)
In this post I will talk about how the international lawyers so often see foreigners get duped because they 1) don’t understand “the system” in a foreign country and then 2) compound that problem by — for whatever reason — not bringing on the right people to help them. 

China roots out its ‘gaokao migrants’ as university entrance exam nears(May 7, 2019, South China Morning Post)
These “migrants” – students who register to take the exam in a different province to boost their chances of scoring higher – are a widely recognised phenomenon in China.

Chinese University Staff 'Must Study' Marxism, Maoist and Xi Jinping Ideology (May 7, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
The ruling Chinese Communist Party has launched a new wave of political training for colleges and universities that aims to instill the ideology of President Xi Jinping and late supreme leader Mao Zedong in staff and students alike. The Ministry of Education released on Monday a five-year training plan for teachers via a series of "political theory" courses in colleges and universities.

Successful engagement with China in an educational context: A BACS-Asia Research Institute Round Table  (May 8, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
Partnerships with Chinese schools in the form of exchanges or summer schools pay dividends to a student’s learning and understanding of not just the language, but the culture as well.

Health / Environment

Meet the man on a mission to save the Yangtze River from overfishing  (May 2, 2019, South China Morning Post)
With imagination, dedication and money a Chinese businessman is working to restore the waterway of his childhood. Harmful fishing methods have caused a dramatic drop in stocks since the 1990s.

Factory Psychology: My Time Counseling China’s Migrant Workers (May 6, 2019, Sixth Tone)
As one of a handful of factory-affiliated mental health professionals in a city of 5 million industrial workers, I know firsthand just how hard it is for migrants to find help.

Chinese researchers using brain implants to help drug addicts (May 8, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The treatment – deep brain stimulation (DBS) – has long been used for movement disorders like Parkinson’s. Now, the first clinical trial of DBS for methamphetamine addiction is being conducted at Shanghai’s Ruijin Hospital, along with parallel trials for opioid addicts.

Beijing Urbanizes, and a Much-Loved Bird Vanishes From the City (May 8, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Habitat disruption and a lack of prey are forcing iconic long-eared owls out of the capital — but locals are finally starting to give a hoot about protecting them.

History / Culture

May Fourth at 100: A Reading Round-Up (May 6, 2019, Maura Cunningham)
During the past week of centenary commemoration, Xi Jinping and the Party he leads have walked a fine line of praising the May Fourth legacy of nationalism and revolution while clearly communicating that no attempts should be made to replicate the actions of the previous century.

The night the US bombed a Chinese embassy (May 7, 2019, BBC)
The US and Nato were already facing scrutiny over mounting civilian casualties in a bombing campaign conducted without UN authorisation and fiercely opposed by China and Russia. They had now attacked a symbol of Chinese sovereignty in the heart of the Balkans.

This Year, I Couldn’t Avoid May Fourth (May 8, 2019, China File)
For all its sense of patriotism and public responsibility, its undeniably charismatic passion and audacity, the movement also represented a destructive, wholesale rejection of China’s sociocultural traditions that would lead the country down some truly dark and twisted alleys in the decades that followed. It was, to some extent, the moment that China lost its sense of self, replacing it with a frenzied, radical, yet disturbingly empty search for identity and normative orientation that continues to this day.

Travel / Food

Iconic American Burger Joint Five Guys to Open in Beijing in September (May 7, 2019, The Beijinger)
Slated for a September opening in Xidan's Galeries Lafayette mall, Five Guys will serve their signature burgers, fries and other junk food that Beijingers will no doubt scarf down in massive quantities (while at the same time complaining that Western food is so unhealthy).

Beijing's new airport gears up to welcome four test flights (May 8, 2019, China Daily)
Beijing Daxing International Airport plans to welcome four planes on test flight next Monday, Beijing Youth Daily reported. Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines will dispatch flagship models 747-8, A359 and A380, respectively. Meanwhile, Xiamen Airlines will send a Boeing 787 to take part in the test flight.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

CBS Censors a ‘Good Fight’ Segment. Its Topic Was Chinese Censorship. (May 7, 2019, The New York Times
Mr. Coulton said that he was told that CBS had concerns for the safety of its employees in China if the segment were included. CBS also has a Chinese audience, and when releasing content that is critical of China, American entertainment companies often have to weigh the risk of having their shows or movies blocked in the country.

Language / Language Learning

Why we say "Beizhing" and not "Beijing" (May 2, 2019, Language Log
Well, I don't say "Beizhing", and I think it sounds ghastly, so much so that I cringe when I hear it and my flesh creeps.  I never could figure out why English speakers would use this hideous pronunciation when it would be so much easier, transparent, and direct just to pronounce the name the way it looks:  "bei-", like "bay", as in "Beirut" (we don't have any trouble with that, do we?), and "-jing" as in "jingle".  BEI- -JING!  Voilà! 

Chinese translation challenge, May 2019  (May 7, 2019, Hacking Chinese)
When I talk about translation as a learning method, I’m including both translation from Chinese to your native language, and from your native language to Chinese. These are obviously completely different activities that can be beneficial in different ways, but more about that later; I just want to make it clear that both are part of this month’s learning challenge.

Don’t Waste Time Studying What You Can Simply Acquire (May 8, 2019, Sinosplice)
If you continue to strive to sound like native speakers, imitating their speech patterns as well as you can, you will get closer and closer to native as time goes on, and that includes implicitly learning aspects of the language that you didn’t even know you were learning.

Living Cross-culturally

Wǒ Men Podcast: How the China Expat Experience is Changing  (May 3, 2019, Radii China)
One of the stereotypical lifestyle of old generations of expats is that they hang out in bar districts, commute on an old fashioned bicycle and live in a traditional neighborhood such as Beijing’s hutong alleyways. But how do the younger generation of oversea students and expats live in China and immerse themselves in Chinese culture?

The Chinese-Born American (May 8, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Yang was born into notoriety. The search for a peaceful and bucolic life had led Hinton to China in 1946, where she married her childhood friend, Erwin “Sid” Engst, a dairy farming expert who had previously emigrated to the Communist headquarters in Yan’an after reading Edgar Snow’s Red Star over China.


Making China Modern: From the Great Qing to Xi Jinping  (April 11, 2019, China File)
It is tempting to attribute China’s recent ascendance to changes in political leadership and economic policy. Making China Modern teaches otherwise. Moving beyond the standard framework of Cold War competition and national resurgence, Klaus Mühlhahn situates 21st-century China in the nation’s long history of creative adaptation.

Studying Christianity in China: A Book Review (May 8, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
The last decade has seen an increase in the number of young Chinese scholars choosing to make Christianity part of their academic studies. Naomi Thurston spent several years trying to understand this community. Based on her open-ended interviews with fifty Chinese scholars of Christian studies, this book presents Thurston’s doctoral analysis of this fascinating phenomenon.

We’re Going Home: Reentry for Elementary Children (free download) (Missionary Care)
Written at a third grade level, We’re Going Home includes the story of a family returning to its passport culture. Each chapter also has activities such as scrambled words, crossword puzzles, word searches, mazes, and codes.

Links for Researchers

Belt and Road Tracker  (May 8, 2019, Council on Foreign Relations)
This tracker shows how the Belt and Road Initiative has changed countries’ bilateral economic relationships with China over time.

Image credit: Mark Pernell, 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