ZGBriefs | November 1, 2018

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Featured Article

Insights into the Social Credit System on Chinese Online Media vs Its Portrayal in Western Media  (October 30, 2018, What’s on Weibo)
The lurid scenario of how China’s nascent Social Credit System (SCS) might unfold as presented by many international media, stands in stark contrast to how the topic is discussed on Chinese online media. 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China says military will act 'at any cost' to prevent Taiwan split (October 24, 2018, Reuters)
On Monday, the United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait in the second such operation this year and the latest in a series of U.S. gestures in support of democratic Taiwan. “The Taiwan issue is related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and touches upon China’s core interests,” Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said at the opening of the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing…

China’s Bad Old Days Are Back (October 30, 2018, Foreign Affairs)
For all its talk of moving forward, the country is in many ways returning to the past, with its officials and leaders displaying a new brazenness in their crackdown. (registration required)

Chinese spies charged in US with trying to steal jet engine secrets (October 30, 2018, The Guardian)
Two Chinese intelligence officers and six hackers have been charged with commercial espionage that included trying to steal information on commercial jet engines, US prosecutors have said.

The End of China’s Non-Intervention Policy in Africa -- A China in Africa Podcast (October 30, 2018, China File)
Obert Hodzi, a scholar at Boston University’s African Studies Center and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki joins Eric and Cobus to discuss his new book, The End of China’s Non-Intervention Policy in Africa, and why he thinks this major Chinese policy shift is happening in Africa faster than in other parts of the world.

China's 5 Steps For Recruiting Spies (October 31, 2018, Wired)
The recruitment follows a well-known five-step espionage road map: Spotting, assessing, developing, recruiting, and, finally, what professionals call “handling.”


Change and challenges -- Understanding three decades of Chinese church growth (October 25, 2018, World Magazine)
‘The global church can provide friendship and encouragement as the Chinese church plows new ground. We should consider how we can encourage them, pray for them, and be there for them.’

China-Vatican accord followed by the destruction of two shrines in Shanxi and Guizhou(videos)  (October 25, 2018, Asia News)
Chinese authorities tore down two shrines dedicated to Our Lady. One is Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows in Dongergou (Shanxi), and the other is Our Lady of Bliss also known as Our Lady of the Mountain, in Anlong (Guizhou). 

World Buddhist Forum to discuss contemporary value of the religion (October 29, 2018, China Daily)
Representatives from the Buddhism world will gather in Putian, Fujian province, for the fifth World Buddhist Forum, which will open on Monday to promote exchanges and discuss the contemporary value of the religion.

We Use Chinese All the Time(October 29, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
I’ve met some guys from Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Those are the more common ones. TheYemen guy was my classmate. He couldn’t speak English, so we used Chinese all the time. With the Saudi guy we mostly use Chinese also.

Communist Party-led Church Multiplication?(October 29, 2018, The Gospel Coalition)
In the case of the crackdowns we read about, they’re part of something much bigger than antipathy toward religion in general, or Christianity in particular. They are about Communist Party control.

A Shanghai Pastor Reflects on Challenges Facing the Church in China (October 30, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
Brother L does not feel the church has done a good job during the past ten years of relative freedom, either in presenting a good public image or in getting its act together internally. As a result, neither the state nor the society at large can accept the church but rather sees it as a threat.

China Stops More Than 100 Christians From Boarding Planes For Overseas Event (October 30, 2018, Radio Free Asia)
State security police at airports in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou issued the travel bans on the grounds that the would-be participants in a conference run by a U.S.-based Baptist church on Jeju Island were "likely to damage national security."

When Counting Is Hard . . . in China (2) (October 31, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Recently, a group of researchers have done a small, pilot survey in an attempt to explore the issues and challenges of estimating church growth in China. A gap of about 20-30% was identified between church attendance and church membership. Further exploration of this issue with Chinese pastors reveals that the situations are entirely different for urban and rural churches. 

Society / Life

The puzzle of China’s low crime rates (October 25, 2018, World Magazine)
What makes China a much safer country than the United States? An authoritarian government? A shame-based culture? According to China criminology expert Børge Bakken, the answer is nothing. China isn’t actually safer, he says: Instead, Chinese police underreport crime stats, and a lack of government transparency means fabricated numbers are accepted as fact.

China’s Nightmare Homestay (October 26, 2018, China Foreign Policy)
I spoke to around a dozen people about the experiences of “big sisters and brothers” in Uighur and Kazakh homes. They ranged from civilian surveillance workers who performed these visits themselves to friends and family members of these surveillance workers.

Two dead after China bus plunges 60 meters into river: state media (October 28, 2018, Reuters)
Rescuers recovered two bodies after a public bus plunged nearly 60 meters (197 ft) into a river after colliding with a car in southwestern China’s Chongqing city on Sunday, state television reported. The bus collided around 10 am (0200 GMT) into a private car that was driving against the flow of traffic on a four-lane bridge in the city’s Wanxian area. The bus then veered, broke through the bridge fence and plunged into the Yangtze river.

No WeChat, No Access – How China’s Digital Revolution is Leaving behind Its Elderly Population (October 29, 2018, What’s on Weibo)
As daily life in China becomes ever more digitally dependent, China’s elderly find themselves increasingly excluded from a wide range of services.

China Tries To Woo A Sprawling Global Chinese Diaspora (October 29, 2018, NPR)
The "roots-tracing" tour offers young people a window into a changing nation, and a chance to consider what, if anything, it has to do with them and their future.

My Mission to Record the History of China’s Leper Colonies (October 29, 2018, Sixth Tone)
For decades, social stigma and a sense of fear combined to isolate and marginalize thousands of Chinese living with leprosy. Now may be our last chance to right this wrong and finally give these individuals an opportunity to have their voices heard.

China’s Sharp Eyes surveillance system puts the security focus on public shaming (October 30, 2018, South China Morning Post)
When a resident of Anxi village in China’s southwest Sichuan province set fire to a pile of rubbish two years ago, a loudspeaker barked his name and ordered him to put the blaze out. He extinguished the flames and scuttled away.

China Plans to Blacklist Citizens for Misusing Social Security (October 31, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The guideline to curb fraudulent activities from individuals and companies will go into effect by the end of the year, according to the draft proposal.

What It's Like To Be On The Blacklist In China's New Social Credit System (October 31, 2018, NPR)
China is piloting a new social credit system, calculated from financial transactions and daily behavior. NPR's The Indicator learns what it's like to be on the country's list of untrustworthy people.

China birth rate set to continue decline this year: China Daily (November 1, 2018, Channel News Asia)
Though China's birthrate hit its highest level since 2000 in 2016, it fell 3.5 percent last year, and regional data suggests the number will fall even further this year, the newspaper said, citing Zhai Zhenwu, an expert in population studies at China's Renmin University.

Economics / Trade / Business

Europe’s Challenge to China (October 26, 2018, The Diplomat)
The EU’s new strategy on “Connecting Europe with Asia” could spell trouble for China’s “Belt and Road Initiative.”

China and Latin America: How significant are their economic relations? (October 29, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
But how significant are Sino-Latin American economic relations today? There is a tendency, particularly amongst those in the United States who see the rise of China as a threat to US hegemony, to exaggerate the scale of China’s presence in Latin America. 

Would the Last Company Manufacturing in China Please Turn Off the Lights (October 30, 2018, China Law Blog)
Well guess what everyone, there is now strong factual support for what we have been saying for the last few months. A huge chunk of American companies are looking to move their manufacturing from China.

Xi Jinping looks to the northeast to make China great again (October 30, 2018, East Asia Forum) Northeast China is the last redoubt of Maoist political economy in today’s China. It is this so-called ‘northeast economic mentality’ that Chinese officials blame for the failure of the people to embrace market reforms. But for Xi, the northeast represents something else.

US targets Chinese firm over national security fears (October 30, 2018, BBC)
The US Commerce Department said there was a "significant risk" that Fujian Jinhua could get involved in activities that may hurt US national security. The move is the latest escalation in the Trump administration's efforts to stop alleged intellectual property theft.

China reveals trade war strain as yuan slides and manufacturing stalls (October 31, 2018, The Guardian)
China’s manufacturing sector barely expanded in October as both domestic and external demand ebbed, according to a closely watched metric released on Wednesday.

Six Key China Business and Law Trends (October 31, 2018, China Law Blog)
Our China lawyers had a team meeting yesterday and as is so often the case at such meetings, much of the meeting involved our talking about what we have been seeing lately.

China to take more steps to support economy: politburo (October 31, 2018,Reuters)
The government will stabilize employment, finance, foreign trade and investment, the politburo said, reaffirming a pro-active fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy.  China will make use of foreign investment, safeguard foreign firms’ interests, it added.

Chinese Yuan Continues To Tumble In Value Against U.S. Dollar (October 31, 2018, NPR)
This makes Chinese goods imported to the U.S. cheaper and offsets the impact of President Trump's tariffs. At the same time, the stronger dollar makes it harder for U.S. companies to export to China.

US strikes at the heart of China's tech ambitions with chipmaker ban (October 31, 2018, CNN)
Its move to target a state-owned Chinese chipmaker over national security concerns goes to the heart of the clash between the two economic superpowers over technology and trade. It also exposes China's lack of successful homegrown semiconductor companies as one of the biggest vulnerabilities in the country's bid to become a global tech powerhouse.


Why China’s Student Leaders Are Turning Into Tiny Tyrants (October 25, 2018, Sixth Tone)
One of a university’s primary responsibilities is to train the world’s next generation of leaders: our future literary, scientific, and political luminaries. But in China, there is a growing concern that our schools may be manufacturing a bunch of imperious, bullying bureaucrats instead.

Health / Environment

Rhino horn: Alarm as China eases 25-year ban on rhino and tiger parts (October 30, 2018, BBC)
Rhinos and tigers are both endangered in the wild and China prohibited their trade in 1993. But on Monday it said parts from captive animals would be authorised for scientific, medical and cultural use. Experts worry this will increase demand for the animals and jeopardise efforts to protect them.

Beijing's skyline: with and without air pollution – in pictures (October 31, 2018, The Guardian)
These recent images, shot around the CBD and looking into the Forbidden City, show the difference between clear and polluted skies in Beijing a month apart (5 September and 15 October respectively)

China to promote internet-powered healthcare in impoverished areas (October 31, 2018, China Daily)
Medical institutions in less-developed regions are encouraged to explore ways to include online diagnostic services in the government's basic medical insurance program, according to China's state medical insurance administration on Wednesday.

Science / Technology

Shanghai to become first Chinese city to test autonomous trucks on public roads (October 24, 2018, Technode)
Shanghai has become the first Chinese city to issue road test licenses for autonomous trucks, with autonomous truck technology firm TuSimple being permitted to operate its vehicles on public roads. 

Chinese privately developed rocket fails to reach orbit (October 28, 2018, Reuters)
The three-stage rocket, Zhuque-1, was developed by Beijing-based Landspace. The company said in a microblog post after nominal first and second stages that the spacecraft failed to reach orbit as a result of an issue with the third stage.

Travel / Food

What I Learned From Making Hot Sauce at Scale (October 25, 2018, Medium)
I set out to create the first line of all-natural, deeply flavorful Chinese condiments. Getting there was harder than I anticipated.

Traveling to the autonomous county of Tujia and Miao of Youyang, near Chongqing (October 26, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
Called Youzhou in ancient times, Youyang represents a real cultural cradle for the 18 ethnic minorities that live there.

Red tourism brings history alive (October 31, 2018, China Daily)
Jiang Yuexin, a 47-year-old sales manager from Jiangsu province, and her undergraduate daughter were among the "red tourism" visitors who came to learn about the Party's 13-year history in the city, holding an umbrella and carefully listening to their guide's introduction of the famous Baota Tower.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Jin Yong: The 'Tolkien of Chinese literature' dies at 94 (October 31, 2018, BBC)
He's been referred to as the JRR Tolkien of Chinese literature and the grandfather of martial arts novels - but very few people have heard of him outside the Chinese-speaking world.

Language / Language Learning

The Hacking Chinese guide to Mandarin tones (October 25, 2018, Hacking Chinese)
Tones are differences in pitch that change the meaning of a spoken syllable. Unlike intonation, tones are not merely used to signal the emotions and attitudes of the speaker, they are used to differentiate between completely different words.

Living Cross-culturally

Why Expats Love Community and Struggle to Find it Again (October 22, 2018, A Life Overseas)
Expat community rises and falls on two key ingredients. PROXIMITY and NEED. Let me put it a different way. Community happens when incompetent people get mashed together.

Activating everyone’s Chinese hedgehog superstitions (October 30, 2018, China Hope Live)
The last four days I’ve been receiving unsolicited warnings from Weixin contacts, the kids’ taekwondo coaches, neighbours, and my coworkers, because last Friday we tripped over another taboo. It turns out that there are some folk beliefs attached to… hedgehogs.


Book Review: China’s Eurasian Century? Political and Strategic Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative (October 21, 2018, New Mandela)
What is the true meaning of China’s “Belt and Road”, the foreign policy initiative (BRI) launched in 2013 by President Xi Jinping, that has been debated since then in academic, media, and policy-making circles? What are its origins? What are the main drivers behind it? And how should the United States react to Beijing’s new charm offensive?

International Student Ministry in China—A New eBook (October 26, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
But international students are no longer simply heading to San Francisco or Sheffield to study; they are increasingly going to China. There are profound implications for this trend, not only for global international student ministry groups, but for the Chinese church as well.

Links for Researchers

China’s Mega City Clusters: Jing-Jin-Ji, Yangzte River Delta, Pearl River Delta (October 25, 2018, China Briefing)
The Chinese government aims for these super-regions to compete against other world-class regions around the world, including the Tokyo Bay, the New York Tri-State Area, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Image credit: by Bryan Lippincott, 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