ZGBriefs | November 12, 2020

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Featured Article

China’s Two-Child Policy, Five Years On  (Sixth Tone)
In this series, Sixth Tone speaks with families, family-planning officials, and policymakers to provide fresh insights into how the two-child policy has affected society, how the restrictions are enforced, and what the government might do to fix the existing challenges.

Sponsored Link

Online Lecture: The Role of Confucian and Christian Dialogue in China Puzzle, by Dr. Diane Obenchain
Hosted by China Academic Consortium.
Focusing on the family as the core of both Confucian and Christian civilization, Dr. Obenchain will examine Chinese family relations, Confucian moral transformation of family relations, and Christian moral transformation of family relations.  She will help us discover what is shared in common and what is different in Confucian and Christian moral transformation of the family, and close with a discussion of how we can work together in areas of shared common interest. Dr. Obenchain is an expert on Confucian tradition and Director of the China Initiative at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. 

Go here to register. 
(Co-sponsored by ChinaSource and the United States China Catholic Association)

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Canada-China Relationship Is Quickly Deteriorating After Huawei CFO’s Arrest  (November 5, 2020, NPR)
China-Canada relations are getting increasingly tense, with both sides hurling insults and threats. The feud ignited after Canada agreed to a U.S. request to extradite a Huawei executive.

Coronavirus: China extends ban on foreign visitors to eight more countries, including India, France and Russia  (November 6, 2020, South China Morning Post)
China has suspended entry for foreign visitors from a further eight countries as it seeks to prevent importing the coronavirus. Notices telling people about the restrictions were posted on the websites of China’s embassies in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, France, India, Italy, Nigeria, Russia and Ukraine on Thursday. They came after would-be travellers from Britain, Belgium and the Philippines were given a similar message.

Xi Jinping’s Strength Is China’s Weakness  (November 9, 2020, The New York Times)
Now that he is so firmly in charge of the party, with no clear rivals and no known succession plan, he is also setting the stage for a full-blown crisis of leadership in the future. The greatness of Mr. Xi’s power is its greatest weakness.

In China, is Big Brother everywhere? Not quite yet, report says  (November 10, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Local and central governments have spent billions of yuan building camera surveillance networks but it’s not an all-seeing system, researchers say. The technology is not linked nationwide but it may be just a matter of time, they say.

Taiwan: Rising stakes for Australia  (November 10, 2020, The China Story)
Whether it likes it or not, Australia is a major stakeholder in any future conflict arising around Taiwan. As an ANZUS treaty ally, Australia is at risk of being dragged into events. Yet as a middle power, Australia has the potential wherewithal to mediate and prevent the fighting.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers to resign en masse  (November 11, 2020, AP)
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers announced Wednesday they would resign en masse after four of them were ousted from the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s Legislature in a move one legislator said could sound the “death knell” for democracy there. […] The mass departure will also leave Hong Kong’s Legislature with only pro-Beijing lawmakers, who already made up a majority but can now pass bills favored by Beijing without much opposition.

NPCSC Clarifies “Allegiance” Requirements for Hong Kong Legislators, Disqualifies Pro-Democracy Legislators  (November 11, 2020, NPC Observer)
The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) adopted on Wednesday, November 11 a decision on the qualifications for members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo), resulting in the immediate disqualification of four pro-democracy legislators: Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki, Dennis Kwok, Kenneth Leung. 

Gifts, popsicles and mass: Chinese villagers recall Biden’s 2001 visit  (November 11, 2020, The Straits Times)
Nearly two decades ago, the residents of a small Chinese village near Beijing were visited by a foreigner who is soon to become America’s most powerful man: Joe Biden. In August 2001, now President-elect Biden was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he made an official visit to China and stopped at the village of Yanzikou, talking with villagers and buying ice creams for the children.

US imposes sanctions on 4 more over HK freedom curbs  (November 11, 2020, The Straits Times)
The United States has imposed sanctions on four more officials accused of curbing freedoms in Hong Kong, vowing accountability over China’s clampdown in the city. Ms Edwina Lau, head of the National Security Division of the Hong Kong Police Force, is among the officials who will be barred from travelling to the US and whose US-based assets, if any, will be frozen.


3 Reasons to Celebrate from One Who Stayed  (November 6, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
This past year we’ve seen a lot of loss. Loss of friends who can’t return to China because of closed borders. Loss of friends who decided to leave China and not return. Loss of ministry opportunities. Loss of fellowship. Loss of a sense of stability. For those of us “left behind” or who chose to stay behind in China, there has been much to lament. But, there has also been much to celebrate. I want to highlight three areas to celebrate from my perspective of one who has stayed behind in China.

The Chinese Church’s Context May Be More Complex than You Thought  (November 9, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
In a blog published a couple of months ago I argued that the church in China may be more complex than you thought. In fact, I believe our tendency to ignore the complexity of the church in China has to do with our failure to take the complexity of the Chinese church’s context, namely their country, seriously enough. Without grappling with the complex social and political context of the Chinese church, we are not able to fully understand why the church itself is so complex or how to develop a proper relationship with the church in China.

Xi Jinping at Buddhism’s Core  (November 9, 2020, China Media Beat)
But Da Ci’en Temple can also be understood as a symbol today of just how deeply the politics and ideology of the Chinese Communist Party have permeated all aspects of Chinese life, including religion.

Where Can Young People Turn? (3)  (November 10, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article, the journal Territory interviews Deng Hongmei, a Chinese Christian counselor with decades of counseling experience. Deng gives moving testimony about the current emotional plight of Chinese young people, and provides penetrating analysis that is helpful to better understand the challenges that Chinese young people face today.

Society / Life

‘Black Mirror,’ Real Lives: Documenting China’s Digital Underclass  (October 16, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Chinese internet platforms promise a new era of freedom, convenience, and opportunity. But as a new documentary explores, reality feels very different.

China finally waves goodbye to family planning as country gets old, but is the damage already done?  (November 9, 2020, South China Morning Post)
China’s ‘Jihua Shengyu’, or family planning, policy was not included in the latest national plan released by the ruling Communist Party. China’s one-child policy, which became a two child policy in 2016, was in place for four decades until the social and economic costs became just too obvious to ignore

Wheels of Fortune  (November 10, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Li is one of China’s estimated 30 million truck drivers who together deliver over 40 billion tons of goods around the country each year. As Chinese manufacturing soared, incomes rose, and internet commerce boomed into a 2-trillion-dollar industry, the demand for logistics and goods delivery has rocketed.

Video: A look at China’s Singles Day  (November 11, 2020, The Star)
China’s ‘Singles Day’ by e-commerce giant Alibaba has set new sales records year on year. Here’s how it’s managed to become the biggest online sales event in the world.

The wild and wacky things you could buy during Singles’ Day  (November 11, 2020, Inkstone News)
Singles’ Day is the largest festival dedicated to consumerism in the world. It also means there are some strange, silly and clever things to buy.

Workaholic Shenzhen city makes leave time mandatory in first for China  (November 11, 2020, Reuters)
The southern Chinese technology hub of Shenzhen, notorious for its long work hours, will become China’s first city to require that workers take paid leave, a move to help reduce burnout that may be replicated in other parts of the country.

Economics / Trade / Business

What Stanley Black & Decker’s Shenzhen Departure Tells Us  (November 8, 2020, China Law Blog)
Shenzhen is changing and moving up the value chain, but its old-school manufacturing sector is alive and kicking, as shown by the demand for the laid-off Stanley Black & Decker’s employees. Looking closely at the story, it appears Stanley Black & Decker’s decision was not the result of falling out of place in the brave new Shenzhen – but rather of the same old China problems, including the following:

China to clamp down on internet giants  (November 10, 2020, BBC)
China has proposed new regulations aimed at curbing the power of its biggest internet companies. The regulations suggest increasing unease in Beijing with the growing influence of digital platforms. […] The 22-page draft by the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) will for the first attempt to define anti-competitive behaviour for the tech sector. The new rules will attempt to stop companies from sharing sensitive consumer data, teaming up to squeeze out smaller rivals and selling at a loss to eliminate competitors.

Why China’s Economy Keeps Booming Even After COVID-19  (November 10, 2020, The Diplomat)
With the pandemic controlled and society going back to normal, innovation and digitization are unleashing economic growth in China.

Alibaba’s Singles Day sales top $74 billion, up 26%  (November 11, 2020, Market Watch)
Alibaba’s platform handled 583,000 orders per second during peak activity, the company said. Some 250,000 brands participated this year, of which 31,000 were overseas brands, Alibaba said. 

China Expat Employment Contracts: Red Flags  (November 11, 2020, China Law Blog)
As most of the major cities in China are getting back to normal and looking again at hiring foreign employees, we are seeing an uptick in needs in this area. Prospective/existing expat clients often ask us what are some of the main red flags we see in expat employment contract.s The below lists the expat employment problems we often see.


Biden Win Renews Hope for Chinese Students’ Study Abroad Plans  (November 11, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Stringent visa policies and the coronavirus pandemic thwarted the plans of thousands of students who had been preparing for an American education.

Health / Environment

China Turns to Tech to Heal Its Ailing Health Clinics  (November 7, 2020, Sixth Tone)
COVID-19 exposed China’s overreliance on large urban hospitals. Now, the country hopes digital technology can ease the problem.

Chinese glaciers melting at ‘shocking’ pace, scientists say  (November 9, 2020, CNN)
Glaciers in China’s bleak Qilian mountains are disappearing at a shocking rate as global warming brings unpredictable change and raises the prospect of crippling, long-term water shortages, scientists say. The largest glacier in the 800-kilometer (500-mile) mountain chain on the arid northeastern edge of the Tibetan plateau has retreated about 450 meters since the 1950s, when researchers set up China’s first monitoring station to study it.

Science / Technology

China breaks national record for Mariana Trench manned-dive amid race for deep sea resources  (November 11, 2020, CNN)
China has broken its own record for deepest manned dive into the world’s oceans, sinking an estimated 10,909 meters (35,790 feet) into the Mariana Trench, state-run news agency Xinhua said. The submersible, named “fendouzhe,” or “striver,” landed on the sea bed at the bottom of the deepest oceanic trench on Earth on Tuesday morning, Xinhua said, after setting off from China’s Hainan province one month earlier.

History / Culture

Through Fire and Flames: How China’s Palace Museum Survived WWII  (November 9, 2020, Sixth Tone)
After the Japanese invaded in 1937, museum staff protected the collection through bombs and landslides, only to see it split once more.

Travel / Food

American Airlines restarts China flights, bringing U.S. weekly total to 10  (November 11, 2020, Reuters)
American Airlines said it is restarting passenger flights to China on Wednesday, lifting the total number of U.S. weekly flights to 10 as the U.S. government continues to push for more air service between the world’s two largest economies.

Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble to start on Nov 22 with one flight a day to each city  (November 11, 2020, The Straits Times)
Travellers from Singapore will be able to travel to Hong Kong for leisure from Nov 22, in the first air travel bubble arrangement for the Republic since border restrictions were imposed amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The scheme will start with one flight a day into each city with a quota of 200 travellers per flight, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced in Singapore on Wednesday (Nov 11). This will be increased to two flights a day from Dec 7.

HK tightens entry rules with hotel quarantine for all arrivals other than from China  (November 11, 2020, The Straits Times)
The Hong Kong government has moved to tighten restrictions for entry into the territory. From Friday (Nov 13), all arrivals other than those from mainland China will have to undergo 14-days of quarantine in a hotel instead of a residential property. Currently, the rule only applies to people arriving from 15 countries deemed to be at high risk.

Sichuan Peppercorn: A Chinese Spice So Hot it Cools  (November 11, 2020, BBC)
Tongue ablaze and face flushed, I felt a prickliness starting to numb my taste buds. The waiter chuckled at my glistening forehead and handed me a handkerchief; it was clear who at the table was the foreigner not yet acclimated to local flavours. Unsettling at first, that tingly feeling of electricity offered a pleasant reprieve from the heat. This curious effect was thanks to one of the most integral ingredients in this province’s distinctive cuisine: the tiny-but-mighty Sichuan peppercorn, a spice indigenous to China.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Hong Kong’s dying news stands tell a story of change  (November 10, 2020, BBC)
For decades now, news stands have been a beloved fixture of Hong Kong street corners, and a reminder of its proudly free media.  […] What has happened to them over the years is also the story of Hong Kong’s changing media – especially now, when journalists are facing additional challenges in the wake of a severe national security law.

‘Beethoven in Beijing’ film captures Philadelphia Orchestra’s historic visit to China  (November 11, 2020, Philadelphia Post-Gazette)
“Beethoven in Beijing,” a 92-minute documentary about that groundbreaking trip, effectively dramatizes how the orchestra’s superb musicianship attuned China to the power of classical music to change lives. Audiences in China were eager to hear Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Ravel partly because after 1966, Western music all but disappeared during the country’s Cultural Revolution. 

Living Cross-culturally

Video: Foreigners in China join army of online live-streamers to sell Chinese products around the world (November 11, 2020, Inkstone News)
China’s live-stream retail market is projected to grow to be worth $145 billion in 2020, according to iiMedia Research. The increase has been linked to a surge in online activity during the coronavirus pandemic. But Chinese retailers are eager to expand their businesses beyond the country and are hiring multilingual foreigners living in China to approach customers abroad.

What to Do When Things Just Don’t Feel Right  (November 11, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Finally, in relation to the country of China—where I’ve had the opportunity to live and serve for more than a decade—how do I (as an American) keep a balanced perspective between honoring, respecting, and upholding China’s laws—even those that I may strongly disagree agree with—while at the same time not losing Christ’s heart, compassion, and love for China’s 1.44 billion people—most of whom don’t know him and many of whom struggle each day to survive? 


The Invention of China (November 10, 2020, China Rhyming)
China’s current leadership lays claim to a 5,000-year-old civilization, but “China” as a unified country and people, Bill Hayton argues, was created far more recently by a small group of intellectuals. In this compelling account, Hayton shows how China’s present-day geopolitical problems-the fates of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, and the South China Sea-were born in the struggle to create a modern nation-state.

Red Guards in Tibet  (November 10, 2020, China Channel)
In her new book Forbidden Memory: Tibet During the Cultural Revolution, Tibetan author Tsering Woeser dissects the impacts of China’s Cultural Revolution on Tibet. In this interview the book’s editor, Robert Barnett, together with its translator Susan Chen, speak with Woeser about the English-language version of her book and the enduring significance of the photos taken by her father, Tsering Dorje.

Pray for China

November 12, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Nov. 12, 1894, a copy of the New Testament Delegates’ Version* was presented to the Empress Dowager (慈禧太后) for her 60th birthday. The financing for this printing of the Delegates’ Version included donations from over 10,000 Chinese Christian women. Less than six years later, she unleashed Boxer and Imperial soldiers on Christians, with over 32,000 Chinese Christians being murdered. Pray for Christian women to glorify the Lord Jesus with abundant lives rooted in His Word. *A Chinese translation completed primarily by the work of English missionaries Medhurst, Stronach, and Milne about 1850. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10b

Image credit: Joann Pittman, 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