ZGBriefs | November 14, 2019

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Featured Article

Names from God: The power of Protestant names in China  (November 13, 2019, University of Westminster Blog)
I have been conducting ethnographic research in a group of Three-Self-affiliated churches (which are registered with the state) in a coastal city in northern China for the past decade in order to further understand the everyday lives of Chinese Protestant Christians. I am currently examining formal-legal and milk names in this Three-self-affiliated Christian community. 

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Hong Kong violence prompts reminder that China troops close at hand  (November 8, 2019, Reuters)
China has a garrison of up to 12,000 troops in Hong Kong who have kept to barracks throughout the unrest, but it has vowed to crush any attempts at independence, a demand for a very small minority of protesters.

Hong Kong’s Violence Will Get Worse  (November 11, 2019, Foreign Policy)
Hong Kong nationalism is becoming a potent force—and the early days of new nations, even ones that may never materialize, are always bloody. There’s always been racism toward mainlanders and a contempt from mainlanders for Hong Kongers’ sense of identity. Today, the divide is sharper than ever.

Behind Hong Kong’s Protesters, an Army of Volunteer Pastors, Doctors and Artists  (November 11, 2019, The New York Times)
Behind the scenes, this largely leaderless movement has been sustained by a vast network of ordinary people who hand out bottled water and red bean soup at marches, drive home stranded protesters late at night and donate the gas masks that fortify demonstrators during their pitched battles with police. Hong Kong professionals have been especially vital.

Expert Estimates China Has More Than 1,000 Internment Camps For Xinjiang Uyghurs  (November 12, 2019, Radio Free Asia)
Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the Germany-based European School of Culture and Theology, recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service he is reviewing official documents and other sources of information to determine a maximum estimate for those held in a network of camps that he said likely number more than 1,000 in the XUAR.

Protesters In Hong Kong Say Their Situation Is Becoming Dire  (November 12, 2019, NPR)
A second straight day of clashes has brought much of Hong Kong to a standstill. Protesters have forced the closure of metro stations and rail lines and held increasingly tense standoffs with police. From Hong Kong, NPR's Julie McCarthy reports this months-long conflict now has taken a dangerous turn.

Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Activist Discusses Violent Clashes During Protests  (November 12, 2019, NPR)
NPR's Audie Cornish talks to Emily Lau, a pro-democracy activist and former member of the legislative council, about whether Monday's violent clashes in Hong Kong mark a turning point in the protests.

We are in a War  (November 12, 2019, The Washington Post)
Where previous upwellings of public fury were often led by students, the authorities now face a scenario where regular office workers with stable jobs and promising careers have been loosed on a path to radicalization.

Peace more distant than ever in Hong Kong as battle grips universities  (November 13, 2019, The Guardian)
After the death of a demonstrator on Friday and a weekend of clashes between police and protesters, Hong Kong woke up on Monday to live footage of a police officer shooting a 21-year-old student at close range in the stomach. Later, videos emerged of a 57-year-old construction worker being set on fire while arguing with demonstrators, and a police officer repeatedly driving his motorbike at a group of protesters.


Visualizing the Complexity: An Infographic  (November 8, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Despite the restrictions, which have been tightening over the past few years, religious life continues to flourish. Take some time to explore the complexity of religion in China.

Who Will Decide On The Dalai Lama's Successor — His Supporters Or Beijing?  (November 10, 2019, NPR)
Traditionally, the Dalai Lama himself gives instructions before he dies. He's supposed to tell aides where to look for a child who will next embody his essence. But this time, politics may complicate the search.

Politics and the pulpit: Hong Kong Christians grapple with unity in the midst of protests (November 10, 2019, Hong Kong Free Press)
As the protest movement stretches on and violence escalates, the gap between pro-democracy yellow and pro-government blue citizens deepens. The crack cuts through congregations as well.

Reflections From a Closed-Door Meeting With Urban House Church Pastors  (November 12, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
Despite increasing pressure from the government, house church leaders continue to plant churches and gather for worship because they see the church as the scaffolding of the kingdom of God.

Training Lay Leaders in China  (November 12, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
The Hou Zaimen church in Jinan, Shandong Province has gradually developed a suitable system for training lay people and managing meeting points [i.e. cell groups] which in turn has aided in the spiritual growth of believers.

A Key Way that Christians around the World Can Contribute to Gospel Growth in China: Returnees (November 13, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
While the majority of returnees continue to go to large first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, there is growing diversity in the places they are returning to. Increasing proportions of returnees are going to “new first-tier” cities such as Hangzhou and Chengdu, as well as second-tier and smaller cities.

Society / Life

The World’s Factory, On Film  (November 11, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Zhan Youbin worked for years as a migrant laborer in the heart of China’s export machine. Then, one day, he picked up a camera.

Economics / Trade / Business

How China’s New CyberSecurity Laws Can (Will?) Destroy Your Business  (November 9, 2019, China Law Blog)
Foreign companies typically put their private information in China on a private server in China so as to isolate that information from the Chinese government. China’s new laws make clear that foreign companies must turn over this information to the Chinese government and failing to do so can lead to prison time. 

China's Web Of Private Debt  (November 13, 2019, NPR)
A fragile web of cross-guarantees on corporate debt could unleash a chain of private defaults in China's industrial heartland. But workers are confident they'll be bailed out, again.

American Taxpayers Are Subsidizing Ultra-Cheap Shipping From China  (December 19, 2019, Reason)
For decades, the U.S. Postal Service has charged some countries less than it charges domestic shippers to move packages within the United States.

China Releases Draft Implementation Regulations for New Foreign Investment Law  (November 11, 2019, China Briefing)
The draft regulations focus on clarifying provisions on investment promotion, investment protection, and investment management. Experts find the document’s language purposely vague on key issues, though an optimistic few believe it indicates less scope for micro-management by government bodies.

Singles Day sales for Alibaba top $38 billion, breaking last year's record  (November 12, 2019, CNN)
The country's biggest e-commerce company had already topped last year's record 16 1/2 hours in, before it posted a final tally of 268.4 billion yuan ($38.4 billion) at the end of the day. That's an increase of about 25% over last year's $30.8 billion, a slightly slower rate of growth than Alibaba (BABA) recorded in 2018, when the company reported a 27% uptick in Singles Day revenue.

Service for Influence? The Chinese Communist Party’s Negotiated Access to Private Enterprises  (October 12, 2019, Made in China Journal)
But  whatever  practical  roles  the  Party  organisations  take on in private  enterprises, they remain  political organisations embedded in the  CCP’s network globally, through which  the  Party’s   central   leadership  disseminates  policies. 

China’s economic slump continues as manufacturing growth slows sharply, investment growth hits 20-year low  (November 14, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Industrial production grew by 4.7 per cent in October, down from 5.8 per cent in September, and below analysts’ forecasts. Retail sales and fixed asset investment growth also declined in October, as pressure builds on Beijing to arrest the downturn in the economy


Hong Kong to close all schools amid escalating protests  (November 13, 2019, BBC)
Hong Kong has announced that all schools including kindergartens will be closed on Thursday as the territory faces another day of escalating unrest. The Education Bureau announced the unprecedented step on Wednesday, citing safety reasons. Officials said schools would remain open for children needing supervision.

Stay or go? Hong Kong’s international students pack their bags amid protest chaos  (November 13, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Foreign students are being called home or face the agonising decision of whether to wait out the unrest. Hundreds of mainland Chinese students are also fleeing, while Taiwan is evacuating 81 from Chinese University after campus clashes

Health / Environment

Two People Diagnosed With Plague in Beijing, Authorities Say  (November 13, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Two people from Inner Mongolia in northern China have been diagnosed with pneumonic plague, Beijing health authorities said Tuesday. A notice posted on the official website of Beijing’s Chaoyang District government confirmed that a local hospital had admitted and diagnosed the two patients from Xilin Gol League in Inner Mongolia. The patients are being treated at a Beijing hospital, the notice said, and measures are being taken to prevent the spread of the highly contagious and potentially fatal disease.

History / Culture

Video: Cultural Revolution era documentary: 掀起革命大批判新高潮 1967  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Video: A Look Back at China’s Favorite Imports  (November 7, 2019, Sixth Tone)
In the late 1970s, economic reforms took place on the Chinese mainland. As a result, Chinese consumers had increasing access to imports, such as Coca-Cola, KFC, Sony Walkman, and even pop culture. This video highlights popular imported products in the Chinese mainland, from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Travel / Food

Beijing Daxing: China’s New Destination Airport  (November 7, 2019, Wild China Blog)
The airport is a place to visit in and of itself. Designed by an award-winning team, featuring viewing platforms and indoor gardens, and containing modern art installations, Daxing is set to become one of those airports that you will never forget flying through. 

Yellowstone in Tibet: China designs new national park system  (November 12, 2019, Christian Science Monitor)
China is limiting development on the Tibetan plateau as it prepares to launch a national parks system based on global best practices and new science.

Gluttons for Gluten  (November 12, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Globally, the market in gluten-free foods is worth an estimate of 17.59 billion USD as of 2018, but China seems to not have gotten the memo. Not only are gluten-free options almost impossible to find the country’s restaurants and supermarkets, Chinese cuisine has a long history of cooking the wheat protein by itself as a main or side dish.

Chinese Takeout: Is This Chengdu’s Greatest Street Food?  (November 14, 2019, Radii China)
When it comes to the latter, declaring a favorite place to eat in the city can spark long, heated debates (which ideally take place over a meal). But for Chengdu’s dedicated followers of food, one eatery that’s likely to make most people’s top lists is Yan Taipo’s modest guokui stall near Wenshu Monastery.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

‘The scene has exploded’: China gets set to be leading global centre for art  (November 10, 2019, The Guardian)
Shanghai is fuelling China’s transition to world’s biggest art market – despite the thorny issue of censorship.

The Chinese Mayor: A Film Review  (November 11, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
In 2008, Geng Yanbo was assigned to be the mayor of Datong by the Communist Party with a directive to fix the city, hoping to return it to being a flourishing hub of culture and tourism. In order to make this happen, Geng had an elaborate plan that involved relocating 500,000 people (30% of the city) and this is where the story begins.

Born in the 1920s, Shanghai Jazz is Still Going Strong a Century Later  (November 11, 2019, Radii China)
Mixing local musical traditions and innovative approaches with the fundamentals, a new generation of Shanghai jazz artists keeps the storied genre alive.

Chinese Anti-Bullying Movie “Better Days” Becomes Hit at Box Office and on Social Media  (November 13, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
The Chinese movie Better Days (少年的你) is a hit; not just in Chinese cinemas, but also on social media, where campus bullying – one of the film’s main themes – is a recurring topic of debate.

Language / Language Learning

The Bagel Gets No Respect in China  (November 13, 2019, Sinosplice)
The Chinese Name for “Bagel” is 贝果. Now, of course 贝果 (bèiguǒ) is a simple transliteration for the English word “bagel.” But there are good transliterations, and there are bad ones.

Image credit: Joann Pittman
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