ZGBriefs | November 19, 2020

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Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States next Thursday, there will be no ZGBriefs on November 25.

Featured Article

Catholic Mass in Shanghai in the Time of COVID (2020)  (November 17, 2020, Sinosplice)
English Church services for foreigners have still not been allowed to resume, even though church services in Chinese resumed months ago. (I assume it’s the same for Catholics as for other Christians, but I’ll correct this if I’m wrong.) […] Anyway, I took some photos last Sunday at the Xujiahui cathedral, St. Ignatius.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Britain, EU Join U.S. In Condemning China’s Crackdown On Hong Kong Lawmakers  (November 12, 2020, NPR)
Britain and the European Union on Thursday condemned China’s move to disqualify four pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong — an action that has led to the mass resignation of the opposition in the city’s legislature. The move follows the approval on Wednesday by China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee of a resolution giving Hong Kong authorities the power to bypass local courts and summarily remove politicians seen as a threat to security.

Federal Lawsuit Charges Billionaire Chinese Media Executive with Making ‘Terroristic Threats’ Against Noted Religious-Freedom Advocate  (November 13, 2020, PR Newswire)
Attorneys for renowned Chinese activist, author and religious leader Bob Fu have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Guo Wengui, the billionaire owner of Beijing Zenith Holdings, unlawfully targeted Pastor Fu through online death threats and protests at the Fu family home in Midland. According to the lawsuit, Guo is orchestrating a “multi-faceted campaign of character assassination” to silence Pastor Fu and his longstanding work to promote religious freedom and human rights within China.

Senior Chinese official says authorities working on more Hong Kong reforms, including judiciary  (November 16, 2020, Reuters)
Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, told a legal summit in the global financial hub that moves to “perfect” the legal system in Hong Kong would not undermine judicial independence.

‘If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy’: Beijing’s fresh threat to Australia  (November 18, 2020, Sydney Morning Herald)
Beijing has issued an extraordinary attack on the Australian government, accusing it of “poisoning bilateral relations” in a deliberately leaked document that threatens to escalate tensions between the two countries. The government document goes further than any public statements made by the Chinese Communist Party, accusing the Morrison government of attempting “to torpedo” Victoria’s Belt and Road deal, and blaming Canberra for “unfriendly or antagonistic” reports on China by independent Australian media.

China’s new wolf warrior diplomacy is a Maoist resurrection  (November 16, 2020, Sydney Morning Herald)
China is following a belligerent foreign policy which singles out countries such as Australia for punishment, as examples to other governments. Australia’s “offence”? Simply put: passing laws aimed at protecting the political system against Chinese Communist Party interference, launching freedom of navigation exercises in the international waters of the South China Sea through which the bulk of Australian shipping passes and daring to ask the Xi government to examine the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak that unleashed the devastating global pandemic.

China’s endgame in Ladakh  (November 18, 2020, Indian Express)
China’s attempt seems to be to drive New Delhi into Washington’s arms, use it as a precursor to consolidate a Sino-Russian alliance, and divide the world in two camps — a bipolar structure with the United States and China as the leaders competing for global hegemony.


Developing and Modeling a Biblical Worldview  (November 16, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
If church leaders truly believe God’s word to be true, we should not shy away from letting the second generation and others ask questions. If students feel the freedom to ask questions in a safe environment, and are given Biblical answers, their faith will grow. Developing and passing along a biblical worldview is crucial in reaching the second generation.

As Churches Reopen in China (1)  (November 17, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article from the Gospel Times, Wu Zhonyi gives an in-depth look into the reopening of the Three-Self church he attends. Wu highlights five areas in which church staff and believers have demonstrated their enthusiasm for reopening churches.

Additional Factors for Reaching the 2nd Generation and a Challenge  (November 18, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
While there are basic principles families and churches should follow when working with youth, the following principles are more important for working with second generation Chinese Americans. I’ll begin with what families and churches can do.

Society / Life

In Cashless China, Criminals Are Punished With Payment App Bans  (November 12, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The state-run Xinhua News agency reported Wednesday that 2,421 people found guilty of bank card and mobile SIM card-related crimes in the southern Guangdong province over the past month have been barred from making mobile and bank card payments for five years. They will now only be able to use cash. The punishment is tantamount to social exclusion in a country where mobile payments are employed in every area of life, from public transport to grocery shopping, household bills, health care, and tourism.

Citizen journalist facing jail in China for Wuhan Covid reporting  (November 16, 2020, The Guardian)
A Chinese citizen journalist detained since May for reporting on the coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan is facing up to five years in jail after being formally indicted on charges of spreading false information. Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer, was arrested more than six months ago after reporting on the outbreak. She is being held in a detention facility in Shanghai.

China Urges New Era of Mass Migration—Back to the Countryside  (November 17, 2020, The Wall Street Journal) (subscription required)
China’s rural poor have been a tool of Communist Party strategy since Mao Zedong rallied them in his revolution, then herded them into communal farming, with disastrous results. Decades later, Deng Xiaoping sent them to urban construction sites and factories. Mr. Xi is pressing them into service for a third time. To narrow the gulf between China’s urban rich and rural poor, he is trying to populate rural towns with entrepreneurs and consumers.

Video: A year after virus appeared, Wuhan tells China’s pandemic story  (November 17, 2020, PBS)
The first known case of infection from the novel coronavirus was recorded one year ago, in China’s Hubei province. The city of Wuhan was infamous the world over as the original virus epicenter, seeing more than half of China’s reported cases and deaths. Now, reminders of COVID-19 in Wuhan reflect the story the Chinese government wants to tell.

China’s Sichuan lifts all counties out of poverty  (November 17, 2020, China Daily)
China’s Sichuan province, whose mountainous areas have long been a citadel of abject poverty, on Tuesday declared it had removed the poverty label from all of its counties. The provincial government of Sichuan said seven counties in the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture were the last group of counties in the province to be removed from the national poverty list.

No Place Like Home: Five types of traditional Chinese dwellings  (November 18, 2020, The World of Chinese)
From cave dwellings to “boat houses,” Chinese have always found unique and practical ways to shelter themselves. Here, we present five types of traditional dwellings associated with different regions and ethnic groups in China.

God of War Statue Has to Go, Jingzhou Officials Say  (November 18, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The notorious 58-meter-tall statue was marked for “rectification” by the central government in September. Now local officials are trying to figure out how to move it.

China’s working moms still being held back  (November 18, 2020, Inkstone News)
Many new mothers say they are being forced to stay at home to look after their children, while others believe they are being held back in the workplace after giving birth.

See British diplomat rescue drowning student in China  (November 19, 2020, CNN)
British diplomat Stephen Ellison jumped into a river near Chongqing, China, to rescue a drowning woman and swim her to the riverbank.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s irritated trade partners push back on COVID-19 food tests  (November 11, 2020, Al Jazeera)
Major food-producing countries are growing increasingly frustrated with China’s scrutiny of imported products and are calling on it to stop aggressive testing for the novel coronavirus, which some say is tantamount to a trade restriction. China says it has found the virus on the packaging of products from 20 countries including German pork, Brazilian beef and Indian fish, but foreign officials say the lack of evidence produced by authorities means it is damaging trade and hurting the reputation of imported food without reason.

China Employment Contracts: Do Them in Chinese  (November 16, 2020, China Law Blog)
Having clearly written employment contracts in both Chinese and in English reduces the number of those disputes and their cost should one arise.

Putting China’s economy back to work  (November 17, 2020, East Asia Forum)
China continued economic recovery from COVID-19 in the third quarter of 2020 with year-on-year growth of 4.9 per cent. Though the headline number fell short of expectations, the broadening of growth on both the demand and supply sides bodes well for the rest of the year. The consensus forecast for growth this year is now 2.2 per cent and China remains the only major economy for which GDP is expected to grow.

‘We Are Shipping To The U.S.’: Inside China’s Online Synthetic Drug Networks  (November 17, 2020, NPR)
Under international pressure, China’s government banned the production and sale of fentanyl and many of its variants in May 2019, resulting in a significant reduction in the country’s illicit fentanyl trade. But more than a year later, Chinese vendors have tapped into online networks to brazenly market fentanyl analogs and the precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl, and ship them directly to customers in the U.S. and Europe…

China’s African Traders Confront a Formidable New Foe: Alibaba  (November 18, 2020, Sixth Tone)
As the Chinese tech giant tightens its grip on Africa’s e-commerce market, Africans in China suddenly find their businesses at risk.

Health / Environment

Can World Health Organization’s coronavirus investigation really find the source of the outbreak? (November 18, 2020, South China Morning Post)
At first glance, the plan – which will first look at information from Wuhan – covers most avenues of inquiry, but there are lingering doubts about whether it can uncover any new clues. The investigation will consist of two elements: how the disease spread among humans; and the animals sold in the Huanan market in Wuhan as well as their origins.

There’s a medical app for that: How China turned to telehealth during the coronavirus  (November 18, 2020, CNBC)
Online medical appointments and check-ups via smartphone are only just the beginning for health technology in China, with the industry set to be worth more than $50 billion by 2025.

Covid-19: Chinese vaccine ‘successful in mid-stage trials’  (November 18, 2020, BBC)
According to the researchers, the Sinovac Biotech vaccine led to a quick immune response during trials with around 700 people. The announcement comes after European and US vaccines reported successful data from large late-stage trials.

Chinese companies are developing 5 experimental Covid-19 vaccines  (November 18, 2020, CNN)
Since the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in Wuhan, China, the country’s authorities have largely succeeded in keeping a lid on the virus through tough measures. As Beijing pushes hard to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, CNN’s Ivan Watson reports on why some health experts are urging caution.

Science / Technology

China Growls Over “Clean Network” Plan  (November 12, 2020, China Media Beat)
In April this year, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the launch of the “Clean Network” program, which he called “the Trump Administration’s comprehensive approach to guarding our citizens’ privacy and our companies’ most sensitive information from aggressive intrusions by malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).” 

China built the first electric car designed exclusively for ride-hailing  (November 17, 2020, The Verge)
Two of China’s top companies have joined forces to design, develop, and build an electric car for the express purpose of ride-hailing. The vehicle is an adorable green hatchback called the D1, and it was developed by Didi Chuxing, the top ride-hailing company in China that notoriously defeated Uber in 2016, and BYD, one of the leading electric vehicle manufacturers. 

History / Culture

Never Forget, Never Rebuild? Officials Wade Into Summer Palace Debate  (November 16, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The ruins have long been a potent symbol of China’s “humiliation” at the hands of foreign powers. Now, some are renewing calls to restore the palace to its former glory.

The Palace Museum’s Quiet War (Sixth Tone)
Faced with the prospect of an imminent Japanese invasion, staff at China’s Palace Museum scrambled to keep the country’s most precious relics safe.

Video: Satellite images of Shenzhen year by year since 1985  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

Video: Street Food in Tibet  (October 6, 2020, Mark Wiens, via YouTube)

Chinese Takeout: The Cult Fame of Lanzhou’s Most Famous Noodles  (November 12, 2020, Radii China)
Lamian” (拉面) literally means “pulled noodles,” and though the term can apply to a number of dishes (including Japanese ramen), few are as omnipresent across China as those done in the style of Lanzhou, originated by its Hui Muslim population.

China’s New Testing Policy for Travelers Is Problematic, Experts Say  (November 13, 2020, The New York Times)
Airline passengers must present negative antibody test results before boarding. Scientists consider it a largely useless way to curb disease transmission.

Michelin Guide for Beijing unveiled  (November 18, 2020, China Daily)
The second edition of the Michelin Guide Beijing was issued in the capital on Monday with several new star entries and the launch of the Michelin Green Star selection. The 2021 edition of the guide features 98 restaurants including two three-star restaurants, two two-star restaurants and 26 one-star restaurants. Also noted are 17 restaurants dubbed Bib Gourmands and 51 with Michelin Plate designations.

Video: China has the world’s tallest outdoor lift (November 18, 2020, Euronews)
Located in China’s Zhangjiajie Forest Park, it whisks visitors up a cliff face in just 88 seconds. At the top of the 326-metre-high lift, tourists can enjoy breathtaking views. The alternative is a three-hour climb up on foot. The cliff face inspired the landscape for the blockbuster movie Avatar.

Living Cross-culturally

Language and Culture Learning Around the Holidays  (November 12, 2020, Global Trellis
Holidays and other national and local observances are great times to learn language. Language learners can develop their listening comprehension, vocabulary, and usage of new phrases, as well as improve their use of appropriate body language, gestures, and actions.

Links for Researchers

Meeting the China Challenge: A New American Strategy for Technology Competition  (China File)

Pray for China

November 21 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Nov. 21, 2016, Christian human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇律师) was seized by authorities in Changsha after meeting with the wife of another embattled activist, Xie Yang (谢阳律师); a year later Jiang was given a 2-year prison sentence. He has been tortured several times and his law license was taken away in 2009. Pray for human rights lawyers and their families, including Mr. Jiang, his wife Jin Bianling (金变玲女士), and their daughter, to find refuge in the Lord. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 2:12

Image credit: Wikimedia
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