ZGBriefs | November 2, 2017

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Featured Article

Documentary: Down From the Mountains (October 31, 2017, China File)
The three siblings are among an estimated 9 million so-called “left-behind children” currently living in the Chinese countryside without their parents, a 2016 survey by the Ministry of Civil Affairs found, adding that around 90 percent of such children are cared for by grandparents, while around 4 percent live by themselves.

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Overseas NGO Law

The Need to Return to Social Governance after the 19th Party Congress (October 28, 2017, NGOs in China)
But it is by no means clear that Xi’s particular approach to consolidating power has created a more stable and robust national security and rule of law regime, or rejuvenated the CCP, let alone put China on the socioeconomic path to achieving a moderately prosperous, and more equitable, society.

Fact Sheet on China’s Foreign NGO Law (November 1, 2017, China File)
The Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) has publicly stressed the need to regulate foreign NGOs in key Party meetings since October 2013. Party and State Council discussions of the law make it clear that the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) government views foreign NGOs as a security issue first and a civil society issue second. 

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China's neo-Maoists welcome Xi's new era, but say he is not the new Mao (October 27, 2017, Reuters)
“Chairman Mao’s authority was built from a long and arduous struggle. Xi’s power came from the bureaucracy in a time of peace. The history is totally different,” he said.

What’s the Takeaway from the 19th Party Congress?: A ChinaFile Conversation (October 27, 2017, China File)
What might these personnel changes mean for China’s domestic and foreign policies? And what are some key takeaways from the messages the Party communicated during its week-long Congress? 

5 Random Observations on the 19th Party Congress (October 30, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
I’ve done my best to follow the proceedings and read as much as I can about not only the event itself, but its implications.  Here are some of my “takeaways:”

China’s Xi sets his sights on the world (October 30, 2017, China Policy Institute)
The danger in concentrating all power in his own hands is that while Xi is praised to the skies in state media for all China’s successes, he will also be held accountable for anything that goes wrong.

China Has New Leaders. What Now? (October 31, 2017, The Diplomat)
While most immediate news stories have emphasized the absence of any clear cut successor to Xi Jinping in the new line up and have taken that as a sign that Xi is planning to continue on as China’s leader for the indefinite future (rather than simply oversee the next five years and step away), I read the composition of the new PSC somewhat differently.

Xi Jinping Vows No Poverty in China by 2020. That Could Be Hard. (October 31, 2017, The New York Times)
The plan targets the more than 43 million people who still live on the equivalent of less than 95 cents a day, the poverty line set by the Chinese government. Five years ago, about 100 million people lived below that line, according to official statistics.

Understanding Chinese President Xi’s anti-corruption campaign (November 1, 2017, China Policy Institute)
If Xi succeeds in centralizing his control over the world’s most populous country, the United States will be presented with an increasingly confident and formidable competitor.

China Courts Iran (November 1, 2017, Foreign Affairs)
As the Trump administration works out the specifics of its strategy to contain Iran, China is looking for ways to bring Iran into the global system.

Censorship is superfluous in Xi’s ‘New Era’ (November 1, 2017, The Interpreter)
Even the décor is retro-Maoist, with banners proclaiming, 'Long Live the Great Communist Party of China!' and canny villagers waving miniature Chinese flags.


Documentary: The Catholic Church in China | A Short Documentary (September 15, 2017, America Magazine)
We traveled to China to get a handle on just how the Catholic Church is faring in China’s changing reality. 

A Brooklyn Gospel Choir Goes to China (October 26, 2017, China File)
International performers are required to submit their set lists and lyrics to the Ministry of Culture prior to being granted entry. Since the Chinese Communist Party demands it be held in higher standing than religious figures, Haye worried songs about praising the Lord might be deal-breakers. “It was full of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, love Jesus,” said Haye. “They said ‘yes’ and I was thrown back!”

Chinese pastor roundtable: do not serve God and money (October 26, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
 I have heard some stories that when the money comes to China from the States, if you’re not using it wisely, it brings disaster for churches in China. Sometimes we have churches split because of the money, sometimes we have pastors commit sin because of the money. We’ve heard about these stories. 

Video: Heritage and Reflection to Commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (October 26, Chinese Today, via YouTube)
What is the significance of the Reformation to the Chinese Churches today? We talked to some Chinese scholars and thinkers on this issue.

My ChinaSource Story (October 27, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
The ChinaSource team is a strongly committed group of servants seeking to serve God’s kingdom. Not only are their publications stellar in research quality, their authentic concerns for issues of the Chinese church are rooted in a deep love for God.

Hundreds of Korean religious people in northeastern China sent back home: sources (October 30, 2017, Korea Herald)
From late last year to the first half of this year, the authorities in the three provinces — Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang — had hundreds out of around 1,000 South Korean pastors and missionaries living there leave China, resulting in the disbandment of most South Korean religious communities there.

How Can Chinese Christians Foster a Reformation Spirit? (October 31, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
“Is the Reformation still relevant to the church today?” If so, why does the Reformation matter for contemporary Chinese Christians?

Christianity’s Growth in China and Its Contributions to Freedoms (October 31, 2017, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs)
In China today, Christians are at the frontlines of practicing and campaigning for individual freedoms, from the freedom of belief to the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom for public welfare, and freedom for civic engagement and political participation.

Society / Life

The ideological war playing out on China's internet (October 15, 2017, CNN)
While the internet has always been a key battleground for the Party, the past 12 months have seen a marked increase in censorship, with new laws and regulations targeting online expression even in areas or on certain topics where dissent was once tolerated or passed undetected.

Aging Construction Workers Face Unstable Retirement (October 23 2017, Sixth Tone)
For decades, as China embraced economic growth, men from Nantong worked on construction sites across the country — with some even venturing overseas. But as China’s growth rates slow and builders like Huang and Li age, such men are increasingly facing health problems and family commitments, with scant hope of receiving proper pensions in retirement.

China Refuses to Admit It Has a Rape Problem. I Would Know. (October 25, 2017, Foreign Policy)
The Communist Party wants to blame Hollywood and "loose women," instead of acknowledging its own epidemic levels of sexual assault.

Why China Is Overrun With Screaming, Crying ‘Bear Kids’ (October 29, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Soft-touch parenting and the hangover of the one-child era have birthed a generation of patience-testing children.

More than half of Chinese newborns are second children, state media report (October 31, 2017, South China Morning Post)
The number of parents choosing to have a second child has surged since Beijing loosened strict caps on family size in January 2016 to try to rejuvenate the ageing labour force.

Economics / Trade / Business

McDonald’s Changes Its China Company Name to ‘Golden Arches’ (October 25, 2017, Sixth Tone)
McDonald’s China changed its business name, and consumers aren’t lovin’ it. Chinese media reported on Wednesday evening that McDonald’s Chinese business changed its company’s name from Maidanglao, a loose transliteration of the English name, to Jingongmen, or Golden Arches, on Oct. 12.

Amazon And Ebay Opened Pandora's Box Of Chinese Counterfeits And Now Don't Know What To Do (October 28, 2017, Forbes)
Rather, we’re talking about a completely different manufacturing ecosystem that operates under a different set of rules than in the West. 

China’s Top Courier Services (November 1, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Online shopping has made this easier than ever, but there is one important step between hitting the “buy” button and tearing open the packaging—delivery.

How Jack Ma built an internet giant (November 1, 2017, CNBC)
It is hard to find the words to describe the scale of Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce business founded in 1999. It’s probably best exemplified by the numbers: Every single day, 200 million people shop on Alibaba’s mobile sites and it sold $550 billion worth of merchandise in its last fiscal year.


Confucius Institutes: cultural asset or campus threat? (October 26, 2017, Financial Times)
In little more than a decade, a shadowy arm of the Chinese state has established a foothold in hundreds of university campuses across the world.

Why China Still Isn’t the Top Choice for International Students (October 28, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Many Chinese colleges and universities have seen foreign students as mere window dressing, with scant attention paid to their actual credentials.

App Teaches Teachers to Interact With Autistic Children (October 30, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Currently, there are about 1,000 private institutions in China for children with autism, most of which were established by parents themselves. However, conservative estimates say that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) could affect roughly 1 percent of China’s population — about 10 million adults and 2 million children — and that 200,000 new diagnoses are made every year.

Chinese universities race to establish Xi Jinping Thought institutes to help leader’s ideas ‘enter students’ hearts and minds’ (October 30, 2017, South China Morning Post)
At least 20 universities have established research institutes for Xi’s ideology, which was enshrined in the Communist Party’s constitution during its 19th national congress this month.

Hong Kong universities a new battleground in independence debate (October 30, 2017, The Guardian)
The city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said “there is no room for any discussion on the independence of Hong Kong” and backed university leadership in its plan to tear down independence posters.

Setback Education: The Parenting Fad Harming China’s Kids (October 30, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Instead of showing their children love and support, families are deliberately throwing down extra obstacles to success.

China’s ‘Red Army’ schools inspire the young (November 1, 2017, Gulf News)
Textbooks are getting a larger dose of Communist Party lore, including glorified tales about the party’s fights against foreign invaders like Japan. Schools are adding courses on traditional medicine and Confucian thought to highlight China’s achievements as a civilisation.

Health / Environment

Chinese engineers plan 1,000km tunnel to make Xinjiang desert bloom (October 29, 2017, South China Morning Post)
The proposed tunnel, which would drop down from the world’s highest plateau in multiple sections connected by waterfalls, would “turn Xinjiang into California”, one geotechnical engineer said.

Science / Technology

Top 10 Most Popular Smartphones in China 2017 (According to Weibo) (November 1, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
Just before the biggest online shopping events of the year, these are the most popular smartphone brands in China 2017 – a top 10 list compiled by What’s on Weibo.

Travel / Food

How the Chinese Fell Back in Love With Black Tea (October 29, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Long shunned in favor of its green cousin, black tea is now slurped by the cupful to stave off the winter cold.

A Beer Festival in China Has German Roots, but No Lederhosen (October 30, 2017, The New York Times)
If the festival looks like a certain German tradition, there’s a good reason. The city of Qingdao is home to the similarly pronounced Tsingtao Brewery, which was founded by German settlers in this corner of Shandong Province more than a century ago.

Why China leads the world in flight delays (October 30, 2017, The Economist)
China’s airports may be some of the world’s most elegant, but they are also leaders in flight delays. Of the world’s 100 busiest airports, the seven that suffer the longest delays are all in China, including the country’s major hubs in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Chongqing Standardizes Hot Pot (October 31, 2017, Sixth Tone)
One of the more contentious elements of the Chongqing guidelines pertains to the recycling of the hot pot broth. Many Chongqing-style hot pot restaurants prefer to reuse the buttery residue that remains after a meal as a base for the next day’s soup.

Out West: A Visual Narrative of China’s Westernmost Region (November 1, 2017, PetaPixel)
Borrowing from romanticized notions of the American frontier, synonymous with ideals of exploration and expansion, I captured a visual narrative of China’s westernmost region, Xinjiang.

Changsha for families: visiting Hunan's cool capital with kids (Lonely Planet)
Travelling families will have a ball in Changsha, capital city of China’s southern Hunan province, which delivers all the pleasures of a big city without the frustrations of one of the country's huge metropolises.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

China requires security review for web products (November 1, 2017, China Media Project)
The new regulation suggests that any technology company introducing products broadly construed as “new technologies or new applications for internet news and information services” (互联网新闻信息服务新技术新应用), which would include new or changing product functions, will need to undergo a security assessment before the product is released.

Language / Language Learning

95 Theses in Chinese (October 31, 2017, Outside-In)

Thoughts and Tips on Learning Chinese (November 1, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
When I said “ni hao” clearly, it woke something up in them, and they started to hear my Chinese.  With that I started to make consistent, useful progress.

Verbs followed by "gei" (Chinese Grammar Wiki)
Although it's standard practice to put a word or phrase that modifies a verb before the verb, there are, of course, exceptions. 给 (gěi) is one of those exceptions; it sometimes comes before the verb, and sometimes after. 

Learn Chinese: 75 Best Language Learning Tools (Plus Discounts!) (Travel China Cheaper)
Have you always wanted to learn Chinese, but could never find the time or budget to attend language classes in person?

Living Cross-culturally

A China-themed Lord’s Supper talk (October 31, 2017, China Hope Live)
When you live immersed in a culture that’s very different from the one you grew up in, like my family does in China, it gives you lots of opportunities to notice how our own culture from North America affects not only our understanding of the Gospel, but also our experience of life together in the Kingdom of God.


Academic publisher Springer Nature bows to Beijing by blocking content in China (November 1, 2017, South China Morning Post)
The company said in a statement that less than 1 per cent of its content available online in global markets had been blocked in China in compliance with “local distribution laws”.

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