ZGBriefs | November 2, 2023

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Featured Article

Podcast: Rethinking Chinese food with Fuchsia Dunlop (October 30, 2023, Chinese Whispers)
China has so much more to offer than what has made across into the West’s Chinese restaurants. Thankfully, that’s changing and quite fast. […] I’m delighted to be joined by her on the podcast today, to mark the publication of her new book, Invitation to a Banquet, which is all about the history, meaning and diversity of Chinese cuisine.

Sponsored Link

Lecture: Salvation in a Chinese Context (China Academic Consortium)
As part of our ongoing joint lecture series with China Academic Consortium (ERRChina) and the US-China Catholic Association (USCCA), China Academic Consortium will be hosting the autumn lecture on Saturday, November 11. Dr. Brad Vaughn (formerly known as Jackson Wu) will present the lecture, entitled “Salvation in a Chinese Context.”

Saturday, November 11, 2023
First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley
2407 Dana St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
5–6 pm: light meal and fellowship
6–7:30 pm: lecture and Q&A
8 pm: Closing

Register by November 5—email to: operations@errchina.com
A video link will be provided to registered guests unable to attend in person.

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

Li Keqiang Remembered as a Figure in Xi’s Shadow (October 27, 2023, China Digital Times)
Early on Friday morning, former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang passed away at the age of 68. According to a government statement, Li died of a sudden heart attack “after all-out rescue efforts failed.” He was said to be resting in Shanghai following his retirement last October. Though he was once China’s number-two official, Li’s life and legacy was overshadowed by Xi Jinping. 

Sidelined in Death, as in Politics? (November 1, 2023, China Media Project)
Since former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang passed away last week, his legacy has been quietly boxed up and filed away. The current leadership under Xi Jinping hopes that the nation can move quickly past his pragmatism and the questions it raises about the present.

Podcast: Li Keqiang and the Mourning Playbook; Wang Yi in DC and Xi to APEC; Gavin Newsom Goes to China; Rahm Emanuel and Resource Extraction (November 1, 2023, Sharp China)
On today’s show Bill and Andrew begin with the passing of Li Keqiang, the grief that swept China over the weekend, and the various party protocols that were set in motion to control the mourning process this week. From there: Another Politburo meeting comes and goes with no news about a third plenum to devise new economic policy, the modest progress and persistent structural challenges animating the US-China relationship in 2023, and the MSS turns its eyes to meteorology.

ChinaFile Presents: China Reporting in Exile (November 1, 2023, China File)
ChinaFile and The New York Review of Books co-hosted a panel discussion with Chinese journalists working from abroad. Participants included reporter, editor, and digital media entrepreneur Annie Jieping Zhang, New York Times columnist Li Yuan, investigative journalist and essayist Jiang Xue, and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ian Johnson. ChinaFile Editor-in-Chief Susan Jakes moderated the conversation.

China keeps up military pressure on Taiwan, sending 43 planes and 7 ships near island (November 1, 2023, ABC News)
Taiwan says China has sent another 43 military aircraft and seven ships near the self-ruled island, the latest sign that Beijing plans no let-up in its campaign of harassment, threats and intimidation


Whispers from Within (October 27, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
The changes and challenges of these past few years have definitely made it more difficult for outsiders to understand what is happening in China. As a foreigner, it’s impossible not to notice that, although travel is rebounding, there are far fewer foreigners living inside China than before. And because many issues, not just matters of faith, are now considered politically sensitive, it seems people are more hesitant to share openly.

Patriotic flag ceremonies at Hong Kong mosque ‘shock’ believers (October 29, 2023, Radio Free Asia)
The move has prompted shock and disappointment among some believers, who see it as a challenge to the Islamic doctrine of the supremacy of God, yet few feel safe enough to speak out for fear of political reprisals or community pressure, according to a Hong Kong Muslim who spoke to Radio Free Asia on condition of anonymity.

How I Prayed For Evangelism (October 30, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
This month, we prayed for Chinese believers to persevere in evangelism. We are praying this because Chinese pastors have shared specific concerns that their churches have become too inward-facing. Even though persecution has increased in recent years, the church is still called to persevere in sharing the good news with the world.

The Mountains Are Shorter, Part 1 (October 30, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Today China’s officials are much less likely to turn a blind eye toward unauthorized Christian activity. Under the rubric of national security, Xi Jinping has shifted the government’s emphasis from aggressive economic growth to social control.

Sacrificial Love in Action (November 1, 2023, Chinese Church Voices)
The abrupt policy change left people no time to stock up on medicine or prepare for illness. Though a few members had medicine on hand, it was only enough for one or two people. Yet overnight, more than half of the church was infected and medicine was scarce. In response, our church quickly formed an online medicine scheduling committee. 

Society / Life

China drops Lunar New Year’s Eve as public holiday, sparking outcry (October 26, 2023, Radio Free Asia)
The Chinese government has dropped Lunar New Year’s Eve – the night on which families traditionally gather to cook and eat together – as a statutory public holiday, sparking an online outcry and reigniting speculation that the day is considered politically sensitive by Communist Party leader Xi Jinping because it sounds like a call to remove him from office

With Funeral Portraits, a Photographer Gives Dignity to Rural Elderly (October 31, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Seeing that most elderly villagers in a rural part of Shaanxi province do not have access to cameras, let alone professional photographers, to take portraits of them for their funerals, local journalist Yang Xin and her team decided to step in.

Halloween costumes in Shanghai poke fun at Chinese authorities (November 1, 2023, The Guardian)
Halloween revellers in Shanghai have poked fun at the Chinese authorities with their costumes, dressing up as Covid prevention workers, surveillance cameras and China’s falling stock market. Videos posted on social media showed police shepherding away people with particularly subversive costumes on Tuesday night, including one dressed as Lu Xun, a Chinese writer from the early 20th century whose fable about a useless scholar has become a meme for China’s unemployed youth.

Tiny Titans: How China’s Kids Are Schooling Adults (November 1, 2023, The World of Chinese)
Gone are the days when China’s kids were merely cartoon enthusiasts and diligent homework-doers. Born in or after 2010, often referred to as “post-10s (一零后 yīlínghòu),” some of them have already become teachers and therapists, navigating adults through the complexities of life in the digital age.

For China’s Jobless Young People, Hostels Are the Place to Be (November 1, 2023, The New York Times) (subscription required)
Chinese backpacker hostels offering bunk beds for a few dollars a night have become hubs for the anxiety and ambitions of job-seeking youth.

Economics / Trade / Business

Asia’s factories squeezed as China’s nascent recovery teeters (November 1, 2023, Reuters)
Asia’s manufacturers faced worsening pressure in October with factory activity in China slipping back into decline, clouding recovery prospects for the region’s major exporters already squeezed by weaker global demand and higher prices. Purchasing managers’ indexes (PMIs) for factory powerhouses China, Japan and South Korea showed activity shrinking while Vietnam and Malaysia also struggled with the broadening fallout from a Chinese slowdown.

Travel / Food

The ‘Real’ Kung Pao Chicken — And Why I Hope I Never Find It (October 31, 2023Sixth Tone)
From the top of Mount Tai to the Hulunbuir grasslands, there are many versions of the iconic dish. Searching for the definitive “authentic” version may not only be a fool’s errand — it also fails to appreciate this diversity.

Language / Language Learning

“Tomato sauce” in Cantonese, with a trigger warning (October 30, 2023, Language Log)
Aside from the popular folk etymology that the word came to English from the Cantonese keh jup (茄汁 ke2 zap1, literally meaning “tomato sauce” in Cantonese), there are many serious competing etymological theories about the origins of the word “ketchup (catsup)”. 


Sparks by Ian Johnson review – China’s underground historians (November 1, 2023, The Guardian)
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ian Johnson tackles this difficult subject via China’s “counter-historians” who, through various mediums including documentary, fiction and even woodcuts, feel compelled to create a record of China as they see it.

Links for Researchers

Video: Case Study: China vs. United States – Toward Coexistence or War? (October 10, 2023, Athens Democracy Forum, via YouTube)
It’s the intensifying rivalry that could shape much of the world’s future. Two giants with deeply intertwined economies and profound distrust of each other’s global power are maneuvering and probing, as the world warily watches.

Pray for China

November 3 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Nov. 3, 1816, Liang Fa (梁发牧师), China’s first Protestant pastor, was baptized by British missionary William Milne. Liang Fa repeatedly faced persecution and death, since preaching the Gospel was a capital crime in China during most of his 40-year career. Liang Fa began to work with Robert Morrison in 1813, and two years later Morrison sent him to Malacca to work under Milne as a printer. Morrison ordained him in 1823; when the ban on preaching the gospel was finally lifted in 1845, Liang Fa worked for most of the rest of his life as an evangelist in two Christian hospitals in Guangzhou. He wrote more than twenty commentaries and tracts, the most famous being Good Words to Admonish the Age, which Prof. P. Richard Bohr described as “the most complete statement of Protestant doctrine by a Chinese during the first half of the nineteenth century.” In addition, Two Friends was a tract published by Milne when he and Liang Fa worked together in Malacca. Prof. Daniel Bays has described it as “the most famous of all nineteenth century Christian tracts” in China and estimates that as many as two million copies may have been distributed. Liang Fa’s hope for China was expressed in words which have come to pass, “[A]lthough in the age in which we live we may not see the results, yet we may leave that on record which will transmit the true principles of the Gospel to others, in the hope of converting men of succeeding generations.” Pray for Christian pastors and evangelists to remember Liang Fa with thanksgiving, even as they pray for one another with joy in the Lord. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy…Philippians 1:3-4

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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