ZGBriefs | November 23 2016

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

Why Grace Is Hard for Me as an Asian American (November 17, 2016, The Gospel Coalition)
A gift given means a gift must be repaid. That’s what my Chinese culture taught me. For my family, this meant mental tallies of who gave what on which occasion, so that when the time came the Yong family would be able to return a gift of equal or greater value. Welcome to the principle of reciprocation. But what does one do when a gift cannot be repaid? More specifically, what do Christians do when they’re in a position of eternal indebtedness, incapable of reciprocating God’s gift of grace in Christ?

A Greeting

This week’s abbreviated ZGBriefs is coming to you a day early to avoid cluttering up your inbox on Thanksgiving Day. The ChinaSource Team wishes you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving. May your gratefulness abound!

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Podcast: The rise of Chinese President Xi Jinping (November 18, 2016, Brookings)
Cheng Li, senior fellow in Foreign Policy and director of the John L. Thornton China Center, talks about the rise of Chinese President Xi Jinping through the Chinese communist party leadership, which is the focus of his new book, “Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership.”

China in the 21st century: Confucianist outside, confused inside (November 18, 2016, South China Morning Post)
Kerry Brown and Sheng Keyi explore what Chinese people believe as their lives grow more materially rich and their country pursues its dream of national rejuvenation

China’s Great Leap Backward (December 2016, The Atlantic)
Why does china need to be high on the new president’s priority list? Because an important assumption has changed.


Video: Why some Chinese millennials are taking up the hermit’s life in the mountains (Aeon)
With a contemplative style that evokes its subject, the Beijing-based filmmaker Ellen Xu’s Summoning the Recluse introduces several young Chinese urbanites who are embarking on spiritual quests. Through a hermit’s lifestyle that draws on Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian traditions – either for a brief respite from modern life, or for the long haul – they focus on studying religion, meditation and connecting with nature, seeking meaning in what they describe as an ‘ancient way of life’. 

Being Salt and Light to Influence Society (November 22, 2016, Chinese Church Voices)
Many Christians in China today are seeking to be salt and light in their communities and in society. But what does that look like? In the translated article below, originally posted on the mainland site Christian Times, the author summarizes a talk given by a pastor in Henan Province on the topic of being salt and light.

Society / Life

For Chinese Orphan with a Disability, Life in the U.S. Brought the Strength to Help a Friend Left Behind (November 15, 2016, China File)
Probably, I had been abandoned because I was crippled. My memories of the days I spent on the streets are hazy. I remember it was sunny and warm most of the time. But one evening it rained heavily. A stranger helped me to a covered area that shielded me from the rain. By late nightfall, I had a stack of food beside me, donated by passersby.

The New Foreigner-Grading System in China (November 16, 2016, Sapore di Cina)
According to the announcement on the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs website, they intend to separate foreigners into three categories of acceptability: A (cream of the crop executive-types), B (professionals), and C (try not to slam the door on your way out). The announcement uses the phrase “鼓励高端、控制一般、限制低端,” which basically means “encourage the high-end, control the ordinary, restrict the low-end.”

7 Recommendations before Saying “Zaijian” to China (November 18, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
There is much to consider in a move when you’ve invested so many years outside your home country. I lived in China for 13 years and Megan lived there for 19 years, so China and its people had a profound impact on us. I’m fully aware that despite claiming to be a Hoosier and enjoying the Hoosier lifestyle, a part of me is a little Chinese. Below are seven ideas to consider if you are planning on leaving China soon and entering a whole new culture.


Chinese authorities make perilous cliff-face school run safer (November 21, 2016, The Guardian)
Authorities in south-west China have come to the aid of schoolchildren who had to climb an 800m cliff to get to and from school – by installing a thin steel ladder at the site. Atuler, a mountainside hamlet nicknamed “cliff village”, is located on a plateau in the Chinese province of Sichuan and is home to the Yi people, a minority ethnic group also found in Vietnam and Thailand. Fears arose for the schoolchildren after images of their 90-minute descent to the school at the bottom of the cliff went viral earlier this year, following their publication in a Beijing newspaper.

The Emotional Cost of Sending Chinese Teens Abroad to Study (November 22, 2016, Sixth Tone)
Recently, the TV drama “A Love for Separation” provoked  widespread discussion on Chinese social media. The show depicts the struggles of three children from different socio-economic backgrounds as their families prepare to send them off to private high schools in the U.S.

Health / Environment

Millions of Terminally Ill Children Don’t Get Care They Need (November 21, 2016, Sixth Tone)
Lynda Gould, who founded China’s first children’s hospice, told Sixth Tone on Saturday that not more than 500 of the total 4.5 million children in China who are in need of palliative services — specialized medical care aimed at providing relief from the symptoms of serious illnesses — are actually receiving the proper care.

Science / Technology

Weibo’s Revival: Sina Weibo Is China’s Twitter, YouTube & InstaGram (November 20, 2016, What’s on Weibo)
With 390 million monthly users, Sina Weibo is seeing a huge revival. What was once called ‘China’s Twitter’ has now become a comprehensive platform that incorporates the major features of social media channels like Twitter, YouTube, and InstaGram

Culture / History

When the Barbarians Meet: The Clash of Two Great Civilizations in the Second Opium War (November 11, 2016, Global China Center)
"We Europeans are the civilized ones, and for us the Chinese are the barbarians.” -Victor Hugo, 1861. "He who wishes to control the outer barbarians [Westerners] must begin by understanding their circumstances.” -Wei Yuan, 1842

Travel / Food

Chongqing’s Number One Noodle Obsessive (Roads and Kingdoms)
Chongqing is world-famous as a food mecca, but few people associate the city with noodles: it is recognized for its hotpot, drowning in chili peppers. Yet for locals, noodles are more intertwined with the pace of daily life. Hotpot is an outlandish, over-the-top orgy of spice: if you eat hotpot one day, you can’t have it the next. Xiaomian is more quotidian, more reliable: it is a common breakfast that unites people across a city that sprawls for hundreds of miles.


22 Gift Ideas for those you know in cross-cultural service (November 15, 2016, The Messy Middle)
Though it may be hard to believe, Christmas is around the corner. If you have Christian friends serving cross-culturally abroad, and you want to get them something for Christmas, you need to start thinking of gift ideas.

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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