ZGBriefs | November 3, 2016

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Featured Article

How the Education Consultancy Industry Fuels Essay Fraud (November 2, 2016, Sixth Tone)
Once again, as high school students across China agonize over their American college essays, allegations of fraud plague the education industry. Dipont Education Management Group, a large Shanghai-based educational consultancy, has become the most recent target of accusations, with reports circulating that staff turned a blind eye to high-level application fraud that included buying access to current admissions officers at U.S. colleges.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China Orders Lawyers to Support Communist Party (October 26, 2016, The Wall Street Journal)
Human Rights Watch is flagging two new directives approved by China’s Ministry of Justice. The orders, which take effect next month, require lawyers and law firms to “support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party,” according to the group. And, says HRW, they also prohibit lawyers from making public statements that “reject the fundamental political system” of China, that “endanger national security,” or “attack or slander” the judicial system.

Xi Jinping becomes 'core' leader of China (October 27, 2016, The Guardian)
The core leader title marks a significant strengthening of Xi’s position before a key party congress next year, at which a new standing committee, the pinnacle of power in China, will be constituted. Since assuming office almost four years ago, Xi has rapidly consolidated power, including heading a group leading economic change and appointing himself commander-in-chief of the military, though as head of the central military commission he already controlled the armed forces.

What Does Xi Jinping’s Top-Down Leadership Mean for Innovation in China? (October 27, 2016, ChinaFile)
Working with our colleagues at Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in Berlin, we asked contributors about the potential impact of Xi’s shift toward increased top-down leadership on political life, governance, the economy, and other aspects of Chinese society.

Can China Finally Solve Its Corruption Problem? (October 29, 2016, The Diplomat)
Yet despite the unprecedented number of investigations and arrests, one flaw remains: the intra-Party governance system is currently only as strong as the man in charge. Right now, that man is Wang Qishan, head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and a noted political troubleshooter who ascended to the Politburo Standing Committee alongside Xi in 2012. Wang’s oversight is seen as crucial to the success of the campaign to date, but his age means he will likely be forced to retire at next year’s Party congress.

Cai Qi Appointed Acting Mayor of Beijing (October 31, 2016, Caixin)
Cai Qi, Deputy Director of the General Office of the Communist Party’s National Security Commission, was appointed acting mayor of Beijing, replacing Wang Anshun, Beijing TV reported Monday. Cai, born in December 1955 in Fujian province, has a doctoral degree in economics. He worked in Zhejiang province from 1999 to 2013 and was promoted to vice governor of Zhejiang in November 2013.

Xi Jinping May be ‘Core Leader’ of China, but He’s Still Really Nervous (November 1, 2016, The New York Times)
Mr. Xi appears politically indomitable, but officials suggest he and other leaders are alarmed by broader, long-term dangers and by the party’s ability to weather them. Both considerations underpinned the leadership’s decision to go along with raising his status.

For China’s Leaders, Age Cap Is but a Moving Number (November 1, 2016, China Real Time)
The past three turnovers in the inner circle of China’s Communist Party leadership have come with an age guideline for retirement: Those 67 years old or younger could stay; those 68 or older had to go. Now, comments from a senior party functionary are adding fuel to speculation that President Xi Jinping may break with the norm at a once-every-five-years party congress late next year.

Chaos Again at Hong Kong’s Legislature as Chinese Intervention Said to Loom Large (November 2, 2016, TIME)
Scuffles broke out again in Hong Kong’s legislature Wednesday, after three consecutive weeks of drama and paralysis over choice words and political gestures by two rebel lawmakers taking their oaths of office.

China Debuts Its New, Nearly Battle-Ready Stealth Jet (November 2, 2016, The Daily Beast)
China’s first stealth fighter made its official, public debut at the annual Zhuhai air show in southeast China Tuesday, bringing the plane one step closer to frontline service with the Chinese air force—and a step closer to presenting America’s own stealth warplanes their first high-tech opponent.

4 Drivers of Change for Foreign Workers in China (November 2, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
While the effects of President Xi Jinping’s policies upon foreigners in China have become increasingly evident; the changes go beyond simply a tightening political environment. Understanding the multiple factors that are reshaping the context of Christian ministry in China is essential for organizations seeking to formulate a credible response.


The Vatican, China, And Evangelical Prudence (September 21, 2016, First Things)
Recent remarks by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, have fueled speculation about a possible exchange of diplomatic representation between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China. Unfortunately, the cardinal’s remarks did not address any of the serious questions that have been raised about the evangelical and prudential wisdom of such an agreement at this moment in history. Those questions involve the nature of the PRC regime; the doctrine and canon law of the Church; the impact of such an agreement on Vatican diplomacy in promoting human rights; and the Church’s twenty-first-century mission in China.

China’s priests wary of Vatican’s Beijing olive branch (November 1, 2016, South China Morning Post)
Secret talks between the Vatican and Beijing are raising hopes of a “historic” rapprochement after six decades of estrangement, but some Chinese clergy fear that Rome will accept a communist stranglehold over the country’s Catholics.

What Does It Mean to Be a Pastor? (November 1, 2016, Chinese Church Voices)
Even today, people still view the pastorate as a mysterious profession. Every time I attend a social activity and introduce myself as a pastor I can feel people staring at me strangely. Pastors are not mysterious; rather, we are, as the Bible says, still human.

Contextualization and Chinese Culture (November 1, 2016, ChinaSource Conversations)
In this podcast ChinaSource Senior Vice President Joann Pittman interviews Jackson Wu and Sam Chan. […]  their discussion examines the process of interpreting, communicating and applying the Bible in a particular cultural context. Effective contextualization communicates the gospel message in a way that is faithful to how God has revealed it through scripture but also in a way that hearers can understand in their own cultural setting.

Meet China’s State-Approved Muslims (November 2, 2016, Foreign Policy)
Adapting to Beijing's dictates has allowed Hui Islam to survive. But true believers say it's losing its soul.

Must Chinese elders have believing children? (November 2, 2016, Jackson Wu)
What qualifies a person to be a pastor? Are you aware of a controversial translation in Titus 3 that influences how many Chinese church leaders think about this question?

What It’s Really Like for China’s Urban Christians (November 2, 2016, The Gospel Coalition)
By the end of the 1970s, many predicted Christianity in China was over. Mao Zedong’s decade-long Cultural Revolution, they insisted, had effectively wiped out Chinese Christianity. They were wrong. Today, the most conservative estimates place the number of Christians in China around 70 million, with other estimates claiming tens of millions more. And, as Brent Fulton notes in his book China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot Be Hidden, the 500 million who have flocked to China’s cities over the last three decades are partly responsible for the astounding growth of Christianity in the country’s cultural and political centers.

Society / Life

The New Normal (October 28, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, the art of “reading the tea leaves” has proved particularly challenging as the assumptions of the previous few decades regarding China’s political and economic development have begun to crumble. No one seems to know what tomorrow will bring, making it difficult to plan and function in the present.

This Global Life | Day 29: Southern China (October 29, 2016, Taking Route)
Hi, I’m Emily, and I currently live in southwest China with my husband and two children. We’ve lived in China for over a decade and yet I’m still learning new things about the language and culture nearly every day. I love hanging out with friends, being in nature, cooking, learning new Chinese characters (it’s true) and watching movies. I jump at the chance to experience new cultures or explore new places, even if it’s just a park in our city that I’ve not yet been to. I’m so glad to share a day in my life with you!

The Chinese Dream in 12 Quotes (October 31, 2016, From the West Courtyard)
The vast propaganda apparatus has been mobilized to convince people in China that their own personal dreams are inextricably linked to the broader dream of a rising China. But have the ubiquitous billboards and programs really had an affect in shaping the dreams of ordinary Chinese citizens?

Beijing to Cut New Car Limit to 100,000 Per Year (October 31, 2016, The Beijinger)
With a goal of no more than 6.3 million cars on Beijing roads by 2020, Beijing transport regulators plan to reduce the number of new plates issued every year from 150,000 to 100,000. With an estimated 5.6 million cars on the road at the end of 2020, the 6.3 million target still gives the municipal government a few hundred thousand vehicles worth of wiggle room. 

A Toddler Dies as Her Mother Checks Her Phone, and China Wrings Its Hands (November 1, 2016, The New York Times)
A video showing an S.U.V. running over a toddler while her mother appeared distracted by her phone has prompted hand-wringing on Chinese social media about the perils of overusing smartphones. Surveillance cameras captured a slow-moving S.U.V. hitting a 2-year-old girl who had veered into its path. Her mother, trailing behind on a street in a provincial Chinese city, had been glued to her phone and appeared not to notice that the vehicle had started moving. By the time an ambulance arrived, the girl had died.

One Year Later: Two-Child Policy Fills Maternity Wards (November 2, 2016, Sixth Tone)
More than a year after the Communist Party of China announced that all couples were to be allowed to have two children, hospitals around the country are having to cope with the policy’s effects. Maternity wards have seen their resources stretched, as many women are having second children — a development exacerbated by the fact that many of them are relatively older and thus require more care.

All 33 miners trapped in China coal mine found dead (November 2, 2016, USA Today)
All 33 miners who were trapped by a gas explosion in southwestern China on Monday have been found dead, state media reported Wednesday. All the bodies were recovered and safety officials said they would punish those responsible for the incident. It took place at the privately-run Jinshangou Coal Mine in the city of Chongqing. Two miners escaped, officials said.

Starry, Starry Eyes: Shenzhen Police Make Offenders Stare in Full Beam Headlights (November 2, 2016, What’s on Weibo)
Motorists in Shenzhen who carelessly blind others by using full beam headlights are punished by local police by getting a dose of their own medicine.

Economics / Trade / Business

Amazon Prime launches in China (October 28, 2016, TechCrunch)
Amazon announced today it’s bringing a version of its Prime membership program to customers in China, which will include free, cross-border shipping from the Amazon Global Store as well as no minimum free domestic shipping, the company says. The service, which will compete with local rivals like Alibaba and JD.com, will cost 388 yuan ($57.23) per year after the first year, a discounted rate.

China's Alibaba in 'flying pig' controversy (November 1, 2016, BBC)
A Chinese Muslim's call for e-commerce giant Alibaba to rename one of its services because it uses the word "pig" has sparked a backlash in China. It all began when Alibaba changed the name of its popular travel booking app from Alitrip to one that means "Flying Pig" in Chinese. Its English name is Fliggy.

Here's Why Apple's iPhone 7 Sales Are Down in China (November 1, 2016, Fortune)
As Apple demand wanes, Chinese competitors are stepping up to offer better products, according to the Wall Street Journal.


Shanghai Enforcing Ban on Overseas Curricula at International Schools (October 27, 2016, Caixin)
The Shanghai Municipal Education Commission summoned principals from 21 international and bilingual schools from across the city and representatives from district education bureaus to an October 19 meeting, where the commission told the schools to tighten oversight of their respective curricula. Education authorities also told administrators at international schools and public schools that have international units to comply with government rules on “national education”—the teaching of Chinese history, constitution, law and morals.

China Mulls Ban on Private Schools With First Through Ninth Grades (November 1, 2016, Caixin)
Chinese lawmakers are considering a ban on for-profit private schools that have classes for first- through ninth-graders — a move that could affect 12 million students and deal a heavy blow to the country’s booming private-education sector.

Science / Technology

China is building a magnetic levitation train that can go an insane 373 mph (November 1, 2016, Verge)
According to Smart Rail World (citing a report by the Chinese press agency Xinhua), the state-owned company has started building a three-mile track on which to test out this maglev train. The firm is also working on a more modest 124mph maglev train, with the goal of “establishing domestic technology and standard systems for new-generation medium- and high-speed maglev transportation that can be applied globally,” Sun Bangcheng, a CRRC official, told Xinhua.

Report: China’s Streaming App Censorship Not Well-Coordinated (November 2, 2016, China Real Time)
On China’s popular streaming video app YY, you can chat about the Dalai Lama or the party drug ecstasy, but if you want to talk about people from Henan province stealing manhole covers, you’ll have to switch to a different app. And if you want to talk about naked one-on-one video chats or the banned Falun Gong spiritual group, you’re out of luck.

History / Culture

Why the Industrial Revolution didn’t happen in China (October 28, 2016, The Washington Post)
Drawing on centuries of philosophy and scientific advancements, Mokyr argues that there's a reason the Industrial Revolution occurred in Europe and not, for example, in China, which had in previous centuries shown signs of more scientific advancement: Europe developed a unique culture of competitive scientific and intellectual advancement that was unprecedented and not at all predestined.

A collection: From Beijing’s Guangqumen to Tiananmen in the 1960s (October 30, 2016, Everyday Life in Beijing’s China)

History of Chinese Diaspora in America (October 30, 2016, China Underground)
Overseas Chinese (海外华人) are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Overseas Chinese can be of the Han Chinese ethnic majority, or from any of the other ethnic groups in China. Different waves of immigration led to subgroups among overseas Chinese such as the new and old immigrants in Southeast Asia, North America, Oceania, the Caribbean, Latin America, South Africa, and Russia. In the 19th century, during Qing dynasty, the age of colonialism was at its height and the great Chinese diaspora began.

Travel / Food

Z Visa Holders Can Now Use E-Lane at Immigration (November 1, 2016, The Beijinger)
Good news for the next time you’re facing a massive line at Chinese immigration: Z visa holders (for foreigners working in China) can now use the e-channel to zip past the queue. This comes less than a year after AmCham China first advocated for the change.

Airbnb to Share China Data with Local Officials (November 2, 2016, Caixin)
Online homestay specialist Airbnb said it will provide some data on its users in China to local officials, following other high-tech names like Apple Inc. and LinkedIn that have surrendered individuals' personal information to satisfy Beijing's national security concerns.

Language / Language Learning

Chinese structures with 把 (bǎ) in Chinese grammar (November 1, 2016, Sapore di Cina)
Phrases with 把 (bǎ) represent a peculiar characteristic of the Chinese language. The function of the character 把 is directly derived from classical Chinese where it had the meaning of “to take”.


Review: “Voices from the Past: Historical Reflections on Christian Missions in China” (October 23, 2016, Global China Center)
The thin-skinned, faint-hearted, and self-confident may find Voices from the Past a bit too bracing. It will irritate their egos, challenge their lack of courage, and expose their pride in ways they may not welcome. For those who are willing to hear and heed what their forerunners have to say, however, the booklet will furnish sage advice, profound encouragement to trust God, and needed rebuke.

China: The Virtues of the Awful Convulsion (October 27, 2016, The New York Review of Books)
Of all the books on the Cultural Revolution that have appeared during this anniversary year, I was most intrigued by those that told detailed local stories to illustrate the larger history.

An Exiled Editor Traces the Roots of Democratic Thought in China (October 28, 2016, The New York Times)
In his new book — “Why Did Mao Zedong Launch the Cultural Revolution?,” published in Taiwan by Asian Culture — Mr. Hu argues that contemporary Chinese concepts of democracy and freedom are not imports from the West, but a response to political oppression at home and a growing appreciation of the need for restraints on state power.

Links for Researchers

Behind the Official Narrative: China’s Strategic Culture in Perspective (November 1, National Bureau of Asian Research)
In this Q&A, Christopher A. Ford, chief legislative counsel for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, discusses the idiosyncratic characteristics of Chinese strategic culture. He argues that although the Chinese Communist Party’s official narrative depicts China’s strategic culture as essentially pacifistic and disinclined toward violence, its basic orientation is fundamentally realist.

Image credit: Flat Classroom 2011, by Thomas Galvez, via Flickr
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource 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 of Northwestern-St. Paul …View Full Bio