ZGBriefs | November 3, 2022

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Featured Article

I lasted three years in China without taking a COVID test (November 2, 2022, The China Project)
Yes, dear reader, I have broken my streak. After three years (well, shy three months of it), in the last three weeks I have taken 15 throat-swab tests. Some were stabbers, some ticklers; some explorers, others gorers; some dabbed, some jabbed, a few stayed in there till I gagged. One kept me aah-ing till I drooled like a dog onto the pavement.

Sponsored Link

Fall Public Lecture

As part of the ongoing joint lecture series co-sponsored by China Academic Consortium (CAC), the US-China Catholic Association (USCCA), and ChinaSource, CAC will be hosting the autumn lecture on Sunday, November 13. Dr. Richard Cook will present the lecture, entitled “Out of the Darkness and into the Light of the Global Stage: Protestant Churches in China after 1979.” Dr. Cook is Associate Professor of Church History and Missions at Logos Evangelical Seminary in El Monte, California. His most recent book is Darkest Before the Dawn: A Brief History of the Rise of Christianity in China. Those of you in the Bay Area can attend the lecture in-person at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. The rest of us can register to participate online via Zoom. Find more details and register to attend on the CAC website.

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

China Used to be a One-Way Street of Happiness and Rising Prosperity, But That’s Over Now (October 15, 2022, The Market NZZ)
This is a break with the previous model: Premier Wen Jiabao had learned from his predecessor Zhu Rongji, and Li Keqiang had learned from Wen Jiabao. We have to state clearly today: Ideology is once again taking precedence over the interests of the economy in China.

Beyond Surprises: Evaluating China’s Post-20th Party Congress Leadership Lineup (October 26, 2022, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
During this webinar on October 26, 2022, three days after the conclusion of the Party Congress, Cheng Li, in conversation with National Committee President Stephen Orlins, provided fresh insights into the main surprises on the personnel front. In addition, Dr. Li discussed whether the appointments reveal any shifts in the balance of power and factional fault lines in Zhongnanhai, what the new leadership suggests about the trajectory of domestic and foreign policy, and what Xi Jinping might have signaled regarding future political succession.

There is no hope the Communist Party can reform — Q&A with Frank Dikötter (October 28, 2022, The China Project)
The renowned Dutch historian of modern China answered my questions about the just-concluded Party congress, and why my youthful dreams of a more open China were always going to be disappointed.

How China’s state security controls its narrative in the West | Live with Lizzi Lee (October 31, 2022, The China Project)
Author Alex Joske talks about the great lengths to which the CCP’s long-reaching security arm manipulates the West’s attitudes about China.

In Xi’s China, even internal reports fall prey to censorship (October 31, 2022, AP, via Daily Item)
But this internal system is struggling to give frank assessments as Chinese leader Xi Jinping consolidates his power, making it risky for anyone to directly question the party line even in confidential reports, a dozen Chinese academics, businesspeople and state journalists said in interviews with The Associated Press.


A Lived Theology Approach to “Seeing” the Chinese Church: Reflecting on “Chinese Christianity in the Modern Era” (1) (October 28, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
This first post reviews the theological prelude to the lecture, grounded in the question of what it means to see the whole of the Chinese church, contradictions and all, and what theological lenses are needed to make sense of what we are looking at.

A Necessary Task: A Reader Responds to “When the ‘Golden Age’ Is Over” (October 31, 2022, ChinaSource Blog)
All of us working cross-culturally need more humility, and greater love and sympathy for those we are trying to serve. Like Chen, I hope we can take the time and effort now to learn from our past failures and successes so that our next efforts will be more faithful and more fruitful, bringing God greater glory.

Refugee Church Congregation Releases Statement of Faith (October 31, 2022, Persecution)
Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, which is comprised of nearly 60 members, traveled to Thailand in late August to seek protection from religious persecution with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.  The congregation left China between late 2019 and early 2020, settling in South Korea. However, when they did not receive refugee status in South Korea, they began to seek resettlement in the United States as another option.   

How I Prayed for Church Planting (October 31, 2022, China Partnership Blog)
In the current Chinese environment, church planters need both the wisdom of serpents and the innocence of doves. They need to know when to be bold, and when to be careful.

Lost on a Mountain, Found by God (November 2, 2022, Chinese Church Voices)
At the end of April 2005, before closing the company and leaving Guangzhou, I watched the movie The Passion of Christ. When God’s tears flowed onto the ground, I couldn’t help but tear up as well. At that time, I had been attending church for a few months, had restarted reading the Bible, and I attended family gatherings regularly. But I hadn’t believed in the Lord yet, and I didn’t believe that there really was a God in this world, because I couldn’t see him and couldn’t touch him.

Society / Life

Locked-Down Xining Residents Voice Their Hunger, Anger Online (October 27, 2022, Sixth Tone)
It’s an all-too-familiar story of millions of people locked down amid a local COVID-19 outbreak, as food shortages and restrictions on mobility cripple people’s lives. This time, the scene is being played out in the northwestern city of Xining where residents are once again pleading for food and other essentials on social media. The capital of Qinghai province, home to 2.5 million people, went into a snap lockdown last week.

China Covid: Videos emerge of rare protests in Tibet (October 28, 2022, BBC)
Footage has emerged showing what appear to be rare large-scale protests against strict Covid-19 measures in the Tibetan regional capital, Lhasa. Multiple videos on social media show hundreds demonstrating and clashing with police. They are said to be mostly ethnic Han Chinese migrant workers. The city has been under lockdown for nearly three months as it battles a wave of infections.

Shanghai Disney: Visitors unable to leave without negative Covid test as park shuts (November 1, 2022, BBC)
Shanghai Disney has become the latest high-profile venue to shut its gates thanks to China’s strict zero-Covid policy, trapping visitors inside. People have been told they will not be allowed out of the theme park until they can show a negative test. It comes after Shanghai reported 10 locally transmitted cases on Saturday. 

Economics / Trade / Business

U.S. business sentiment in China hits record low as zero-COVID persists, survey shows (October 27, 2022, Reuters)
Optimism among U.S. businesses in China has hit record low levels, an annual survey showed on Friday, as competitive, economic, and regulatory challenges compound the stresses already imposed by Beijing’s ongoing zero-COVID policies.

How a Mysterious China Screenshot Spurred $450 Billion Rally (November 2, 2022, Bloomberg) (subscription required)
Nobody is quite sure who wrote it, when it was written or if it’s even true. But a screenshot of four paragraphs detailing a China reopening plan was enough for traders to scoop up stocks for two days running.

Supply fears as China lockdown hits world’s largest iPhone factory (November 2, 2022, The Guardian)
Chinese authorities have announced a seven-day coronavirus lockdown in the area around the world’s largest iPhone factory, stoking concern that production will be severely curtailed ahead of the Christmas period. Foxconn’s plant in Zhengzhou, which employs about 200,000 people, produces the majority of Apple’s new phones, including the new iPhone 14.

Health / Environment

After the Yangtze, China Passes Law to Protect Yellow River (November 1, 2022, Sixth Tone)
The law attaches particular importance to capping the amount of groundwater that can be withdrawn from the river basin.

China striving to control new COVID outbreaks – commission (November 2, 2022, Reuters)
China is striving to control the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 infections in the shortest possible time, the health commission said on Wednesday in its first comments since the 20th Communist Party Congress as cases rise across major cities. China should unwaveringly stick to its dynamic zero-COVID policy, the National Health Commission said.

History / Culture

‘Seeing the Yellow River as a Whole’: A Conversation With Ruth Mostern (October 27, 2022, Sixth Tone)
The historian discusses her book on China’s imperial water management and how its insights relate to the present.

The rise of Empress Dowager Cixi (November 2, 2022, The China Project)
The Empress Dowager Cixi was only 26 when she took over as China’s ruler. She remained on top for the next half-century. How did she navigate the perilous halls of imperial power to become known as the most powerful woman in Chinese history?

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Canada’s CBC News to shut China office after 2-year wait for journalist work visas (November 3, 2022, South China Morning Post)
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said on Wednesday it was shutting its news bureau in Beijing after waiting two years in vain for a China work permit for its journalists. The publicly owned news outlet had numerous exchanges with Chinese officials in Canada over the past two years about visas but without a resolution, CBC News Editor-in-Chief Brodie Fenlon said in a blog post.

Language / Language Learning

Deciphering the Hanzisphere (October 27, 2022, Sixth Tone)
Simplified, traditional, Japanese ‘kanji’ — the differences between characters are well known. But fonts and typefaces tell their own story of cultural diffusion.


Video: Launch of Online Spiritual Atlas of the Global East — Hong Kong (Center on Religion and the Global East)
During the session, we will launch the Online Spiritual Atlas of the Global East—Hong Kong. Afterwards, renowned experts will discuss the current state of religions in Hong Kong. Speakers: Rev. Dr. Kim-Kwong Chan (Research Associate, Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong) Dr. Fuk-tsang Ying (Professor, Divinity School of Chung Chi College, Chinese University of Hong Kong) Dr. David Palmer (Professor, Dept. of Sociology & Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong) Dr. Fenggang Yang (Professor of Sociology, Center on Religion and the Global East, Purdue University).

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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Image credit: Eric Lin, via Unsplash
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