ZGBriefs | November 4, 2021

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Featured Article

Hopes for China Reopening Dashed by New Limits on Airline Flights This Winter (October 29, 2021, Skift)
The world is slowly reopening for wider travel. China, for now, will not be part of that movement. Airlines are among those feeling the brunt. […] The CAAC said in August that weekly international flights were about 2% of 2019 levels, as more flights were suspended amid a rising number of imported COVID-19 cases.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Getting Rid of the Grey: 5 Years into the Overseas NGO Law (October 29, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
On October 15, 2021, the US-Asia Law Institute (USALI) at New York University held an online forum to discuss how things have developed for ONGOs in the past five years and what the future might look like. 

China rejects US intelligence report on Covid origins as ‘political and false’ (October 31, 2021, The Guardian)
Beijing has lashed out against a US intelligence review into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, calling it “political and false” while urging Washington to stop attacking China. […] The paper said that, without new information, intelligence agencies would not be able to offer a better judgment on whether the virus emerged via animal-to-human transmission or a lab leak.

China’s Personal Information Protection Law is Here. What’s Changing? (November 1, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The long-awaited data protection law, which takes inspiration from the European Union’s GDPR, responds to years of complaints about fast and loose data processing.

What Will Drive China to War? (November 1, 2021, The Atlantic)
A cold war is already under way. The question is whether Washington can deter Beijing from initiating a hot one.

The Third Road: Where Will Xi Jinping Go in 2022? (November 1, 2021, Made in China Journal)
Below I outline a third path Xi could take to stay in power: reactivating the office of the Chairman of the Party Central Committee (hereinafter Party Chairman) at the twentieth CCP Congress in 2022. 

Xi Jinping’s Third Road: A Response (November 3, 2021, Made in China Journal)
I rarely disagree with my friend and colleague, the always insightful Ling Li, but I cannot go along with her most recent analysis of Party leadership and the succession issue (Li 2021). She suggests that Xi Jinping may reactivate the office of Chairman of the Party Central Committee at the twentieth Party Congress in 2022. 

Pentagon warns China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal (November 3, 2021, CNN)
China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal and may have 1,000 nuclear warheads by the end of the decade as it aims to surpass US global influence by the middle of the 21st century, according to a major Pentagon report released on Wednesday.


Pastor Wang Yi visited by wife after three years (November 1, 2021, China Aid)
Early Rain Covenant Church disclosed that Jiang Rong, Pastor Wang Yi’s wife, visited Pastor Wang Yi recently. This is their first meeting in over three years since Wang Yi’s arrest on December 9, 2018. Jiang reports that Pastor Wang Yi is healthy, although he lost a lot of weight. Also, guards have allowed him to read in prison.

From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom (8): Hui in a Globalizing China (Since 1978) (November 1, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
With all these choices, the Hui naturally responded to China’s opening up in different ways. Some became secularized, others used their freedom to become more religious. Some embraced globalization while others kept their hearts and minds close to home.

One More Sunday (November 1, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
I asked him what Sunday worship looks like, and he shared some things I wasn’t expecting. Before worship each Sunday, they gather as volunteers and staff and pray for the service at hand. Getting more specific, he explained that each Sunday they ask God to give them one more Sunday.

Strengthening a Neglected Area (November 2, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
A respected Chinese Christian scholar spoke online in October 2021 about the value of reading biographies of foreign missionaries and the need for Chinese research on early missionaries and church history. This article from China Christian Daily reports on his lecture.

Society / Life

Podcast: Reading Scripture as Cultural Chinese (October 28, 2021, CantoSense)
Should being a cultural Chinese influence the way we read scripture? In this episode, we discuss the importance of noting the cultural lens through which we read scripture. Perhaps it will help us experience God’s revelation in more and different ways. 

China limits construction of ‘super high-rise buildings’ (October 29, 2021, BBC)
China has restricted smaller cities in the country from building “super high-rise buildings”, as part of a larger bid to crack down on vanity projects. The country is home to some of the world’s highest buildings, including Shanghai Tower, which has 128 floors. Local reports also questioned the need for low-density cities to build skyscrapers, suggesting they were built for vanity and not practicality. There is already an existing ban on buildings taller than 500 metres.

Chaoyang masses: the rise of Beijing’s neighbourhood patrols (October 30, 2021, The Guardian)
They are often seen wearing a red armband patrolling residential neighbourhoods of Chaoyang, the biggest district of Beijing, which is home to nearly 3.5 million people. On a sunny late autumn afternoon, they will sit with a group of retirees in the sun and chat away. But when an individual of interest turns up, their attention quickly diverts to them.

China grows more isolated as Asia Pacific neighbors start living with Covid-19 (November 1, 2021, CNN)
China, the country where Covid-19 was first detected nearly two years ago, remains determined to eliminate the virus inside its borders, with officials there showing no signs of backing down. Despite fully vaccinating more than 75% of its population, China is sticking to its stringent zero-Covid strategy, including closed borders, lengthy quarantine measures for all international arrivals and local lockdowns when an outbreak occurs.

Heilongjiang policies to encourage more babies (November 2, 2021, China Daily)
Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province has rolled out a series of preferential policies to increase people’s willingness to have more children. The Standing Committee of the Heilongjiang Provincial People’s Congress passed a revised regulation on population and family planning recently, stipulating that employers should set up a system of parental leave for working parents, allowing them to have more time to take care of their young children.

China is urging families to stock up on food as supply challenges multiply (November 2, 2021, CNN)
The country’s Ministry of Commerce late Monday issued a notice directing local governments to encourage people to stockpile “daily necessities,” including vegetables, oils and poultry, in order to “meet the needs of daily life and emergencies.” The agency also urged local authorities to make sure that people have an “adequate supply” of essentials this winter into next spring. 

Peng Shuai: Chinese tennis star makes sexual assault claims (November 3, 2021, BBC)
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has publicly accused a retired Communist official of sexual assault. In a post on Chinese social media site Weibo, Ms Peng said former Vice Premier, Zhang Gaoli, had “forced” her to have sexual relations with him. It is the first time such an allegation has been made against one of China’s senior political leaders.

Economics / Trade / Business

Why Yahoo is discontinuing its platform in China (November 2, 2021, Christian Science Monitor)
Following the lead of other major tech companies, such as Microsoft and Google, Yahoo announced Tuesday that it would no longer offer its services in China. The departure comes as China’s government increasingly limits the data these companies can collect and store. 

How China shapes the world’s coal (November 2, 2021, BBC)
The world’s largest funder of coal is closing down its finance for the industry overseas. What does that mean for the world on climate change?

Chair of TikTok owner ByteDance steps down as Beijing tightens grip (November 3, 2021, The Guardian)
Zhang Yiming announced in May he would step down as chief executive of the tech company he co-founded and on Wednesday he relinquished his chair title, with ByteDance’s English-language website no longer featuring a page that mentioned his formal board role. Instead, there was a photo of Zhang under the heading of “leadership” with no title underneath. 

Health / Environment

China to start vaccinating children to age 3 as cases spread (October 25, 2021, AP)
Children as young as 3 will start receiving COVID-19 vaccines in China, where 76% of the population has been fully vaccinated and authorities are maintaining a zero-tolerance policy toward outbreaks. China becomes one of the very few countries in the world to start vaccinating children that young against the virus.

Shanghai Disneyland Gets a COVID-19 Scare on Halloween (November 1, 2021, Sixth Tone)
On Sunday evening, Shanghai Disney announced it would temporarily suspend operations to “cooperate with the pandemic investigation request in other provinces and cities.” All visitors were required to take a nucleic acid test before leaving the park, as well as a second test after 24 hours. As of 8 a.m. Monday, 33,863 people who were at Disneyland and Disneytown over the weekend had tested negative for the virus, according to the city government.

Storms take their toll on heritage in Shanxi (November 2, 2021, China Daily)
As of Oct 11, a total of 1,783 heritage sites throughout Shanxi had been partially damaged, according to the National Cultural Heritage Administration. Significant damage was reported in cracked walls, collapsed foundations, fences and leaking roofs, but there were no injuries.

China’s COVID-19 cases spike ahead of Communist Party conclave (November 3, 2021, Reuters)
China’s new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases spiked to a near three-month high and tighter curbs to contain the spread are expected in the capital Beijing ahead of a key gathering of the highest-ranking members of the Communist Party next week. The National Health Commission confirmed on Wednesday 93 new local symptomatic cases for Nov. 2, up from 54 a day earlier and the highest daily count since Aug. 9 at the peak of China’s last major outbreak.

Can China Maintain Its Zero-COVID Policy? (November 3, 2021, Foreign Policy)
Anticipating more controls following a possible spike in winter cases, the government has asked the public to make sure their homes are stocked with supplies. But pandemic fatigue is also setting in, which could lead to weakening compliance with the rules.

History / Culture

Norman Bethune’s last surgery (November 3, 2021, Sup China)
Norman Bethune was a polarizing figure during his lifetime, but for his medical contributions to China between 1937 and 1939, he was bestowed hero status. For decades afterwards, it’s likely no other foreigner enjoyed such a universally positive image. 

Travel / Food

Why China Is the World’s Last ‘Zero Covid’ Holdout (October 27, 2021, The New York Times) (subscription required)
The government has staked its political legitimacy on controlling the virus better than other countries, especially its geopolitical rivals.

Finding the Qiao in Tianqiao: A Bridge for the Son of Heaven (October 31, 2021, The Beijinger)
As it turns out, the name of the area does in fact have to do with a bridge. Said bridge is now long gone, but its replica lives on in the area. Plus, it was a pedestrian bridge of sorts – score one for my questionable understanding of Beijing terminology – reserved for but one “pedestrian”: the emperor.

Language / Language Learning

Chinese Number Sudoku (November 3, 2021, Sinosplice)
Every now and then I came across an idea that is brilliant in its simplicity. This is one of them: Chinese number sudoku!

Living Cross-culturally

Podcast: Re-thinking Cross-cultural Partnerships (Doing Theology, Thinking Mission)
Jackson and Werner interview William Strickland, who challenges people to rethink their understanding of healthy cross-cultural partnerships. William is candid about the difficulties mission agencies face and the inevitable failures that are bound to happen when we don’t give intentional thought to partnership.


Guizhou: The Precious Province – Book Review (November 1, 2021, Global China Center)
As in other books in the series, Hattaway traces the story of Christianity decade by decade, interposing chapters dedicated to a particular person or group. This book begins with a look at the mysterious origins of the Miao people, who trace their ancestry back to Adam and whose cultural memory includes a narrative of beginnings closely parallel to the one in Genesis.

Making History: A Review of From Rebel to Ruler (November 3, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
If the Party cares so much about the stories it tells about its own past to the people of China and the world, then it is also worthwhile to delve into that history from other perspectives. Enter Tony Saich’s book, From Rebel to Ruler: One Hundred Years of the Chinese Communist Party, a reflection on Party history from seeds planted in late imperial China to the present day. The book gives a broad overview of the main characters, movements, and ideologies that have shaped the CCP.

Pray for China

November 4 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Nov. 4, 1898, William S. Fleming (傅朗明), a missionary sent from Australia, and his co-worker Pan Shoushan (潘守山弟兄) were murdered near Kaili, Guizhou. Pan belonged to a Miao sub-group, the Hmu. In 1896, he helped the China Inland Mission establish a station among the Hmu in a village near Kaili, which earned him the enmity of the Han Chinese population. Pan and Fleming returned from a 3-week evangelistic journey to find great tension in the village between Han Chinese and the Hmu. As they attempted to flee to the provincial capital, they were overtaken by a group of men who killed them. In 2012, Operation China reported that Kaili’s population was about 4% (19,000) Christian. Pray for Han and Miao Christians to bring joy to the Lord by living out racial reconciliation. And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” Matthew 15:21-22 

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