ZGBriefs | November 5, 2020

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Featured Article

China Tightens Entry Requirements by Adding Second COVID-19 Test  (November 3, 2020, Sixth Tone)
International travel to the Chinese mainland has slowly resumed after a ban on most foreign nationals was imposed in March. Now, strict testing and quarantine measures are helping curb the risk of imported COVID-19 cases but also creating headaches for would-be returnees.

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Online Lecture: The Role of Confucian and Christian Dialogue in the China Puzzle, by Dr. Diane Obenchain
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Dr. Obenchain is an expert on Confucian tradition and director of the China Initiative at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. She was one of the first Western professors to teach at Peking University, beginning in 1988, at the time when China was reopening to the West. Now she spearheads Fuller Seminary’s engagement with Nanjing Seminary, China’s main national Protestant seminary.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Xi Is Out to Prove That This Is China’s Moment  (October 28, 2020, Foreign Policy)
As the Chinese leadership discusses a five-year plan in Beijing this week, it could underestimate the United States.

State of Surveillance  (October 30, 2020, China File)
The coordination of the resulting millions of cameras and other snooping technology spread across the country remains partial at best, its efficacy uncertain. Yet, despite these limitations, officials in China are working to make the system as effective and advanced as possible.

Five-year plan: China moves to technology self-sufficiency  (October 30, 2020, South China Morning Post)
China will have to rely more on self-sufficiency in technology as a key factor in managing the fast-changing international environment, a senior Chinese government official said, at a press conference outlining more details on China’s future development plans on Friday.

Hong Kong pro-democracy politicians arrested  (November 1, 2020, BBC)
Seven pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong have been arrested over scuffles with pro-Beijing lawmakers in the city’s Legislative Council in May. Police say they have been charged with contempt and interfering with members of the council. The two opposing camps came to blows, with heckling and shoving on both sides, over the appointment of the chair of a key committee.

A brief history of the Helsman (November 2, 2020, China Media Project)
In the bulletin emerging last week from the Fifth Plenum of the 19thCentral Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi Jinping was praised as the “pilot at the helm,” or lǐngháng zhǎngduò (领航掌舵), a reference with strong echoes of China’s Maoist past.

China Envisions a New Hong Kong, Firmly Under Its Control  (November 3, 2020, The New York Times)
The government hopes to turn Hainan Island into a financial and shopping destination. Matching the former British colony won’t be easy.

United States approves $600m sale of armed drones to Taiwan  (November 4, 2020, Al Jazeera)
The United States plans to sell four armed MQ-9 Reaper drones to Taiwan, the US Department of State announced on Tuesday, in a sale that is likely to further anger China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own. The $600m deal would be the first such sale since the administration of US President Donald Trump loosened US policy on the export of sophisticated and closely guarded drone technology.

China is angry’: Taiwan anxiety rises as sabre-rattling grows  (October 29, 2020, AFP, via Yahoo! News)
Democratic Taiwan has learned to live with the warnings of Beijing’s authoritarian leaders that they are ready and willing to seize a place it views as part of its territory. But that background static has reached hard-to-ignore levels recently with China’s jets now crossing into Taiwan’s defence zone at an unprecedented rate and the People’s Liberation Army releasing propaganda simulating an invasion of the island — and even an attack on US bases in Guam.


Persecution and Suffering are a Part of the House Church’s Identity  (October 22, 2020, China Partnership Blog)
For the contemporary, urban house church in China, suffering remains integral to its identity; but unlike in the West, there are no sharp divisions between political suffering and the suffering that has been brought to this world through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Testimony of an 80后  (November 2, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
However, one thing did stick with me and I am grateful that it did because she closed the story by saying “Jesus loves you.” A seed was planted. After that, she and I would do Bible study together. She wanted to talk about the Bible and I wanted to practice English. It worked for both of us.

Where Can Young People Turn? (2)  (November 3, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article, the journal Territory interviews Deng Hongmei, a Chinese Christian counselor with decades of counseling experience. Deng gives moving testimony about the current emotional plight of Chinese young people, and provides penetrating analysis that is helpful to better understand the challenges that Chinese young people face today.

What Is the Gospel and Its Implications for Second Generation Chinese Youth  (November 4, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
The second generation needs to understand God’s grace, and the gospel helps them to understand this. They need to hear this in the preaching and teaching of the gospel. However, they also need to see it lived out by Christian leaders and in their family. Grace changes us!

Society / Life

After the Pandemic, China’s Middle Class Re-Imagines the World  (November 2, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Unable to travel and consume abroad, some wealthy Chinese are “domesticating” their purchasing habits — and rethinking their place in the global community.

Economics / Trade / Business

China to Halt Key Australian Imports in Sweeping Retaliation  (November 3, 2020, Bloomberg, via Yahoo! News)
Commodities traders in China won’t be able to import products including coal, barley, copper ore and concentrate, sugar, timber, wine and lobster, according to people familiar with the situation. The government has ordered the halt to begin on Friday, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is sensitive.

Ant Group forced to suspend biggest share offering in history  (November 3, 2020, The Guardian)
The stock market flotation of Ant Group, planned to be the biggest share offering in history, has been dramatically suspended just two days before dealings were due to begin in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The move came a day after the financial tech company’s top executives including its founder, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, were summoned to speak to regulators.


Report: US Visas Granted to Students from Mainland China Have Plummeted 99% Since April (November 3, 2020, Tech Crunch)
According to a new report in Nikkei Asia, citing U.S. State Department data, just 808 F-1 student visas were granted to applicants in mainland China between April and September’s end, which is 99% fewer than the 90,410 F-1 student visas granted during the same period last year.

China changes school curriculum to reflect Beijing’s positive Covid narrative  (November 3, 2020, The Guardian)
The content will be added to elementary and middle school classes in biology, health and physical education, history, and literature, and will “help students understand the basic fact that the Party and the state always put the life and safety of its people first”, the ministry said on Wednesday.

Health / Environment

Burning Issue  (October 29, 2020, The World of Chinese)
China has a massive trash problem: Last year, headlines exploded with the news that Jiangcungou in Shaanxi province, a landfill as large as 100 football fields that was built to last until 2044, has already filled up—25 years ahead of schedule.

How 2020 Kicked Off a Nationwide Discussion about China’s Hidden Epidemic  (November 1, 2020, Sixth Tone)
As a nationwide lockdown swept mainland China at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the isolation, stress, and uncertainty put people at an increased risk of depression. According to data from China’s leading search engine Baidu, searches for mental health related keywords such as “psychological help” reached a 10-year high at the beginning of 2020.

In Hunt for Virus Source, W.H.O. Let China Take Charge  (November 2, 2020, The New York Times)
As it praised Beijing, the World Health Organization concealed concessions to China and may have sacrificed the best chance to unravel the virus’s origins.

Science / Technology

Major Chinese City Pushes Back Against Widespread Facial Recognition  (October 30, 2020, Radii China)
The eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou plans to prohibit property owners from the mandatory use of facial recognition, fingerprinting, and other biometrics in residential properties. The regulation comes in the midst of increasing concerns over biometric data use and data security in China. 

History / Culture

Who Controls the Past Controls the Future  (October 30, 2020, China Channel)
More recently, as the increasingly technocratic Party-state has advanced its surveillance and repression mechanisms, it has invested time and resources into achieving collective memory restraint.

Travel / Food

Remembering Cecilia Chiang, the “Mother of Chinese Food in America”  (October 29, 2020, Radii China)
For anyone that has enjoyed an authentic, well-prepared dish of tea-smoked duck or twice-cooked pork somewhere in the United States, we have America’s “mother of Chinese food” Cecilia Chiang to thank. Chiang, who recently passed away at the age of 100, was one of the first to introduce authentic Chinese cuisine to the US through her legendary restaurant the Mandarin, which operated in San Francisco for 45 years.

A Tale of Two Airports: Beijing Capital Airport and Daxing by the Numbers  (November 3, 2020, The Beijinger)
Against the backdrop of these aviation anxieties, Beijing’s two airports have experienced turbulence, but are seemingly facing smoother sailing as 2021 quickly approaches. Curious how Beijing’s airports are faring? Let’s find out!

Arts / Entertainment / Media

“Farewell My Concubine” is Getting a Broadway Adaptation  (November 3, 2020, Radii China)
Noted American playwright, composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown announced on Twitter that casting for main characters has begun for a Broadway adaptation of Farewell My Concubine. The original novel by Lillian Lee, written in 1985, deals with jealousy, love and the relationship between a successful pair of Peking Opera performers in the early 20th century in China. It was famously adapted into a Palme d’Or-winning film by director Chen Kaige.

China’s yuan has its worst fall in years before recovering on US election swings  (November 4, 2020, CNN)
China’s yuan briefly plunged as much as 1.4% against the US dollar on Wednesday when early results showed Trump in a competitive race with former Vice President Joe Biden, who had been favored to capture the White House. The drop in the offshore yuan, where the currency is traded more freely, was the largest single-day percentage drop since February 2018, according to Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist for Axi.

Living Cross-culturally

Kids and Masks—Challenges in the Pandemic  (October 30, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
After a couple of months, when things started to ease up just a little bit, more and more children, wearing their masks, started going outside to play. Our family had no idea how many children lived in our apartment complex prior to that time. Getting to know the children became the biggest blessing to our family during this time.


Notice on Airline Boarding Requirements for Certificates of Negative Nucleic Acid and Anti-Body Blood Tests Results  (October 30, 2020, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China)

Pray for China

November 11, 2020 (Pray For China: A Walk Through History)
Nov. 11 is the unofficial Singles Day (光棍节) holiday in China. The name comes from 11/11 being a representation of four individuals. Young Chinese, particularly in urban areas, are staying single longer, and retailers have seized upon this day to promote buying a present for oneself. In 2017, shoppers spent US$44.5 billion with just two major online retailers. The day also highlights the profound gender disparity brought about by the One Child Policy sex-selection abortions that will leave many men with no prospect of ever being married. One study showed that the killing of 1.3 million unborn girls annually in sex-selection abortions have left China with nearly 34 million more boys than girls. This is expected to create a culture where lonely men without families fill their lives with pets, video games and anime. Pray for healing in the land. If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Image credit: Vesna Harni from Pixabay
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