ZGBriefs | November 7, 2019

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Featured Article

Remembering Pastor Samuel Lamb and His Faith in the Face of Persecution in China  (November 3, 2019, Christianity Today)
As we remember our brothers and sisters around the world today on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, I want to share about one special man who was a giant among men of faith and who had an incredible impact on my life.

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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

Forget the trade war and Hong Kong. Beijing just showed everyone that Xi Jinping is more powerful now, not less  (November 2, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Rumours ahead of the Communist Party’s Central Committee meeting about a possible shake-up of China’s top leadership have proved off the mark.

Zhang Lifan: The CCP’s Hardline Measures Could Be Its Undoing  (November 2, 2019, China Change)
Right now, the regime suffers from a strong sense of insecurity, because both internal and external situations have cropped up that are beyond their control. 

Podcast: Hearts and Minds (November 3, 2019, China and the World)
Sinologist Isabel Hilton explores how new methods are being exploited to achieve traditional ends by China's rulers and what lessons ought to be drawn from them.

Hong Kong: Xi expresses 'high degree of confidence' in Lam  (November 4, 2019, BBC)
There were reports last week of Beijing planning to replace Ms Lam, after months of anti-government protests that have at times crippled Hong Kong. But Mr Xi reportedly expressed his full support at a meeting in Shanghai.

Combating China’s Influence Operations  (November 4, 2019, Project Syndicate)
China has lately been infiltrating a wide range of US institutions – from universities and think tanks to the mass media and state and local governments – as well as the Chinese-American community. The only way to stop it is with a strategy of "constructive vigilance."

China Vowed National Security Steps for Hong Kong. Easier Said Than Done.  (November 6, 2019, The New York Times)
Communist Party leaders said they would bring in “national security” legal measures to quell unrest in the territory. The pitfalls could catch them out.

Hong Kong lawmaker attack: Junius Ho stabbed in chest  (November 6, 2019, BBC)
Mr. Ho was campaigning for an upcoming election when he was attacked by a man who appeared to pose as a supporter. The attacker was arrested shortly afterwards. Video of the incident surfaced on social media and has been widely broadcast by Hong Kong news outlets.


Religion With Chinese Characteristics: Sinicizing Religion in China  (October 30, 2019, The Diplomat)
Beijing began its orchestrated campaign to sinicize religion in China in 2014 even though all the major religions of China, including Christianity, have long undergone significant indigenization in modern times. The problem is that they have not sinicized to the CCP’s [Chinese Communist Party’s] liking. 

Can Christians Celebrate Halloween?: An Explanation and a Rejoinder  (November 1, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
As an American who pastors an international church in China, I’d like to offer an explanation with some theological, pastoral, and personal thoughts on this (largely) Western holiday. 

Interview With Two Church Lay Leaders From Shenyang: The Challenges Of Following Christ For China’s Busy Academics  (November 2, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
Since most in our church are working professionals and the rest are studying in graduate school, some getting our PhDs, we are all quite busy and have little time to connect and fellowship with one another. 

Hebei Official Church to be Salvaged and Relocated  (November 4, 2019, International Christian Concern)
On Friday, November 1, ICC posted an article on the Official Catholic Church in Hebei Province being threatened with a demolition by order by the Chinese government. While still far from ideal, the situation has moved in a more amicable direction.

A Few Unanswered Questions  (November 4, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
For believers to become disciples, they need mentors and close fellowship groups to help them grow. The biggest challenge remains the lack of mature, humble, life-giving, and long-term mentorship. 

The Pastor's Identity  (November 5, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article, Three-self pastor Chen Shengfeng reflects on the pastor’s identity. What expectations and hopes for the pastor do church members have? How do pastors remain humble servants while many are tempted to grasp at a “glorious identity”?

Top Taiwan churchman doubts Vatican, China deal exists  (November 6, 2019, UCA News)
The only term made public was Pope Francis lifting the excommunication of seven bishops ordained by Chinese authorities without the approval of the pope.

Society / Life

Harsh Justice?  (October 25, 2019, Made in China Journal)
Here I endeavour to provide a few entry-points for seriously engaging in a conversation about just how harsh penal practice is in China. There is no single golden measure of comparative severity in punishment, but the frames below all offer possible approaches to consider.

China to advance 'toilet revolution' in primary, secondary schools  (October 31, 2019, China Daily)
With toilets in rural schools in China's central and western regions as the focus, the campaign aims to provide safe, clean and environment-friendly facilities in the next two years.

China’s median age will soon overtake America’s  (October 31, 2019, The Economist)
The pressure on China is mounting. The coming year will see an inauspicious milestone. The median age of Chinese citizens will overtake that of Americans in 2020, according to UN projections

China’s Shenzhen is using big data to become a smart ‘socialist model city’  (November 1, 2910, South China Morning Post)
The city, which is known for its technology industry, was told by Beijing in August  to find “the best modern governance practices that promote high quality and sustainable development so it can be held up as an example of civilised society of law and order where people enjoy a high degree of satisfaction”.

‘Like a movie’: In Xinjiang, new evidence that China stages prayers, street scenes for visiting delegations (November 4, 2019, Globe and Mail)
To quell international anxieties about Xinjiang, one of China’s most important assets has been government loyalists who have defended the indoctrination centres and, according to multiple people interviewed by The Globe and Mail, have staged intricately managed scenes filled with pedestrians, street vendors and drivers played by people – police officers, teachers, retirees – who have been screened by the authorities and assigned roles.

The Crosswalk Posts Have Eyes (update)  (November 5, 2019, Sinosplice)
So what are we seeing here? Photos of a guy crossing the street illegally, with a close-up headshot (taken from the same video surveillance). The Chinese text 涉嫌违法repeats several times, and means “suspected of breaking the law.” 

In China, Kids Of Unwed Mothers May Be Barred From Public Health Care, Education  (November 6, 2019, NPR)
But the country's exhaustively detailed family code makes no mention of single parents. It is a topic so neglected that no official statistics are available on how many children are raised by single parents. This leaves many Chinese women stuck in a legal gray zone where they are unable to access basic public services for themselves and their children.

China fears young people are addicted to video games. Now it's imposing a curfew  (November 6, 2019, CNN)
Under the new rules, gamers aged under 18 will be banned from playing online games between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. On weekdays, minors can only play for 90 minutes, while they may play up to three hours per day on weekends and public holidays.

Economics / Trade / Business

Why Chinese farmers have crossed border into Russia's Far East  (November 1, 2019, BBC)
"Working in Russia is much the same as in China. You get up in the morning and go to work," says Chom Vampen.He is one of thousands of Chinese who have moved to this vast, under-populated part of Russia since the early 1990s. Most seek work at Russian- or Chinese-owned farms or buy the lease on the land to develop their own agricultural enterprises.

China’s subsidies lifting rural villages out of poverty, but is Xi Jinping’s plan sustainable?  (November 3, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Baoshan village highlights the success of the government’s massive poverty eradication campaign, but at the same time the question remains whether the success is sustainable or simply a temporary improvement due to the high level of government funding. 

How Your Company Can Benefit From China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Part 2B: Africa  (November 4, 2019, China Law Blog)
The goal of these posts is to help companies better understand what China is doing with its Belt and Road Initiative so that they can benefit from utilizing Chinese-funded or Chinese-built infrastructure as a springboard to their own growth. 

China’s Corporate Social Credit System: What Businesses Need to Know  (November 5, 2019, China Briefing)
Moreover, a number of myths and misconceptions have arisen about what the social credit system is, how it works, and what its implications will be. With this confusion in mind, we offer an introduction to China’s social credit system and how foreign businesses should prepare for its implementation.

Trade war losses for the US and China grow into the tens of billions of dollars  (November 5, 2019, CNBC)
There may be winners and losers from a political point of view when it comes to the trade war between the U.S. and China. But the latest data shows that economically, both sides are losers. And they can help explain why there is more talk of a deal: Losses are mounting into the tens of billions of dollars for the U.S. and China.

Most high-speed railway lines in China are losing money (November 6, 2019, Inkstone News)
But recent financial disclosures showed that more than 60% of the country’s high-speed railway operators have each lost a minimum of around $100 million in 2018 and continued losing money into the first half of 2019. The least profitable operator, based in the southwestern megacity of Chengdu, reported a $1.8 billion net loss in 2018. 


Professors, Beware. In China, Student Spies Might Be Watching.  (November 1, 2019, The New York Times)
Mr. Peng is one of a growing number of “student information officers” who keep tabs on their professors’ ideological views. They are there to help root out teachers who show any sign of disloyalty to President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party. “It’s our duty to make sure that the learning environment is pure,” Mr. Peng said, “and that professors are following the rules.”

Chinese open online courses attract 270 million users  (November 2, 2019, China Daily)
About 270 million people have taken massive open online courses (MOOC) in China as of August this year, according to the Ministry of Education. With around 15,000 courses, China has built an extensive MOOC network offering a wide range of courses across a variety of disciplines, said the ministry in a press release earlier this week. 

How Should Universities Respond to China’s Growing Presence on Their Campuses?  (November 4, 2019, China File)
How should universities encourage respectful dialogue on contentious issues involving China, while at the same time fostering an environment free of intimidation, harassment, and violence? And how should university administrators and governments involve themselves in this process? 

'Alarming' Chinese meddling at UK universities exposed in report  (November 5, 2019, The Guardian)
The committee highlighted the role of China-funded Confucius Institutesofficials in confiscating papers that mentioned Taiwan at an academic conference, the use of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association as an instrument of political interference and evidence that dissidents active while studying in the UK, such as Ayeshagul Nur Ibrahim, an Uighur Muslim, were being monitoring and her family in China being harassed.

Health / Environment

Vast Dragnet Targets Theft of Biomedical Secrets for China  (November 4, 2019, The New York Times)
The N.I.H. and the F.B.I. have begun a vast effort to root out scientists who they say are stealing biomedical research for other countries from institutions across the United States. Almost all of the incidents they uncovered and that are under investigation involve scientists of Chinese descent, including naturalized American citizens, allegedly stealing for China.

China approves seaweed-based Alzheimer's drug. It's the first new one in 17 years  (November 5, 2019, CNN)
The seaweed-based drug, called Oligomannate, can be used for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's, according to a statement from China's drug safety agency. The approval is conditional however, meaning that while it can go on sale during additional clinical trials, it will be strictly monitored and could be withdrawn should any safety issues arise.

New Alzheimer’s Drug from China: Hope or Hype?  (November 5, 2019, WebMD)
In a field littered with drug disappointments, it is the first approval of any new agent to treat Alzheimer’s since 2003. Oligomannate is a sugar derived from seaweed. The company says it works by modifying gut bacteria to ultimately turn down inflammation in the brain.  But there is scant proof to back up those claims.

Doctors call for tighter control of traditional Chinese medicine  (November 6, 2019, The Guardian)
Europe’s leading doctors are to call for tighter regulation of traditional Chinese medicine, anxious that recent recognition by the World Health Organization will encourage the use of unproven therapies that can sometimes be harmful.

China Moves to Demolish a Growing Construction Waste Problem  (November 6, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Blocked roads and drains. Rivers and groundwater poisoned by chemical runoff. Toxic gas leaking into the atmosphere. Tainted soil and crops. These are just some of the risks posed by the latest environmental problem to receive Chinese officials’ attention: the mountain of untreated construction waste dumped into landfills across the country.

Science / Technology

China’s Commercial 5G Rollout, Explained  (November 5, 2019, Sixth Tone)
There’s a good chance the highly anticipated next-generation mobile network will be as life-changing as advertised — just not right away.

History / Culture

Video: ‘Modern Peiping’, 1935, a color retouched footage, courtesy of Prelinger Archives  (November 1, 2019, Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Travel / Food

Visa-Free Travel Just Got Even Easier in China  (October 29, 2019, Afar)
As of December 1, many international travelers with layovers up to six days can enter Chongqing, Xi’an, and Ningbo without a visa.

8 tips for your first trip to China  (November 1, 2019, The Points Guy)
Whether you’re planning your first trip to China or are a repeat visitor, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your time in the Middle Kingdom.

Visiting the Ancient Imperial Retreat of Chengde Imperial Mountain Resort  (November 3, 2019, The Beijinger)
Not to be confused with the similar-sounding city of Chengdu, Chengde is a moderately sized city in Hebei province. It's perhaps best known for being one of the favorite summer retreats of the emperors during the Qing dynasty when they wanted to get a little further out than Beijing's Summer Palace.

Donkey for Dinner  (November 5, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Donkey meat may not be a regular option at deli counters in Western countries, but in China, it’s food fit for the gods, at least if one folk saying is to be believed: “In heaven, there is dragon meat; on earth, there is donkey meat” (天上龙肉,地上驴肉).

Travelers to China can finally experience its cashless economy like a local (November 5, 2019, Quartz)
For foreigners visiting China, paying for things in the country’s increasingly cashless society has been a major frustration. Now, visitors will be able to shop like locals: with an app on their phone. 

Chinese pilot banned from flying after passenger cockpit photo  (November 5, 2019, BBC)
A Chinese pilot has been banned from flying after a photo went viral showing a female passenger in the cockpit. The photo was taken in January on an Air Guilin flight from Guilin city to Yangzhou city, state media said, but was widely shared this week – causing the airline to take action.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Jeremy Lin Gets Off to Winning Start on CBA Debut  (November 3, 2019, Radii China)
Lin scored 25 points as he helped guide Beijing Shougang (also known as the Ducks) to a 103-81 win over Tianjin Pioneers.

Lego Unveils Chinese New Year Temple Fair and Lion Dancers for Spring Festival 2020  (November 5, 2019, Radii China)
After the Spring Festival dinner, dragon dance troupe, and dragon boat race sets,  Lego has two new China-focused creations coming our way for Spring Festival 2020: a lion dance troupe and a bustling festival complex. 

Language / Language Learning

Acronyms in China  (November 2, 2019, Language Log)
Recently, one of my students found an interesting post from the Communist Youth League about the use of Hanyu Pinyin acronyms on the Internet. When people type on Weibo, WeChat, and other social media, they frequently use Pinyin acronyms.

Ask Language Log: The alphabet in China  (November 6, 2019, Language Log)
As everyone who has studied Chinese for more than a couple of years knows, all the provinces and autonomous regions of China have one character designations, most of which have old, deep roots.  For example, in the above cited instances, "Wǎn 皖" refers to Ānhuī 安徽" and "Chuān 川" refers to "Sìchuān 四川".

Living Cross-culturally

“The End of an Era”? – Beijing Bookworm Closes Its Doors  (November 5, 2019, What’s on Weibo)
As news of The Bookworm’s closing makes its rounds on social media, Beijingers have responded in shock, mourning the loss of an iconic and meaningful meeting place for book(worm) lovers around the city.

Talking about Sensitive Issues  (November 6, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Conversations are a key way to build relationships and gain understanding about events and underlying assumptions that impact the friends and colleagues of those who live and work with in China. But is it possible to get at some of the more sensitive topics—the topics we’ve been warned to stay far away from—without giving offense and damaging the relationship?   


The Cedar of Lebanon – A Testimony from China  (Asia Harvest)
(An excerpt from Zhejiang, the Jerusalem of China, by Paul Hattaway)
This time we share the extraordinary story of Miao Zizhong, a house church pastor whose strong leadership and courage in the face of overwhelming persecution earned him the nickname, 'The Cedar of Lebanon' from other Chinese Christians. Although in China, Miao is much better-known than Lame Huang, few Christians in other nations have ever heard of him, so we pray this glimpse into his life will encourage you in your own walk with the Lord.

Sovereignty in China: A Genealogy of a Concept Since 1840  (October 31, 2019, China File)
It contributes to broadening the history of modern China by looking at the way the notion of sovereignty was gradually articulated by key Chinese intellectuals, diplomats, and political figures in the unfolding of the history of international law in China, rehabilitates Chinese agency, and shows how China challenged Western Eurocentric assumptions about the progress of international law.

Links for Researchers

The CCP’s nerve center: Xi Jinping and his aides hold sway over powerful core institutions  (October 30, 2019, Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies)
Xi has redirected authority over crucial issues back to the inner circle of the party, and stronger central steering has replaced the more decentralized policymaking approach of his predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. The stated goal of this more centralized governance is to strengthen Communist Party rule, and to turn the Chinese party-state into a modern, disciplined, and efficient administration.


This Is Shenyang  (China Partnership Blog)

Image credit: Joann Pittman
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