ZGBriefs | November 9, 2017

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Featured Article

Confucius Institutes across Africa are nurturing generations of pro-China Mandarin speakers (November 3, 2017, Quartz)
China is driving the largest language and culture-promoting initiative the world has ever seen. […] China’s economic success is its most potent public diplomacy tool in Africa so Mandarin is seen as a fast track to success.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

The ‘one simple message’ in Xi Jinping’s five years of epic speeches (November 2, 2017, South China Morning Post)
All President Xi Jinping’s key speeches in over past five years can be summarised with one message: ensuring the leading role of the Communist Party in all aspects of life, according to his key ally Wang Qishan.

The Quiet Rivalry Between China and Russia (November 3, 2017, The New York Times)
The larger Chinese goal is to dominate Eurasia, which means relegating Russia to a second-tier power.

China brings anthem disrespect laws to Hong Kong (November 4, 2017, BBC)
Hong Kong residents who boo the Chinese national anthem might soon face up to three years in prison. China's parliament, the National People's Congress, is extending a law on disrespecting the anthem to semi-autonomous Hong Kong and Macau. Hong Kong's government, dominated by Beijing loyalists, has begun including it in local legislation.

The long reach of China’s United Front Work (November 6, 2017, The Interpreter)
A much underestimated and misunderstood part of this ‘democracy’, as the CCP defines it, results from the system controlled by the Party's United Front Work Department (UFWD). This complex set of institutions and organisations act as key elements of surveillance and political influence, but also as means of consultation with and representation of those outside the Party.

We Don’t Know “Nuthin’” (November 6, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Early next year, the new Regulations on Religious Affairs will go into effect. Why these new regulations and why now? Again, we’re faced with the question of motivation. Is it to destroy the burgeoning house church movement? Is it to prevent the spread of radical Islam? Is it to bring religion under Party control? We don’t know; all we can do is guess.

Sticking to the Script, Trump Seems to Internalize It (November 7, 2017, China File)
Whatever the case, on this trip President Trump has stuck to the script handed him, done a reasonably good job, and seems to be coming away for our flight to Beijing tomorrow with a deeper conviction than ever of the importance of Japan and Korea to the U.S.’s Asian alliance against not only North Korea, but, in a far less explicit way, China. 

China's former top graft-buster warns of plots to seize power (November 7, 2017, Reuters)
China must step up vigilance against plots to grab power, as political corruption is the worst form of corruption, Wang Qishan, the country’s still influential former top graft-buster, wrote on Tuesday.

Chinese 'most-wanted' fugitive returns seven years after fleeing to Canada (November 7, 2017, Reuters)
One of China’s “most-wanted” overseas fugitives, a manager in a real estate company sought on charges of corruption and bribery, turned himself in on Tuesday after fleeing to Canada seven years ago, the anti-graft agency said.

Taiwan, China, and the future of U.S. policy in Asia (November 8, 2017, China Policy Institute)
After more than a year of extremely cautious avoidance of controversy, especially with its neighbors, Beijing may now have a free hand to make strategic and tactical adjustments without fear of their immediate effects on domestic political equities.

China Lavishes Red-Carpet Treatment On Trump As He Arrives For Talks With Xi Jinping (November 8, 2017, NPR)
Lavishing the "imperial treatment" on Trump and giving him the chance to bond with a fellow self-styled political strongman is just one way in which China is dealing with the U.S. president's potential disruptions to one of the world's most consequential bilateral relationships.


Reforming China (October 28, 2017, World Magazine)
Chat with Chinese Christians in major cities and the buzzword is gaige zong, or “Reformed theology.” Type “Tim Keller” into Baidu Video (China’s version of YouTube) and more than 400 video clips pop up, showing the popular Presbyterian preacher’s sermons subtitled in Chinese.

Women in China’s House Church Movement Face a Hidden Challenge (November, Christianity Today)
The social, spiritual, and even physical struggles expressed by Chinese women are both familiar and foreign to their Western sisters. As recent articles have highlighted, they face common challenges surrounding singleness, success, marital infidelity, domestic abuse, and parenting. They also face issues particular to their context, including the former one-child policy and matters of filial piety.

Muslim clerics targeted in Xinjiang crackdown (November 6, 2017, UCA News)
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), Chen at the end of September ordered officials to crack down on imams that did not comply with the Party's religious regulations in the run up to the Party Congress. They were also told to keep closer tabs on the education centers.

Lahu Christians Celebrate Thanksgiving: In Pictures (November 7, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Thanksgiving is just around the corner for Americans, but for one minority tribe in China, a Thanksgiving holiday comes at the fall harvest in September. Ahead of even Canadian Thanksgiving, the Christian Lahu people in Yunnan province gather together to celebrate when their first fall crops come in. 

International Students in China—an Opportunity? (November 8, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
All these challenges contribute to isolation and loneliness which can weaken Christian international students and they drift towards unhelpful influences. Some students are completely unaware that healthy international churches exist, or that a Bible study might meet on their campus. In the midst of these challenges is this an opportunity to show the powerful love of Christ and embrace students in loving community?

Society / Life

Is Shanghai’s Driving Handbook a Sexist Wreck? (November 5, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Long, flowing hair and high-heeled shoes could be putting people in danger, according to Shanghai’s official driving handbook.

China is promoting spying as the perfect hobby for the entire family (November 7, 2017, Quartz)
Now, a 10-minute long cartoon directed at children between the ages of seven and 12 demonstrates how—with the help of a grandparent—you can tell if someone in your family might be working for a foreign spy.

Toddlers Abused, Fed Wasabi at Shanghai Day Care Center (November 8, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Shanghai parents have been left shocked after two short videos circulating on social media Wednesday showed toddlers being mistreated at a local day care center.

Three tips for becoming a better China-watcher (November 6, 2017, SUP China)
China is a complex, dynamic, immense country, to which some scholars have devoted their entire lives, attempting to understand it. What chance does the China-watching greenhorn have? Start with this guide — which includes good reminders for discerning information-consumers everywhere.

Economics / Trade / Business

The Past, Present, and Future of Singles' Day, the World's Largest Shopping Spree (November 8, 2017, The Beijinger)
Singles’ Day first originated among China’s young people as something like an anti-Valentines Day, when bachelors or bachelorettes could use as an excuse to get together and have their own funs. Seeing the rise of dedicated shopping days globally, Chinese e-commerce giant swooped in quickly in 2009 to rebrand it into China’s, and now the world’s largest shopping festival.

The Past And Future Of Coal In China (November 8, 2017, NPR)
In China's Shanxi province, farmers grew very rich prospecting for coal. Now, China has consolidated the mines and is aggressively cutting back production, for environmental reasons.

Targeting China’s Purchases, Congress Proposes Tougher Reviews of Foreign Investments (November 8, 2017, The New York Times)
Mr. Trump campaigned on a get-tough approach to China—a view that is shared by many Republican and Democratic lawmakers who see the country as a growing threat—but he must now balance that position with preserving the business ties that much of the United States economy depends on.


The School WeChat Groups Teeming With Brownnosing Moms and Dads (November 4, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Mobile chats between teachers and parents have devolved into shameless sycophancy as users seek unfair advantages for their kids.

The Outsiders Studying Overseas (November 7, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Migrant workers’ children are pushed to the margins of China’s biggest cities — but some have made it out to study abroad.

Science / Technology

What is China's 'magic island-making' ship? (November 6, 2017, BBC)
China has unveiled a new dredging ship capable of creating islands such as those Beijing has already built in the disputed South China Sea. Described as a "magical island-maker" by the institute that designed it, the vessel was unveiled on the eve of US President Donald Trump's tour of Asia.

Unmanned Police Station Leaves Citizens Unimpressed (November 8, 2017, Sixth Tone)
China has seen unmanned supermarkets, gas stations, and even a short-lived noodle shop—and now the country is set to get its first police station without flesh-and-blood officers.

How China plans to beat the U.S. at technology (November 8, 2017, CNN)
The Chinese government is throwing its weight behind sectors like artificial intelligence, electric cars and computer chips, pumping in money to create tech champions with global clout.

China Spreads Propaganda to U.S. on Facebook, a Platform It Bans at Home (November 8, 2017, The New York Times)
A look at the Facebook pages of China Central Television, the leading state-owned broadcast network better known as CCTV, and Xinhua, China’s official news agency, reveals hundreds of English-language posts intended for an English-speaking audience.

History / Culture

The History of Chinese Philosophy: The first in a new podcast series from Laszlo Montgomery (November 1, 2017, LA Review of Books China Channel)
Hosted by Laszlo Montgomery, the series will take us from pre-Confucian times right through to the Ming dynasty.

China’s Cultural Revivalists: More Than Just Quirky Throwbacks (November 5, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Robe-wearing, zither-playing ‘fugu’ fans revel in their own eccentricity, but they are also making a deeper political point.

Travel / Food

Chinese Lovers Of French Wine Are Snapping Up Bordeaux Vineyards (November 8, 2017, NPR)
Chinese consumption of wine has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. This is having a profound effect on the world's wine making regions like Bordeaux. But some Chinese are interested in more than just tourism in the region.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Ocean Heaven: A Film Review (November 3, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Ocean Heaven, a film that takes place in Qingdao, China, is about a father dying from cancer and his 22-year-old autistic son who, once his father passes away, will have no one to take care of him.

On Trump’s First Day in China, Arabella Steals the Show (November 8, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
The talk of the day on Chinese social media during Trump’s first day in China is not the president himself, nor first lady Melania; it is granddaughter Arabella Kushner.

‘Sing for the new era’: Chinese journalists told to spread the word on Xi’s ideology (November 8, 2017, South China Morning Post)
China has marked Journalists’ Day by reminding its 228,000 reporters of their duties as propaganda workers and to promote the country’s achievements in its “new era”, a centrepiece of President Xi Jinping’s national ideology.

Developments in Chinese Media Censorship (November 8, 2017, China Policy Institute)
Of course, Chinese media censorship is hardly new, but Xi and his supporters have made clear that the CCP’s relative loosening of media control over the course of the reform era must be halted and reversed.

Language / Language Learning

Five text games for Chinese learners (November 7, 2017, Hacking Chinese)
In essence, the games are interactive stories, where your choices (and random elements) influence how the story develops. Usually, there’s a description of what’s going on, whereupon you decide how you want to react to the situation and what you want to do.

Is it Possible to Learn Chinese in 3 Months or a Year? (Travel China Cheaper)
How long will it take to become fluent in Chinese? Is it possible to learn Chinese in 3 months or will it take years? In this guide, I share my experience studying and learning Mandarin to help encourage you as well as give you a realistic idea of what to expect. And no…nobody is fluent in 3 months. Sorry.

Living Cross-culturally

Asia is the new Illinois: Why I Love Raising Global Kids – Part 1 (of about a million) (November 5, 2017, The Culture Blend)
Here’s what I love about raising global kids: Our vast and dramatic differences are actually points of connection. Even though she is growing up both literally and figuratively a world away from where I did — even though we are so very different, I love those moments when it is crystal clear that we are precisely the same.


Eastern Voices: Volume 1: Insight, Perspective, and Vision from Kingdom Leaders in Asia In Their Own Words, by Noel Becchetti (Amazon)

Eastern Voices Volume 1 is your opportunity to meet and hear from some of the most influential leaders in Christendom today. Their ministry field is Asia. They live and work in some of the most challenging and dynamic environments for the Gospel found anywhere. And they have a lot to share — experiences and perspectives that will benefit the worldwide Body of Christ.

The Past Is a Foreign Country: An Excerpt from Xiaolu Guo’s ‘Nine Continents’ (November 6, 2017, China File)
In this excerpt from Guo’s recently published memoir Nine Continents, Guo discusses the trouble she has telling her mother, a former Red Guard, about the birth of her child.

Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History (Princeton University Press)
A history of unparalleled scope that charts the global transformation of Christianity during an age of profound political and cultural change.

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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