ZGBriefs | November 9, 2023

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A Chinese Jew’s Journey to Israel (November 2, 2023, The World of Chinese
From Kaifeng to Jerusalem—a Chinese Jew tells her story of leaving for the Middle East and reflecting on her dual identity.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

The Maoist Roots of Xi’s Economic Dilemma (November 2, 2023, Foreign Policy)
Beijing needs domestic consumers to spend more, but the Chinese president’s ideology is getting in the way.

Chinese grieve popular ex-premier Li Keqiang in quiet show of dissent (November 2, 2023, BBC)
Pictures show crowds gathered along the streets as a convoy said to be carrying his body drove past. Muted state coverage of his funeral stands in contrast to the outpouring of sorrow among ordinary Chinese.

China, Australia to restart annual meetings as trade resumes (November 7, 2023, Reuters)
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Beijing on Tuesday, restarting an annual leaders’ dialogue that Albanese said will continue as relations between the trading partners stabilised. Albanese is in China on the first visit by an Australian leader in seven years, after a diplomatic dispute had put a halt to once-annual meetings of leaders.

Finland says China promised full cooperation in pipeline probe (November 8, 2023, Reuters)
Finland on Wednesday said China had promised to fully cooperate in the investigation of the destruction last month of the Balticconnector gas pipeline, which happened on the same night that three subsea telecoms cables in the area were also damaged. Finnish police have said they are investigating whether a Hong Kong registered container vessel, the NewNew Polar Bear, damaged the pipeline by dragging its anchor over the sea bed, but have not concluded whether this was an accident or not.

Beijing is ready to improve ties with US, says Chinese vice-president (November 8, 2023, CNN)
Beijing is ready to improve ties with Washington, a senior Chinese official said Wednesday, days before a highly anticipated potential meeting between leaders Xi Jinping and Joe Biden in San Francisco.

The 3 remaining pandas have left the National Zoo. Why China is taking all its pandas back. (November 8, 2023, Yahoo! News)
It’s the first time in 23 years the zoo has been without pandas, which have been a fixture there since 1972, when China gifted two pandas to the National Zoo as a gesture of goodwill during President Richard Nixon’s administration. Since then, zoos across the country have hosted giant pandas for years at a time. But that practice is coming to an end.

Can a Summit Ease U.S.-China Tensions? (November 8, 2023, Council on Foreign Relations)
On the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, a rare in-person meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will provide an opportunity to put a range of issues on a firmer footing, including military and trade relations. But don’t expect any breakthroughs.

Philippines drops China’s Belt and Road as tensions flare (November 8, 2023, DW)
The Philippines dropped out of projects under China’s global infrastructure scheme, saying it would seek other sources after Beijing failed to provide funding. The pullout comes amid tensions in the South China Sea.


God Continues to Speak Tibetan (November 3, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
This Bible is the New Tibetan Bible (NTB), a work of God that started over 25 years ago. God has mobilized many to shoulder this amazing work to translate his Word into the modern literary Tibetan language.

Taking Chinese Spirituality Seriously (November 6, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Christians need to acknowledge a fact. We might disagree on whether Confucianism is a religion or not. But Confucianism, together with Daoism and Buddhism, are spiritual traditions that have provided “chicken soup” for Chinese souls for more than two thousand years. 

I Wanted to Leave: A Tea Merchant’s Story (November 6, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
Zang Waimiing is a middle-aged tea merchant. He is a member of a small minority people group, but now lives in a large urban area. He grew up in a small, rural, autonomous area, populated mainly by other minority peoples.

Interview: Re-denomination of Church in China More Beneficial than Harmful (November 6, 2023, China Christian Daily)
In recent years, the issue of re-denomination within the church of China has become increasingly prominent. It is a significant new issue that has sparked much controversy. Recently, Wang Zhenhai (pseudonym), a retired church leader in northern China, told the Christian Times, a Chinese online Christian newspaper, that whether for a local church or the Chinese churches as a whole, joining a denomination was better than not.

Meet the Translators of the Chinese Bible (November 8, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Each had unique translation philosophies, diction preferences, and intended audiences in mind, frameworks that informed how they approached their all-consuming work.

Society / Life

American innkeeper in rural China keeps a light on for guests (November 7, 2023, The China Project)
Brian Linden and his wife Jeanee invested their life savings in building a business in rural China decades ago. The legacy and future of their work are uncertain amid shaky U.S.-China relations.

Heilongjiang Gymnasium Collapse Kills 3 Middle School Students, Owner Detained  (November 7, 2023, Sixth Tone)
An investigation is underway into a gymnasium collapse in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang after severe blizzards hit the region.

Weibo Watch: A Decade of What’s on Weibo (November 7, What’s on Weibo)
The impactful, the humorous, the surprising, the iconic – these are stories to remember as we reflect on a decade of What’s on Weibo.

Is China Drifting Toward a ‘Singles Society’? (November 8, 2023, Sixth Tone)
In much of East Asia, the belief that everyone should get married, preferably at a young age, has deep cultural roots. According to those same norms, singledom is often associated with a lonely, empty, even selfish existence. Even today, the region’s young singles are frequently stereotyped as overly individualistic and unwilling to shoulder the responsibilities of family life.

Economics / Trade / Business

Riding the Laos-China Railway (November 3, 2023, The World of Chinese)
Built for 40 billion yuan as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Lao-China Railway (LCR) is a colossal cross-border project linking two countries across mountainous terrain. Eventually, the line may be extended further through Laos, then on to Thailand, Malaysia, and ending in Singapore. It is a gleaming symbol of Chinese ambitions to link up with the region and boost trade, tourism, and growth across Southeast Asia.

Tracking China’s Control of Overseas Ports (November 6, 2023, Council on Foreign Relations)
This interactive map tracks China’s growing maritime influence through investments in strategic overseas ports. Users can plot the location of each port and view satellite images alongside detailed information on the share of Chinese ownership, the total amount of Chinese investment, and the port’s suitability for use by the Chinese military.

China’s imports unexpectedly grow (November 6, 2023, Reuters)
China’s imports unexpectedly grew in October while exports contracted at a quicker pace, in a mixed set of indicators that showed the world’s second-largest economy facing persistent risks despite a recent improvement in domestic demand. The trade figures follow a run of mostly upbeat data that showed Beijing’s support measures have helped bolster a tentative comeback, although a protracted property crisis and soft global demand continue to dog policymakers heading into 2024.

Yet another CEO goes AWOL in China (November 7, 2023, CNN)
The CEO of a Chinese live-streaming service backed by Tencent has become the latest high-flying executive to fall mysteriously silent in the world’s second largest economy. According to a Monday report from the Cover News, a state-owned media outlet, DouYu CEO Chen Shaojie has been unreachable in recent days. It cited unconfirmed reports that Chen was being investigated and had been missing for nearly three weeks. The outlet did not say which authorities may be behind the investigation.

Pocast: 10 Years of U.S.-China Trade Relations (November 8, 2023, China File)
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the China in the World podcast, Carnegie China launched a series of lookback episodes, using audio clips from previous interviews to put current international issues in context. For the fifth and final episode in this series, the podcast looks back on 10 years of U.S.-China trade relations

Western miners target China’s rare earth metals grip with premium prices (November 8, 2023, Reuters)
A handful of Canadian, German and Australian critical mineral explorers plan to command premium prices for key metals used in electric vehicles, promising quality and consistency in exchange for shifting reliance away from China, the dominant producer and price-setter. China controls 95% of the production and supply of rare earth metals, integral to manufacturing magnets for electric vehicles (EVs) and wind farms, and this monopoly has allowed China to dictate prices and stir turmoil among end users through export controls.


Private schools rethink China future after flunking growth test (November 8, 2023, Reuters)
Dozens of international and private schools in China are closing or merging, industry executives said, weighed down by tighter regulation, a slowing economy and dwindling foreign student numbers. A rapid expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic drove a surge of privately run bilingual schools in China offering a western exam curriculum. But the business stumbled as Beijing imposed new rules in 2021 and cracked down on the private tutoring business, aimed at easing pressure on children and lowering family costs.

Pray for China

November 9 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Nov. 9, 2005, terrorists detonated a bomb in a Jordanian hotel that killed 57, including 3 PRC citizens. A decade later, another PRC citizen, Fan Jinghui (樊京辉), was killed by ISIS terrorists in Syria on Nov. 18, 2015. Pray for PRC officials in Xinjiang and Tibet to correct oppression, to bring justice to the fatherless, and to plead the widow’s cause. “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:16-17

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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