ZGBriefs | October 1, 2015

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement.

Featured Article

“Masters of the People”: China’s New Urban Poor (September 23, 2015, Dissent)
The ranks of the poor in China today also include people who have lived in cities all their lives, and, as members of the industrial proletariat, were once considered “the masters of the people.”

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Cultural Revolution Shaped Xi Jinping, From Schoolboy to Survivor (September 24, 2015, The New York Times)
Mr. Xi has often discussed the seven years he spent exiled to a rural village during the latter part of the Cultural Revolution, including in a speech in Seattle on Tuesday, casting that chapter of his life as an uplifting story of a city boy who discovers the suffering of ordinary Chinese in the countryside and resolves to make a difference.

Xi Jinping Tries Out Ping Pong Diplomacy at U.S. High School (September 24, 2015, Christian Science Monitor)
Ping pong diplomacy made a comeback in U.S.-China relations Wednesday when Chinese President Xi Jinping donated two tables and a set of bats and balls to a high school in the port city of Tacoma, just south of Seattle. Mr. Xi presented the gifts while visiting Lincoln High School in Tacoma, a city he last visited in 1993 as Communist Party chief of the Chinese city of Fuzhou.

Secrets of the Gulfstream: The 14 Deported U.S. Prisoners that China Won’t Acknowledge (September 25, 2015, China Real Time)
Twice in the past week or so a Gulfstream IV jet has landed at a Chinese airport ferrying prisoners from the U.S., a distinctive sign of how a presidential summit appears to have spurred the two rival powers to tighten law enforcement links. Yet neither government is prepared to say much about the flights — or the aircraft itself.

Xi Jinping’s Inner Circle Offers Cold Shoulder to Western Officials (September 25, 2015, The New York Times)
The refusal of Mr. Xi’s inner circle to develop ties with Western officials is consistent with a fundamental belief that has become widespread in the system here — namely that Western ideas and influences will undermine the Communist Party and lead to a “color revolution.”

Using fawning foreign students, China tries to polish its image (September 25, 2015, Reuters)
Faced with a patchy image abroad, China is adopting an unusual tactic in its propaganda campaign: using bright-eyed foreign students to burnish its reputation. The problem is that most people appear not to buy it.

State Dinner for Xi Jinping Has High-Tech Flavor (September 25, 2015, The New York Times)
And the guest list reflected just how important Beijing is to America’s titans of technology. The guests included Mark Zuckerberg, who is trying to persuade the Chinese government to lift a ban on Facebook, the company he founded, and Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, which sells more iPhones in China than in any other country.

Collision course? Rise of China a stress for the US (September 26, 2015, BBC)
President Xi's foreign policy is more confident, articulate and focused than that of any of his predecessors. His assertiveness has caught the Obama administration off guard, whether it's the ambitious island building in the South China Sea, a new development bank to challenge US dominance of global financial institutions, or the push to reshape the physical and diplomatic architecture of Asia through China's "One Belt One Road" strategy.

Chinese vs. Western media: Two views of Xi Jinping’s visit (September 26, 2015, Christian Science Monitor)
While the Chinese media cheered the cooperative spirit adopted by President Xi Jinping on his first state visit to America, Western media remained skeptical about the leader’s pledges for reform, suggesting a cloud of secrecy still hovers over President Xi’s agenda.

President Xi Jinping of China Pledges $2 Billion to Fight Poverty (September 26, 2015, The New York Times)
President Xi Jinping told the United Nations on Saturday that China would pledge $2 billion as an initial investment for development assistance to the poorest countries.

Despite real progress, Chinese women may be losing ground (September 26, 2015, The Washington Post)
Though China is right to note improvements in women’s standard of living, welfare and health, the full picture is more complex. While Chinese women are, on average, wealthier, more educated and healthier than they were before, experts say they are losing ground, relative to men.

China's feminists will mark women's conference with deafening silence (September 26, 2015, The Guardian)
Security officials order activists not to commemorate UN’s Fourth Conference on Women as Chinese president appears in New York for gender equality summit.

Hong Kong 'umbrella movement' marks first anniversary and vows to fight on (September 28, 2015, The Guardian)
Pro-democracy activists say struggle is not over but there is little appetite for renewed occupations in the near future.

China angered by Hillary Clinton tweet on women's rights (September 28, 2015, BBC)
From calling her a "big mouth" to making Monica Lewinsky jokes, China has reacted furiously at US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's recent comments about China's record on women's rights.

Who is China's Peng Liyuan? (September 28, 2015, Christian Science Monitor)
A jam-packed weekend at the end of President Xi Jinping’s official visit has introduced Americans to his wife. But before Xi’s presidency, Peng Liyuan’s voice and face graced far more Chinese televisions than her husband’s.

CIA pulled officers from Beijing after breach of federal personnel records (September 29, 2015, The Washington Post)
The CIA pulled a number of officers from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing as a precautionary measure in the wake of the massive cybertheft of the personal data of federal employees, current and former U.S. officials said.

China to Create $1 Billion Fund to Support U.N. (September 29, 2015, China Real Time)
China will establish a 10-year, $1 billion “peace and development” fund to support the work of the United Nations, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the U.N. General Assembly on Monday in the opening session of its general debate.

Video: Five Commitments Xi Jinping Made on His U.S. Trip (September 29, 2015, China Real Time)
During his six-day U.S. visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged more than $16 billion dollars in various global initiatives. We break down the five commitments he made.

China senior judge ousted over corruption allegations (September 29, 2015, BBC)
One of China's most senior judges has been stripped of Party membership and removed from all public positions after being accused of corruption. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Xi Xiaoming had severely violated political discipline and not ruled according to law. Mr Xi was one of nine Supreme Court deputy judges.

The ‘Gatekeeper’ in Xi Jinping’s Inner Circle (September 30, 2015, The New York Times)
He was on the guest list for the state dinner that President Obama hosted for President Xi Jinping of China on Friday. He was also one of four officials that Mr. Xi took with him to meet Mr. Obama and an American policy delegation in Beijing in November. Ding Xuexiang, 53, has emerged as the latest notable entrant into Mr. Xi’s inner circle, which has a reputation for being secretive and purposefully distant toward Westerners.

Authorities Should Do More to Protect China's Lawyers (September 30, 2015, Caixin Online)
There is no doubt that lawyers have little power when dealing with government-backed courts and prosecutors, but China needs long-term stability and order, conditions that will not come about without the help of lawyers.


Interview with Dr. Rodney Stark / by Joey Marshall (Center on Religion and Chinese Society)
Rodney Stark is a Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University and co-director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion. In this interview with CRCS graduate assistant Joey Marshall, Dr. Stark discusses his recent book, A Star in the East: The Rise of Christianity in China (Templeton Press, 2015).

Christianity in China in the Context of Global Christianity (September 22, 2015, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Both Christianity in China and global Christianity have undergone profound demographic changes since the year 1900. The two have interacted in significant ways with one another, both positive and negative, especially since the beginning of the twenty-first century. This contact leads to two questions: (1) What is the significance of global Christianity for Chinese Christianity? and (2) What is the significance of Chinese Christianity for global Christianity?

Some Things Change, Some Are Timeless (September 22, 2015, ChinaSource Quarterly)
While countries like China will develop and grow, their need for foreign interaction will change. What they used to need, they may no longer feel they need. We might see the situation differently, but that does not really matter. We will be allowed and invited to interact only where they feel the need for our influence.

China bishops on universal Church 'reconciliation mission' (September 24, 2015, UCA News)
Three bishops from the government-sanctioned bishops' conference in China have traveled to the United States to "seek reconciliation with the universal Church," religious observers say.

Chinese Authorities Ban Muslim Names Among Uyghurs in Hoten (September 24, 2015, Radio Free Asia)
Chinese authorities have issued a ban on 22 Muslim names in Hoten prefecture in northwestern China’s troubled Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in an apparent bid to discourage extremism among the region's Uyghur residents, threatening to forbid children with such names from attending school unless their parents change them, according to local police and residents.

Chinese Christianity: More Chinese, or More Global? (September 25, 2015, From the West Courtyard)
The church grew most significantly during the period in which it was cut off from the global Christian community. In a post-denominational China, Johnson points out, most of this growth has taken place among “Independents,” primarily among China’s “house church” Christians.

Two Christian Pastors in China Detained in Unknown Locations After They Refused to Remove Church Crosses (September 25, 2015, The Gospel Herald)
Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang have detained two Protestant preachers after they refused to submit to a government order demanding they remove all visible crosses from their church buildings. Radio Free Asia reports that Zhang Chongzhu "disappeared" three weeks ago while traveling home from Shanghai, while Zhang Zhi, a preacher from Pingyang county's Xianqiao Church, disappeared on September 7th.

Reflections on the Tianjin Explosion (September 29, 2015, Chinese Church Voices)
Eyewitness videos of the blast quickly spread online, followed by earnest questions regarding safety and responsibility. The Christian publication Territory joined in the discussion by asking readers to share how they were affected by the blasts.

Society / Life

Corruption, Pollution Top Chinese Public Concerns (September 24, 2015, China Real Time)
China’s stalling economic growth is causing jitters across the globe – but for the Chinese public, official corruption and air pollution are the country’s most worrisome issues.

Police make 19,000 triad arrests in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong (September 24, 2015, BBC)
Nineteen thousand suspects have been arrested in a drive against organised-crime in China, state media said. A three-month operation led to the arrests in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong province. Police said triad gangs were increasingly expanding into mainland China. The crimes involved include drug dealing, gambling and prostitution.

Foreign teacher who looks vaguely like Albert Einstein becomes internet celebrity (September 28, 2015, Shanghaiist)
A foreign professor at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University has become a minor celebrity on the Chinese internet due to his vague resemblance to a certain really smart dude with white hair.

Chinese Embrace America’s Culture but Not Its Policies (September 28, 2015, The New York Times)
“America is a country full of free speech,” he said at his shop in downtown Beijing. “You can say what you want, go where you want, choose your own lifestyle. I admire that a lot. But on territorial and military issues, we’re pretty far apart.”

When the media come calling (September 29, 2015, Outside-In)

Here’s a pro tip for those of you living in China or planning to travel there. If you are approached by a member of the Chinese media (either national or local) and asked to give an interview or just answer some “quick” questions, JUST.SAY.NO!

Tianjin Blast Site Goes Green in Rapid Makeover (September 29, 2015, China Real Time)
The deadly warehouse blasts in Tianjin last month ravaged a dockside district and left smoldering ruins resembling a war zone. In just six weeks, the site has been transformed again, regaining a semblance of normalcy with a lush luster of green.

Dancing Grannies Rejoice: China’s Apple Music Has a Playlist Just for You (September 30, 2015, China Real Time)
As Apple Inc. officially launches its music-streaming service in China today, users have discovered a feature that appears to be exclusive to the country: a “Square Dancing” song list, in addition to the regular “Dancing” list available for users anywhere else.

Watch: Surfers Take on the World’s Largest Tidal Bore in China (September 30, 2015, China Real Time)
China’s Qiantang River has the world’s largest tidal bore, which can go up to 30 feet high and 25 miles per hour. The strongest bores are formed in the fall, making the region a hotspot for surfers from all over the world.

Series of Explosions in Southern China Kill at Least 6 (September 30, 2015, The New York Times)
At least six people died and dozens were injured when a succession of explosions tore through a town in southern China on Wednesday in what the police said appeared to be attacks perpetrated by a local man. The explosions struck in the afternoon in Liucheng County in the Guangxi region, and the police said the blasts, in 13 sites, appeared to have been caused by explosives possibly left in parcels, according to Xinhua, the main state news agency.

Typhoon Dujuan brings downpours to E China (September 30, 2015, China Daily)
Heavy rain brought by Typhoon Dujuan lashed East China's Ningbo City, causing floods and cutting road access, but no casualties have been reported, the local government said Wednesday.

Top ten life-changing benefits from Xi’s visit to Washington (September 30, 2015, China Daily)

Number of young bachelors to soar after 2020 (September 30, 2015, China Daily)
The Chinese population has lost its gender balance, with the male population far outnumbering the female population. Experts predict that the number of Chinese bachelors will likely soar after 2020.


As Chinese student enrollment grows, US universities devise new ways to integrate them (September 29, 2015, AP)
The multitudes of Chinese students attending American universities are approaching college as less of a life experience and more as a transaction, educators worry, leading to measures to help them integrate — including broadcasting football games in Mandarin and giving them orientation before they even leave Asia.

Graduates increasingly delay search for work (September 30, 2015, China Daily)
Shen is among the roughly 8 percent-or 600,000-of last year's college graduates who have failed to find a job. Apart from some who opted to study abroad, the rest were postponing a job, according to the 2015 annual report on Chinese college graduates' employment released by MyCOS, an education data and consulting company. The data was collected in the second half of last year.

Health / Environment

Beijing to Return to its Roots and Promote Commuting by Bicycle (September 25, 2015, Nanfang Insider)
Beijing has long been known as the city of bicycles, but with China’s economic boom and desire for car ownership, there has been a steady decline in bicycle use over the past 15 years. To reverse the trend, the Beijing Commission of Transportation said the nation’s capital has cancelled roadside parking on all auxiliary roads less than nine meters wide, which will be replaced by dedicated bicycle lanes that will be both painted and fenced-off.

Economics / Trade / Business

Boeing to open assembly plant in China (September 23, 2015, BBC)
Boeing will open a plant in China in partnership with state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac). The new factory will focus on painting and assembling twin-engine 737 aircraft manufactured in the US. Chinese firms also agreed to buy 300 Boeing jets, in deals worth about $38bn (£25bn).

Central Planning Got the Northeast in Trouble – and Won't Save It (September 24, 2015, Caixin Online)
The "Dongbei" provinces are still dominated by state-backed companies, and plans drawn up by the government won't help their beleaguered economies.

Video: What is China’s new normal? (September 24, 2015, BBC)
China's economy, which has grown rapidly in recent years, is beginning to slow, causing global concern about a fall in demand for global goods. Recent dramatic losses on the Chinese stock markets have led to questions over how well the government is managing the slowdown.

Can new railways help put China's economy back on track? (September 29, 2015, Christian Science Monitor)
Beijing has lofty ambitions to build the world's railways. But some consider the focus on manufacturing to be a step backwards, despite its focus on billion-dollar trains.

China arrests 75 in crackdown on underground banks (September 30, 2015, Reuters)
China has arrested 75 people accused of engaging in underground banking, the Ministry of Public Security said on Wednesday, as authorities work to curb money laundering and illegal cash transfers. Authorities also discovered 37 underground banking dens, the ministry said in a statement on its website. Those arrested had dealings totalling more than 240 billion yuan ($38 billion).

Science / Technology

Chinese smartphones mount massive web attack (September 28, 2015, BBC)
More than 650,000 Chinese smartphones have been unwittingly enrolled in a massive attack that overwhelmed a web server. The huge attack saw the target site hit with about 4.5 billion separate requests for data in one day. The tidal wave of data was traced to a pool of booby-trapped adverts that had been seeded with malicious code.

Chinese Official Faults U.S. Internet Security Policy (September 29, 2015, The New York Times)
Referring to the Arab Spring, Ms. Hao — now the deputy director of the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy — warned that taking away developing countries’ ability to control public opinion through Internet controls and surveillance would result not in more openness, but instead in “blood” and “hatred,” according to an official transcript of her speech.

History / Culture

Portraits of Rural China (September 30, 2015, Petapixel)
Because I wanted to bring home a variety of pictures, my initial planned 7-day trip to XiaPu was expanded to also include Guilin. What resulted was 17 days in China that yielded a variety of images that I am quite happy and proud to have in my portfolio.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

What is China's online future? (September 22, 2015, PRI)
If a big country like China, with big aspirations, places significant limits on how its people can use the Internet, does that also limit its potential to be a 21st century power?

Travel / Food

Chinese Tourists Will Spend $229 Billion Abroad in 2015 (September 29, 2015, China Real Time)
Despite an economic slowdown, the depreciation of the yuan and turmoil in the stock markets, China’s tourists are set to hit the roads and skies this week to celebrate their country’s birthday. According to a recent report from consultancies Fung Business Intelligence Centre and China Luxury Advisors, China’s outbound traveler numbers are still growing and are poised to double by 2020 to 234 million passengers, from more than 100 million last year.

17 Beijing Eateries Named to Top 101 in Asia List (September 30, 2015, The Beijinger)
Beijing is now the top culinary destination in China outside of Hong Kong and the second best in Asia, if the latest rankings compiled by The Daily Meal are to be believed. In their third annual Top 101 Restaurants in Asia list, The Daily Meal includes more restaurants from Beijing (17) than any other city except Hong Kong (with 20).

Theme park celebrating heroes of the Chinese Communist Party opens in Wuhan (September 30, 2015, Shanghaiist)
Wuhan is now host to its very own children's theme park dedicated to the Chinese Communist Party, which has conveniently opened just in time for the Golden Week holiday.

Articles for Researchers

The World According to Xi Jinping (September 21, 2015, The Atlantic)
Across the 18 chapters of The Governance of China, the Chinese leader outlines a comprehensive ideology that points to where he aims to take his country, despite strengthening economic and geopolitical headwinds.

Hong Kong: China’s Other (September 30, 2015, The China Story)
It is over a year since a mass political protest movement broke out in Hong Kong and, for a time, overwhelmed the business and government centres of that Special Administrative Region of China. As repression of the movement and its legacies continues in fits and starts, two scholars, Li Zhiyu and Mark McConaghy, reflect on its significance and introduce us to two thinkers, Xiang Biao 项飙 (Professor in Social Anthropology at Oxford University) and He Zhaotian 贺照田 (a researcher in the Institute of Literature at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences). Both Xiang and He, who command sizeable mainland readerships, appreciate what, if there really were China dreams, Hong Kong might mean for the Mainland.

Image credit: V.T. Polywoda
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource 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 of Northwestern-St. Paul …View Full Bio