ZGBriefs | October 1, 2020

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Featured Article

Chinese Citizens Are Already Receiving a Coronavirus Vaccine  (September 29, 2020, The New Yorker)
These days, when I talk to people in the Chinese pharmaceutical and medical industries, I always ask, “Have you been vaccinated?” Especially in Beijing and Shanghai, it’s not unusual for somebody in the field to have had access to a vaccine from either C.N.B.G. or CanSino, another Chinese company that is also conducting Phase III trials. 

Sponsored Link

Video: How Relevant is the Gospel for the Chinese?
Among Cultural Chinese everywhere, the Christian faith is often perceived as a foreign or Western religion. Hence, many do not see how it is relevant for them. In this webinar, which took place on September 10, 2020, I’Ching Thomas talks about how we can articulate the gospel in terms that are attractive and significant to our Cultural Chinese friends. We also hear how a Cultural Chinese can be a follower of Christ without having to shed his ethnic identity— one can be Chinese and a Christian with honor.
I’Ching is the author of Jesus: The Path to Human Flourishing. The webinar includes insights drawn from the book. 
A full video recording of the webinar is available on YouTube.

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

Undoing Lenin: On the Recent Changes to China’s Ethnic Policy  (September 25, 2020, Made in China Journal)
The current language policy is in direct contradiction to the views Lenin held in the last years of his life on national autonomy and a departure from the political vision of the early Mao years that is still enshrined in the constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Instead it is a turn toward a Chinese national ‘multiculturalism’ inspired by the United States. This is not a good thing. 

Xi Jinping defends ‘totally correct’ Xinjiang policies despite growing human rights concerns  (September 26, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Chinese President Xi Jinping has said the Communist Party’s policies in Xinjiang are “totally correct and must carry on for a long time” despite a growing international outcry over alleged human rights abuses in the region. China has been accused of having detained at least 1 million Uygurs and other Muslim minorities in internment camps and subjected them to political indoctrination and forced labour.

Who runs Hong Kong: party faithful shipped in to carry out Beijing’s will  (September 27, 2020, The Guardian)
hese are China’s top officials charged with Hong Kong affairs, hardliners and allies of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who are remaking the semi-autonomous territory into a city that is directly under Beijing’s control in all but name. They remain behind the scenes, rarely making public appearances. Little is known about them or how they work. 

For Hong Kong Protesters Caught at Sea, Trial in China Is Likely  (September 29, 2020, The New York Times)
Detained by the Chinese Coast Guard as they tried to flee the city, the activists are now in the hands of the mainland’s opaque criminal justice system.


The Chinese Church May Be More Complex than You Thought  (September 28, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
In this worsening climate, the leading essays in the recent issue of CSQ courageously make a badly needed call for a more balanced assessment of the church in China today. These essays once again remind us that the dominant, popular approach and perception are one-sided and simplistic, reflecting an either/or mentality. The reality of church life in China is much more complex. Yes, “complexity” is the key word I would like to highlight.

Tiny Muslim community in China’s Hainan becomes latest target for religious crackdown  (September 28, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The latest moves banning traditional dress in schools and government offices targeted the Utsuls, a little-known population of around 10,000 people based in Sanya, a city on the island province of Hainan, almost 12,000km (7,400 miles) from Xinjiang.

A Call to Prayer  (September 29, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
Not only has the coronavirus disrupted the lives of most people in China this year, there have also been several natural disasters that have caused extensive havoc. Flooding in southern China this summer displaced millions of people and destroyed property. In this article from The Christian Times, the author calls on Christians to pray for those who are enduring much suffering this season.

Why Reaching 2nd Generation Chinese Americans Is Crucial but Difficult  (September 30, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
It was at a meeting with various Chinese pastors in Central Florida that the project began. I learned that there was a great concern for the second and following generations of Chinese Americans, because so many were leaving the church, and not following the faith of their parents. This “silent exodus” has concerned many Chinese church leaders and families for decades and it is still occurring.

Society / Life

The Rooftop of the World, Seen Through a Herder’s Lens  (September 24, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is teeming with rarely seen flora and fauna. Who better to document it than the people who live there?

Counseling Throes  (September 26, 2020, The World of Chinese)
China is in the throes of a student mental health crisis. Shanghai’s Pudong district reported 14 student suicides in the first half of 2020, exceeding the annual average for the past three years. In June, state-run newspaper Health Times reported that 18 students had jumped to their deaths since March, one as young as 9 years old. The reasons for these suicides included intense academic pressure and harsh discipline by teachers and parents.

‘Back where we were’: history repeats for Hong Kong’s freedom swimmers  (October 27, 2020, The Guardian)
They risked their lives in search of liberty in the British colony – now the system they were desperate to escape is at the door.

Glimpses of the isolated communities along a remote Siberian river (September 28, 2020, The New York Times)
Once a vast prison ground for political exiles, the banks of the Ket River are now home to a range of solitary settlements. 

How COVID-19 Border Controls Split China’s Transnational Families  (September 28, 2020, Sixth Tone)
China will allow residence permit holders to reenter the country from Sept. 28, but the forced separations of the past few months suggest it’s time to fix its outdated immigration policies.

Coronavirus in China: rebound and reflection in Wuhan as global death toll nears 1 million  (September 28, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Pride at the city’s resilience in the face of the calamity is tinged with sadness at the mounting death toll elsewhere.

Economics / Trade / Business

Move over Jack Ma. China’s new richest man is a bottled water billionaire  (September 24, 2020, CNN)
Zhong Shanshan, the founder of the popular Chinese bottled water brand Nongfu Spring, has overtaken Alibaba (BABA) founder Jack Ma to become the country’s wealthiest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index. Zhong was already China’s third richest person after his company went public earlier this month with a blockbuster listing in Hong Kong.

US delays human rights sanctions targeting Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps  (September 26, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The US Treasury Department announced a two-month delay on human rights sanctions targeting Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a Chinese paramilitary organisation in China’s northwest Xinjiang region that has been accused of human rights violations against Uygurs and other Muslim ethnic minority groups there.

China’s coronavirus recovery lays bare sharp regional economic disparity  (September 30, 2020, South China Morning Post)
China’s uneven regional economic development has been turbocharged by the coronavirus pandemic, despite a broad-based national recovery, representing a long-term challenge for the nation’s leaders. The economy has bounced back from draconian lockdowns early in the year, led by industrial production and infrastructure investment, with consumer spending slowly catching up.


China’s Students Protest Campus Lockdowns, Reduced National Holidays  (September 24, 2020, Sixth Tone)
University students in China are protesting against campus lockdowns that are intended to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks but also restrict their freedom.

Oxford moves to protect students from China’s Hong Kong security law  (September 28, 2020, The Guardian)
Students at Oxford University specialising in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong.

Will education reform wipe out Mongolian language and culture in China?  (September 30, 2020, The China Story)
The elimination of Mongolian bilingual schools heralds the demise of Mongolian language, culture and identity in Inner Mongolia. In the words of a Mongolian man: “In Spring we were afraid that we would die from COVID-19, now Autumn comes and we are afraid that we may become extinct”.

Health / Environment

Beijing unveils new protections for health emergency whistleblowers  (September 27, 2020, Reuters)
The Beijing city government said it would offer rewards to health workers who disclose vital information about any imminent health emergency, and will also ensure their safety and legal rights are protected.

Coronavirus: more countries host final trials of Chinese-made vaccines  (September 29, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Across countries including Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Russia, thousands of people have been injected with experimental vaccines made by China’s three front-running vaccine makers  or soon will be, according to company and government statements and media reports.

Science / Technology

Big tech firms may be handing Hong Kong user data to China  (September 28, 2020, The Guardian)
Big technology companies may already be complying with secret Chinese requests for user information held in Hong Kong and ought to “come clean” about the vulnerability of the data they hold there, a senior US state department official has said.

China home to 940m internet users: Report  (September 30, 2020, China Daily)
The internet penetration rate in China reached 67 percent, about 5 percentage points higher than the global average, said the report issued by the China Internet Network Information Center. Residents in 98 percent of China’s poor villages had access to the internet through fiber-optic cables, said the report, noting that the urban-rural digital gap had been significantly narrowed.

Internet had role in easing of pandemic  (September 30, 2020, China Daily)
The quickly developing Chinese internet industry contributed to ensuring normal work and studies during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report issued by the China Internet Network Information Center.

Travel / Food

Pure Pu’er  (September 24, 2020, The World of Chinese)
For over a decade, “Old Qu” has tended to 200 semi-wild tea trees on the slopes of Nannuo Mountain in the southern Yunnan province. “These aren’t your father’s father’s trees,” the pepper-haired orchard keeper says of his grove, which are said to have been planted two to three centuries ago. “These are your grandfather’s grandfather’s trees.”

From bone marrow to shortcrust: the history of the egg tart (September 25, 2020, Inkstone News)
Egg tarts are widely associated with the Portuguese because of their popularity in Macau, but historians think the pastry’s history is British. 

China clamps down on climbing ‘wild Great Wall’  (September 30, 2020, BBC, via Yahoo! News)
As China’s busiest holiday season approaches, Beijing has warned that it will punish those who climb the “wild Great Wall”. The term is often used to describe parts of the famous landmark that are not restored and closed to tourists. Fines will be enforced more strictly over Golden Week, with thousands of domestic tourists expected to visit.

Angry Bloggers Dethrone Beijing’s ‘Royal’ Restaurant  (September 30, 2020, Sixth Tone)
A famous Michelin-starred restaurant in Beijing claims its dishes were once enjoyed by Qing dynasty emperors, and has played host to the likes of Bill Clinton, Muhammed Ali, and Jackie Chan since opening in 1984. But over the past few days, Li’s Imperial Cuisine has become just the latest Chinese laozihao, or “time-honored brand,” to gain viral attention for all the wrong reasons.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Leap, But Not Soaring  (September 30, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Leap tells the story of China’s hugely successful and popular national female volleyball team, following the life of legendary player-turned-coach Lang Ping, played by Gong Li. All the elements for success on screens were there, but Leap has failed to get off the ground and has been spiked by critics for its dull plot.

Language / Language Learning

How NOT to Learn Vocabulary  (September 29, 2020, Sinosplice)
So, here you have it: common mistakes you want to avoid while learning vocabulary:

7 ideas for smooth and effortless Chinese listening practice  (September 30, 2020, Hacking Chinese)
As a learner, which part of Chinese is most important? The answer depends on your goals for learning the language, but if I were to give a general answer, I would say listening.

Living Cross-culturally

Pandemics are Stupid (and other things I learned about transition in a 2020 global move)  (September 29, 2020, The Culture Blend)
But let’s just call it professional development that in the middle of a global pandemic I chose to uproot my family from a 14-year life in China to a European island . . . somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea. Here’s the thing . . . Transition strips you bare. It leaves you raw. It exposes your deepest insecurities.

Pray for China

October 2, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Oct. 2, 1871, pioneer student evangelist Ding Limei (丁立美牧师) was born in rural Shandong. Soon after finishing seminary, the young preacher’s faith was severely tested: during the Boxer Uprising in 1900, he was arrested and beaten 5 times with 40 stripes during his 40 days in jail. He emerged with a determination to preach the gospel in every province, and fulfilled that vow during his 15 years with the YMCA’s China Student Volunteers for Evangelism. In 1923, Pastor Ding’s focus shifted from evangelism to theological education, and the remainder of his ministry was primarily as a professor at seminaries in Shandong and Tianjin. Pray for the Loving Heavenly Father to be glorified as the believers in Shandong and Tianjin are trained in His Word and manifest His grace. If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 1 Timothy 4:6 

Image credit: Katja Fuhlert 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