ZGBriefs | October 10, 2019

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Featured Article

Can Your Business Afford/Stomach the China Risks?  (October 9, 2019, China Law Blog)
Overall, the risk of doing business with China has gone up substantially in just the last two months — heck, it’s gone up substantially in just the last two days. […]  Many are no longer asking whether China is too risky; they’ve already decided that it is.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Canada–China relations remain on the rocks  (October 5, 2019, East Asia Forum)
The deepening diplomatic dispute between China and Canada that began in December 2018 marks a fundamental change in their longstanding and relatively benign relationship. The conflict is having a damaging effect on both countries.

China Masters Political Propaganda for the Instagram Age  (October 5, 2019, The New York Times)
Leveraging celebrities, the know-how of tech companies and images built for social media, the Communist Party can effectively stir patriotism among the youth.

China and Hong Kong the ultimate test of authoritarian rule  (October 6, 2019, Financial Review
Beijing flexed its military muscle with a Soviet-style parade last week, and then Hong Kong erupted again. Is China a confident superpower or a brittle paranoid regime?

Hong Kong protesters defy the mask ban – in pictures  (October 6, 2019, The Guardian)

Hong Kong: Clashes as first charges brought under face mask ban law  (October 7, 2019, The Guardian)
Crowds clashed with police across Hong Kong in the fourth day of protests against an anti-mask law that the government claimed was needed to stop violence but critics say is a dangerous assault on civil rights. Hong Kong authorities brought the first charges under a new anti-mask law earlier on Monday, as the city slowly recovered from a weekend of protests against the ban that turned violent, leaving a trail of destruction and shuttered metro stations.

Hong Kong’s Hard-Core Protesters Take Justice Into Their Own Hands  (October 7, 2019, The New York Times)
The hard-line protesters see themselves as being forced to mete out justice in a system that lacks accountability and in the face of a government they deem unresponsive.  […]  But to their critics, these protesters are crossing the line by playing the role of vigilantes to punish those they consider their foes.

China Has Begun Moving Xinjiang Muslim Detainees To Formal Prisons, Relatives Say  (October 8, 2019, NPR)
Last month in Kazakhstan, NPR interviewed 26 relatives of ethnic Kazakhs and Uighurs currently detained or imprisoned in Xinjiang and five former detainees. They said that rather than setting free reeducated citizens, the authorities have been transferring many detainees to formal prisons. Those who have been released remain under strict surveillance.

China’s “Mainstream”  (October 8, 2019, China Media Project)
Understanding China requires a high-level of sensitivity to the nuances of the political language used by the Chinese Communist Party, and also how that language impacts our imagined points of connectivity with China. […]  In the realm of media and public opinion, one of the most misunderstood words in contemporary mainland Chinese, completely co-opted by CCP discourse, is “mainstream,” or zhuliu (主流).

Hong Kong's Leader Warns 'No Options Ruled Out' If Protests Continue  (October 8, 2019, NPR)
Hong Kong's leader has issued a veiled warning that Beijing could intervene with force to quell the territory's violent anti-government protests, but after months of unrest, she said she still believes "we should find solutions ourselves."

U.S. Blacklists Chinese Tech Firms Over Abuses in Xinjiang  (October 8, 2019, China Digital Times)
The Trump administration is adding 28 Chinese entities including top AI companies and state security bureaus to a U.S. blacklist to block these organizations from importing American technology and other vital components. The revised Entity List includes 20 Chinese government and police units with jurisdiction in Xinjiang and eight companies that have supplied surveillance equipment used in the suppression of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the region.

US imposes China visa restrictions over Uighur issue  (October 9, 2019, BBC)
The US has said it will impose visa restrictions on Chinese officials accused of involvement in repression of Muslim populations. It follows the decision on Monday to blacklist 28 Chinese organisations linked by the US to allegations of abuse in the Xinjiang region.

China plans to restrict visas for U.S. visitors with 'anti-China' links  (October 9, 2019, Reuters)
The Chinese rules would mandate the drafting of a list of U.S. military and CIA-linked institutions and rights groups, and the addition of their employees to a visa blacklist, according to the sources, who declined to be identified.


Why Low Pastor Salaries Are Hurting the Church  (October 7, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Why the low salaries? There are a variety of reasons why many pastors are not paid well in China. For starters, Chinese Christians have historically advocated for meager material allowances for Christian leaders as a sign of their devotion to the Lord’s work. Many Christians believe material things are “worldly” and, because they must be more spiritual, pastors ought to do without nice material things for the Lord’s sake. 

Mid-Autumn Festival—A Christian Perspective  (October 8, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
On September 13, Chinese celebrated one of China’s biggest holidays—Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节). This article from the Gospel Times looks at if and how Christians should observe the holiday.

Society / Life

Will the drive to ‘beautify’ Beijing's historic areas leave older residents behind?  (October 3, 2019, The Guardian)
For longtime residents of the Chinese city’s hutongneighbourhoods, a housing renovation project mean tough choices over whether to stay or leave.

Going Back to China in Search of My Daughter’s Secret Past  (October 4, 2019, The New York Times)
As an infant, my child was left on a bridge with a note pinned to her sweater. I thought finding it would provide us both with answers.

Dancing Queen Wang Xianqun’s Twilight in the Spotlight  (October 7, 2019, Sixth Tone)
This January, 67-year-old Wang Xianqun went viral as the smooth-dancing “Auntie Long.” Now she’s trying to balance her once quiet life with the demands of her newfound fame.

Zhejiang City to Start Fining Distracted Pedestrians  (October 7, 2019, Sixth Tone)
A city in eastern China wants pedestrians to look both ways — and only both ways — when crossing the street, threatening smartphone addicts with fines of up to 50 yuan ($7) for checking their phones or other mobile devices in traffic.

Why Informal Workers Are Opting Out of China’s Welfare System  (October 8, 2019, Sixth Tone)
As China’s population continues to age, the country must increase the number of people paying into the system. But many workers in the informal sector aren’t interested.

Then and now: China's destruction of Uighur burial grounds  (October 9, 2019, The Guardian)
China is destroying Uighur graveyards where generations of families have been laid to rest, leaving behind human bones and broken tombs in what activists call an effort to eradicate the ethnic group’s identity in Xinjiang.

Who is Can Xue, the Chinese writer in the running for a Nobel Prize for literature?  (October 9, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Despite the buzz around her internationally, Can has won few plaudits in mainland China and her books are rarely available through major online domestic retailers.

Economics / Trade / Business

China Is a Minefield, and Foreign Firms Keep Hitting New Tripwires  (October 8, 2019, The New York Times)
For international companies looking to do business in China, the rules were once simple. Don’t talk about the 3 T’s: Tibet, Taiwan and the Tiananmen Square crackdown. No longer. Fast-changing geopolitical tensions, growing nationalism and the rise of social media in China have made it increasingly difficult for multinationals to navigate commerce in the Communist country.

'Protecting rioters': China warns Apple over app that tracks Hong Kong police  (October 9, 2019, The Guardian)
The app displays hotspots on a map of the city that is continuously updated as users report incidents, hence allowing protesters to avoid police.

Analysis: The Long Arm Of China And Free Speech  (October 9, 2019, NPR)
China's message to foreign companies and their employees is clear: Watch what you say on matters sensitive to our country if you want to do business here.

The pains of a prolonged US–China trade war  (October 9, 2019, East Asia Forum)
Reality once again demonstrates that in a trade war surplus countries like China hold a disadvantage against those with deficits such as the United States. But with little to show for its efforts, it is not in the best interests of the United States to fight with China. The best option for both sides is to reach an agreement.


U.S. researchers on front line of battle against Chinese theft  (October 7, 2019, MPR)
The FBI has been reaching out to colleges and universities across the country as it tries to stem what American authorities portray as the wholesale theft of technology and trade secrets by researchers tapped by China. 

Health / Environment

New Research: China Is Winning Some Health-Care Battles — And Losing Others  (October 5, 2019, NPR)
Ten years into China's multi-billion dollar investment in health-care reform, the country has made "spectacular" progress on some top public health challenges — including insurance coverage and deaths of children. But it's facing an uphill battle on others, including second-hand smoke and cancer, according to a special China-themed issue on September 28 of the journal The Lancet.

Hainan Medical Tourism Zone: New Pilot Policies Rolled Out  (October 7, 2019, China Briefing)
The Hainan medical tourism zone will provide comprehensive medical services as well as a green medical convalescence environment to attract domestic and foreign tourists.

China’s Power Plant Emissions See ‘Significant’ Drop, Study Suggests  (October 9, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Researchers attribute the reduction to a national policy introduced in 2014 to curb polluting industries.

Science / Technology

China and Taiwan clash over Wikipedia edits  (October 5, 2019, BBC)
The edit war over Taiwan was only one of a number that had broken out across Wikipedia's vast, multi-lingual expanse of entries. The Hong Kong protests page had seen 65 changes in the space of a day – largely over questions of language. Were they protesters? Or rioters? 

Regulation of the internet in China: An explainer  (October 7, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
The Cyber Security Law requires all network operators to monitor user-generated content for information that is ‘prohibited from being published or transmitted by laws or administrative regulations’.

History / Culture

Documentary commemorating the 20th anniversary of the PRC in 1969  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

China and the Political Myth of ‘Brainwashing’  (October 8, 2019, Made in China Journal)
Did this concept—which emerged in the West at the very beginning of the Cold War, took the world by storm, and still plays a central role in the modern political imagination—really come from China? A careful look at the term’s origins reveals that it did, though not in the manner or with the meaning that has previously been supposed.

Travel / Food

Beijing's Seven Most Instagrammable Art Museums  (October 4, 2019, The Beijinger)
If you want to impress your Instagram followers with some stunning pictures, then Beijing's many art museums are definitely worth a visit. But if you also want to avoid the crowds, here is our pick of the best art museums to enjoy some quiet time in a beautiful spot.

Here Are the Most Beautiful Places in China  (October 8, 2019, Radii China)
"Chinese National Geography" just released their list of the country's most beautiful locales – here are just a few of the best spots for China photography.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

One moment, 13 years and a hit documentary: Chinese filmmaker Zhang Tongdao journeys into his son’s generation  (October 6, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Born in 2000 shows how that generation grew up to be more interested in personal development and less focused on wealth or power. Released in September, the documentary has been a minor hit, with more than 100,000 people, including teachers, parents and children, watching the film in cinemas across the country and thousands more booking tickets for screenings this month.

The NBA's poisoned China chalice  (October 7, 2019, Sinocism)
The NBA has leverage in China, if it works as a united front. PRC fans, sponsors, web sites and broadcasters can shun one team, but they can not and will not shun an entire league. Do you really think those fans are going to be satisfied watching CBA games? There would be a social stability cost to banning the NBA in China. I am serious.

Chinese TV scraps plans to show NBA exhibition games  (October 8, 2019, BBC)
China's state broadcaster has scrapped plans to show two US NBA basketball pre-season exhibition games, as the row over a team executive's tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters grows. Houston Rockets boss Daryl Morey apologised after his tweet, from which the club and NBA distanced themselves. In response, Chinese broadcasters said they would stop showing Rockets games.

South Park China: Writers in mock apology after Beijing censorship  (October 8, 2019, BBC)
The makers of US TV comedy South Park have issued a mock apology to China after the show was made largely unavailable in the country. In a recent episode, the character Randy is subjected to forced labour and Communist Party re-education after being jailed during a visit to China. Most South Park episodes and reviews are now unavailable online in China.

A Chinese Drama Is Digitally Erasing Its Scandal-Plagued Actors  (October 9, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The producers of ‘Win the World’ say they’re replacing Fan Bingbing and Gao Yunxiang with stars who have yet to fall from grace.

Language / Language Learning

Walled-Off: Pinyin Input  (October 3, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Today, most if not all operating systems are pre-installed with a pinyin input method, which usually include features such as word prediction, abbreviation, and spell-check to make typing more efficient. Third-party pinyin input tools can further the experience with built-in or downloadable word databases which predict words and phrases based on modern idioms and internet slang—as well as customized display themes, personalized dictionaries, voice input, emoji suggestions, and translation.

The Relationship Between the Chinese Language, Everyday Life and Superstitions  (October 4 2019, Sapore di Cina)
This article has the objective of describing the particular type of relationship that exists between the Chinese language and the everyday life of those who speak and read it. From this close relationship you can identify a series of “superstitions” (or customs) that are more or less strictly followed by the population of the Middle Kingdom. In order to fully understand those relationships, we need to first consider some aspects of the Chinese language.

Mandarin dialects: Unity in diversity  (October 5, 2019, Unravel)
When we talk about Mandarin, what comes to mind is typically a major lingua franca rising to global prominence, or a monolithic linguistic superpower displacing Chinese “dialects” like Cantonese, Hokkien, and Hakka in various domains, driving some less well-established ones like Minjiang, Weitou, and Shehua to the verge of endangerment or even extinction. 

Living Cross-culturally

Re-thinking What Affects Effectiveness  (October 9, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
For many of us, these kinds of experiences are not uncommon (Traffic jams? Queue jumpers? Smokers?); but they are precisely the kinds of things that can render us ineffective in our efforts to be salt and light in our communities. We need to be on our guard, lest we allow these seemingly mundane influences to harden our hearts or cause us to be bitter towards the very people we've come to serve.


For the Glory: The Life of Eric Liddell  (October 3, 2019, China Rhyming)
A new biography of Liddell, born in China and, after his famous Olympics, a China missionary. Although Duncan Hamilton is a sports journalist, the sections on China and, later, Liddell’s final days at Weihsien Internment Camp, are informative.

The Shanghai Free Taxi: Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China  (October 8, 2019, China File)
NPR correspondent Frank Langfitt describes how he created a free taxi service—offering rides in exchange for illuminating conversation—to go beyond the headlines and get to know a wide range of colorful, compelling characters representative of the new China. 


Third Millennium Ministries – Chinese portal (Third Millennium Ministries)
Our free seminary training includes graphic-driven videos, printed instruction and internet resources. Study at home, in your own language, at your own pace.

Image credit: by GotCredit, via Flickr
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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