ZGBriefs | October 11, 2018

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Featured Article

Duck Tales: The Origin of the Birds in Beijing’s Famous Dish (October 4, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Chinese breeders are looking to seize back some of the lean duck market and ensure that the country’s most renowned duck dishes are domestically sourced.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Chinese Leaders Leverage Media To Shape How The World Perceives China (October 4, 2018, NPR)
For the past two decades, Xi's predecessors appeared as stiff and colorless apparatchiks, aloof from the common folk. By contrast, Xi has cultivated a more three-dimensional image — of a forceful, visionary leader, who is also a down-to-earth man of the people.

'This is part of the plan': new train blurs line between China and Hong Kong (October 4, 2018, The Guardian)
In the open space of this cavernous train station, you can stand on Hong Kong territory (the ticketing floor) and look down into Chinese territory (the departure hall). Outside the station, the Chinese and Hong Kong flags fly side by side – with the red-and-white Hong Kong flag set slightly lower.

Pence’s China Speech Seen as Portent of ‘New Cold War’ (October 5, 2018, The New York Times)
Vice President Mike Pence’s accusations in a stinging speech Thursday warning of a tougher approach toward Beijing may have been familiar to China’s leaders. But until now, such remarks were delivered in private, in fairly decorous terms, and rarely threatened direct action.

China, the United States and the New Normal (October 6, 2018, China Law Blog)
Our post about foreign companies leaving China have nothing to do with our feelings regarding China and everything to do with what we are hearing and seeing. Our statements of fact about companies leaving China are not being made out of animus to China, but out of a desire to tell the truth and help foreign companies figure out what to do about China going forward.

China Wants to Strike Back on Trade. Big U.S. Deals Could Suffer. (October 7, 2018, The New York Times)
China is looking for ways to retaliate because it has more or less run out of American imports to tax. China matched Mr. Trump’s initial tariffs on about $50 billion in Chinesegoods, but last month he placed a 10 percent tax on $200 billion of Chinese goods. China doesn’t import enough from the United States to match that dollar for dollar.

Interpol Chief Was China’s Pride. His Fall Exposes the Country’s Dark Side.  (October 8, 2018, The New York Times)
In any case, Mr. Meng’s abrupt and mysterious disappearance has left a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Chinese officials and the international bodies that are increasingly giving them leadership roles. It dealt a spectacular, self-inflicted blow to China’s efforts to prove itself ready for more prominent roles in global affairs.

Trump Reaches for Checkbook Diplomacy to Counter China (October 8, 2018, Foreign Policy)
Washington ramps up development finance to offer countries an alternative to Beijing’s deep pockets.

Chilling call made to wife of ex-Interpol boss (October 9, 2018, AP)
In her first one-on-one interview since her husband’s disappearance in China, the wife of the former head of Interpol described the threatening phone call that prompted authorities in the French city where the international law enforcement agency is headquartered to place her under police protection.

Podcast: The U.S. and China as Peer Competitors in the Indo-Pacific (October 9, 2018, China File)
In this podcast, Paul Haenle spoke with Abigail Grace, a Research Associate in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, on the changing dynamics of U.S. relations with China and the U.S. Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy.

China Uighurs: Xinjiang 'legalises' Muslim internment camps (October 10, 2018, BBC)
Xinjiang's new legislation is the first detailed indication of what China is doing in the region. It says examples of behaviour that could lead to detention include expanding the concept of halal – which means permissible in Islam – to areas of life outside diet, refusing to watch state TV and listen to state radio and preventing children from receiving state education.

U. S. lawmakers urge FBI to probe claims of Chinese intimidation against immigrants (October 10, 2018, The Washington Post)
The remarks, coinciding with annual rights report by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, were the latest signal of more assertive U.S. statements on Chinese rights issues as the Trump administration presses its trade battles with Beijing.

Senior Chinese official charged with stealing US trade secrets (October 10, 2018, The Guardian)
A spy for the Chinese ministry of state security has been arrested and indicted on charges of economic espionage and attempting to steal trade secrets from several US aviation and aerospace companies, according to the justice department.


3 Questions: Being Theologically Prepared (October 5, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Today, if the house churches have not already prepared their congregants theologically for why they do not join the Three Self, and strategically with alternatives when the pressure ramps up, they will find a difficult road ahead. 

Despite China-Vatican agreement, many Chinese worry about religious freedom (October 5, 2018, America Magazine)
The new accord notwithstanding, the Chinese government has tightened its control over Christian churches in the past few years. Authorities have demolished hundreds of mostly Protestant (but also some Catholic) churches, evicted congregations and installed surveillance cameras in churches allowed to function.

Podcast: Making a deal: Politics, state control and the Catholic Church in China (October 5, 2018, National Catholic Reporter, via Sound Cloud)
Researcher Mary Li Ma and Michael Agliardo, SJ, explain the historical and political context for the Vatican's recent agreement with Chinese officials over the appointment of bishops and what it means for the Catholic Church in China.

China launches anti-halal campaign in Xinjiang (October 9, 2018, Reuters)
The capital of China’s Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority, has launched a campaign against halal products to stop Islam penetrating secular life and fuelling “extremism”.

Society / Life

Slice of life: A reporter's search for knives in Beijing (October 4, 2018, Christian Science Monitor)
“Sorry, but I’d like to buy a caidao,” I persist, drawing a sketch of the large, rectangular chopper. “What do you want to do, kill someone?!” the clerk replies. “Kitchen knives are a restricted product!”  […]  The caidao is not just any knife – in Chinese cooking it’s really the only knife. Known as the “secret weapon” of Chinese chefs, the caidao, despite its crude appearance, is not a butchering tool but a highly versatile all-around knife. 

In Macau, Portuguese elites feel squeezed out by Chinese influence (October 5, 2018, Reuters)
Nearly 20 years have passed since Portugal handed Macau over to China, and although colonial culture still infuses parts of daily life, the influence of the territory’s Portuguese elite is declining rapidly as the special administrative region becomes increasingly closer to mainland China.

Chinese jail break fugitives caught after three days on the run (October 7, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The two, who were both serving life sentences, were reported to have used a key card and stolen guards’ uniforms to escape from Lingyuan No 3 Prison in the neighbouring province of Liaoning on Thursday. 

China loves its copycat towns: from a replica of Shakespeare’s home to the boulevards of Paris  (October 7, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The planned replicas of Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon to be built in southeast China are the latest in a long line of Chinese replica tourist towns that have attracted a mixture of amusement and derision worldwide.

China’s Untied Knot: Women’s Happiness Still Linked to Marriage (October 9, 2018, Sixth Tone)
“It’s better to marry well than have a successful career” is one of those well-worn, paternalistic axioms Chinese women often hear.

Beyond Four Walls: ‘Home’ and ‘Unhomeliness’ in a Rapidly Transforming China (October 9, 2018, What’s on Weibo)
A new global research report by IKEA has found that, increasingly, the feeling of home is no longer restricted to the four walls of residential buildings. In China, the study finds, approximately one-third of people in cities feel more ‘at home’ at other places than the space they live in.

‘Suicided’ Squad: How China’s Netizens Speak Out (October 10, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The passive tense might seem an unlikely verbal vehicle for satire, but that’s not stopping Chinese netizens from trying to take the wheel.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s Small Farms Are Fading. The World May Benefit. (October 5, 2018, The New York Times)
Traditional plots of land are slowly becoming parts of bigger operations, eroding a way of life but enriching local residents and helping more Chinese people move into the modern world.

China Makes A Big Play In Silicon Valley (October 7, 2018, NPR)
Chinese companies also troll bankruptcy courts, looking for failing U.S. firms, and target small enterprises making valuable technology, such as semiconductors. Chinese companies are also pumping millions of dollars and other resources into tech firms in Europe and the U.S. as a way to capture innovation and know-how.

A New Chinese-Funded Railway In Kenya Sparks Debt-Trap Fears (October 8, 2018, NPR)
The train runs 293 miles from Kenya's capital city to the port of Mombasa and back twice a day and represents the biggest infrastructure project since Kenya's independence 54 years ago. The Chinese financed it; a Chinese company built it; and the Chinese will operate it for many years to come.

The Unknowable Fallout of China’s Trade War Nuclear Option (October 9, 2018, The New York Times)
China holds more than a trillion dollars in United States debt, and an escalating trade war could tempt it to wield that debt in a way that has long been unthinkable.

Concerns Grow Over China's Influence On European Ports (October 10, 2018, NPR)
European Union leaders want to put the brakes on Chinese investment in European harbors, after China snapped up stakes in several ports from Greece to Belgium in the last decade.

Sierra Leone cancels China-funded Mamamah airport (October 10, 2018, BBC)
Sierra Leone has cancelled a $400m (£304m) Chinese-funded project to build a new airport outside the capital Freetown. Former President Ernest Bai Koroma signed the loan agreement with China before he lost elections in March. At the time, the World Bank and the IMF warned that the project would impose a heavy debt burden.


Why Chinese students in America should care about how they – and China – are perceived (October 4, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Chi Wang says the growing number of Chinese students in the US today should be aware that their behaviour helps shape American perceptions of China. They play a crucial role, particularly at a time when US hostility towards China is at a high.

Studying at a university in China with a Chinese Government scholarship (September 4, 2018, Sapore di Cina)
I studied at the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, school of Oriental Society Languages and Culture choosing a curriculum on China, and for this China seemed the easiest and most direct way to continue my studies and deepen my linguistic and cultural knowledge learned in Venice.

Science / Technology

The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies (October 4, 2018, Bloomberg)
The attack by Chinese spies reached almost 30 U.S. companies, including Amazon and Apple, by compromising America’s technology supply chain, according to extensive interviews with government and corporate sources.

Leaked Transcript Of Private Meeting Contradicts Google’s Official Story On China (October 9, 2018, The Intercept)
Gomes’s remarks to staff, which can be read in full below, highlight the stark contrast between Google’s public and private statements about Dragonfly. 

Travel / Food

4 (Alternative) Things to Do in Guilin (October 4, 2018, Wild China Blog)
That’s why we’ve put together this list of highlights from a WildChina Guilin journey – to give you a taste of how to make the most of your trip.

3 Ways Chinese Millennials Are Transforming the Flight Experience (October 7, 2018, Skift)
As Chinese millennials and Gen Zers come of age, their shopping binges won’t likely be as important, and they’ll be willing to venture to off-the-beaten-track destinations more than their elders were. They’ll have a lot of market power, and airlines and other sectors will have to adapt.

China’s National Day Travel in Millions, Billions, and Trillions (October 8, 2018, Sixth Tone)
A numerical summary of this year’s October holiday period.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

All About the Chinese Films Featured at Busan Film Festival (October 8, 2018, What’s on Weibo)
From Chinese dissident filmmakers to government-funded films, you can find it all at Busan, Asia’s biggest film festival. 

Why Every Returnee Should Read This Book (October 8, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
This conversation with Zhang made me realize that many, if not all, returnees are likely to find Surviving the State, Remaking the Church helpful as they prepare for the tough encounters they will face, not just with the political realities in mainland China that marginalize Christianity, but with the internal sub-cultures of churches there.

The Total Censorship Era: Chinese Journalists Reflect on Their Experiences (October 8, 2018, China Digital Times)
These accounts provide valuable firsthand details about dealing with propaganda directives,sensitive words on internet platforms, and other forms of censorship that they face as a matter of routine. 

Hong Kong leader refuses to explain UK journalist’s visa denial (October 9, 2018, The Guardian)
Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has refused to explain why her government declined to renew the visa of a British journalist, in an unprecedented case that has raised questions about the city’s press freedoms. The Financial Times said last week that its Asia editor, Victor Mallet, had been refused a visa to continue working in the city. 

Jiang Wen’s “Hidden Man” is China’s Nominee for the Next Academy Awards (October 9, 2018, Radii China)
Hidden Man was the third and quite possibly final part of Jiang’s “Bullets” series of movies that began with 2010’s Let the Bullets Fly and continued with 2014’s Gone With the Bullets. The series’ hallmarks are rapid-fire dialogue, big action set pieces, and Jiang writing himself a key role.

Thoughts on a Current Chinese Film (October 9, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
Zhang reviews the new movie The Island and uses the review as a thinly veiled critique of the current Chinese political climate.

Crazy Rich’ in the Details(October 10, 2018, The World of Chinese)
Problematic materialism may kill Crazy Rich Asians' chances of a mainland release, though its small details resonated with the diaspora.

Language / Language Learning

In Pakistan, Learning Chinese Is Cool — And Seen As A Path To Prosperity (October 9, 2018, NPR)
The mix of investment, loans and Chinese expertise is transforming Pakistan with new roads, metros, a port and power plants. Tens of thousands of Chinese have come to work on these projects. Officials say there's a demand for translators, lawyers and supervisors. But they need to speak Mandarin.


Axis of Authoritarians: Implications of China-Russia Cooperation  (October 4, 2018, NBR)
In this volume, leading U.S. experts explore the contours of this emergent axis of authoritarians in multiple domains and consider policy options for the United States to strengthen its position and defend its interests.

Shaping Christianity in Greater China: A Book Review (October 10, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Those interested in expanding their understanding of Christianity’s place in China beyond the operations of small bands of expatriate crosscultural workers will find Shaping Christianity in Greater China to be a rewarding addition to their library.

Yan Lianke’s Forbidden Satires of China (October 15, 2018, The New Yorker)
How an Army propaganda writer became the country’s most controversial novelist.

Links for Researchers

ChinaFile Presents: The Situation in Xinjiang (China File)
ChinaFile’s Jessica Batke will moderate a discussion with journalist Gulchehra Hoja of Radio Free Asia, historian Rian Thum of Loyola University, and Foreign Policy's James Palmer.

China’s security footprint in Africa: Towards an evolution of the application of its non-interference principle? (October 4, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
This apparent evolution has understandably led scholars to question the continued relevance of China’s non-interference principle, which has served as one of its core foreign policy principles, since the advent of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. 

China Development Brief to Hold Forum for Foreign NGOs (October 8, 2018, China File)
China Development Brief (CDB) will hold a forum in Beijing on November 6 and 7, “China's Overseas NGO Law Two Years On,” for foreign NGOs operating in China. The goal of the gathering is to “facilitate the effective operations of overseas NGOs under the current circumstances, including in areas like strategic positioning, partnership maintenance and institutional operations.”

A History of Hong Kong in 50 Maps – Wattis Art Gallery – Hong Kong – 16/10/18-16/11/18(October 10, 2018, China Rhyming)
A selection of unusual maps, charts and plans 1775 – 1979.  The exhibition continues until 16th November 2018Resources

Image credit: Peking Duck in Peking, by Ingrid S, via Flickr
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