ZGBriefs

ZGBriefs | October 12, 2017

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

Issues and Challenges for Chinese Christians as Seen Online (September 8, 2017, Chinese Law and Government)
This edition of Chinese Law and Government hopes to go beyond the tired paradigm of control and resistance by presenting a small sample of the kind of online content created by Chinese Christians, revealing to some extent what topics and issues are important to church members.


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Special Section: 19th Party Congress

Beijing Calls for an Internet ‘Fire Moat’ for the City Ahead of 19th National Congress (October 6, 2017, The Beijinger)
Beijing is to get its own internet firewall within the national firewall in time for the 19th Party Congress, according to a report in the Beijing Daily. China’s national internet security system, dubbed “the Great Firewall,” is the world’s largest apparatus for internet control, but it might not be enough.

Friends in high places: Xi Jinping’s determined path to control (October 8, 2017, South China Morning Post)
China’s most powerful president in decades is aiming to install more political allies in the top jobs, and in the key provinces, so that he can make his mark.

China party congress: The rising stars of China's Communist Party (October 8, 2017, BBC)
China's Communist Party will unveil its next generation of elite leaders when it meets starting on 18 October for a congress that is held every five years. Except for President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, five of the seven members of the party's top body, the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), are set to retire later this year.

China congress: Military facelift a sign of bigger changes (October 9, 2017, BBC)
Of the many noteworthy developments that have characterised Chinese President Xi Jinping's first five-year term, none stands out as much as military reform, and this reveals a great deal about the coming political trajectory in China, writes political analyst Cheng Li.

'Chess in an impenetrable black box': Who really holds the power in China? (October 9, 2017, CNN)
Unlike the gossipy, open democracies of Western societies, it is almost impossible to know who truly holds power in the opaque world of Chinese politics.

Fifty shades of Xi: scores of books praising president published in China (October 10, 2017, The Guardian)
A Communist party publishing blitz ahead of next week’s political summit means the shelves of Chinese bookshops are now packed with Xi Jinping-themed works designed to strengthen both his reputation and his rule.

Party rules (October 10, 2017, Reuters)
There are four key measurements of how much power Xi accrues at the congress.

Being Xi Jinping: the difficult art of juggling growth and control after China’s Communist Party congress (October 10, 2017, South China Morning Post)
“We will see a few more economic reforms as needed to serve the overall endgame, which is the preservation of the Communist Party as the dominant force in China,” he said. “He [Xi] is much more a politician than an economist or economic reformer.”

China's Xi looks set to keep right-hand man on despite age (October 11, 2017, Reuters)
Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to retain his right-hand man, the graft-buster Wang Qishan, in a senior position at a key Communist Party Congress this month even though he has reached retirement age, according to a majority of people with ties to the leadership interviewed by Reuters.

Achievements made under Xi’s leadership since 2012 (Xinhua)

Overseas NGO Law

Guangdong City Conducts Foreign NGO Law Outreach to Other Local Chinese Entities (October 5, 2017, The China NGO Project)
Zhaoqing city in Guangdong province participated in two local outreach meetings in late September related to the Foreign NGO Law. On September 22, the Zhaoqing Public Security Bureau (PSB) Foreign NGO Management Office held a training session related to Article 43 of the Foreign NGO Law,…

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Over 100 smartphone apps developed to help Party members remain loyal to CPC (October 6, 2017, Global Times)
At least one-10th of China's ruling Party members are expected to be evaluated via new "members-only" apps, which they can also use to socialize with each other. Party-building apps have been in high demand leading up to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which will be held in Beijing starting October 18.

Chinese Village Where Xi Jinping Fled Is Now a Monument to His Power (October 8, 2017, The New York Times)
But more than that, Mr. Xi’s story embodies the authoritarian values he wants to restore in China — a “red-brown” melding of Communist revivalism and earthy nationalism rooted in a glorified rendering of China’s ancient past. Liberal-minded members of China’s middle class bridle at that ideology. But others, including farmers and blue-collar workers, find a lot to like in Mr. Xi’s appeals to patriotic pride and homespun populism.

U.S. warship sails near islands Beijing claims in South China Sea - U.S. officials (October 10, 2017, Reuters)
The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters. But it was not as provocative as previous ones carried out since Trump took office in January.

British Conservative party activist barred from entering Hong Kong (October 11, 2017, The Guardian)
A leading British human rights activist who has been a vocal critic of China’s erosion of Hong Kong’s political freedoms has been barred from entering the former colony on the eve of a key political summit in Beijing. Benedict Rogers, the deputy chair of the Conservatives’ human rights commission, flew into Hong Kong on Wednesday morning on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok but said he was stopped at immigration and refused entry.

In Hong Kong, It’s the Fans Who Protest During the National Anthem (October 11, 2017, The New York Times)
Sports fans in Hong Kong have been turning their backs, booing and even raising their middle fingers as China’s national anthem is played, a protest of Beijing’s growing influence in this semiautonomous city.

China's secret aid empire uncovered (October 11, 2017, BBC)
China has a long list of state secrets - how many people it puts to death every year, and even the birthdays of its top leaders. But now, overseas researchers have uncovered another Chinese state secret: how much money Beijing gives in aid to other countries.

China grabbed American as spy wars flare (October 11, 2017, Politico)
The sun was setting over Chengdu when they grabbed the American. It was January 2016. The U.S. official had been working out of the American consulate in the central Chinese metropolis of more than 10 million. He may not have seen the plainclothes Chinese security services coming before they jumped him. In seconds he was grabbed off the Chengdu street and thrown into a waiting van.

Religion

Audio: Interview with Dr. Carsten Vala (October 5, 2017, Purdue University)
This is an interview with Dr. Carsten Vala, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Loyola University, Maryland, about his new book The Politics of Protestant Churches and the Party-State in China, God Above Party?

International Students in China—an Unreached Diaspora? (October 6, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Hardly anyone knows that China is the third largest destination for international students worldwide, after the USA and the UK. With 442,733 international students in China during 2016, this number has grown rapidly over the past ten years, up 11.4% on 2015. […]  With such high (and growing) numbers and such diversity, is China the “hub of hubs” for impacting the world through international students?

Church Cross Catches Fire in Henan (October 10, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Those fears were unfounded, reports China Christian Daily, who interviewed the pastor of the church. Although the church had agreed with the government to remove the cross, the fire appears to have been accidental. China Christian Daily shares more on this story.

Chinese pastor roundtable: we have been missing a part of our faith (October 11, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
When we really think about what we believe, before 1949 and [over] the last thirty years, we recognize that we lost the core of the gospel. Before 1949, we were very focused on the social gospel. The next thirty years we were very focused on personal piety. The result is that the core of the gospel is neither social services nor personal piety. We have been missing a part of our faith. 

The Church and the Chinese Government: An interview with Fr. Joseph Shih (La Civilta Cattolica)
The man is 90 years old, and he gives me a warm, smiling welcome. His face carries the marks of a life of many moments, and the traces that remain communicate an experience of serenity and deep peace.

Society / Life

Why More and More Chinese Students Are Volunteering Abroad (October 5, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In the past, Chinese people had a passion for learning about developed Western nations. Now, they are beginning to develop an understanding of other parts of the world.

Under Pressure: Chinese Full-Time Mothers Demand Time Off (October 6, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
The story of a full-time mother who was slammed by her husband and mother-in-law for asking some ‘time off’ for traveling during the national holiday has gone viral on Chinese social media. Her account strucks a chord with other stay-at-home moms, who face difficulties in being a full-time mother in a society where family responsibilities are shifting.

Arcasia (September 6, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Long a boomtown for builders and developers, nestled in the chaparral-covered San Gabriel Valley, 13 miles northeast of Los Angeles, Arcadia is an ever-growing destination for mainland families. It’s where they can be assured their children will receive a quality education, where religion, land and gun ownership can be enjoyed without interference, where the air is clean, the water’s drinkable, and the food is safe.

China's Good Samaritan law goes into effect (October 8, 2017, Xinhua)
It aims to ease the reluctance people feel toward helping strangers for fear of legal repercussions if they make mistakes in treatment.

In Xinjiang, Household Knives Must Be ID’ed (October 10, 2017, China Digital Times)
A new order, issued by neighborhood organizations, requires some Xinjiang residents to get all household knives stamped with an identifying QR code.

Infographic: China’s Mega-cities (OMF)

Economics / Trade / Business

Cash is already pretty much dead in China as the country lives the future with mobile pay (October 8, 2017, CNBC)
Mobile pay is taking China by storm and changing daily commerce. The transformation of a society limited to bills denominated in 100 yuan ($15) or less into one where QR payment codes abound was by far the biggest change in mainland China since my last visit four years ago.

Northeast China needs to shed its ‘big government’ mindset (October 8, 2017, East Asia Forum)
How can the economy of Northeast China, once the backbone of the country’s economy, be revived? The question is now at the centre of a hot debate.

It's not just Amazon: Chinese tech giants are selling groceries too (October 10, 2017, CNN)
Alibaba, the country's biggest online shopping company, has introduced a grocery store that has both a virtual and physical presence. It quietly started rolling out the stores two years ago "because no one was watching and we wanted to try it out," Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said at a conference in Hong Kong last week.

Podcast: Imprisoned in China (Trace International)
Peter Humphrey and his wife were well-respected compliance professionals active in China when they were arrested, tried and imprisoned for two years.

Health / Environment

What’s actually in your TCM? (October 10, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Doctors in Hong Kong have warned that traditional remedies used across China are being adulterated with illegal additives which can cause severe side effects and even death.

Spotting Flames in the Forests of Northeastern China (October 10, 2017, Sixth Tone)
It was 30 years ago, in May 1987, that a devastating and deadly inferno broke out at the foot of the northern part of the range. The fire burned for 28 days, claimed 211 lives, injured 266 people, left more than 56,000 homeless, and engulfed 13,300 square kilometers of land — nearly the size of Beijing. It was the deadliest forest fire since the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949.

Science / Technology

China Hastens the World Toward an Electric-Car Future (October 9, 2017, The New York Times)
Propelled by vast amounts of government money and visions of dominating next-generation technologies, China has become the world’s biggest supporter of electric cars. That is forcing automakers from Detroit to Yokohama and Seoul to Stuttgart to pick up the pace of transformation or risk being left behind in the world’s largest car market.

China’s AI Awakening 中国 人工智能 的崛起 (October 10, 2017, Technology Review)
Artificial intelligence may have been invented in the West, but you can see its future taking shape on the other side of the world.

History / Culture

The Lenses of History (October 11, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
The Chinese, then, have two pairs of glasses that are interchangeable. They are the unfairly treated victims of the “hegemonists,” the big, powerful (read: Western) countries that routinely humiliate and exploit weaker countries. But at the same time, they are the phoenix, rising from the ashes of a century-and-a-half of destruction to a bright and noble future that is, in fact, but a return to the glorious heights of the past. 

Travel / Food

In Chengdu, a Fiery Introduction to Szechuan Cuisine (September 26, 2017, Conde Nast Traveller)
The Szechuan pepper is king and eating is both high art and base pleasure in Chengdu, China's most laid-back city.

China’s Driving Tourists Take to Foreign Roads (October 4, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Although their experiences are somewhat exceptional, Ying and her boyfriend are among a growing number of young Chinese who prefer to travel independently, and who are not afraid to get behind the wheel and set off to explore the world.

WeChat Travel Report Shows Hong Kong Top Destination for Mainland Tourists During Holiday (October 11, 2017, The Beijinger)
Not surprisingly, the largest number of Chinese outbound tourists were coming from first-tier cities Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. Second- and third-tier cities followed, including Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Chengdu. 

The glass-bottomed walkway in China that cracks under your feet (October 11, 2017, The Telegraph)
China has developed something of an obsession with terrifying glass-bottomed walkways. But its newest see-through bridge really takes the biscuit.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

New documentary portrays a more nuanced view of the African migrant experience in China (October 2, 2017, Medium)
Africans in Yiwu is a long-form documentary shot that portrays the lives of a group of young, ambitious African migrants in the Chinese coastal city of Yiwu. Little known outside of China, Yiwu has been one of China’s leading trading hubs for over 2,000 years and is now home to PRC’s second largest population of African migrants.

This year’s Oscar contenders from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are the perfect lens into the places they’re from (October 9, 2017, Quartz)
By comparison, the nominations coming from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China have not attracted much buzz internationally, but each region’s submission touches on issues in that capture the ambitions, desires, and insecurities of its people. Taken as a trio, they provide the perfect glimpse into three culturally distinct, but closely intertwined, places.

Language / Language Learning

Vocabulary lists that help you learn Chinese and how to use them (October 5, 2017, Hacking Chinese)
In this follow-up article, I’d like to continue the discussion and get a little bit more practical, looking at specific kinds of lists and how they should or, as is sometimes the case, shouldn’t be used for learning Chinese.

Living Cross-culturally

The Power of Questions and the Problem with Answers (October 9, 2017, The Culture Blend)
If you are living cross-culturally lean in a little bit here.  This is important and frankly a bit confusing. Here we go. Asking questions is quite possibly the most significant determiner of your success or failure abroad. The evidence is in and the case studies (centuries of them) support the hypothesis. Learners do this well. Know-it-alls crash . . . hard.

Books

Nearly Dead on Arrival: An Excerpt from Michael Meyer’s ‘The Road to Sleeping Dragon’ (October 6, 2017, ChinaFile)
In June of 1995, Michael Meyer arrived in China to train for a two-year posting teaching English as one of the country’s first Peace Corps volunteers.

Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve (October 6, 2017, China File)
In the spirit of Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherBringing up Bébé, and The Smartest Kids in the WorldLittle Soldiers is a hard-hitting exploration of China’s widely acclaimed yet insular education system—held up as a model of academic and behavioral excellence—that raises important questions for the future of American parenting and education.

How the Red Sun Rose: The Origin and Development of the Yan'an Rectification Movement, 1930–1945 (Columbia University Press)
This work offers the most comprehensive account of the origin and consequences of the Yan'an Rectification Movement from 1942 to 1945. The author argues that this campaign emancipated the Chinese Communist Party from Soviet-influenced dogmatism and unified the Party, preparing it for the final victory against the Nationalist Party in 1949.

To Govern China: Evolving Practices of Power (Amazon)
How, practically speaking, is the Chinese polity - as immense and fissured as it has now become - actually being governed today? 

Links for Researchers

The Giant Awakens: A Collection of Insights into Chinese Government Influence in Australia (Vision Times)
Yet as the giant awakens and the Chinese government flexes its financial muscles globally, its influence seemingly comes with covert and overt censorship, control and attempts to silence dissent, which many perceive as a head-on collision with Australia’s democratic values. Is influence from the Chinese government a problem for Australia? How much influence can Australia accept? Is there a bottom line?

Resources

Great Commission Learning Network (grow2serve.com)

Image credit: michael davis-burchat, via Flickr
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Senior Vice President of ChinaSource. She is the editor of ZGBriefs and Chinese Church Voices, as well as a regular contributor to ChinaSource publications. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and most recently,... View Full Bio