ZGBriefs | October 15, 2020

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Featured Article

Chinese Christians Deserve a Better Label Than ‘Persecuted’  (October 9, 2020, Christianity Today)
We need the Chinese church to be defined not by its limitations or what it does, but by how it is being made into the image of Christ. The personal transformation taking place in the lives of Chinese believers is the key to this new narrative.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Pressure campaign targets Chinese pastor in Texas  (October 9, 2020, World Magazine)
A Chinese billionaire under U.S. investigation has launched a campaign aimed at discrediting exiled Chinese dissidents living in the United States, including pastor and activist Bob Fu. Guo Wengui, who has lived in the United States since 2015, in recent weeks has deployed his personal fortune and online platform to incite protests and violence against Christian human rights activist Fu, along with other Chinese dissidents who survived the 1989 massacre at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. 

‘Transparency’ needed in China’s Yang Hengjun case, says Morrison  (October 10, 2020, Sydney Morning Herald)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia has been calling on China to provide “transparency” and a “fair and just process” for a detained Australian citizen who has just been charged with espionage. Australian writer Yang Hengjun has been formally charged almost two years after he was first detained by Chinese authorities, paving the way for him to face trial.

China insists Genghis Khan exhibit not use words ‘Genghis Khan’  (October 13, 2020, The Guardian)
A French museum has postponed an exhibit about the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan citing interference by the Chinese government, which it accuses of trying to rewrite history. […] It said the Chinese authorities demanded that certain words, including “Genghis Khan,” “Empire” and “Mongol” be taken out of the show. Subsequently they asked for power over exhibition brochures, legends and maps.

Chinese President Xi Jinping tells troops to focus on ‘preparing for war’  (October 14, 2020, CNN)
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on troops to “put all (their) minds and energy on preparing for war” in a visit to a military base in the southern province of Guangdong on Tuesday, according to state news agency Xinhua. During an inspection of the People’s Liberation Army Marine Corps in Chaozhou City, Xinhua said Xi told the soldiers to “maintain a state of high alert” and called on them to be “absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable.”

Raising Up The General Secretary  (October 14, 2020, China Media Project)
A quick look through the text of Xi’s Shenzhen speech suggests little or nothing of fresh import. It is very much worth noting, however, that Guangdong’s top provincial leader, Party Secretary Li Xi (李希), talked shortly after Xi’s speechabout the need for “raising high the great banner of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era” (高举习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想伟大旗帜).

In Bangkok visit, China’s Wang Yi seeks to cast Beijing as Thailand’s ‘big friend’ (October 14, 2020, South China Morning Post)
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi was due to arrive on Wednesday night in Thailand, a country central to Beijing’s strategy for Asia at a time the kingdom is facing a double hit from a pandemic-flattened economy and political turmoil. In the big superpower square-off between the US and China , Thailand plays an oversized role.

China Learns the Hard Way That Money Can’t Buy You Love  (October 14, 2020, Foreign Policy)
Few countries have soured more rapidly against China than Australia, as decades of influence-building by Beijing come to naught.

Canada’s Justin Trudeau slams China over Hong Kong and Xinjiang  (October 14, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned China on Tuesday that its “coercive diplomacy”, repressive measures in Hong Kong and detention of Uygur Muslims are counterproductive for itself and the rest of the world. Trudeau took aim at Beijing’s record as he marked the 50th anniversary of Canada’s diplomatic ties with China.


A House Church Pastor Responds to “China’s Registered Church”  (October 12, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Many house church leaders have access to training in academically rigorous seminaries and theological schools in Western countries. But because of stereotypes that many in the West have about the TSPM church there have been roadblocks preventing this group of ministers from accessing valuable Christian education globally.

Faith through 9778 Days of Imprisonment  (October 13, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
He was tortured by dogs and forced into confessing a crime he didn’t commit. He spent 9,778 days in prison. He wrote more than 600 appeal letters. After more than 26 years in prison, Zhang Yuhuan was released. What sustained him during that time? In this article, Li Guangping shares how Zhang’s faith and family carried him through a horrific ordeal of false imprisonment. This case was widely reported on in Chinese official media, foreign media, as well as shared by Christians on social media.

Society / Life

In Datong, a Crumbling Legacy of China’s Most Extreme Urban Makeover  (October 10, 2020, Sixth Tone)
A decade on, the grandiose plan to restore the dusty coal town to its former glory has officially been called into question.

Checking In on China’s Post-Pandemic Middle Class  (October 12, 2020, Sixth Tone)
China’s white-collar middle class has gotten a stark reminder of how fragile their newfound status can be.

Podcast: China’s New Youth (October 13, 2020, Barbarians at the Gate, via China Channel)
In this episode, hosts Jeremiah Jenne and David Moser catch up with writer and editor Alec Ash, to discuss the new US edition of his book Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China. Alec’s book is an intimate portrait of six diverse members of China’s “post-80s” generation, tracing their lives’ trajectory in the context of China’s turbulent and unpredictable economic modernization process.

Faking Social Media 2.0: The Business of Buying “High-End Moments” for WeChat  (October 14, 2020, What’s on Weibo)
Your fake social life, delivered to your WeChat at 5 pm every day? Sounds very Nosedive, yet there are many who buy their social media contents in an attempt to appear cool, rich, and handsome.

China’s average life expectancy reaches 77.3 years  (October 14, 2020, China Daily)
Average life expectancy, a key gauge of a country’s economic and social development, particularly in terms of its medical and health services, reached 77.3 years in China in 2019. That was up 0.96 years from 2015.

Enfant Terrible  (October 14, 2020, The World of Chinese)
What these parents may not know is that they are actively nurturing one of the most destructive creatures one could encounter in public, “bear kids,” or xionghaizi (熊孩子). A term originating from the dialect of northeastern China, where xiong (熊) describes annoying or rude habits, xionghaizi, whether toddlers or teenagers, often make headlines with their destructive deeds and the shocking consequences.

Shanghai’s Urban Scavengers Rescue Memories of a Vanishing City  (October 14, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Just before historical neighborhoods are razed, collectors of everyday items swoop in for one last rummage through the ruins.

How the Two-Child Policy Shapes Kids’ Names  (October 18, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Freedom to have larger families is empowering mothers to buck tradition and pass on their surnames to their children.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s Unemployment Challenge  (October 13, 2020, Echo Wall)
China now talks about a “dual-cycle” of development that means less dependence on foreign markets and greater domestic demand. Only by stabilizing employment can the country effectively develop and sustain demand. But current rates of growth suggest stabilizing employment will be a tough ask.


Academics warn of ‘chilling effect’ of Hong Kong security law  (October 12, 2020, The Guardian)
Some of the world’s leading scholars on China have called for a united international front in defence of university freedoms, amid claims of an increased Chinese threat to academic inquiry since the passing of Hong Kong’s national security law. Individual universities will be picked off unless there is a common agreement to resist Chinese state interference in academic research and teaching on China, a group of 100 academics including scholars in the US, UK, Australia and Germany say.

Health / Environment

China to test 9 million people as coronavirus cluster detected in city of Qingdao  (October 12, 2020, CNN)
China has been largely coronavirus free since mid-August, with all cases reported by the country imported from elsewhere. But as of October 11, Qingdao has reported a dozen locally transmitted cases, all of which have been linked to a hospital treating imported infections, the city’s Municipal Health Commission said in a statement Monday.

Chinese drug maker offers experimental Covid-19 vaccines to students heading overseas  (October 13, 2020, South China Morning Post)
State-owned China National Biotec Group , or CNBG, says it will provide its two inactivated vaccine candidates for free to such students, without giving any age restrictions, according to financial news site China Star Market. Students can register their interest online and they will be given the shots in Beijing or Wuhan.

China to Make Some Drugs Approved Abroad More Accessible at Home  (October 14, 2020, Sixth Tone)
If clinical trials conducted abroad show medicines are safe and effective, there may be no need to repeat them in China, say the country’s drug regulators.

Science / Technology

China has more than 900 mln internet audio-and-video users  (October 13, 2020, China Daily)
The number of internet audio-and-video users in China reached 901 million as of June, covering 95.8 percent of all internet users in the country, according to a new report.

History / Culture

Life in Peking, 1931, except from documentary “Peking – Ghosts of Empire” (October 11, 2020, Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Images record Shenzhen’s 40-year journey  (October 14, 2020, China Daily)

Travel / Food

American Airlines completes Beijing realignment with move to new Daxing airport  (October 12, 2020, The Points Guy)
American Airlines will move to Beijing’s giant new Daxing airport in March, completing the realignment of U.S. carriers in the Chinese capital. The Oneworld Alliance carrier will operate its first flight to Daxing (PKX) on March 27, marking its return to Beijing after a more than year-long hiatus, American said recently. American will offer daily service between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Daxing with a Boeing 787-8. Tickets for American’s service to Daxing went on sale on Monday. Introductory one-way economy fares between Dallas/Fort Worth and Beijing begin at $890.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Homegrown “Kung Fu Mulan” is Even Bigger China Box Office Flop than Disney Version  (October 9, 2020, Radii China)
“Kung Fu Mulan” wanted to show the “real Mulan,” but was withdrawn from cinemas after just three days.

Living Cross-culturally

Living Incarnationally—Inside the Wall  (October 9, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
But not all expats were trapped outside of China when COVID-19 hit and border restrictions were put into place. There were quite a few who had not left the country over the Spring Festival holiday and found themselves experiencing lockdown life with their co-workers, friends, and neighbors.

Struggles 2nd Generation Chinese Americans Face  (October 14, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
At the core, the second generation struggles with identity—Who am I? Am I Chinese? Am I American? Am I both? This is where they struggle the most. Our identities are formed through various factors, and when there is a struggle between worldviews, thinking, ways of doing things, and more, it is very hard for the second generation to understand their identity.


Announcing Our Dedicated-Language Outreach in Chinese  (October 13, 2020, Ligonier Ministries)
Today, after many years of prayer, Ligonier is delighted to commence online outreach to serve Chinese-speaking people around the world. […] Our Chinese website, zh.Ligonier.org, is a well-stocked virtual library of trustworthy teaching, including articles, free ebooks, and video teaching series by Dr. R.C. Sproul. Two versions of the website are available: one in simplified Chinese script and another in traditional Chinese script.

China Cybersecurity Law Webinar: The Video Replay  (September 25, 2020, Harris and Bricken)
For anyone who was not able to join our China Cybersecurity Law webinar last week, we’ve got you covered! Below, please find the full webinar for your viewing pleasure.

Pray for China

October 16  (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
Che Jinguang (车金光弟兄) became the first Chinese Protestant martyr when he was killed in Boluo County, Guangdong, on Oct. 16, 1861. Che was a most unlikely candidate for this honor. Until he was in his 50s, he worked as a keeper of the Confucian Temple in Boluo. In early 1856, he was visited by two Chinese Christians from Hong Kong who shared the gospel and left him a Bible; when they returned in May, he asked to be baptized and showed them the tablet used to worship his ancestors’ spirits, which he had defaced with a chisel as evidence of his new faith. Che made the same request in Hong Kong to James Legge (理雅各) and He Jinshan (何进善牧师-Ho Tsun-sheen), but they were reluctant, concerned that he might be looking for work. Che persisted, and one night he waited outside in the rain for Legge after a prayer meeting. As Che let the rainwater fall on his head, he told Legge that God would baptize him even if Legge refused. Legge then baptized Che, and he returned to Boluo and began a self-supported ministry as an itinerant evangelist. Che visited Hong Kong each year to give a report on his work; in May 1861, Legge and several others journeyed to Boluo and baptized 101 people who had responded to the gospel. Many testified that they were attracted not simply by Che’s preaching but even more by his lifestyle of love and holiness. Despite much anti-foreign sentiment related to the Second Opium War, Legge decided to purchase property for a mission station in Boluo. In Oct. 1861, he turned the keys to the property over to Che. A few days after Legge’s departure from Boluo, Che was seized, tortured for several days, and finally beheaded on October 16 when he refused to renounce his faith. His last words were, “How can I deny Him who died for me?” Pray for the Christians in Guangdong and Hong Kong to continue to glorify God in life and death. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15

Image credit: Joann Pittman
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