ZGBriefs | October 19, 2017

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Featured Article

Why Do We Keep Writing About Chinese Politics As if We Know More Than We Do? (October 16, 2017, China File)
Even the best-sourced experts can’t discern how policy preferences and objectives shape political coalitions or élite Party divisions, and we lack critical diagnostic information that would be necessary to confirm or refute competing hypotheses about major political questions.

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Special Section: 19th Party Congress

Xi Jinping and China’s New Era of Glory (October 13, 2017, The New York Times)
Many of Mr. Xi’s accomplishments and his likely plans for the future are underpinned by an idealistic view that China’s 200-year eclipse is ending now, and it is his mission to lead a rigidly controlled China back to the center of the world stage.

The five key points of interest at the 19th Party Congress (October 17, 2017, China Policy Analysis)

Xi Jinping speech: five things you need to know (October 18, 2017, The Guardian)
The Chinese president spoke for three hours and 23 minutes – here are the most interesting points.

Xi Jinping’s Marathon Speech: Five Takeaways (October 18, 2017, The New York Times)
Sitting at a podium before 2,300 delegates, he spoke for 205 minutes, long enough that his predecessor, Hu Jintao, pointed at his watch when Mr. Xi finally finished.

Back from the dead: China's internet goes wild over youthful Jiang Zemin (October 18, 2017, The Guardian)
Reappearance of China’s 91-year-old former president at Communist party congress follows months of rumours of his death.

China's 19th Communist party congress – in pictures (October 18, 2017, The Guardian)

Xi Jinping: 'Time for China to take centre stage' (October 18, 2017, BBC)
Xi Jinping is a much more assertive leader than his recent predecessors. In a long and confident speech, he looked back on his first five years in office, saying the party had achieved miracles and China's international standing had grown.

5 Years Ago, China's Xi Jinping Was Largely Unknown. Now He's Poised To Reshape China (October 18, 2017, NPR)
Now, Xi's face and words are everywhere. China's bookstores are filled with volumes by and about him. He is closely linked to ubiquitous slogans, such as the "China Dream," and sprawling infrastructure and investment programs, such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

These are the 100 Terms the Communist Party Wants You to Know for the 19th CPC National Congress (October 18, 2017, What’s on Weibo)

At the Communist Party Congress, Xi Jinping Plays the Emperor (October 18, 2017, The New Yorker)
The aim is not so much to bring about a Maoist revival—the terror of the Great Helmsman’s Cultural Revolution still haunts the nation—but to reinvigorate belief in and loyalty to the Party, thereby strengthening the regime’s legitimacy. 

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

To Inspire Young Communists, China Turns to ‘Red Army’ Schools (October 15, 2017, The New York Times)
Now, amid fears that the party is losing its grip on young minds, President Xi Jinping is reshaping political education across China’s more than 283,000 primary and secondary schools for a new era.

Insight: Rap and the Party: China taps youth culture to hook millennial cadres (October 16, 2017, Reuters)
In his baseball cap and baggy yellow t-shirt, the rap star Li Yijie – better known by his stage name “Pissy” – is an unlikely face of China’s strait-laced ruling Communist Party.

For Clues To China's Crackdown On Public Expression, Look To Its Economy (October 18, 2017, NPR)
China's Communist Party has become increasingly obsessed with maintaining social stability in recent years. When asked why, both Zheng and Liang offer a quick, unequivocal response: China's economy.


Three-Self Church Reflections on Revised Regulations (October 17, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Last month, Tianfeng Magazine, the official magazine of the China Christian Council (CCC) and Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), posted an article on their WeChat blog highlighting the impact of the regulations and why they are necessary. 

3 Questions: A Look in the Mirror for Leaders (September 18, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Jordan Wei (pseudonym) is an experienced Christian worker in Asia who has spent more than 20 years developing leaders. He shares some recent insights from his own experience that have transformed his understanding of the leader development process.

Chinese Pastor Roundtable: A Big Crisis Will be the Next Generation (October 18, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
Because [the younger] generation has never experienced persecution as the previous generation did and they never had the spiritual battles; they are very greatly influenced by secularism.

Society / Life

Five charts about the fortunes of the Chinese family (October 15, 2017, BBC)
In the five years since President Xi Jinping moved to the helm, China has become richer and more powerful. But what has this growth meant for the fate and fortunes of the ordinary Chinese family?

Coming of age in an era of prosperity: Meet China's 'bubble generation' (October 17, 2017, Reuters)
It’s a generation that grew up in an era of prosperity and peace; one that has not “eaten bitterness” – or struggled – as their parents and grandparents did. With Xi starting another five years as China’s top leader, Reuters sought to get to know some members of this bubble generation – 10 people who graduated from university and entered the workforce when Xi’s first term started five years ago.  They are the “Class of 2012”.

Living with the Great Firewall of China (October 17, 2017, Reuters)
For the very wired “Class of 2012”, these measures are largely minor inconveniences. Some buy into the idea that the Internet needs to be closely managed. Others just find workarounds. Here are their views on living with the Great Firewall.

Analysis of China’s one-child policy sparks uproar (October 18, 2017, Science Magazine)
A new study of China’s one-child policy is roiling demography, sparking calls for the field’s leading journal to withdraw the paper. The controversy has ignited a debate over scholarly values in a discipline that some say often prioritizes reducing population growth above all else.

Economics / Trade / Business

Minimum wages on the march in China as labour pool shrinks (October 13, 2017, South China Morning Post)
More Chinese provinces are raising minimum wages this year, reflecting persistent labour cost pressure as the supply of workers shrinks in the world’s second-biggest economy.

How Young Entrepreneurs Transformed Xiamen Into a Creative Hub (October 13, 2017, Sixth Tone)
The coastal city’s balmy beaches and laid-back lifestyle have drawn innovative businesspeople and spurred urban renewal.


Wrestling School Gives ‘Left-Behind Children’ a Fighting Chance (October 12, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Rural Chinese students whose parents work in cities gain strength and resilience through contact sport.

Chinese school sends its pupils to ‘hardship boot camp’ to teach them self-reliance (October 17, 2017, South China Morning Post)
More than 1,200 16 and 17-year-olds from the No 1 High School Affiliated to Central China Normal University in Wuhan took part in the mandatory programme, which has been an annual “rite of passage” at the school since 1990.

Health / Environment

The Mountains of Takeout Trash Choking China’s Cities (October 15, 2017, Sixth Tone)
If you laid flat the plastic bags used by delivery services on a given day, they would nearly cover Tiananmen Square.

China confirms bird flu outbreak at poultry farms in central province (October 17, 2017, Reuters)
The outbreak in Hexian, a city of about 500,000 people in the province of Anhui, was caused by the H5N6 strain of virus, and has been brought under control, the ministry said on its website.

History / Culture

Forget Marx and Mao. Chinese City Honors Once-Banned Confucian. (October 18, 2017, The New York Times)
And when China’s most powerful leader in 40 years endorses a philosopher, even a long-dead Confucian one, people rush to take action.

Travel / Food

Disabled Chinese cyclist challenges Xinjiang-Tibet highway (October 15, 2017, CRI)
Sun Youzhi, who has only one leg, flew to Lhasa on September 29, 2017, and then headed to Yecheng (Kargilik) County, where he began his tour of the Xinjiang-Tibet highway. Before setting off, Sun sent his artificial limb back to his hometown in Henan Province, as he wanted to attempt "real one-legged cycling."

Top 5 Things to Do around Dali and Lijiang (October 17, 2017, Wild China Blog)
Yunnan Province—which literally means “South of the Clouds” due to its location just south of the Tibetan Plateau—is home to verdant low-lying valleys, spectacular white-capped mountains, rustic towns and villages, and a lively mix of ethnic minority communities.  Dali and Lijiang are two of our favorite destinations in this province and they are great to visit all year round.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The Endangered Sound of ‘Suona’ (October 13, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In Shandong province, where the suona is sometimes known by the onomatopoeic name “wulawa,” the instrument is an integral part of traditional culture. But in Shandong’s Pingyi County, where Wang hails from, suona performances have been banned from funerals since October 2016 as part of local government reforms aiming to curb lavish, showy ceremonies.

Chinese commentators tackle the challenge of translating American football (October 17, 2017, Christian Science Monitor)
American football is less popular than basketball and soccer in China, but fan numbers are growing quickly, as young people accustomed to streaming sports on mobile telephones get drawn in.

Language / Language Learning

Should you focus on learning Chinese words or phrases? (October 12, 2017, Hacking Chinese)
There is a divide between people who advocate learning tons of words and people who are equally enthusiastic about focusing phrases instead. Naturally, most people do both, but differ mainly in how strongly they lean towards one side.

Living Cross-culturally

6.5 Myths About Expat Life (October 18, 2017, A Life Overseas)
Sometimes we do super awesome things like swim with whale sharks and hike down into live volcanoes but most of the time we are working, loving people, not-so-loving people, and doing the mundane things of life.


Street of Eternal Happiness (October 13, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Birthed out of the author’s radio series for NPR’s Marketplace, the book tells the stories of several families, and that of their neighbors, living along one road in the former French Concession of Shanghai. 长乐路—Changle Lu, literally “long happiness road” but translated by the author as “street of eternal happiness” (p. 6), boasts a rich history in a city, and country, replete with history.

The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up – Michael Meyer’s new one out now (October 16, 2017, China Rhyming)
From the highly praised author of The Last Days of Old Beijing, a brilliant portrait of China today and a memoir of coming of age in a country in transition.

Links for Researchers

English version of Xi Jinping’s speech to the 19th Party Congress (Weixin)


Infographic: How the CCP Rules: China’s Leaders of Party and State (Harvard)

Image credit: The Great Hall of the People, by Danny Pang, 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