ZGBriefs | October 19, 2023

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Featured Article

Confessions from a Chinese censorship worker (October 16, 2023, Global Voices)
A censorship worker dubbed Blowfish Princess (河豚公主) from a major Chinese social media platform has recently revealed details of her everyday work in an interview with prominent Twitter whistle-blower Teacher Li on YouTube. Below is an English excerpt of the interview published on Global Voices with Teacher Li’s permission.

Sponsored Link

Online Book Club (ERR China)
On November 1, Joann Pittman will facilitate an online book club discussion for ERRChina/CAC. The book is The Importance of Living, by Lin Yutang. Written in 1937, “Yutang’s prescription is the classic Chinese philosophy of life: Revere inaction as much as action, invoke humor to maintain a healthy attitude, and never forget that there will always be plenty of fools around who are willing-indeed, eager-to be busy, to make themselves useful, and to exercise power while you bask in the simple joy of existence.” (Amazon description)

Click here to join the discussion on November 1, 2023, at 7:00 pm (US CDT).

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China replaces ‘Tibet’ with ‘Xizang’ in latest diplomatic documents (October 12, 2023, Radio Free Asia)
The change comes as Chinese Communist Party scholars advocate an amendment to the translated name which they claim will prevent the Dalai Lama from reestablishing the right to speak about Tibet. They pointed out that the Party needed to promote its legitimate occupation and rule of the autonomous region.

Xi Jinping’s Cathedral of Pretense (October 13, 2023, China Media Project)
With all the talk in recent months in China of “new civilizational splendor” (文明新辉煌) in everything from sports to Marxism, heritage protection to village life, it is impossible not to sit up and take notice of the country’s fulsome messaging on culture. Surely, something must be happening. No? As officials emerged last weekend from the latest Chinese Communist Party work conference, the language mounted further. They unveiled yet another eponymous phrase for the country’s top leader: Xi Jinping Thought on Culture (习近平文化思想).

What’s Behind China’s Laws to Protect Privacy? (October 16, 2023, China File)
In his article “Authoritarian Privacy” for the University of Chicago Law Review, Mark Jia writes: “Privacy laws are traditionally associated with democracy. Yet autocracies increasingly have them.” In this ChinaFile Q&A, Jia and Samm Sacks engage in an exchange about what has motivated the Chinese government to enact and enforce a range of laws on information privacy and the implications for understanding the role of privacy laws in non-democratic states.

Video: China Town Hall 2023: U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns (October 17, 2023, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
Current U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns was the featured speaker for CHINA Town Hall 2023, a national conversation on how the U.S.-China relationship affects our communities. From trade, tech competition, and fentanyl to climate cooperation, national security, and anti-Asian racism, the future of both countries will be determined by their relations with one another and the global community.

Belt and Road Initiative: Is China’s trillion-dollar gamble worth it? (October 17, 2023, BBC)
China is throwing a huge party to celebrate one of its biggest experiments in engaging with the world: its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Officials and leaders from all over the globe are in Beijing attending a high-level summit marking the BRI’s 10th anniversary.

China’s Q3 GDP growth shows economic recovery gaining traction (October 18, 2023, Reuters)
China’s economy grew at a faster-than-expected clip in the third quarter, while consumption and industrial activity in September also surprised on the upside, suggesting the recent flurry of policy measures is helping to bolster a tentative recovery. 

Australian journalist says she was detained for 3 years in China for breaking an embargo (October 18, 2023, NBC News)
Australian journalist Cheng Lei says she spent more than three years in detention in China for breaking an embargo with a television broadcast on a state-run TV network. […] She said her offense was breaking a government-imposed embargo by a few minutes following a briefing by officials.

US secures Marshall Islands military deal, keeps China at bay in strategically vital Pacific region (October 18, 2023, South China Morning Post)
The administration of Joe Biden scored a big win late on Monday, keeping China and other nations out of the strategically significant western Pacific region by securing a deal with a long-time Washington partner in Oceania. After months of haggling, the Marshall Islands agreed to renew a strategic pact granting the US military access to its land, air and sea in exchange for economic help for decades.

Vladimir Putin feted at Xi Jinping’s global Belt and Road summit (October 18, 2023, BBC)
Russian leader Vladimir Putin was given the red carpet treatment at a global summit in Beijing, as China and Russia deepen their solidarity. Hosted by China’s President Xi Jinping, the meeting celebrated 10 years of his signature foreign and economic policy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Mr Putin was the guest of honour among leaders and officials from more than 130 countries.

U.S. releases footage of aircraft intercepts by Chinese planes (October 18, 2023, NBC News)
The Pentagon has released footage of some of the more than 180 intercepts of U.S. warplanes by Chinese aircraft that have occurred in the last two years — more than the total amount over the previous decade and part of a trend U.S. military officials called concerning. The photos and video were released in advance of a soon-to-be issued annual report by the Pentagon on China’s military power and the security threats it may pose to partners in the Indo-Pacific.


George Stott – A One-Legged Scottish Missionary to China (October 10, 2023, Field Partner)
George Stott (1835-1889) was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China with the China Inland Mission. When Stott arrived in Wenzhou in the late 1860’s there were probably no Christian believers in the city. As a result of his and his wife Grace’s work and that of others, Wenzhou is known today as the “Jerusalem of the East” because “in the entire Wenzhou Municipality, which has 6 million inhabitants, there are more than 600,000 evangelical Protestants – 10% of the population.”

Hearing from the Church in China, Part 1: The Quest for Trustworthy Information (October 13, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
The author reads hundreds of these reports and articles on China each year, and the number to choose from is as high as ever. It has become increasingly difficult to find distinctive criteria for determining which sources to follow.

Hearing from the Church in China, Part 2: Trying to “Keep the Flies Out” (October 16, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
It is important for Christians outside and inside of China not to lose courage, but to continue to interact with brothers and sisters in China (acting wisely and taking precautions) and to find new and creative ways of listening to them and learning about how they are coping.

Society / Life

China recruits thousands to monitor its citizens’ words and deeds (October 17, 2023, Radio Free Asia)
Local governments across the country have been recruiting thousands of people in recent months as “grid workers” supplying information about residents to the local authorities, according to official websites. The “grid management” system is so named because it carves up neighborhoods into a grid pattern with 15-20 households per square, and gives each grid a dedicated monitor who reports back on residents’ affairs to neighborhood committees, the lowest rung in the government hierarchy.

Economics / Trade / Business

Country Garden: China property giant default fears grow (October 18, 2023, BBC)
China’s biggest private property developer Country Garden is believed to have become the latest property giant to default on its overseas debt. The firm has $11bn (£9bn) in debt and another $6bn in onshore loans, and a default would mark one of the country’s biggest corporate debt restructurings. Its possible default adds to concerns about China’s post-pandemic recovery.

US escalates tech battle by cutting China off from AI chips (October 18, 2023, CNN)
The Biden administration is reducing the types of semiconductors that American companies will be able to sell to China, citing the desire to close loopholes in existing regulations announced last year. On Tuesday, the US Commerce Department unveiled new rules that further tighten a sweeping set of export controls first introduced in October 2022.

How Wenzhou Became a Trading Hub (October 18, 2023, Sixth Tone)
When it comes to Wenzhou, the first word that springs to mind is probably business. Known as the birthplace of China’s private economy, Wenzhou natives have spread out across the world, opening shops and forming trading networks wherever they go.


How two women transformed learning in rural China (October 18, 2023, Christian Science Monitor)
Once word got out about classrooms in caves, determination and global generosity transformed education in one corner of China.

History / Culture

How Shanghai became an inter-war haven for European Jews fleeing persecution (October 12, 2023, South China Morning Post)
In the early 20th century, European politics was ridden with antisemitism, most obviously in Nazi Germany and the murder of 6 million in the Holocaust, but prejudice was widespread across the continent and other countries restricted entry to those trying to flee persecution at home. In this atmosphere tens of thousands of Jews chose China, many of whom headed for Shanghai which was almost unique in not requiring visas or travel documents for Jewish refugees to enter.

Pray for China

October 19 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Oct. 19, 1932, Huang Bojun (黄伯桢牧师) was born into an evangelist’s family in Jiangsu. He graduated from Jinling Union Theological Seminary in 1952 and married Peng Yiyun (彭亦云姊妹), who was also a seminary graduate. They were severely persecuted during the Anti-Rightist campaign in the 1950s and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76); in one instance, fellow pastors and workers in the Three-Self Church beat him with whips for 90 minutes. The doctor who initially treated him expressed shock at the wounds, which stayed with him for the rest of his life. In Dec. 1969, Huang’s entire family was sent down to the countryside and at times could survive only by eating the pigs’ food. In 1973 Huang and his wife were restored spiritually and began to provide family worship for their three children, taking care to have Mao’s book and cards on the table in case neighbors would come to spy on them. In old age, they had a prolific writing and publishing ministry in the Suzhou area and beyond. Pray for the children and grandchildren of those persecuted in Jiangsu during the Cultural Revolution to walk with the Lord and not forget His faithfulness. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

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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