ZGBriefs

ZGBriefs | October 21, 2021

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Featured Article

Things Confucius Never Said (October 16, 2021, Sixth Tone)
But the sayings quoted by your teacher, grandma, and “spiritual” friends may well never have actually been uttered by Confucius; or if they were, they could have been wildly misrepresented since his death. Combat these mistaken words of wisdom with our guide to some of Confucius’s most commonly misused and misinterpreted quotations.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Video: The Future of Overseas NGOs in China (October 15, 2021, U.S-Asia Law Institute NYU)
Law Professor Mark Sidel of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Jessica Batke, editor at the China NGO Project, will talk with USALI Executive Director Katherine Wilhelm about what five years of a heavily securitized regulatory regime has meant for overseas nonprofits in China, how the regime is adapting and expanding, and prospects for the future. 

China’s Xi Flexes Power With Plan to Rewrite Communist Party History (October 18, 2021, The Wall Street Journal) (subscription required)
Chinese leader Xi Jinping is preparing to officially stamp his personal imprint on the Communist Party’s historical record, a sign of his strengthening grip on power in the face of simmering uncertainties over the country’s economy and tensions with Western powers.

China, Russia navy ships jointly sail through Japan strait (October 19, 2021, Reuters)
A group of 10 naval vessels from China and Russia sailed through a strait separating Japan’s main island and its northern island of Hokkaido on Monday, the Japanese government said, adding that it is closely watching such activities.

Tightening Up: A ChinaFile Conversation (October 20, 2021, China File)
What is the best way to understand the connections among these new strictures? How do they relate to Xi Jinping’s leadership, how should they be understood to relate to governance goals in China more broadly, and to what extent will they succeed in achieving their intended ends?

Biden’s pick for US ambassador to China backs increasing security assistance to Taiwan (October 20, 2021, CNN)
President Joe Biden’s pick to be US Ambassador to China called for a continued commitment to the longstanding “One China” Policy but defended the United States’ right to increase security assistance to Taiwan amid Beijing’s aggression towards the island.

Religion

Video Podcast: The Right Kind of ‘Guanxi’ (September 30, 2021, CantoSense)
Is building ‘guanxi’ (relationship) in Chinese culture just about a ‘win-win’ situation? In this episode, we discuss the nature of friendship in Chinese culture and what ‘guanxi’ is really meant to look like. 

Video Podcast: Healthy Shame (October 7, 2021, CantoSense)
Is shame all bad or can it be good? The long awaited episode! We discuss the enormous value of honor and shame within the Chinese culture and what it all means in light of what Jesus has done for us. 

Glory to God All the Earth: Songs of the St. Louis Jesuits in Chinese (October 15, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
While attending the conference hosted by the US-China Catholic Association in Santa Clara in August, I learned about a CD put out by OCP of Chinese translations of many of the St. Louis Jesuits most popular songs, including Here I Am, Lord. The album is titled Pu Shi Rong Zan (普世荣赞). Glory to God All the Earth. 

Podcast: Chinese Jesus, with I’Ching Thomas and Xi Lian  (October 18, 2021, Undeceptions)
Christianity is a ‘western’ religion and a religion of individual freedom, right? Eastern traditions emphasize family and community above the individual. The Christian mind and the Chinese mind are two venerable yet incompatible things. So, Christianity should have a problem in China. It is just one of the attempted foreign invaders. And, yet, Christianity is alive and growing in China. Is this a western-controlled religious insurgency or is there an Eastern Jesus many in the West have missed? 

From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom (7): Hui and the Cultural Revolution (October 18, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
This article discusses the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and key events in the decade leading up to it. It belongs to the series “From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom”—which is drawn from the leading ethnographic course helping Christians better understand China’s Hui Muslims.

Driven by the Gospel Instead of Fear (October 18, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
We recently chatted with a Shanghai church planter about his theological commitment to church planting and the daily joys and struggles of pastoring a new church. In this candid conversation, he touched on everything from church planting via splits or persecution, to his great need for daily prayer, to how regular organizational decisions must be rooted in gospel faith, not driven by fear.

A Repentance Story: Testimony of a Post-90s Preacher (October 19, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
Young adults in China struggle with many of the same issues their counterparts in other parts of the world face. In this article from the Christian Times a young man, who was born in the 90s, tells of his desire to live his own life and find a well-paid, respected career. Seven years of wandering and job changes prepared his heart for responding to the gospel and giving him the desire to live out his faith in full-time ministry.

Real Relations and Real Connections (October 20, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Relational connections continue to be essential as we reach out to Chinese international students today. The ways of forming those relationships have changed over time, so if we want to build friendship with Chinese international students, especially during a pandemic, we need to be adaptable and flexible to the circumstances we encounter.

Society / Life

China’s ‘Drifting’ Migrant Mothers Tell Their Stories (October 14, 2021, Sixth Tone)
The author, an artist and editor of several previous compilations of essays on motherhood, wanted to help migrant women record their experiences. But how to begin?

‘Ghost towns’: Evergrande crisis shines a light on China’s millions of empty homes (October 15, 2021, CNN)
The warning signs have been flashing for some time. Prior to Evergrande’s meltdown, tens of millions of apartments were thought to be sitting empty across the country. In recent years, the problem has only gotten worse.

What’s in Chinese Netizens’ DNA? (October 19, 2021, The World of Chinese)
The term “DNA” also makes its presence felt in the world of Chinese internet slang. In the field of Chinese social media, DNA can be understood as something present in the deepest part of one’s mind that stores a person’s most salient impressions and memories.

China drafts law to punish parents for children’s bad behavior (October 19, 2021, CNN)
Parents in China whose young children exhibit “very bad behavior” or commit crimes could face punishment under proposed new legislation. In the draft of the family education promotion law, guardians will be reprimanded and ordered to go through family education guidance programs if prosecutors find very bad or criminal behavior in children under their care.

China: The patriotic ‘ziganwu‘ bloggers who attack the West (October 21, 2021, BBC)
Guyanmuchan is among a new crop of bloggers known as the “ziganwu“, whose rise in fame on Chinese social media has been inextricably linked with the ascendancy of Chinese nationalism. Their name refers to the infamous “wumao” army of trolls who are paid to spread state propaganda – but the difference is that the “ziganwu” do it for free.

Economics / Trade / Business

Is China quitting the economic race? (October 18, 2021, AEI)
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is willing to say the F word. As in Four. As in GDP, after creeping down toward six percent growth for years, skips right past five percent as the scary lower bound. The Communist Party can still announce whatever it wants — perhaps a powerful surge is declared in January. But it’s becoming reasonable to think Party leadership is losing interest in claiming fast GDP.

Linked Out (October 18, 2021, China Media Project)
The official Chinese-language statement from LinkedIn, which unlike Shroff’s post did not mention “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China,” said that this strategy change at LinkedIn would provide better service for Chinese customers.

China’s economy is getting walloped by crises in energy, shipping and real estate (October 18, 2021, CNN)
China’s GDP is growing at the slowest pace in a year as a massive energy crunch, shipping disruptions and a deepening property crisis take their toll on the world’s second largest economy. The economy expanded by just 4.9% in the third quarter, compared with the same period a year earlier. That’s much slower than the 7.9% increase China registered in the second quarter. It’s also the weakest rate of growth since last year’s July-to-September period, when GDP also grew 4.9%.

How Evergrande found itself on the wrong side of China’s regulators (October 18, 2021, CNBC)
Chinese developer Evergrande made little progress toward complying with Beijing’s crackdown on real estate debt — until it was too late for investors who poured money into its offshore bonds, now worth at least $19 billion.

New 620-mile railway connects China and Laos (October 19, 2021, CNN)
The track, China’s first international railway network, is the latest project under its wide-ranging Belt and Road Initiative. Previously called “One Belt, One Road,” the ambitious strategy attempts to connect a number of Asian and African countries through China’s economic might. Linking Vientiane, the capital of Laos, with Kunming, capital and largest city in China’s Yunnan province, the network will eventually connect a total of 45 stations between both countries, of which about 20 will provide passenger services.

Analysis: China’s self-inflicted slowdown tests Beijing’s reform resolve (October 19, 2021, Reuters)
President Xi Jinping’s bold reforms are aimed at reducing the economy’s reliance on property and debt, channelling more resources into high-tech manufacturing and creating a greener, more equal economy. But slowing momentum in the world’s second-largest economy underscores the risks and poses a test to Xi’s resolve to implement his plans.

Education

Cram school is out, forever. Why Chinese parents aren’t rejoicing. (October 14, 2021, Christian Science Monitor)
Interviews with private tutors and parents raise questions about whether China’s crackdown on the industry is having the intended impacts of reducing inequality, easing educational costs and pressures on families, and thereby encouraging couples to have more children.

A new crew docks at China’s first permanent space station (October 16, 2021, NPR)
Chinese astronauts began Saturday their six-month mission on China’s first permanent space station, after successfully docking their spacecraft. The astronauts, two men and a woman, were seen floating around the module before speaking via a live-streamed video. The new crew includes Wang Yaping, 41, who is the first Chinese woman to board the Tiangong space station, and is expected to become China’s first female spacewalker.

Health / Environment

How long can China’s zero-covid policy last? (October 16, 2021, The Economist) (subscription required)
Since the early days of the covid-19 pandemic, China’s aim has been to eliminate the coronavirus entirely from within the mainland’s borders. Hong Kong and Macau have similar strategies. But even as the handful of other countries with “zero-covid” policies, including Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, move to relax them, China is holding out.

China’s New COVID-19 Outbreak Spreads to Multiple Provinces (October 20, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Since a tourist couple tested positive for the virus Sunday in the historic city of Xi’an in the northwestern Shaanxi province, six other provinces and municipalities, including the capital Beijing, have reported at least 28 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the past three days. The northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has reported 10 cases — the largest so far in the current wave — along with the provinces of Gansu, Guizhou, Yunnan, and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Coronavirus: Chinese residents start receiving vaccine boosters (October 21, 2021, South China Morning Post)
A number of Chinese provinces and cities have started giving Covid-19 vaccine boosters to people who received their first two shots at least six months ago. The roll-out comes after close to 80 per cent of the population has been vaccinated, and as more data shows waning immunity from the inactivated vaccines that are the most commonly used type in China.

Science / Technology

China successfully tested hypersonic weapon in August: report (October 18, 2021, Space)
In August, China launched a Long March rocket topped with a hypersonic glide vehicle, which ended up missing its target by just 24 miles (39 kilometers) or so, The Financial Times reported on Sunday (Oct. 17). […] China has denied the report, claiming that the August mission was nothing to be concerned about. 

China says moon rocks offer new clues to volcanic activity (October 19, 2021, ABC News)
Moon rocks brought back to Earth by a Chinese robotic spacecraft last year have provided new insights into ancient lunar volcanic activity, a researcher said Tuesday. Li Xianhua said an analysis of the samples revealed new information about the moon’s chemical composition and the way heat affected its development.

At least 13 phone firms hit by suspected Chinese hackers since 2019, say experts (October 19, 2021, The Guardian)
The roaming hackers – known as LightBasin – were able to “search and find” individual mobile phones and “target accordingly”, according to CrowdStrike, a group regularly cited by western intelligence. Hackers were also able to obtain personal subscriber information held by phone companies and metadata showing who made and received calls.

History / Culture

Video: Engaging China: 50 Years of Sino-American Relations (October 7, 2021, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
On September 29, 2021 the National Committee held a virtual program with several contributors to and the editor of the volume, Mary Brown Bullock, David M. Lampton, and Anne F. Thurston, and they discussed 50 years of Sino-U.S. relations with moderator Tashi Rabgey.

Video: Hong Kong in 1953 (Everyday in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

Take These 6 Routes along the Grand Canal This Fall! (October 15, 2021, The Beijinger)
The Grand Canal, which snakes through the heart of Beijing, has witnessed the city change across the centuries, making it a true cultural landmark. To honor this waterway, the city has designed routes that stretch across 7 districts for people who want to stroll alongside the canal this fall.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Weather, protest cloud Beijing flame-lighting rehearsal (October 17, 2021, AP)
Earlier Sunday, two activists attempted to hang a banner from the scaffolding on the Acropolis before being detained. Human rights activists had also staged protests during the flame-lighting ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, and disrupted the international torch relay.

Language / Language Learning

Choice Chengyu: Idioms Don’t Only Come in Fours (October 17, 2021, The World of Chinese)
Here TWOC introduces some more chengyu that are not the standard four characters in length.

The building blocks of Chinese, part 4: Learning and remembering compound characters (October 19, 2021, Hacking Chinese)
Ignoring actual character composition is extremely bad for long-term learning. The reason is that if you think of 因in terms of 囗 and 大, you have identified the correct components. These appear in dozens of other characters you will encounter in the near future. If you think of the character as a unit (a gift or a tent), you will not be able to use this for learning any other character.

Pray for China

October 24 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Oct. 24, 1928, Yang Xinfei (杨心斐姊妹) was born into a Christian family in Xiamen, Fujian. She became a Christ-follower in 1943 at age 15 and regularly shared her faith with others. However, she was also a very talented musician, graduating with honors from conservatories in Fuzhou and Shanghai. Yang wrestled with the Lord about whether to pursue music and marriage or answer a call to full-time ministry; at age 26 she resigned a teaching position and returned to Xiamen to be a full-time worker. Yang Xinfei was arrested in 1958 after refusing to join the Three-Self Church and spent the next 15 years in prison and labor camp. In spite of severe torture, she never denied her faith and drew great strength and spiritual nourishment from her pocket Bible that the Lord had protected thoughout this entire period. In 1974 Yang returned to Xiamen, where her home became a haven for house church Christians and seekers from nearby universities, as well as a training site; in the 1990s, in cooperation with the Overseas Christian Mission, she systematically trained hundreds of workers there. Even as her health failed severely in later years, she used all her energy to motivate God’s children—speaking at China Gospel Conferences in Chicago and Hong Kong—before she met her Lord on July 23, 2011. Pray for Chrisitans in Fujian to draw strength from God’s promise that “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

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