ZGBriefs

ZGBriefs | October 22, 2020

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Featured Article

Everlasting Splendor  (October 17, 2020, The World of Chinese)
This year, the palace is celebrating its 600th birthday with a new exhibition “Everlasting Splendor: Six Centuries at the Forbidden City,” which runs from September 10 to November 15. Displays, arranged into 18 time periods, and thematically by seasons, portray important events in the palace’s history from its construction in 1420 to the end of imperial rule in 1911, with artifacts illuminating how some of the 24 emperors who lived in the palace influenced its architecture, decoration, and culture.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

A New Normal for U.S. China Policy? A ChinaFile Conversation  (October 16, 2020, China File)
Even if a new government steps in, however, it’s not altogether clear the U.S. could or would regain its footing on the international stage. The vacuum left by a diminished Washington is being filled by Beijing. Where does that leave ordinary Chinese and American citizens? Is there any way for these channels of communication to be salvaged? And, if not, what will be lost in the coming years? 

China ambassador makes veiled threat to Hong Kong-based Canadians  (October 16, 2020, The Guardian)
Beijing’s ambassador warns Ottawa not to give asylum to Hong Kong ‘criminals’ amid diplomatic spat over crackdown in territory and Huawei case.

China warns U.S. it may detain Americans over prosecutions: WSJ  (October 17, 2020, Reuters)
The newspaper, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, said Chinese officials had issued repeated warnings through multiple channels to U.S. government officials. The paper said China’s message was the United States should end prosecutions of Chinese scholars in U.S. courts, or Americans in China could find themselves in violation of Chinese law.

China denies report it may detain Americans, says U.S. mistreats its scholars  (October 19, 2020, Reuters)
China denied on Monday that foreign nationals are under threat of arbitrary detention, following a newspaper report that Beijing had warned Washington it might arrest Americans in China. The Chinese foreign ministry said it was Washington that was mistreating foreign citizens, accusing the United States of “outright political repression” of Chinese academics.

Inside Out: China’s Forgotten Domestic Politics  (October 20, 2020, The China Story)
Regardless of their longstanding complaints that foreign journalists only ever see the negative side of things, Xi Jinping and his colleagues may soon realise that the lack of physical interaction between China and the rest of the world — precipitated by COVID-19 and now compounded by these expulsions — will result in a dearth of good quality information about what is actually happening in China.

Thousands Held in Inner Mongolia As Crackdown on Language Protesters Continues  (October 20, 2020, Radio Free Asia)
Chinese authorities in the northern region of Inner Mongolia have detained at least 8,000 ethnic Mongolians amid region-wide resistance to plans to phase out the use of the Mongolian language in schools.

In China, the Formidable Prosecutor Turned Lonely Rights Defender  (October 20, 2020, The New York Times)
After sheltering a prominent dissident, Yang Bin, a former prosecutor, is now under the scrutiny of the police. But she has no regrets.

India returns detained Chinese soldier: China  (October 20, 2020, AFP, via Yahoo! News)
Corporal Wang Ya Long was handed over early Wednesday, the Chinese military said in a statement. New Delhi on Monday said it had detained Wang after he crossed into Indian-controlled territory in the harsh mountainous area of Ladakh. China said Wang had got “lost after being asked by herders to search for yaks”.

China’s influence operations offer a glimpse into the future of information warfare  (October 21, 2020, NBC News)
China’s information operations historically have focused more on elevating China’s global standing than on attacking the U.S. and the West. As trade relationships increase around the globe, China does not want to appear as a rogue operator, experts said. It wants to make sure its global counterparts recognize its geopolitical strength.

China overhauls military education, modernising troops to be ready to fight (October 21, 2020, South China Morning Post)
While details have not been released, the guideline demands a holistic approach, combining academic studies, military and vocational training, to prepare future servicemen and women, according to a Xinhua report.

Pompeo says designating six China-based media firms as foreign missions  (October 21, 2020, Reuters)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the State Department was designating the U.S. operations of six China-based media companies as foreign missions. […]  The State Department named the newly designated publications as the Yicai Global, Jiefang Daily, the Xinmin Evening News, Social Sciences in China Press, the Beijing Review, and the Economic Daily.

Religion

Slide Show: Churches and Mosques in China  (October 15, 2020, Hidden Harmonies Blog)

Beijing bans personal pilgrimages to Mecca for Chinese Muslims  (October 15, 2020, South China Morning Post)
In rules issued on Monday for the Muslim pilgrimage, known as the haj, the State Administration for Religious Affairs said all such trips to Saudi Arabia must be arranged by the Islamic Association of China, an organisation controlled by the party’s international outreach arm, the United Front Work Department.

Chinese Protestant house church pastor ‘faces decade in prison’ on fraud charges  (October 17, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Hao Zhiwei, a former minister at a Protestant church in Ezhou in central Hubei province, was arrested in July last year and charged four months later, according to an indictment issued by the city prosecutors in December.

Why China might have had the largest unknown modern Calvinist revival movement in recent history (October 19, 2020, Mercatornet)
While the new Calvinists in the West began their resurgence, a massive transformation was also underway in China as house churches began embracing Calvinism in an intellectual wave of revival that was completely organic and led by locals, independent of Western influence. The one person to thank for that is the incredibly influential Chinese-Indonesian evangelist Stephen Tong (唐崇荣).

Sometimes a Textbook Is Just a Textbook  (October 19, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Sometimes it seems that, here in the West, we are so wound up about the supposed new translation that it becomes the lens through which we see what otherwise are relatively minor events in China.

A Bell That Was Not Silenced  (October 20, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
The city of Qingdao made news this past week as a small outbreak of the coronavirus was discovered. Perhaps better known for its colonial past, the city includes several historic churches that were built in the early 20th century. China Christian Daily recently reported on one church and its historic bell that has survived over the decades.

Vatican number two says deal with China on appointment of bishops will be renewed  (October 21, 2020, Reuters)
The accord with Beijing gives the pope final say over the appointment of Chinese bishops and the government allows all of them, including those hailing from a state-backed Church, to recognise the pope’s authority.

Lockdown Is Over, but Life Is Still Not Normal  (October 21, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
To find out if what I’ve heard about the emotional impact of the virus is correct, I talked with a couple of Chinese counselors. As always the conversations were interesting and enlightening as to the specific needs of the people of China; reminding me of a phrase Thai hawkers use “same, same—but different.”

Society / Life

China Tells ‘Porcelain-Bumping’ Con Artists to Knock It Off  (October 15, 2020, Sixth Tone)
A new guideline aims to curb a common scam by which fraudsters pretend to be injured in order to extort money from nearby victims.

Baby It’s Cold….in Here? Understanding China’s Central Heating System Divide  (October 20, 2020, The Beijinger Blog)
Northern Chinese cities operate with a centrally controlled public heating system, with most cities cranking up the heat in mid-November, though the time frame can be adjusted due to an early winter or late spring, while many southern provinces are left with no heat at all. Are you curious as to how this system came to be?

WeChat ban a catch-22 for Chinese Australians  (October 21, 2020, East Asia Forum)
do members of the Chinese diaspora choose to self-censor when they have many other options available? The answer may lie in platform affordances available in WeChat as well as techno-material features of the app that produce ‘habits’, engender ‘necessity’ and provide users with a sense of ‘vitality’.

10 Jaw-Dropping Chinese Architectural Projects that Won 2020 Architizer A+Awards  (October 21, 2020, Radii China)
Despite some high-profile missteps (hello pants tower), the country continues to be a real architects’ playground for both international and domestic firms, producing some genuinely spectacular landmarks.

This new bookstore in China looks like a modern cathedral  (October 21, 2020, Matador Network)
Designed by Shanghai architecture firm X+Living, the store has a cathedral-like structure, with mirrored ceilings and black tile floors reflecting the majestic design elements and seemingly stretching them upwards to an immense size. 

Economics / Trade / Business

Belt and Road Initiative: Chinese workers leave Africa as lending slows  (October 17, 2020, South China Morning Post)
In the past decade, Africa has been a key destination for Chinese workers, following mega projects that Beijing has funded as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.  But in the past few years, thousands of Chinese workers have left Africa as Beijing goes slow in its lending or construction boom slows, a new analysis shows.

China gives Shenzhen more autonomy for market reform, integration  (October 18, 2020, Reuters)
China on Sunday detailed steps to grant more autonomy to Shenzhen, letting the southern financial and technology hub pilot reforms in market development and economic integration. The changes announced by the National Development and Reform Commission include more flexibility to pursue reforms in areas such as land use and cross-border arbitration.

China passes export-control law following US moves  (October 18, 2020, Fox Business)
The new Chinese law, passed on Saturday by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the country’s top legislative body, will take effect on Dec. 1, Xinhua said. Controlled items include military and nuclear products, as well as other goods, technologies and services and relevant data, according to a statement on the National People’s Congress website.

China’s Economy Bounces Back As Pandemic Is Brought Under Control  (October 19, 2020, NPR)
China posted 4.9% economic growth in its third quarter compared to the same period last year, keeping it on track to be the only major global economy to record an economic expansion this year in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Rare Protest in Beijing puts the spotlight on an industry in trouble  (October 21, 2020, Inkstone News)
In a rare public display of anger, hundreds of Chinese parents demonstrated in Beijing on Monday to demand a refund from a private tutoring company they feared would soon go out of business.

China urges Sweden to reverse its Huawei, ZTE ban to avoid harming its companies  (October 21, 2020, Reuters)
Sweden should reverse its ban on Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei from a planned 5G spectrum auction to avoid a “negative impact” on its own companies, said China’s foreign ministry. “China expresses strong dissatisfaction with Sweden,” said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

Cat and mouse on the high seas: on the trail of China’s vast squid fleet  (October 21, 2020, The Guardian)
Huge foreign fleets gather 400 miles off South America’s Pacific coast attracted by giant squid. Peru’s coastguard must defend its territorial waters amid rising tension.

Education

Student’s Suicide Note Raises Concerns About Academic Pressure, Mental Health  (October 15, 2020, Sixth Tone)
n his final social media post, a master’s student at Dalian University of Technology vented frustration over his research project and lack of support from supervisors.

Add, Subtract, Sprint: China Makes Gym Equal to Math, Language  (October 16, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Physical education will soon carry the same weight on the national high school entrance exam as Chinese language, mathematics, and English, with fitness class’s weighting to be increased gradually each year until it is on par with the other subjects, China’s education ministry announced Friday.

Fear in the Classroom: How Hong Kong’s National Security Law Suppresses Academic and Intellectual Freedom  (October 21, 2020, Made in China Journal)
The co-occurrence of the NSL and online teaching during the pandemic prompts educators to drastically reexamine and adapt their pedagogical practices to protect the safety and privacy of students and instructors. At the same time, it poses complex questions about risk assessment, educational values, and local and transnational pedagogy…

Health / Environment

China and Covid-19: what went wrong in Wuhan?  (October 17, 2020, Financial Times)
The first days and weeks of the pandemic were crucial. So why was no action taken? Through a six-month investigation in the city, the FT has uncovered the answers.

Hundreds queue in Yiwu, China for experimental Covid-19 vaccine  (October 17, 2020, BBC)
A city in eastern China has started offering a coronavirus vaccine to the general public – although it has not yet completed clinical trials. Hundreds of people have been queuing outside a hospital in Yiwu, where nurses are administering the injections for a fee of around $60 (£45).

China Passes Biosecurity Law to Prevent Infectious Diseases  (October 18, 2020, US News and World Report)
The law would establish systems for biosecurity risk prevention and control, including risk monitoring and early warning, risk investigation and assessment, and information sharing. It would also have provisions to prevent and respond to specific biosecurity risks, including major emerging infectious diseases, epidemic and sudden outbreaks, and biotechnology research, development and application, reported Xinhua.

China Defends Use of Experimental Coronavirus Treatment  (October 20, 2020, Bloomberg)
As the coronavirus vaccine race continues, China is having to defend its decision to give an experimental treatment to hundreds of thousands of people, including health workers.

China says environment still grim despite 5 years of progress  (October 21, 2020, CNN)
There was still a long way to go, said Zhao Yingmin, the vice-minister of ecology and environment, even though China had met a series of targets on smog, water quality and carbon emissions over the five years from 2016.

How Did China Beat Its Covid Crisis?  (November 5 issue, 2020, The New York Review of Books)
China’s bureaucracy controlled the pandemic. But some Chinese see flaws in the authoritarian state.

History / Culture

Five Things You Should Never Give as a Gift in China  (October 19, 2020, The Beijinger Blog)
In order to make your life easier, and preserve the special relationships you already have, we’ve rounded up a list of five everyday items you should never give as a gift in China.

Travel / Food

Has Panda Express Really Opened a Restaurant in China?  (October 19, 2020, Radii China)
In the few days after its opening, what appeared to be Panda Express’ debut restaurant in China won a host of attention on social media, a shout out from the country’s national TV network, and some not-terrible reviews. Yet today, a Panda Express executive disowned the restaurant, calling it “a fake” and a “fraud.”

A Look Inside Ningxia – China’s Wine Capital  (October 21, 2020, Wild China Blog)
Today, modern winemaking has established a strong foothold in the arid, central-northern autonomous region of Ningxia, nicknamed ‘China’s Napa Valley.’ The eastern foothills of the Helan Mountains offer the most suitable climate and growing environment for wine cultivation, with protection against harsh winds from the Tengger Desert and ample irrigation from the Yellow River. 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Winter Olympics: threat of boycotts clouds China’s ‘joyful rendezvous’ in the snow  (October 18, 2020, The Guardian)
Beijing is working overtime for another 2008-style showcase in 2022, but world is very different place this time around and the diplomatic gloves are off.

Language / Language Learning

7 mistakes I made when writing Chinese characters and what I learnt from them  (October 14, 2020, Hidden Harmonies Blog)
One of the interesting, and sometimes frustrating, things about learning Chinese characters is that there’s always more to learn. While it’s true that there are always things to learn about writing any language, I’m not talking about finer details of composition and style here, I’m talking about the basic units needed to write words.

Brilliant or Disastrous? When Foreign Names Get Chinese Translations  (October 19, 2020, The Beijinger Blog)
But what if you want to stick to your roots, truly representing the essence of your character and your cultural legacy?

Video: How to Remember all of China’s Provinces 如何记住中国的所有省份  (October 21, 2020, carlgene.com)

Living Cross-culturally

Lockdown Life  (October 16, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Our Chinese city with a population of millions has experienced less than one hundred infections and only a handful of deaths, and yet for the better part of two months we were forcibly reduced to a ghost town. 

Links for Researchers

Sinology and the rise of China today  (October 15, 2020, East Asia Forum)
China is now studied in several different ways: as an ancient civilisation rising again after a spectacular fall, as a rising power that is challenging Western dominance and as an exceptional kind of modernising nation-state ambitious to regain the respect it once enjoyed. These perspectives reflect the pluralism that followed when China studies became increasingly globalised.

Video: Researching Chinese Christianity in the 2020s (October 20, 2020, New College, The University of Edinburgh)
Panel discussion with Dr Mark McLeister (University of Edinburgh), Professor Chloë F. Starr (Yale Divinity School), and Dr Kevin Xiyi Yao (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), and moderated by Dr Alexander Chow (University of Edinburgh).

Pray for China

October 26 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
In 1869, a team of three China Inland Mission missionaries moved to Anqing and became the first Protestant missionaries to live in Anhui. James Meadows (宓道生) and his first wife Martha were the first missionaries sent to China by Hudson Taylor, arriving in 1862. In Oct. 1869, he married his second wife Elizabeth Rose and together with James Williamson (卫养生), they became the first Protestant missionaries to take up residence in Anhui. Meadows and Williamson served in China for 52 and 24 years, respectively. A famous quote from Meadows states, “I have just got up from my knees. I have been weeping at the feet of Jesus because I cannot learn the dialect quick enough. Tens of thousands of souls are perishing all around me, and I cannot tell them about the Saviour.” Pray for missionaries studying foreign languages to persevere and not be discouraged. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

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