ZGBriefs | October 24, 2019

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Featured Article

China’s religion problem: Why the Chinese Communist Party views religious belief as a threat  (October 17, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
The CCP’s efforts to subvert religion and force believers to adopt versions of their faiths that narrowly equate them with Chinese patriotism have clearly failed to achieve their objective. However, the Party is an authoritarian organisation, and its leaders have seldom demonstrated an ability to change course when policies fail.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China detains 2 US citizens who ran teaching program  (October 17, 2019, ABC News)
China said Thursday it detained two U.S. citizens on suspicion of organizing others to illegally cross the border, amid sharpening tensions between the sides over trade, technology and other sensitive issues. Police in the eastern province of Jiangsu arrested Alyssa Petersen and Jacob Harlan on Sept. 27 and Sept. 29, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

A Million People Are Jailed at China's Gulags. I Managed to Escape. Here's What Really Goes on Inside (October 17, 2019, Haaretz)
Few prisoners have succeeded in getting out of the camps and telling their story. Sauytbay’s testimony is even more extraordinary, because during her incarceration she was compelled to be a teacher in the camp. 

Two More Foreign NGOs De-Register Their China Representative Offices (October 18, 2019, China File)
Only two foreign NGOs de-registered their representative offices during the first two years of the Foreign NGO Law’s implementation. But in the first eight months of 2019, seven foreign NGOs closed their representative offices.

Low-key ceremony as Zhao Ziyang, who opposed Tiananmen crackdown, finally laid to rest  (October 18, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The interment of ashes of the former general secretary of the Communist Party and his wife, Liang Boqi, took place a day after the 100th anniversary of Zhao’s birth. There was no official commemoration of the anniversary.

Ambassador Defends New Requirement That China's Diplomats Report Meetings In U.S.  (October 21, 2019, NPR)
Speaking in Beijing, U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad, a former governor of Iowa, told NPR that the reporting requirements were "modest" compared to how China demands all foreign diplomats ask for the Chinese government's permission before traveling or meeting with local officials and universities in an official capacity.

China Sharpens Hacking to Hound Its Minorities, Far and Wide  (October 22, 2019, The New York Times)
The primary targets for these more sophisticated attacks: China’s ethnic minorities and their diaspora in other countries, the researchers said. In several instances, hackers targeted the cellphones of a minority known as Uighurs, whose home region, Xinjiang, has been the site of a vast build-out of surveillance tech in recent years.

Cold War 2.0  (October 22, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
What are the implications of a strong and assertive China for both the developed and developing worlds?

Hong Kong formally scraps extradition bill that sparked protests  (October 23, 2019, BBC)
Hong Kong's legislature has formally withdrawn a controversial extradition bill that has sparked months of unrest. The bill - which would have allowed for criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China - prompted outrage when it was introduced in April.

Murder suspect whose alleged crime sparked Hong Kong protests walks free  (October 23, 2019, CNN)
But as the global consequences of almost four months of unprecedented unrest continue to be felt, the story that started it all has slipped from the headlines. On Wednesday, one of the central players in that story walked free from a Hong Kong prison on minor charges, after authorities say he confessed to killing his girlfriend but, so far, avoided prosecution for it.

China dismisses reports of replacing Hong Kong leader as 'political rumor'  (October 23, 2019, CNN)
The report, first published by the Financial Times on Wednesday, follows more than four months of increasingly violent anti-government, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, sparked by a controversial extradition bill that Lam's government tried to introduce in June. Speaking at her daily briefing Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the reports were a "political rumor (being spread with) ulterior motives."


Megachurch demolished, pastors detained  (October 19, 2019, China Aid)
Authorities destroyed a church in China and detained its pastors over the weekend. No legal papers ordering the church’s demolition were provided, but the officials tore it down on Friday. It could seat more than 3,000 people and was part of the country’s officially-recognized church network.

A Prayer Over Hong Kong  (October 22, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
In such divisive times, the churches in Hong Kong have faced questions about their social, political, and moral responsibilities from within and without, and from these questions have come pressures from all sides. 

A Personal Reflection on Cell-Group Church  (October 22, 2019, China Christian Daily)
Over the years church cell groups have been unusually prevalent, springing up. My Church also has small groups and I am a member of one. I initially didn't understand the idea of small groups. Even after I participated in a group for a while as my church was also promoting it, I was still new to the matter. However, after several years of group life, I think it's time to reflect on the cell-group idea.

True Luxury  (October 22, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
This article from Territory describes how many Chinese today are obsessed with gratifying themselves through lives of luxury. At root, says the author, is a desire for identity and recognition that can only truly be found in the gospel.

Gospel Impact in East Africa  (October 23, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
It is time for African Christians to take the next step in cross-cultural disciple-making and engage the Chinese in their midst. Fred and Faith and their colleagues have shown the way. May many others join them as well as develop new creative ventures for the sake of the gospel.

China tightens regulating on commercializing religions  (October 23, 2019, Xinhua)
China has vowed to tighten regulating the commercialization of Buddhism and Taoism for their healthy development. A meeting on implementing stricter regulations against the commercialization of Buddhism and Taoism was held on Monday and Tuesday in east China's Anhui Province.

Society / Life

The Single Mothers Left Out of Maternity Leave  (October 17, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Zou Xiaoqi was refused maternity allowance because she wasn’t married. Now she’s suing the state.

Hong Kong's 'Indigenous' Villages Mirror Tensions Of An Increasingly Divided City  (October 17, 2019, NPR)
Caught between an encroaching, urbanizing Hong Kong and a rising China, the indigenous villages have chosen to ally with the latter. That has pitted them against the thousands of protesters who have taken to Hong Kong's streets for more than four months, demanding democratic reforms and the end to a now-terminated extradition bill with mainland China.

Motorized Menace  (October 19, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Walking down the street in any Chinese city, it’s hard to ignore the swarm of two-wheeled electric vehicles weaving around cars and pedestrians—and deadly to do so: E-bikes have caused more than 56,000 traffic accidents nationwide from 2013 to 2017, resulting in 8,000 deaths and 63,000 injuries, the government reports .

Society is suffering': Hong Kong protests spark mental health crisis  (October 21, 2019, The Guardian)
Nine suicides have been linked to the wave of unrest as young people grow frustrated and exhausted by the intense, months-long standoff.

Protests In Hong Kong Have Mobilized Residents From All Walks Of Life  (October 21, 2019, NPR)
Protesters in Hong Kong are being helped my many of the city's residents working as medics, those trying to prevent clashes between the police and protesters, and others documenting police violence.

Hesitant hitmen jailed over botched assassination in China  (October 22, 2019, BBC)
A group of hitmen have been jailed after repeatedly trying to subcontract a job to each other in Guangxi, China. […]  But the hitman hired another man to do the job, offering $141,000. That man hired another hitman, who hired another hitman, who hired another hitman. The plan crumbled when the final hitman met the man, named only as Wei, in a cafe and proposed faking his death.

Economics / Trade / Business

The Future of Huawei in Europe: A ChinaFile Conversation  (October 18, 2019, China File)
What does this risk assessment mean for Europe? What impact do the relations of individual member states with China and the United States have on their positions on 5G? And should European countries restrict Huawei from their 5G networks?

China economy: Third quarter growth misses expectations  (October 18, 2019, BBC)
In the three months to September, the economy expanded 6% from a year earlier, official figures showed. The result fell just short of expectations for 6.1% growth for the period.

That Western Vibe: When Staying in China Makes Sense  (October 19, 2019, China Law Blog)
As we have mentioned in prior posts, our clients that moved quickly to diversify away from China have generally fared better than those that did not. However, there are reasons to stay in China and even to engage anew with China, and every company should take a dispassionate appraisal of their China plan regularly and modify as necessary. Your China cost-benefit analysis is not an anyone else’s.

How to Avoid China Prisons: Know YOUR China Risks  (October 20, 2019,  China Law Blog)
Living and working and doing business in China is way more legally complicated than ten years ago and tolerance of foreigners in China (particularly for Americans, Canadians and British) is down. This means that the likelihood of you going astray of Chinese law is considerably higher as well. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook joins influential Beijing university board as company’s China woes continue  (October 21, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been appointed chairman of the advisory board at Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing, a role that could provide access to top Chinese leaders at a time the iPhone manufacturer is facing mounting challenges in the world’s second largest economy.

Hong Kong for International Business: Stick a Fork in It, Part 2  (October 22, 2019, China Law Blog)
We are hearing all that we have predicted, but one thing we did not quite predict is the growing animosity between Hong Kong and the Mainland. Three months ago, we were not sure what efforts the PRC would make to “preserve” Hong Kong, and it is now looking like the answer is very little.

China has more 'unicorn' start-ups than the US  (October 22, 2019, BBC)
China has the world's largest number of "unicorns," privately-held start-up firms valued at more than $1bn (£771m), according to a new report. The country has produced 206 unicorns while the US has 203, the China-based Hurun Institute reported.  Together the two countries are home to more than 80% of the world's unicorns.

Kenya opens new China-funded rail line  (October 22, 2019, Inkstone News)
The second section of a China-funded railway connecting Kenya’s capital Nairobi to Naivasha, a town in the Central Rift Valley, opened on October 16, 2019. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, while on board the train's maiden journey, used the trip as an opportunity to reject criticism that the infrastructure project is a white elephant. 

The gradual internationalisation of the RMB  (October 23, 2019, East Asia Forum)
While the RMB ranked 5th as an international payments currency in June 2019, its share of global transactions was less than 2 per cent. In contrast, the share of transactions in USD was 40 per cent and the Euro held 34 per cent.

Shenzhen, Beijing lose out to Chengdu as China’s best performing city economy, says report  (October 23, 2019, South China Morning Post)
As the provincial capital of Sichuan province, Chengdu – along with Chongqing – is one of the twin growth engines in China’s western region, having cemented its place as a manufacturing hub specialising in defence-related production.


More Chinese are home schooling their kids  (October 17, 2019, The Economist)
In the West home schooling, once regarded as eccentric, has become more popular in recent decades. In China officials are wary. They say schools play a vital role in turning children into “builders of socialism”. But growing numbers of Chinese parents are rebelling.

Did You Do Your Homework?  (October 21, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
But, amidst all the required teacher feedback and correction, there have been thought-provoking surprises; those reminders that there’s always so much more going on than pronunciation or grammar.

Shenzhen Offers Generous Pay Packages to Attract Teachers  (October 23, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The city’s recruitment drive to lure bright minds included salaries nearly three times higher than the national average for public schoolteachers.

Health / Environment

Henan Hospital Probed Over ‘Mythical Cure’ for Cerebral Palsy  (October 22, 2019, Sixth Tone)
An online article accused the medical institution of using unproven treatments, as well as misleading patients and their families.

Science / Technology

China: How science made a superpower  (October 1, 2019, Nature)
Shellen Wu traces the rise of the dominant force in science, in the second of a series of essays on the ways in which the past 150 years have shaped today’s research system, marking Nature’s anniversary.

With 5G in Sight, Chinese Government Moves to Phase Out 2G, 3G  (October 23, 2019, Sixth Tone)
China’s telecom providers should start shifting customers off 2G and 3G networks, an official with China’s powerful Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said Tuesday. The instructions come as the country looks to free up valuable telecom frequencies ahead of a commercial 5G rollout later this year.

Here's What China's Yutu 2 Rover Found on the Far Side of the Moon (Photos)  (October 23, 2019, Space.com)
While gaining the attention of the Yutu 2 team, the material does not appear altogether mysterious, as claimed by Chinese media. Clive Neal, a lunar scientist at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, told Space.com that the new image reinforces the previous suggestion that the material is broadly similar in nature to a sample of impact glass found during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. 

History / Culture

Uyghur culture in crisis  (September 23, 2019, Stephen Jones)
I used to think that such demonstrations of state power were tangential to folk life, but in the current plight of the Uyghurs, with the whole culture—architecture, religious life, clothing, hair styles, food, language—being purged, little else may remain.

Travel / Food

A Brief History of “Chop Suey”  (October 18, 2019, Radii China)
Long story short, the dish is of Chinese origin — likely from Taishan region in Guangdong province, from where most of the Chinese immigrants to the U.S. hailed during the century following the California Gold Rush, when they were hired to work on the First Transcontinental Railroad.

From Chop Suey to Fine Dining  (October 18, 2019, Foreign Policy)
Wealthy Chinese are pushing to overturn their national cuisine’s image as fast and cheap.

The Wineries Transforming the Tourism Landscape of Dusty Ningxia  (October 20, 2019, Wild China Blog)
Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region is one of the country’s most promising wine regions. It’s mostly dry and desert-like, economically underdeveloped, and known for its coal production. But the wineries opened up by entrepreneurs in recent years are not only changing the region’s economic image, but also its image as a tourist destination.

Datong, in Shanxi Province, is the perfect weekend escape from Beijing  (October 21, 2019, Matador Network)
Datong is the ideal spot for a quick escape and a great opportunity to get to know China’s Shanxi Province.

YouTuber goes on 14-hour spicy Sichuan food tour in Chengdu  (October 22, 2019, Shanghaiist)
Travel blogger Mark Wiens, who makes his living by eating his way around the world, recently shared a video of one very long day in Chengdu filled with chili oil, peppercorns, and more chili oil.

Guizhou makes Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2020 list  (October 23, 2019, China Daily)
In recent years, with the rapid development of Guizhou's tourism industry, its mountainous landscapes and rich ethnic culture have made the province a hot destination for tourists from all over the world.

China extends 144-hr visa-free transit to more cities  (October 23, 2019, Xinhua)
The number of Chinese border ports that allow eligible international travelers to transit within 144 hours without a visa will increase to 27 from Dec. 1, said the National Immigration Administration (NIA) Wednesday. The newly added border ports to the list are Chongqing Municipality in southwest China, Xi'an, capital of northwest Shaanxi Province, and Ningbo in east China's Zhejiang Province, the NIA said in a press release.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Chinese state TV blacks out NBA season opener after threat of 'retribution'  (October 22, 2019, The Guardian)
CCTV customarily shows the first game of the NBA season, which started in North America on Tuesday night, the early hours of Wednesday in China. However, the season opener, between the reigning champion Toronto Raptors and the New Orleans Pelicans was blacked out. 

Shaquille O'Neal backs NBA executive over China dispute  (October 23, 2019, BBC)
Shaquille O'Neal has spoken out in support of a basketball executive's comments that sparked a row between the NBA and China. The basketball legend said Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey "was right" to tweet support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Language / Language Learning

Choice Chengyu: Operatic Expressions  (October 23, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Today, let’s introduce some idioms generated from Peking Opera to celebrate Master Mei’s birthday.


Being Legitimate  (October 18, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
What are we willing to say or do in order to not only gain entry into a country, but how do we establish a legitimate presence that not only allows us to stay, but also to carry out the work we are called to do? This is the topic of the short ebook, Legitimacy in Missions Matters: 5 Marks Towards Legitimacy, by Steve Schirmer, president of Silk Road Catalyst.

The Buddha Party: How the People's Republic of China Works to Define and Control Tibetan Buddhism (Oxford Scholarship Online)
The Buddha Party is an analysis of Chinese propaganda discourses that attempt to define Tibetan Buddhist belief and sway opinion within the country and abroad. Much of this is at odds with historical facts and is deliberately misleading, but it is widely believed by Han Chinese.

Links for Researchers

Jonathan Chao and “Return Mission”: The Case of the Calvinist Revival in China  (Mission Studies, via Brill Online)
This article proposes the alternative term “return mission” in which Christians from the diaspora return to evangelize the lands of their ancestral origins. It uses the case study of Jonathan Chao (Zhao Tian’en 趙天恩), a return missionary who traveled in and out of China from 1978 until near his death in 2004 and is considered an instrumental figure in the revival of Calvinism in China. This article suggests that “return mission” provides a new means to understand the subjects of mission and migration, and raises new challenges to questions about paternalism and independency.

Urbanization with Chinese characteristics: Domestic migration and urban growth in contemporary China  (October 22, 2019, American Enterprise Institute)
Beijing’s current official “urbanization drive” is attempting to bolster China’s flagging economic growth rates by accelerating the movement of peasants into the cities. But since most highly skilled labor from the countryside is already working in urban areas, the next wave of migrants may be less productive than authorities anticipate.

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... View Full Bio