ZGBriefs | October 25, 2018

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Featured Article

Buddha-mania: Understanding China’s Buddha Building Boom  (October 23, 2018,  Sixth Tone)
Those familiar with the Communist Party’s official stance on atheism may find it perplexing that local governments across China would approve the construction of enormous religious idols. Yet while these statues may be aimed at the country’s religious believers, their real purpose is far more worldly: making money.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China, US defence chiefs agree to Asean rules on encounters between warplanes (October 20, 2018, South China Morning Post)
They encourage planes to establish communications with other aircraft, clearly identify themselves and avoid manoeuvres that could provoke a response.

Chinese foreign policy under Xi Jinping (October 21, 2018, East Asia Forum)
An analysis of Xi’s foreign policy discourse suggests that there may exist more continuity than often assumed between the strategies of Xi and his predecessors. This intersection between past and present is captured neatly in the foreign policy section of Xi’s Report: ‘Following a path of peaceful development and working to build a community of common destiny for humankind’.

Pentagon sends two US warships through Taiwan Strait, risking fury from Beijing as tensions remain high (October 22, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Monday’s passage is the second transit through the Taiwan Strait by US warships in less than four months after two destroyers, the USS Mustin and the USS Benfold, passed through the strait in July. 

No more singing and dancing? Xinjiang diffractions (October 22, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
We need to study Xinjiang from many perspectives, through many methods and from different academic fields to see as clearly as possible.

With an Influx of Blue Helmets and Cash, China’s Role in African Security Grows More Pervasive  (October 23, 2018, China File)
This rising role in security undergirds Beijing’s economic statecraft and commercial interests in Africa, helps professionalize China’s military and protect its citizens there, and furthers the country’s ambitions to be a major power with global influence.

The Xinjiang camps as a “Stanford Prison Experiment” (October 24, 2018, Asia Dialogue)
The Xinjiang camps represent a dramatic escalation of a longstanding Chinese policy to colonise and dominate Xinjiang, the “New Frontier” of the Qing Chinese empire inherited by the Communist government in the 1950s.

Xinjiang and the ‘Chinese Dream’ (October 24, 2018, East Asia Forum)
How are we to interpret the roll out of such a draconian assimilationist initiative when the region was already in the tight grip of the state? The answer lies in a confluence of factors.

A slow death for Hong Kong’s separate identity in China (October 24, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Philip Bowring says the city’s cherished freedoms and rule of law are under serious threat, amid pressure – now exacerbated by intense US-China confrontation – for it to integrate with the mainland and demonstrate loyalty to Beijing.

Japan and China, Asian Rivals, Are Trying to Get Along (October 24, 2018, The New York Times)
As Mr. Abe begins the first state visit to China by a Japanese leader in eight years on Thursday, no one is expecting the Asian powers to become instant partners, or even to manage a major reconciliation. 

How President Xi ensures his will is being enforced — at home and abroad (October 24, 2018, news.com.au)
President Xi’s Communist Party has extended its reach deep into suburban Australia, effectively silencing dissidents and ensuring Beijing’s international agendas are enforced.


My Heart Burns for Them -- An International Student’s Passion to Reach Others with the Gospel (October 22, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
I’m from Zimbabwe and currently studying mechanical engineering. I have been in China for three years. I’m one of the half million international students who have come to China.

Video: Vatican deal blurs the line for China's Catholics (October 22, 2018, Reuters)

Vatican–China relations are warming up, but at what cost? (October 23, 2018, East Asia Forum)
With the signing in September 2018 of a provisional agreement on the long-contested appointment of bishops in China, many are questioning what this development means for Catholicism in China and for the Vatican’s ties with Taiwan.

When Counting Is Hard … in China (1): Considerations (October 24, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
While increasingly the media reports that the church in China has been growing to over 100 million or even ten percent of China’s population (i.e. 140 million), Chinese church leaders tend to believe the number is much smaller and its growth is slower. 

Society / Life

Credit Score for Canines Keeps Dog Owners on a Short Leash (October 24, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The compulsory program gives every registered dog owner a license that starts with 12 points. As with drivers’ licenses, points are deducted for infractions, such as walking a dog without a leash or tag, not cleaning up poo, or being reported for a disturbance. Good deeds, like volunteering in kennels, are rewarded with extra points.

China to scrap population targets, health official says (October 24, 2018,South China Morning Post)
China will not set a population target in the future and will give people more freedom around childbirth, a health official said, in the next step of a gradual loosening of decades of tight population-control policies.

Economics / Trade / Business

China’s Dangerous Dollar Addiction (October 18, 2018, Foreign Policy)
China pays for raw materials in greenbacks, but Trump’s trade war could soon dwindle its dollar reserves.

China economy: Third quarter growth misses expectations at 6.5% (October 19, 2018, BBC)
Friday's growth figure was the slowest quarterly expansion since the first quarter of 2009 - the height of the global financial crisis. The result was also a drop from the 6.7% rate in the prior quarter, but remains in line with the government's full-year target of about 6.5%.

The Top Six Warning Signs of Impending China Employee Problems (October 21, 2018, China Law Blog)
We have done a ton of China employer audits this year and from those our China employment lawyers have compiled the following list of the top six “warning signs” of impending employment problems.


China’s Universities to Downgrade Degrees for Mediocre Students (October 18, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Universities’ longstanding leniency in granting bachelor’s degrees to underperforming students is coming to an end, a top education official told Changjiang Daily on Wednesday.

Is the Golden Age of Chinese Studying Abroad at an End? (October 18, 2018, The Diplomat)
Beijing’s relations with many of its Western partners are becoming increasingly fraught just as anti-immigrant rhetoric sweeps the developed world. China also seeks to create world-class education of its own, potentially stemming the need to export students. 

Chill and fear in Chinese classrooms as students are recruited to report teachers with ‘radical’ opinions (October 20, 2018, South China Morning Post)
Several educators have been punished as the battle over political ideology intensifies on mainland campuses.

Health / Environment

China's appetite for 'stinky' durian fruit threatening endangered tigers (October 23, 2018, The Guardian)
The habitat of one of the world’s most endangered tigers is under threat, according to environmental groups, as forests in Malaysia are cleared to meet growing demand for durians, the divisively pungent fruit hugely popular in China.

African swine fever hits Chinese pork industry in run-up to New Year (October 24, 2018, The Guardian)
Over the past three months, African swine fever has spread to 12 Chinese provinces, an area home to more than half the country’s pig population. The virus, passed through contaminated feed or exposure to infected animals, has a near-100% fatality rate and there is no vaccine.

Science / Technology

Google Wants China. Will Chinese Users Want Google? (October 19, 2018, Wired)
During Google’s absence, China’s internet population swelled by nearly 70 percent, to 772 million. One challenge for Google is that it knows relatively little about those consumers.

'Yawn cams' and heart monitors: five key facts about the world's longest sea bridge (October 22, 2018, The Guardian)
As well as being the longest bridge of its type, stretching 55km, the $20bn Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is also one of the world’s most unusual roadways, with cameras to detect yawning, drivers forced to wear heart monitors and access restricted to the political elite and charity donors.

World's longest sea bridge: Aerial shots over the Hong Kong-Zhuhai crossing (October 23, 2018, BBC)

Why Guizhou Is Counting on Big Data to Change Its Future (October 23, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Here in 2018, big data is a big deal in China, and nowhere is this truer than in Guizhou, a remote, impoverished province in southwestern China where the provincial government is trying to build a big data industry from scratch.

History / Culture

An Afternoon in Beijing, September 1978: A Prelude to ‘Not Yet Not Yet Complete’--An Interview with Ai Weiwei in Five Parts  (October 18, 2018, China Heritage)
For nearly a century, Communist regimes have employed damnatio memoriae, literally ‘condemnation of memory’, to deal with the ever changing terrain of history. Memory holes are opened up for the disposal of nettlesome individuals whose existence threatens to besmirch the public record. 

The meaning of colors in China (October 19, 2018, The World of Chinese)
In both tradition and everyday life in China, each color has specific sensations and messages associated with it, as happens in every culture; at times there are rather “literal” and universal meanings, other times they’re exclusive to the charming and “strange” (for us) Chinese culture.

The Greatest Sayings of Lu Xun (October 19, 2018, The World of Chinese)
Ten quotes from the 20th-century literary giant that tackle past—and present—Chinese society.

China History Podcast: The History Of The Jewish Refugees In China Part 1 (October 23, 2018, Teacup Media)
In this episode, after a long drawn out intro that examines a bit of background on Jewish history, Laszlo explains how many Jews made their way to China to escape hard times back home.

Travel / Food

Shenyang! (October 19, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
Today Shenyang, with a population of more than 8 million, is the largest city in what is known as Dongbei (东北)—the Northeast.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Top 10 Overview of China’s Most Popular TV Dramas of Fall 2018 (October 23, 2018, What’s on Weibo)
From beautiful costume series to suspenseful war-themed productions – these are the most popular TV dramas in China of this fall…

Living Cross-culturally

5 Apps to Help You Better Integrate in China (October 15, 2018, Chinese Pod)


A Book for Dads and Their Children (October 23, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
Up Most High—the Second Picture Book in the “Heavenly Father’s Darling” Series (Chinese-English version)

Image credit: Seated Buddha (China), by Jnzl’s Photos, 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... View Full Bio