ZGBriefs | October 26, 2017

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Featured Article

Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens (October 21, 2017, Wired)
But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. 

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Special Section: 19th Party Congress

Observations on The 19th Congress Report (October 24, 2017, China Media Project)
My overall assessment is that the political report to the 19th Party Congress is a document bearing the clear mark and brand of Xi Jinping, and that it amounts to a declaration of Xi’s intent to hold on to power for an extended period of time.

Xi Jinping Thought – the Communist Party’s tighter grip on China in 16 characters (October 25, 2017, South China Morning Post)
The Communist Party is set to strengthen its hold on all aspects of Chinese society with the inclusion of President Xi Jinping’s tongue-twisting, 16-character political philosophy in the party’s canon.

In Break with Precedent, No Heir Apparent for China's Xi Jinping (October 25, 2017, NPR)
Xi, as expected, received another five-year term. But normally at this stage in a Chinese president's tenure, a clear successor has taken the stage in the red-carpet ceremony at Beijing's Great Hall of the People. Instead, the six men standing with Xi are all in their 60s and considered too old to assume the top slot after their terms expire.

Who's who? Meet China's new leaders (October 25, 2017, BBC)
China's ruling Communist Party has unveiled its next generation of leaders. They are the seven men who now make up the Politburo Standing Committee, the country's top decision-making body. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have retained their seats for another five years, but the other five appointments are new.

China celebrates the Communist party's national congress – in pictures (October 25, 2017, The Guardian)

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

How China Is Making Moves To Be The Dominant Player In The Asian Pacific Region (October 24, 2017, NPR)
As President Trump prepares for his trip to the Asian Pacific region next week, Defense Secretary James Mattis is already in the Philippines. He's contending with a rising China that believes its time has come to be the region's dominant power.

Student leaders of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests released on bail (October 24, 2017, Christian Science Monitor)
Charged with inciting unlawful protests against the Chinese government, the activists' release comes amid uncertainty with what China's 'one country, two systems' approach means for freedom of speech within the city.

After 16 years of reporting in China, I'm still maddeningly ignorant about the Communist Party (October 25, 2017, Los Angeles Times)
I don’t mean to perpetuate old ideas of the unknowable Orient — tired tropes about the inscrutable Chinese. But it’s important to recognize that the Party, especially at the top, remains awfully opaque. For that reason, most of us have to settle for knowing what we don’t know.


3 Questions: A Look in the Mirror for Leaders (October 18, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Jordan Wei (pseudonym) is an experienced Christian worker in Asia who has spent more than 20 years developing leaders. He shares some recent insights from his own experience that have transformed his understanding of the leader development process.

See One, Do One, Teach One (October 20, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
In actuality, it sometimes takes seeing more than “one” and doing more than “one” before we can comfortably teach others. But there is a certain truth to the saying that applies to the development of mission-sending infrastructure in China.

Chinese Pastor Roundtable: Once You Taste It, You Cannot Return (October 24, 2017, China Partnership Blog)
When you have a focus on the gospel, its power itself is transforming. Whenever we hear the gospel, whenever you taste the sweetness of the real, true gospel – the resurrection, the cross, the ascension – you are looking for the eternal rest [that comes] after his return. Once you taste that, you cannot return. 

Chinese Christians Look Back, Part 2 (October 24, 2014, ChinaSource Blog)
Our first installment of “Chinese Christians Look Back” came from western China.  This week we talk with four Chinese Christians from two southeastern Chinese cities, one especially known for its Christian presence and the other a bustling metropolis.

China expert sees religious revival (October 24, 2017, Yale Daily News)
“What religion is for a lot of people in China is a way to recreate community,” he said. “People are moving to these big, anonymous cities, and they feel that they lack something. These religious communities, whether they’re Christian or Daoist or Buddhist, in some way help recreate structure.”

Society / Life

This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like (October 17, 2017, Buzzfeed)
Far from the booming metropolis of Beijing, China is building a sprawling system that combines dystopian technology and human policing. “It’s a kind of frontline laboratory for surveillance.”

Xi Jinping's War On Poverty Moves Millions Of Chinese Off The Farm (October 19, 2017, NPR)
Just months ago, 45-year-old transplant Qin Huamei lived in a mud home, where she had to fetch water each morning from the village well. Now it flows whenever she turns on the tap inside her two-bedroom apartment. "Life here is much better than my hometown, but now I need money to pay for my food," says Qin. "Before, we just ate what we grew."

A Look At How China's Anti-Corruption Campaign Has Affected Ordinary Citizens (October 24, 2017, NPR)
I'll give you two examples that will show the direct impact of corruption in China because corruption is related to shortage of supplies of certain services or goods. China's medical facilities are very crowded – the good ones. So if someone who gets sick wants to see a really good doctor at a good facility, then they have to pay a bribe.

“Support China’s New Era” Campaign Goes Viral on Chinese Social Media (October 25, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
On the day of the conclusion of the 19th National Congress in Beijing, Party newspaper People’s Daily launched a new hashtag. With #SupporttheNewEra, Chinese celebrities show that they stand behind Xi Jinping and his “new era” philosophy.

How Chinese Bridal Hazing Became an Excuse for Obscenity (October 25, 2017, Sixth Tone)
The videos triggered a broader social debate about the traditional Chinese custom of naohun, or wedding hazing. The practice refers to practical jokes played by members of the wedding party, with the aim of injecting a tone of revelry into the proceedings. In today’s China, the extreme activities depicted in the above videos are a common enough phenomenon.

Facing Challenges: China’s Post-90s Generation and Their Employment Market Conundrum (October 26, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
Often considered lazy or fickle, China’s post-90s generation has a bad reputation when it comes to the workplace in China. But there is more than meets the eye. Upon entering the job market, the so-called jiulinghou workers are facing challenges that leave them either job-hopping or dog-tired.

Economics / Trade / Business

In China’s Coal Capital, Xi Jinping’s Dream Remains Elusive (October 21, 2017, The New York Times)
To succeed, Mr. Xi’s China dream must take root in rural and rust-belt backwaters like Datong, where many of China’s almost 1.4 billion people still live. But to hear locals in this former capital of China’s coal industry tell it, the bustling scenes of construction mask a stark disconnect between Mr. Xi’s bright promises and their hardscrabble reality.

China says jobless rate lowest in years, but challenges persist (October 22, 2017, CNBC)
The ministry of human resources and social security said in a statement that 10.97 million new jobs had been created in China from January to September this year, a growth of 300,000 compared with the previous year.


China Announces Radical Overhaul of College Entrance Exam (October 20, 2017, Sixth Tone)
The overhaul of the exam, or gaokao, promises to be the most wide-ranging reform since college entrance exams resumed in 1977 after the Cultural Revolution. Policymakers aim to reduce the role of the gaokao in determining students’ future life chances, address barriers to exam enrollment among children of migrant workers, and ease the difficulties faced by rural students hoping to enroll in top universities, Chen said.

China’s Weirdest University Courses (October 20, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Losing weight, climbing trees, Harry Potter, and writing your final farewell…there's a university course for everything.

Kids’ Academic Pressure Crushes Parents, Says Viral Article (October 20, 2017, Sixth Tone)
A viral article on the burden of helping children with their homework has shed light on the academic pressure that Chinese families face, even as policymakers pledge to reduce student workloads in the nation.

Why these Chinese parents are home-schooling their children (October 22, 2017, South China Morning Post)
A report from the 21st Century Education Research Institute in June said the number of children educated at home grew from 2,000 in 2013 to 6,000 this year. Some 50,000 people are closely paying attention to home-schooling and are willing to have their children try it, according to the report.

Tsinghua Named World’s Best Engineering, Computer Science School (October 25, 2017, Sixth Tone)
While Tsinghua has previously held U.S. News’ top spot for engineering, this marks the first time the school has overtaken the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to be named the world’s best in computer science. Tsinghua was also ranked sixth in materials science and 10th in chemistry.

Chinese Kids Swarm to English Spelling Bees (October 25, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Spelling bees have grown increasingly popular among primary and middle school students in China since the first national contest — a cooperation between a Shanghai organization and the Scripps National Spelling Bee — was held in 2009.

Health / Environment

New H7N9 bird flu strain in China has pandemic potential: study (October 19, 2017, Reuters)
Lab experiments on a new strain of the H7N9 bird flu circulating in China suggest the virus can transmit easily among animals and can cause lethal disease, raising alarm that the virus has the potential to trigger a global human pandemic, researchers reported on Thursday.

Beijing Hospitals Team Up to Cope With Two-Child Baby Boom (October 24, 2017, Sixth Tone)
The bureau announced Monday that Beijing’s hospitals will share researchers and medical resources for a new center to cope with the shortage of pediatricians and improve the efficiency of treatment and services. More than 2,000 specialists will be trained at the center.

Science / Technology

How to use Wechat (or Weixin): The complete guide (October 20, 2017, Sapore di Cina)
For those who still are not familiar with, WeChat (微信, Weixin, which means “micro-letter” or “micro-message” in Chinese) is a social network: it’s sort of halfway between WhatsApp and Facebook, with the dual purpose of dividing content on your dashboard besides communication via chat.

China Is Creating a Database of Its Citizens' Voices to Boost its Surveillance Capability: Report (October 23, 2017, TIME)
The idea is that an automated system, thought to still be in development, will use the database to pick out individual voices in telephone and other conversations, boosting the government’s already expansive surveillance capabilities.

Chinese uni uses facial recognition to track absent students (October 25, 2017, BBC)
According to Beijing News, students in six classes at the Communications University of China in the eastern city of Nanjing are being told to stand in front of an interactive screen when they arrive for lectures. They have their photos taken, which are then matched against those in the university's database within a couple of seconds.

A smart city in China tracks every citizen and yours could too (October 24, 2017, New Scientiest)
For the past 12 months, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has been slurping up video feeds, social media data, traffic information and other data from Hangzhou city for its City Brain project. The stated goal was to improve life in Hangzhou by letting artificial intelligence process this data and use it to control aspects of urban life. It seems to have worked.

History / Culture

The Ayes Have It (October 21, 2017, China File)
On April 1, 1969, delegates to the Ninth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party convened in the Great Hall of the People on the western flank of Tiananmen Square. The hall had been constructed as one of the Ten Grand Edifices 十大建築 hastily constructed to celebrate the first decade of the People’s Republic of China in 1959. It was used for major meetings of the socialist party-state ever since.

In an Ever-Changing China, Some Things Haven’t Changed (October 25, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
While many of the specific ways of serving described in that issue may not be as relevant for foreigners in China today, the attitude and posture advocated by Huo Shui are as important now as they were two decades ago. Much has changed in China, but relationships are still central to the witness of foreigners who seek to have an effective presence.

Travel / Food

Train Hopping in Southern China: A Guide to Exploring Sichuan’s Sights by Rail (October 21, 2017, The Beijinger)
If you’re longing to experience the source of those Sichuan flavors in all their fiery glory, then it helps to become familiar with China’s most convenient mode of transportation: its railway. 

Direct Train Now Available From Beijing Railway Station to Beijing West Railway Station (October 25, 2017, The Beijinger)
Commuters will be able to get directly across town without any stops in between for the low cost of RMB 8 for a hard seat ticket.

Living Cross-culturally

How to ask GREAT Cross-Cultural Questions (October 20, 2017, The Culture Blend)
When it comes to understanding a different perspective there is NOTHING like the extraordinary power of questions. Not deep, scholastic, perfect questions — but simple ones that open up a whole new world.


Snapshots from Another World (October 23, 2017, ChinaSource Blog)
Evergreen Cards’ purpose is simply this: To bring hope—both economic and spiritual—to poor families from small villages in Yangqu County, Shanxi Province, China through teaching women from families in hard situations how to hand-cut beautiful greeting cards and bookmarks

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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