ZGBriefs | October 29, 2020

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Featured Article

The Virginian Roots of Yunnan’s Tobacco Industry  (October 27, 2020, Sixth Tone)
In 1881, the world’s first cigarette rolling machine was patented in Virginia. [..]  As production increased, tobacco companies increasingly looked to expand into overseas markets, and the first machine-rolled cigarettes arrived in Shanghai in 1888. In 1904, the British American Tobacco Company — the largest tobacco company in China at the time — established an office in Kunming, and it later monopolized the cigarette market in the surrounding Yunnan province.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Dreams of a Red Emperor: The relentless rise of Xi Jinping  (October 22, 2020, The Los Angeles Times)
China’s paramount leader, Xi Jinping, sees himself as a savior, anointed to steer the Communist Party and China away from corruption and foreign influence, into a ‘new era’ of prosperity, power and political devotion. Whether his vision matches reality is another question.

China warns UK not to offer citizenship to Hong Kong residents  (October 23, 2020, BBC)
China has told Britain to “immediately correct its mistakes” after the UK reaffirmed its plan to offer a route to British citizenship to almost three million people living there. The offer was made in July when Beijing imposed a strict national security law on the former British colony.

China says it will impose sanctions on Boeing and Lockheed Martin over Taiwan arms sales  (October 26, 2020, CNN)
Speaking at a press conference Monday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian called on the United States to stop selling arms to the self-governed island and to cut military ties with the government in Taipei. The sanctions are just the latest escalation in growing tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan. 

China’s leaders look to boost self-reliance as country turns inward  (October 26, 2020, The Guardian)
China’s top leaders have begun a meeting on boosting the economy’s self-reliance as the country turns inward amid diplomatic tensions and the coronavirus crisis. The four-day session known as the plenum, which will determine China’s policy goals for the next five years, began on Monday behind closed doors in Beijing. 

U.S. warns of threat posed by China, signs military pact with India  (October 27, 2020, Reuters)
The United States and India signed a pact to share sensitive satellite and map data on Tuesday as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of the threat posed by an increasingly assertive China. […]  The new defence pact – the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation – was a “significant milestone” that would foster cooperation between the militaries of both countries, Esper told the news conference.

Translation: The Ten Commandments of Provincial Party Officials  (October 27, 2020, China Digital Times)
An undated photograph circulating on the internet in China appears to show a slide from a presentation at the Guangdong Province Party Committee School’s Institute of Public Administration, listing the “Ten Commandments for Leaders“.

Hong Kong activist detained attempting to seek asylum at US consulate  (October 27, 2020, The Guardian)
Tony Chung, a 19-year-old Hong Kong activist on bail after his arrest on suspected national security offences, has been detained by authorities while attempting to seek asylum at the US consulate. Two other members of Chung’s now-disbanded activism group, Yanni Ho and William Chan, were also arrested later on Tuesday.

China loses trust internationally over coronavirus handling  (October 27, 2020, The Guardian)
The findings come from the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project, a survey of 26,000 people in 25 countries, designed with the Guardian. It is the widest survey of global public opinion on China’s handling of the pandemic, and the overwhelmingly negative attitude will disappoint Chinese diplomats, who have expended huge energy to deflect blame and paint the country as altruistically helping others to recover.

US senators seek to declare Uighur ‘genocide’ by China in bipartisan push  (October 27, 2020, The Guardian)
The resolution was introduced on Tuesday by senators across the political spectrum, although it is unlikely to move immediately as the Senate is out of session until after next week’s election.

The Politics Of Planning  (October 28, 2020, China Media Project)
The Chinese Communist Party’s Fifth Plenum, which kicked off in Beijing on Monday, has focussed this week on an assessment of the most recent 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) – with fulsome propaganda for the “historic progress” achieved by Xi Jinping – and discussion of the proposed 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for economic and social development. Why should this meeting, and this new plan for national development, matter to the rest of the world? 

5 arrested, charged as illegal agents for China  (October 28, 2020, ABC News)
Five people were arrested Wednesday, and one more was being sought, on charges they acted as illegal agents of China. The six acted at the direction of Chinese government officials as they tried to force Chinese nationals in the United States to return to China through a multi-year campaign of stalking and harassment, according to federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.


Vatican to push for religious freedom as China deal extended  (October 22, 2020, Reuters)
The Vatican and China on Thursday renewed an agreement on the appointment of bishops in China and the Vatican promised to push the communist government to allow more freedom of religion.

Counseling in China—More “Same Same, but Different”  (October 26, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Although Biblical, or Christian, counseling is available in China, in many ways it is still seen as an imported or western tool. Some Christians, especially in more rural settings, are suspicious of counseling in general. One Chinese friend told me a couple of weeks ago, “you will never fully understand this. Although in some ways you are yellow inside and white outside—and you really do love our country and our people—yet there are some things you will never really understand.”

Where Can Young People Turn? (1)  (October 27, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article, the journal Territory interviews Deng Hongmei, a Chinese Christian counselor with decades of counseling experience. Deng gives moving testimony about the current emotional plight of Chinese young people and provides penetrating analysis that is helpful to better understand the challenges that Chinese young people face today.

Seeing the Same China, but for Different Reasons  (October 28, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
The 3-D Gospel gives Western Christians a valuable set of lenses for viewing the shame-honor dynamic at work in traditional Chinese culture, along with the fear-power dynamic associated with folk practices and the religions of many of China’s ethnic minorities. But what if these same lenses were reversed, so to speak, and used to understand how Western Christians view China and the church in China?

Society / Life

Qingdao Wants Street Names That Sound More Chinese, Less Foreign  (October 22, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Qingdao has become the first Chinese city to officially declare that its streets shall not have foreign-sounding names. The coastal city in the eastern Shandong province is prohibiting the use of foreign individuals’ names, nonlocal places, or transliterations of foreign words in the naming of its streets, Qingdao’s civil affairs bureau said Tuesday. 

Rural Remembrance  (October 23, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Specifically, xiangchou refers to missing and feeling nostalgia for the countryside, a growing trend among young Chinese facing the daily rat race of life in the cities. In 2014, Xi Jinping used the phrase in a speech when remembering his years working in Fujian province: “Happiness is important in a community; one should remember to be nostalgic for the countryside.”

China Wants a Baby Boom. Its Parents Aren’t Interested.  (October 23, 2020, Sixth Tone)
It’s been five years since China ended the one-child policy. Yet many couples still prefer not to have a second baby.

For China’s Weary Grandparents, Two Kids Mean Double the Trouble  (October 26, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Chinese seniors often move across the country to help their overworked offspring raise new babies. But few expected they’d have to do so twice.

The Lingering Fear of China’s Three-Child Families  (October 28, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Many in China are calling for the country to scrap the two-child policy. Yet families that break the rules still face harsh punishments.

Economics / Trade / Business

Inkstone Index: Growing and shrinking cities in China  (October 22, 2020, Inkstone News)
Using enrollment data of students, Chinese economics reporters have painted a map of China’s growing and shrinking cities over the past five years.

Rethink What You Know About Xi’s Belt and Road  (October 25, 2020, The Scholar’s Stage)
If the Belt and Road can be boiled down to branding, why did Xi Jinping decide to make this branding the cornerstone of his foreign policy? If it is all really is a marketing strategy, just what was Xi trying to market? Maybe the sales pitch is a power play?

China’s new Silk Road runs through cyberspace, worrying rivals and privacy advocates  (October 27, 2020, PRI)
China is fast becoming a global leader in cutting-edge technologies — such as artificial intelligence, facial recognition, surveillance and 5G. But critics say China’s technology enables authoritarian control and increases dependence on an autocratic state. 

Health / Environment

Students Bound for COVID Hotbeds Scramble for Unproven Vaccines  (October 27, 2020, Sixth Tone)
As young people headed abroad organize online to get into China’s emergency inoculation program, experts warn of the risks.

Science / Technology

Inkstone Explains: How WeChat censors content for over a billion users  (October 22, 2020, Inkstone News)
Even as WeChat, an all-in-one app with over a billion users in mainland China, continues to roll out new features and functions, its restrictions on content sharing have only grown tighter over the past few years.

Don’t Even Try Paying Cash in China  (October 28, 2020, The New York Times)
Credit cards were never prevalent in China. The country skipped over a generation of finance and went straight to smartphone-based digital payments. And the apps are simple for businesses.

History / Culture

Qian Xuesen: The man the US deported – who then helped China into space  (October 26, 2020, BBC)
A Chinese scientist helped not one but two superpowers reach the moon, writes Kavita Puri, but his story is remembered in only one of them. In Shanghai there is an entire museum containing 70,000 artefacts dedicated to one man, “the people’s scientist” Qian Xuesen. Qian is the father of China’s missile and space programme. His research helped develop the rockets that fired China’s first satellite into space, and missiles that became part of its nuclear arsenal, and he is revered as a national hero.

Travel / Food

Video: Yangchun noodles embody flavor of Yangzhou  (October 28, 2020, China Daily)
On the surface, yangchun noodles are nothing more than ordinary noodles placed in a simple soup of shrimp-roe soy sauce, shredded green onions and lard. However, they are more than meets the eye – they are a reflection of the simplicity and warmth of Yangzhou.

High-speed railway to offer quiet carriage service  (October 28, 2020, China Daily)
The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, one of China’s busiest high-speed rail lines, will launch a quiet carriage service to provide passengers with a quieter, more comfortable traveling experience, according to the country’s railway operator. The service is expected to start trial operation as early as Dec 23 with no specific regulations released yet, said China State Railway Group. 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Passing the Pingyao Baton  (October 25, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Jia’s independent festival, which takes place in the historic town of Pingyao, Shanxi province, was set up in 2017, and has always prided itself on running without any funding from the government. Instead, it has relied on Jia’s reputation to attract funding from corporate partners, as well as invite the jury and media.

China Remembers Korean War With Volley of ‘Resist the US’ Films  (October 26, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The new movies are among the first Korean War dramas to be shot in China since the country normalized relations with the U.S. in the 1970s.

Living Cross-culturally

Peace on the Inside  (October 23, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Although it was clear that this was not going to blow over quickly, my wife and I had peace about our situation. We knew God had called us here to be a blessing to the people around us, and we had confidence that whatever issues our family or our team faced, he would give us the grace to deal with them. We were concerned, but we were at peace. Of course, the fact that we had no way of leaving probably influenced our peace about staying.

The High Hidden Cost of Constant Transition  (October 27, 2020, The Culture Blend)
At any given time a third of your people are likely adjusting to a whole new world. A third are considering leaving it. And all of them are wrestling with ongoing changes.

Links for Researchers

‘Round the Clock, Three Dimensional Control’: The ‘Xinjiang Mode’ of Counterterrorism  (October 23, 2020, The China Story)
Outside of the ‘re-education’ centres the region’s Turkic Muslim population is subjected to a dense network of hi-tech surveillance systems, checkpoints, and interpersonal monitoring, which severely limit all forms of personal freedom penetrating society to the granular level. 

Law, Religion, and Society in China: A Contested Terrain  (April, 2020, Journal of Law and Religion)
With the renewal of religious practice, new proposals have been put forward for the role of religious ideas in public life. In addition to the endurance of Marxist and liberal conceptions of the place of religion in society, new voices have emerged, arguing for return to Confucianism as the source of moral vitality in public life, or advancing Christian public theology as a moral resource for individuals adrift and alienated by the rapid changes of a modernizing economy. 

Pray for China

October 30, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Oct. 30, 1948, Bian Yunbo (边云波弟兄) finished writing his epic poem To the Unknown Evangelist, My Brother—just a few days before going to serve as a missionary among the Miao people in southwestern China. Later this poem was put to music and inspired many to dedicate their lives to Christ and His Great Commission. Bian, his wife Bai Yaoxuan (白耀轩姊妹), and their three children suffered great persecution for many years in Tianjin. In 1998, Brother Bian wrote: “Perhaps the revival in the Chinese and overseas church today is God’s preparation for an even greater revival. Let us ask the Lord to once again raise up a people who love Him as did Gideon’s 300, to take up their wonderful staffs and run the final lap of the race.” His health was not good in later years, but still Brother Bian spoke before many churches and conferences before going to be with the Lord at age 93 on Feb. 14, 2018. Pray for the three children of Brother Bian and Sister Bai, and for those they impacted in Tianjin and elsewhere to take up the cross daily and follow the Lord Jesus. And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Image credit: Markus Spiske from Pixabay
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