ZGBriefs | October 5, 2023

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Featured Article

Will ChatGPT Really Kill the Chinese Translation Industry? (September 30, 2023, The World of Chinese)
Four translators and interpreters talk about the impact new technologies like generative AI are having on their work and future career prospects.

Sponsored Link

Online Book Club (ERR China)
On November 1, Joann Pittman will facilitate an online book club discussion for ERRChina/CAC. The book is The Importance of Living, by Lin Yutang. Written in 1937, “Yutang’s prescription is the classic Chinese philosophy of life: Revere inaction as much as action, invoke humor to maintain a healthy attitude and never forget that there will always be plenty of fools around who are willing-indeed, eager-to be busy, to make themselves useful, and to exercise power while you bask in the simple joy of existence.” (Amazon description)

Click here to join the discussion on November 1, 2023 at 7:00pm (US CDT).

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Jimmy Lai: Hong Kong mogul, activist … and now a prisoner for 1,000 days (September 30, 2023, The Guardian)
He went from rags to riches before his anti-communist newspaper fell foul of security forces. Now Lai’s plight tells of a city forced to live in the shadow of Xi’s authoritarian China.

In China, a Uyghur scholar has been sentenced to life in prison (October 1, 2023, NPR)
One of the most important scholars on Uyghur culture has been given a life prison sentence in China. Rahile Dawut is an expert on her culture’s folklore and traditions. She’s published internationally and worked with scholars from all over the world, often with Chinese government funding. So why is she deemed such a threat by China?

China’s United Front Is More About Domestic Control Than Foreign Operations (October 3, 2023, Foreign Policy)
Whether the UFWD is buying 24,000 “ethnic unity enters the home” tea sets in Sichuan or putting surveillance cameras outside 85 different places of religious worship in Shandong, it is pursuing a single mission: namely, to seek out individuals and groups in society outside the party’s control and cement their status as friends rather than enemies.

Lessons from the black box of Chinese politics (October 3, 2023, The China Project) (subscription required)
We know almost nothing about how the senior leadership of the Communist Party makes decisions, but that does not stop wild speculation in the media about factional fighting and even attempts to overthrow Xi Jinping. Scholar Wu Guoguang lays out how we should think about the information vacuum, translated and introduced by the eminent Sinologist Geremie R. Barmé.

Pandas could be gone from America’s zoos by the end of next year (October 3, 2023, AP)
The National Zoo’s three giant pandas — Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and their cub Xiao Qi Ji — are set to return to China in early December with no public signs that the 50-year-old exchange agreement struck by President Richard Nixon will continue.

Xi’s Dilemma: The Risk of Waging War Against Taiwan (October 4, 2023, China Brief)
Hostilities against Taiwan will plunge the regional and global economies into crisis. Nevertheless, Xi could use such an action to harness the long-cultivated nationalism of the PRC’s disgruntled public. He will be able to declare martial law, which will give an even freer hand to the supreme leader to lock up real and potential enemies. These would include increasingly large numbers of protesting, unemployed blue-collar workers, as well as unpaid civil servants, and bank customers unable to withdraw money from their deposits.


Pastor Dennis Balcombe: Chinese Churches, Receive the Baton of Taking the Gospel to the Nations (September 27, 2023, China Christian Daily)
In an exclusive interview with China Christian Daily in August, Pastor Balcombe shared his recent insights about churches in China, Pentecostalism, overseas Chinese churches, and the global church. 

Instrumentalizing the Church in China (September 29, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Yet for those willing to engage, China’s prominence in the national debate presents an opportunity to reframe the conversation within the much larger story of God’s work in and through his church in China, providing thoughtful reflection on the very real issues shaping the debate while making space for the voices of Chinese believers to be heard.

Who Am I (October 2, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
While the quest for individual identity was explored by the Greek philosopher Socrates and the modern western existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, Chinese traditions tend to focus on broader issues of social ethics and harmonious relationships with Heaven or the greater Dao.  Chinese collective culture, in general, tends to ask: “Who are we?”

12 Scholars Who Brought the Bible into Chinese (October 2, 2023, Christianity Today) (subscription required)
Each had unique translation philosophies, diction preferences, and intended audiences in mind, frameworks that informed how they approached their all-consuming work.

God at Work During 3 Years of Isolation (October 4, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Now, as China and the churches there have emerged from three years of isolation, we are beginning an extensive blog series that will allow us to hear directly from Chinese Christians about the experience and impact of the pandemic on their churches and ministries.

Society / Life

Old Markets, New Appeal: Young Chinese Rediscover Wet Markets (October 1, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Amid renewed interest, wet markets in China are evolving too, merging modern amenities with traditional charm to cater to younger, experience-driven tourists.

Double Delight: China’s National Day Meets Mid-Autumn Festival (October 1, 2023, Sixth Tone)
From Harbin’s picturesque Songhua River Bridge in northeastern China to the dazzling ‘Mid-Autumn Festival Supermoon’ installation in Shanghai, landmarks and public spaces across the country have been transformed into hubs of cultural expression, attracting both locals and tourists alike.

Cheers and Tears: Life Stories of Highly Educated Women in Shenzhen (October 2, 2023, Made in China Journal)
The experiences of female workers in Shenzhen navigating migration and integration into the labour force present us with a nuanced picture of both the opportunities and the obstacles these women face.

Walking Around a City Is China’s Golden Week Travel Trend (October 2, 2023, Sixth Tone)
With both domestic and foreign travel at record highs during this extended eight-day holiday, some seeking more a more relaxing time are opting to roam around a city browsing shops, taking photos, and doing whatever they wish to, according to a set route or without one.

Economics / Trade / Business

Beijing’s mixed messages leave businesses ‘questioning’ investments in China (October 1, 2023, The Guardian)
Beijing insists that China is open for business and that it is committed to supporting the private sector. But a renewed focus on national security coupled with rising geopolitical tensions is damaging confidence. Speaking in Beijing last week, Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU’s trade commissioner, said that European businesses were “questioning their position” in the world’s second largest economy.

Who Killed the Chinese Economy? (October 3, 2023, Foreign Affairs)
Posen’s analogy is creative and insightful. But his diagnosis misses the chronic diseases that afflicted China’s economy well before the COVID-19 pandemic: an exhausted growth model, stunted population growth thanks to the “one-child policy,” and, most notably, Xi’s failures of leadership.

China promises to make business, life in Shanghai easier for foreign companies (October 3, 2023, South China Morning Post)
Shanghai has vowed to make setting up mobile payments easier for expats on short visits, part of the city’s efforts to make itself more alluring to foreign businesses and reassure investors. Solutions have been proposed by the Shanghai headquarters of the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, to help foreigners use their credit cards to make purchases and allow them to withdraw renminbi, the local currency, from ATMs throughout the city, state media outlet The Paper said.


Education and Mental Health in China (September 28, 2023, Reading the China Dream)
Two articles that deal, in different ways, with China’s ongoing mental health crisis, and in particular its relationship to China’s high pressure educational system.

History / Culture

A New History of the Chinese Zodiac (October 4, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Horses, pigs, goats, and oxen all played crucial, if largely forgotten, roles in the development of early Chinese civilization. Now, a leading zoo archaeologist is trying to piece that history back together, one bone at a time.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Chinese Reality Show Explores ‘Strong Woman, Weak Man’ Marriages, Sparks Debate (October 3, 2023, Sixth Tone)
“See You Again” is one of several Chinese reality shows about relationships that focus on the less glamorous side of love and romance.


A Chinese foreign correspondent in Europe during World War II (September 28, 2023, The China Project) (subscription required)
From war in London to persecution in China, Xiao Qian experienced it all — and wrote about it in his classic memoir, Traveller Without a Map.

Pray for China

October 10 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Oct. 10, 2016, Yang Rongli (杨荣丽姊妹) was released with severe medical problems after seven years in prison in Shanxi. In Sept. 2009, 400 military police raided the Golden Lampstand Church, a house church in Fushan County where Yang and her husband Wang Xiaoguang (王晓光牧师) were serving as pastors. Yang and four other church leaders were sentenced to prison shortly thereafter. Military police destroyed the mega-church structure with dynamite and heavy equipment in Jan. 2018. Pray for the persecuted church in Shanxi. So that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Matthew 23:35

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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