ZGBriefs | October 8, 2020

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Featured Article

Chinese families shun Western universities as coronavirus, strained ties are ‘scaring middle-class families’  (October 3, 2020, South China Morning Post)
About 81 per cent of affluent Chinese families whose children study foreign curriculums and take foreign examinations have decided to postpone plans to send them abroad for undergraduate or graduate studies, according to a survey released last month by Babazhenbang, an education start-up with a database of more than 400 schools preparing Chinese students for overseas high schools and colleges.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

On China’s National Day, Hong Kong Police Quash Protests  (October 1, 2020, The New York Times)
One year ago, an important political anniversary in China was met with chaotic demonstrations in Hong Kong. This year, police quickly silenced expressions of dissent.

What Happens When China Leads the World  (October 5, 2020, The Atlantic)
The policies and practices of the country’s dynasties offer insights into how modern Chinese leaders may wield their strength.

America closes immigration door to 91.9 million communists in China  (October 5, 2020, Inkstone News)
The United States has released guidance on its immigration laws that will make it almost impossible for members of a communist party or similar to be granted permanent residence or citizenship of America.

Interview: Xi Brings ‘Era of Exquisite Totalitarianism’ to China-Party Scholar Cai (Part II)  (October 6, 2020, Radio Free Asia)
Widely known as one of the “Hereditary [Second Generation] Red,” descendants of founding members or important figures of the CCP, the 68-year-old spoke to Vienna Tang of RFA’s Mandarin Service recently about Xi’s controls with the party and the reaction of Chinese intellectuals.

Negative views of China soar in western countries, poll finds  (October 6, 2020, The Guardian)
Unfavourable views toward China have soared in the past year in the United States and many other advanced economies, according to a survey of 14 countries conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center. […]  In Australia, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, South Korea, Spain and Canada, negative views reached their highest points since Pew began polling on the topic more than a decade ago.

US-China rivalry: is the Quad on track to take on Beijing?  (October 7, 2020, South China Morning Post)
As the United States seeks to formalise a four-nation alliance  to counter China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific, Chinese foreign policy observers are asking whether Beijing’s assertiveness has pushed its regional neighbours closer to Washington.

Pressure Builds For 2022 Olympics Boycott  (October 7, 2020, China Digital Times)
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said today that the U.K. government would not rule out the possibility of boycotting the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. 


Vatican seeks to extend bishops deal with Beijing that has brought ‘positive, despite limited’ results (October 1, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The Vatican is seeking to extend a controversial agreement with Beijing on the appointment of bishops that it says has brought “positive, despite limited” results in the two years since it was signed. It is the first time the Holy See has publicly defended its position on the deal, as pressure mounts on Pope Francis  – including from some of his own cardinals – to withdraw from the agreement amid criticism over China’s human rights record.

A Reader Responds to “China’s Registered Churches”  (October 2, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
One of the mistakes that I have felt the Western church has often made is to divide the “One Body,” and to suggest the need to choose sides between the registered and unregistered church. While it is a balancing act and sometimes complicated to serve both, it is an effort we need to make. We do a disservice to the church and more importantly to our Father when we ignore one set of believers over another. 

The 70th Anniversary of the TSPM  (October 6, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
The Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the government agency that oversees Protestant churches in China, celebrated its 70th anniversary last month. This write-up from China Christian Daily gives a snapshot of celebrations surrounding the event.

Chinese bishop resigns before renewal of Beijing-Vatican deal  (October 6, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Vincenzo Guo Xijin announced his resignation as auxiliary bishop at an evening mass in the eastern province of Fujian on Sunday, saying he did not want to become an “obstacle to progress” hindering the reconciliation of the underground and official Catholic churches.

The Importance and Roles of Families and Church Leaders  (October 7, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
When it comes to their questions, families, pastors, Sunday school leaders, etc. please understand—Let them ask. Find answers and take them seriously. They are around people who ask questions. It is not disrespectful to ask questions to those in authority. Yes, it can be done disrespectfully, but we grow by asking questions. “Because the Bible, the pastor, the youth leader says so . . .” won’t help. Encourage them to ask and own what they learn.

Society / Life

Beijing’s streets during and after Covid lockdown – in pictures  (October 1, 2020, The Guardian)
Life is busy again in the Chinese capital after the coronavirus outbreak shuttered businesses and hampered tourism. Now firms are looking to this week’s national holiday to ramp up spending.

Nine Days in Wuhan, the Ground Zero of the Coronavirus Pandemic  (October 5, 2020, The New  Yorker)
There’s no other country where the pandemic’s effects have been so concentrated in a single city while everywhere else remained relatively untouched. It was a combination of timing and policy: because the pandemic first spread in Wuhan, and the initial coverup and other missteps were followed by effective national policies, the city was unique in its suffering. 

Another Chinese Province Says 3 Children Not a Fireable Offense  (October 6, 2020, Sixth Tone)
With China looking to raise its historically low birth rate, more provinces are walking back decades-old regulations allowing employers to fire workers who flout the country’s restrictive family planning policy. Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, located in southern China and sharing a border with Vietnam, has become the latest provincial-level region to buck the old rules.

Chinese Map App Apologizes for Causing Mountain Traffic Jam  (October 6, 2020, Sixth Tone)
A day earlier, the Dujiangyan scenic area at Mount Qingcheng had posted a notice on social app WeChat recommending that visitors avoid using Gaode Maps. The navigation app had been directing drivers to an area of the mountain that had been closed for years, causing serious traffic congestion and problems for the scenic area management, the notice said.

Are China’s Rural University Students Really ‘Losers’?  (October 6, 2020, Sixth Tone)
I don’t mean to say rural students face no challenges, but on the whole, their academic performance does not differ substantially from their urban peers. And many do actually manage to establish themselves in the middle class after graduation. 

Funny, Weird, and Explicit: A Look at Beijing’s Humorous Building Nicknames  (October 7, 2020, The Beijinger)
For a little inspiration, however, let’s first take a look at some of the epithets the public has chosen to replace the stuffy official monikers of other buildings around town (often to the chagrin of the government).

China’s Middle-Aged Dudes Embrace ‘Son-in-Law’ Lit  (October 7, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Cinderalla-esque sagas of scorned male protagonists living in female-dominated households and striving to win the respect of their wives’ parents are resonating with China’s real-life sons-in-law.

Aftershocks: Treating the psychic tremors of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake  (October 7, 2020, The World of Chinese)
On May 12, 2008, a Richter Scale 8.0 earthquake turned entire mountain towns in Sichuan province into rubble, claiming the lives of 69,227 people, injuring 394,643, and leaving 17,923 missing in the ruins. Years afterward, devastated communities struggle not only to rebuild their houses and families, but to recover a sense of worth and hope.

Economics / Trade / Business

The United States is taking aim at China’s biggest chipmaker  (October 5, 2020, CNN)
Striking at China’s biggest semiconductor maker could take the tech war with the United States into new territory. China is playing catchup to the West when it comes to chipmaking, and has plowed billions of dollars into the industry hoping to build a homegrown company capable of manufacturing leading edge chips.

Do You Have a China Company? Are You Sure?  (October 6, 2020, China Law Blog)
Too many foreign companies — for all sorts of different reasons — remain far too nonchalant and increasing legalization only increases the likelihood this attitude will eventually harm them.

China Implements its Long-Awaited Unreliable Entities List Mechanism  (October 7, 2020, China Business Review)
Under China’s new regime, a foreign entity included in the Unreliable Entity List could bear severe consequences that could cripple their business in China. So far, no companies have been listed, but the threat is more real than ever and potentially imminent.


China Unveils Plan to Improve Vocational Education  (October 1, 2020, Sixth Tone)
As the country’s economy continues to recover from COVID-19, authorities are hoping a vocational education push now will bring relief to impoverished communities down the road.

Xi joins Marx and Mao as required course at China’s top colleges  (October 4, 2020, Nikkei)
Starting in the fall semester, 37 universities nationwide will launch introductory courses on Xi Jinping Thought, according to the Sept. 1 edition of Qiushi, a political theory journal published by the Communist Party. These schools include big names such as Peking University, Nankai University, and Tsinghua University — Xi’s alma mater. 

Health / Environment

China’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine appears safe – study  (October 6, 2020, Reuters)
A Chinese experimental coronavirus vaccine being developed by the Institute of Medical Biology under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences was shown to be safe in an early stage clinical trial, researchers said. In a Phase 1 trial of 191 healthy participants aged between 18 and 59, vaccination with the group’s experimental shot showed no severe adverse reactions, its researchers said on Tuesday in a paper posted on medRxiv preprint server ahead of peer review.

Flu vaccine shortages hit China after rush to avoid ‘twindemic’  (October 7, 2020, The Guardian)
A surge in demand for flu shots in Chinese cities has caused shortages, long lines and triple markups on vaccines by scalpers selling them online. Residents, afraid of the possibility of catching both the flu and Covid-19 – what some have called a “twindemic”, have rushed to clinics since Chinabegan its flu vaccine campaign in September.

Coronavirus: WHO waits for China to approve pandemic origins investigators  (October 8, 2020, The Guardian)
WHO health emergencies programme executive director Mike Ryan told a special meeting of the organisation’s executive board on Monday that the WHO had selected expert candidates from around the world for the mission and it was now up to Beijing to say who would be on the international team and when they would enter China.

History / Culture

Oldest manuscript of the Confucian Analects discovered in Japan  (September 27, 2020, Asahi Shimbun)
A manuscript of commentaries about Confucianism written apparently between the sixth and early seventh centuries in China was confirmed in Japan, a discovery one scholar described as “invaluable.” It is believed to be one of the oldest of any religious teaching written on paper, except for those of Buddhist scriptures, found in the country.

Travel / Food

How Indian Chinese Food Became India’s Favorite Cuisine  (September 17, 2020, Conde Nast Traveler)
Indian Chinese food has become popular all over India, especially in Mumbai, but its roots have always been in Kolkata. It’s a huge part of the culture here, so much so that many Indians believe that the food is authentically Chinese. 

Language / Language Learning

Chinese vocabulary challenge, October 2020  (October 6, 2020, Hacking Chinese)
This month’s challenge is about learning vocabulary, which includes Chinese characters, words and expressions. Without words, you can’t do anything in a language. It doesn’t matter how good your grammar or pronunciation is if you don’t know the words.


Video: When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China’s Reawakening | Dori Jones Yang  (October 5, 2020, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
Dori Jones Yang was among the first American correspondents to cover China at the beginning of the reform era. Her memoir, When the Red Gates Opened, follows her rise from rookie reporter to experienced journalist. […]  The National Committee held a virtual program with author Ms. Dori Jones Yang on September 23, 2020 to discuss her book.

Golden Goose: The Story of a Peasant Family in Western China: A Book Review and Interview  (October 5, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Golden Goose: The Story of a Peasant Family in Western China is the product of “an invaluable intellectual journey” that has provided Dr. David Burnett, a foreigner and professor at Sichuan Normal University (2006-2013, now Professor Emeritus), with the opportunity to enter into a rural experience; and for Liu Xu, a fellow researcher from Sichuan Normal University, to understand more of how her rural compatriots have adapted to a modernizing China. 

Chinese in Dubai: Money, Pride, and Soul-Searching  (Brill)
Chinese in Dubai offers the first book-length study of the experiences of overseas Chinese living in the most prominent global city in the Arabian Gulf and the broader Middle East region. 


Chinese Christianity: An Introduction to the Literature (Reaching Chinese Worldwide)
The following pages contain reviews of more than fifty books, plus some presentations and articles. These publications, though only a small sampling of the extensive—and constantly expanding—body of literature on Chinese Christianity, are representative of many more. This collection can serve as an auxiliary resource in courses on Chinese Christianity. (a downloadable PDF)

Pray for China

October 14 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Oct. 14, 1925, influential missions leader Thomas Wang Yongxin (王永信牧师) was born into a Christian family in Beijing. He came to Christ through evangelist Dr. Song Shangjie (宋尚节博士- John Sung) and was discipled by Mr. Wang Mingdao (王明道先生). Thomas left China in 1949, became a pastor in Taiwan, and then moved to the U.S. in 1959. His passion was the Great Commission and mobilizing Christian involvement in key social issues. Before his death at age 93 on Jan. 4, 2018, Rev. Wang played key leadership roles in a number of mission mobilization efforts, e.g. the Chinese Coordination Centre of World Evangelism (CCCOWE), the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, the Intercessors for China 1 Million Prayer Warriors by 2007 movement, and the Internet Mission Forum. Pray for Overseas Chinese Christians to follow Thomas Wang in answering the Lord’s call to fulfill the Great Commission, especially in internet missions and prayer for China. And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

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Image credit: lc3015, via 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