ZGBriefs | December 31, 2015

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Featured Article

A Chinese Company in India, Stumbling Over a Culture (December 30, 2015, The New York Times)
Chinese companies have embarked on ambitious overseas expansion efforts, snapping up land in dozens of countries to build factories, industrial parks, power plants and other operations. While the investments provide critical support for many economies, Chinese businesses are struggling to navigate complex cultural, political and competitive dynamics.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Video: 'China intimidating foreign press,' says French journalist (December 26, 2015, BBC)
China has effectively expelled a French journalist over an article she wrote that was critical of Beijing's policy towards Muslim Uighers in Xinjiang. […] Ms Gauthier said she believed China was trying to intimidate the foreign press. "They don't want anyone to say things which are different from the official version of the question."

In Central Asia, Chinese inroads in Russia’s back yard (December 27, 2015, Washington Post)
This small stretch of blacktop, running past potato fields, bare dun-colored rolling hills and fields of grazing cattle, is a symbol of China’s march westward, an advance into Central Asia that is steadily wresting the region from Russia’s embrace.

Filipino protesters land on disputed island in South China Sea (December 27, 2015, Christian Science Monitor)
Describing their expedition as a 'a patriotic voyage,' the protesters planned to camp on the island for three days in a symbolic act of defiance against China.

China passes controversial new anti-terror laws (December 28, 2015, BBC)
China has passed controversial new anti-terrorism laws, saying they are needed to combat growing threats. The new laws, passed on Sunday by China's legislature, create a new anti-terror agency and security forces with significant powers.

Is There a Uighur Terrorist Build-Up Taking Place in Southeast Asia? (December 28, 2015, TIME)
The presence of Uighurs in Indonesia, thousands of kilometers away, shows “interesting dynamics,” terrorism expert Rakyan says. “Terrorism as ‘weapon for the weak’ is no longer characterized with a specific territory.”

Defection delivers Beijing’s nuclear secrets to Washington (December 28, 2015, The Australian)
In a confidential speech to party cadres reported by two independent political magazines in Hong Kong, Meng Jianzhu, the country’s security tsar, revealed that the most closely guarded secrets, including nuclear codes, had been lost to America. Mr Meng was reporting on the failure of his attempts to lure back a leading defector and the fallout of the incident.

'Rule the party strictly!': Chinese president 'Big Daddy Xi' makes rap debut (December 29, 2015, The Guardian)
Communist party officials release 2min 44s rap with Xi Jinping contributing backing vocals in the form of samples from some of his speeches.

Holding the fate of families in its hands, China controls refugees abroad (December 30, 2015, Reuters)
With the power to treat family members back home as hostages, Chinese security services have strong leverage over Uighurs living overseas, thousands of whom have fled what they say is persecution by the authorities in Xinjiang.


Best Christmas Advice: Act One and Act Two (December 25, 2015, From the West Courtyard)
In a meeting with a Chinese pastor, my colleague and I asked her how foreign Christians in the vicinity of her church could support her and the church. The church is in sort-of a rural area (a relative term in that part of China) and most of the foreigners don’t speak Chinese. The foreigners hadn’t been attending church often. […] Her answer was painfully simple. Just show up. Don’t underestimate the power of your presence. Just show up.

"A Foreign Perspective of Nanjing Massacre," The Search for Missionaries Who Risked Their Lives to Rescue the Chinese (December 29, 2015, China Christian Daily)
On December 17, a 10-part TV documentary called "Nanjing massacre in the eyes of foreigners" was launched by CCTV "explorations" and carried out ten consecutive days of playing the documentary. Unlike many previous documentaries, the film objectively shows that a number of missionaries, pastors, Christian and other international humanitarian  risk their lives to rescue many Chinese people. 

Demolition Gang Takes Down Cross, Seals Off Church in China's Zhejiang (December 29, 2015, Radio Free Asia)
Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang have removed another cross from the roof of a prominent Protestant church in Wenzhou city, known as "China's Jerusalem" for its high concentration of Christians. The cross on the roof of the Xialing church in Wenzhou's Lucheng district came down on Monday evening, defying a bid by two elderly members of its congregation to prevent it, church members told RFA on Tuesday.

Sending E-Invitations at Christmas (December 29, 2015, Chinese Church Voices)
Christmas remains as popular as ever in China, and Christians continue to use that popularity as a means to share the gospel. In the article below, originally published in and translated by Christian Times, we learn about how churches and individual Christians are using social media to spread the word about the true meaning of Christmas.

Society / Life

A banner year: Financial scams in China nabbed at least $24 billion in 2015 (December 23, 2015, Quartz)
It’s been a banner year for financial scams in China. Prominent among them was Fanya Metal Exchange—wringing $6 billion or so from duped investors—but it certainly wasn’t alone. Chinese investors lost about $24 billion to such chicanery this year.

Heard in the Hutong: What Do Beijingers Think about Christmas? (December 25, 2015, China Real Time)
Christmas is becoming increasingly popular in China, fuelled both by rising consumerism and the swelling ranks of the country's 60-100 million Christians. Giant snowflakes, Christmas trees and animatronic Santas can be found in abundance on the streets of Beijing in late December. Yet the trend hasn't come without controversy, with some calling for a boycott of Christmas and other Western holidays in recent years.

Middle Classiest: Beijing Features China's Highest Median Income (December 27, 2015, The Beijinger)
Of all the middle class residents of China's three top-tier cities — Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai — Beijing residents are the middle classiest, with 55 percent of Beijingers classified as middle class, and having the highest median income at RMB 256,016 per year, China Daily reported.

China Makes New 2-Child Policy Official (December 27, 2015, TIME)
China on Sunday officially passed historic legislation that allows all couples to have two children. The new rule, which was expected after officials announced it in October, goes into effect Jan. 1

China Detains 12 People Over Shenzhen Landslide, Police Say (December 28, 2015, The New York Times)
Twelve people have been detained over a debris dumpsite collapse in southern China that left dozens missing, the police there said on Monday. They also said that a former district official whose office approved and oversaw the huge site had committed suicide by jumping from a building.

Video: US Chinatowns are disappearing (December 29, 2015, Al Jazeera)
Chinatown in Washington, DC, once had 3,000 residents but is now down to 300 as Chinese enclaves nationwide dwindle.

China ship sinking on Yangtze 'caused by freak weather' (December 30, 2015, BBC)
An inquiry into the sinking of a Chinese cruise ship with the loss of nearly 450 lives on the Yangtze River in June has concluded that it happened because of highly unusual weather. It also recommended the captain be investigated for possible charges.

Video: China locates miners trapped underground for five days (December 30, 2015, BBC)
Eight miners have been found alive after being trapped underground in China's eastern province of Shangdong for five days. It has not yet been possible to free the group, who were trapped when the mine collapsed, but supplies have been sent down.

'Internet Plus' changes people's lifestyles in China (December 30, 2015, China Daily)
"Internet Plus", an action plan, was first presented in a Chinese government work report in March this year. It aims to integrate the Internet with traditional industries and fuel economic growth. Now, the notion of "Internet Plus" is buzzing in China. People are changing their consumption and lifestyle habits, as more and more industries mix with Internet technology.

Economics / Trade / Business

2015: Chinese Banks’ Year of Living Dangerously (December 25, 2015, China Real Time)
When China’s banks were listed and recapitalized more than a decade ago, they were supposed to be the vanguard of the country’s economic modernization. Instead, they are becoming the face of China’s potentially-lengthy stagnation as they stumble through the toughest hangover in their existence as modern commercial lenders.

Baidu isn’t just the Google of China — it’s also the Amazon (December 24, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle)
Most Americans think of Baidu as the Google of China, if they’ve heard of it at all. But the Beijing search giant is evolving, taking on tasks that in the United States are still handled by separate companies such as Amazon, Fandango and GrubHub.


Parents try to clear air for children at Beijing schools (December 30, 2015, Xinhua)
The lasting air pollution in Beijing has driven increasing numbers of parents to collect money and install filters in classrooms, but many were rejected by schools. The reasons given included disapproval from the Beijing Commission of Education.

Health / Environment

Video: China’s new approach to fighting smog? Giant water cannons (December 26, 2015, Matador Network)
Chinese government officials are grappling with different ways to deal with the growing smog, and one of the solutions is particularly novel: Giant water cannons.

Beijing's AQI Hits All-Time 24-Hour High of 485 on Christmas (December 26, 2015, The Beijinger)
Congratulations Beijing, you've hit a new high (or should we say low): The average AQI concentration on Christmas Day yesterday was 485, the highest 24-hour daily average ever recorded since the Ministry of Environmental Protection began publicly releasing daily averages on its website two years ago.

Xinhua Insight: Guarding against smog becomes daily routine in N China (December 29, 2015, Xinhua)
The weather was seldom a topic of discussion among her coworkers several years ago. "Now, it has become routine for colleagues to discuss when the smog will disperse and how soon it will stage a comeback," Song said, adding that she and her coworkers are worried about more red alerts for air quality, since the city's weather observatory has issued two in December alone.

History / Culture

Matteo Ricci, The Jet-Setting Jesuit (December 24, 2015, The World of Chinese)
Missionaries are by definition an adventurous lot, but in the 16th century, Matteo Ricci set the bar for pioneering evangelists. When the 30-year-old Ricci set out for China in 1582, he was only the second Jesuit to attempt missionary work in the Middle Kingdom—and the first to survive doing it.

A Shanghai Christmas 1935 (December 25, 2015, China Rhyming)
In case you were wondering (as I of course was) just what Christmas in Shanghai was like in 1935…

Photo: Chiang Kai-Shek prays in a church in Nanjing in 1948 (December 25, 2015, Everyday Life in Mao’s China)

Photo: The Beijing YMCA holds a Christmas Eve meeting in 1957 (December 25, 2015, Everyday Life in Mao’s China)

On “Unbiased” Reporting, Islamic History and Chinese Cultural Sensibilities (December 29, 2015, Guanxi Master)
Apparently, there was an issue with how the foreign journalist saw the “Uigher Problem”. Gauthier was sympathetic to a culture that the Chinese believe has not only aided and abetted Sunni Islamic terrorism in the past, but has been directly linked to the brutal murders of over 50 Han Chinese in the last year.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

As China Hungers for Coal, ‘Behemoth’ Studies the Ravages at the Source (December 28, 2015, Sinosphere)
That is how Mr. Zhao, 44, came across the subject for “Behemoth,” in which documentary combines with art film to produce a powerful testament to the human and environmental costs of coal mining and consumption in China, the world’s biggest user of coal and the leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal.

Travel / Food

China's 'train hunter' on a quest to chronicle its fast-expanding railways (December 25, 2015, The Guardian)
It has been 10 years since China’s self-styled “train hunter” set off on a 300,000km quest to document the greatest railway lines on Earth. Armed with his trusty Nikon camera, Wang Wei has hiked up to the frosty Tibetan plateau and across the Gobi desert; he has journeyed to a tropical island in the South China Sea and to China’s remote border with Pakistan – all to satisfy his inexplicable urge to photograph trains.

China Doubling Visa-Free Transit Period to Six Days (December 29, 2015, The Points Guy)
According to Shanghai Daily, China is gearing up to double the visa-free travel waiver from three days to six, giving you up to 144 hours to explore Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing.

Language / Language Learning

Learning tones in Mandarin is not optional (December 29, 2015, Hacking Chinese)
Learning tones in Mandarin is not optional. The longer you wait before paying attention to tones, the more you will have to relearn later. If you don't know the tone, you don't know the word.


15 Quotes from “China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot be Hidden” (December 28, 2015, From the West Courtyard)
In November, Wipf and Stock published China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot be Hidden, written by ChinaSource President Brent Fulton. The book is an excellent survey of the landscape of the urban church in China, highlighting both the challenges and the opportunities. Here are fifteen key quotes from Brent’s book, which will (hopefully) motivate you to want to read the whole thing:

Image credit: Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple, by Pablo Necochea, via Flickr
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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