ZGBriefs | September 12, 2019

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Featured Article

Choice Chengyu: Lunar Language (September 11, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, the Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most important Chinese festivals. On this day, people reunite with their families, eat mooncake, and appreciate the full moon together. In Chinese culture, the moon has a lot of symbolic meangings, and was often associated with homesickness, romance, and nostalgia in literature. Many of these lunar allusions have since become chengyu:

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

US and China agree to reopen trade talks in October (September 5, 2019, The Guardian)
Senior negotiators will meet in early October, after a call on Wednesday night between the Chinese vice-premier, Liu He, and the US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. Officials from the two countries will hold discussions from mid-September to prepare the way for the talks.

Solomon Islands to sever ties with Taiwan, shift alliance to Beijing (September 5, 2019, Reuters)
The switch, which still needs to be formalized, would be a prize for China in its bid to peel away allies from what it considers a wayward province with no right to state-to-state ties. Only 17 countries now recognize Taiwan.

Justin Trudeau sharpens criticism of China in Huawei spat (September 5, 2019, BBC)
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has accused Beijing of using "pressure tactics" to try to secure the release of a senior Huawei executive being held in Canada. Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in China days after Meng Wanzhou was arrested at the request of US authorities. Mr Trudeau says that China is "using arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals".

The Party is Struggling  (September 6, 2019, China Media Project)
In his address to a training session for young leaders at the Central Party School on September 3, Xi Jinping spoke of the immense challenges facing the country and the Chinese Communist Party. The language he chose, however, was not “challenge,” “test” or “obstacle.” He spoke instead of “struggle,” or douzheng (斗争), a word that bears the weight of a painful political history — recalling the internal “struggles against the enemy” that tore Chinese society apart in the 1960s and 1970s.

Inside China's Crackdown On Human Rights Advocates (September 6, 2019, NPR)
Xi's government has given some leeway to select areas of activism. Those advocating for greater environmental protections have had moderate success, for example, as local authorities prioritize reducing air pollution. But advocates who challenge problems in the national political system are increasingly subjected to surveillance, imprisonment and torture and their associates effectively disappeared into a labyrinthine detention system, according to international rights lawyers and advocacy organizations.

Are Japan and China really getting along? (September 7, 2019, East Asia Forum)
The trajectory of Japan–China rapprochement is positive, but it rests on shaky ground. The US–China trade war is forcing regional stakeholders to adjust and it now seems that the future of Japan–China relations may be decided by the progress of US–China relations.

Central Beijing locked down as Chinese military practices for huge October 1 parade (September 8, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The enormous Avenue of Eternal Peace, which leads to Tiananmen Square and runs east-west, was closed to traffic for about seven miles (a dozen kilometres) to allow troops to parade around Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of Chinese power. It is where Mao Zedong in 1949 proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Hong Kong protesters appeal to Trump for help (September 8, 2019, BBC)
Sunday's crowd waved US flags and chanted pleas for the US to "liberate" Hong Kong from China. They are asking the US to pass a proposed "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act", which Democratic Senators are pushing for consideration next week.

Hong Kong activist's visit to Berlin draws anger from China (September 10, 2019, The Guardian)
The Chinese government has expressed its anger with Germany’s foreign minister over his meeting with the Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong, saying the encounter was “disrespectful” of Beijing’s sovereignty. Wong tweeted a picture of himself and Heiko Maas following his arrival in Berlin, saying the two had discussed the “protest situation and our cause”.

‘The End of Hong Kong as We Know It’ (September 10, 2019, The Atlantic)
Previous demonstrations in the city were colorful, hopeful, and exuberant. Rallies this summer have been more forlorn.

China boosts soft power in Pakistan via film and social media (September 11, 2019, Reuters)
Over the past year, China has sent state-owned PTV and other commercial television channels a series of documentaries, dramas and other television programming for free, officials from PTV told Reuters.

What Holds China Together? (September 26, 2019, New York Review of Books)
But it’s fair to say that today China faces its biggest set of crises in the forty years since Deng Xiaoping began economic reforms after the death of Mao.


Lord, I Love You (September 6, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Another Canaan Hymn that I like is “Lord, I Love You” (#573). The simple and catchy tune, as well as the repetitive nature of the lyrics, makes it easy to learn.

A Glimpse of “From Everywhere to Everywhere” (September 9, 2019, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The aim of this issue is to provide historical background as well as information and analysis of the various issues related to Chinese and Africans working together to reach both Chinese and Africans.

Hand-in-Hand, Carving a New Imprint (September 9, 2019, ChinaSource Quarterly)
In the future, will the partnerships that are birthed in Africa be replicated in the Middle East and North Africa to reach Muslims, and in Europe to reach post-Christian Europe?

Challenges in Africa for Chinese Christian Workers (September 9, 2019, ChinaSource Quarterly)
However, the reality is that believers in China have long had a vision for the nations, including the nations of Africa. Yet, when we look closely at Chinese Christian workers in Africa, we see that the challenges are formidable. 

A Cathedral in Shanghai (September 10, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
St. Ignatius Cathedral, or the Xujiahui Cathedral, located at No. 158, Puxi Road, is the cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of Shanghai. St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, was honored as the patron (the intercessor of the church).

How Do You Say Allah in Chinese? (September 10, 2019, Albawaba)
Islam’s history in China is nearly as old as the religion itself, but it is still treated as ‘foreign’ in the country.

China's Christians keep the faith, rattling the country's leaders (September 10, 2019, Nikkei Asian Review)
Christianity is on the rise in China, with the growing number of followers making Communist Party leaders nervous that the religion may soon undermine party dogma.

Society / Life

China's meteorite hunters: The adventurers hoping to get rich from rocks (September 7, 2019, CNN)
China's vast plains and mountainous regions are popular hunting grounds for the nation's meteorite enthusiasts. Some of the world's biggest iron meteorites have been found there, including in Altay where Zhang competes with other hunters to find precious rocks.

Why Chinese are traveling to Africa, and why Africans are traveling to China (September 9, 2019, Quartz Africa)
Direct airline flights between Africa and China have jumped over 600% in the past decade. Planes today are not only full of workers and traders seeking prosperity, but also short-term tourists and students, seeking leisure and knowledge.

Why a New Nursing Home Push Has Shanghai’s NIMBYs in a Tizzy  (September 9, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The city has announced ambitious plans to expand its network of community-based elder care facilities by 2020, but many residents are less than thrilled.

The Silent Cries of China’s Depressed Netizens (September 10, 2019, Sixth Tone)
A student posted a digital suicide note. Thousands replied, shedding light on the lives of millions of Chinese living with depression.

Why China’s Millennials Are at War with Marriage and Having Babies (September 10, 2019, Radii China)
A multitude of factors are causing a generation in their reproductive golden years to feel resistant to the perceived “restraints” of marriage and procreation.

How China’s one-child policy helped to endanger its retirees (September 11, 2019, Market Watch)
For nearly 30 years, China limited families from having more than one child, in an attempt to slow the country’s population growth rate. But the regulation is now taking a toll on its government-backed pension. China, like the U.S., has a public benefit program that relies on tax revenue from the workforce, and having so many more older residents than younger workers has become a burden to the system — one that already had trouble paying out its benefits.

Economics / Trade / Business

Tariffs are no longer China’s biggest problem in the trade war (September 6, 2019, CNBC)
Given the timing of the change in tone, it seems more likely that what’s making the difference is a realization on both sides that there’s another way this trade war could end – and that possible ending is one the U.S. is very unlikely to lose. That alternate ending is summed up in one word: decoupling.

China exports fall in August as US trade war bites (September 8, 2019, BBC)
China's exports unexpectedly fell in August as shipments to the US slowed sharply, adding to worries about the effects of the two nations' trade war. China is expected to announce more support measures soon, to avert the risk of a sharp economic slowdown.These could include the first cuts in four years to some key lending rates.

China Has an Ecommerce Giant You’ve Never Heard Of (September 9, 2019, Wired)
Pinduoduo draws shoppers outside China's big cities with low-priced goods. It trails only Alibaba in number of users, and has a larger market cap than eBay.

How to Evaluate Your China Risks (September 9, 2019, China Law Blog)
Should I stay in China or should I leave?  Should I enter the China market or is it too risky?  The answer to these questions is simple:  it depends.  The secret is understanding what those dependencies are and how your company strategically fits within them.

China Announces New Free Trade Zones in Six Provinces (September 10, 2019, China Briefing)
On August 26, China announced it will be expanding pilot free trade zones (FTZ) to six new provinces across the country. These are Jiangsu, Shandong, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Guanxi, and Yunnan. The move, which will raise the total number of China’s FTZs from 12 to 18 – aligns with the government’s ongoing reforms to open up the economy.

China aims to become self-sufficient in pork production despite African swine fever (September 11, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Yu Kangzhen, a vice-minister for agriculture, said it was unrealistic for China to pin its hope on imports in meeting the country’s demand for pork. Last year, China consumed about half of the world’s pork but more than 95 per cent was sourced from domestic supplies, which have taken a serious hit this year due to swine fever.

‘Big Brother’ in the Sky: Cathay Pacific Staff Feel China’s Pressure (September 11, 2019, The New York Times)
China wants the business world to take its side, and it is threatening to withhold access to its big and growing market from companies that don’t.

China Unveils Tariff Exemption Lists for US Imports – Full Lists Included (September 11, 2019, China Briefing)
China has released a list of 16 types of US imports that will be exempted from additional tariffs. The timing of the announcement is important as high-level trade officials on both sides prepare for yet another round of talks next month.


China regulates educational apps (September 5, 2019, ECNS.cn)
China's Ministry of Education joined seven other governmental departments to roll out a guideline on the use of educational apps in schools, following consideration of teacher and parent opinions, according to a news conference in Beijing on Thursday. The guideline states students or parents should not pay to use apps required by schools and there should be no commercial advertising or games involved. 

Chinese students in Canada: Attitudes, opportunities, challenges (September 5, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
The fast-growing body of Chinese students is due to Canada’s policy of attracting international students as potential skilled immigrants.

Confucius Institutes: The growth of China's controversial cultural branch (September 7, 2019, BBC)
According to China, its Confucius Institute is "a bridge reinforcing friendship" between it and the world. But to its critics the government-run body – which offers language and cultural programmes overseas – is a way for Beijing to spread propaganda under the guise of teaching, interfere with free speech on campuses and even to spy on students.

Science / Technology

Chinese medicine herbs could defeat devastating cotton virus, study suggests (September 6, 2019, South China Morning Post)
Chinese scientists have found chemicals in medicinal herbs that could tame a destructive plant virus threatening the cotton industry in its western Xinjiang region.

China blocks US video-conferencing tool Zoom (September 9, 2019, Technode)
Against a backdrop of increasingly restrictive internet in China, the ban of US-based Zoom comes as the countries continue a protracted battle over technology and trade.

What has China’s rover found on the moon’s far side? (September 10, 2019, Earth Sky)
Chinese media have reported that the Yutu-2 rover has discovered a “gel-like” substance in a crater on the far side of the moon. It sounds intriguing, but details are still scarce.

History / Culture

China and Africa: An Introduction (September 9, 2019, ChinaSource Quarterly)
This essay will help to show some of the depths and complexities of Sino-African relations we see in the early twenty-first century. It entails racism and exploitation but also opportunity and possibility. This article will sketch some of the historical background as well as introduce some of the contemporary issues in China-Africa relations. 

Travel / Food

China’s KFC Forsakes All Things Righteous, Creates Durian Chicken Nuggets  (September 4, 2019, Radii China)
Having debuted its new durian chicken nuggets, China's KFC has squarely aligned itself with the forces of chaos. Somewhere, the Colonel weeps.

Hong Kong tourism falls 40% as protests continue (September 9, 2019, BBC)
The number of tourists visiting Hong Kong tumbled in August as anti-government protests gripped the city, in a sign of the mounting economic cost of the unrest. In a blog post, Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan said visitor numbers fell almost 40% from last year. That marked a sharp deepening of the 5% year-on-year decline in July, he said.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

China’s FIBA World Cup Collapse Angers, Amuses Netizens (September 6, 2019, Sixth Tone)
After host nation China failed to advance to the second stage of the tournament, fans joked that the country’s basketball team is starting to take after its soccer team.

The Farewell — A Film Review (September 9, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
This movie has something for everyone. If you have lived in China, it will make you homesick. If you have Chinese friends in your home country, it offers wonderful insights into Chinese culture. If you are a Chinese-American (or ethnically Chinese in another country), the themes will be familiar. And if you’ve never been to China, and don’t know any Chinese people, you’ll enjoy the heart-warming story.

China’s internet regulator orders online AI algorithms to promote ‘mainstream values’ (September 11, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The government’s long list of “encouraged” content includes resources that promote Xi Jinping Thought, party policies and socialist core values, that showcase the country’s economic and social development, and which help to promote Chinese culture and stability.

Language / Language Learning

Hong Kong taxi lingo (September 9, 2019, Language Log)
If you're interested in going to Hong Kong to witness the earthshaking events that are taking place there, prepare yourself by learning a few useful Cantonese phrases. Luisa Tam, "Learn these Cantonese phrases on your next Hong Kong taxi ride to avoid being ripped off":

The Characters a Chinese First Grader Learns (September 10, 2019, Sinosplice)
The following word lists come from this 语文 (Chinese language) textbook series, the standard set approved for all Chinese children by the Chinese government in 2018 (and published by 人民教育出版社):

Watch: Why is China Obsessed with “Little Fresh Meat”? (September 10, 2019, Radii China)
In China, millions and millions of dollars each year hinge on the concept and marketing of "little fresh meat". Here's why.

Living Cross-culturally

“What If” Is Here: Global Trellis (September 11, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Too many cross-cultural workers become unnecessarily worn out on the field. What if exhaustion, creeping bitterness, and stagnant personal skills were replaced with refreshment, contentment, and growth? This can be your reality.


Documentary: China: A New World Order (August 29, 2019, BBC)
The story of Xi Jinping's controversial six-year rule, and how he set about transforming China into a controlled state where loyalty to the Communist Party appears to be valued above everything else.

Image credit: by Chee Kweng Teoh, via Flickr
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