ZGBriefs | September 14, 2017

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ZGBriefs is a compilation of news items gathered from published online sources. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content, and inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

How I Help Students Cheat Their Way to Academic Success (September 12, 2017, Sixth Tone)
I knew what I was doing was unethical, but I also knew I didn’t have enough cash to get through the month.

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Overseas NGO Law

Registered Foreign NGO Offices Interactive Map (The China NGO Project)

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Beijing’s Bold New Censorship (September 5, 2017, New York Review of Books)
Deng Xiaoping had counseled in 1992 that the Communist Party should, for the time being, “hide its strength and prepare in the shadows.” It appears that Xi has decided that it is time to step out of the shadows.

Big Brother is alive and watching in Xi's China (September 7, 2017, Financial Review)
For a journalist living and working in China, it's never a good sign when a government official meets you at the train station unannounced.

Searching for Mao in Xi Jinping's China (September 8, 2017, Boston Review)
Contemporary China may trumpet Marxism as its unifying ideology, but only as window dressing. 

Ethnicity factors strongly in PLA promotions (September 9, 2017, Asia Times Online)
While sweeping military change is on the cards at China's upcoming Communist Party Congress, few expect ethnic minority officers from unstable regions to make top brass.

Beijing’s Game of Thrones: Signaling Loyalty Before the Party Congress (September 12, 2017, China Focus)
Although the congress plays a major role in selecting the future leaders of China and in determining major policies, a small handful of current and former officials make the ultimate decisions.

After Toiling in Rural China, Protégé of Xi Jinping Joins Party’s Top Tiers (September 12, 2017, The New York Times)
The official, Chen Min’er, 56, a former Chinese literature student and propaganda worker, is nearly certain to enter the Politburo at a party congress in the autumn, putting him in the running for an even more powerful role in the future.

China sent a ship to the Arctic for science. Then state media announced a new trade route. (September 13, 2017, The Washington Post)
The moved raised concern that China is preparing for large-scale shipping through the route, despite the considerable environmental concerns and disputed territorial claims in the region.

China-born New Zealand MP denies being a spy (September 13, 2017, The Guardian)
A China-born MP for New Zealand’s ruling party has denied being a spy after it emerged that he had spent years studying and teaching in universities with links to Chinese intelligence services.


5 main religions in China agree to Sinicize (September 7, 2017, Global Times)
Leaders from five religious communities – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Christianity – reached a consensus at a forum that "the direction of religions is to integrate them with Chinese culture."

China tightens regulation of religion to 'block extremism' (September 7, 2017, Reuters)
China’s cabinet on Thursday passed new rules to regulate religion to bolster national security, fight extremism and restrict faith practiced outside organizations approved by the state. The document passed by Premier Li Keqiang updates a version of rules put into place in 2005 to allow the regulation of religion to better reflect “profound” changes in China and the world, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

China’s underground churches head for cover as crackdown closes in (September 10, 2017, South China Morning Post)
To avoid becoming targets in a ramped-up government campaign, many “house” congregations are meeting in smaller groups in person and online.

Conversations from Reformation 500 (September 12, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
Along with hearing from international and mainland Chinese pastors, we interviewed several Chinese attendees to learn more about what drew them to the conference, their take on the current state of the Chinese church, and to hear their impressions of the conference.

China jails man for teaching Islam online (September 12, 2017, CBS News)
Huang Shike was arrested in 2016 in Xinjiang province, three months after he formed a discussion group about Muslim worship on the messaging app WeChat, according to the official website China Judgments Online.

New Religion Regulations to Take Effect in February (September 13, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Regulating China’s religious life using the myriad provisions contained in the new regulations seems a bit like trying to nail the proverbial Jello to the wall. Having more nails in the toolkit does not make the task any easier.

Society / Life

Flights, Camera, Action: Chinese Couples Strike a Pose (September 8, Reuters)
Under a rare blue summer sky on London's Westminster Bridge, Jiachun Lin poses in a flowing white lace gown and windtossed veil with her fiance Da Song. For Chinese couples, wedding photos are not simply about having a photographer show up on the big day.

Why Cities Should Open Their Gates to the Children of Migrants (September 9, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Children being able to live with their parents is vital to a city’s future. As China’s cities continue to urbanize, many of today’s left-behind children will one day join the ranks of the urban population, and their educational level and civic sense will determine the quality of our cities’ development in the years to come.

Looking for the 21st Century China (September 11, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
As ChinaSource celebrates 20 years of ministry, it is a time of reflection and giving thanks. We are privileged to have served the China-ministry community for as long as we have.

How China’s Famous Foreigners Double as Diplomats (September 11, 2017, Sixth Tone)
When Chinese media tries to use foreigners to attract foreign audiences — say, with videos of foreign students fawning over the Chinese leader or adorable children singing the praises of the Belt and Road Initiative — the result usually rings hollow. 

Change Brings Opportunity and Angst to the Tibetan Plateau (September 11, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In many ways, Tagong represents the typical dilemma of any tourist hot spot that risks losing its character as the crowds of visitors grow. But here, the tensions are heightened by the town’s traditional adherence to nonmaterialistic Buddhist values.

Big in China: License-Plate Marriages (October, 2017, The Atlantic)
You can marry for love, you can marry for money, or, in Beijing, you can marry for a license plate. […]  “All we need is a marriage registration, and we can get you a license plate,” one middleman boasts in an online ad. “No need for the lottery—pay once and get the benefit for life!”

Economics / Trade / Business

Disillusioned Chinese students learn that overseas study no longer guarantees a good job (September 6, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Overseas study was once regarded by young Chinese as the golden ticket offering better job opportunities, but returnees nowadays are increasingly expressing disappointment at the lower salaries and less competitive positions provided for them, a Hangzhou newspaper has reported.

Secret Beijing Graveyard Serves as Symbol of Share Bike Saturation (September 12, 2017, The Beijinger)
Authorities have finally said "enough is enough" to the share bike industry, which has continued to proliferate in the already saturated capital, after it began causing chaos and inconvenience throughout the city – something proven by the recent discovery of a massive graveyard of share bikes abandoned under a Beijing overpass.

China banks fear US North Korea sanctions (September 12, 2017, BBC)
Bank branches near the North Korean border have told the BBC they've been instructed not to open any new accounts for that country's citizens and businesses. This is not part of any United Nations sanctions regime. It is an attempt to head off further US measures targeting Chinese banks which are accused of doing sanctions-busting business with North Korea.


How an Elite Chinese College Is Making Class Interesting Again (September 6, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Shanghai’s Fudan University is pushing a policy of ‘blended learning’ to get students off their smartphones and engaging with their lectures.

China Steps Up Crackdown On Liberal Universities (September 8, 2017, NPR)
Despite its ambitions to create world class academic institutions, China has stepped up efforts to purge its universities of liberal ideas, reversing a general long-term trend towards more academic freedoms.

Health / Environment

300 tonnes of diseased pig carcasses – the latest example of China's pollution crisis (September 12, 2017, The Guardian)
On the rural outskirts of the city of Huzhou officials found a clandestine burial site where the carcasses of tens of thousands of diseased pigs had been illegally interred. 

Smog cuts 3 years off lives in northern China, international study finds (September 12, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Coal-fired pollution leads to higher rates of illnesses such as lung cancer and stroke but life expectancy gap is narrowing, researchers say.

Science / Technology

Why China can't get enough of QR codes (September 8, 2017, CNN). At the heart of the country's digital payments boom are QR codes, two-dimensional images made up of a series of black and white squares.

China's ever-tighter web controls jolt companies, scientists (September 9, 2017, AP, via Star Tribune)
The crackdown threatens to disrupt work and study for millions of Chinese entrepreneurs, scientists and students who rely on websites they can see only with a VPN. 

China's Latest Crackdown on Message Groups Chills WeChat Users (September 12, 2017, Bloomberg)
Self-censorship is kicking in fast on WeChat as China’s new rules on message groups casts a chill among the 963 million users of Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s social network. Regulations released Sept. 7 made creators of online groups responsible for managing information within their forums and the behavior of members. 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

NBA’s Dallas Mavericks Ask Chinese Fans for New Name (September 12, 2017, Sixth Tone)
U.S. basketball team the Dallas Mavericks have for more than 20 years been called xiaoniu in China, or “little cows.” But that name, club owner and tech billionaire Mark Cuban said in video posted on Chinese social media Monday, “has nothing to do with the Mavericks.” He has vowed to change it with help from the team’s fans.

History / Culture

A Drag Queen for the Dearly Departed (September 8, 2017, ChinaFile)
At Chinese funerals through the ages, performers have sung and danced. In recent decades, the name for these groups were zhentou, or performing groups like dragon or lion dancers. With time, these were “modernized” by local people to include strippers and drag queens.

Travel / Food

Urumqi’s International Grand Bazaar | Worth a Visit? (September 12, 2017, Far West China)
Considering the fact that there aren’t many tourist attractions in Urumqi, it’s no wonder that you’ll find this place on every travel itinerary.

Living Cross-culturally

You Might be a China Foreigner If…. (September 6, 2017, By the Hui)

Language / Language Learning

Should you learn Chinese vocabulary from lists? (September 12, 2017, Hacking Chinese)
It would be naïve to think that you could master Chinese simply by studying lists of characters and words, but even if few students actually think that’s the case, many act as if it were at least partly true.


The Rushing on of the Purposes of God: A Book Review (September 8, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Having lived in Shanxi province with his family since the 1990s, Andrew Kaiser is well placed to write this book which has been long in the making. What originally started out as some pages of information on Shanxi to assist fellow workers, grew and grew.

Links for Researchers

Wang Mingdao (Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity)
Wang Mingdao was born in 1900 in Beijing within the Foreign Legation, where his parents had taken refuge during the Boxer Rebellion. 


China Humanities: The Individual in Chinese Culture (A Harvard University course, via Edx)
Explore Chinese history and culture from the perspective of the individual through philosophical texts, literary works, and art.

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