ZGBriefs | September 14, 2023

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Featured Article

From Streets to Pages: Inside the Life of a Beijing Courier (September 13, 2023, Sixth Tone)
In his latest book “Beijing Courier,” Hu Anyan recounts challenges and heartwarming encounters from his days working as a courier that helped him discover the true value of life.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China agrees to rare visit by Vatican envoy for Ukraine talks (September 13, 2023, Reuters)
The Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday that Vatican envoy Cardinal Matteo Zuppi will visit China for talks on resolving the conflict in Ukraine, despite the lack of formal bilateral relations between Beijing and the Holy See. Li Hui, China’s Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs, will meet with Zuppi, foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular news conference.

China unveils Taiwan economic ‘integration’ plan as warships conduct manoeuvres off coast (September 13, 2023, The Guardian)
China’s government has unveiled a “new path towards integrated development” with Taiwan, including proposals to make it easier for Taiwanese people to live, study and work in China. At the same time, it sent the largest number of warships to gather in years to the waters on Taiwan’s east, in what analysts said signalled a choice between peaceful “reunification” and military violence, just months out from Taiwan’s presidential election.

Taliban gives a warm welcome to China’s new ambassador to Afghanistan (September 13, 2023, Al Jazeera)
The Taliban on Wednesday welcomed China’s new ambassador to Afghanistan, with Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi saying the nomination of Zhao Sheng was a “significant step with a significant message”. It is the first time since the Taliban takeover in 2021 that an ambassador to Kabul has been afforded such lavish protocol, with the Afghan officials saying the new envoy’s arrival is a sign for other nations to come forward and establish relations with the Taliban-led government.


How the Grand Canyon of China Became a Christian Land (September 7, 2023, Christianity Today) (subscription required)
In the remote mountains and ancient forests of China’s Nujiang Grand Canyon, near the Myanmar and Tibet borders in Yunnan province, live the Lisu people (傈僳族). One of the country’s 55 ethnic minorities, the community of about 900,000 is majority (80%) Christian, and the faith has been present among the people for over a century. The history of the sowing, germination, flowering, and fruiting of the gospel among the Lisu and the development of their written language trace back to the 1910s, with a missionary from England named James Outram Fraser.

The Power of Heaven (September 7, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
In recent years, a growing movement of Reformed, urban house churches have begun to articulate an important theology of ‘walking the way of the cross’ which shapes their ecclesiology, evangelism, and discipleship. 

Arise Asia: Inspiring the Next Generation (September 8, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
It is almost two millennia since Jesus called his first disciples to follow him. Since that time, many followers of Jesus have taken up the call to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Now, in the 21st century, the need for the gospel to be shared and lived out in Asia is tremendous, and God is setting the hearts of people in Asia on fire for his glory and purpose. The time has come for Asia to arise and participate in God’s great commission.

Bearing With: Recognizing and Accepting Differences (September 11, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
When Wang Fang began recognizing and accepting the differences between her and her older, male, Christian colleague with whom she was at odds, she became willing to reconcile with him.

Society / Life

Two dead after Hong Kong’s heaviest rain in at least 140 years (September 8, 2023, The Guardian)
Hong Kong’s heaviest rain since records began 140 years ago has left two people dead and more than 100 injured, as unusually wet weather caused by typhoons brought more disruption to southern China. Videos showed water cascading down steep hillsides in the former British colony, causing waist-deep flooding in narrow streets and inundating malls, railway stations and tunnels.

China can’t just rely on boosting births to address aging population issues, Renmin University professor says(September 13, 2023, CNBC)
China can’t just rely on increasing childbirths to address its aging population issues, said Du Peng, vice principal of Renmin University of China. The number of people who are aged 60 and above will roughly double to more than 500 million in the year 2050, he told reporters during a talk on Wednesday. He said policymakers can take action today: by raising the retirement age, improving insurance coverage and increasing retirees’ social participation, among other measures.

Economics / Trade / Business

China Is Flooding the World With Cars (September 6, 2023, The New York Times) (subscription required)
Even as China’s other exports falter, its carmakers are seeing big increases in overseas sales, mainly for gasoline-powered models.

India pushes back against China’s economic influence (September 9, 2023, East Asia Forum)
As the competition between India and China for influence in South Asia intensifies, foreign investment becomes more important in shaping regional outcomes. This discussion is particularly relevant as China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) continues to expand, reaching the borders of almost every South Asian country. India will need to leverage foreign aid and investments to achieve its goal of becoming a leading player in South Asia.

Does China face a lost decade? (September 10, 2023, The Economist)
Ever since the Chinese housing bubble burst,” said Richard Koo of the Nomura Research Institute in a recent talk, “I’ve been getting tonnes of calls from Chinese journalists, economists, investors and sometimes policymakers asking me, ‘Are we going the way of Japan?’”

On the China-Laos Border, a Cautionary Tale of Hot Money and Wild Dreams (September 13, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Chinese investors have poured money into the small Lao town of Boten, believing a new railway would bring massive growth. But the hoped-for boom has yet to arrive.

Western firms shift investment from China to India as worries mount (September 13, 2023, Reuters)
U.S. and European firms are shifting investment away from China to other developing markets, a report from Rhodium Group showed, with India receiving the vast majority of this redirected foreign capital, followed by Mexico, Vietnam and Malaysia.

EU announces an investigation into Chinese subsidies for electric vehicles (September 13, 2023, AP)
The European Union is launching an investigation into subsidies that China provides to electric vehicle makers, the head of the bloc’s executive branch said Wednesday, as concern grows that the aid is harming European companies. “Global markets are now flooded with cheaper Chinese electric cars, and their price is kept artificially low by huge state subsidies. This is distorting our market,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France.


Video: Why does it matter if Americans study in China? (September 12, 2023, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, via YouTube
Joanna Waley-Cohen, provost of NYU Shanghai, joins us from Shanghai to discuss how a personal understanding of Chinese society and culture can impact students, and the continued necessity of educational ventures such as NYU Shanghai to improved U.S.-China relations.

American Universities Shouldn’t Cut All Ties With China (September 13, 2023, Foreign Affairs)
The Beijing-Washington relationship has deteriorated into something akin to a new Cold War, setting up a dangerous rivalry that could damage both countries, and the world. Universities can contribute to stabilizing this relationship without increasing the United States’ vulnerability to Chinese espionage or other efforts to benefit unduly from U.S. research—as long as they do not underestimate the risks posed by engaging with their counterparts based in a rival nation. 

Survey of 30 years of Chinese students in US reflects pressures as well as satisfaction (September 14, 2023, South China Morning Post)
Chinese students mostly have a fond impression of their time in the US, although they increasingly report experiences of discrimination and pressure to express certain political views, according to a survey of three decades of Chinese students in America released on Wednesday. 

History / Culture

My Chinese classroom celebrated 9/11. The shame came later. (September 11, 2023, The China Project) (registration required)
Liuyu Ivy Chen weaves together Marxism, Sharon Olds, James Baldwin, and Chinese Communist Party lore in this poetic and unflinchingly honest essay about how she, as a child in an anonymous Chinese city, viewed the 9/11 attacks. And how she, as an adult now living in New York, views her younger self.

Living Cross-culturally

Why the Mother Tongue Matters: The Root of Connection and Cultural Vitality (September 13, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
As a third-culture kid consultant, I regularly meet children with very limited English, and yes, it can be a challenge. Still, they are less of a concern to me than the parents who so eagerly want their child or children to learn English that they actually sacrifice their own native language. Is learning English coming at the cost of being able to proudly read, write, and speak our own mother tongue?


Confronting Confucian Understandings of the Christian Doctrine of Salvation – Book Review (Revisited) (August 25, 2023, Global China Center)
Confronting Confucian Understandings of the Christian Doctrine of Salvation will now be required reading for anyone seeking to understand why Chinese intellectuals have accepted, rejected, or modified the Christian message since the time of Matteo Ricci. Paulos Huang has given us a fine, clearly-organized study with a great deal of thought-provoking findings and suggestions.

Witnesses to Power: Stories of God’s Quiet Work in a Changing China – Book Review (Revisited) (September 7, 2023, Global China Center)
Despite its brevity, Witnesses to Power contains a wealth of information. As Ralph Covell observes in the Foreward, this slim volume is marked by breadth, diversity, balance, and challenge. These stories come from one end of China to the other. They speak of rural and urban evangelism, healing and exorcism, compassionate care for needy children, community life of the Jesus family, church planting and growth in remote areas not penetrated by outside Christian witness, and the impact of the gospel to produce economic prosperity.

Pray for China

September 20 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Sept. 20, 1929, Mrs. Xi Shengmo (席胜魔师母) went to be with the Lord in Zhaocheng, Shanxi. Pastor and Mrs. Xi were some of the first Chinese to come to Christ from a scholarly family. After their conversions in 1879 and 1883 respectively, they ministered to opium addicts for many years. They often housed 50-60 new Christians who studied the Bible and worked the fields. The year after her conversion, Mrs. Xi gave her husband all the jewelry that had been his wedding gift to her so that a mission station could be opened in a nearby city. Pray for families in Shanxi to worship the Eternal King Jesus. They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful. Revelation 17:14

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Image credit: Joann Pittman
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