ZGBriefs | September 17, 2020

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Featured Article

State Department lowers China travel advisory but warns of ‘arbitrary detentions and exit bans’ (September 14, 2020, USA Today)
The U.S. Department of State lowered its advisory for China on Monday, from level 4 (“Do not travel”) to level 3, urging Americans to reconsider any travel to that country. At the same time, it warned of “arbitrary detention” and “arbitrary enforcement of local laws” in China and Hong Kong.

Sponsored Link

Video: How Relevant is the Gospel for the Chinese?
Among Cultural Chinese everywhere, the Christian faith is often perceived as a foreign or Western religion. Hence, many do not see how it is relevant for them. In this webinar, which took place on September 10, 2020, I’Ching Thomas talks about how we can articulate the gospel in terms that are attractive and significant to our Cultural Chinese friends. We also hear how a Cultural Chinese can be a follower of Christ without having to shed his ethnic identity— one can be Chinese and a Christian with honor.
I’Ching is the author of Jesus: The Path to Human FlourishingThe webinar includes insights drawn from the book.
A full video recording of the webinar is available on YouTube.

If you or your company/organization would like to sponsor a link in ZGBriefs, please contact info@chinasource.org for more information.

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

In Defense of Diplomacy with China  (September 10, 2020, China File)
Critics of the last four decades of China policy have incorrectly and simplistically labeled diplomacy a failure because the People’s Republic did not become a liberal democracy. That was never the goal or an achievable objective of U.S. policy. The goal was to shape Chinese policy to align more with U.S. objectives: a more open society, reduced overseas disruptive behavior, increasingly transparent business operations.

China announces retaliatory restrictions on US diplomats in China and Hong Kong  (September 12, 2020, The Guardian)
China has announced new restrictions on the activities of US diplomats working on the mainland China and Hong Kong, in what it called a justified response to similar measures imposed on Chinese diplomats in the US last year. In a statement posted online late Friday, a foreign ministry spokesperson said the rules would apply to senior diplomats and all other personnel at the American embassy in Beijing and consulates throughout China.

European chief singles out China’s moves on Hong Kong, Xinjiang as she unveils new sanctions scheme  (September 16, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Ursula von der Leyen, the EC president, displayed tough rhetoric on China’s human rights records and trade practices while outlining the executive arm’s work in the year ahead.

DOJ Charges Chinese Nationals With Hacking More Than 100 Companies  (September 16, 2020, NPR)
The men work for a Chinese company called Chengdu 404 Network Technology, and allegedly compromised more than 100 companies in the U.S. and elsewhere, including Australia, South Korea and Brazil. They also allegedly breached Vietnamese and Indian government networks.


The Church in China: Making a Difference in Society  (September 7, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
The church in China is a miracle. When you think of China you think of communism, of red flags, of big military parades in Beijing (such as last October for the 70th anniversary of the PRC) and we, as Christians, mostly think of it as a “closed” country to the gospel. But to God, no country is really ever closed, and the opportunities for the gospel to advance are endless. The church in China continues to grow, and believers are making a significant contribution to their society.

Viewing the Registered Church through Different Lenses  (September 7, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Outside observers often focus on the division between registered and unregistered churches in China. It may be argued, however, that the TSPM is doing more to blur these lines than it is to accentuate them. In the minds of China’s leaders, the TSPM’s political mandate may not have changed, but thousands of TSPM churches on the ground are fulfilling a spiritual mandate that knows no political boundaries.

Sunday School Training in China  (September 7, 2020, ChinaSource Quarterly)
I would like to ask for your prayers for these Sunday schools and teachers. Some of them continue to serve in creative ways, and some are facing challenges as the political environment tightens. I have learned of churches where children are no longer welcome. Despite all the challenges and difficulties, I believe their love for Jesus and for the children will carry them a long way.

China breaks Vatican pact by placing priests under house arrest for defying Party: report  (September 13, 2020, Apple Daily)
China has placed dissenting Catholic priests in Jiangxi province under house arrest, in breach of an agreement signed with the Vatican to protect clergy from coercion, according to a report by Catholic news media.

Communism’s Questions, Christianity’s Answers  (September 14, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
The other surprising discovery is the apparent interplay between China’s Communist culture and the personal spiritual journeys of Chinese Christians. A case could be made that, for many Chinese, Christianity provides credible responses to questions that Communism raises but is ultimately unable to answer. 

A T-Shirt Witness in China  (September 15, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
Christians in China are not always as hidden as you might think. This article from China Christian Daily highlights the public service ministry of one Christian group in northern China. Even under COVID-19 conditions, this group is out serving the public wearing t-shirts that read, “Jesus Loves You.” How is such a thing possible in China today? 

Society / Life

Video: Beijing’s back and forth lockdown  (September 14, 2020, BBC)
The BBC’s China Correspondent Stephen McDonell explores the new ‘normal’ in Beijing, which has gone in and out of lockdown.

China filmmakers capture horror and humanity of Wuhan’s coronavirus lockdown  (September 15, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The film, 76 Days – named for the duration of the draconian lockdown in the central Chinese city of Wuhan  – captures harrowing footage of terrified citizens hammering on hospital doors, medical staff collapsing from exhaustion, and relatives begging in vain to say goodbye to infected loved ones.

Dropping in on China’s ‘Parachute Generation’  (September 16, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Over the past 15 years, hundreds of thousands of young Chinese opted to attend high school in the United States. Now, rising tensions and post-pandemic uncertainty seem set to make a difficult transition even harder.

Economics / Trade / Business

WTO finds Washington broke trade rules by putting tariffs on China; ruling angers U.S.  (September 15, 2020, Reuters)
The Trump administration says its tariffs imposed two years ago on more than $200 billion in Chinese goods were justified because China was stealing intellectual property and forcing U.S. companies to transfer technology for access to China’s markets. But the WTO’s three-member panel said the U.S. duties broke trading rules because they applied only to China and were above maximum rates agreed to by the United States.

US drops sweeping Xinjiang goods ban, China’s cotton sector breathes temporary sigh of relief (September 15, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Having faced down trade war tariffs, a pandemic that closed factories for months and now a global recession, the Asian apparel industry can breathe a sigh of relief after the United States decided to temporarily shelve a sweeping ban on products containing cotton from China’s Xinjiang province over allegations of widespread forced labour.

China’s economy shrugs off global slump as shoppers join the recovery  (September 15, 2020, CNN)
The world’s second largest economy has been in recovery mode for months. Now, consumers are starting to spend more, pushing retail sales up to 3.36 trillion yuan ($495 billion) in August, a 0.5% increase over the previous year. While small, the gain marks the first time sales have increased in 2020.

China’s Communist Party demands private sector’s loyalty as external risks rise  (September 16, 2020, Fox Business)
 China’s ruling Communist Party is demanding a show of greater loyalty from the sprawling private sector as the world’s second-largest economy grapples with growing external risks, from open U.S. hostility to the coronavirus pandemic. […] Citing rising risks and diversified values and interests among entrepreneurs, the party issued guidelines late on Tuesday advising private firms how to position themselves politically.


How China Brought Nearly 200 Million Students Back to School  (September 12, 2020, The New York Times)
China says the reopening of classrooms proves that its top-down system is superior. To overwhelmed teachers and students stuck on campuses, its restrictions can feel like overkill.

Xinhua Article Sparks Debate on Male Teacher Shortage  (September 15, 2020, Sixth Tone)
While some say more male role models are needed to solve the country’s “masculinity crisis,” others argue that such a mentality is inherently sexist.

Parents Keep Children Home As China Limits Mongolian Language In The Classroom  (September 16, 2020, NPR)
They gathered by the hundreds outside dozens of schools in rare acts of civil disobedience, protesting a new policy that sharply reduces their hours of Mongolian-language instruction. For several days, schools across Inner Mongolia stood empty as parents pulled their children out of class, the largest demonstrations in Inner Mongolia in more than three decades. Just as quickly came the crackdown.

Health / Environment

In coronavirus vaccine race, China inoculates thousands before trials are completed  (September 14, 2020, Reuters)
China is inoculating tens of thousands of its citizens with experimental coronavirus vaccines and attracting international interest in their development, despite expert concerns over the safety of drugs that have not completed standard testing.

Over 3,200 People Test Positive for Brucellosis in Gansu, Officials Say  (September 16, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The outbreak started last December, when dozens of veterinary researchers became infected with the animal-borne bacteria, showing flu-like symptoms.

Science / Technology

China’s ‘hybrid war’: Beijing’s mass surveillance of Australia and the world for secrets and scandal (September 13, 2020, ABC News-Australia)
A database of 2.4 million people, including more than 35,000 Australians, has been leaked from the Shenzhen company Zhenhua Data which is believed to be used by China’s intelligence service, the Ministry of State Security.

History / Culture

Video: Panoramas of Peking, 1917 (Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Travel / Food

Famous Goubuli Restaurant Calls Police for Getting Roasted Online, Gets Kicked Out of Franchise Group  (September 15, 2020, What’s on Weibo)
The well-known Goubuli Wangfujing restaurant just got a bit more famous this week. The branch, which specializes in steamed buns, is now not just known as one of Beijing’s worst-rated restaurants, but also as a business that shot itself in the foot by handling a social media crisis the wrong way.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

The disappearing China correspondents  (September 11, 2020, World Magazine)
The expulsion of reporters in China makes it more and more difficult to find out what is happening on the ground in China. The Chinese government tightly controls its own press, and the dwindling number of foreign reporters find more and more areas off-limits. 

China’s Favorite Idols Then and Now: Comparing the Stars of the Past Two Decades  (September 16, 2020, Radii China)
Some things in Chinese celebrity culture have changed, but tropes such as the pop boyband and the strong leading lady remain as prominent as ever.

The Climbers: A Film Review  (September 16, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
If there was ever something worth doing right the first time so that you don’t have to do it again, climbing Mount Everest would probably be it. The film The Climbers is based on the true story of Chinese mountaineers in the 1960s who successfully summited from the north side but failed to document it with photographic evidence. After being challenged by the international community, they embarked on a second expedition to prove themselves by doing it again in 1975.

Crosstalk at a Crossroads  (September 19, 2020, Radii China)
The Deyun Society is one of China’s most famous comedy clubs. It has transformed traditional crosstalk comedy, once attractive mainly to older generations, into a modern sensation followed by millions of young fans online. But Deyun has also been accused of commercializing the traditional comic medium and diluting the quality of crosstalk.

Language / Language Learning

Choice Chengyu: Teaching Idioms  (September 10, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Regardless of their classroom manner, though, China has had a long tradition of respecting and honoring educators ever since the most famous teacher of all, Confucius. In honor of these lifelong mentors, let’s look at a few chengyu that describe teachers of all kinds—the good, the bad, and the especially memorable:

Living Cross-culturally

In Exile—Still Waiting  (September 11, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Yet, perhaps more than ever this unexpected season of change and uncertainty has taught me that theology is not merely understood, but lived. I don’t feel as much like the man looking down from his balcony discussing what is happening on the street below, while not actually experiencing the street (to borrow a metaphor from the late J.I. Packer).


Full Text: Hong Kong Travel Advisory (September 14, 2020, United States Department of State)
Reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), due to COVID-19 and arbitrary enforcement of local laws.

Pray for China

September 16  (Pray For China: A Walk Through History)
On Sept. 16, 1965, Christian writer Kang Hong (康洪) was born in Fujian. Known by the pen name Bei Cun (北村弟兄), he became famous as an avante-garde writer before coming to faith in Christ on Mar. 10, 1992. Since becoming a Christian, Bei Cun helped found the Fangzhou Church (方舟教会-Ark Church) in Beijing and has written several Christian novels, including The Marriage of Zhang Sheng, Fury, and Glass. Pray for Christian writers in Fujian and Beijing to proclaim the Lord’s salvation and to declare his glory to all peoples. Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 1 Chronicles 16:23-24

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