ZGBriefs | September 19, 2019

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Featured Article

No Shenfenzheng, No Problem: China to Roll out Real-Time Passport Authentication for Foreigners  (September 17, 2019, The Beijinger)
Whether you hold a B-grade work visa or are just coming to China for a lark, your name and passport information will soon be added to a national expat ID authentication platform, according to a release from the Ministry of Public Security.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

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. 

Podcast: Nationalism and the Chinese State (September 11, 2019, Council on Foreign Relations)
Nationalism in China is a push and pull between citizen activism and the government. Today, China finds itself dealing with protests in Hong Kong and a trade war with the United States. Jessica Chen Weiss discusses the nature of activism in China and how the Chinese government is responding to these new challenges.

Chinese Propaganda Paints Hong Kong as a Spoiled Brat (September 12, 2019, Foreign Policy)
The criticism of Hong Kong as a bratty little girl refusing the many gifts of her mother draws as much on these more recent stereotypes as anything from the time of Confucius.

Is China’s police chief playing a new part in Beijing’s handling of Hong Kong?  (September 13, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The unexpected appearance of China’s police chief at a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Macau’s new leader could signal wariness in Beijing of national security threats from Hong Kong, observers say.

Glory to Hong Kong: Singing a new protest anthem (September 14, 2019, BBC)
After months of peaceful marches and clashes, Hong Kong protesters have begun staging a different type of demonstration – mass singalongs of a new song called Glory to Hong Kong. Some even think it should be replace the Chinese national anthem.

China extends influence in Pacific as Solomon Islands break with Taiwan (September 16, 2019, The Guardian)
The move is a huge blow to self-ruled Taiwan, which has lost six allies since 2016, and to Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking re-election in January amid rising tension with China. It has sparked protests in the Solomon Islands, according to local media.

Hong Kong leader to hold dialogue aimed at easing tensions (September 16, 2019, Reuters)
Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said on Tuesday she and her team would begin dialogue sessions with the community next week, while reiterating that violence that has roiled the city over three months of protests must end.

As China's National Day approaches, Hong Kong protests cast a shadow (September 17, 2019, Christian Science Monitor)
As Beijing watches Hong Kong’s protests, what does it see? In part, a threat to the Communist Party’s – and the country’s – hard-won image of stability. 

The Chinese Communist Party Wants It All (September 17, 2019, Foreign Policy)
In the case of CCP rule in mainland China, the party-state has tried to win over waverers by adopting a “rule by bribery” approach. Those unwilling to align themselves with the party-state have been at the receiving end of a “rule by fear” approach.

China Used Twitter To Disrupt Hong Kong Protests, But Efforts Began Years Earlier (September 17, 2019, NPR)
NPR's data team and Beijing correspondent took a deep dive into the more than 900 accounts Twitter identified as linked to a Chinese state effort to discredit Hong Kong protesters. Here's what we found.

Activists push U.S. Congress to pass Hong Kong bill (September 17, 2019, Reuters)
Hong Kong democracy activists urged members of the U.S. Congress on Tuesday to pass legislation to combat human rights abuses in the city, rejecting any suggestion that such a move would be inappropriate U.S. involvement in another country’s affairs.

China Is The U.S.'s Top Intelligence Threat, American Officials Say  (September 18, 2019, NPR)
Three ex-U.S. intelligence officers recently were convicted or pleaded guilty to spying for China, and the Justice Department brought almost a dozen more cases related to Chinese economic espionage.


An African in China: An Interview (September 9, 2019, ChinaSource Quarterly)
My experiences in China as an African student have been exciting and at the same time challenging. I have found Chinese culture very interesting because there are so many aspects that are different from African culture: these include holidays, beliefs, and ways of thinking. 

Stream of Praise (September 13, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
The fourth genre that I want to highlight is contemporary worship music, produced by the California-based ministry Stream of Praise. 

China and Africa: An Eternal Imprint (September 16, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
African churches are reaching out to the Chinese who are now in their midst. In China,African students and business people are active in international fellowships and warmly share their faith with local friends and colleagues in their host country. 

When a Member Seeks Financial Gain in the Church (September 17, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
In this article from Gospel Times, a preacher from Henan province shares about how financial scams have rocked the reputation of some churches. Further, he argues for the importance of confronting scams and controversies in the church rather than covering them up for the sake of “face.”

Society / Life

International events postponed as protests continue in Hong Kong  (September 13, 2019, Christian Science Monitor)
Ongoing demonstrations have halted Hong Kong's arts and culture scene, as Hong Kong-China tensions impact events in Australia and Canada. 

Sharper Eyes: Shandong to Xinjiang (Part 3) (September 13, 2019, China Digital Times)
Having explored Sharp Eyes’ overarching goals of expanding surveillance to rural areas, we will also more closely examine how this program marries cutting-edge technologies with more low-tech citizen policing that encourages residents to surveil public video feeds and report suspicious incidents using their TVs and mobile devices.

China’s long-distance lorry drivers are unsung heroes of its economy (September 12, 2019, The Economist)
China’s 30m lorry drivers are vital but invisible. Their toil helped the country become a manufacturing juggernaut. It is now feeding a consumer-spending boom, as middle-class Chinese order anything from a sofa to a selfie-stick with a tap on a smartphone, for express delivery at cut-price rates. 

Economics / Trade / Business

Kept in the Dark (September 14, 2019, The World of Chinese)
With retail sales slowing and a trade war raging, China is betting on the “nighttime economy” to boost domestic demand. Last week, work to encourage consumption after dark received official blessing when it was put forward by China’s State Council as part of a raft of measures to shore up the economy.

China's slowdown deepens; industrial output growth falls to 17-1/2 year low (September 15, 2019, Reuters)
The slowdown in China’s economy deepened in August, with growth in industrial production at its weakest 17-1/2 years amid spreading pain from a trade war with the United States and softening domestic demand. 

China pushing ahead with controversial corporate social credit rating system for 33 million firms (September 17, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is pushing ahead with social credit-based supervision of all commercial entities from large firms to small, independently owned and operated business, prompting complaints over corporate privacy and heavy handed government intervention.

China to auction 10,000 tonnes of pork from state reserves (September 18, 2019, The Guardian)
China faces growing discontent over the food staple, exacerbated by an African swine flu epidemic that wiped out at least a third of the country’s pigs. Pork is an important product in China and national and local governments have maintained strategic reserves of it since the 1970s. The exact amount in the reserves is a state secret.


The Foreign Teachers Caught Up in China’s Education Clampdown  (September 12, 2019, Sixth Tone)
China is cracking down on foreigners working illegally at English training schools, but demand for teachers still far outstrips supply.

Study Chinese in Qingdao – Best Private Schools and Universities  (September 12, 2019, Sapore di Cina)
Everything from rents, groceries, transportation and entertainment are cheaper in Qingdao compared to Beijing and Shanghai. The biggest difference can be seen for rents that are -60% cheaper on average than in Shanghai, according to Expatistan.com.

Why Is the FBI Investigating Americans Who Study in China? — A ChinaFile Conversation (September 13, 2019, China File)
The purpose of the interviews, according to NPR, is to “ascertain whether they have been co-opted by Chinese espionage efforts.” This intensified attention follows increased scrutiny of Chinese students studying at U.S. universities, especially those linked to the military, reflecting the growing rivalry between the two powers.

School Surveillance Questioned: Why do we Need to Monitor Them? (September 16, 2019, Inkstone News)
The universities are at the forefront of a national effort to lead the world in emerging technologies and move China’s economy up the value chain. But the monitoring of students has raised privacy issues for educators and parents, as well as big questions over the effectiveness of the technology. After long exposure to the scanners at her Xian university, Li is used to the technology’s constant presence – and its obvious failures.

How I Went From Village Teacher to Co-Op Leader (September 17, 2019, Sixth Tone)
After decades of fast-paced urbanization, China is finally switching gears and starting to address the now-yawning socio-economic divide separating its cities and countryside. Over the past few years, the government has spent huge sums of money in an attempt to raise farmer incomes, alleviate poverty, and “revitalize” the countryside.

Health / Environment

Turning blue: China Inc holds breath as Beijing eyes smog-free skies for National Day (September 16, 2019, Reuters)
When the sun comes up in Beijing on Oct. 1, the Chinese government will aim to celebrate its 70th birthday under a brilliant blue sky – and factory bosses hope they can get through it without blanket closures.

Science / Technology

China’s Telecom Companies Showcase Potential 5G Applications (September 18, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Three telecom giants’ plans for 5G go far beyond better video playback and less lag during mobile games.

History / Culture

Mongols, the Ming, and the Myth of the Mooncake Rebellion  (September 12, 2019, Radii China)
A popular legend has it that Mongolian rule in China, which lasted from approximately 1279 to 1368, ended when clever Chinese rebels (usual suspects include the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty Zhu Yuanzhang, his chief advisor Liu Bowen, or another rebel leader named Liu Futong) used mooncakes to inspire their Chinese compatriots to rise up against their Mongolian overlords. 

In 1967, Hong Kong’s Protesters Were Communist Sympathizers (September 16, 2019, The New York Times)
But the differences between then and now may be more striking. One is that the demonstrators of 1967 were railing not against China, but against the British. And the Chinese Communist Party, which denounces the current unrest, was then quietly supporting it.

Travel / Food

Molly Yeh Talks Jewish/Chinese Food & Family (September 3, 2019, Interfaith Family)
From her sunny kitchen in northern Minnesota, Molly Yeh brings innovative recipes and a unique perspective to her Sunday morning Food Network series Girl Meets Farm. The popular blogger, best-selling author (her cookbook Molly on the Range is part recipes, part memoir) and Daytime Emmy-nominated culinary host grew up in Glenview, Illinois, with her Episcopalian Chinese father and Hungarian Jewish mother, and she mines those influences in her cooking and entertaining.

Country Driving (September 15, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Panzhihua cannot be found on maps older than 1965. The southern Sichuan mining hub was developed in a rush to exploit massive deposits of iron ore, titanium, vanadium, and cobalt. Despite being the only city in China named after a flower (the red kapok blossom, which Mao Zedong allegedly saw on a visit to the area), it rarely makes it into travelers’ itineraries.

China’s restaurant industry is booming as young professionals stay hungry amid trade war, slowing economy  (September 15, 2019, South China Morning Post)
The country’s food and drinks sector is booming and will become a trillion-dollar industry in the next few years if it continues on its current trajectory. 

The Hipster Tour Groups Winning Over Chinese Millennials (September 17, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Matching hats and megaphones are out, and midnight bonfires are in, as China’s travel industry adapts to a new generation of tourists.

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling in China With Your Family (September 18, 2019, Wild China Blog)
Now you can no longer delay planning what to do with your kids once you land. Having done this a few times — and many more times for my clients — here is my hard-learned advice for traveling China with your family. 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Walled-Off: Streaming Platforms (September 12, 2019, Radii China)
As of June 2019, China’s mammoth online video-streaming market was estimated to have 759 million users. Over the years, the sector has evolved from offering low-quality pirated versions of movies and TV shows to producing licensed content viewable on a subscription-based business model.

Chinese Billionaire at Heart of Obamas-Backed Movie “American Factory” Responds to Criticisms (September 16, 2019, Radii China)
In between some strongly nationalist points about all Chinese people working for the motherland and some softer messaging about wanting to “promote mutual cultural understanding between the two countries,” Cao lambasts the idea of workers’ unions.

China’s 2020 Olympic Mascots Have Unusual Names (September 18, 2019, Inkstone News)
The organizers have chosen an unconventional way to name their new 2022 Olympic mascots: a panda and an anthropomorphic lantern. Instead of using Pinyin, the romanized spelling system used by more than 1 billion Mandarin speakers, both mascots have names spelled in ways that make it easier for non-Chinese speakers to pronounce. 

Language / Language Learning

Building Bridges through Language and Culture (September 9, 2019, ChinaSource Quarterly)
When I have an opportunity to speak to any group of students, whether young or old, I always feel it is my role to ensure that despite the differences in our cultures, we must find a common platform of interacting with one another so that we can accommodate one another and thereby live peacefully with one another.

Learn How to Speak Like Chinese Animals With These Beastly Onomatopoeia (September 16, 2019, The Beijinger)
Animal noises in Chinese are also doubly interesting given that they must adhere to sounds of preexisting words, making for some truly interesting-sounding pets (for example, Chinese dogs bark wāngwāng, not woof woof)


Sino-African Relations and International Contexts (September 9, 2019, ChinaSource Quarterly)
For readers like us, this book is recommended because getting the facts straight helps us engage Chinese communities in meaningful and respectful ways when going deep into a particular topic. 

A Life in a Sea of Red: the rise of China – in pictures (September 13, 2019, The Guardian)
The Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist Liu Heung Shing’s images record China’s rise from self-imposed ruin to today’s superpower. His new book presents scenes of hope, hardship and change under Communist party rule. A Life in a Sea of Red is published by Steidl.

Railroads and the Transformation of China (September 17, 2019, China File)
As a vehicle to convey both the history of modern China and the complex forces still driving the nation’s economic success, rail has no equal. Railroads and the Transformation of China is the first comprehensive history, in any language, of railroad operation from the last decades of the Qing Empire to the present.

Heading Home with Jesus — A Book Recommendation (September 18, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Debbie Philip has written a book, Heading Home with Jesus, to help us think through and consider how to prepare Chinese students who come to faith overseas to continue following Christ when they return home to China.


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