ZGBriefs | September 2, 2021

ZGBriefs is for those who want and need to keep up on what is happening in China, but don’t have the time to monitor and track it all. We monitor more than 50 different news sources and curate the most relevant and interesting stories out of China each week. Topics include government, religion, society, economics, education, travel, and language, and books.


Featured Article

China limits children to 3 hours of online gaming a week (August 30, 2021, AP)
China is banning children from playing online games for more than three hours a week, the harshest restriction so far on the game industry as Chinese regulators continue cracking down on the technology sector. Minors in China can only play games between 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, weekends and on public holidays starting Sept. 1, according to a notice from the National Press and Publication Administration.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

How Will China Deal With the Taliban? (August 24, 2021, Council on Foreign Relations)
China could become a crucial supporter of Taliban-led Afghanistan, building Beijing’s influence in South and Central Asia as long as the regime in Kabul does not export extremism.

Going after the private sector: Xi on a mission (August 24, 2021, SOAS, University of London)
Mao Zedong waged war, so to speak, against the capitalist class in China. Deng Xiaoping and later leaders marched to a different tune, allowing people and private firms under the ‘reform and opening up’ slogan to get rich. Xi Jinping looks to be turning the clock back. Under the slogan of ‘common prosperity’, he is looking to emphasise the ‘socialism’ in ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’. 

China shuts American Chamber of Commerce in Chengdu, organisation says (August 27, 2021, Reuters)
Chinese authorities have instructed an American Chamber of Commerce in the southwestern city of Chengdu to cease operations, officials with the organisation said on Tuesday. The chamber notified members on Monday that, in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations, it had to stop operations and “no longer carry out any activities in the name of the American Chamber of Commerce in Southwest China.”

Xi Tests ‘Common Prosperity’ Policies in Alibaba’s Home Province (August 31, 2021, Bloomberg)
To understand what President Xi Jinping envisions in his calls for “common prosperity,” look to the pilot program underway in the wealthy province of Zhejiang, home to 65 million people and some of China’s most successful private companies. 

Translation: Everyone Can Sense That A Profound Transformation Is Underway! (August 31, 2021, China Digital Times)
In recent days, a number of major state and Party media outlets have simultaneously republished a relatively obscure essayist’s screed on sissy-boy celebrities, get-rich-quick capitalists, and lessons that the collapse of the Soviet Union might hold for China.

Journalist-Turned-Rights Attorney Held Incommunicado in China’s Liaoning (September 1, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
Zhou Xiaoyun is held on suspicion of ‘picking quarrels and stirring up trouble’ after he criticized law enforcement in the northeastern province.

China’s new U.S. ambassador goes full wolf in first major speech (September 1, 2021, Politico)
China’s newly minted ambassador to the United States arrived only in July, but the honeymoon is already over. Qin Gang on Tuesday reinforced his reputation as a sharp-edged avatar of Chinese diplomacy with a speech that excoriated U.S. “wrong beliefs” and cautioned against violating Beijing’s “red line” of core interests in areas including the South China Sea, Taiwan and Xinjiang.


Two Jailed After Raid on Early Rain Church Meeting in China’s Sichuan (August 24, 2021, Radio Free Asia)
Police in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan detained several minors and jailed two members of the Early Rain Covenant Church following a police raid on a gathering in the provincial capital, Chengdu, RFA has learned.

Video: Imposter Syndrome (August 26, 2021, CantoSense, via YouTube)
Do you ever feel inadequate or fear that you may be found to be ‘overrated’? In this episode, we are talking about Imposter Syndrome and what it means to have an accurate view of God, others, and ourselves. 

Andrew Finlay Walls (1928-2021) (August 27, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
The success of his advocacy is visible today in the increasing prevalence and importance of non-Western voices in theological discussions around the world. That these two perspectives on the past and present expansion of Christianity are now so accepted and applauded within scholarship—and increasingly within the church—is largely due to the lifelong work and witness of this humble, godly man.

What I’ve Learned from the Chinese House Church About Evangelism (August 30, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
Although these are uncertain days for Chinese Christians, the growth, perseverance, and love of the Chinese church—in spite of their status as a persecuted and marginalized group in a hostile society—shows me God’s love for his Bride, the Church.

The Pilgrim Principle: Remembering Andrew Walls (August 30, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Walls observed that, as the Christian faith has moved from culture to culture, it has progressively taken root and, over time, has transformed the culture. Yet in each major phase of the gospel’s expansion, it has ultimately been rejected and almost snuffed out, only to be, in Walls’s words, “translated” into yet another culture. In fact, it is this process of cross-cultural transmission that has served to preserve Christianity as a distinct faith.

The Path of Christian Literature in China (August 31, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
Literature and art are indispensable parts of Christian culture. At present, the Chinese Christian community is discussing the issue of the Sinicization of Christianity, trying to walk out a path of Christianity with Chinese local characteristics. This article from Christian Times introduces Christian literature from around the world and China specifically, and what it means to have Christian elements in literature and art, and the implications for evangelism.

Pope defends deal with China, says dialogue necessary (September 1, 2021, Reuters)
Pope Francis has defended the Vatican deal with China’s communist government on the appointment of Catholic bishops, saying an uneasy dialogue is better than no dialogue at all. In an interview with Spanish radio network COPE broadcast on Wednesday, Francis compared the Vatican’s dialogue with China to those with East European countries during the Cold War which eventually resulted in many freedoms for the Church there.

Society / Life

China’s Generation N: the young nationalists who have Beijing’s back (August 29, 2021, South China Morning Post) (registration required)
Nationalism has been on the rise, encouraged by the Communist Party and put to effective use by President Xi Jinping. Younger generations’ perceptions and expectations of their country differ from those of the past, offering the government support but also challenges.

“Left-Behind” Children: How China turns a social problem into moral failings (August 30, 2021, The China Story)
The hukou system enables urban local governments to keep rural migrants as a “floating population” rather than as settlers, which necessitates the split-household arrangements of rural migrant families. At the same time, both the mainstream media and public policies pathologize the social issues of this population. 

Shanghai Mental Health Center’s Mooncakes Go Viral Online (August 30, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Once derided by locals, the city’s residents are now sharing photos of mooncakes with the hospital’s name engraved, even if they cannot buy the delicacy.

China Wants Larger Families. Unless You’re a Single Mom. (September 1, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Long marginalized in mainstream discourse, many single mothers hope the new, looser family planning policy will result in better protections of their rights and interests. Previous revisions of national family planning policy have all stipulated that the right to start a family belongs to “a husband and wife.”

China’s super-rich: the billionaires in Communist party’s sights (September 1, 2021, The Guardian)
Billionaires were probably not part of the plan for the founders of the Chinese Communist Party. Nevertheless, extraordinary economic growth has meant that more than 1,000 of its citizens had fortunes worth more than $1bn this year, according to one measure – the first time any country has achieved that mark. Under Xi Jinping, China’s patience with the ultra-wealthy has now run out, with the president pursuing a “common prosperity” agenda to tackle inequality – humbling some of the world’s richest people and triggering them into a flood of donations.

3 Chinese Int’l Students on Rediscovering China During Covid (September 1, 2021, Radii China)
For more than 890,000 Chinese international students overseas, the past year and a half has involved struggle and confusion. In the wake of Covid-19, they’ve confronted xenophobia and racism abroad, competed for flight tickets to return to China, and took ultra-expensive online classes. Beyond all the inconveniences, worries, and anxieties, however, it was also a time for reflection, connection, and discovery for many people, especially those who chose to come home. 

Economics / Trade / Business

Employers Can’t Require People To Work 72 Hours A Week, China’s High Court Says (August 30, 2021, NPR)
Workers in China have earned a victory over employers’ onerous work schedules, as the Supreme People’s Court says a common schedule that requires people to work 12 hours a day for six days a week is illegal. In recent years, several worker deaths have been linked to such schedules, which are common in the tech industry and in other sectors, such as logistics.

China’s economy is being rattled by the Delta variant and supply chain woes (September 1, 2021, CNN)
China’s economy stalled this month as the country tried to stamp out a surge in coronavirus cases and contended with the ongoing shipping crisis. An official survey of manufacturing activity fell to 50.1 in August from 50.4 in July. That was just above the 50-point mark indicating expansion rather than contraction, but still the slowest rate of growth since the start of the pandemic. 


China’s after-school crackdown wipes out many jobs overnight (August 25, 2021, CNBC)
For hundreds of thousands of Chinese people, Beijing’s crackdown on after-school tutoring this summer means their well-paying jobs are disappearing quickly. While it’s difficult to pin down the exact scale of the job losses, data and CNBC interviews with people in the education industry point to how the abrupt policy change is adding pressure to Beijing’s efforts to tackle unemployment, particularly among a record 9.09 million recent graduates this year.

China bans exams for six-year-old school children (August 30, 2021, BBC)
It’s the latest effort to try and relieve pressure on parents and students in a highly competitive education system. Students used to be required to take exams from the first year of primary school, up until a university entrance exam at the age of 18. But the education ministry said the pressure is harming the “physical and mental health” of pupils.

China’s children start first day schooled in ‘Xi Jinping (September 1, 2021, The Guardian)
Chinese pupils returned to school on Wednesday with new textbooks peppered with “Xi Jinping thought”, as the Communist party aims to extend his personality cult to children as young as seven and raise a new generation of patriots. The education ministry has said it will incorporate Xi’s vaguely defined political ideology into the national curriculum, from primary schools to graduate programmes, at the start of the new school year.

First Day Back to School After Education Crackdown (September 1, 2021, Sixth Tone)
On Wednesday, students in Shanghai returned to school marking the first semester since China announced the “double reduction” policy.

Health / Environment

China has administered 2 billion Covid vaccine shots. But coercive measures are sparking anger (August 27, 2021, CNN)
The NHC has repeatedly stressed that vaccinations should be voluntary. But under pressure to get more shots into arms, local authorities are increasingly turning to coercive measures to ensure compliance. Across the country, a growing number of localities have banned unvaccinated residents from accessing public services, including hospitals, schools and public transport.

The Myth of the Chinese Wilderness (August 27, 2021, The World of Chinese)
As China aims to create 60 national parks by 2035, what will happen to the 12 million human residents inside protected areas?

Pandas are off China’s endangered list. But threats persist. (September 1, 2021, National Geographic) (registration required)
Competition with native wildlife could deter efforts to boost populations of the famous black-and-white bear in its native habitat.

From a Qinghai Mountaintop, a Bird’s-Eye View of Global Warming (September 1, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Atop the mountain, 3,816 meters above sea level on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, is the China Global Atmosphere Watch Baseline Observatory — the world’s highest center to monitor ozone and greenhouse gases.

Science / Technology

China’s Personal Information Protection Law and Its Global Impact  (August 31, 2021, The Diplomat)
It has major implications for companies that rely on data for their operations in China. The implementation of the law will provide a legal foundation for the protection of personal information for foreign firms’ operations in China. However, it will also potentially limit cross-border transfer of such information, especially for data related to critical information infrastructure (CII) due to national security implications. 

History / Culture

Video: 广阔的天地: documentary from 1969 (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Qianlong Emperor: The Worst Poet in Chinese History? (August 30, 2021, Sixth Tone) But when it comes to being the most prolific poet, the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty (1616-1911) has all these Tang luminaries beat. One of the longest-lived monarchs in Chinese history, the Qianlong Emperor had 43,000 poems to his name by the time he died at the age of 88,…

Shanghai, 1985, earlier period of China’s reform and opening to the outside world. (August 31, 2021, Tong Bingxue, via Twitter)

Travel / Food

Beijing’s Subway System Offers History At Each Stop, Both Above And Below Ground (August 30, 2021, NPR)
For our Summer Travel series, our Beijing correspondent rides the city’s subway system and explores the history of each stop — above ground and below ground.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Why is the Communist Party clamping down on China’s biggest stars and fan clubs? (August 30, 2021, CNN)
The crackdown came quickly and sweepingly, wiping out some of China’s biggest stars and fan clubs in a matter of days. Over the past week, China’s entertainment industry has become the latest to fall into the crosshairs of the ruling Communist Party, following Xi Jinping’s clampdown on political dissent, social activism, ideological liberalism and private businesses. Zhao Wei, one of China’s most prominent actresses, saw her presence mostly scrubbed from the country’s internet overnight.


A Book for Understanding China’s Registered Church (September 1, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Wayne Ten Harmsel’s book, The Registered Church in China: Flourishing in a Challenging Environment, is a must read for anyone who wishes to work with the registered church in China. This book should be a required primer for all who consider cross-cultural work whether with the registered church or the house church. I will make it required reading for anyone traveling with us in the future.

Pray for China

September 4 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Sept. 4, 626, Li Shimin (李世民) began his reign as Emperor Tang Taizong (唐太宗). Eleven years later, a Church of the East (Nestorian) Christian missionary named Alopen (阿罗本) came to China from Persia. Emperor Taizong personally met with Alopen and studied his teachings. The Nestorians planted at least 50 churches in several major cities. They opened a monastery and produced books and hymns in Chinese to explain their doctrine; however, in 854, they were destroyed by a crackdown instigated by Daoists. Pray for the Loving Heavenly Father to be glorified as Chinese Christians faithfully support those called to go out as missionaries. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Psalm 67:4

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