ZGBriefs | September 21, 2023

ZGBriefs is a compilation of links to news items from published online sources. Clicking a link will direct you to a website other than ChinaSource. ChinaSource is not responsible for the content or other features on that site. An article’s inclusion in ZGBriefs does not equal endorsement by ChinaSource. Please go here to support ZGBriefs.

Featured Article

The Root of China’s Growing Youth Unemployment Crisis (September 18, 2023, Council on Foreign Relations)
Young Chinese look overwhelmingly to the service sector, which employs half the national workforce, for jobs.  And so new stimulus-driven opportunities in fields such as carpentry and bricklaying hold no interest for graduates in areas such as literature and computer science. 

Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Chinese state media censors itself after highlighting poem about corrupt leaders (September 12, 2023, The Guardian)
Chinese state media appears to have censored one of its own videos after viewers notice it featured a classic Chinese poem about corrupt and indulgent leaders ignoring national crises. The video, produced by official state media outlet, the People’s Daily, aimed to promote the city of Hangzhou, which is hosting the Asian Games this month, by showcasing literary links to the city. However one featured poem by Lin Sheng raised some eyebrows.

A Law to Protect China’s Feelings (September 14, 2023, China Media Project)
The draft of a new legal amendment criminalizing speech or dress that “hurts the feelings of the Chinese nation” has attracted a wave of criticism online. Against the backdrop of rising nationalist sentiment in China, has Beijing overstepped the mark?

China’s ex-Foreign Minister Qin Gang was ousted after alleged affair, WSJ reports (September 19, 2023, Reuters)
The report said Qin was cooperating with the investigation, which was now focused on whether the affair or Qin’s conduct had compromised China’s national security.Senior Chinese officials were told that an internal Communist Party investigation found Qin engaged in the affair throughout his tenure as China’s ambassador to the United States, the report said. Two sources told the newspaper the affair had resulted in the birth of a child in the U.S.

Xi protégés fall as Beijing focuses on security risks (September 20, 2023, Axios)
The ousting of two top Chinese government officials in under two months is the latest indication that the leadership in Beijing is increasingly fixated on eliminating security risks. […] The Chinese Communist Party’s growing preoccupation with stamping out perceived national security threats at home could undermine China’s reputation abroad for stable leadership.

China’s police chief calls for global cooperation on public security at forum (September 20, 2023, South China Morning Post)
China’s top police chief has called on world powers to strengthen cooperation on public security, as Beijing seeks to expand its influence in global governance. Public Security Minister Wang Xiaohong made the remarks on Wednesday in a speech at the opening ceremony of the Global Public Security Cooperation Forum in Lianyungang, eastern Jiangsu province.

China flies 103 military planes toward Taiwan in a new high in activity the island calls harassment (September 18, 2023, AP)
The planes were detected between 6 a.m. on Sunday and 6 a.m. on Monday, the ministry said. As is customary, they turned back before reaching Taiwan. Chinese warplanes fly toward the self-governing island on a near-daily basis but typically in smaller numbers. The Taiwan ministry didn’t explain what time period it meant by a “recent” high.

Beijing demands Hong Kong consulates hand over local staff data (September 20, 2023, BBC)
Beijing has told foreign consulates in Hong Kong to hand over the personal details of all locally hired staff. Local media reported that a letter from the city arm of China’s Foreign Ministry asked for the data to be submitted by 18 October. The requirements apply to all foreign missions’ local employees, including permanent residents and non-permanent residents in the financial hub.


Building a Biblical Church: Our Challenges (September 14, 2023, China Partnership Blog)
What is the church? How can a church be governed by the Bible? These are questions that Christians have struggled with for more than two millennia, and as the Chinese church continues to mature, Chinese believers are also facing these difficult and important questions.

How Many Christians Are There in China? It’s Complicated (September 15, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
What is helpful in this report is their explanation of why it is so hard to get reliable data on religion and religious practice in China. There are political sensitivities that may (likely do) prevent people from openly answering survey questions. Terminology is another problem. People may deny being part of any religion, but still engage in a variety of religious practices. Another problem is sampling. There are provinces that have greater concentrations of Protestants or Catholics; if those provinces are over (or under) sampled, the results will be skewed.

Society / Life

Beijing Holds Record for Longest Commutes, Again (September 14, 2023, The Beijinger)
In the 2023 “Commuting Report” survey on China’s major cities, Beijing once again stood out with the longest average commute time, clocking in at a hefty 47 minutes for one-way travel. This is the third consecutive year that Beijing has claimed the dubious distinction of having the longest average commute times in China.

How China’s Seniors Got Hooked on Short Video Influencers (September 15, 2023, The World of Chinese)
The suspension of a short video channel throws the spotlight on how influencers attract elderly users and the risks seniors face online.

Life in China’s American Dream Town (September 16, 2023, The Diplomat)
Over the two years I spent living and filming on and off in Jackson Hole, I learned much about what America meant to the Chinese residents there – and about contemporary China too, particularly the desires, aspirations, and troubles of the growing urban middle and upper classes.

Broken dreams, shattered families in China’s unfinished apartments (September 18, 2023, Japan Times)
Shi and a few dozen desperate home buyers live in the block in the city of Tongchuan as part of a nationwide campaign to pressure authorities to address so-called “rotting” or unfinished homes that have become more common during a yearslong property slump that has bankrupted many developers and left others massively indebted.

Economics / Trade / Business

U.S. business optimism about China outlook falls to record low – survey (September 19, 2023, Reuters)
Even after the ending of COVID curbs, which weighed heavily on revenues and sentiment in 2022, the percentage of surveyed U.S. firms optimistic about the five-year China business outlook fell to 52%, according to the annual survey published by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Shanghai. This was the lowest level of optimism reported since the AmCham Shanghai Annual China Business Report was first introduced in 1999.

Burner Laptops and Smaller Profits: Firms Portray Their China Challenges (September 19, 2023, The New York Times) (subscription required)
Business groups chronicle the difficult environment inside China for U.S. and European companies navigating confusing regulations and an intensified security focus.

China urges deeper trade ties with Russia despite Western rebuke (September 19, 2023, Reuters)
China on Tuesday urged increased cross-border connectivity with Russia and deeper mutual trade and investment cooperation, as both allies vowed ever closer economic ties despite disapproval from the West after Russian forces invaded Ukraine last year.

Fukushima: China’s seafood imports from Japan down 67% in August (September 20, 2023, BBC)
China’s imports of seafood from Japan slumped last month as Tokyo started to release treated waste water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. Imports of Japanese seafood fell 67.6% in August from the same month last year, China’s customs authority said. Japan’s ministry of agriculture and fisheries says China was the world’s top importer of the country’s seafood.

Health / Environment

China’s Rural Children Close Height, Weight Gap, but Obesity Looms (September 15, 2023, Sixth Tone)
A new study published in Lancet analyzes height and weight markers, offering a window into China’s health challenges and shifting socioeconomic dynamics.

Violent tornado sends debris flying across eastern Chinese city (September 20, 2023, BBC)
A powerful tornado has ripped through the city of Suqian in eastern China, leaving a trail of destruction. Footage of the aftermath shows power lines on fire and cars overturned. Hundreds of people were temporarily relocated because of the tornado, and at least five people are known to have died, state media reported on Tuesday.

Science / Technology

Why Are Chinese Websites Stuck in 2003? (September 14, 2023, The World of Chinese)
In a country at the vanguard of digital innovations, where applications like the ubiquitous WeChat have revolutionized the concept of what an app can do, the stark contrast between modern mobile apps and seemingly outdated websites raises an intriguing question: Is the design harking back to the early days of the internet a mere aesthetic divergence or is there more to it?

What’s New WeChat: Voice-to-Text Magic, Incognito Commenting & More (September 18, 2023, The Beijinger)
WeChat has been on a roll recently, rolling out updates left, right, and center. Honestly, we’re always a tad excited whenever they introduce new features. It’s like a fun game of exploration because you never know when these features might come in handy or how much time they can save, especially considering how much we’re all glued to WeChat. So, let’s dive into some of the new features along with some that although aren’t brand new, you might not know about.

History / Culture

The Historian Rewriting China’s Understanding of the World (September 19, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Qian Chengdan is one of China’s best-known historians. In a new book, he and his team attempt to produce a comprehensive Marxist history of the world.

Travel / Food

Six of the most beautiful sections of the Great Wall of China (September 17, 2023, CNN)
Though not a single, unbroken structure, the wall spans over 21,000 kilometers, winding through 15 provinces, 97 prefectures and 404 counties. And while certain sections have been incredibly popular among tourists, many parts have slipped into obscurity, disrepair and sometimes oblivion. Whether you’re planning to visit the Great Wall for the first time or the 50th, the following destinations are sure to make your trip to China even more worthwhile. 

Language / Language Learning

China’s Last Esperanto Students (September 15, 2023, Sixth Tone)
China used to have one of the world’s largest communities of Esperanto speakers. But the language is now in danger of disappearing from the country completely.

China’s Language Police (September 19, 2023, Foreign Affairs)
In recent years, however, the Chinese state has taken an even more uncompromising line. Its policies of the mid-2010s seem mild by comparison to its attempts today to flatten the complexity of Chinese identity and extend the untrammeled hegemony of Mandarin.

Living Cross-culturally

A Journey of Captivation and Identity (September 18, 2023, ChinaSource Blog)
Non-Chinese who have become deeply invested in China usually have a clear memory of the moment when they became captivated by China and its culture. It is no different for my wife, Sandy, and me. On October 15, 1996, we had a life-changing moment that began our deep investment in China and its culture. In an orphanage in Guangdong Province, a 4½ month old baby girl was placed in our arms. That moment changed our new daughter’s life and our lives in many ways. And it was the moment Sandy and I became captivated by China and its culture.


Book Recommendation: ‘Wind Blowing Across Huaxiba: The History of Five Christian Universities in Wartime’(September 18, 2023, China Christian Daily)
When the Anti-Japanese War broke out, several leading Christian universities moved inland and merged to form the National Southwestern Associated University in Huaxiba, Chengdu. In Wind Blowing Across Huaxiba: The History of Five Christian Universities in Wartime, the author gives an in-depth account of the prominence and splendor of this very last Christian university.

Pray for China

September 23 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
On Sept. 23, 1950, “The Christian Manifesto” was printed on the front page of the People’s Daily. It included a strong condemnation of foreign missions and foreshadowed the effort to control Protestants under the Three Self Patriotic Movement. The document had been initially signed in July by Wu Yaozong (吴耀宗先生) and 39 other liberal Christians after meetings with Zhou Enlai (周恩来). Evangelicals who continued to refuse to sign, like Wang Mingdao (王明道先生), were severely persecuted. Even though Little Flock leader Ni Tuosheng (倪柝声弟兄-Watchman Nee) and Jesus Family founder Jing Dianying (敬奠瀛弟兄) signed, both later died in prison. Pray for Christians in TSPM churches to be faithful to the Great Commission, as the government implements a new five-year plan to increase control of Christians. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

Share to Social Media
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
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