ZGBriefs | September 23, 2021

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Featured Article

Can I travel to mainland China? A guide to entry restrictions, documents, and vaccination and testing requirements (September 17, 2021, South China Morning Post)
Since closing its borders to most international travel last year, China has imposed strict lockdowns, mass testing, large-scale contact tracing, quarantines and entry restrictions as part of its zero-tolerance Covid-19 strategy. The measures look set to continue  despite the potential long-term economic impact  and the nation’s plans to host international events including the Winter Olympics. Here is what you need to know about China’s latest entry restrictions.

Sponsored Link

Zoom Webinar: Photographic Encounters: Visual Technologies and Missionary Modernity in Republican China (UCI Long US-China Institute)

Across the first half of the twentieth century, American Protestant and Catholic missionaries produced one of the largest bodies of photographic images – still and moving – of any foreign group in China. They engaged in prolific visual practices that merged global trends in amateur photography and filmmaking with new ideas about modern missions and Christian internationalism. In this talk, Prof. Joseph Ho reconstructs intersections between visual technologies and Sino-US encounters in Republican China, exploring how missionary cameras mediated ground-level experiences and transnational world-making projects behind and in front of the lens.

Sep 28, 2021 02:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Register here

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

The big event: What should we expect from the Sixth Plenum? (September 10, 2021, Week in China)
We are at the onset of another sensitive political period in the Chinese capital. The Party’s five-yearly congress is due next year, mostly likely in the autumn. Xi was given another five-year term by the 19th National Party Congress in 2017. Everyone expects him to extend his tenure beyond 2022, but they are waiting to see how the 20th Party Congress might reshape his leadership approach.

Video: China’s Leaders: From Mao to Now | David Shambaugh (September 16, 2021, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations)
Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, five men have principally shaped the ruling Chinese Communist Party and the nation: Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping. During their decades of leadership, China, starting from a base of poverty and insularity, became a world power. In his latest book, China’s Leaders: From Mao to Now, David Shambaugh analyzes China’s contemporary history by studying the personal and professional experiences that shaped each leader.

The Chinese Communist Party’s model emperor (September 18, 2021, The Economist)
Qianlong was a man of formidable intellect and will, whose long reign from 1736-95 marked a high point of the Qing dynasty. But he was also a conservative aristocrat, from his passion for genealogy to his love of bowhunting on horseback, an archaic pastime even then.

China: don’t mistake Xi Jinping’s crackdowns for a second Cultural Revolution (September 20, 2021, The Conversation)
Before embracing this idea, you have to remember that the Cultural Revolution was one of a series of “cleansing” and rectification campaigns, going back to before the party was even in power. 

Xi’s army: from ‘hiding and biding’ to building China’s dream (September 21, 2021, The Guardian)
The combat capability of the People’s Liberation Army may still be a ‘work in progress’ but it is catching up through influence and training.


Struck down, but not destroyed (September 9, 2021, World Magazine)
Current and former members of Early Rain church in Chengdu, China, have experienced raids and arrests for practicing their faith, but the work of the church continues, even as some still draw attention to its plight from abroad.

American Friendships with Chinese Students, 1847–1930 (September 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
For more than 170 years Chinese students have come to the United States. They made friends with American teachers, students, families, and business people. Some came as Christians while others became followers of Christ after they arrived. Christian students set up clubs to encourage each other in their walks of faith.

Meet China’s Gen Z (September 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
China’s Generation Z is very different from previous generations. Born between 1998 and 2014, the majority in Gen Z are from one-child families. However, the greater defining characteristics are the influence of the internet on their lives along with the collective memory of critical events. In this article, we will look a bit deeper into Gen Z’s characteristics, how they view life, and suggestions for how to get to know them and introduce them to Christ.

Adversity and Opportunity: Returnee Ministry and a Global Pandemic (September 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
Two important dynamics at play in returnee ministry are movement and connection. Each year several hundred thousand Chinese move between China and countries around the world, leaving China to go abroad to study and work and later returning to cities across China. As they leave one place to move to another, they leave the relationships they have established in that place and begin to make new connections in their new location. This provides opportunities for Christians around the world to connect with them, help them know Jesus, grow in faith in him and, together with Christians in China, help them after they return home to China to connect with Chinese churches and continue their spiritual journeys.

International Student Ministry in China: Is There Still Hope? (September 13, 2021, ChinaSource Quarterly)
To the human eye it appears that international student ministry (ISM)1 in China is experiencing a drought. Is there still hope? Despite student attrition, 18 months into the pandemic there remain significant numbers of international students in China. Jesus’ command to love this forgotten academic diaspora with the gospel of his grace has not changed. What is God doing, and how should we pray? Let’s look at the current situation and suggest a way forward for ISM in China in the coming years.

An Even Better Situation (September 20, 2021, China Partnership Blog)
As the future is uncertain in China these days and threats of harassment or persecution loom, Chinese pastors must discern anew what God has called them to do. They must dig deeply into the theology of Christ as the resurrected, reigning king; they must commit themselves to prayer; they have the opportunity to grow as perhaps never before. In a continuation of last week’s interview, we hear about what Chinese believers are facing now and how they are equipping themselves to lead their local churches and contribute to the global body of Christ.

From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom (5): Hui Uprisings (AD 1645–1912)(September 20, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Now we look at how ethnoreligious tension spilled over into violence, especially during the Tongzhi Hui Uprisings (1862–1873).

Caring for Orphans: An Interview (2) (September 21, 2021, Chinese Church Voices)
Chinese Canadian Margaret MacNeil won gold in the women’s 100-meter butterfly event at the Tokyo Olympics. She is one of several elite athletes who have won international competitions for their countries after being adopted from China as young children. This has brought the plight of China’s orphans to the attention of social media in China. In this article, Territory (Jingjie) interviewed a Chinese Christian woman who left a corporate job to care for disabled orphans.

Concerns of Cross-Cultural Workers from China (September 22, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
I have been involved with deals with the perceptions of Chinese cross-cultural workers concerning member care. Although the theme of Amy Young’s post “7 Ways We Secretly Rank Each Other” is not exactly my focus, some experiences that Chinese cross-cultural workers shared with me when I interviewed them relate to this topic. And so, I would like to share some thoughts based on their responses and my research.

Society / Life

Taking Aim at China’s ‘3:30 p.m. Dilemma’ (September 20, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Regardless of policy changes, wealthy parents have the resources needed to make after-school hours productive. That leaves working-class families in a bind.

‘Ugliest building’ competition spotlights China’s latest bizarre architecture (September 21, 2021, CNN)
 A violin-shaped church, an “upside down” house and a hotel modeled on a Russian doll are among the entries in a poll to name this year’s “ugliest” Chinese buildings.

Economics / Trade / Business

China defends sweeping tech crackdown in meeting with Wall Street chiefs (September 19, 2021, South China Morning Post) (registration required)
China’s top regulators defended their market-roiling crackdown on various industries in a meeting with Wall Street executives, while reassuring them the stricter rules are not aimed at stifling technology companies or the private sector.

Big Sell-Off In Chinese Real Estate Stocks Caused Worldwide Market Dip (September 20, 2021, NPR)
There was a major sell-off in markets around the world today. The Dow fell 614 points, or about 1.8%, its worst day in more than two months. It did recover some of those losses at the end of the trading day. The big dip was all sparked by a Chinese property company that many Americans have never heard of. 


For 16M Vocational High School Students, Hope Is Hard to Come By (September 17, 2021, Sixth Tone)
Roughly 40% of China’s high school-age population attends vocational school. They represent the future of the country’s workforce, so why can’t they get any respect?

Students Around the World Desperate to Finish Studies in China (September 22, 2021, Sixth Tone)
During spring 2020, all Chinese university classes were held online, and the international students who remained in the country were primarily confined to their dorms. Those who had left originally expected to come back when Chinese students returned to campus in the fall. When that didn’t happen, hopes were pinned on spring 2021; then, fall 2021. Now the consensus seems to be that China is waiting until February’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. 

Some students are likely to be rejected of visa extension (August 29, 2021, Expat Focus Plus, via WeChat)
According to the latest policy of visa extension from the Hangzhou Immigration Office, students with the following situations will be likely to be rejected of visa extension from Hangzhou Immigration Office.

ByteDance Has a New Educational Video App for Young Users (September 22, 2021, Sixth Tone)
China’s leading internet company ByteDance has launched a short video platform for children and adolescents, aiming to provide more educational content online, domestic media reported Monday.

Health / Environment

Chinese Provinces Seek COVID-19 Booster Shots Amid New Outbreaks (September 17, 2021, Sixth Tone)
While the central government hasn’t officially announced plans to administer additional vaccine doses, Zhejiang and Henan will provide them to “key groups.”

China pledges to stop building new coal energy plants abroad (September 22, 2021, BBC)
President Xi Jinping made the announcement in his address at the United Nations General Assembly. China has been funding coal projects in countries like Indonesia and Vietnam under a massive infrastructure project known as the Belt and Road initiative.

Science / Technology

How China Wants to Tame Tech’s Use of Algorithms (September 17, 2021, China Media Project)
On August 27, the Cyberspace Administration of China unveiled draft regulations that look to restrict a large variety of companies in how they use algorithms to recommend content, tailor prices, and govern gig workers. Rogier Creemers, an assistant professor at Leiden University whose research focuses on China’s policies for digital technologies, says the new rules are a signal to tech companies that the government is no longer giving them special treatment.

Chinese Astronauts Return to Earth After 3 Months in Space (September 17, 2021, Sixth Tone)
After spending just over 90 days in Earth’s orbit, Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo parachuted into the Gobi Desert in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at about 1:30 p.m. Millions of people watched the historic event live online to get a glimpse of the three men successfully returning from their mission — China’s first crewed space voyage since 2016.

History / Culture

Rediscovering Henan’s Forgotten Imperial Tombs (September 20, 2021, The World of Chinese)
The tombs of the Northern Song dynasty (960 – 1127) had been a personal “bucket list” item for years; for a devoted lover of Song history and culture, few other places can be such a worthy location of pilgrimage.

The Enduring Chinese Roots of Central Asia’s Dungan People (September 22, 2021, The World of Chinese)
Discover how faith and family have held the Dungan communities of Central Asia together for centuries.

Video: The East is Red, 1965 (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

Counting by Sevens—Re-entry into China (September 17, 2021, ChinaSource Blog)
Once they got our small group (less than two dozen) people into the hotel, they locked and sealed the hotel front doors. We had another hour to get through the quarantine registration (with the medical team) and the hotel registration to get a room. We were escorted to our room and told not to come out of our door during the next 14 days or our quarantine clock would re-start from zero.

Inside a Traditional Family-Run Mooncake Shop (September 17, 2021, Wild China Blog)
Nestled away in the southern city of Huizhou, a local shop is honoring the family craft of making mooncakes by hand. Here, mooncakes are packaged simply and traditionally, rolled up in red and white paper, and placed on a simple metal tray inside the shop, waiting in plain sight for the arrival of loyal customers. 

Arts / Entertainment / Media

‘Shang-Chi’ Wins a Warm Asia Greeting. Then There’s China. (September 17, 2021, The New York Times) (subscription required)
Marvel’s first Asian superhero movie has yet to be released in the mainland amid fierce debate over its back story and star.

As Universal Beijing Opens, Local Theme Parks Feel the Heat (September 19, 2021, Sixth Tone)
While international names may hurt domestic park operators in the short run, experts say they will eventually pressure local brands to diversify and improve their services.

Why You Should Rewatch “The Last Emperor” Two Decades Later (September 21, 2021, Radii China)
After rewatching The Last Emperor earlier this summer, it occurred to us that there was no better time to reexamine the powerful and enduring legacy of this 1987 Oscar-winning film. In fact, we found that the evocative East-West joint production has become more relevant than ever in 2021. The Last Emperor tells the epic story of Pu Yi, who is, as the movie’s name suggests, the last Chinese emperor. We follow Pu Yi, who had an extraordinarily tumultuous life as China underwent tremendous societal transformations in the early and mid-20th century. 

Language / Language Learning

Hong Kong Cantonese in jeopardy (September 19, 2021, Language Log)
In my estimation, all of this bodes ill for the future of Cantonese in Hong Kong, where it has thriven for centuries.  The difference now is the imposition of the PRC National Security Law by the CCP in the middle of 2020.

Mandarin Monday: Learn Your Moony Vocabulary (September 20, 2021, The Beijinger)
Yet, in ancient China, where people set up their calendar according to the wax and wane of our nearest rock, it seems people had even more fondness for this glowing sphere in the sky. 


The Sisters Mao review – dazzlingly ambitious yet modestly human (September 16, 2021, The Guardian)
Gavin McCrea’s second novel juxtaposes revolutionaries in London and China as it explores the roles of art and motherhood in communism.

Links for Researchers

China Leadership Monitor (Fall 2021, China Leadership Monitor)

Pray for China

September 24 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
The first missionary to take up residence in Henan was John Joseph Coulthard (郭豁达) when he moved to the Henan village of Zhoukouzhen (then Zhoujiakou) in 1884. Hudson Taylor’s daughter Maria joined him there after their marriage in 1888. She died on Sept. 28, 1897, leaving Coulthard with four small children. Pray for God our Rock to be glorified in Henan, which now has more Christians than any other province in China. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and mightand honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” Revelation 5:12-13

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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