ZGBriefs | September 24, 2020

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Featured Article

China to allow foreigners with valid residence permits to enter from Sept 28  (September 23, 2020, Reuters)
China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday foreigners with valid residence permits can enter the country without needing to re-apply for visas from Sept. 28. Foreigners whose residence permits expired after March 28 can apply for visas at Chinese embassies and consulates for entry, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

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 Flourishing. The 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

China’s white paper on forced labour suggests unease at western pressure  (September 18, 2020, The Guardian)
It also gives a rare, if oblique, glance into the scale of government attempts to reshape communities in the region, detailing how 10% of the region’s population were relocated over the past year, after being dubbed “surplus rural workers”.

China sentences Xi critic to 18 years for graft  (September 21, 2020, Reuters)
China sentenced a former property executive who once called President Xi Jinping “a clown” to 18 years in prison for graft, a court said on Tuesday, in what some critics called an especially harsh sentence amid an ongoing clampdown on dissent.

NYPD officer charged with spying for China  (September 22, 2020, BBC)
Tibet-born Baimadajie Angwang is accused of reporting on the activities of Chinese citizens in the New York area and assessing potential sources of intelligence in the Tibetan community. The naturalised US citizen, who worked for the police department’s community affairs unit, was arrested on Monday. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 55 years in prison.

US House Passes Bill Banning Imports From China Made With Uyghur Forced Labor  (September 22, 2020, Radio Free Asia)
The House vote of 406-3 for the bill, which requires the Secretary of State to determine if imposing forced labor on Uyghurs and other Muslim Turkic groups constitutes crimes against humanity or genocide under U.S. law, clears the way for a vote in the Senate.

West, legal experts press China on case of 12 detained Hong Kong citizens  (September 23, 2020, Reuters)
All were suspected of committing crimes in Hong Kong related to the anti-government protests that erupted last year. Ten had been charged there, released on bail and forbidden from leaving the former British colony, and all are now being detained in the neighbouring mainland city of Shenzhen.

India and China agree to stop sending troops to disputed Himalayan border  (September 23, 2020, CNN)
Indian and Chinese senior military commanders met on Monday to discuss stabilizing tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the loosely defined demarcation line that separates the two countries. In a joint statement, both sides agreed to strengthen communication on the ground to avoid misunderstandings or action “that may complicate the situation.”


Largest Chinese Christian Video Website Blocked in China  (September 15, 2020, China Christian Daily)
The largest Chinese Christian video resource website was blocked last Friday. Featuring sermon videos preached by famous overseas Chinese pastors, Fuyin TV is popular among the Christian community in China. […] However, the application, the mini-program, and the account on WeChat are not affected. The ministry urged believers to register as their members to avoid being disconnected.

China’s First Catholic Cardinal, Thomas Tien Ken-Sin  (September 17, 2020, China Christian Daily)
Catholicism was introduced into China as early as the Yuan Dynasty. But for centuries, Chinese dioceses were dominated by Westerners. It was not until the mid-20th century that the first Chinese Cardinal, Thomas Tien Ken-sin, was appointed. This was an important step towards the Sinicization of the Catholic church.

CCC&TSPM to Release 2021 Worship, Devotional Handbook  (September 21, 2020, China Christian Daily)
Based on the original devotional book, a new version is reorganized as a handbook of worship and devotional notes, according to Tianfeng Bookstore, the national associations’ bookshop. The “Worship and Devotional Handbook in 2021” contains Sunday School lessons, a daily Bible lesson, and a Scripture guide for prayers for main festivals and traditional church calendars. It integrates group worship, personal devotions, and a daily record, and will be released at the beginning of 2021.

China, Vatican expected to renew bishops deal despite pressure from US, observers say  (September 22, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Vatican officials have said the Holy See was willing to extend the agreement for another two years under the existing terms, though sources have previously told the South China Morning Post that there was frustration that Beijing had not fulfilled its end of the deal.

Shanxi Church Reopens after 8 Months  (September 22, 2020, China Christian Daily)
An urban church in Linfen, in China’s northern Shanxi Province, reopened on Sunday after being closed for eight months due to COVID-19. Believers who had reserved their seats came into the entrance to Yaodu District Church before having their passes and identity card checked, and their temperature measured. 

A Pastoral Letter When the Church Can’t Gather for Communion  (September 22, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
In this pastoral letter, Elder Pan of Shining Light Baptist Church in Shanghai offers encouragement to his congregation. He reflects on the importance of the Lord’s Supper and expresses the shared desire to once again meet in person and partake of the means of grace.

The TSPM—Seeing Beyond History  (September 23, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
The TSPM was birthed in the heat of the fundamentalist-modernist debate taking place among Christians in the first half of the 20th century, which ultimately gave birth to the contemporary evangelical movement. This same debate was carried into China by missionaries whose passionate deliberations over strategies and methods were colored by an ever-sharpening divide between those who favored social engagement and those who emphasized personal evangelism. 

Society / Life

‘It’s So Essential’: WeChat Ban Makes U.S.-China Standoff Personal  (September 18, 2020, The New York Times)
When downloads of the Chinese-owned messaging service are barred in the U.S. starting at midnight on Sunday, the feud between the countries will hit home for millions of people.

As China Ages, a Push to Add Elevators Offers a New Kind of Economic Relief  (September 23, 2020, The New York Times)
China’s premier wants to retrofit three million older apartment buildings all over the country, but he still needs political buy-in at the top.

In Pictures: China’s poverty alleviation  (September 23, 2020, Al Jazeera)
Its poor, rural population is largely located in the southwest, with Sichuan province being one of the country’s most poverty-stricken regions. Out of the approximately 200,000 people living below the poverty line in Sichuan, almost 90 percent live in Liangshan prefecture, which is home to the largest ethnic Yi population in the country.

Shanghai Police Bust $4.4 Million Fake Mooncake Operation  (September 23, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Police in Shanghai have arrested dozens of people involved in an illegal operation producing and selling mooncakes under the Maxim’s brand, a Hong Kong-based food and beverage manufacturing company, local media reported Wednesday. The soft pastries are traditionally associated with Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Oct. 1 this year.

Economics / Trade / Business

Xi Jinping wants China’s private companies to fight alongside the Communist Party  (September 22, 2020, CNN)
The ruling Chinese Communist Party this month published an unusually frank set of guidelines that call on its members to “educate private businesspeople to weaponize their minds with [Xi’s] socialism ideology.” The private sector needs “politically sensible people,” the directive said, who will “firmly listen to the party and follow the party.”

Chinese state media slams TikTok deal as ‘dirty’ and ‘unpalatable’  (September 23, 2020, CNN)
The editorial boards of China Daily and the Global Times — bothstate-run publications — this week blasted an arrangement that would give American companies at least some ownership in the short-form video app. TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is based in Beijing.

US pork exports to China surge beyond pre-trade war levels  (September 23, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Brazil’s JBS SA and China’s WH Group, owner of Smithfield Foods, have both witnessed significant increases in shipments this year, according to Panjiva. China agreed to import a record US$36.5 billion in US farm goods in the phase one trade deal signed in January, with pork expected to be key to reaching the mark


Police Step Up Patrols in Northeast China As Korean Phased Out of Schools  (September 18, 2020, Radio Free Asia)
Since the start of the new semester, schools that previously offered Korean-medium teaching will start using Mandarin Chinese instead, phasing out any Korean-language teaching materials, according to media reports and a local resident who spoke to RFA.

Lock In, Lock Out  (September 18, 2020, The World of Chinese)
With the phased return of students from low-risk areas for the fall semester, some colleges have implemented controversial lockdown-styled management of campuses, a situation that has angered many students. Although the Covid-19 outbreak in China is largely under control, many students remain trapped on school grounds, with some couples even resorting to having meals through campus gates.

Jiangxi Tells Schools Not to Restrict Students’ Movements  (September 18, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Students nationwide have been complaining of not being allowed to leave their campuses after schools and universities introduced new rules for preventing coronavirus infections.

Fitness to Carry Greater Weight on China’s High School Entrance Exam ( September 21, 2020, Sixth Tone)
A new central government guideline aims to stop schools from prioritizing academic subjects above gym class.

China’s overseas graduates return in record numbers into already crowded domestic job market (September 21, 2020, South China Morning Post
Over 800,000 Chinese students who recently graduated from overseas universities have returned home this year, more than ever before, adding to an already crowded domestic job market. The number of students increased by 70 per cent from 2019 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and tightening immigration and employment rules overseas, a survey released last week by the online career development platform UniCareer showed.

China Wants to Screen Students for Depression. What Then?  (September 23, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Surveys suggest that as many as one in four Chinese college students could be living with depression, but new plans to implement widespread mental health screenings aren’t the answer.

For Many Young Chinese, Studying Abroad Was Plan A. There Was No Plan B.  (September 23, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Young people whose plans to study abroad this semester were scuttled by the pandemic are now left with four options, each with its own drawbacks.

Critics Question U.S. Decision To Revoke Chinese Students’ Visas  (September 23, 2020, NPR)
The U.S. canceled 1,000 visas given to Chinese students it alleges have ties to the Chinese military. The dramatic step is to counter what officials say is a concerted Chinese espionage effort.

Health / Environment

The Surveillance Vaccine  (September 23, 2020, Made in China Journal)
While individuals may protest against and critique malignant forms of surveillance, the effect of life being saved through surveillance seems to override feelings of anxiety.

Science / Technology

What Is Happening With TikTok and WeChat as Trump Tries to Ban Them?  (September 18, 2020, The New York Times)
The Commerce Department announced that it was prohibiting downloads of WeChat and TikTok in U.S. app stores. Here’s what you need to know.

WeChat: Judge blocks US attempts to ban downloads of Chinese app (September 20, 2020, BBC)
US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said the ban raised serious questions related to the constitution’s first amendment, guaranteeing free speech. The Department of Commerce had announced a bar on WeChat appearing in US app stores from Sunday, effectively shutting it down.

Chinese tech giant Tencent’s WeChat app sees downloads surge before U.S. ban  (September 21, 2020, Reuters)
WeChat was installed about 54,000 times between Friday and Saturday, 28 times the 1,900 downloads seen in the same two-day period a week before, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower. It said WeCom, an office collaboration app, also saw a jump in downloads in the United States over that period.

Exclusive: China to lose access to Australian space tracking station  (September 21, 2020, Reuters)
China will lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region.

How Trump’s Shot at WeChat Could Hit Americans Instead  (September 22, 2020, Politico)
The president frames his ban on the app as a national-security issue. Maybe. But it also curtails Americans’ free rein to use the network they invented.

History / Culture

Podcast: The Wubi Effect  (August 14, 2020, Radio Lab)
When we think of China today, we think of a technological superpower. From Huawei and 5G to TikTok and viral social media, China is stride for stride with the United States in the world of computing. However, China’s technological renaissance almost didn’t happen. And for one very basic reason: The Chinese language, with its 70,000 plus characters, couldn’t fit on a keyboard. Today, we tell the story of Professor Wang Yongmin, a hard headed computer programmer who solved this puzzle and laid the foundation for the China we know today.

Travel / Food

China keeps guard up with travel warning as tourist industry prepares for first post-coronavirus holiday season  (September 20, 2020, South China Morning Post)
China has asked its 1.4 billion residents to avoid unnecessary travel abroad during the week-long national holiday starting on October 1, which will be a major test of the country’s ability to prevent a renewed outbreak of Covid-19.

“That’s Not Tomato & Egg, It’s a Shakshuka!” Closing the 7,000km Gap Between Chinese and Israeli Cuisine  (September 22, 2020, The Beijinger)
I’m originally from China, but if you travel 7,000 kilometers across Asia, you’ll reach my current home: Israel. On the surface, Middle Eastern culture and Chinese culture are seemingly at odds with one another, whether it’s in their music, religion, or language. Upon closer inspection, however, the cuisines of these two countries actually bear surprising similarities.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Back from Exile: How the Martial Arts Genre Made a Triumphant Return to China’s Mainstream  (September 20, 2020, Radii China)
The history of martial arts fiction goes back for millenia in China, but for a significant period of time it left the mainland. How did it come back?

Language / Language Learning

Useful Sentence Structures for Chinese Academic Writing  (September 19, 2020, carlgene.com)

Should you learn the names of the strokes in Chinese characters?  (September 22, 2020, Hacking Chinese)
There’s a widespread belief that “radical” means “character component”, whereas the radical is actually just one specific component in each character that is used to sort it in dictionaries. Teaching components is great, but requiring students to learn which of them is the radical is not. I will return to this question in a future article.

Living Cross-culturally

In Exile—Still Working  (September 18, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
I’m learning to see more clearly that God’s ways are higher than mine, even when, or perhaps especially when, I can’t understand why things are going the way they are. So, while we are continuing to work to get back to China and to see our dear friends there again soon, we are rejoicing for this special time, for all that we’ve learned and for the very interesting stories we will one day, God-willing, be able to tell our future grandchildren about the “three week tour” from China to South America.


China’s Harvest Fields: A Book Review  (September 21, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
If you know anyone that is even remotely interested in the “inside scoop” of how the church in China is doing, get this book in his or her hands. And let this book serve as a prayer guide. China and its church will only increasingly impact the world in the coming years.

Links for Researchers

White Paper: Full Text: Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang  (September 17, 2020, The State Council of the People’s Republic of China)

The China Economic Risk Matrix  (September 21, 2020, Center for Strategic and International Studies)
The risk matrix attempts to track developments within the key areas of financial risk in China where changes in Beijing’s credibility can have an outsized impact on financial stability.  It is not a predictive tool but a diagnostic one—more like a flood warning system rather than a signal that a particular dam will break.  

Xinjiang’s System of Militarized Vocational Training Comes to Tibet  (September 22, 2020, Jamestown Foundation)
The labor transfer policy mandates that pastoralists and farmers are to be subjected to centralized “military-style” (军旅式, junlüshi) vocational training, which aims to reform “backward thinking” and includes training in “work discipline,” law, and the Chinese language. 

Pray for China

Sept. 27, 1901 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
Evangelist John Sung (宋尚节博士-Song Shangjie) was born into a Christian family in Fujian. He earned three degrees while studying in the U.S., but wandered from the Lord at a liberal seminary. When he was revived and began boldly witnessing, the shocked seminary leaders had him confined to a psychiatric hospital; there he read the Bible 40 times during his six months of confinement. By the time of his death in 1944, it was estimated that nearly 10% of the Christians in China had come to the Lord through his ministry. He once wrote, “The thing Satan fears the most is saints praying together in one accord. Praying together in one accord is the primary stepping-stone to revival… A church will die for lack of prayer.” Pray for Chinese Christians to pray together in one accord. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. Acts 1:14 

September 28, 2020 (Pray for China: A Walk Through History)
The birthday of Confucius (孔夫子) is celebrated on Sept. 28. Because Confucius (551-479 B.C.) lived in a time of political chaos, his teaching primarily focused on statecraft, e.g. that government is a matter of ethics not raw power. However, he also described the true relationship between God and man in these words from his Analects: “He who offends against Heaven [God] has none to whom he can pray,” and “Heaven [God] produced the virtue that is in me.” Pray for Christians to be constantly awed by the wonderful grace of God in saving us through Christ Jesus. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…Romans 3:24

Image credit: Joann Pittman
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