ZGBriefs | September 27, 2018

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Featured Article

With Vatican Talks and Bulldozers, China Aims to Control Christianity (September 24, 2018, The New York Times)
“We’re at a turning point,” said Ying Fuk-tsang, the director of the divinity school at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “The administration feels that the government had been too lax in the past and now wants to increase the pressure.”

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

How Police Databases Sort China’s Citizens (September 19, 2018, China Digital Times)
The following list was posted anonymously by someone claiming to have worked for many years in China’s public security system, and to have compiled these dozens of tags used to describe individuals in public security databases after coming to see such tools as instruments of oppression.

China’s Sea Control Is a Done Deal, ‘Short of War With the U.S.’  (September 20, 2018, The New York Times)
A rare visit on board a United States Navy surveillance flight over the South China Sea pointed out how profoundly China has reshaped the security landscape across the region.

Beijing complains as US 'orders Chinese media to register as foreign agents' (September 20, 2018, The Guardian)
If registered as foreign agents, Xinhua and CGTN would have to disclose their budgets and expenditures as well as include disclaimers identifying the outlets as foreign agents on all broadcasts.

Pakistan criticises China over treatment of ethnic Muslims (September 21, 2018, The Guardian)
Pakistan has asked China to soften restrictions on ethnic Muslims in Xinjiang, one of the first public criticisms from a majority Muslim country over China’s policies in the western territory.

China Rejects U.S. Warship’s Visit to Hong Kong as Tensions Rise (September 25, 2018, The New York Times)
The cancellation of a planned visit by the Wasp, an amphibious assault ship carrying a contingent of Marines, followed China’s decision to recall a senior admiral who was in the United States for a naval conference this week.

U.S. approval of $330 million military sale to Taiwan draws China's ire (September 25, 2018, Reuters)
The U.S. State Department has approved the sale to Taiwan of spare parts for F-16 fighter planes and other military aircraft worth up to $330 million, prompting China to warn on Tuesday that the move jeopardized Sino-U.S. cooperation.

Xi Jinping’s war on the Uighurs (September 25, 2018, Inside Story)
Uighur families in Adelaide are watching the crackdown in China’s Xinjiang province with intensifying alarm.

Why Sweden and China have fallen out so badly (September 26, 2018, BBC)
It all started earlier in September when Chinese tourists were removed from a hotel by Swedish police, a move which was heavily condemned by the Chinese government. 

US arrests army reservist accused of spying for China (September 26, 2018, The Guardian)
A Chinese national who came to the US on a student visa and enlisted in the army reserves has been arrested in Chicago and accused of helping Beijing attempt to recruit American scientists and engineers.


The decline and fall of Chinese Buddhism: how modern politics and fast money corrupted an ancient religion (September 21, 2018, South China Morning Post)
The hollow core at the monastery reflected the appalling state of Buddhist institutions throughout the country, a decline that continues today as the centuries-old tradition is dogged by corruption scandals and a dearth of internationally recognised spiritual leaders.

China And Vatican Sign Agreement On Appointment Of Bishops  (September 23, 2018, NPR)
After decades of tensions, the Vatican and China have signed a "provisional agreement" on the appointment of bishops. The deal — signed in Beijing by deputy foreign ministers on both sides — gives the Holy See a say in naming of bishops, and grants the pope veto power over candidates.

Christians United For China (September 24, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
We are calling on Christians worldwide to pray for China and the church in China. We are praying for the unity of the Chinese church, and that this time of suffering and purging would call forth a new awakening and revival of our brothers and sisters.

How to Pray for and about Marriage (September 25, 2018, Chinese Church Voices)
How should Christians prepare for marriage? Should Christians expect to be married? How do Christians in China understand and live out their marriages differently from non-believers? In this post, Pastor Chen Fengsheng offers prayer points for Christians who desire to marry and for spouses already married.

The Agreement between China and the Holy See (September 25, 2018, La Civilta Cattolica)
It is helpful to understand this agreement as a true harmony of notes. That is to say, the beginning of a composition that has yet to be developed. This is not, then, the conclusion of a process, but it is a real starting point that needs to be implemented through instruments of control and improvements to the text.

Should the Vatican Compromise with China? – a China File Conversation (September 25, 2018, China File)
What is at stake in this changing dynamic between Beijing and Rome? Would a deal help protect China’s millions of Catholics, or leave them more exposed?

Pope admits underground Chinese Catholics will suffer after Vatican deal with Beijing (September 26, 2018, South China Morning Post)
In his first comments on Saturday’s agreement, Pope Francis says he – not Beijing – has final say on appointing bishops, but calls it a dialogue.

Society / Life

Podcast: ‘Human impulses run riot’: China’s shocking pace of change – podcast  (September 21, 2018, The Guardian)
Thirty years ago, politics was paramount. Now, only money counts. China’s leading novelist examines a nation that has transformed in a single lifetime.

Economics / Trade / Business

How Does China Cheat? The White House Counts The Ways (September 21, 2018, Trade Vistas)
The report paints a picture of American companies routinely ensnared in a web of regulatory requirements that expose their competitive assets in exchange for the opportunity to participate in China’s market.

The U.S.-China Trade War Won’t Be Ending Soon (September 21, 2018, Brookings, via libsyn.com)
Senior Fellow Eswar Prasad analyzes the latest round of escalating tariffs between the U.S. and China and the dangerous miscalculations on both sides which threaten to prolong the economic stalemate.

Trump’s Tariffs May Hurt, but Quitting China Is Hard to Do (September 24, 2018, The New York Times)
President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products, which expanded to an additional $200 billion worth of goods on Monday, are prompting many companies to rethink their supply chains.

The China Negotiator #25: Tariffs vs. Trade War (September 26, 2018, China Solved)
A tariff is simply a tax.  A trade war is a conflict with losers — and maybe a winner (though not necessarilly).

China plans to boost $3.8 trillion digital economy to create more jobs (September 26, 2018, CNBC)
The Chinese economy is in the midst of a long-term restructuring that has seen the decline of low-end industries and the emergence of higher-value factories that make robotics and drones.


Welcome to College. Your Parents Are in the Tents Next Door. (September 23, 2018, The New York Times)
But the phenomenon, which has spread to several universities across China, has prompted debate about whether parents are coddling the generation of only children bornafter China’s one-child policy was adopted in 1979, and undermining their independence. 

Health / Environment

Fentanyl crisis: Is China a major source of illegal drugs? (September 24, 2018, BBC)
Amid tension between China and the US over trade, there's also friction over another issue - the illegal trade in synthetic drugs. The US believes factory-produced opioids - powerful painkillers increasingly abused by US citizens - are being made in China and sold from there too.

I've Lost My Youth’: The Psychiatric Patients Stuck in Hospital (September 25, 2018, Sixth Tone)
The hospital has held her against her will for a decade at the behest of her mother, Lili says. She claims that a doctor declared her fit and well prior to her 2008 transfer, and that her condition has remained stable since then. Lili takes antipsychotic drugs to prevent relapses.

Science / Technology

Google Suppresses Memo Revealing Plans To Closely Track Search Users In China (September 22, 2018, The Intercept)
The memo, authored by a Google engineer who was asked to work on the project, disclosed that the search system, codenamed Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location — and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner who would have “unilateral access” to the data.

History / Culture

Madness and Modernity (September 25, 2018, China Channel)
A hundred years ago, Lu Xun published a short story that would forever leave its mark on both Chinese fiction and Chinese history. ‘Diary of a Madman’ (Kuangren Riji), Lu Xun’s first vernacular short story to appear in print, was published in the May 1918 issue of New Youth (Xin Qingnian), a radical journal edited by some of China’s foremost progressive thinkers. 

Travel / Food

Hong Kong: first high-speed train to mainland China departs  (September 23, 2018, The Guardian)
The new bullet trains to southern China promise to be far quicker than existing cross-border rail links, and long-haul services will cut journey times to Beijing from 24 hours to nine hours.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

China’s Media Regulator Tightens Grip on Foreign Programming (September 21, 2018, Sixth Tone)
China’s media regulator is planning to limit airtime for imported television shows, and to introduce a blanket ban on foreign programs about current affairs.

Why Chinese Audiences May Not Go Crazy for ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (September 25, 2018, Sixth Tone)
Nick’s family may seem like members of the modern, globe-trotting elite, but their outlooks and prejudices are portrayed to fit in what Hollywood understands as inextricably Chinese.

Living Cross-culturally

Having Gone to China, I'm Thankful I Learned . . . (September 21, 2018, ChinaSource Blog)
We received a package in the mail one day from a former teammate in China. A thankful journal with a note encouraging us to write daily what we were thankful for. We have not quite finished the year of thanks, though it reminds us that we have much to be grateful for and God is worthy of praise through thanks-giving!  


China Books: The Top Eight (September 21, 2018, China Law Blog)
So without further ado, our readers’ eight most popular books chosen strictly on the numbers and in no particular order, along with my one sentence review of each.

Links for Researchers

Power Play: Addressing China’s Belt and Road Strategy (September 20, 2018, Center for New American Security)
Although addressing a genuine demand for infrastructure, this strategy is designed to lay the foundation for an alternative order and is already eroding international norms and standards in a way that privileges China.

China’s long game on human rights at the United Nations (September 28, 2018, Brookings)
In the past few years, China has shifted from its traditionally more defensive posture to a more activist role, particularly on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Image credit: Francisco Anzola, via Flickr
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource 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