ZGBriefs | September 3, 2020

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Featured Article

In China, the ‘Great Firewall’ Is Changing a Generation  (September 1, 2020, Politico)
Once it seemed inevitable that the internet would create a more open society. Now it’s fostering young nationalists.

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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

Satellite Images Show China’s Expansion Of Muslim Detention Camps  (August 29, 2020, NPR)
BuzzFeed News has used satellite images to document China’s detention of religious minorities. NPR’s Scott Simon speaks to reporter Megha Rajagopalan about the massive expansion of prison camps.

U.S. increases support for Taiwan, says it’s to counter rising China pressure  (August 31, 2020, CNBC)
The United States said on Monday it was establishing a new bilateral economic dialogue with Taiwan, an initiative it said was aimed at strengthening ties with Taipei and supporting it in the face of increasing pressure from Beijing. Washington also said it had declassified six Reagan-era security assurances given to Taiwan, a move analysts said appeared intended to show further support for Taipei.

Cheng Lei, Australian anchor for China’s government-run English news channel CGTN, detained in Beijing  (August 31, 2020, ABC News (Australia))
A high-profile Australian television anchor for the Chinese Government’s English news channel, CGTN, has been detained in Beijing in a highly sensitive case posing a fresh challenge to Australia-China relations. A statement from Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed Cheng Lei was being held by authorities in the Chinese capital and Australian diplomats were permitted to speak to her last week via video conference.

Taiwan: angry China vows ‘corresponding measures’ over Czech visit  (September 1, 2020, The Guardian)
China has pledged to take “corresponding measures” over a visit by the Czech parliamentary speaker to Taiwan, where he channelled John F Kennedy to declare to the island’s parliament: “I am Taiwanese.”

The everyday ethnic politics of Han-Hui relations in the Xi Jinping era  (September 1, 2020, The China Story)
The CCP’s rhetoric on ethnic politics stresses the unity and equality of all of China’s minzu (often translated in official documents as “nationalities”) as a result of the party’s leadership. However, observations of everyday interactions between the majority Han and minority Hui suggest pervasive separation and prejudice that undermines the CCP’s claims of ethnic togetherness and equity. 

US imposes new restrictions on Chinese diplomats  (September 2, 2020, CNN)
US-based senior Chinese diplomats will be required to seek US government permission to engage in a number of routine activities, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday — the latest escalation amid worsening tensions between Washington and Beijing. The top US diplomat said that the “State Department has established a mechanism requiring approval for senior Chinese diplomats in the United States to visit university campuses and to meet with local government officials.”


Officials monitor Wang Yi’s wife  (August 26, 2020, China Aid)
Authorities have placed Jiang Rong, the wife of Pastor Wang Yi, under house arrest. Jiang had previously freed on bail. Although the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials released Jiang on bail, they now bar her from interacting with family, friends, and church members. 

Why Chinese Become Christians: 3 Additional Factors  (August 31, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
In my previous blog we looked at the religious backgrounds of Chinese who become Christians and the most important reasons for their coming to faith. In this blog, we look further at three additional factors that influence Chinese people to become Christians.

My Husband Gambles—What Should I Do?  (September 1, 2020, Chinese Church Voices)
What should you do if your spouse is a gambling addict? That is the question posed by one Christian wife to Pastor Yuan Sheng. This question is, unfortunately, is not a unique one for many pastors in China, particularly for those in rural areas, as Pastor Yuan points out. How can Christians care well for those with such an addiction?

A Look at China’s Registered Church  (September 2, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
With the media’s incessant focus on official persecution of the unregistered church in China, it is often easy to forget the vibrant dimensions of Christian life playing out in China’s registered churches.

Society / Life

Censoring a pandemic — the banned words of WeChat  (August 28, 2020, Sup China)
China has censored private messages and public posts on WeChat since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. A new report looks at what words have been verboten.

A food crisis in China?  (August 31, 2020, World Magazine)
Severe flooding, insect infestation, and COVID-19 may be contributing to a food shortage.

Translation: 300 Million People Abandoned by “Smartphone Society”  (September 1, 2020, China Digital Times)
In the think piece translated below, WeChat user @拾遗 (meaning, roughly, “Lost and Found”) warns that this over-reliance on the latest technology means that everyone could someday find themselves left behind for the crime of growing old. 

Home Surveillance Raises Questions About Chinese Parenting Habits  (September 1, 2020, Sixth Tone)
A trending topic on Chinese social media is inciting debate over whether parents should supervise their children using home surveillance cameras. 

China’s Covid-19 epicenter gets back to normal, but can’t hide the trauma  (September 2, 2020, Inkstone News)
Wuhan has been declared clear of the coronavirus for months and has mostly reopened, yet many businesses are struggling and residents bear the psychological scars.

Economics / Trade / Business

Video: 8 Tips for Doing Business in China  (August 28, 2020, China Law Blog)
Here are some lessons learned from more than a decade working in China. 

China’s migrant workers determined to stay in cities as most see ‘no hope’ in rural hometowns (September 1, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Most of China’s migrant workers will stay in cities despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on jobs and incomes because there are fewer opportunities in their economically-backward hometowns, a new report has found. 


Bilingual Education in Inner Mongolia: An Explainer  (August 30, 2020, Made in China Journal)
A heritage of both China’s decentralised past and the Soviet model, minority-language education is now being replaced by a new model of ‘bilingual education’ in which Chinese is the language of instruction and minority languages are at most a topic of instruction, one hour a day. 

Facial recognition and bathtime bookings: How China’s universities are reopening  (August 31, 2020, Reuters)
As COVID-19 cases in China sink to new lows, the world’s largest population of university students is heading back to campus in a migration defined by lockdowns, patriotic education and cutting-edge surveillance equipment. 

Students go back to school in China after authorities say pandemic is under control  (August 31, 2020, South China Morning Post)
Hundreds of millions of students across China have begun returning to the classroom, after education authorities hailed a “decisive victory” against the coronavirus. The Ministry of Education has given the go-ahead for all schools to reopen – except in Xinjiang – from Monday, saying the pandemic is under control and some 280 million students can begin the autumn semester on campus.

Inner Mongolia protests at China’s plans to bring in Mandarin-only lessons  (September 1, 2020, The Guardian)
Thousands of ethnic Mongolians have protested across northern China in opposition to Beijing plans to replace the Mongolian language with Chinese in some school subjects. Tuesday marked the first day of a policy revealed in June, to gradually transition the language of instruction in Inner Mongolian schools from Mongolian to Mandarin Chinese.

Health / Environment

China forges ahead with ambitious national park plan  (August 27, 2020, National Geographic)
The new system aims to benefit wildlife and people alike, but balancing conservation with the development of a tourism industry can be tricky.

5 Chinese Medicine Herbs You Can Use at Home  (August 31, 2020, Radii China)
For beginners wanting to explore the world of Chinese herbal medicine, however, here is our guide to some basic, single herbs backed by science that you can start using at home.

China plans to clean up Yellow River and give its ‘sorrow’ a brighter future  (September 2, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The Yellow River  basin in northern China, home to nearly a third of the country’s population but a much lower share of its output, is being targeted for an economic and ecological revamp under plans submitted to the Communist Party ’s top leadership.

History / Culture

Bizarre Beijing: The Soul of the Great Bell  (August 29, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Nearly 500 years ago the Celestially August – the Son of Heaven – Yongluo, of the Illustrious – or Ming – Dynasty, commanded the worthy official Guanyu that he should have a bell made of such size that the sound thereof might be heard for one hundred li. And he further ordained that the voice of the bell should be strengthened with brass, and deepened with gold, and sweetened with silver; and that the face and the great lips of it should be graven with blessed sayings from the sacred books, and that it should be suspended in the center of the imperial capital, to sound through all the many-colored ways of the City of Beijing.

China Launches 1-Year Campaign Against Theft of Cultural Relics  (September 1, 2020, Sixth Tone)
The Ministry of Public Security and National Cultural Heritage Administration held a joint teleconference Monday in Beijing to announce the special nationwide campaign, which will focus on preventing theft from temples, tombs, cultural sites, and pagodas, as well as other related crimes.

Modern ‘Ai’: Love and Socialism in Republican China  (September 1, 2020, Sixth Tone)
Although most often linked to Christianity, early 20th century political leaders like Sun Yat-sen imbued the concept of “universal love” with a decidedly radical meaning.

First KFC opens in China in 1987  (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Travel / Food

Cool Beans  (August 29, 2020, The World of Chinese)
liangfen stall is a tempting sight on a hot day, displaying bowls of jade-green bean jelly surrounded by colorful containers of sesame paste, chili oil, mashed garlic, and soy sauce. Tipped into the mouth, the jelly feels cool and smooth, and slips down the throat with a refreshing kick. 

Beijing opens up to inbound flights as city gets back to normal  (September 2, 2020, South China Morning Post)
The Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Wednesday that Beijing would reopen to nine international flights from eight countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Greece, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Canada.

Scenes From China’s Guizhou Province  (September 2, 2020, The Atlantic)
From remote hilltop Buddhist monasteries to ancient villages to the skyline of the capital city, Guiyang, gathered here are a few glimpses of Guizhou and its residents.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

When China Reporters Can’t Report from China  (August 27, 2020, China File)
2020 may be remembered as the year when the fragile edifice of U.S.-China journalism, one leg upon which the U.S.-China table has traditionally rested, came crumbling down. In February, the expulsion of three China-based Wall Street Journal reporters led to American retaliatory personnel caps on Chinese government-owned news organizations. 

Language / Language Learning

On the Character: 吃  (August 30, 2020, The World of Chinese)
Food is at the heart of Chinese culture, which has thousands of years of farming tradition and memories of many famines in ancient and modern history. When Chinese people meet one another, a classic greeting is “Have you eaten yet (吃了吗 Chīle ma)?” A host may open a banquet by telling the guests “Help yourself to more dishes (多吃菜duō chī cài)” to show hospitality.

Living Cross-culturally

In Exile—Outside the Wall  (August 28, 2020, ChinaSource Blog)
Even though their work or study permits are still valid, permission to enter the country has been denied to almost all foreigners since March. Many have continued their work as best they can, using online platforms to study, teach, and run their businesses.

Pray for China

September 7, 2020 (Pray for China, A Walk Through History)
On Sept.7, 1807, Robert Morrison (马礼逊) arrived in Macau as the first Protestant missionary to China. At that time, it was a capital crime for a Chinese to teach the language to foreigners or to become a Christian. Morrison’s great talent as a linguist led to employment in Guangzhou as a translator for the British East India Company, the primary importer of opium into China. This position provided him with a legal basis for residency in China and with funds that he used to support his missionary work. However, Morrison’s links to an opium merchant and an imperialistic government have been used to besmirch missions work down to the present day. Pray for Christians in the business world in Macau and Guangzhou to be salt and light. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Leviticus 19:36

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