ZGBriefs | September 5, 2019

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Featured Article

Love from the Margins: Lessons from 4 Pastors in China (August 29, 2019, The Gospel Coalition)
For many American evangelicals, China’s reality is their biggest fear. Yet our Chinese brothers and sisters remind us that though marginalization is not something to seek, it cannot stop the advance of God’s kingdom. The power of perseverance comes from the Holy Spirit, not from social position or privilege.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

Canada deports Chinese activist Yang Wei over knife crimes (August 29, 2019, BBC)
Canada has deported a former Chinese dissident who was deemed a threat to public safety after he committed a string of violent acts. Yang Wei was resettled in Canada years ago by the UN refugee agency, after Beijing jailed him for his involvement in pro-democracy movements. But Yang, who is said to have mental health issues, went on to commit a series of offences in Canada.

As the Sino-African relationship flourishes, increasing anti-African sentiment in China is alarming (August 30, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
As more and more Africans migrate to China, this is leading to rising social and economic tensions in the host nation … and this needs to be addressed at the highest level.

Hong Kong Democracy Activists Arrested (August 30, 2019, NPR)
Hong Kong officials are cracking down on the protest movement there in a new way. Three prominent democracy activists were put under arrest earlier today. The most notable among them is 22-year-old Joshua Wong. 

China's Xi says country facing a period of 'concentrated risks' (September 3, 2019, Reuters)
Speaking at the Central Party School, which trains rising officials destined for higher office, Xi said there must be a “resolute struggle” against any risks and challenges to the party’s leadership, the country’s sovereignty and security and anything that threatens the country’s core interests. “As long as it comes, we must carry out a resolute struggle, and we must achieve victory,” state media cited Xi as saying.

Leak Shows Beijing’s Tight Rein on Hong Kong Crisis (September 3, 2019, China Digital Times)
Amid unrest in Hong Kong over suspended extradition rules and the official response to earlier opposition, a pair of recent reports from Reuters has highlighted Beijing’s tight control over the supposedly autonomous territory.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to withdraw extradition bill (September 4, 2019, BBC)
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she will withdraw the highly controversial extradition bill which triggered months of protests. […]  She said two senior officials would join an existing inquiry into police conduct during the protests.

Xi Jinping singles out Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as major risks for Chinese Communist Party (September 4, 2019, South China Morning Post)
In a speech to officials on Tuesday, Xi listed a number of challenges facing the country, even putting this specific category ahead of “foreign affairs” despite the global economic and strategic challenges China faces, including the trade war with the United States. The other risks identified by the Chinese president include economics, politics, culture and the environment, according to state news agency Xinhua.


5 O'clock in the Morning in China (August 30, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
Drawing on traditional Chinese musical styles, the songs are simple, and thus easy to learn. While they were initially popular in rural churches, they are also sung by Christians in urban settings and by Chinese Christians worldwide. 

Interview With a Qingdao Pastor: “Gospel Growth is an Inevitable Trend.” (August 31, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
Since the time of China’s economic reform and opening up, the house churches in Qingdao have been quite conservative, having been influenced by Watchman Nee and his “Local Church” movement, as well as “Jesus Family” in Shandong. Therefore, Qingdao churches are generally more conservative, basically being run as rural churches in the context of a city. 

"China and Africa"—a Preview (September 2, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
That meeting in Beijing has been on my mind for the past few months as I worked on the 2019 autumn issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly, in which we look at the growing ties and cooperation between China and Africa and explore the ways they relate to gospel opportunities. The aim of this issue is provide historical background as well as information and analysis of the various issues related to Chinese and Africans working together to reach both Chinese and Africans.

A Life Transformed By God, Part 3: “How Do You Believe?” (September 3, 2019, China Partnership Blog)
This is the third part of a five-part series with a house church pastor. In it he discusses the struggles of faith and discipleship. 

Reaching Tibetans (September 3, 2019, Chinese Church Voices)
Mission work among Tibetan peoples in China is especially sensitive. Yet, in this article from Mission China Today, Brother L, a missionary preacher in a city in China, gives fascinating insight into the careful mission work already being done among Tibetans.

Society / Life

Teens Shun WeChat (August 26, 2019, Abacus News)
“I have never shared anything on WeChat,”said the daughter, Xue Shuoyi, who is living away from her home in Shenzhen and attending university in Guangzhou. “For me, it is becoming a platform for my parents and professors, the old generation to sort of keep an eye on the young people. That’s the main reason why most of my friends and I do not post any important thing there.”

What Is a Fapiao? How Does It Work? When Do I Need One? We Explain Everything (August 29, 2019, The Beijinger)
Ok so we said we'd explain everything there is to know about fapiao, but frankly, we can't. The fapiao system is so complicated, labyrinthine and corrupt, we'd never get this thing done and we're writers, not tax accountants. What we can do, however, is focus on giving you a broad understanding of how fapiaos work, and how they're likely to affect or be needed by most foreigners employed locally here in China.

Hong Kong Was Once Passionate About China. Now, It’s Indifferent or Contemptuous. (September 3, 2019, The New York Times)
As the city’s political elite have become increasingly beholden to China, and its business leaders ever more intertwined with the mainland, many ordinary citizens have pulled away, becoming less engaged.

China school attack: Eight children killed at Hubei primary (September 3, 2019, BBC)
Eight children have been killed in an attack outside a primary school in China, on the first day back at school after the summer holidays. Police said they arrested a 40-year-old man at the scene of the attack in Hubei province in central China. Officials did not say how the students were killed and the attacker's motive was not immediately clear.

Online protest highlights woes of evicted children in Shenzhen (September 4, 2019, Inkstone News)
Chinese internet users have joined an online protest to support children who were forced to move out of one of Shenzhen’s biggest migrant neighorboods. Following calls from a performance artist called Nut Brother, WeChat users are sharing pictures of evicted migrant children, in order to pressure the government into finding new schools for them. 

Economics / Trade / Business

Five Ways to Facilitate Leaving China (August 29, 2019, China Law Blog)
The first thing one needs to understand about leaving China, either fully or partially, is that everything —  and I do mean everything — you did wrong coming into China may come back to haunt you when you try to leave. 

China Seen Heading for Sub-6% Economic Growth as Tariffs Soar (September 2, 2019, Bloomberg)
Economists are downgrading their forecasts for economic growth in China again, to below a level seen as necessary for the Communist Party to meet its own goals in time for its centenary in 2021.

Behind the Rise of China’s Facial-Recognition Giants (September 3, 2019, Wired)
Megvii, one of China's highly valued facial-recognition startups, has filed for an IPO. Most of its revenue comes from a unit selling surveillance and security systems.

China’s Yangtze River Basin Represents the World’s Third-Largest Economy—and It’s at Great Risk (September 4, 2019, Fortune)
“The Yangtze is too big to fail,” Tan said. Nevertheless, both the Chinese government and the multinationals with supply chain dependency on the Yangtze recognize that cleanup efforts are needed. Public and private sources have set aside a combined $2.1 trillion for such projects.

Chinese cities take drastic action to offset soaring pork prices (September 4, 2019, Inkstone News)
Across China, the price of pork has doubled since July, prompting some cities to take the unusual step of offering discounts on the country’s favorite meat. In the southwestern city of Nanning, coupons have been distributed to shoppers since Sunday. The bearer is entitled to a 10% discount on the average price of pork, according to the government-backed Nanning Evening News.

China could release emergency pork reserves after losing 100 million pigs to swine fever (September 4, 2019, CNN)
Pork is a huge deal in China. The country is home to half of all the pigs on the planet. The meat is a staple of the Chinese diet, which means its scarcity could damage China's social stability. The outbreak of swine fever also threatens to upend the global pork supply chain.

China’s New Company Tracking System: Comply, Comply, Comply (September 4, 2019, China Law Blog)
Foreign companies doing business in China are abuzz with news and rumors regarding China’s plans to set up what will essentially be a social credit system for companies that do business in China.

Hong Kong on brink of recession as protests and trade war take toll (September 4, 2019, The Guardian)
The business survey, released on Wednesday, noted “the steepest deterioration in the health of the private sector since February 2009”, adding that spreading pessimism had seen business confidence slump to its lowest on record.

Huawei accuses US of cyber-attacks and threats to staff (September 4, 2019, BBC)
Huawei has accused the US government of "using every tool at its disposal" to disrupt its business. In a press release on Tuesday, the Chinese tech giant said the US had launched cyber-attacks to infiltrate its networks and was threatening its employees. The firm, which was put on a US trade blacklist this year, did not offer evidence for the allegations.


Chinese university says new classroom facial recognition system will improve attendance (September 2, 2019, South China Morning Post)
A university in eastern China has installed a facial recognition system at its entrance and in two classrooms to monitor the attendance and behaviour of students. China Pharmaceutical University in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, announced on its website on Thursday that it was one of the first higher education institutions in the country to put such a system in place.

Mainland Chinese students in Hong Kong: Aspirations, tensions, ambivalence  (September 4, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
When they first travelled to Hong Kong, most mainland students were drawn there by the curious possibilities for them to engage with taboo political topics and novel political activities.

Health / Environment

Too Costly, Too Late: Curable Liver Disease Ravages Rural China (September 3, 2019, Sixth Tone)
Over the past decade, residents of a village known for longevity have been battling the hepatitis C virus.

Science / Technology

Didi To Roll Out ‘Robo-Taxis’ in Shanghai (August 30, 2019, Sixth Tone)
The ride-hailing giant’s founder and CEO says artificial intelligence will reduce car accidents in the future.

Sina Weibo Launches Instagram Clone for China (September 2, 2019, Radii China)
Sina Weibo, the company behind the microblogging platform so often referred to as “China’s Twitter,” has launched what will inevitably become known as “China’s Instagram” — assuming its new venture takes off. Luzhou (绿洲literally “green land” but more commonly translated as “oasis”) has just landed on app stores and looks remarkably similar to the Gram.

The Cutting Edge of Healthcare: China's Advances in Medical Tech (September 3, 2019, The Beijinger)
From Beijing and beyond, China is constantly updating its hospitals with the latest and greatest in technological advancements. Here's what you need to know from the latest round of upgrades to the capital's healthcare operations.

History / Culture

How a Jewish doctor helped form backbone of revolutionary China’s medical system (August 12, 2019, Times of Israel)
As the Chinese army turns 92, government continues to remember Dr. Jakob Rosenfeld, a Marxist and Holocaust refugee who fled to Shanghai and started a medical school.

A collection: The eighties in China (Everyday Life in Maoist China)

Nie Yuanzi, Whose Poster Fanned the Cultural Revolution, Dies at 98 (September 3, 2019, The New York Times)
When Nie Yuanzi put up a vitriolic wall poster one day in 1966, she plunged into the political maelstrom of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. For the rest of her life, Ms. Nie wrestled with the fame, and the infamy, that her act of rebellion would bring.

Travel / Food

Why Are China’s Old Towns So Boring? (September 3, 2019, Wild China Blog)
In China, there is only one direction to grow — up. To grow so fast, operators must have a relentless focus on scalability and crowd management. Anything not scalable is not worth pursuing. Unique experiences, tailor-made experiences — forget those. “Volume is king.” The tourism industry happily embraces the doctrine. Hence, old towns conform to a scalable formula.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

China’s media presence in Africa is growing fast. Is its influence growing at the same pace? (August 29, 2019, Asia Dialogue)
Direct exposure to Chinese media such as CGTN Africa, China Radio International or the African edition of China Daily is marginal.

3 Upcoming Movies in Beijing That Are Worth Your Moolah (August 30, 2019,The Beijinger)
Nix the Netflix, turn off your torrents, ditch the DVDs and go and watch a film in a theater for Pete's sake! The Beijing cinema scene is alive and well, as our column Sino Silver Screen will prove.

Why China Is Buzzing About Netflix’s Obama-Backed Factory Film (September 2, 2019, Bloomberg)
“American Factory,” a new Netflix Inc. documentary about a Chinese-owned factory in Ohio isn’t being screened in China. But hundreds of thousands of people have seen it anyway, sparking a debate that delves into the relationship between the world’s two largest economies.

‘Ne Zha’ and the Making of a Legend (September 4, 2019, Sixth Tone)
This summer, China’s undisputed box office champion was a spunky, mischievous god-prince. “Ne Zha” raked in more than 4.7 billion yuan ($656 million) in less than two months, making it the country’s highest grossing animated film and second-highest grossing domestic film of all time.

Language / Language Learning

A Numbers Game (August 29, 2019, The World of Chinese)
Similar to “l33t speak” in English, this internet dialect replaces Chinese characters with Arabic numerals that look or sound like them. Numeral language is usually used for convenience or humor, though a discussion on Baidu Forums also suggests that one can convey intensely personal feelings, like “I love you” (520 in numbers-speak), without coming off too strong.

Aiya! How to Master China's Most Expressive Phrase (September 2, 2019, The Beijinger)
The Chinese word 哎呀(āi yā) doesn’t have a literal meaning or any grammatical value but is used very often in speaking as interjection or exclamation. That's because it's incredibly malleable, and depending on the context can be used to express everything from annoyance to admiration, agreement, amazement, blame, embarrassment, dissatisfaction, frustration, impatience, modesty, pain, regret, sarcasm, shock, surprise, wonder, etc. … the list is as long as human emotion allows.

Chinese listening challenge, September 2019 (September 4, 2019, Hacking Chinese)
I regard listening as the most important skill when learning Chinese. It has more positive carry-over to the other skills than anything else and improving listening ability also makes it much easier to socialise in Chinese.

Living Cross-culturally

Same but Different (September 4, 2019, ChinaSource Blog)
As I sat in yet another airplane over the Pacific I reminisced about what new semesters have brought into my life. Obviously in 25 years the changes are many, but there continues to be repetition. Hopefully in these musings readers will find at least a kindred spirit and at best an encouraging word.


Around the World With Mao Zedong  (September 3, 2019, The New York Times)
Review of Maoism, a Global History, by Julia Lovell. 
Her new book covers a vast amount of ground, moving through chapters on Maoism in Peru, Indonesia, Africa, Southeast Asia, India and Nepal, before ending in China, where for the first time in decades the country is run by a leader, Xi Jinping, who consciously builds on Mao’s legacy.

Links for Researchers

Matters of Record: Relitigating Engagement with China (September 3, 2019, Marco Polo)
This analysis is not a comprehensive account of the engagement strategy nor a holistic assessment of the beliefs held by policymakers. Rather, it analyzes a number of key policy documents from the Clinton administration that add nuance to today’s debates about what engagement was and was not.


Back to the Center of State and Society
A presentation featuring Beijing-based, Pulitzer Prize winner Ian Johnson
Tuesday, October 29, 2019. 6:00 p.m.
​Beane Hall – Water Tower Campus
Loyola University Chicago


A Prayer Guide — This Is Qingdao (China Partnership)

Image credit: Gabriel Garcia Marengo, via Flickr
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