ZGBriefs | September 7, 2017

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Featured Article

Homeschooling Still Illegal, Warns Chinese Government (September 6, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In an effort to reduce dropout rates, the Chinese government has clarified that homeschooling, as well as so-called sishu schools that focus on teaching classic Chinese culture, are illegal.

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Government / Politics / Foreign Affairs

China sets mid-October date for key Communist Party congress (August 31, 2017, Reuters)
China’s ruling Communist Party will hold a once-every-five-years congress starting on Oct. 18, state media said on Thursday, at which President Xi Jinping will look to further stamp his authority on the party.

China makes disrespect of national anthem a crime (September 1, 2017, Reuters)
Anyone who mocks China’s national anthem faces up to 15 days in police detention after parliament criminalized such acts in a new law on Friday that covers Hong Kong and Macau.

Beijing reins in Hong Kong (September 1, 2017, East Asia Forum)
Beijing is increasingly brazen about violating the ‘one country, two systems’ model and replacing it with de facto direct rule.

Are global ambitions driving Xi’s approach to Korea? No, it’s about keeping the party on top (September 2, 2017, The Guardian)
So why does the Chinese government not take advantage and make the most of it? The answer has to be found in the nature of the political system in China, one that places the perpetuation of Communist party power above all else, including foreign policy.

Pakistan: A slice of China in Islamabad (September 3, 2017, Al Jazeera)
Restaurants, guesthouses and supermarkets are opening to cater for the influx of Chinese fuelled by the CPEC.

All the president's men: China's politburo line-up a measure of Xi's power (September 4, 2017, Reuters)
President Xi Jinping of China is expected to place trusted allies in the Communist Party’s key decision-making Politburo during a leadership reshuffle at the 19th party Congress this autumn, according to multiple Chinese sources and foreign diplomats. A key measure of Xi’s power will be how many of his allies are installed on the 25-member committee.

China will do little about North Korea before the National Congress (September 5, 2017, China Policy Institute)
Ultimately, Xi is not prepared to risk worsening the situation in the run up to the 19th Congress. What would be interesting to watch is what China does after the 19th Congress is concluded. If Xi comes out of it with more authority and political capital to spend domestically and abroad, perhaps he will start to take more decisive measures against his troublesome neighbour.

China’s Rights Crackdown Is Called ‘Most Severe’ Since Tiananmen Square (September 5, 2017, The New York Times)
 China is systematically undermining international human rights groups in a bid to silence critics of its crackdown on such rights at home, a watchdog organization said on Tuesday. The group also faulted the United Nations for failing to prevent the effort, and at times being complicit in it.

China’s Communist Party Is About to Meet. Here’s What You Should Know: A ChinaFile Conversation (September 6, 2017, China File)
What has the Party accomplished since Xi took power in 2012? And how can the Party maintain its legitimacy amidst flagging economic growth, increased dissatisfaction among the disenfranchised—especially in Hong Kong and Xinjiang—a major diplomatic challenge in North Korea, and increasing hostility from U.S. President Donald Trump?

Beijing’s Bold New Censorship (September 6, 2017, New York Review of Books)
Though euphemisms continue to be useful to China’s rulers, it has now become increasingly obvious that their use is declining. In the era of Xi Jinping, repression is often stated baldly, even proudly. 

China's military practices for 'surprise attack' over sea near Korea (September 6, 2017, Reuters)
China’s air force has carried out exercises near the Korean peninsula, practicing to defend against a “surprise attack” coming over the sea, Chinese state media reported.


Women of Yanggao 1/3: Daoist families (June 13, 2016, Stephenjones.blog)
Even before we consider public roles (see the two following posts, about sacred and secular performers respectively), the female members of Daoist households play a significant role. Just as Daoists are Real People, not mere Faceless Paragons of Ancient Wisdom, I’d like to give a face and personality to these fine people.

Pastoral Advice During Chinese Valentine’s Day (September 1, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
On August 28, Chinese celebrated “Qixi,” also known as “Chinese Valentine’s Day." The holiday is based on a mythological Chinese folk story about a goddess who falls in love with a cowherder. Legend has it that prayers offered to the goddess on this day will bring blessings and wisdom.

Risky road: China's missionaries follow Beijing west (September 4, 2017, BBC)
But Meng Lisi and Li Xinheng were not there to work on Chinese-funded projects. They were in the provincial capital, Quetta, on a clandestine mission: to spread the word of Christianity in the unlikeliest and most dangerous of places in conservative Muslim Pakistan.Their story draws attention to an unintended and often overlooked by-product of China's aggressive drive to develop new trading routes and carve out influence across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

How to Minister to Seniors, Part 3 (September 5, 2017, Chinese Church Voices)
The journal ChurchChina published an article earlier this summer on how Chinese Christians can care for and minister to the increasing senior population in China. 

Society / Life

Photos: Hu Line: Journey Through China’s Heartland (Sixth Tone)

Shocking Video Shows Shanghai Policeman Pushing Woman with Baby to the Ground (September 1, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
A disturbing video that shows how a woman and a small child are thrown to the ground by a local Shanghai policeman became a trending topic on Friday, sparking wide debates on police use of force in China.

As Bike-Sharing Brings Out Bad Manners, China Asks, What’s Wrong With Us? (September 2, 2017, The New York Times)
On social media and in conversation, it is common to hear people describe bike-sharing as a “monster-revealing mirror” that has exposed the true nature of the Chinese people. 

China's Aging Farm Villages Need Reform Now, USDA Economist Says (September 4, 2017, Bloomberg)
As China’s policy makers work to reform how farmland is held–don’t call it ownership–they must overcome low productivity, high costs, and an aging rural population, according to a senior U.S. Department of Agriculture economist who’s studied the sector for two decades.

Revisiting China’s village of left-behind children after suicides that shocked nation (September 4, 2017, South China Morning Post)
A village in Bijie city, where four siblings took their own lives is one of many poverty-stricken areas where families are still being torn apart by the need to seek work elsewhere

Ghost towns in a restless region (September 4, 2017, Straits Times)
Outside the welcome centre, the plans for a vibrant oasis on the western edge of the Taklamakan desert stood like a mirage. The half-finished landmark buildings jut out of a rubble-strewn construction site. Many such ambitious projects around Kashgar have stagnated despite government plans to bring the poverty-stricken region's economy on a par with the rest of the nation.

Why Young Chinese Are So Crazy About Online Sticker Sets (September 5, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Sticker sets have come to dominate the social networks of young Chinese people, especially those born in the 1990s. For some of them, verbal and text-based conversations have given way to a barrage of stickers, furiously posted in a kind of competition to see who has the most or the funniest.

China keeps trying to ban officials from drinking (September 5, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Guizhou is the latest province in China to institute a ban on official alcohol purchases for government employees, the move being particularly notable as Guizhou is the home of the country’s grandest baijiu company, Maotai.

Economics / Trade / Business

VW recalls 1.8 million cars in China (September 4, 2017, BBC)
China's consumer watchdog said the recall affected vehicles made by VW and its two Chinese joint ventures with SAIC and FAW. The defect can cause the engine to stall due to an electronics failure in the fuel pump. The makers will replace the fuel pump control modules free of charge starting in December.


Leaked Discipline Memo Details Punishments for Tsinghua Students (September 5, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Eleven postgraduate students at Tsinghua University — one of China’s elite academic institutions — were punished in the past year for a variety of offenses, including domestic abuse, impersonating faculty, truancy, and having an affair, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Sunday.

Kidnappers? Crazy Fans? No, It’s Chinese Parents on Their Kids’ First Day at School (September 6, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
The first day of school is often a major milestone – perhaps more so for parents than for their children. These Chinese parents could not resist the urge to spy on their kids during that first schoolday, which started this week.

Health / Environment

Woman in Labor Jumps to Her Death; China Asks Why (September 6, 2017, Caixin)
While doctors and the family are busy trading blame over who refused the woman a cesarean section — the alleged reason she was prompted to jump out of a window in the labor room — netizens are calling for Chinese women to be given more of a say on their childbirth options.

Science / Technology

Chinese Man Sentenced to Prison for Selling VPN Software (September 3, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
A Chinese man running a small-scale website on which he sold VPN software has been sentenced to 9 months in prison. Weibo netizens take the man’s prosecution as another sign that authorities are stepping up their fight against software that allows people to browse websites that are blocked in China.

China’s blueprint to crush the US robotics industry (September 6, 2017, CNBC)
Over the first half of this decade, China installed 90,000 industrial robots, or one third of the world's total, compared to 80,000 industrial robots installed between 2010 and 2015 elsewhere in Asia, Europe and the United States combined.

Arts / Entertainment / Media

Voices on China – Colum Murphy: Editorial Director of Sixth Tone (Young China Watchers)
Colum Murphy is the Editorial Director of Sixth Tone, an English-language digital publication based in Shanghai. Sixth Tone, which went live in April 2016, belongs to the state-funded Shanghai United Media Group, and is the sister publication of The Paper (澎湃). 

Chinese Movie Translations: Fall 2017 (September 1, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Autumn is almost upon us, which means a whole new season of films and another opportunity to see how Chinese distributors have interpreted movie titles.

China to unleash flood of TV dramas singing Communist Party’s praises (September 4, 2017, South China Morning Post)
China’s media watchdog has said it will ensure production a flood of new TV dramas singing the Communist Party’s praises over the next five years, just days after one of the country’s top stations was publicly shamed for not toeing the ideological line.

History / Culture

Dead Man Talking (September 5, 2017, The World of Chinese)
The seventh lunar month is this year’s Chinese Ghost Month, and today (the fifteenth) is Ghost Day (鬼节/中元节, also known as Hungry Ghost Festival). If the streets tonight are clogged with families making burnt offerings to the deceased, there’s a possibility that they were prompted by an illness or dream.

Travel / Food

5 Off-the-Beaten Path Destinations in China (September 4, 2017, Wild China Blog)
First-time China visitors and seasoned travelers alike will enjoy this list of five destinations that go deep beneath the surface, transporting you to places you might never otherwise have found. These are our favorite off-the-beaten path destinations in China.

The Plan to Make Puerto Rico a Destination for High-End Chinese Travelers (September 5, 2017, Skift)
A Chinese legal firm has gathered potential investors and hopes to invest $200 million in Puerto Rico to create a “China themed” resort in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Instead of banking on local culinary or cultural attractions, the proposed resort will instead feature Chinese styled buildings and attractions with Chinese cuisine.

Transit Visa Exemptions in China: 24 Hour, 72 Hour, and 144 Hour Options (September 6, 2017, China Briefing)
Foreign travelers transiting through China have several options for transit visa exemptions. These transit visa exemptions allow eligible foreign travelers a visa free visit for 24, 72, or 144 hours.

Traveling China’s Karakoram Highway | 2017 Traveler’s Guide (September 6, 2017, Far West China)
If you are traveling to Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region, the Karakoram Highway is a must-see destination! Often regarded as the “Eight Wonder of the World”, this long stretch of highway links China with Pakistan, cuts through snowcapped mountains and features diverse cultures along the way. It’s a trip that you’ll never forget.

Alternative Yunnan: best towns and villages to beat the crowds (Lonely Planet)
A journey to China’s southwest province of Yunnan is a journey into the colourful cultures of the region’s Bai, Yi and Naxi people, labyrinthine and historic old towns in the shadow of snow-capped peaks, and flavour-packed street food and local markets.

Language / Language Learning

Six of the Best: Chinese apps for your desktop (September 2, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Despite what some may say, desktop computing is still alive and kicking. Unfortunately, there are certain apps or functions that foreigners in China may struggle to access due to the Great Firewall or other limitations. Thankfully, most of these services have a usable Chinese equivalent. Here are six of the best:

What is “Tea Pi”? (September 5, 2017, Sinosplice)
I’m used to seeing English words mixed in with Chinese advertising copy, and even product names, but this name took me by surprise:


Chinese Theology: Text and Context, Part II (September 5, 2017, Global China Center)
In this second “big-picture” chapter, Dr. Starr provides another brilliant overview of the dark days of Roman Catholic and Protestant believers in the 1950s through the early 1970s. 

I Was Wrong: A Retraction of My Criticism of Chloë Starr’s Chinese Theology (September 6, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
Mea Culpa. In a review posted in From the West Courtyard, I made three unfair and inaccurate criticisms of Dr.Starr’s book. After re-reading both my review and relevant portions of Chinese Theology, I wish to retract those charges.

Religious Faith and Teacher Knowledge in English Language Teaching (Cambridge Scholars Publishing)
The field of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) stands at an active crossroads – issues of language, culture, learning, identity, morality, and spirituality mix daily in classrooms around the world. What roles might teachers’ personal religious beliefs play in their professional activities and contexts? 

Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab (Oxford University Press)


More Help in Understanding Contextualization (September 1, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
This summer Jackson Wu released four full-length training videos dealing with contextualization, honor, and shame. These videos are based on talks given at the 2016 theology conference hosted by Singapore Bible College. He has overlapped the audio with visuals to assist groups who might want to use the material for training purposes. Each training session also includes an audio file and study guide.

Resources in Chinese

8 Posts on Marriage (忠心好管家的博客)

Image credit: School Children, by Dennis Jarvis, 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