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April 17, 2014

ZGBriefs April 2014


The Sanjiang Church Incident: More than Meets the Eye (April 15, 2014, ChinaSource Lantern)

Last week, word started circulating in the western press of a church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province that was surrounded by parishioners protecting it from a demolition crew. On the face of it, it seemed like a classic case of an oppressive atheistic regime going after an innocent group of Christians. However, as the story unfolded and continued to be reported in the Chinese press (both Christian and secular), it became clear that it was much more complicated than that.


China upholds sentence of rights activist Xu Zhiyong (April 11, 2014, BBC)

A high court in China has upheld the four-year jail term given to prominent rights activist Xu Zhiyong. Mr Xu, the founder of a transparency movement, had appealed against a lower court’s decision to jail him for “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”. Several other activists from the New Citizens’ Movement have also been tried this year on similar charges. The group has campaigned for government officials to disclose their assets.

China’s Actions in Hunt for Jet Are Seen as Hurting as Much as Helping (April 14, 2014, Sinosphere)

But the search has also brought China into sudden and close contact with regional competitors who have been uneasy with China’s rapid military expansion and its increasing willingness to project force across a wider area of the globe. With regional tensions already high before the plane disappeared, China’s rush to be first upset others involved in the search — not least because the Chinese turned out to be wrong.

Chinese hotel becomes focal point in standoff over country’s petition system (April 14, 2014, The Guardian)

A hotel in central China has become the site of an unexpected standoff between officials and disgruntled local residents. In late March anti-corruption inspectors from Beijing checked into the Huanghe hotel in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province. Before long, petitioners seeking to report local officials’ misconduct to higher authorities arrived en masse after paying for information on the inspectors’ whereabouts. According to the Economic Observer newspaper, officials from cities, towns and counties across Henan then dispatched workers – in one case, 40 – to prevent the petitioners from entering the hotel.

The Mystery Shrouding China’s Communist Party Suicides (April 15, 2014, China Real Time)

Being a government official in China is not for the faint of heart, the thin-skinned or the fragile of mind. A recent state media report has reverberated online and in the Communist Party press by revealing that at least 54 Chinese officials died of “unnatural causes” in 2013, and that more than 40 percent of those deaths were suicides (in Chinese). For some, those numbers raise questions about the burden placed on officials as a result of the Party’s anti-corruption crusade. But others see the recent rash of suicides as further evidence of the lack of political openness in China.

Beijing’s Facts, and Fictions (April 16, 2014, The New York Times)

If Mr. Xi truly wants to stop corruption, he must establish a transparent government, independent of the party, which puts officials under constant scrutiny. He would have to ensure that law enforcement can conduct independent investigations into corruption cases without being subject to interference from officials. He would have to allow the media to report freely on scandals. He would have to return to Chinese citizens the right to hold officials accountable. But instead, his government has been locking up advocates of greater transparency.

National Security Commission Meets for the First Time (April 16, 2014, Sinosphere)

President Xi Jinping has presided over the first meeting of the recently established National Security Commission, and his remarks suggested that the commission would have the power to reach into nearly every aspect of domestic and foreign policy.

China’s Xi purging corrupt officials to put own men in place – sources (April 16, 2014, Reuters)

Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to use a purge of senior officials suspected of corruption to put his own men and reform-minded bureaucrats into key positions across the Communist Party, the government and the military, sources said. Xi hopes that removing corrupt officials and those resisting change will allow him to consolidate his grip on power and implement difficult economic, judicial and military reforms that he believes are vital to perpetuate one-party rule, said the sources, who have ties to the leadership.


The Sanjiang Church Incident (April 13, 2014, Chinese Church Voices)

On April 11, The mainland website Gospel Times published the following update on the situation, confirming the agreement, which will allow the church to keep the building and the cross, but requires them to ‘take care of the ancillary building’ in the back, which the church acknowledged had been built without the proper permits.

Are Confucian Values Biblical? (April 14, 2014, ChinaSource Blog)

Yang’s somewhat provocative position that Chinese Christians are able to “revitalize Confucianism” seems to be borne out by examples such as this one. While resonating with traditional Confucian virtues, Christians in China bring new meaning to them through a biblical understanding of the origin of these virtues and how one is able to live them out.

Sanjiang Church: The Basics of Christianity in China (April 15, 2014, ChinaSource Blog
Fortunately, there are some general concepts we can keep in mind when we see a story like the one about Sanjiang Church. The story of this church itself also gives us some additional concepts that are helpful to keep in mind.

Minitrue: Shouwang Church, Three Years On (April 16, 2014, China Digial Times)

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. State Council Information Office: All websites are to delete the article “Three Years of Outside Services: Letter to the Beijing Shouwang Church Congregation” and related commentary.

Calvinism in China (April 16, 2014, ChinaSource Blog)

One thing that I have noticed over the past couple of years is the growing influence of Calvinism among Chinese house church Christians. At a conference I attended in Germany last year, one of the speakers even listed it as a major challenge facing the church in China.

Where Did Eastern Lightning Come From? (April 17, 2014, ChinaSource Blog

Eastern Lightning has been a source of distress to mainland churches because of the cult’s dedicated efforts to recruit followers from the churches. […]Eastern Lightning has been known by different names. Though in this article I primarily refer to the cult as Eastern Lightning, nowadays it is more commonly known as “The Church of the Almighty God” (全能神教会). In the early days it was also known as “The Real/Concrete God” (实际神) cult (as opposed to the “remote” God of the Bible).


The Hui: A Search for Identity (March 31, 2014, eranlai magazine)

From the beginning the Communist authorities treated the Huizu as an ethnicity (minzu) rather than a religious minority.  Whereas there was some of the feared political repression, the Huizu were given greater economic and cultural independence through the establishment of Hui autonomous zones and accorded privileges based on their minzu status.  In Taiwan however, the Hui remain a religious, not ethnic minority, thus they are treated like any ordinary Taiwanese citizens. The result is that the Hui in China feel a stronger bond as they are tied by a sense of shared ethnicity, as well as religion.

Report identifies sources of mass protests (April 9, 2014, China Daily)

Public protests since 2000 were usually sparked by labor disputes, land acquisitions, forced demolitions, pollution, traffic accidents and incidents involving ethnic groups, a major report found.

However, one researcher raised concerns that the report did not reflect the “true situation” in China because it was based solely on mainstream media coverage. Forty-four percent of public protests involved people venting their opposition to officials’ actions, according to the report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “Mass incidents” are defined incidents involving more than 100 protesters – some have involved more than 10,000.

China’s bike culture forges way into deadly traffic (April 12, 2014, USA Today)

Over 60,000 people die in road accidents each year in China, according to the police, but national disease surveillance system statistics put the real toll at more than four times higher. By comparison, there were almost 33,000 road traffic deaths in 2010 in the USA, according to the World Health Organization’s 2013 road safety report. Though China has more than four times the population of the United States, the two countries have similar numbers of registered vehicles — about 250 million. Child fatalities in traffic accidents are over 2½ times the rate in the United States, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reported last year.

China water contamination affects 2.4m after oil leak (April 12, 2014, BBC)

China’s biggest oil company has been blamed for water contamination affecting over 2.4 million people in Lanzhou. State media said the city’s environmental protection chief, Yan Zijiang, blamed it on a leak from a pipeline owned by a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation. The pipeline is now being repaired.

Left behind, Shanghai’s older generation hark back to Chairman Mao (April 15, The Guardian)

As old neighbourhoods are bulldozed to make space for gleaming skyscrapers and luxury apartments, a handful of the city’s residents have refused to budge.

Beijing X: Taobao Girls (April 15, 2014, Manya Koetse)

Taobao is everything that Beijing is today- a world of opportunities, quick decisions and loads of ways to earn and spend money. Lily is not the only one amongst her friends selling things on Taobao; a lot of them, including those who are still in college, do so too. Over the weekends they go to one of the many markets around the Beijing Zoo and buy up the latest dresses, purses, jeans or shoes. They buy their stock on Saturday, do a photo shoot on Sunday, and sell the goods on Monday.

What Makes a Tier-2 City in China? Count the Starbucks (April 16, 2014, China Real Time)

What exactly differentiates a tier-two Chinese city from a tier-three city? Officially no one knows, but it might help to start by counting the Starbucks.

Chinese blogger Charles Xue gets bail after illness (April 17, 2014, BBC)

One of China’s most influential bloggers, Charles Xue, has been granted bail after months of detention because of a “serious illness”, officials say. With 12 million followers, he was one of an elite band of micro-bloggers. After his arrest amid an internet crackdown last year, he appeared on state television to apologise for “irresponsible posts” online.

Welcome (back) to Beijing (April 17, 2014, BBC)

I’m back in Beijing as a resident reporter for the first time in 15 years. I lived here for most of the 1990s so rather than give you another take on the latest GDP figures or the first National Security Commission meeting, I thought I’d start with my first impressions of a city that was once home and is going to be home again.

Chinese blogger jailed under crackdown on ‘internet rumours’ (April 17, 2014, The Guardian)

Qin Zhihui, who was detained in official effort to gain greater control over social media, found guilty of ‘provoking troubles’.                   

Building the dream (April 19, 2014, The Economist)

By 2030 Chinese cities will be home to about 1 billion people. Getting urban China to work properly is vital to the country’s economic and political future, says James Miles.


Why aren’t Chinese students at UK universities getting top degrees? (April 14, 2014, The Guardian)

New research shows undergraduates from China studying at British universities get fewer firsts than those from other countries.

The Death That Kindled the Uprising at Tiananmen Square (April 15, 2014, Sinosphere)

Rarely has the timing of an ousted leader’s death been so consequential. In 1989, Hu Yaobang, a former general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, was attending a meeting of the Politburo when he became pale and shaky, asked to be excused and crumpled with a heart attack. Twenty-five years ago, on April 15, he died after a week in the hospital, an event that unleashed a cascade of demonstrations centered on Tiananmen Square, which culminated in the armed crackdown of June 3-4.

Trailer: ‘Nowhere to Call Home’, a documentary about a Tibetan in Beijing (April 16, 2014, Shanghaiist)

Nowhere to Call Home follows a Tibetan farmer who leaves her village to work in Beijing for the sake of her son’s education despite overwhelming discrimination the two face amid the political strife that has gripped China and Tibet. The story is the first vérité film centered on Tibetan farmers who migrate to Han Chinese cities, and one that will redirect Western perspectives on the ethnic group in both settings.

After 25 Years Of Amnesia, Remembering A Forgotten Tiananmen (April 15, 2014, NPR)

Lim’s forthcoming book, The People’s Republic of Amnesia, relates how 1989 changed China and how China rewrote what happened in 1989 in its official version of events. Her story includes an investigation into a forgotten crackdown in the southwestern city of Chengdu — which, to this day, has never been reported.

Hello, my old China! Photographs from 1860s believed to be among earliest in existence offer a fascinating insight into life in the Far East (April 10, 2014, Daily Mail)

These incredible photographs are believed to be among the earliest of their kind in existence and offer an fascinating insight into life in the Far East during the 1860s. The images, which form part of a captivating magazine, show life in China and Japan during the mid-19th century, and portray villagers going about their day-to-day tasks. At an auction in Cirencester today, the photographs sold for more than six times their £2,000 guide price, with an anonymous buyer winning a bidding war to purchase them for £12,500.

The Tiananmen Square Museum China Doesn’t Want to See (April 17, 2014, China Real Time)

Organizers behind a planned museum in Hong Kong dedicated to the bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown are vowing to press on despite running into threat of legal challenge that they call politically motivated. Backed with nearly $800,000 in donations, the 800-square-foot June 4 Memorial museum is currently slated to open later this month. The museum is being opened to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the violent event, in which People’s Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians.

The Gaokao: Now Available in Braille (April 17, 2014, China Real Time)

China’s famously difficult college-entrance exam is about to get easier—or at least for one group of test-takers, more accessible. Across the country, the many blind street performers and massage parlors offering treatments from blind masseurs are a testament to the limited opportunities the country’s visually impaired individuals can face. But for the first time, according to a notice from the Ministry of Education, the nation’s college-entrance exam will be accessible to the blind or visually impaired, with the government providing exam papers in electronic form or in braille.

Shanghai 1937 Is China’s Forgotten Stalingrad (


Video: How China Is Trying to Make Food Safer (April 15, 2014, China Real Time)

China is stepping up regulation of food manufacturers and retailers. David Ettinger from law firm Keller and Heckman talks about the latest changes in the country’s food standards.


The Spark That Could Set Fire to China’s Growth Plans (April 15, 2014, China Real Time)

The deepening property glut in China’s smaller and medium-sized cities is the kindling that could set ablaze the country’s plans for steady 7.5% growth. If that’s the case, what’s the match?

This Chinese City’s Property Market Is Even Chillier Than Its -22-Degree Weather (April 15, 2014, China Real Time)

Cities like Yingkou in China’s northeast rust belt were among the earliest cities in the country to be overbuilt. In 2005, now-Premier Li Keqiang was party secretary of Liaoning province, where Yingkou is located. He pushed a massive restructuring project to wean the region from its reliance on steel, coal and mining. As Mr. Li moved up the government ranks, developers counted on his endorsement as an implicit government backing of the region’s future development, developers and analysts say. Yingkou, along with other cities, sold vast tracts of lands to developers to build apartments for the workers who – they hoped – would populate the new factories, malls and industrial parks to come.

China’s Yue Yuen shoe factory workers in large strike (April 15, 2014, BBC)

Thousands of workers at a major shoe factory in China, which supplies brands including Nike and Adidas, are striking over social security payments. Workers at the Yue Yuen factory, in the southern industrial hub Dongguan, are demanding better social insurance and housing fund contributions. The dispute has been ongoing since early April, with workers reportedly rejecting an offer from the company.

China GDP slows to 7.4% in first quarter (April 15, 2014, CNN)

China’s economy lost some momentum in the first quarter, turning in a ho-hum performance that underscores the difficulty of executing reforms amid slowing growth. The world’s second-largest economy grew by 7.4% in the first quarter, compared to the same period last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

China defends exchange rate after US Treasury warning (April 2014, AFP)

China on Wednesday defended the valuation of its currency and pushed back against a US Treasury report expressing concerns over the yuan’s sharp slide since January. The statement by Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying came a day after the Treasury issued its twice-yearly report, in which it declined to brand China a currency manipulator but said that the yuan, or renminbi (RMB), “remains significantly undervalued”.

China’s Slowdown Likely to Spur Stimulus, Not Reforms (April 17, 2014, China Real Time)

This week, China announced its lowest economic growth rate in 18 months, falling from 7.7% to 7.4%, in the fourth quarter. The slowdown is widely expected to continue through at least the second quarter, putting pressure on Beijing to dial up stimulus measures while dialing back on structural reforms.

Why China Needs to Let More Companies Go Bankrupt (April 17, 2014, China Real Time)

China needs to let more companies go bust. That was the message from several executives at a real-estate conference in Shanghai on Thursday, as the latest string of loan defaults among real-estate developers and a small construction firm have some people talking about bankruptcy more freely.


Save that Smile (April 13, 2014, World of Chinese)

It was a comment simply stunning in its ignorance: in July, 2013, Wang Ding, a hydrobiology professor, was carefully explaining to a local official about the need to protect the finless porpoise of the Yangtze River. The official asked, “Is the river porpoise delicious?” Wang Ding was dumbfounded, replying, “No.” “Then why are we protecting it?” A video of this exchange was shown on CCTV, and ultimately the official’s callous gaffe—if nothing else—helped raise awareness of the importance of protecting this vulnerable fresh water cetacean.

Beijing’s Bad-Air Days, Finally Counted (April 14, 2014, China Real Time)

The results aren’t pretty. Based on data collected for 2,028 days between April 2008 and March 2014, only 25 days were considered “good” by U.S. standards.

How a Chinese Company Built 10 Homes in 24 Hours (April 15, 2014, China Real Time)

Suzhou-based construction-materials firm Winsun New Materials says it has built 10 200-square-meter homes using a gigantic 3-D printer that it spent 20 million yuan ($3.2 million) and 12 years developing. Such 3-D printers have been around for several years and are commonly used to make models, prototypes, plane parts and even such small items as jewelry. The printing involves an additive process, where successive layers of material are stacked on top of one another to create a finished product.

China Military Aims To Build Up Space Defences (April 15, 2014, Sky News)

China‘s President has called for improvements to the country’s space and air defence capabilities amid what state media says is a response to the increasing militarisation of space by the US and other rivals.

Almost 20% of China’s Arable Land Is Polluted (April 17, 2014, China Real Time)

Nearly one-fifth of China’s arable land is contaminated with either organic or inorganic pollution, according to the results of a soil-pollution survey from government ministries.

Dead pigs floating in Chinese river (August 17, 2014, The Guardian)

170 dead pigs recovered from a river in northwest China is the latest in a string of food and water safety scandals


Captain America Conquers China (April 14, 2014, Tea Leaf Nation)

Why has an avowedly all-American hero proved so popular here? Launching the film on a three-day holiday weekend shortly after its stars toured Beijing certainly didn’t hurt. But Winter Soldier also resonates because it keeps the hero’s fundamental patriotism intact while modernizing his conflict for a complicated new era, pitting him against enemies burrowed deep within the government he serves. ”[The new villain] is the very country he loves and protects,”writes one Douban reviewer. “To love one’s country isn’t the same as loving one’s government: This is the main draw of Captain America.”


Discovering Old Guangzhou (April 8, 2014, The Wonderer Blog)

Behind the walls of the touristy Chen Clan Academy, beyond the park, there is a little hidden corner of Old Guangzhou. I would never have suspected it was there if I hadn’t spotted two migrant workers in straw hats, repairing the tiled roof of a small house that seemed out of place, dwarfed by the high rises that dominate the horizon.

Ordering In: A Guide to Beijing’s Delivery Network (April 12, 2014, The Beijinger Blog)

To remind you of the wide variety of delivery services we have at our disposal in Beijing, please enjoy this list we have compiled below to help you choose where and what you can order in your area.

The Great Ride of China (April 12, 2014, The World of Chinese)

When we set out from Beijing on July 19, 2013, it was no different to any other week long holiday motorcycle ride we had taken in the past. This time though, it would cover 33,000 kilometers and take 146 days before we would return.

Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway sees 200 mln trips (April 13, 2014, China Daily)

Data released Sunday by China’s railway authorities showed that train trips on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway had topped 200 million. Trips on the railway surpassed 100 million on Feb 28, 2013 and reached 200 million by 9:30 am Sunday, said the authorities.

Hong Kong, China. Really? (April 15, 2014, Outside-In)

As for the student, clearly, he was leaving China in June, but would he be ‘returning’ to China in July. If Hong Kong was to become a part of China on July 1, wouldn’t he then already be in China? And if he was, by virtue of the July 1 handover in China, would he need a visa to return to Changchun?


Three ways to improve your Chinese characters


Swedish Mission to East Turkistan: A Film by Rickard Nystrom (YouTube)

A film made in 1931 by Swedish missionary Rikard Nystrom documenting the missions journey to East Turkistan (Xinjiang), China to Yarkand.


【真理部】《户外敬拜三周年之际 北京守望教会 告会众书》(China Digital times)


The Chinese Church and the Global Body of Christ

Dr. Brent Fulton, President of ChinaSource and Joann Pittman, Senior Associate at ChinaSource will talk about new developments in the church in China, as well as share about the work of ChinaSource in serving the Chinese Church.

April 26, 2014, 7:15 PM
Bethlehem Baptist Church, 721 13th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415


ZGBriefs is a free weekly compilation of the news in China, condensed from published online sources. Highlighting articles and commentary from major news sites, and blogs and other new media sites, ZGBriefs brings you not only the most important stories of the week in order to help deepen your understanding of what is happening in China today. Coverage includes domestic and international politics, economics, culture, and social trends, among other areas. Seeking to explore all facets of life in China, ZGBriefs also includes coverage of spiritual movements and the role of religious believers and faith-based groups in China. ZGBriefs is a reader-supported service. If you find this resource useful, please consider making a donation.

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