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October 23, 2014

ZGBriefs October 2014


China’s Unstoppable Lawyers: An Interview with Teng Biao (October 19, 2014, New York Review of Books)

Teng Biao is one of China’s best-known civil-rights lawyers, and a prominent member of the weiquan, or “rights defenders,” movement, a loosely knit coalition of Chinese lawyers and activists who tackle cases related to the environment, religious freedom, and freedom of speech and the press.


When Hong Kong Protests Are Over, Where Will the Art Go? (October 17, 2014, China Real Time)

A yellow umbrella, held by a person made of wooden blocks. A rainbow wall of pink, yellow and blue sticky notes urging Hong Kong to stay strong. A slew of banners waving in the wind, asking passersby, “Do you hear the people sing?” These are the images of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, now in its fourth week, that have been beamed across the world as tens of thousands in the city advocate for elections to choose their chief executive in 2017 — free from Beijing’s intervention. But in his sharpest words yet, the city’s current leader, Leung Chun-ying, on Thursday said police will clear all protest sites “at a suitable time” as authorities “cannot allow the occupation…to continue.” The question then is: When protest sites are cleared, where will the movement’s art go?

Beijing Is Directing Hong Kong Strategy, Government Insiders Say (October 17, 2014, The New York Times)

On many mornings throughout the nearly three weeks of pro-democracy protests that have convulsed Hong Kong, white Toyota Coaster vans with special black license plates have set out from city government buildings here, bound for a tropical resort across the border in mainland China.

The drawn curtains of the speeding vans obscure the Hong Kong officials riding inside, headed for the luxurious Bauhinia Villa in Shenzhen, where throngs of Communist Party officials from Beijing wait to lay plans for handling the demonstrations.

China is again slowly turning in on itself (October 18, 2014, The Los Angeles times)

Unsurprisingly, Deng’s mantle is being deployed for political ends. A new 48-episode documentary on his life airing on state networks draws a thinly veiled analogy between Deng and Xi Jinping, China’s current top leader. The suggestion is clear. Xi is a new Deng. And when top Communist Party leaders assemble at their annual conference this week, China will witness a revival of the spirit of reform. But China’s reform era is over. A different — and more unstable — one is dawning.

22 Killed in Farmers’ Market Attack in Xinjiang’s Kashgar Prefecture (October 18, 2014, Radio Free Asia)

Four ethnic minority Uyghur men armed with knives and explosives attacked a farmers’ market in northwestern China’s unrest-plagued Xinjiang region this week, leaving 22 people dead, including police officers and the attackers themselves, according to police Saturday. The daring Oct. 12 raid on the majority Han Chinese Farmers Trading Center in Maralbeshi (in Chinese, Bachu) county in Kashgar prefecture has prompted a new security buildup in the region, where an upsurge of violence fueled by ethnic tensions has left about 300 dead in the past year and a half.

With Xi’s new power is collective leadership over? (October 19, 2014, East Asia Forum)

There is currently much talk about whether China’s President Xi Jinping is shifting away from collective leadership. Western observers tend to conclude that, given his command of all powers since becoming Chinese communist party chief and state president, Xi is centralising power around himself. But that is a premature conclusion that bears more careful scrutiny.

Lurking in Mao’s Shadow, China’s Xi Looks Undecided on Reforms (October 20, 2014, China Real Time)

The exhumation of these ideological corpses from the Communist Party’s past, coming just ahead of a plenary meeting of the party’s top leadership in Beijing to discuss the role of law, should serve to dampen any lingering expectations for political liberalization in the short-term for China. At the same time, Xi’s fondness for flipping through the Mao Zedong playbook raises questions about whether the Chinese leader actually has a long-term strategy in place for pushing through his reform agenda.

Facts about the 4th Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC (October 20, 2014, China Daily)

‘Rule of Law’ or ‘Rule by Law’? In China, a Preposition Makes All the Difference (October 20, 2014, China Real Time)

Writing about the annual plenary meetings of the Chinese Communist Party’s top leadership, never an easy task since they usually take place under heavy security in a military-owned hotel, is even more difficult this year. The problem: how to translate the theme of this year’s meetings, which according to party announcements is 法治 (pronounced “fazhi”), a word composed of characters meaning “law” and “to govern.”

China’s Communist party expected to remain above the law after conference (October 20, 2014, The Guardian)

Theme for annual meeting will be ‘rule of law’ but only small local reforms expected from party that operates above the constitution.

Does China’s leader Xi Jinping wield total control? Party confab may offer clues (+video) (October 20, 2014, Christian Science Monitor)

This week’s four-day Fourth Plenum in Beijing is one indicator of President Xi’s consolidation of power in the party-state. The fate of security czar Zhou Yongkang, who has been detained during an anti-graft probe, is on the agenda.

China launches massive rural ‘surveillance’ project to watch over Uighurs (October 20, 2014, The Telegraph)

After locking down the region’s major cities, with steel barricades on the streets and constant police patrols, Beijing now wants to secure Xinjiang’s vast countryside. The attempt to get “eyes and ears on what is going on” in the vast countryside of Xinjiang showed China’s leaders felt they had lost control over what was happening there, Dr Leibold said.

Ten arts one-liners from “Big Daddy Xi” (October 20, 2014, China Media Project)

Chinese President Xi Jinping (习近平), who last month earned the affectionate title “Big Daddy Xi” (习大大), spoke out last week on the subject of the arts, essentially encouraging innovation and originality in the arts in China while stressing that such creation must serve the country and the socialist cause.

Al-Qaeda magazine calls for Xinjiang to be ‘recovered by the Islamic Caliphate’ (October 21, 2014, South China Morning Post)

A new English-language magazine released by al-Qaeda describes China’s restive Xinjiang region as an “occupied Muslim land” to be “recovered [into] the shade of the Islamic Caliphate”. Produced by the jihadist organisation’s As-Sahab media wing, the 117-page debut issue of Resurgence includes a feature titled “Did You Know? 10 Facts About East Turkistan,” referring to the name for Xinjiang used by those who advocate independence from China.


In Search of Structure: The Pull of Denominations in China (October 20, 2014, ChinaSource Blog)

The current discussion on Reformed theology, and the wider examination of the role of denominations in China today, are necessary as leaders seek to shore up areas in the church that have been lacking. At the same time, unless this exploration is conducted in a spirit of humility and waiting upon the Lord, well-meaning attempts to address very real needs in China’s church can unwittingly turn into lines drawn in the sand, accentuating divisions rather than inviting constructive dialog with those of different traditions.

Are These Pictures of a Secret Church in Beijing? (October 21, 2014, ChinaSource Blog)

When trying to understand the church in China, it’s easy to let predetermined narratives drive our interpretation of the things we observe.

Risen Again: China’s Underground Churches (October 21, 2014, TIME)

It was this ambiguity that drew photographer Kevin Frayer to an unmarked church outside Beijing on Sunday, Oct. 12. The people there worship quietly, but not covertly. The authorities know they exist, but seem content, for now, to look the other way. “Christianity is tolerated sometimes, to some extent,” says Frayer, “as long as it is controlled and behind closed doors.”

Christian Books on Taobao (October 23, 2014, ChinaSource Blog)

Contrary to what many think, getting ahold of legally published Christian books in China is quite easy. In addition to Christian bookstores, which exist in most major cities, China’s e-commerce site Taobao is a great source of Christian material.


China to ease 1-child rule further, but do people care? (October 18, 2014, CNBC)

China is moving towards making its two-child policy available to all, but whether or not couples will jump on the opportunity to expand their families remains unclear. Last week, Cai Fang, vice director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences – a government research arm, said authorities would allow all couples in China to have a second child by some point in 2016.

Only One “Why?” Question Per Day, Please! (October 18, 2014, Outside-In)

If the “why” question is being asked as a genuine attempt to understand something, then it’s a good question — a necessary question actually. However, for outsiders trying to live well where we don’t belong, it can quickly become a cover for whining and venting, because the underlying assumption is that since it is not the way it’s done back home, then it’s stupid. In this case, the “why?” question is not helpful and may actually get in the way of understanding.

Years Later, CCTV May Finally Be Moving Into Its Headquarters (October 20, 2014, China Real Time)

The twisted-doughnut-shaped China Central Television Tower has in recent years become an iconic part of Beijing’s skyline and a symbol of the capital’s transformation into a modern metropolis ahead of the 2008 Olympics. However, the building–nicknamed “Big Pants” for its design akin to trousers–has remained largely empty and has yet to transmit a live-news broadcast, according to CCTV employees familiar with the matter. That could all change next month when the broadcaster’s English-language news channel, CCTV International, finally moves into the headquarters.

In China, a Drought Tests Nomadic Herders’ Culture of Survival (October 22, 2014, The New York Times)

And the season for fattening up the sheep is at an end. Across this remote area of pristine grasslands and alpine forests, along the southern slopes of the Altai Mountains, nomads are in the middle of their annual multiweek autumn migration, as they bring their families, yurts and livestock down from the high pastures to lower altitudes for the winter. They are using horses, camels and flatbed trucks for transport, and horses and motorcycles to herd their animals. Clouds of dust rising from the steppes signal nomads on the move.

China’s post-90s generation optimistic about country’s future (October 23, 2014, The Nanfang Insider)

Chinese born in the 1990s are more optimistic about the country’s political and economic future than those born in the 1950s to 1980s, claims a Fudan University Study. Oddly, however, the study also reports that those born in the 1990s showed the least amount of interest in issues related to justice and social equality.

China’s strangest buildings, from pairs of pants to ping-pong bats (October 23, 2014, The Guardian)

Cities have also seen the results of a newly liberated home-grown creative class, allowed to unleash its talents on a scale never seen before. The state-owned architectural institutes have also been infected with a taste for the iconic and exotic, while provincial business magnates continue to do their thing with brassy flair. Take a look at some of the strangest species this warp-speed architectural laboratory has produced.


China’s Confucius Institutes: Self-promotion or cultural imperialism? (October 21, 2014, CNN)

While introducing Chinese language and culture to foreigners is a good idea, the aggressive attempt to do so via Confucius Institutes has proved problematic. The Hanban — the Chinese government body that operates the Confucius Institutes — often gives one the impression that it is carrying out a worldwide ideological campaign.

The Dream of a Beijing Father and Educator (October 22, 2014, ChinaSource Blog)

My son was accepted by Peking University this year. We are very happy with his success, but as a caring, loving father, I know how much my son struggled and was pushed by the educational system in his early school years. Growing up in today’s Chinese educational system is not easy or pleasant. Many of my son’s friends were greatly disappointed when they were not accepted by a “good” university after so many years of working hard together with their parents. Tragically some students choose suicide to express their disappointment.

65 Years of Chinese National Political Slogans, Reactions (October 22, 2014, China Smack)

In the wake of National Day, I’ve collected the most famous national promotional [political] slogans for the past 65 years. Let us look back at this tumultuous road.

American-born translator dies at age 98 after an eventful half-century as a Chinese citizen (October 22, 2014, Shanghaiist)

Sidney Shapiro, an “old China hand” who lived an unrivaled life that even veteran China watchers can only dream about, passed away on October 18th in Beijing, just two months shy of his 99th birthday, and after having spent more than half of his life in China.


China begins Ebola readiness effort, Yunnan included (October 20, 2014, Go Kunming)

Although no cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever have been reported in China, provincial governments are taking preventative measures in an attempt to curtail spread of the virus if it does arrive. In Yunnan, A coalition of administrative departments has been ordered to manage education, inspection and emergency preparedness efforts province-wide as of October 18.

Beijing Marathoners Take On the Smog (October 20, China Real Time)

Heavy pollution that blanketed northeast China on Sunday kept some participants of the 34th Beijing International Marathon from participating, while others decided to quit early. About 30,000 runners had signed up for the race, with more than 21,000 registered to run the full 26.2 mile-course that starts at Tiananmen Square and snakes through the heart of Beijing, ending at the National Stadium. More than 8,000 individuals signed up for the half marathon. A spokeswoman for the Chinese Athletic Association, which hosts the event, said the organization didn’t have numbers on how many people dropped out or didn’t start the race.

China gives $6 million for food in Ebola countries (October 20, 2014, AP)

China has donated $6 million to help stave off food shortages in the three African countries worst affected by the Ebola virus, the World Food Program announced Monday, part of Beijing’s growing assistance to a continent where its companies have become major investors.


Will Mark Zuckerberg breach Great Chinese Firewall with Mandarin? (October 23, 2014, Christian Science Monitor)

China may ban Facebook, but not its co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who delighted an audience of students in Beijing with a 30-minute chat in his recently learned Mandarin Chinese.


China denies backing iCloud hack (October 21, 2014, BBC)

The Chinese government has denied reports that it was involved in an attempt to steal user data from iCloud accounts within the country. According to campaign website the service was subjected to a “man in the middle” (MITM) attack. It took the form of a false website placed between the genuine log-in page and iCloud’s servers.


Ten arts one-liners from “Big Daddy Xi” (October 20, 2014, China Media Project)

Chinese President Xi Jinping (习近平), who last month earned the affectionate title “Big Daddy Xi” (习大大), spoke out last week on the subject of the arts, essentially encouraging innovation and originality in the arts in China while stressing that such creation must serve the country and the socialist cause.

Kenny G visit to Hong Kong protest site prompts chorus of anger in China (October 22, 2014, The Guardian)

Most governments aren’t too bothered by what jazz saxophonist Kenny G does between concerts, but when he turned up at pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Chinese authorities were furious.

On Wednesday he tweeted a picture of himself making a victory sign in front of a poster reading: “Democracy of Hong Kong” and wrote: “In Hong Kong at the sight [sic] of the demonstration. I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation.” Within hours, the foreign ministry in Beijing had issued a frosty condemnation.

Is the Curse of Kenny G About to be Lifted? (October 22, 2014, Outside-In)

I’m guessing that Kenny G’s music will henceforth be a lot less ubiquitous. In other words, it’s entirely possible the curse is about to be lifted.

Hong Kong protests: Anger after Kenny G tweets then deletes (October 23, 2014, BBC)

The American jazz musician Kenny G has angered internet commentators in Hong Kong by deleting a social media posting publicising his visit to a pro-democracy protest camp. He also said in a statement, posted to his Facebook page and official Twitter feed, that he did not support the demonstrators. Commentators interpret his comments as an effort to avoid a political scandal, which could potentially have cut off access to an extremely large, lucrative market.


Xi Jinping Isn’t a Fan of Weird Architecture in China (October 17, 2014, China Real Time)

Amid calls for patriotic art, Mr. Xi also said buildings such as the CCTV headquarters, which is one of Beijing’s most iconic towers and is nicknamed “Big Pants” for its design akin to trousers, should no longer pop up in the city.

Why Chinese couples are having their wedding photos taken in London (October 17, 2014, BBC)

The demand for a particular type of scenic backdrop for pre-wedding photographs is driving Chinese couples to get up very early in the morning, writes Ed Prendeville.

A Life Without Boundaries | TEDxBrisbane (October 19, 2014, Life on Nanchang Lu)

Smog Is Driving Tourists Away From China, Report Says (October 21, 2014, China Real Time)

The outlook for tour operators in the Middle Kingdom is dim – thanks in part to the blanket of smog obscuring much of the country, notably its capital city. According to a report released Monday by the China Tourism Academy, 129 million tourists visited the country in 2013, down 2.5% from the previous year. Meanwhile, the degree of satisfaction reported by tourists dropped by 11% in 2013 from the year prior, to “basically satisfied,” the report said. Among the reasons the academy cited to explain the drop in tourist happiness was the “natural environment,” as well as levels of access for the disabled and water quality.


The first 1000 Chinese characters (Mandarin Poster)

Confucius Institutes: Academic Malware (The University of Chicago Press)

In recent years, Confucius Institutes have sprung up on more than four hundred and fifty campuses worldwide, including nearly one hundred across the United States. At first glance, this seems like a benefit for everyone concerned. The colleges and universities receive considerable contributions from the Confucius Institutes’ head office in Beijing, including funds to cover the cost of set-up, the provision of Chinese-language instructors, and a cache of other resources. For their part, the Confucius Institutes are able to further their mission of spreading knowledge of Chinese language and culture. But Marshall Sahlins argues that this seemingly innocuous arrangement conceals the more dubious mission of promoting the political influence of the Chinese government, as guided by the propaganda apparatus of the party-state.


ZGBriefs is a free weekly compilation of the news in China condensed from published online sources. Highlighting articles and commentary from major news sites, blogs and other new media sites, ZGBriefs brings you 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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