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December 18, 2014

ZGBriefs December 2014

FEATURED ARTICLE

American at Center of Foster Children Saga Defends Himself (December 17, 2014, The Beijinger)

After a flurry of stories hit the Chinese media two weeks ago about a “missing” American man raising 11 orphans in Beijing (and the subsequent death of one of them), one thing was absent: a response from the man himself. Last Friday, we were able to arrange a face-to-face interview with the person at the center of this drama, Ray Wigdal. Over the course of two three-hour meetings last weekend in Beijing, we did our best to gather Wigdal’s side of the story.

GOVERNMENT / POLITICS / FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Here Is Xi’s China: Get Used To It (December 11, 2014, China File)

The Chinese state is not fragile. The regime is strong, increasingly self-confident, and without organized opposition.

Tiger in the net (December 13, 2014, The Economist)

Zhou Yongkang may well have been corrupt. His real problem was losing a power struggle.

Hong Kong activists fear they are being monitored by Beijing (December 14, 2014, The Guardian)

Security experts are convinced that Chinese authorities are spying on pro-democracy protesters.

Three hurt in knife attack in China’s Xinjiang (December 15, 2014, BBC)

Chinese authorities have arrested a knife-wielding man who injured three people waiting at a bus stop in Xinjiang, local media say. The incident took place in the region’s capital, Urumqi, on Monday night. No information has been released on the attacker’s identity or motivation.

China Jails Egg Farmer Who Became Railway Tycoon (December 16, 2014, China Real Time)

An egg-seller turned railway tycoon, Ding Yuxin, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $400 million in fines for corruption related to her alleged take from the build-out of a train system called Harmony. Ms. Ding, better known as Ding Shumiao, was linked by prosecutors and China’s state media to the country’s now-jailed former railway minister, Liu Zhijun. Prosecutors had charged Ms. Ding with running an illegal business worth $29 billion – a figure just shy of the $34.4 billion China has said it paid to link Shanghai and Beijing by high-speed rail.

Why Marx Still Matters: The Ideological Drivers of Chinese Politics (December 16, 2014, China File)

According to Xi Jinping himself, Marxism must remain the ideological lodestar of the Chinese state. Both the Party Constitution and the State Constitution indicate that Marxism-Leninism provides the correct scientific basis to govern the country. The question of how much influence Marxism (and Leninism) stills has in contemporary China is thus more than merely academic.

China’s Corruption Fight Inseparable from Economic Reform (December 17, 2014, China Real Time)

The current political campaign in China under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Wang Qishan, who is head of the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, has been aggressively targeting corruption since early last year. The campaign has removed several of President Xi’s senior political rivals and one official who was regarded as an opponent of economic reform. It remains to be seen whether these changes help clear the way for the extensive economic reforms that the party has committed to pursue. If not, corruption will continue to plague China for the foreseeable future.

China Gets Even Colder for Reporters (December 17, 2014, Sinosphere)

But the progress on visa renewals obscures what many correspondents say is a mounting hostility toward Western media outlets operating in China.

China tops the world in jailing journalists (December 17, 2014, Christian Science Monitor)

China topped another global list of superlatives Wednesday: Its government has jailed more journalists than any other in the world. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says in its annual report that 44 reporters languish in Chinese prisons. Second-placed Iran has locked up 30 journalists, according to the report.

Tibetan Man Dies After Self-Immolation in Protest of Chinese Rule (December 17, 2014, The New York Times)

A Tibetan man set himself on fire and died outside a police station in the western Chinese province of Gansu on Tuesday, becoming the 134th person to self-immolate in protest of Chinese rule over Tibetan areas, according to a report by Radio Free Asia, which is financed by the United States government.

After the ‘Shock and Awe’: China’s Anti-Corruption Quagmire (December 18, 2014, China Real Time)

A major challenge for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anticorruption crusade is not only to halt graft but also–once malfeasance is contained–to prevent it from reappearing. Xi’s assault on corruption has been impressive so far. But with the opening pyrotechnics of that effort culminating in the arrest earlier this month of powerful former security czar Zhou Yongkang, now comes the much more difficult task of continuing to clean up the Communist Party at lower levels without the political benefit of taking down high-profile “tigers.”

RELIGION

Will Pope Francis affect the position of Catholics in China? (December 12, 2014, East Asia Forum)

Reflecting on a letter he wrote to Xi Jinping on his election to the papacy, Pope Francis said of China ‘the relationships are there. It’s a big country that I love deeply’. Since his papacy began, Pope Francis has made headlines for shepherding the Catholic Church along a relatively more liberal path. Does this mean that reconciliation with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) might be possible?

Justin Welby ponders landmark China tour to see explosion of Christianity (December 14, 2014, The Telegraph)

Archbishop of Canterbury facing diplomatic tightrope after invitation from Communist authorities to visit China to see ‘harmonious coexistence.’

Video: What Are Characteristics of the Chinese House Church? (Enoch Wang – Part 4) (December 16, 2014, China Partnership)

The Chinese house church has been shaped by the influence of the Western missions movement and the isolation of survival amidst persecution. It has two distinct features – watch to learn more about both.

Church Schools or Home Schooling? (Part 2) (December 16, 2014, Chinese Church Voices)

The article provides an interesting glimpse into a conversation taking place online among Christians in China regarding an important issue.

Video: Dalai Lama institution ‘will cease one day’ (December 16, 2014, BBC)

The Dalai Lama has told the BBC’s Newsnight he does not know whether he will be the last to hold the title. “Whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not is up to the Tibetan people,” he told the BBC’s Yalda Hakim. “There’s no guarantee some stupid Dalai Lama won’t come next, who will disgrace himself or herself.

Where Can Someone Get a Bible in China? (December 17, 2014, ChinaSource Blog)

That’s a question I hear quite a bit whenever I speak on China. People want to know about the availability of Bibles in China. Unfortunately many people still believe that owning a Bible is illegal in China, something that hasn’t been true for decades. But as with most things in China, the issue of Bible availability is complicated.

Traditional Chinese Christmas Songs: 《欢乐佳音歌》 & 《圣诞感恩歌》(December 18, 2014, ChinaSource Blog)

SOCIETY  / LIFE

China to ban use of national anthem at weddings (December 12, 2014, BBC)

China has banned the national anthem from being performed at weddings, funerals, commercial and other non-political events, state media reports. Under new rules, the anthem is to be reserved for major political and diplomatic occasions, as well as places such as sporting arenas and schools. The rules aim to “standardise proper etiquette” for the anthem, Xinhua news agency said, citing the authorities.

Chinese mystery of vanishing foreign brides (December 12, 2014, CNBC)

Police in central China have launched an investigation into the disappearance of more than 100 Vietnamese women who married local bachelors and had been living in villages around the city of Handan. The women all disappeared at the same time in late November, along with a Vietnamese woman who married a local villager 20 years ago and had introduced most of the brides to local men in recent months in exchange for a fee.

Christmas celebrations: Oh what fun (December 13, 2014, The Economist)

In the West the holiday is a commercialised legacy of Christian culture; in China it is almost entirely a product of Mammon. Father Christmas is better known to most than Jesus.

79 Days That Shook Hong Kong (December 15, 2014, TIME)

Hong Kong’s street occupations have ended, but many demonstrators say this is only the beginning of their fight for free elections.

China urged to drop one-child policy. But will young couples opt for two? (+video) (December 16, 2014, Christian Science Monitor)

Last year, Beijing had expected two million extra babies after loosening its longstanding one-child limit per couple. But only 700,000 more babies were delivered.

A Map of China’s Back-to-the-Land Efforts (December 15, 2014, China File)

In our short film “Down to the Countryside,” Sun Yunfan and I follow Ou Ning, an artist and curator who moved from Beijing to the village of Bishan in rural Anhui province in 2013, where he experiments with preserving and revitalizing local heritage, developing the rural economy, and bringing art and culture to the countryside. His journey stems from his rejection of China’s unbridled urbanization and the growing inequality between urban and rural. But it is also an individual quest, a pastoral search for the good life.

American at Center of Foster Children Saga Defends Himself (December 17, 2014, The Beijinger)

After a flurry of stories hit the Chinese media two weeks ago about a “missing” American man raising 11 orphans in Beijing (and the subsequent death of one of them), one thing was absent: a response from the man himself. Last Friday, we were able to arrange a face-to-face interview with the person at the center of this drama, Ray Wigdal. Over the course of two three-hour meetings last weekend in Beijing, we did our best to gather Wigdal’s side of the story.

China Announces Official 2015 National Holiday Schedule (December 17, 2014, China Briefing)

China’s General Office of the State Council released the “Circular on the Arrangement of Certain Holidays in 2015 (guobanfamingdian [2014] No.28)” on December 16 and announced the official national holiday schedule for 2015 as follows

Beijing Adoptive Parents Discuss Their Experience (December 18, 2014, The Beijinger)

The coverage of events surrounding Ray Wigdal and the 11 children in his foster care has focused attention on issues of adoption by foreign parents in China. While Wigdal has chosen to care for children outside of the mainstream, others have used a more traditional approach to becoming adoptive parents. In June, the Beijinger‘s sister publication beijingkids interviewed two prominent Beijing-based, foreign fathers, who discussed their experiences adopting children in China. Relevant excerpts from those interviews follow below:

EDUCATION / HISTORY

Confucian Confusion (December 18, 2014, Jottings from the Granite Studio)

It wasn’t so long ago that China’s best-known teacher and philosopher was the last person on earth the communists would have chosen as a proxy. During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, he was shamelessly maligned by the very Party that hoists his banner today. Although dead for two millennia, he was singled out for his own personal smear campaign.

Video: Red School (Vice)

In this episode of VICE INTL, VICE China heads to Sitong Village to visit the People’s Primary School—where kids learn reading, writing, and the wonders of Communism.

HEALTH

Black Lung: The Experience in Other Jurisdictions (December 15, 2014, China Real Time)

China is only the latest country to grapple with black lung. The U.S. and Britain, among others, dealt with legions of cases decades ago. In the U.S., the proportion of coal workers afflicted with black lung reached 7.7% in the 1968-1980 period, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ECONOMICS / BUSINESS / TRADE

China is Planning to Purge Foreign Technology and Replace With Homegrown Suppliers (December 18, 2014, Bloomberg News)

China is aiming to purge most foreign technology from banks, the military, state-owned enterprises and key government agencies by 2020, stepping up efforts to shift to Chinese suppliers, according to people familiar with the effort. The push comes after a test of domestic alternatives in the northeastern city of Siping that was deemed a success, said the people, who asked not to be named because the details aren’t public.

Is China’s economy really the largest in the world? (December 15, 2014, BBC)

For the first time in more than 140 years, the US has lost the title of the world’s largest economy – it has been stolen by China, according to the IMF. But how reliable are the statistics underpinning this claim? The BBC’s economics editor, Robert Peston, explains lower down why China matters to all of us.

Why Beijing is Spending $13 Billion on a New Airport (December 13, 2014, China Real Time)

Six years after Beijing spent $3.5 billion to build what was then the world’s largest airport passenger terminal, China’s national planning agency has green-lit a new airport that will cost nearly four times as much

As China’s Economy Slows, So Too Does Growth in Workers’ Wages (December 17, 2014, China Real Time)

Growth in minimum-wage levels across China appeared to have slowed this year, amid low inflation rates and a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy, a labor watchdog says.

SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY / ENVIRONMENT

China opens key section of massive water project (December 11, 2014, Reuters)

China on Friday opened a key section of a massive and ambitious plan to transport water from wetter central and southern parts of the country up to its arid north, including the capital Beijing, state media reported. The $62 billion undertaking – dreamed up by former Communist Party leader Mao Zedong in the 1950s – is designed to supply China’s parched and pollution-ridden north, home to more than 300 million people and countless water-intensive businesses.

Inside Beijing’s airpocalypse – a city made ‘almost uninhabitable’ by pollution (December 16, 2014, The Guardian)

Beijing’s air quality has long been a cause of concern, but the effects of its extreme levels of pollution on daily life can now be seen in physical changes to the architecture of the city. Buildings and spaces are being reconfigured and daily routines modified to allow normal life to go on beneath the toxic shroud.

ARTS / ENTERTAINMENT / MEDIA

China cracking down on broadcast of western tv shows with strict new rules (December 15, 2014, Nanfang Insider)

As bad as any “bad China day” can get, expats can always enjoy the pleasure of popular Western TV shows through Chinese streaming websites. But it looks like even that pleasure may disappear once new regulations take effect next year. The State Committee on Films and Broadcast Media (formerly known as SARFT) wants to make it more difficult for dangerous imperialist western ideas to infiltrate China via Hollywood sitcoms.

Chinese Media Compiles Top 10 Internet Memes for 2014 (December 16, 2014, China Smack)

According to a Xian Evening News report at the end of 2014, during this year there were many new online buzzwords that entered our lives. Here we will summarize the top 10 online catchphrases of 2014, in no particular order.

FOOD / TRAVEL / CULTURE

Eggplant: nowhere does it better than China (December 16, 2014, The World of Chinese)

Chinese food has got to be up there with the best food in the world, and there is nowhere in the world that produces a dish as delicious as the humble eggplant.

Beijing Considers New Methods to Boost Sagging International Tourist Numbers (December 18, 2014, The Beijinger)

With overseas tourist arrivals continuing to plummet, Beijing is once again considering ways to attract more international tourists to Beijing. […] here’s our list of additional suggestions to promote Beijing as a tourist destination:

LANGUAGE / LANGUAGE LEARNING

5 tips to help you improve your Chinese writing ability (December 16, 2014, Hacking Chinese)

In this article, I will share some tips and suggestions for how to translate and/or write better texts in Chinese and learn more from the process. Please note that I don’t talk about handwriting here, this is about composing text!

English loanwords in Mandarin (About.com)

The English and Mandarin languages are far apart, yet they still exert a considerably influence on each other, mostly in the form of loanwords. English has a number of words borrowed from Mandarin and other dialects of Chinese, but the opposite is also true and probably much more common. Loanwords from English can be seen or heard in different forms in Mandarin and in this article we’re going to look at a few of them.

Chinese pinyin phonetic transcription converter (easypronunciation.com)

BOOKS

A Few Suggested China Rhyming Christmas Reads…. (December 17, 2014, China Rhyming)

And so it’s the Christmas reading selection again which, as usual, includes no books published by me or written by me and only ones that impressed. Not much of a year for non-fiction I thought as nothing grabbed me especially and there didn’t seem to be much for those of us who exist between the exalted academic tome and the perfunctory Stations of the Cross China book.

Frog by Mo Yan review – the Chinese Nobel laureate’s award-winning novel (December 18, 2104, The Guardian)

Mo Yan, which means “Don’t speak”, is the pen name of Guan Moye, the son of a well-to-do landowning family from Shandong province in northeast China. The novel is set, like much of his work, in his real-life home county of Gaomi. Why the title Frog? The answer is a meandering connection Mo Yan makes between human sperm, early stage embryos, tadpoles and bullfrogs that is woven through a novel concerned primarily with the importance of love and life.

 

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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