Monthly Archives: January 2021

January 2021 Update

Another new and exciting ministry opportunity has opened for two of our leaders!!  They both work in the health care field and were praying for another way to reach people spiritually.  It is not always easy to find a bridge from health issues to gospel conversations. After asking God to show them a way, they realized that the common denominator in their work was mental, emotional and spiritual health.

They found a Christian group called New Hope, a health initiative providing unique and timely opportunities for believers to train local school age children, families, government workers, and churches on the damaging effects of air pollution, pandemics and other health issues. They began teaching Chinese Christians which then led them to starting the first small group in this ministry, a place where participants can share their stories of hurt in a safe environment and hear about people in the Bible who faced similar trauma and walked through it with God. “We needed this so badly,” one participant said.

This first group asked to start another group and in just four months locals have been trained and multiple groups have started. Praise God for what these leaders have done through this trauma healing ministry. Pray for more healing, spiritual conversations, and new followers of Christ.  Ask God to provide the churches who are ministering in these areas with follow-up opportunities to share the good news. Pray that the practical health lessons will be a means of God’s protection over these people who many are living in economically depressed areas. Ask for God’s favor with local authorities so that even more work can be done for the sake of His kingdom.

The pandemic has brought about much change and has provided opportunity to rethink how work is done. There is a huge need for healing wounded hearts from past and present trauma. Pray that local believers will facilitate many more groups to provide discipleship and healing.  Pray workers and local healthcare personnel will continue to be able to distribute packets of food, hygiene items, and COVID prevention information even though the pandemic has made it more challenging with limited supplies, money and government restrictions.

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

We are always so grateful for your prayers and support and joining us in growing God’s Kingdom in China!

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Slavery In China

In China, we are seeing forced televised confessions, a mass surveillance state, the killing of Falun Gong practitioners for their organs, and what many are calling a genocide of the Uyghur people. 83 global brands, including major U.S. companies, are tied to Uyghur forced labor in China.

Over in Hong Kong, 53 pro-democracy activists, lawmakers, and lawyers were arrested on Jan. 6 under the draconian national security law. Despite all this, the EU recently announced a major trade deal with China.

Today, we sit down with human rights activist and writer Benedict Rogers, founder of Hong Kong Watch and deputy chair of the UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission, to discuss the commission’s new report: “The Darkness Deepens.”

The Scramble for High Moral Ground in Dealing with China

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Running a Business in China

Slogans promoting the core socialist values and Xi Jinping Thought are displayed in shops.

As coronavirus lockdowns are being lifted across China, businesses in some provinces can only reopen if they display government-supporting propaganda slogans.

For China’s communist regime, nothing stands in the way of advancing President Xi Jinping’s China Dream—a vision to achieve “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” he launched after taking the top office in 2013. Not even a deadly epidemic.

A primary school student gives a salute while watching a flag-raising ceremony on online class through TV at home in Shandong’s Jiaozhou city.

As the country was in lockdown because of the coronavirus, students continued to be indoctrinated in their online classrooms, while millions of CCP members and public servants were forced further accumulate points on the infamous “Xi Study Strong Nation” app.

Confidence, Responsibility, and Mission was shown to primary school students during an online class.

When lockdown restrictions were eased in March, businesses in the central province of Henan were slowly allowed to reopen. But on one condition: they had to declare their loyalty to the Communist Party and its leaders. In Luyi county, administered by the prefecture-level city of Zhoukou, all functioning shops and cafes were full of slogans promoting Xi Jinping Thought: “Do not forget the original intention”; “Keep the mission in mind”; “Ping’s language close to people”; “Create a civilized city, build a harmonious home,” and alike.

“No business is permitted to reopen without these slogans,” a noodle shop owner explained. “The government first asked me to hang five of them, and then five more. I had to pay from my pocket for them, but if I refused, I would be reprimanded and fined. It’s not easy to do business now.”

The point page on the “Study Xi Strong Nation” app.

Owners of several nearby shops complained that they, too, had to display such slogans, or they would not be allowed to run their business. “We had no choice,” a flour shop owner said. “The government also demanded us to study what’s written on them.”

“The government forced all food shops in the county to buy posters promoting Xi Jinping Thought,” a supermarket owner said angrily. “Business is down, but we have to spend money on propaganda slogans. I’ll need several days to earn this money back.”

Businesses, residential communities, schools, places of worship, and other public venues in Henan have been mandated to display government-supporting slogans for a few years now.

“Last November, I was buying stuffed buns when officials from the Food and Drug Administration came to inspect the shop,” a resident from a county in Zhoukou city told Bitter Winter. “They confiscated the owner’s business license because he didn’t have five slogans promoting Xi Jinping Thought in the shop, as demanded. The owner told me later that he was given back his license only after he had displayed the posters.”

Since “religious beliefs” are regarded as a stumbling block to achieving the China Dream, businesses associated with religion are targeted especially hard. In November last year, the Religious Affairs Bureau in a locality of the northern province of Hebei issued a confidential document, requesting to investigate religious supply stores. Many were closed or repurposed as a result, while others had they signboards modified or replaced.

Multiple Buddhist supply stores in Tangshan city have been converted into handcraft or other stores.

A handicraft shop, which used to be a Buddhist supply store, in Hebei’s Tangshan city, now sells porcelain statues and portraits of Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping.

“If I don’t sell these portraits and statues, I would be forced to close the shop,” the owner explained. “Officials have inspected the store several times since I was prohibited from selling Buddhist merchandise. Buddhism and Taoism are now under the leadership and command of the Communist Party. Many temples have Party branches, and Buddhists are only allowed to chant while raising the national flag. If we disobey, we will be labeled as rioters and anti-government elements, and could be arrested.”

Statues and portraits of Mao and Xi in what used to be a Buddhist supply store.

Another owner of a Buddhist supply store revealed that he, too, has to sell crafts now. “Words ‘Buddhist’ and ‘Immortal’ have been forcibly removed from my original signboard,” the devastated man lamented. “I had to replace it with a craft shop name at the cost of more than 3,000 RMB (about $ 420). I’ll have to sell a lot to get this amount.”

He added that personnel from the Office of Industry and Commerce Management and the town government come to inspect the shop several times a day. “They claim that all this is aimed at ‘destroying feudal superstition.’ Many shops have been closed, and some owners have been detained.”

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New National Defense Law

Xi presiding the Military Ideological and Political Education Work Conference, December 3–4, 2020 (from Weibo).

The revised legislation came into force on January 1 and gives the President and his Central Military Commission new powers to deploy troops to protect the CCP.

On January 1, 2021, an amended National Defense Law came into force in China. Its text is public. The law was enacted on December 26, 2020, and followed a Military Ideological and Political Education Work Conference, which was held in Beijing from December 3 to 4 under the presidency of Xi Jinping.

Article 4 of the amended law implicitly alludes to the conference, and to the promotion there of “Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Army.” There is a “Xi Jinping Thought” on almost everything. The article states that, “National defense activities adhere to the guidance of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory,” and “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, implement Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Army.” This may seem merely rhetoric, but is in fact a key to the new law.

The changes in the National Defense Law are of two kinds, organizational and substantial. Organizationally, while the old 1997 law, amended in 2009, gave the general power to deploy troops to the State Council, China’s Cabinet, the new statutes transfer part of this authority to the Central Military Commission, whose members are military commanders and whose president is Xi Jinping’s itself. The general principle, as stated in Article 21 (which corresponds to Article 19 of the 1997 law), remains that, “The armed forces of the People’s Republic of China are under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Some can say that Xi Jinping controls everything at any rate, but the transfer of a portion of the authority to deploy troops from a civilian to a military body has more than symbolic significance. It has been widely interpreted as a signal that China is ready to move quickly and decisively through its 2-million-strong “People’s Liberation Army” (PLA).

Even more important is the substantial concept of Article 22, giving a broad scope to the deployment of PLA troops. They can be used “to defend national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity, to safeguard the country’s overseas interests, and to promote world peace and development.”

Also, the army shall intervene to “handle sudden incidents putting the security of society in danger, and prevent and handle terrorist activities.”

The reference to “territorial integrity” has caused obvious concerns in Taiwan and Hong Kong, which the CCP regards as parts of China. The “security of society” and “prevention of terrorist activities” would justify draconian military interventions in places such as Tibet and Xinjiang, and the nice-sounding “promotion of world peace and development” means that the PLA may intervene virtually everywhere “to safeguard the country’s overseas interests.”

Some general concepts already existed in the 1997 law, but the wording is now broader, and international concern is justified.

Appeasing China
Marxism Is the Essence of Xi Jinping’s Thought
China is Communist, Marxist, Leninist, Stalinist and Maoist

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New Key Tool of CCP Ideology

“Xi Jinping’s Thought on the Rule of Law”: A New Key Tool of CCP Ideology
by Massimo Introvigne

“The whole country” is called to study and propagate, both in China and internationally, an idea of the law antithetical to Western democracy

Last month, the CCP organized in Beijing what the Party’s People’s Daily called “a major event of great practical meaning and far-reaching historical significance.” The emphatical tone is part and parcel of how the CCP media reports Party events. But this time emphasis was higher than usual, and continued for days and weeks, with hundreds of articles and TV reports in national and local media.

What happened in Beijing in November that was so important? A conference took place on “Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law” (习近平法治思想). One of the speakers was Xi Jinping himself. The idea is not new, and has been promoted at least since the 18th Congress of the CCP in 2014. “Rule of law” or “system governed by the rule of law” (fazhi, 法制) has become an ubiquitous slogan. It is not rare to see banners singing the praise of fazhi in different Chinese provinces.

Yet, the emphasis is new. “The whole party and the whole country, the People’s Daily proclaimed, should seriously study and understand Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law as a major political task at present and in the future, understand its basic spirit, grasp its core principles, clarify work requirements, and firmly grasp the political direction, important position, and work layout of the comprehensive rule of law.”

In another article, the same daily insisted that, “Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law is a major theoretical innovation that has come into being in line with the requirements of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the latest achievement of the Sinicization of Marxist theory of the rule of law, an important part of Xi Jinping’s thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, and a fundamental guide to follow.” 

To make this more clear, Li Zhanshu, the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, regarded as a close associate of Xi Jinping, insisted during an inspection tour in North China’s Shanxi Province that Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law offers “fundamental guidelines” to the CCP and the country.

These texts devote several paragraphs to emphasize how important it is for all Chinese to “earnestly study” Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law, yet they do not really clarify what it is. We find some more light in a lengthy statement by Chen Yixin, the Secretary-General of the all-powerful Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the CCP (with jurisdiction, inter alia, on the police), who, after the conference, offered a detailed ideological comment and exegesis of Xi’s speech. The full text of Chen’s lesson was published on December 9 in the Study Times.

The CCP conference on Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law, November 2020.

Chen also reiterated that “deepening the study, promotion and implementation of Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law is a major political task for the political and legal fronts nationwide at present and in the coming period.”  However, it did not limit himself to this, but shed some light on the matter.

To understand both Xi’s speech and Chen’s authorized comment, a short introduction to the concept of rule of law is needed.

“The rule of law is a basic conquest in the Western journey towards democracy. Where there is no rule of law, citizens are at the mercy of the capriciousness of the ruler. He, more rarely she, can arrest, detain, and execute them just because he had a bad day, or they were in the wrong place in the wrong time. With the rule of law, everybody is subject to clearly established statutes, including the ruler himself. Those in power and the state are as accountable as the common citizens.”

The United Nations define the rule of law as “a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated.”

This is a classic definition, which a British lawyer of the 18th century would have recognized as familiar, but the United Nations add another important part, that the laws should be “consistent with international human rights norms and standards.”

Enter Karl Marx. He called the rule of law “a great and dangerous illusion” that unfortunately the working classes naively believed in, particularly in the United Kingdom. In fact, Marx and Engels taught in the Manifesto of the Communist Party, the so-called rule of law is “but the will of the bourgeoisie made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economic conditions of existence of the bourgeoisie.”

In other words, the bourgeoisie first makes a law protecting only its power, then instills in the proletarians the false idea that it is a “universal” law protecting all citizens. Happily, Marx said, the solution was at hand. The Communist revolution would soon allow the proletarians to establish their own rule of law, whose custodian and only authorized interpreter will be the Communist Party.

In his last book, Xi Jinping insisted that the Manifesto of the Communist Party remains the CCP’s, and his own, fundamental theoretical text. Xi’s idea of the rule of law is, essentially, Marxism.

This means, as Chen explains, that the first commandment of Xi’s thought on the rule of law is that a Communist country such as China “will not copy the models and practices of other countries, nor will it follow the so-called ‘constitutional government,’ ‘separation of powers,’ or ‘independent judiciary’ of the West.”

This is nicely said. Constitutional government, separation of powers, and an independent judiciary are the essential components of the rule of law according to the United Nations’ definition.

But not according to Xi’s “new” definition. Building on Marx, Xi regards the rule of law as the principle that all should respect the laws, but the laws should respect the CCP, and be interpreted according to the CCP’s orders, directives, and interests.

In Chen’s authoritative words, Xi’s thought’s core principle is that “the socialist rule of law must adhere to the CCP’s leadership.” The legal system should work “correctly handling the relationship between politics and the rule of law, and deeply understanding that the Party and the law, the Party’s leadership and the rule of law, are highly unified.”

This means that “the socialist rule of law must adhere to the CCP’s leadership.” In the United Nations’ definition and the democratic understanding of the concept, rule of law means that the government too should obey the law. In Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law, the law should obey the government or, more precisely, the CCP.

Under the democratic concept of the rule of law, judges and others involved in the justice system should faithfully apply the law. French philosopher Montesquieu famously said that a good judge is “only the mouth that pronounce the words of the law.”

Under Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law, in Chen’s words, China should “make it a basic requirement for legal service personnel to uphold the leadership of the CCP.” The law should be used, or not used, or if necessary misused, as the CCP deems fit.

This is vintage Karl Marx, as put in practice in the Soviet Union of old. Yet, there is something new added by Xi Jinping. He insists that it is necessary to promote his Marxist concept of the rule of law “in China and in foreign countries.”

The Center for Strategic and International Studies provides interesting translations of Chinese texts. On December 2, it offered the English translation of an important study by Tang Aijun, a researcher at the CCP Central Party School. The study is on the Chinese concept of “ideological security,” and helps to understand what Xi Jinping means when he says his rule of law ideology should be exported to “foreign countries.”

Tang explains that Xi Jinping taught that entire countries were “thrown into disarray” by trying to compel them to accept the “Western” concept of human rights and “universal values.” But in fact, Xi said, the so-called universal human rights and “‘universal values’ reflect the values of Western capitalist interests and are an ideological tool in the service of Western capitalist politics.”

Marx’s criticism of the democratic rule of law as a tool created by the bourgeoisie to deceive the proletarians becomes international. The rule of law as commonly understood and defined by the United Nations is denounced by Xi as a tool created by the West to compel countries such as China, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and many others to accept democracy.

It is not difficult for Xi Jinping to find allies in his international promotion of a new “thought on the rule of law,” which is in fact the reversal of the rule of law and the return to a society where “quod principi placuit, legis habet vigorem,” as Ulpianus summarized in the 3rd century the system of the late Roman Empire: “the law is what pleases the prince.” Substitute the prince with the CCP, and you have Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law, a very convenient theory for the Kim Jong-un’s of this world.

“Why must we criticize ‘universal values?”, Tang goes on to say. Because they point to the construction of a certain state system and its standards, accepting “universal values will inevitably result in logically accepting Western systems and models such as private ownership, multi-party systems, and electoral democracy.”

A notion of private property that would create real independence from the state, a multi-party system, and free elections are all anathema to the CCP. This is what is taught in the CCP’s Party Schools, and the basis for the coalition Xi proposes to all the world’s tyrants who see democracy as a threat to their power.

Sometimes, Chinese propaganda insists that, unlike the West, China does not try to export its ideology abroad. Xi’s own speeches prove that this is just propaganda, and that in fact “Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law,” with its vitriolic Marxist criticism of democracy, is intended for export and not for the Chinese domestic market only.

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Defending Human Rights in China

The world is waking up to the nature of a crony capitalist enterprise operating as a government in charge of 1.3 billion Chinese people. But it has been an uphill challenge for defenders of human rights. The Chinese Communist Party has been successful in co-opting many of the political and business elite in the free world. The West has been preoccupied by economic opportunity in China, with massive human rights abuses often swept to the side.

Building on the global impact and success of our event on how the free world could respond to the crisis in Hong Kong, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, European Values, Hong Kong Watch, Optimum Publishing and the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China will convene an online conference to tackle the broader range of human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime in Beijing.

Some of the world’s top thinkers on human rights and international affairs will join us to discuss:

  1. The nature of human rights abuses from the Xinjiang detention camps, the throttling of democracy in Hong Kong, and China’s long history of abuses and intimidation from Tibet to Mongolia.
  2. How governments in the free world, and the United Nations and its various agencies, have been complacent and, in some cases, complicit in allowing these practices to go unchecked. 3. Proposals for a co-ordinated global response.

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How China Sees the U.S. Riots

How they see the U.S. From a Chinese TV report on the “tearing down of American society.”

How the CCP Sees the Riots in Washington: “The End of the U.S. Is At Hand”
By Massimo Introvigne

Beyond propaganda comparisons with Hong Kong protests, Party ideologists believe the United States will collapse as the Soviet Union did.

“Double standards! The U.S. media hailed the protests in Hong Kong as legitimate, and now denounce those in Washington DC as an attack against democracy.”

“Karma! The U.S. fueled the unrest in Hong Kong, and now sees the same unrest in Washington DC!”

“Retribution! Nancy Pelosi called protests in Hong Kong ‘a beautiful sight,’ and now rioters have occupied her office.”

These comments were posted time and again on social media, where there are both genuine supporters of the CCP and an army of trolls paid to post the Party’s propaganda.

Chinese propaganda on social media.

This “spontaneous” reaction to the events in Washington DC was amplified by CCP propaganda media such as the Global Times, which conveniently ignored the difference between the social and political contexts in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

However, it would be a mistake to stop at this sort of cheap propaganda about Hong Kong. What is emerging in comments by Chinese journalists and bloggers who write in typical CCP jargon is also something different. We read that Donald Trump’s presidency was “the United States’ Gorbachev Era,” and that the end of the United States is at hand.

The CCP has devoted time and energy to study the demise of the Soviet Union, least the same mistakes be repeated in China. The conclusion, often presented by President Xi Jinping himself, is that the Soviet Union lost its soul when it started criticizing Stalin and even Lenin. “Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse?

“An important reason”, Xi said, was that their ideals and beliefs had been shaken. In the end, “the ruler’s flag over the city tower changed overnight. It’s a profound lesson for us! To dismiss the history of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Communist Party, to dismiss Lenin and Stalin, and to dismiss everything else is to engage in historic nihilism, and it confuses our thoughts and undermines the Party’s organizations on all levels.”

At the same time, the CCP believes that the police and army control on the territory of the Soviet Union and its satellite states slowly collapsed, allowing non-state actors, including religion, to grow and eventually destroy the system.

CCP theorists believe that the COVID-19 pandemic just accelerated what, according to Marxist ideology, is the unavoidable collapse of all democratic capitalist societies. They point out at economic and ethnic conflicts tearing apart American society. In Marxist theory, the end result may only be the demise of the democratic U.S. as we know them.

The CCP also believes that the American “ideals and beliefs have been shaken,” just as it happened in the Soviet Union: that there is no longer a national narrative and consensus uniting American citizens, with the results that “counter-powers” alternative to the state grow like tumors and are not kept in check by law enforcement, as evidenced by the late Washington DC riots. “The US system is degrading and showing signs of worsening as cancer,” the Global Times wrote.

In several Chinese social media, a long text published in 2019 under pseudonym has been republished, claiming that American diplomacy has now entered its fifth and final, declining stage. The author claims that there is no “new Cold War,” because in order to fight a Cold War a country should be largely united under a shared ideology, which is not the case for the United States today.

“The United States during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was in its prime of life, the author wrote. The United States is now in its twilight period. If the United States collapses suddenly like the Soviet Union, everyone must not be shocked or surprised. The collapse of a global empire like the United States will be similar to the Soviet Union in the process.”

Trump’s MAGA rhetoric, the author writes, was the “last wailing before death.” Looking back at the history of the United States, it was like a child.

“From when he was a teenager, he left his hometown and went outside to enter the world. When he was dying, he just wanted to exhaust the last bit of energy while remembering this. From the past, he staggered back to his hometown and walked to the cemetery he had dug beforehand. He jumped down, lay in it, and finally rested in peace.”

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Covid Outbreak Shijiazhuang

A medical worker taking a swab sample from a woman outside a residential compound following a new outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Shijiazhuang, in northern China’s Hebei province.

China’s Covid-19 containment success story is being put to the test as new clusters pop up in northern Hebei province, a geographical buffer zone around the capital Beijing.

The “National Health Commission” (NHC) and provincial authorities warned of “sparkles of cases here and there setting an entire prairie ablaze” after sporadic outbreaks in Hebei’s capital of Shijiazhuang have grown into bigger clusters that now threaten to spread through the entire city.

Shijiazhuang and the rest of Hebei recorded more than 100 local infections since Monday, with 53 new cases, marking arguably the biggest wave seen in China after Beijing lifted its lockdown on the original epidemic epicenter of Wuhan in early April.

Shijiazhuang, home to more than 10 million residents, is less than one hour by train from Beijing.

Hebei’s party chief Wang Dongfeng declared a de facto state of emergency in the province vowing to squash the rising infection trend with measures including travel bans to insulate Beijing, where preparations for the annual parliamentary session in early March are underway.

Health workers take an oath behind a Communist Party flag before heading for Shijiazhuang.

Sweeping and draconian anti-virus measures put in place during Wuhan’s 76-day lockdown have been largely reinstated in Shijiazhuang, a clear indicator of the gravity of the viral situation.

Shijiazhuang has shut its main train station with all Beijing-bound departures suspended until February 4. Expressways to Beijing and Tianjin from the city were also closed on Wednesday evening, but one-way trips from Beijing to the city are for now still allowed.

Most flights to and from Shijiazhuang have also been canceled, with passengers from the city facing the prospect of mandatory quarantine in their destinations, even if they have negative virus test results. China Post and SF Express have stopped the collection and delivery of parcels in the city.

Now that all districts in Shijiazhuang have stepped up checks on commuters to curtail unnecessary trips, the city’s metro operator announced less frequent train services on all lines.

That triggered an immediate backlash from those who still have to travel to work, with concerns raised that fewer departures may mean even more crowded trains and thus heightened risks of infections.

Most parts in downtown Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei, were deserted on Thursday amid the largest Covid-19 resurgence in China since Wuhan.

The outbreaks are putting China’s anti-virus response mechanism to a crucial new test, one that threatens to undercut the country’s so far successful containment of the disease.

Shijiazhuang is now testing all residents and those living in the suburban Gaocheng district, where the current wave first hit, will be tested multiple times.

The 836-square-kilometer Gaocheng district is now being referred to as a “new Wuhan” and is under a full lockdown. It is currently the nation’s only “high-risk area” under the NHC’s three-tier regime.

More surveillance cameras have been installed to check on residents given shelter-at-home orders, with police constables in the streets on the lookout for lockdown violators.

Shijiazhuang is also in the process of releasing and updating a list of places where all known patients have visited, as officials and technicians continue to trawl through footage derived from facial recognition and other surveillance mechanisms.

NHC director Ma Xiaowei has blamed an “asymptomatic carrier” of the virus for the outbreaks. Undetected by layers of screening in place, the carrier reportedly crisscrossed Hebei and Beijing.

Ma revealed to state broadcaster China Central Television that the virus could be from Europe, without confirming if it was the more highly contagious new strain first identified in the United Kingdom.

Ma’s deputy Feng Zijian, who oversees the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, also made a candid admission to CCTV a day earlier by saying that most of the patients in Hebei had not been checked or isolated early on.

Insufficient Covid-19 detection and diagnosis in front-line hospitals and clinics have become a weakness in China’s efforts to keep the infection curve flat, he said.

Heads may roll in Hebei and at the National CDC after Xinhua ran two op-eds this week lambasting Hebei’s belated mobilization. The province did not start daily press briefings to update the public until three days after the first case was found in Shijiazhuang on January 2.

Across the provincial border in Beijing, local cadres have also been told to beef up checks on arrivals and goods to prevent spillovers from Hebei. The Chinese capital is also battling local flare-ups with a total case tally expected to soon hit 1,000.

Panic is already spreading despite the modest numbers, with shelves at supermarkets stripped bare of food and daily necessities as Beijingers fear they may too soon be told to stay at home.

Panic-buying hoards have ironically sparked fears of more infections. Beijing’s government has assured people of ample supplies of food and said that stores must ensure people are spaced out and admissions are staggered.

China’s time-tested Covid response mechanism, including mass testing and lockdowns that are proven to be effective in tackling previous flare-ups, is again put to test in Beijing and Hebei.

There have been suggestions to inoculate the infected and their close contacts in Beijing and Hebei to snap infection chains now that China is on the cusp of giving priority and at-risk groups shots of its indigenous attenuated vaccines.

Professor Yang Zhanqiu of Wuhan University’s Institute of Virology told the state-run Global Times that only mRNA vaccines, like those produced by Pfizer and now being administered in some Western countries, could produce special protein antibodies to neutralize the virus already present or latent in a confirmed patient or asymptomatic carrier.

He said attenuated vaccines from domestic drug makers like “SinoPharm” and “Sinovac” could only offer protection from Covid-19 for uninfected people.

“The mRNA vaccines may mitigate the harm of the coronavirus when someone catches it, to speed up recovery and make the patient less likely to pass the virus to others. But it still makes sense to mass inoculate healthy residents in Beijing and Shijiazhuang with attenuated vaccines,” said Yang.

China has again appealed to people to avoid trips outside their home cities until after the Chinese New Year break in February, fueling new speculation that the entire nation is at risk from the current outbreak.

The NHC previously claimed that other than known outbreak hot-spots most tracts of the nation should remain Covid-free.

China blocks WHO while Covid conspiracy theories fly
Chinese cities scramble to contain new viral flare-ups

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The Celestial Empire

One giant leap for China and it’s not even Lunar New Year’s.

China’s Chang’e-5 probe has completed a lunar mission and returned to Earth as of December 7. Chang’e-5 will be the first operation to bring material from the moon to Earth in the 21st century. The only other countries to have ever done so were the United States and the Soviet Union.

Chang’e-5 was bringing with it roughly 2 kilograms of lunar rocks and soil. It landed in the province of Inner Mongolia this month. The last mission to bring back samples from the moon was the USSR’s Luna 24 mission in 1976. That was almost 50 years ago.

The flag has been made from a fabric that will withstand the cold lunar temperatures.

And China was sure to leave its mark. Chang’e-5 left a Chinese flag made of special material to withstand the lunar environment. The only other country to ever leave flags on the moon was the United States. And experts believe solar radiation would have bleached those star-spangled banners white by now.

“Proud to have our national flag unfolded on the moon. The #Change5 probe collected samples and took off from moon. It will contribute to global scientific studies in fields such as the formation and evolution of the moon.” — Mission of China (@ChinaEUMission) December 4, 2020

The U.S. hasn’t sent missions to the moon in decades. America is literally waving the white flag in front of an ascendant China.

Washington is attempting to catch up with Beijing’s new cosmic prowess. U.S. President Donald Trump has recently authorized the Artemis Program, an ambitious attempt to land the first woman on the moon by 2024.

The 21st century has seen only three successful, unmanned, missions to the moon. All are Chinese. And the missions have been productive. The Chang’e-3 lander has been sending data from the moon to Beijing for seven years. 2018 saw the Chang’e-4 probe become the first successful mission to the dark side of the moon. China even plans to set up a manned base on the moon by 2030.

And China’s cosmic competition with America isn’t limited to contests on the moon. China became the country with the most rockets launched into orbit as of 2018, surpassing America. Beijing plans to launch a space station in 2022. The U.S.-led International Space Station will retire later this decade, making China the only nation in control of a space station.

America has plenty of space programs that China has not yet matched. But it’s clear the Chinese are catching up fast and developing impressive achievements of their own.

And this means a lot more than just a loss of prestige for America. If you think that the goals of China’s space program are mainly scientific and benign, think again.

Chinese President Xi Jinping stated in 2013 that the nation’s space program was a “part of the dream to make China stronger.” Ye Peijian, chief commander of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, was more blunt. “The universe is like the ocean: The moon is like the Diaoyu Islands and Mars is like Scarborough Shoal,” he said in 2017. “We will be blamed by our descendants if we don’t go there … and others get there before us.”

Diaoyu is the Mandarin name of Japan’s Senkaku Islands, while Scarborough Shoal is an island in the Philippines. China claims the Senkaku for itself and has unilaterally annexed Scarborough.

China has already made clear its desire to militarize space.

China made headlines in 2007 when it shot down one of its own satellites as it orbited 530 miles above Earth’s surface. China’s action was certainly noteworthy—it demonstrated that America’s low-orbit satellites are vulnerable. But it wasn’t a great technological achievement. Prof. Desmond Ball of the Australian National University said at the time that shooting down the satellite “involved a fairly primitive system.”

“It is the sort of capability available to any country with a store of medium-range/intercontinental ballistic missiles or satellite-launch vehicles, and a long-range radar system, such as Japan, India, Iran and even North Korea,” he said.

Now China has taken its capability much further. It performed a test in 2013 that proved it could now shoot down satellites 19,000 miles above Earth’s surface.

If Earth were a basketball, then a satellite 530 miles away would be less than 1 inch from the ball’s surface. But with this latest innovation, China has proved that, on that same scale, it can shoot down a satellite nearly two feet away from the ball. This means just about every U.S. communication, spy and navigation satellite is within range.

The continent of Asia has seen some of the largest empires in history. The Mongols controlled a region from Korea to Iraq to Poland. But Xi Jinping’s China is taking warfare and empire to heights even Genghis Khan couldn’t have dreamed of.

Xi wants to conquer outer space. He’s bringing China back to its historic name, “the celestial empire.”

Which eastern country could contribute heavily to an army of 200 million men, larger than any army in history? Which country today has a military strong enough to turn areas into a “desolate wilderness”? China certainly fits the bill.

But China won’t be alone. Russia will also be a leading force in this multinational Asian bloc. Japan and India will join as well, creating the largest, most powerful military colossus in human history.

When this agreement is formalized, you can be sure that this world will be rocked like never before.

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Communist Party Principles

President Xi Jinping of China. Noel Celis. Pool / Getty Images

Churches throughout China have been forced to remove displays of the Ten Commandments and religious imagery and replace them with quotes and portraits of President Xi Jinping.

New draconian rules for religious groups are set to go into place in China requiring that they “spread Communist Party principles.”

China’s totalitarian government promulgated new rules on December 30 that will place virtually all aspects of religious life under the control of the Communist Party. The administrative measures consist of six chapters and 41 articles governing the “organization, functions, supervision and management of religious groups,” which would include religious doctrine, annual and daily activities, and rallies.

The new rules go into force on February 1 and come as part of a growing crackdown by Chinese communists on religion. For example, about 1 million Muslim Uighur people are being kept in re-education camps, where some have been subjected to torture. Christian churches have been razed by authorities, who have curtailed the independence of Christian ministers. Two million Christians and Buddhist are being kept in detention. Jewish communities have also been harassed.

In concert with the government’s policy of “sinicization,” which is intended to underscore Chinese culture and socialist polity, the new rules reinforce policies announced in 2017 to reinterpret Christian teachings according to socialist doctrine. Besides its persecution of Christian and Muslim believers for supposedly foreign doctrines in its war on religion, China has mercilessly pursued members of the native-born spiritualist Falun Gong movement for more than 20 years.

According to Radio Free Asia, churches in Hunan province were forced last year to remove displays of the Ten Commandments and replace them with quotes of President Xi Jinping. Likewise, churches in Jiangxi province were ordered to remove biblical paintings and crosses and replace them with portraits of the president. In some areas, all public displays of Christmas decorations have been banned. In addition, party officials have been told that celebrating the feast is contrary to CCP teachings.

In December, Christians belonging to “house churches” not recognized by the government were ordered to refrain from publicly celebrating Christmas. A Protestant pastor in Shandong, where previous celebrations had drawn thousands of worshipers, said, “We are afraid to meet in public because such meetings have been designated illegal gatherings.” Identified solely as John, the pastor said, “We can’t do Christmas this year. We can’t have any activities on Christmas.”

Under the new rules, all religious organizations will be required to obey and promote Communist Party values and China’s President Xi Jinping.

Churches will be expected to “spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party” and indoctrinate all “religious staff and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.”

According to Asia News a Chinese Catholic priest observed: “In practice, your religion no longer matters, if you are Buddhist, or Taoist, or Muslim or Christian: the only religion allowed is faith in the Chinese Communist Party.”

According to the new rules, all churches and religious organizations must adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party and “to the directives on religions in China, implementing the values of socialism.”

Article 17 directs: “Religious organizations must spread the principles and policies of the CCP, as well as national laws, regulations, rules to religious personnel and religious citizens, educating religious personnel and religious citizens to support the leadership of the CCP, supporting the socialist system, adhering to and following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Religious organizations must submit all decisions for approval by Communist Party officials. According to the rules, local religious affairs offices serve as the “administrative bodies” for all religious organizations, controlling them through “guidance and supervision.”

China is home to a growing community of 68 million Protestants. There are also approximately 3.3 million Catholics, with another 5.7 million who consider themselves Catholics but belong to the schismatic state-sponsored “Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association” (CPCA).

The CPCA is not in communion with the papacy and has operated in parallel with the so-called “underground” Church, which consists of clergy and laity who have remained loyal to the pope and the worldwide church despite decades of persecution, summary arrests, torture, and death.

In 2018, the Vatican reached a secret provisional agreement with Beijing, having long sought to normalize ties between the Catholic Church and China’s government. The accord allows the communists to play a role in appointing bishops. Under a previous arrangement, Vatican diplomats dealt with members of the government in order to iron out disagreements. Under the new accord, they will deal with Communist Party cadres.

Despite the agreement, persecution of the Church has increased in China. At least one bishop and several priests have refused to register with the Chinese government despite being allowed by the Vatican. Bishop Vincent Guo of Mindong province fled his official captors last year rather than register with the government. Bishop Guo remains in hiding.

Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, members of the U.S. Commission on Human Rights, and prominent Christians have called on Pope Francis to repudiate the secret agreement or, at the very least, make it public so it can be scrutinized and reveal whether or not it requires all Catholics to register with the CPCA per the government’s claims.

In December, Cardinal Zen said he fears that the Pope is legitimizing schism within the Catholic Church in China through the controversial agreement.

Saying the current pope’s diplomacy toward China has been “disastrous,” Cardinal Zen said Pope Francis is effectively “shutting down” the legacy of popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI in their relations with China’s government and Chinese Catholics.

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