Monthly Archives: August 2021

Herd Immunity

Any notion that Covid-19 was going to last for only a few months was very much misplaced in 2020. Especially after it was recognized that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was largely spread through the airborne route, all indications were that it would cause repeat bouts of waves.

This is what happened in the flu epidemic of 1918. In addition, very few scientists predicted that we would see the type of mutations that occurred over such a short period of time. This has resulted in the virus becoming both more transmissible and more able to evade immune responses.

The evolution of the virus has been so rapid that the Delta variant, which is now dominating the world, is at least twice as transmissible as the ancestral virus that was circulating.

Read more at “Why herd immunity isn’t going to happen”

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Delta Covid Crisis

China’s seemingly impregnable Covid-19 firewall is springing leaks, with the country logging more local cases in 20 days than in the previous five months combined.  At least 15 of the nation’s 31 provinces have confirmed Delta strain infections over the past two weeks, marking China’s biggest outbreak this year. The disease’s spread is believed to have started from a foreign flight at Nanjing’s airport in early July.

The National Health Commission (NHC) said 328 cases have been reported since last month, including in the central city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the global pandemic. Authorities reported 99 new cases according to reports.

Millions are now in lockdown as authorities close down cities and restrict travel to arrest the contagion’s further spread. The outbreak has been sparked in part by a recent easing of mask-wearing and social distancing, a laxity caused by the fact the country was Covid-free for many months.

Read more at “Delta puts China on brink of a new Covid crisis”

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August 2021 Update

In 2020, 1.4 billion people live in China, that’s 56% of the global population. By 2050, it is estimated more than two billion people will be added to that number. The cruel reality is that 86,765 city dwellers die every day without a relationship with Christ. These city dwellers include many unbelievers who have traveled to cities in search of jobs to support their families. Their rural home provinces are often resistant to Christianity, and many have never have heard of Jesus. Ultimately, we want to lead people to faith, share the gospel with them and disciple them so that they can bring the gospel back to their hometowns and to their villages.

Our team goal is to engage every people group, every community and every segment of the city, including business professionals, factory workers, students, migrants and slum dwellers. Collaborating with the local churches and believers is our core component of reaching the lost.  One of the Scriptures that is really meaningful to us is 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” We want people to be discipled who will disciple others who are going to disciple others. That’s the key to getting the gospel spread throughout the city, through the country and throughout the world and as Jesus has commanded us in Matthew 18:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Right now it is hard living in this constant state of limbo, not knowing when things might change in China. We have been blessed to have a wonderful place to live and treasure the extra time we have been able to spend with each other, with friends of the ministry and family. But Rolf longs to “go back to China” and be the salt and light in the midst of those that walk in darkness. But that is clearly not the Lord’s will for us right now. We are grateful that the uncertainty and waiting that God’s promises and His character have not changed. As we are going through this transition because of the pandemic and changing US-China relations we are grateful our team continues to work diligently.

On a disturbing note our team has reported that people on the streets are being arrested for no reason at all! Once they are taken into custody, their cell phones are confiscated until they surrender their passwords so that the police can access their private information. This, of course, means more arrests, and more interrogations. The gospel is needed more than ever. In fact, our team leader has started an outreach focused on engaging Chinese people who have been arrested and mistreated by the police.

If you would like to help out financially, you can donate online. Thank you for your love, your prayers, and your support.

Stay safe, stay healthy, be blessed and stay in touch. We love hearing from you.

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STEM PhD Graduates

In an earlier article, China-US contest will come down to education, I wrote about the crisis in American primary and secondary education. As promised then, this article addresses the relative decline of American universities in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This change is not readily apparent. A large share of the best universities in the world are in the United States and they have a deserved reputation for excellence.

For example, the seventh annual ranking of the Best Global Universities conducted by US News & World Report and published in October 2020 found that 19 of the top 25 schools were American.

However, the arguably more internationally-minded QS World University Ranking published by UK company Quacquarelli Symonds in July this year found that 12 of the top 25 universities were in the US, five in the UK, three in China, two each in Singapore and Switzerland and one in Japan.

Then, at the beginning of August, the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) at Georgetown University in Washington issued a report entitled “China is Fast Outpacing US STEM PhD Growth,” which concluded that: “Based on current enrollment patterns, we project that by 2025 Chinese universities will produce more than 77,000 STEM PhD graduates per year compared to approximately 40,000 in the United States.”

Read more at “US falling further behind China in STEM PhD’s”

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Lottie Moon Singleness

On a monument in China set up by the Tengchow Church in 1915 is inscribed the following description of Lottie Moon: “After she graduated from school she never married. She dedicated her whole spirit, body, and life to the service of God.”

There is no indication that Charlotte “Lottie” Moon purposed to be single all her life, but certainly, it’s clear that she not only had a brilliant mind and longed for satisfying work but also that she believed her call to the mission field took precedence over any personal or romantic desires. Lottie was once asked if she had ever been in love, and she answered, “Yes, but God had first claim on my life, and since the two conflicted, there could be no question about the result.”

“Through her singleness, Lottie became a living picture of Christ’s power in and for every Christian. This is a picture the church still needs today.”

Read more at “Lottie Moon Did Not Waste Her Singleness”

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Sola Fide House Churches

Sola Fide House Church Leaders were arrested again in Shanxi. They were jailed in 2009 and their church was dynamited in 2018. Their persecution continues.

Faithful readers of Bitter Winter may remember that we reported in 2018 on the persecution of the Golden Lampstand Church, a house church in Shanxi’s Linfen city. The congregation is part of a network with more than 50,000 members, and the church had costed nearly 2.6 million USD to build.

The Golden Lampstand Church is part of the so-called Sola Fide house churches. These churches do not constitute a denomination, but a loosely connected network without uniform management, which refuses to join the Three-Self Church claiming the latter has rejected and betrayed Martin Luther’s key doctrine of justification “by faith only” (sola fide in Latin).

The Golden Lampstand Church and its members have faced constant persecution by the authorities for decades. In 2009, pastors and co-workers received prison sentences.

After 2018, even without its beautiful place of worship, the congregation has continued to meet outdoor or in private homes. And the CCP has continued to persecute its members.

On August 7, 2021, nine Golden Lamp Church leaders and members were arrested in a well-prepared and coordinated Public Security operation, including Pastor Wang Xiaoguang and Evangelist Yang Rongli. Both of them had already been arrested in 2009.

Christians associated with other churches in the Golden Lampstand network were also taken to police offices for interrogation. Reportedly, this is part of a larger crackdown on house churches in Shanxi province.

House Churches Closed as ‘Illegal Venues,’ Believers Punished

House Churches and Their Schools Suppressed in Xiamen

Landlords Punished for Renting to House Churches

House Churches Closed Down and Heavily Fined

Jilin Province Shut Down Over 160 House Church Venues in 2019

House Church Believers Arrested for Practicing Their Faith

Protestant Churches Continue to Be Destroyed Across China

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Chinese Medal Count

Chinese state media claimed that Olympic medals won by Taiwan and Hong Kong belong to China in an attempt to boost Beijing’s final medal count over the United States.

China Central Television, a Chinese state-controlled media outlet, posted a picture on Instagram Monday of a final medal count in which China is ahead of the United States.

Although China only tallied 38 gold medals—one fewer than the United States—the graphic includes Olympic medals won by Taiwan and Hong Kong, which competed independently at the Tokyo Olympics, as part of China’s final count. The false tally, which is an apparent attempt to boost Beijing’s gold medal count above the United States, also circulated on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform.

The falsification of Beijing’s Olympic results comes after Chinese propagandists attempted to downplay the United States’ achievements in the Tokyo Olympics, which concluded Sunday. Chen Weihua, China Daily‘s European Union correspondent, tweeted out a photo last week of a tally showing the United States ahead in the overall medal count—but behind China in gold medals—and said “U.S. media always finds a way to put the United States on top.”

The International Olympic Committee requires Taiwan, an independent country that the Chinese Communist Party claims is part of China, to compete in the Olympics as “Chinese Taipei.” Announcers also referred to the country as “Chinese Taipei” throughout the Olympics to appease Beijing.

Chinese nationalists console themselves by including Taiwan’s wins in fictitious medal table.

Still stinging from the U.S. gold medal supremacy at the Tokyo Olympics, bitter Chinese Netizens have created an augmented version of the “China Medal Table” by including Taiwan and Hong Kong medals to boost it to the top spot.

On Saturday evening (Aug. 7), China was ahead of the U.S. in gold medals on the last day of competition, with a count of 38 to 36. However, many American media outlets, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, listed the U.S. at the top of their Olympic rankings because it had the most medals overall.

China’s state-run CCTV was dissatisfied with this methodology and criticized American media that day for “ranking the U.S. first based on American standards.” However, on Sunday (Aug. 8) China failed to win any more gold’s, falling short in rhythmic gymnastics and women’s middleweight boxing, while the U.S. dominated Japan in women’s basketball and took the gold for the first time in women’s volleyball and track cycling.

By the closing ceremonies, the Chinese state-operated broadcaster no longer had a leg to stand on because the U.S. had not only reached the top of the gold medal tally, with 39 gold’s to China’s 38, but also beat its communist counterpart by every other measure, including 41 silvers to 32, 33 bronzes to 18, and 113 total medals to 88.

In response, some Chinese Netizens created their own fantasy medal table that lumped in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau to give the enlarged “China Medal Table” 42 gold’s, 37 silvers, and 27 bronzes for a total count of 110 and posted it to the Weibo social media platform.

In the post, they wrote, “Congratulations to the Chinese delegation for ranking first in gold medals and the total number of points.” Even with the combined version, the new “China Medal Table” still fell short in every category.

Team USA Overtakes China In Gold Medals At Tokyo Olympics

Chinese Netizens try to pad their Olympic stats with Taiwan’s medals

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Taiwan Public Hearing

Taiwan’s precarious position at the front line of CCP intimidation was put to the test recently as its lawmakers were urged to prioritize human rights and stand against Beijing’s tyranny in Xinjiang.

In its first international public hearing on Uyghur issues, legislators gathered online with US congressmen, journalists, human rights activists, and Xinjiang internment camp survivors to consolidate consensus and formulate a way forward for its government.

Set up jointly by the Taiwan Parliamentary Human Rights Commission and the Taiwan Parliamentary Group for Uyghurs, organizers urged their government to “stand out, condemn human rights persecution, and support Uyghurs and survivors.”

Read more at “In Taiwan, an International Public Hearing on Xinjiang”

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High Rolling Macau

In a Covid-driven transformation, Macau’s gaming companies are seeking to diversify into non-gaming segments and focus more on betting tables that serve ordinary tourists rather than mainland China VIPs.

Macau lawmakers recently said it is unlikely that Chinese high-rollers would return to Macau in pre-pandemic numbers any time soon as Beijing ramps up controls forbidding wealthy individuals from gambling overseas.

China has also restricted its nationals from vacationing overseas amid the pandemic, which first started in Wuhan and spread around the world. Macau has been mostly Covid-free, though on August 4 the government ordered Covid-19 tests for all 680,000 Macau residents after a family of four tested positive. No new cases have been reported since.

Read more at “High-rolling Macau won’t be the same after Covid”

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China’s Economy Wobbles

China’s economy is showing the first signs of strain with the unraveling of border controls that had previously kept their regions clean of Covid-19. 

Since late July, two-thirds of China’s 31 provinces and municipalities have rushed to shut malls and factories and curtail travel to staunch the spread of the Delta strain, which was sparked by imported cases from international flights.  

Whether the world’s only major economy not decimated by Covid-19 in 2020 and in the first half of 2021 can emerge from its worst viral resurgence in more than a year depends on how quickly authorities can contain the spike in cases before the pathogen creeps into economic powerhouses like Guangdong province, the country’s main export engine. 

Manufacturing and summer travel have already come to a halt in Jiangsu and other provinces that are grappling with outbreaks. The National Health Commission (NHC) reported 108 local infections on Monday, a new daily high this year. 

Read more at “China’s economy wobbles as Covid starts to hit production”

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