Sinica Podcast

12.20.13

Rectifying Chinese Names

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Living in a community of China watchers, we are unceasingly assaulted by words and phrases for which definitions are unclear, or ambiguous, or over which there is controversy or disagreement. And so, bearing Confucius’ admonition that the most...

Books

12.17.13

Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Nicholas Griffin
The spring of 1971 heralded the greatest geopolitical realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved toward a détente—achieved not by politicians but by Ping-Pong players. The Western press delighted in the absurdity of the moment and branded it “Ping-Pong Diplomacy.” But for the Chinese, Ping-Pong was always political, a strategic cog in Mao Zedong’s foreign policy. Nicholas Griffin proves that the organized game, from its first breath, was tied to Communism thanks to its founder, Ivor Montagu, son of a wealthy English baron and spy for the Soviet Union. Ping-Pong Diplomacy traces a crucial inter­section of sports and society. Griffin tells the strange and tragic story of how the game was manipulated at the highest levels; how the Chinese government helped cover up the death of 36 million peasants by holding the World Table Tennis Championships during the Great Famine; how championship players were driven to their deaths during the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, how the survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts. Through a cast of eccentric characters, from spies to hippies and Ping-Pong-obsessed generals to atom-bomb survivors, Griffin explores how a neglected sport was used to help realign the balance of worldwide power.  —Scribner{chop}

Sinica Podcast

12.13.13

From the Underground to the Internet—Contemporary Art in China

Jeremy Goldkorn, Philip Tinari & more from Sinica Podcast
In the late 1990s, the visual arts in China operated on the fringes of society, and those who dared to flirt with public prominence risked finding themselves on the disapproving end of a government clampdown. And yet how different things seem today...

Sinica Podcast

12.10.13

Joe Biden and the ADIZ Fracas

Kaiser Kuo & Peter Ford
On the weekend of November 23, Beijing announced the establishment of a new Air Defense Identification Zone. Covering a large swath of the East China Sea, the move was intended to assert China’s control over disputed islands in the region, and...

China: Five Pounds of Facts

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
No one seems to have measured exactly how old Chinese civilization is, but Endymion Wilkinson can probably give a more precise answer than anyone else. “1.6 billion minutes separate us from the Zhou conquest of the Shang,” he informs us at the...

The Surprising Empress

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
In the mid-1950s, when I was a graduate student of Chinese history, the Manchu Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908) was invariably condemned as a reactionary hate figure; Mao Zedong was admired. In the textbooks of that time, leading American scholars...

Books

12.03.13

Junkyard Planet

Adam Minter
When you drop your Diet Coke can or yesterday’s newspaper in the recycling bin, where does it go? Probably halfway around the world, to people and places that clean up what you don’t want and turn it into something you can’t wait to buy. In Junkyard Planet, Adam Minter—veteran journalist and son of an American junkyard owner—travels deeply into a vast, often hidden, multibillion-dollar industry that’s transforming our economy and environment. Minter takes us from back-alley Chinese computer recycling operations to high-tech facilities capable of processing a jumbo jet’s worth of recyclable trash every day. Along the way, we meet an unforgettable cast of characters who’ve figured out how to build fortunes from what we throw away: Leonard Fritz, a young boy “grubbing” in Detroit’s city dumps in the 1930s; Johnson Zeng, a former plastics engineer roaming America in search of scrap; and Homer Lai, an unassuming barber turned scrap titan in Qingyuan, China. Junkyard Planet reveals how “going green” usually means making money—and why that’s often the most sustainable choice, even when the recycling methods aren’t pretty. With unmatched access to and insight on the junk trade, and the explanatory gifts and an eye for detail worthy of a John McPhee or William Langewiesche, Minter traces the export of America’s recyclables and the massive profits that China and other rising nations earn from it. What emerges is an engaging, colorful, and sometimes troubling tale of consumption, innovation, and the ascent of a developing world that recognizes value where Americans don’t. Junkyard Planet reveals that we might need to learn a smarter way to take out the trash.—Bloomsbury Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

12.03.13

One Journalist’s Journey through China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Kaiser and Jeremy are pleased to be joined by Isabel Hilton, a longstanding British journalist whose youthful interest in China got her blacklisted by the British security services and the British Broadcasting Corporation and redirected...

Sinica Podcast

11.22.13

Doubling Down on Dengism

Kaiser Kuo, Bill Bishop & more from Sinica Podcast
{vertical_photo_right}It’s an all-American (and all-star) lineup of guests this week, as Bill Bishop, Gady Epstein, and James Fallows join Kaiser for an in-depth discussion of the Third Plenary Session, the outcome of which has produced a rare...

Excerpts

11.22.13

Shen Wei’s ‘Chinese Sentiment’

Peter Hessler
When Shen Wei was growing up in Shanghai during the nineteen-eighties and nineties, his mother worked as a fashion designer who specialized in calendars. If a company wanted to publish one, they hired Shen Wei’s mother, and she designed clothes for...

Dreams of a Different China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Last November, China’s newly installed leader, Xi Jinping, asked his fellow Chinese to help realize a “Chinese dream” of national rejuvenation. In the months since then, his talk has been seen as a marker in the new leadership’s thinking, especially...

Books

11.20.13

Empress Dowager Cixi

Jung Chang
Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908) is the most important woman in Chinese history. She ruled China for decades and brought a medieval empire into the modern age. At the age of sixteen, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor’s numerous concubines. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China—behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male. In this groundbreaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Cixi fought against monumental obstacles to change China. Under her the ancient country attained virtually all the attributes of a modern state: industries, railways, electricity, the telegraph, and an army and navy with up-to-date weaponry. It was she who abolished gruesome punishments like “death by a thousand cuts” and put an end to foot-binding. She inaugurated women’s liberation and embarked on the path to introduce parliamentary elections to China. Chang comprehensively overturns the conventional view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot.Based on newly available, mostly Chinese, historical documents such as court records, official and private correspondence, diaries and eyewitness accounts, this biography will revolutionize historical thinking about a crucial period in China’s—and the world’s—history. Packed with drama, fast paced and gripping, it is both a panoramic depiction of the birth of modern China and an intimate portrait of a woman: as the concubine to a monarch, as the absolute ruler of a third of the world’s population, and as a unique stateswoman. —Knopf{chop}

Sinica Podcast

11.19.13

Partners and Rivals

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
Few will dispute that the Sino-American relationship constitutes the most important bilateral relationship of our time, shedding a sort of lunar influence on international politics which helps shape not only the dynamic of global tensions, but also...

Sinica Podcast

11.13.13

Daoism for the Action-Oriented

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
{vertical_photo_right}What Would Confucius Do? What for that matter would Laozi not do? This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy ask these and other questions of Sam Crane, Professor of Contemporary Chinese Politics at Williams College and author of...

Reports

11.11.13

Reimagining China’s Cities

Isabel Hilton, et. al.
Isabel Hilton
chinadialogue
After nearly three decades of rapid urbanisation, China’s official and unofficial city dwellers outnumber its farmers. China’s urbanisation counts as the biggest and fastest social movement in human history, a movement that has turned Chinese...

How to Deal with the Chinese Police

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
A casual visitor to China today does not get the impression of a police state. Life bustles along as people pursue work, fashion, sports, romance, amusement, and so on, without any sign of being under coercion. But the government spends tens of...

Books

11.06.13

The Birth of Chinese Feminism

Edited by Lydia H. Liu, Rebecca E. Karl, Dorothy Y. Ko
He-Yin Zhen (ca. 1884-ca.1920) was a theorist who figured centrally in the birth of Chinese feminism. Unlike her contemporaries, she was concerned less with China’s fate as a nation and more with the relationship among patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism, and gender subjugation as global historical problems. This volume, the first translation and study of He-Yin’s work in English, critically reconstructs early twentieth-century Chinese feminist thought in a transnational context by juxtaposing He-Yin Zhen’s writing against works by two better-known male interlocutors of her time.The editors begin with a detailed analysis of He-Yin Zhen’s life and thought. They then present annotated translations of six of her major essays, as well as two foundational tracts by her male contemporaries, Jin Tianhe (1874-1947) and Liang Qichao (1873–1929), to which He-Yin’s work responds and with which it engages. Jin, a poet and educator, and Liang, a philosopher and journalist, understood feminism as a paternalistic cause that liberals like themselves should defend. He-Yin presents an alternative conception that draws upon anarchism and other radical trends. Ahead of her time, He-Yin Zhen complicates conventional accounts of feminism and China’s history, offering original perspectives on sex, gender, labor, and power that remain relevant today.  —Columbia University Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

11.05.13

Terrorism in Tiananmen, Politics at Peking University

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, we return to our China roots with a show covering recent developments in the news including the recent terrorist attack in Beijing and political hiring-and-firing at Peking University. Joining Kaiser and Jeremy to talk about...

Books

10.31.13

The China Choice

Hugh White
China is rising. But how should the West—and the United States in particular—respond? This could be the key geopolitical question of the twenty-first century, according to strategic expert Hugh White, with huge implications for the future security and prosperity of the West as a whole. The China Choice confronts this fundamental question, considering the options for the Asian century ahead.As China’s economy grows to become the world’s largest, the U.S. has three choices: it can compete, share power, or concede leadership in Asia. The choice is momentous—as significant for the future as any the U.S. has ever faced. China is already more formidable than any country the U.S. has faced before—and if America does not want to find itself facing China as an enemy, it must accept it as an equal partner. Weighing the huge difficulties of accepting China as an equal with the immense cost and risks of making it an enemy, in the end the choice is simple, even if it is not easy. The U.S. simply must share power with China in Asia. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate.  —Oxford University Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

10.29.13

Chinese Literature in Translation

Jeremy Goldkorn, Linda Jaivin & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Sinica is delighted to be joined by Linda Jaivin and Alice Liu for a discussion on Chinese literature in translation. As many listeners will know, Linda is a long-standing force in the Chinese literary community and the author of many...

Books

10.28.13

In Line Behind a Billion People

Damien Ma, William Adams
Nearly everything you know about China is wrong! Yes, within a decade, China will have the world’s largest economy. But that is the least important thing to know about China. In this enlightening book, two of the world’s leading China experts turn the conventional wisdom on its head, showing why China’s economic growth will constrain rather than empower it. Pioneering political analyst Damien Ma and global economist Bill Adams reveal why, having thirty-five years of ferocious economic growth, China’s future will be shaped by the same fundamental reality that has shaped it for millennia: scarcity.{node, 4231}Ma and Adams drill deep into Chinese society, illuminating all the scarcities that will limit its power and progress. Beyond scarcities of natural resources and public goods, they illuminate China’s persistent poverties of individual freedoms, cultural appeal, and ideological legitimacy—and the corrosive loss of values and beliefs amongst a growing middle class shackled by a parochial and inflexible political system. Everyone knows “the 21st century is China’s to lose”—but, as with so many things that “everyone knows,” that’s just wrong. Ma and Adams get beyond cheerleading and fearmongering to tell the complex truth about China today. This is a truth you need to hear—whether you’re an investor, business decision-maker, policymaker, or citizen. —Pearson{chop}

Excerpts

10.28.13

Stark Choices for China’s Leaders

Damien Ma & William Adams
One Beijing morning in early November 2012, seven men in dark suits strode onto the stage of the Great Hall of the People. China’s newly elected Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping stood at the center of the ensemble, flanked on each...

Unhinged in China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In one of the central scenes in Jia Zhangke’s new film, a young man working in the southern Chinese manufacturing city of Dongguan goes to an ATM and finds that he’s broke. He’s just spent the past month betraying his friends and hopping from job to...

Books

10.24.13

The Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon

Liz Carter and Anonymous, Edited by Anne Henochowicz
Over the years, China Digital Times (CDT) has collected hundreds of words and turns of phrase invented by China’s citizens of the Internet, its “netizenry.” Playfully evading online censors, netizens have created a world of “grass-mud horses” and “river crabs,” forever locked in battle in the “Mahler Desert.” CDT’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon is a collection of politically-charged terms which represent netizen resistance discourse. This eBook includes a selection of “classic” terms which have endured beyond the events which generated them. They are arranged by category, and indices in alphabetical order by both English and pinyin are included. This is the netizen language you need to know to understand China’s Internet. —China Digital Times{chop} 

China: “Capitulate or Things Will Get Worse”

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
The massacre of protesters in Beijing on June 4, 1989, and the harsh repression during the months immediately following put China into a foul mood. Among ordinary Chinese, the prestige of the Communist Party, whose leaders had ordered the brutal...

Sinica Podcast

10.24.13

Innovation in China

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
In China, innovation has become one of those political buzzwords which—like harmony—seems to mean anything and everything to the Central Propaganda Department. So much so that we find it difficult to walk down the streets in Beijing now without...

Reports

10.22.13

The Long Shadow of Chinese Censorship

Sarah Cook
Center for International Media Assistance
This report provides a survey of the phenomenon of censorship and its recent evolution as it pertains to the news media sector, though similar dynamics also affect the film, literature, and performing arts industries. Specifically, this report...

Reports

10.22.13

CCTV’s International Expansion: China’s Grand Strategy for Media?

Anne Nelson
Center for International Media Assistance
China Central Television has come a long ways since its founding as a domestic party propaganda outlet in 1958. The domestic service has been supplemented by an international service, boasting three major global offices in Beijing, Washington, and...

Who’s Afraid of Chinese Money?

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
“China is what it is. We have to be here or nowhere.” Chancellor George Osborne, Britain’s second-highest official, was laying out the British government’s view last week, near the end of his trip aimed at selling Britain to Chinese companies...

Old Dreams for a New China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Ever since China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, first uttered the phrase “China Dream” last year, people in China and abroad have been scrambling to decipher its meaning. Many nations have “dreams”; in Canada, the country’s most prominent popular...

Sinica Podcast

10.11.13

Steven Schwankert and the HMS Poseidon

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
When the HMS Poseidon struck a Chinese freighter in the Gulf of Bohai in 1931, the collision sparked a devastating accident that would see the British submarine plunge to the ocean floor in mere minutes, claiming the lives of nearly half the crew,...

Reports

10.10.13

Congressional-Executive Commission on China: 2013 Annual Report

United States Congress
The Commission notes China’s lack of progress in guaranteeing Chinese citizens’ freedom of expression, assembly, and religion; restraining the power of the Chinese Communist Party; and establishing the rule of law under the new leadership of...

Books

10.02.13

The Tragedy of Liberation

Frank Dikötter
“The Chinese Communist party refers to its victory in 1949 as a ‘liberation.’ In China the story of liberation and the revolution that followed is not one of peace, liberty, and justice. It is first and foremost a story of calculated terror and systematic violence.” So begins Frank Dikötter’s stunning and revelatory chronicle of Mao Zedong’s ascension and campaign to transform the Chinese into what the party called New People. Following the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, after a bloody civil war, Mao hoisted the red flag over Beijing’s Forbidden City, and the world watched as the Communist revolution began to wash away the old order. Due to the secrecy surrounding the country’s records, little has been known before now about the eight years that followed, preceding the massive famine and Great Leap Forward. Drawing on hundreds of previously classified documents, secret police reports, unexpurgated versions of leadership speeches, eyewitness accounts of those who survived, and more, The Tragedy of Liberation bears witness to a shocking, largely untold history. Interweaving stories of ordinary citizens with tales of the brutal politics of Mao’s court, Frank Dikötter illuminates those who shaped the “liberation” and the horrific policies they implemented in the name of progress. People of all walks of life were caught up in the tragedy that unfolded, and whether or not they supported the revolution, all of them were asked to write confessions, denounce their friends, and answer queries about their political reliability. One victim of thought reform called it a “carefully cultivated Auschwitz of the mind.” Told with great narrative sweep, The Tragedy of Liberation is a powerful and important document giving voice at last to the millions who were lost, and casting new light on the foundations of one of the most powerful regimes of the twenty-first century.  —Bloomsbury Publishing {chop}

Reports

10.01.13

Oil Security and Conventional War: Lessons From a China-Taiwan Air Scenario

Rosemary A. Kelanic
Council on Foreign Relations
In the past, conventional militaries were plagued by wartime oil shortages that severely undermined their battlefield effectiveness. But could oil shortages threaten military effectiveness in a large-scale conventional conflict today or in the...

Reports

10.01.13

China’s Absorptive State

Kirsten Bound, Tom Saunders, James Wilsdon, Jonathan Adams
Nesta
A great deal of speculation surrounds China’s prospects in science and innovation, as with other aspects of China’s development and heightened visibility on the global stage. The same pitfalls—of hype, generalization, and only partial awareness of...

Reports

09.30.13

Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development

Anthony H. Cordesman, Ashley Hess, and Nicholas S. Yarosh
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
China’s military development has become a key focus of U.S. security policy as well as that of virtually all Asia-Pacific states. This report from the CSIS Burke Chair in Strategy examines trends in Chinese strategy, military spending, and military...

Sinica Podcast

09.27.13

Laszlo Montgomery and the China History Podcast

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
The broken chopstick fell to our studio floor, its shaft splintered beyond repair where Laszlo had snapped it between his fingers. “Alone we are weak,” he looked Jeremy and Kaiser in the eyes while those of us outside the studio wondered faintly who...

Books

09.25.13

Forgotten Ally

Rana Mitter
For decades, a major piece of World War II history has gone virtually unwritten. The war began in China, two years before Hitler invaded Poland, and China eventually became the fourth great ally, partner to the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. Yet its drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue remains little known in the West.Rana Mitter focuses his gripping narrative on three towering leaders: Chiang Kai-shek, the politically gifted but tragically flawed head of China’s Nationalist government; Mao Zedong, the Communists’ fiery ideological stalwart, seen here at the beginning of his epochal career; and the lesser-known Wang Jingwei, who collaborated with the Japanese to form a puppet state in occupied China. Drawing on Chinese archives that have only been unsealed in the past ten years, he brings to vivid new life such characters as Chiang’s American chief of staff, the unforgettable “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, and such horrific events as the Rape of Nanking and the bombing of China’s wartime capital, Chongqing. Throughout, Forgotten Ally shows how the Chinese people played an essential role in the wider war effort, at great political and personal sacrifice.Forgotten Ally rewrites the entire history of World War II. Yet it also offers surprising insights into contemporary China. No twentieth-century event was as crucial in shaping China’s worldview, and no one can understand China, and its relationship with America today, without this definitive work.—Houghton Mifflin Harcourt {chop}

Sinica Podcast

09.20.13

Chinese Twitter and the Big-V Takedown

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Joining Kaiser and Jeremy this week are David Wertime and Rachel Lu from Tea Leaf Nation, along with Paul Mozur from The Wall Street Journal. And our topic? None other than the firestorm that has engulfed Sina Weibo following China’s effective...

Sinica Podcast

09.13.13

Petroleum and Purges

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
The Beijing rumor-mill is back on overdrive. With the trial of Bo Xilai only barely concluded and the country now openly speculating on the length of the disgraced politician’s likely sentence, factional battles targeting Bo’s remaining supporters...

Books

09.12.13

Blocked on Weibo

Jason Q. Ng
Though often described with foreboding buzzwords such as “The Great Firewall” and the “censorship regime,” Internet regulation in China is rarely either obvious or straightforward. This was the  inspiration for China specialist Jason Q. Ng to write an innovative computer script that would make it possible to deduce just which  terms are  suppressed on  China’s most important social media site, Sina Weibo. The  remarkable and groundbreaking result is Blocked on Weibo, which began as a highly  praised blog and has been expanded here  to list over 150 forbidden keywords, as well as offer possible explanations why the Chinese government would find these terms sensitive.As Ng explains, Weibo (roughly the equivalent of Twitter), with over 500 million registered accounts, censors hundreds of words and phrases, ranging from fairly obvious terms, including “tank” (a reference to the “Tank Man” who stared down the Chinese army in Tiananmen Square) and  the names of top government officials (if they can’t be found online, they can’t be criticized), to deeply obscure references, including “hairy bacon” (a coded insult referring to Mao’s embalmed body).With dozens of phrases that could get a Chinese Internet user invited  to the  local  police station “for a cup of tea” (a euphemism for being detained by the  authorities), Blocked  on Weibo offers an invaluable guide to sensitive topics in modern-day China as well as a fascinating tour of recent Chinese history.  —The New Press{chop}

Reports

09.10.13

Threading the Needle: Proposals for U.S. and Chinese Actions on Arms Sales to Taiwan

Piin-Fen Kok and David J. Firestein
EastWest Institute
The sale of U.S. arms to Taiwan has been an enduring source of friction between the United States and China. To China, Taiwan is a “core” interest. Though the United States publicly committed itself, through the August 17, 1982 Joint Communique with...

Sinica Podcast

09.06.13

A Goodbye to the Magistad

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Can it have been merely a few weeks ago that we sequestered Evan “The Turncoat” Osnos in our studio and grilled the celebrated writer on his decision to leave China for what must have myopically seemed like greener pastures? At the time, we intended...

Reports

09.04.13

How to Make China More Honest

Derek Scissors
The Heritage Foundation
Official Chinese economic statistics, from unemployment to arable land, are controlled by the Communist Party and therefore cannot be trusted. The prevailing American and global view of China as a rising, if presently troubled, economic superpower...

Books

09.03.13

China Across the Divide

Rosemary Foot (Editor)
Understanding China’s world role has become one of the crucial intellectual challenges of the 21st century. This book explores this topic through the adoption of three conceptual approaches that help to uncover some of the key complex and simultaneous interactions between the global and domestic forces that determine China’s external behavior. A central assumption of this study is that it is unhelpful to treat the global and domestic levels as separate categories of analysis and that the study of China can be enriched by a recognition of the interpenetrated nature of the domestic and international spheres.The first section of the book concentrates on the role of ideas. It examines Chinese conceptions, at both the elite and mass levels, of the country’s status and role in global politics, and how these conceptions can influence and frame policies. The second section provides evidence of Chinese societal involvement in transnational processes that are simultaneously transforming China as well as other parts of the world, often in unintended ways. The third section assesses the impact of globalization on China in issue areas that are central to global order, and outlines the domestic responses—from resistance to embrace—that it generates. This study adopts a multidisciplinary approach involving scholars in international relations, history, social anthropology, and area studies. It offers a sophisticated understanding of Chinese thought and behavior and illustrates the impact that China’s re-emergence is having on 21st century global order.  —Oxford University Press {chop}

Sinica Podcast

08.30.13

The Trial of the Century

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
The spectacular trial of Bo Xilai seized the media’s attention last week as the fallen politburo member—still widely admired in Chongqing and Dalian and heavily connected among the Party elite—defended himself with unexpected vigor against charges...

Books

08.27.13

Ancestral Intelligence

Vera Schwarcz
In Ancestral Intelligence, Vera Schwarcz has added a forceful and fascinating work to her ever-growing list of publications depicting the cultural landscape of contemporary China. Here, she has created stunning “renditions” of poems by a mid-20th century dissident poet, Chen Yinke, and has added a group of her own poems in harmony with Chen Yinke’s. Like his, her poems show a degradation of culture and humanity, in this case through comparison of classic and modern Chinese logographs.  —Antrim House {chop}

Reports

08.27.13

China National Human Development Report 2013

United Nations
China had more urban than rural residents for the first time in 2011. The urbanization rate reached 52.6 percent in 2012, a major milestone with significant implications. In the midst of this urban transformation, China’s leaders have increasingly...

China: When the Cats Rule

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In the Northwest corner of Beijing’s old city is a subway and bus workshop. It was built in the early seventies on the site of the Lake of Great Peace, which was filled in as part of a plan to extend the city’s subway system. In the bigger picture...

Sinica Podcast

08.23.13

Turning the Tables on Sinica

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week sets a new record for introspective profanity as we reverse our usual format, in a show that features David Moser and Mary Kay Magistad turning the tables on Jeremy Goldkorn and Kaiser Kuo with an interview that explores how both view...

Chad Pushes Back Against China’s National Oil Company

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
The Chadian government shut most or all oil operations run by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) over allegations of an oil spill, poor worker safety, and violations of other environmental regulations. CNPC, not surprisingly, denied the...

Sinica Podcast

08.16.13

David Moser Interviews Mark Rowswell

David Moser & Mark Rowswell from Sinica Podcast
If you are a long-timer in China, this is a show that needs no introduction. One of the most famous foreigners in China, Mark Rowswell (a.k.a. Dashan), shot to fame in the early 1990s after a fortuitous break on Chinese television. In this live...

The Man Who Got It Right

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
1.Near the beginning of Simon Leys’ marvelous collection of essays is an odd polemic between the author and the late Christopher Hitchens, fought out in these very pages. Leys takes Hitchens to task for attacking Mother Teresa in a book entitled The...

Sinica Podcast

08.09.13

Alison Friedman on China and the Arts

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
The last ten years have seen a genuine transformation in China’s arts world, as a large sector that used to be dependent almost exclusively on government funding has been downsized into the maelstrom of the market, leaving survivors to navigate not...

Books

08.05.13

China Threat?

Lionel Vairon
From the long-term threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and China, to the disappearance of the African elephant due to Chinese demand for ivory, each week brings a new round of critique and denunciation of the risks China poses to the stability of the entire planet. While critics raise a certain number of fundamental questions that bear asking about this nascent superpower, the answers put forth are usually based on ideological or economic considerations. Lionel Vairon systematically challenges these views in this first English language edition of China Threat?With an incisive review of China’s economic strategy, deployment of resources, national defence, political reform, ethnicity and religion, terrorism, and developments in human rights, Vairon amply demonstrates that China poses no threat to the world. On the contrary, China Threat? shows that China’s peaceful rise should be a matter of positive news across the globe.  —CN Times Books {chop}

Sinica Podcast

08.02.13

Shop Talk with Phonemica

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Feeling crowded out by all the laowai speaking putonghua these days? Fortunately for the more adventurous among us, China has no shortage of other dialects, which is why we are delighted to host the creators of Phonemica, a crowd-sourced project to...

Reports

08.01.13

Recharging China’s Electric Vehicle Policy

Wang Tao
Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Electric vehicles offer China an opportunity to reduce its reliance on foreign oil, improve air quality by curbing emissions from the burgeoning transportation sector, and enjoy the future economic benefits of being a global pioneer in an emerging...

Books

07.31.13

Pacific Crossing

Elizabeth Sinn
During the nineteenth century, tens of thousands of Chinese men and women crossed the Pacific to work, trade, and settle in California. Drawn by the gold rush, they brought with them skills and goods and a view of the world that, though still Chinese, was transformed by their long journeys back and forth. They in turn transformed Hong Kong, their main point of embarkation, from a struggling, infant colony into a prosperous, international port and the cultural center of a far-ranging Chinese diaspora.Making use of extensive research in archives around the world, Pacific Crossing charts the rise of Chinese Gold Mountain firms engaged in all kinds of trans-Pacific trade, especially the lucrative export of prepared opium and other luxury goods. Challenging the traditional view that this migration was primarily a “coolie trade,” Elizabeth Sinn uncovers leadership and agency among the many Chinese who made the crossing. In presenting Hong Kong as an “in-between place” of repeated journeys and continuous movement, Sinn also offers a fresh view of the British colony and a new paradigm for migration studies.   —Hong Kong University Press {chop}

Sinica Podcast

07.26.13

The Strange History of Pasta in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
After almost three years of podcasting, this week on Sinica we bow to the inevitable with a show about Chinese cuisine, and in particular the strange history of pasta in China. Joining us for this journey is Jen Lin-Liu, author of On the Noodle Road...

Books

07.25.13

On the Noodle Road

Jen Lin-Liu
Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, Jen Lin-Liu was struck by culinary echoes of the delicacies she ate and cooked back in China, where she’d lived for more than a decade. Who really invented the noodle? she wondered, like many before her. But also: How had food and culture moved along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route linking Asia to Europe—and what could still be felt of those long-ago migrations? With her new husband’s blessing, she set out to discover the connections, both historical and personal, eating a path through western China and on into Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, and across the Mediterranean.The journey takes Lin-Liu into the private kitchens where the headscarves come off and women not only knead and simmer but also confess and confide. The thin rounds of dough stuffed with meat that are dumplings in Beijing evolve into manti in Turkey—their tiny size the measure of a bride’s worth—and end as tortellini in Italy. And as she stirs and samples, listening to the women talk about their lives and longings, Lin-Liu gains a new appreciation of her own marriage, learning to savor the sweetness of love freely chosen. —Riverhead Books{node, 3722, 4}