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Sinica Podcast

A weekly discussion of current affairs in China with journalists, writers, academics, policy makers, business people and anyone with something compelling to say about the country that's reshaping the world. A SupChina production, hosted by Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn.
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Now displaying: May, 2010
May 28, 2010

Is the "Western media" biased in its reporting about China? What are the frames and narratives that inform the Anglophone media's understanding of the county, and what are the misunderstandings about the "Western media" that lead Chinese people into believing Western reporting is more biased than it is?

This week, Tania Branigan from the Guardian, Jeremy Goldkorn from Danwei and serial China entrepreneur Bill Bishop join host Kaiser Kuo in a discussion of this perennial topic. And lest you mistakenly believe that it's only the Western media writing critical stories on China, we discuss the state of investigative reporting in China, focusing on a recent piece by Tania in The Guardian about China's best-known investigative journalist, Wang Keqin.

May 21, 2010

Videos of lectures by Tengfei Yuan, a history teacher in a middle school in Beijing, recently went viral on the internet. While his charismatic and humorous teaching style attracts public attention and fans, his bold criticisms on Mao make him highly controversial among Chinese netizens. The surprising rise of this outspoken teacher sets off by contrast the self-censoring phenomenon that has taken root among the foreign community in China. How has one of the fiercest critics of Mao's legacy emerged within the confines of China's own educational system? Why is one Chinese teacher going where most foreigners fear to tread, and what does this mean for foreigners working and living in China?

This episode is a conversation with Sinica regular Gady Epstein, Beijing bureau chief for Forbes magazine, and a first time guest David Moser, translator, essayist, and Sinologist, who is currently working as the Academic Director for CET Beijing. Along with Sinica hosts Jeremy and Kaiser, these guests share their opinions on the level of “civility” as foreigners and their experience of self-censoring while working in Beijing. Gady also discusses the main concepts of the upcoming book the Party: the Secret World of China's Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor and a piece about the book Gady is working up for Forbes.

References:

After Four Decades, Apologies are Coming Forth, Xujun Eberlein

Changing the Subject: How the Chinese Government Controls Television, by Ann Condi

Censors Without Border, by Emily Parker

China's Private Party, by Richard McGregor

May 15, 2010

Despite efforts to downplay the story in the face of the Shanghai Expo, news of a recent wave of copycat killings has spread quickly through China, driven in part by the surprising revelation that many of the killers have been middle-aged and apparently well-educated men. Online, some netizens have blamed the government, which in turn blames social contradictions. Writing for The Telegraph, Malcolm Moore summarizes these attacks as a “turning point” created by alienation engendered over the last twenty years of China’s industrialization. Where does the truth lie? 

With Kaiser Kuo out of the country, Jeremy Goldkorn of Danwei takes up hosting duties this week, joined by Sinica regular Gady Epstein, Beijing bureau chief for Forbes magazine, and China public relations expert Will Moss, whom you may know as author of the popular blog Imagethief. Qin Liwen, a Chinese author and bookstore owner in Beijing who has written about these killings in the domestic media, also joins Jeremy as a guest in the studio.

May 7, 2010

Sponsored by the government organization Hanban, the Confucius Institute has been successfully promoting the learning of Chinese Language internationally. However, it recently inspired a lot of resistance, especially in the San Gabriel Valley, where an editorial in a local paper decried that the Chinese Communist Party is sending Chinese teachers to spread Communist ideology. Is the Confucius Institute a cultural exchange platform or an aggressive arm of Chinese foreign policy?

Some of China’s major news agencies are busy expanding their English-language satellite news networks. For example, CCTV has recently invested six billion dollars in its international satellite news network and has established bureaus all over the U.S. But who is the audience of this media expansion?

As one of the biggest plays for soft power that China has ever staged, the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was intended to showcase Chinese culture and innovation. However, was it as inspiring in the view of Western core values as Chinese media had praised, or was it more imposing and intimidating? Shanghai EXPO just opened after billions of dollars have been devoted to it by the Chinese government, but do people outside China really care?

In this week’s podcast, Kaiser and Jeremy discuss different facets of the grand Chinese soft power push as an effort to win the world through attraction rather than coercion. Is Beijing’s global soft power charm bearing fruits? Is China making or breaking its public image? Why has Chinese culture not made meaningful impacts on the West? In what ways is China still deficient that would make for real attractiveness? 

Joining our podcast this week are Gady Epstein, Beijing bureau chief for Forbes magazine, and Evan Osnos, Beijing-based staff writer for the New Yorker and part-time enforcer in Kaiser's outlaw e-biker gang. We are also proud to have extra commentary from Adam Minter, an American writer in Shanghai who brings us stories from his first-hand encounter with the 2010 Expo.

May 1, 2010

Huang Guangyu, the founder of home electronics chain GOME, was China’s richest man, with a fortune of over 6 billion dollars in 2006, according to Forbes. However, the multi-billionaire was detained in November 2008 on suspicion of bribery, insider trading, and money laundering. The dragnet in the investigation leading up to the trial has already widened, and has implicated a number of high-ranking cadres in the Ministry of Public Security's white-collar crimes division. Is Huang’s case a warning to the Chinese emerging wealthy class? What does Huang's trial mean for rule of law in China? 

Whether they own property or not, there is nothing that people across China are talking about more than real estate prices. Property prices in 70 cities in China rose by a whopping 11.7% just in March 2010. Records show that new real estate loans grew to over 1.4 trillion dollars in 2009. People all over China talk about the phenomenon of “house slave” — people who are enslaved to their mortgage, and working only to pay off their homes. What dilemma does China face over the soaring property prices? In the mean time, Beijing issues sharp new policies to curb speculation. Do the government's actions portend the collapse of the real estate bubble?

Joining host Kaiser Kuo this week are Gady Epstein, Beijing bureau chief for Forbes magazine, and Sinica regulars Bill Bishop and Will Moss. Bill is a tech entrepreneur in Beijing who blogs regularly on politics and economic issues at Sinocism.com. Will is a public relations expert in China and the force behind the popular imagethief.com.

References:

The Curse of Forbes, by Gady Epstein

Rule of Law Implications of Huang Guangyu Trial?, by Stan Abrams 

How China's Property Bubble Works, by Andy Xie

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