Joan Kaufman is a fascinating figure: Her long and storied career in China started in the early 1980s, when she was what she calls a “cappuccino-and-croissant socialist from Berkeley.” Today, she is the director for academics at the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University and a lecturer in the department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Joan shares some stories about her time in China at organizations like the United Nations Population Fund and the Ford Foundation, including a visit to a condom factory in the 80s. She discusses the newest developments in the China educational and non-governmental organization (NGO) sectors after the adoption in 2016 of new laws regulating foreign NGOs, and the realities of working on the ground with NGOs in China. We also talk about current trends in China’s openness to U.S.-China academic partnerships, and questions of censorship at the China campuses of U.S. universities.
Jeremy: Kishore Mahbubani, former senior diplomat and dean at the Practice of Public Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, usually has an interesting perspective on China’s relationship with the rest of the world, particularly on the U.S.-China relationship. Check out his article in the Huffington Post: “It’s a problem that America is still unable to admit it will become #2 to China.”
Joan: China File’s new China NGO Project, recently launched on June 7. The website has five sections, including the latest updates, laws, and regulations, and other resources to help NGOs understand the ins and outs of operating in China under the new NGO law.
Kaiser: The Hi-Phi Nation podcast produced by Vassar College philosophy professor Barry Lam uses investigative journalism techniques to look at real-world events through a philosophical lens, all while weaving in creative narrative storytelling and sound design.
Lyle Goldstein, an associate professor and strategic researcher at the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute, is an expert on Chinese and Russian security strategies. He is also an insightful commentator on what is going on behind the scenes with North Korea. Soon after the North Korean test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4, Kaiser and Jeremy sat down with him in New York City to discuss what strategic options remain for China and other players in the region.
Regular listeners of Sinica will remember Lyle from his previous appearance on the show last year, when he applied his unconventional thinking to territory disputes in the South China Sea.
Jeremy: Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York — a good place for a surfer (such as himself) to catch a break.
Lyle: No Exit: North Korea, Nuclear Weapons and International Security, by Jonathan D. Pollack of the Brookings Institute, which chronicles the modern history and development of the Korean Peninsula. No Exit contextualizes the United States’ contested relationship with North Korea today, as well as Russia and China’s increasingly complex role in it.
Kaiser: Three recommendations: The music of jazz ensemble Snarky Puppy — check out their fantastic YouTube channel. The music of Andy Timmons, a kind of hair metal guitarist. And The Aristocrats, a rock trio led by one of the best living guitarists, Guthrie Govan.
Tom Miller, senior Asia analyst and managing editor at Gavekal Research, joins Jeremy and Kaiser to discuss his new book, China’s Asian Dream: Empire Building Along the New Silk Road. Miller combines policy analysis with his on-the-ground reporting from over a dozen countries to better understand China’s most ambitious foreign policy move since the “reform and opening up” that started in 1978: Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative.
With its substantial financial backing and global reach, the Belt and Road Initiative has the potential to reshape the international order and accelerate China’s development as a world leader. Miller brings clarity to the vast and seemingly undefinable policy, detailing China’s desire to create “a network of interdependence,” hone in on issues of national security, and use international development to bolster the country’s growth.
Jeremy: Ear to Asia, a podcast by the Asia Institute of the University of Melbourne, features academics who examine an array of topics about Asia. In one episode, Chinese literature specialist Anne McLaren discusses her research into the folk ecology of the Lower Yangtze Delta, particularly the rhythmic song cycles sung by workers there.
Tom: Guo Xiaolu’s 郭小橹 memoir, Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China, depicts the author’s difficult beginnings growing up in a poor fishing village on the East China Sea, her later navigation of modern China at the Beijing Film Academy as a young woman, and her outsider’s perspective on London, where she now resides. Her other novel, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, is also worth a read.
Kaiser: Väsen is a Swedish folk trio that plays a viola, a 12-string guitar, and and a nyckelharpa (a “keyed fiddle”). It brings together rock, jazz, and classical influences to discover a modern sound rooted in Swedish tradition.
Professor Jerome A. Cohen began studying the law of what was then called “Red China” in the early 1960s, at a time when the country was closed off, little understood, and much maligned in the West.
Legal institutions were just developing in that time and, under the rule of Mao Zedong, were liable to dramatically change every three to seven years, Jerry says. After 12 years of persistence, he was finally able to visit the elusive country, and quickly became a pioneering Western scholar of China’s legal system. To read more about Jerry’s highly unusual decision to study Chinese law way back in 1960, see the first chapter of his memoir here.
He later practiced law for 20 years, representing companies and individuals that had disputes to settle or contracts to negotiate in China, and retired from a partnership of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in 2000. Jerry is now a professor of law at New York University, where he teaches courses on Chinese law, society, Confucianism, and international business contracts.
Jerry sat down with Jeremy and Kaiser at the China Institute in New York on May 17, 2017, to discuss his long and distinguished career, to comment on China’s legal development and the state of rule of law in China, and to talk about his relationship with Chen Guangcheng, the blind self-taught lawyer who left China in 2012 with Jerry’s help — only to find himself used by conservative ideologues in the U.S.
Jerry: A recommendation that we have an administration in Washington that would do more to endorse the rule of law. One of the least-noticed sins of the current administration is its refusal to do this, specifically in relation to China.
Kaiser: The South China Morning Post’s excellent explainer on five projects of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.