In this episode of the Sinica Podcast, taped live at the US-China Strong Foundation’s China Careers Summit in Washington, D.C., on May 31, Kaiser talks to former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs Kurt Campbell about his career, his critique of engagement, and the fascinating events that happened on his watch — including the extrication of blind activist lawyer Chen Guangcheng and the attempted defection of Bo Xilai’s former police chief in Chongqing, Wang Lijun.
Kurt: Darkest Hour, a movie about Winston Churchill in the early 1940s that shows what is possible even in our darkest moments. Additionally, Kurt recommends The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a book by Richard Flanagan about an Australian POW’s experiences during World War II.
Kaiser: Road to Unfreedom, a book by Timothy Snyder about the developments in Putin’s Russia and their implications for democracy and law across Europe, the United States, and other regions.
This week’s show was recorded in Prague, where major developments in the continuing saga of a mysterious Chinese company called CEFC, with deep ties to the Czech president, Milos Zeman, unfolded during a recent visit by Kaiser. He spoke with Martin Hála of Charles University in Prague about the rise and fall of CEFC, and what this means not only for China’s efforts to expand its presence in Central and Eastern Europe, but also for China’s Belt and Road Initiative more broadly.
Martin: An investigative journalistic piece on CEFC by Andrew Chubb.
Kaiser: An Atlantic article on the class divide in America by Matthew Stewart, titled “The birth of the new American aristocracy,” and one in The American Interest by Damir Marusic, titled “The dangers of democratic determinism.”
This week’s Sinica Podcast features Andrew Chubb, a fellow at the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program. Andrew writes extensively on Chinese foreign policy, especially on topics related to maritime disputes in the South and East China seas, Chinese nationalism, and Chinese public opinion. Kaiser and Jeremy chat with Andrew the question of how popular nationalism in China shapes the country’s maritime behavior, and why its impact on policy is not as large as you may think. The discussion on China’s maritime activity involves disputes with Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, showing the increasingly sophisticated methods China must take to influence public opinion as it gains international recognition.
Andrew: NüVoices, a website that celebrates and supports China-related work done by women. It has a directory of nearly 500 female China experts, making it a great resource for event organizers and China enthusiasts alike. In addition to checking out the website, you can also listen to a Sinica podcast featuring the founder of Nüvoices, Joanna Chiu.
Jeremy: Plantnet, an app that uses AI to identify plant species from photographs. After you have successfully identified your plant, you can then upload your photo to help improve the service’s recognition abilities.
Kaiser: The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It, a book by Yascha Mounk on the recent surge of populist uprisings. It examines the contradiction between democratic liberalism and illiberal democracy, and describes the action needed to save democracy in an age of political distrust.
In this week’s episode of Sinica, Kaiser chats with Bonnie Glaser in a crossover show that will appear both on Sinica and on the ChinaPower Podcast from CSIS, the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Bonnie is a well-known specialist on China’s security issues, and this week, we tour several locations where the Chinese military has evolving plans: the Korean Peninsula, Japan, the South China Sea, and Taiwan.
Bonnie: Two books that examine how China’s history influences its current push for global power: Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power, a book by Howard French, and The China Order: Centralia, World Empire, and the Nature of Chinese Power, by Wang Fei-ling. Bonnie says that the latter is a more academic book with amazing sourcing from Chinese documents, and the two books provide phenomenal knowledge on China’s historical relations with its neighbors when paired together.
Kaiser: Chinese Characters, a podcast series on BBC Radio 4 by Rana Mitter, which explores the lives of people who were significant or emblematic throughout Chinese history. Notable personalities include Deng Xiaoping, Empress Wu Zetian, and China’s factory girls.