This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy chat with Jude Blanchette, the Senior Advisor and China Practice Lead at Crumpton Group's China Practice. We pick his brain on the rumors swirling around Beijing this summer, about public criticisms of Xi’s leadership, about the lack of any real succession plan in the eventuality that Xi is somehow incapacitated or steps down, and an emerging political science literature on authoritarianism.
Jude has also discussed Chinese politics on Sinica on three other occasions in the past two years: Neo-Maoists: Everything old is new again; Nationalism in Russia and China; Takeaways from China’s 19th Party Congress.
Jeremy: War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence, by Ronan Farrow.
Jude: The Youtube channel “Epic rap battles of history,” particularly their 2013 video on “Rasputin vs Stalin” — Jude calls it “a great way to learn about how closed political systems work through OK rap.”
Kaiser: Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.
This week, Kaiser chats with Paul Haenle, who is the Maurice R. Greenberg Director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, and previously served on the National Security Council as a staffer under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Their conversation — which runs the gamut from North Korea to Taiwan to the Belt and Road — was recorded live at Schwarzman College in Beijing on September 6.
Paul: The China in the World podcast, which he hosts, and which recently published its 100th episode. The work of Tong Zhao, a North Korea scholar at the Carnegie-Tsinghua. “Singapore Sham,” a highly critical article by Jessica Matthews about the Trump-Kim summit. And The Impossible State, a podcast about North Korea by four experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Kaiser: Listennotes.com, where you can find topics and people in podcasts all neatly sorted and searchable.
This week, Kaiser and Jeremy chat with Andrew Small, senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, D.C. Andrew is one of surprisingly few scholars with specialized experience researching China's relations with what it calls its "all-weather friend" — Pakistan. His book from 2015 on the subject is titled The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia's New Geopolitics.
Kaiser, Jeremy, and Andrew discuss how Sino-Pakistani ties have been impacted by the recent election of Imran Khan to prime minister, Pakistan's economic difficulties, and the numerous projects that comprise the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC – one of the most important components of China's Belt and Road Initiative.
Jeremy: What3Words, a startup that has divided the entire world into a grid of 57 trillion squares, each of them three meters by three meters (9.8 feet), and assigned each square a three-word address, generated randomly by computer. Improving.shrimps.legal, for instance, is located just south of the Chairman Mao portrait at Tiananmen in Beijing. Read more about the system and its implications for developing countries and China on SupChina.
Andrew: Two alternative views on how an economic “decoupling” of the U.S. and China could happen, other than the tariff-driven trade war path currently being taken. First, “Trump thinks a trade war with China is the only option, but it’s not,” a piece by Dan Rosen in Foreign Affairs, and second, “Jennifer Hillman testifies on addressing Chinese market distortions,” where the Georgetown Law professor lays out before the U.S. Senate in early June how litigation could be brought before the World Trade Organization to address grievances against China.
Kaiser: Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, by Eric Schlosser.
This week on Sinica, Jeremy and Kaiser chat with Jackson Miller, a master’s candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School’s public policy program. Jackson’s research of illegal trade in Malagasy hardwood led him to discover the bizarre story of Gao Jose Ramaherison — an unemployed man from Liaoning, China, who parlayed his kung-fu skills into political prominence in Madagascar.
Jeremy: Recommends that everyone should visit Madagascar, especially for its beautiful and diverse natural environment. He recommends Ile Sainte Marie, an island off the east coast of Madagascar. Jeremy also recommends visiting a bunch of islands near Madagascar before they are all underwater: Comoro Islands, to the northwest of Madagascar, along with Mauritius and the Seychelles.
Jeremy also likes the weird Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch and his painting The Garden of Earthly Delights. The Twitter account @artistbosch highlights particular parts of this and other paintings by Bosch in bite-sized pieces.
Jackson: Joe Studwell’s Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Also, the Quartz Africa Weekly Brief, a fantastic weekly newsletter that gives you a rundown of the big stories from all across Africa every Sunday morning, as well as a schedule of events for tech conferences and more, plus music recommendations.
Kaiser: Recommends taking up a new instrument in middle age. With Youtube, there’s no shortage of convenient ways to learn the basics — Kaiser picked up a used drum kit and has been bashing away at it for a while now.