Info

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.
RSS Feed
2019
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2015
December
November
October
July
April
March


2014
September


2013
August


2012
June


2011
November
August


2010
June
May
April


All Episodes
Archives
Now displaying: December, 2018
Dec 20, 2018

Jude Blanchette, the Senior Advisor and China Practice Lead at Crumpton Group’s China Practice, joins Kaiser and Jeremy for a live Sinica Podcast recording at Columbia University. Forty years after the policies of reform and opening up were adopted by the Communist Party of China, the three reflect on just how much the country has changed since 1978, and also restore figures like Zhào Zǐyáng 赵紫阳 and Hú Yàobāng 胡耀邦 to their proper place in the story of reform. Jude also talks about the conservative reaction to reform — the topic of his forthcoming book, Under the Red Flag: The Battle for the Soul of the Communist Party in a Reforming China.

What to listen for on this week’s Sinica Podcast:

21:36: Jude discusses the roles of Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang in the context of reform in China: “I don’t know what any of you were doing when you were twelve, but [Hu Yaobang] joined his first revolution when he was twelve and ran away from home and joined the Communist Party when he was fourteen, and was one of the youngest members on the famed Long March.”

23:59: Zhao Ziyang’s central role as a reformer was often viewed as radical by many conservatives within the Party, particularly during his brief tenure as General Secretary after the ousting of Hu Yaobang. In 1987 he pushed for separation of the Party and the government (党政分开 dǎngzhèng fēnkāi), which was ultimately unsuccessful. “The Party is the owner of the restaurant, it can decide what’s on the menu, but the government is the chef in the back kitchen. It’s the one that is going to be actually making the dishes, we need to give them that latitude and leeway to do that.”

31:52: As China transitioned away from a reserved foreign policy of ‘hide and bide’ (韬光养晦 tāoguāng yǎnghuì) in the 1990s to more assertive approach of fènfā yǒuwéi (奋发有为). Jude elaborates on the transformation: “There’s also just the natural transition of a developing country to one becoming increasingly strong and articulating its own goals which diverge from that of the United States or other client states… we’re seeing now the full force of it coming out under Xi Jinping today. But I think the casting off of hide and bide, even as a cynical strategy we can see in retrospect was a catastrophic mistake by Xi Jinping.”

1:02:31: In the past few years, Deng Xiaoping has been written out of the history of Reform and Opening. Jude speculates on why: “As long as Deng Xiaoping and his legacy is around, that’s a cudgel that opponents can pick up… the more you allow the speeches of Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang and Deng Xiaoping… speeches from Zhao Ziyang on political reform, speeches from Deng Xiaoping on separating the Party and the government. Basically, just Deng Xiaoping on [not having] a cult of leadership and how disastrous that is. Those are political weapons, so, clear them all away, get rid of them, burn the books.”

Recommendations:

Jude: Free Solo, a documentary of the climber Alex Honnold and his no-ropes climb up the 3,000-foot rock face of El Capitan.

Kaiser: These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore, a historiographical account of the American experiment beginning in 1492.

Jeremy: One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps by Andrea Pitzer.

----

From now until January 14, get a year of SupChina Access at 25% off for just $66!

Dec 13, 2018

This week on the Sinica Podcast, Jeremy and Kaiser are joined by Benjamin Shobert, who visited the Sinica South studio in Durham, North Carolina, for this episode. He is a senior manager at Healthcare NExT, a healthcare initiative of Microsoft, and leads strategy with national governments. The topic of discussion is his compelling book, Blaming China: It Might Feel Good but It Won’t Fix America’s Economy. The three discuss the taxonomy of dragon slayers and panda huggers, and some realities with which the world is now grappling: the rise of China, outcomes of globalization, the watershed moment of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the impact it has had — and will continue to have — on the bilateral relationship between the United States and China.

What to listen for on this week’s Sinica Podcast:

13:06: Ben talks about how, in 2016, traditional messaging by American politicians on the campaign trail in regard to China changed significantly: “...and to see [Mitt Romney] in the Rust Belt states talking quite vociferously about China as a near-peer threat and the source of economic anxieties…that was a signal.”

21:39: Ben explains the outsize role that the American Midwest has played in shaping the modern U.S.-China relationship: “Geographically, literally in parts of the American Midwest that matter to where this relationship goes, where there’s a realization that ‘China is not going to look like the way we thought, and I don’t know if we’re comfortable with that.’”

35:54: Ben reflects on the compatibility of views between “panda huggers” and “dragon slayers.” Is there any common ground between the two? “It’s almost as if this is a board game, and it’s not actual people making hard decisions in the context of different political systems, different cultures, different histories, and again the subtext for me in all of this is the United States during this modern global era has not been tending to its own knitting.”

37:24: “This is one of those conversations where if you get six people of both political persuasions in the same room, you’ll get more or less six people that agree: we need to invest more in infrastructure, we need to invest in healthcare and social spending, and yet, at the end of the day we didn’t do that. So we’re talking about China from this point of view of just extraordinary insecurity. Again, how much of that is because of what China has done? How much of that is because of things we haven’t?”

Recommendations:

Jeremy: Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America, by Beth Macy, a nonfiction book that charts the opioid crisis in the United States.

Ben: Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town, by Brian Alexander, a story of Lancaster, Ohio, and the upheavals globalization brought to the community

Kaiser: Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age, by Stephen R. Platt, plus its (exceptional) audiobook narration by Mark Deakens.

Dec 6, 2018

This week on Sinica, Kaiser speaks with Charles Bedford, who has been the managing director since 2012 of The Nature Conservancy (TNC)’s Asia-Pacific region, which encompasses Asia, the Pacific Islands, Indonesia, and Australia. The organization focuses on solving incredibly pressing and paramount issues central to the health of our planet. TNC is a charitable environmental organization that focuses on bringing the “best available science” to decision makers in all levels of government and local communities both inside and outside of the United States.

In this episode, Kaiser and Charles discuss the formation of the national parks system in China beginning nearly two decades ago in which Charles and TNC played an instrumental role; the promising Chinese ecotourism industry; hydropower in China; “sponge cities” and “green bonds”; environmental activism and philanthropy; and local Chinese environmental organizations.

What to listen for on this week’s Sinica Podcast:

12:30: Charles on responsibly developing hydropower projects in Southeast Asia: “The problem with the way that we have developed the world’s rivers is that we’ve done it through a death of a thousand cuts. In a sense that if you do these things bit by bit and without looking at entire river systems, then you can essentially destroy the ecological diversity, the function of the river for people, the ability of the river to produce food, to produce silts that are nutritional for agricultural production.”

25:50: Kaiser and Charles discuss sponge cities: “What China’s done over the last few years is taken a pretty remarkable step to rebuild its city infrastructure across the whole country. This is a massive, national ‘sponge city’ program to go back in and figure out how to de-hardscape and put in bioswales [drainage receptacles].”  

31:21: Does China get too much credit or too much blame on the environmental front? “The preponderance, I’m told, of civil disturbances, riots essentially, in China, are resulting from pollution. [They] derive from some type of local pollution or land use problem with the government. So China is not necessarily a democratic place where issues can turf themselves up and go through a political process, but there’s still an outlet for people to say this is wrong. And the great thing about this is the Chinese government is pretty much open to these kinds of [environmental] protests.”

37:42: Charles tells Kaiser about an interview he had with Jack Ma, in which Ma describes nearly drowning in a river as a child in his native Hangzhou. He also shares that he returned there years later, and things had changed — he would have been hard-pressed to drown in that same river because the water now only reached his ankles, and he wouldn’t want to swim in it because it was clearly polluted. Ma is a Global Board Member of The Nature Conservancy.

Recommendations:

Charles: Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize, by Sean C. Carroll, a book on World War II and the stories of Albert Camus and Jacques Monod.

Kaiser: The Wizard and the Prophet, by Charles C. Mann, and a seven-part recording of a 1995 live show by the band Idiot Flesh.

---

Check out the sponsor of this episode, Yoyo Chinese, by going to www.yoyochinese.com/sinica — be sure to enter the code Sinica at checkout to receive 15% off!

1