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Talking Points, August 13 - 27, 2008

Talking Points is the USC U.S.-China Institute's weekly email newsletter, bringing news of China-focused events, exhibitions, and performances.
August 13, 2008

USC U.S.-China Institute

Talking Points
August 13 - 27, 2008

The scale and precision of Friday’s Olympics opening ceremony amazed most viewers. Most reviewers offered assessments like Ralph Bianco’s in USA Today, “With its astounding mix of cutting-edge technology and ancient traditions, its barrage of splash, spectacle, sound, light and the kind of thrill you only get from a cast of thousands, Friday's Opening Ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics rewrote the record books.”

Since Friday, it’s come out that the “fireworks footsteps” leading to the stadium were a bit of computer animation worthy of a summer blockbuster movie. And it turns out that one adorable seven year old sang while a nine year old, judged to be even more adorable, lip synced. Chen Qigang, the ceremony’s musical director, said a member of the Communist Party Politburo had ordered the change in “the national interest. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression." These revelations have stirred outrage in some, disappointment in others, and yawns from those who argue the ceremony is first and foremost a show.

The contests themselves have been full of drama and many athletes have shattered world records. Attention has been showered on gold medal-winning Chinese gymnasts and American swimmers, but many more, including those without medals, have earned cheers. At USC, we’re pleased that swimmers Erik Vendt and Klete Keller have extended a remarkable record. Former and current Trojans have won gold medals at every summer Olympics since 1912. Vendt and Keller kept the streak going by helping win the 800 meter freestyle relay. Two other Trojans have already earned medals at these games. We’re equally proud of Ankur Poseria. He’ll return to his Chinese politics and language studies at USC this fall, but right now he’s in Beijing swimming for India. Click here for additional information on Trojans participating in the Beijing Games.

Some complain that medal counts feed nationalist sentiments that are at odds with Olympic aims. But the governing body is made up of national representatives, teams wear national colors and arrive behind national flags, and should they triumph, those flags are raised and the gold medalist’s national anthem is played. At its website, the International Olympic Committee presents medal tables for each of the previous Games. Those tables rank countries according to the number of gold medals won. Chinese publications are following this standard now. American publications are not. As it happens, the total U.S. medal tally is slightly ahead of China’s, while Chinese Olympians have thus far won many more gold medals than the American team. Click here to see screenshots of these different presentations of the same results.


Athletes from Taiwan who compete under the label Chinese Taibei (中华台北) have won two medals. Ma Ying-jeou is among those delighted by these results. He became president of Taiwan on May 20 and has yet to mark three full months in office. (Please click here to see our report on his election.) Still, there has already been improvement in cross-strait relations and in Taiwan’s ties with Washington. President Ma is attending inaugurations in Paraguay and the Dominican Republic and stopped in Los Angeles Tuesday evening. He stressed that the “transit visit” was unofficial and informal. In 2006, Ma visited Los Angeles and addressed more than 2,000 guests. On this occasion, Ma met with a small number of community, business, and academic leaders over dinner at a downtown hotel. He asserted that he is eager to pursue a flexible diplomatic strategy aimed at enhancing economic, cultural, and political exchanges with the mainland. In casual dinner conversation, the President noted that recently initiated weekly direct charter flights are an important first step, but that he hopes to expand transportation links, increase opportunities for mainland students to study in Taiwan, send more Taiwan students to the U.S. and elsewhere, and move to a smaller and all-volunteer military. Ma’s experience studying in the U.S. and the positive impact of training Malaysians and others in Taiwan convinces him that direct and extended contact is the surest way to increase long-term understanding. Each of these efforts will require time and significant financial resources, but Ma believes they’ll yield crucial dividends.


Did you know that UPS, Coca-Cola, Lenovo, and others paid $866 million for the right to use the Olympic rings on their products and in their ads? That “non-sponsor” Pepsi is now offering Chinese consumers its cola in red rather than blue cans? Or that the most innovative ad campaigns are online? To learn more about Olympics advertising, please read Lucas Rubin’s “Have You Seen Me Yet?” in the latest issue of US-China Today. The issue also offers articles on Chinese tourists going abroad, Chinese artists setting auction records, how the May earthquake loosened media restrictions, and Disney’s misadventures in Hong Kong. In addition, political scientist Daniel Bell discusses nationalism among Chinese students and Chelsea Mason reviews The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.

Thank you for reading our weekly calendar newsletter. We welcome your comments at and we hope you’ll share Talking Points with friends and colleagues.

Best wishes,
The USC U.S.-China Institute


08/14/2008: Sichuan Earthquake Aftermath
USC, Kaprelian Hall 209, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
Time: 3pm-4pm
The Viterbi School's Jean-Pierre Bardet shares his firsthand observations of the damage caused by China's recent quake.


08/15/2008: The Dragon Peaks in Li River
Bowers Museum
2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92706
Cost: Free
Phone: 714.567.3600
This film brings the viewer to the Southern part of China in Shaanxi province.  The tour begins in Guangzhou to the Li River in Yangshuo and on to Yumman’s capital, Kunming, and a day trip to the Stone Forest in Shilin. 30 min.

08/17/2008: Symbols Of A Nation In A Changing China
Bowers Museum
2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92706
Cost: Free with paid museum admission and to members; Lecture only $8
Phone: 714.567.3600
Time: 1:30pm
Professor Jeffrey Wasserstrom, UCI, explores China’s altered economy, look, social fabric, and place in the world, and the way in which it has begun to stake out a new vision of its future as a nation. 

North America:

08/13/2008: Bilateral and Multilateral Energy and Environment Agreements Involving China and the U.S.
Senate Dirksen Office Bldg
1 st Street and Constitution Avenue, NE.
Washington, DC
U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing in Washington, DC.


06/28/08 - 08/23/2008: Robert Rauschenberg: The Lotus Series
Bobbie Greenfield Gallery
Bergamot Station 2525 Michigan Avenue, B6, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: 310-264-0640
A 12-print series of China in the 1980s on display at the Greenfield Sacks Gallery. 

07/15/2008 - 09/02/2008: The Jews in Modern China
Museum of Tolerance
9786 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles , CA
An exhibit celebrating the unique friendship between the Chinese and Jewish people at the Museum of Tolerance. 

07/26/2008 - 09/06/2008: Contemporary Photography from China
Address: DNJ Gallery, 154-1/2 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036
DNJ Gallery showcases works by several emerging Chinese artists who captured China's changing economy, society and culture through their photographs.

01/29/2008 - 09/07/2008: The Shape of Things: Chinese and Japanese Art from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue , New York, New York
Cost: Free
Phone: 212-517-ASIA
This exhibition of ceramics, metalworks, sculpture, and painting demonstrates that a depth of information can be revealed through the careful observation and study of the form of an object. 

06/27/2008 - 09/21/2008: Power and Glory: Court Arts of the Ming Dynasty
Asian Art Museum
200 Larkin Street (between Fulton and McAllister Streets), San Francisco, CA 94102
Cost: Cost varies (see website for details)
This exhibition will explore the glories of the Ming dynasty imperial court.

07/26/2008 - 10/04/2008: Absurd Recreation
Sweeney Art Gallery
3800 Main Street University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92501
A multi-media group exhibition of nine artists from China who engage in an absurdist "recreation" of settings, events, and situations in reaction to the rapidly changing social and cultural landscape in China.
07/26/2008 - 10/04/2008: A Sense of Place: Remembering Riverside’s Chinatowns
Sweeney Art Gallery
3800 Main Street University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA 92501
A series of educational workshops and historical reflections on Riverside's historical Chinatowns runs alongside the Sweeney Art Gallery exhibition, Absurd Recreation.

07/11/2008 - 10/12/2008: Sun Xun
UCLA Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd , Los Angles, CA 90024
Sun Xun creates animations that combine hand-drawn renderings and traditional materials with new media.

05/18/2008 - 10/12/2008: Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of the First Emperor
Bowers Museum
Address: 2002 N. Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706
Phone: 714-567-3600
This summer exhibit at Bowers Museum showcases the famous terra cotta warriors buried with the First Emperor of China.


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USC U.S. – China Institute
3535 S. Figueroa St.
FIG 202
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1262
Tel: 213-821-4382
Fax: 213-821-2382

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