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Talking Points, August 19-31, 2011

This edition of the USC US-China Institute's newsletter looks at Vice President Joe Biden's trip to China, China in new campaign ads, and the increasing numbers of Chinese students coming to the US. As always, the newsletter includes our calendar of China related events and exhibitions across North America.

August 19, 2011


Talking Points

August 19 - 31, 2011

skip to the new campaign ads | skip to the calendar

Comedian Joe Wong (Huang Xi 黄西) is a Chinese immigrant. He first found success as a biochemist for a major pharmaceutical firm, but now makes headlines telling jokes. He’ll be on the

Joe Wong (CSPAN), Xi Jinping and Joe Biden (White House Photo)

David Letterman show on September 1. Wong told one of his favorite jokes at last year’s Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner. He said that he and his wife hope their son will grow up to be president of the U.S. When the boy asked why he had to learn two languages, Wong says he told him that when he is president he’ll need to sign legislation in English and speak to debt collectors in Chinese.

Vice President Joe Biden was the guest of honor at that event. He’s now in Beijing. He dropped into the Olympic Center to talk to the Georgetown University team before their game with the Shanxi Dragons (the Hoyas defeated the Dragons, a pro team, 98-81). Biden met today with Xi Jinping (习近平) China’s Vice President, and other leaders. Most analysts expect Xi to be elevated to Communist Party General Secretary in late 2012 and to be made President in early 2013.


We’re told that the vice presidents had a cordial exchange of views. In public remarks before their meeting, Xi said, "China and the United States have ever-more extensive common interests and we shoulder ever-more important common responsibilities.” Biden said, "I am absolutely confident that the economic stability of the world rests in no small part on cooperation between the United States and China.” Foreign reporters didn’t get to hear all of Biden’s remarks, however, as they were shoved from the room a few minutes before Biden concluded. No explanation has been given.

Elsewhere in Beijing, things were even rougher. The Georgetown team played its second game in

Georgetown's goodwill tour interrupted by a brawl with the Bayi (Army) team. Video here.

Beijing against the Bayi (Army) team. There was considerable contact and tough talk from the outset and benches emptied at one point. Then, with the score tied and nine minutes to play, a hard foul triggered a brawl in which chairs were thrown. Georgetown coach John Thompson pulled his team from the court as fans pelted them with debris. Thompson subsequently wrote, " We sincerely regret that this situation occurred. We remain grateful for the opportunity our student-athletes are having to engage in a sport they love here in China, while strengthening their understanding of a nation we respect and admire at Georgetown University."



The Biden visit comes after a U.S. rating agency downgraded U.S. government debt and after a tumultuous week for U.S. stock markets. Biden will be questioned about Taiwan’s request to purchase F-16 fighter jets from the U.S. and about administration plans to shore up the U.S. economy. Domestic political concerns as well as diplomatic worries weigh heavily on both governments. Some Chinese, including a few military officers, have called for China’s government to sell its holdings of American debt. These commentators argue China is needlessly making a risky bet and helping the U.S. Some insisted that selling the debt would punish the U.S. for supporting Taiwan’s government.

The U.S. is expected to announce some sort of arms sale to Taiwan this fall. That will antagonize Beijing and there will be protests and possibly sanctions. The U.S. has been eager to strengthen military to military exchanges and the past year has seen reciprocal visits by top defense officials. In 2010, when the U.S. last sent arms to Taiwan, Beijing suspended high level exchanges. Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou is pushing for the sales to bolster his January re-election chances. There’s a U.S. domestic politics angle as well. Forty-five senators have called on the Obama administration to sell Taiwan the fighters, arguing it boosts regional peace, fulfills the Taiwan Relations Act, and keeps U.S. defense workers employed. Sen. John Cronyn blocked the confirmation of William Burns as Deputy Secretary of State until he secured a pledge from Sec. of State Hillary Clinton that a report on Taiwan’s air defense would be released and a decision made on Taiwan’s arms request. Cronyn represents Texas, the state where the F-16s would be assembled.

Though China’s top leaders have occasionally expressed “concern” about how the U.S. government’s fiscal problems could impact its ability to pay its creditors, China’s government has continued to invest in the U.S. and has encouraged Chinese companies to seek opportunities here as well.

Why? Investing in U.S. debt has provided the Chinese government a secure and steady return. That investment now totals $1.2 trillion. Over the first seven months of 2011, China’s government has made about $21 billion on its big bet. Because China’s companies continue to bring in dollars through exports (up 20% in July from a year ago) and because those dollars must be mostly converted into yuan when deposited in Chinese banks, China’s government needs to find dollar-denominated investments for the money. Its money managers have been investing elsewhere as well, but purchasing U.S. debt is easy and safe. So it continues.

At the same time, many Americans worry that China holds too much U.S. government debt. These worries are misplaced. First, China is only the largest foreign holder of American debt. Most U.S. debt is held by Americans and their institutions. China’s holdings amount to about 8% of the total U.S. government debt. Second, China’s purchases and those of the Japanese and others have helped keep U.S. interest rates and inflation down. That said, heavy debt can limit the choices available to leaders.

Top image from RNC ad, bottom image from Mark Amodei ad. 

Several new campaign ads seek to tap into the unease some feel about China’s economic rise and its debt holdings. One from the Republican National Committee has been airing in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio and Iowa. It features a young girl watching a 2017 newscast showing China’s holdings of U.S. debt rising, Chinese clapping as Chinese President Hu Jintao bows, and a new anchor saying “some analysts believe the Chinese have overtaken the United States” during President Obama’s “eight years in office.”

As part of our longstanding attention to the place of China in American politics, Talking Points monitors such ads (click here and here to see ads from the November 2010 election). Our latest compilation includes four ads. The first is a 2008 Barack Obama advertisement attacking John McCain for supporting measures that “sent jobs to China.” The next three are ads released in the past two months: the RNC ad mentioned above, one from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and one from Republican Mark Amodei who is running for a House seat from Nevada.






  Students move into USC residence halls. Photos by Craig Stubing.

Students moved into USC’s residence halls this week. Classes start on Monday. USC has more international students than any other university and students from China now represent the single largest contingent. In 2010-11, USC enrolled 1,951 students from China, 203 from Hong Kong/Macau, and 471 from Taiwan. Most of these are enrolled in graduate programs. These USC trends mirror national ones. China passed India as the number one supplier of foreign students to the US in 2009.

Unfortunately, the number of U.S. students traveling to China to study remains relatively low. In 2009-2010, 127,628 students from China were studying in the U.S. Only about one-sixth that many Americans were studying in China. Pres. Obama’s “100k Strong” is an effort to encourage the private sector to support programs to get more American students to China. Catepillar and Coca Cola are among the companies that have signed on. Rapper of the Black Eyed Peas is the latest recruit to the effort.


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USC | California | North America | Exhibitions

USC- Upcoming

09/16/2011: Chinese Investments in Latin America
USC Campus , Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: $35 registration fee
Please join us for a one-day conference on China's economic involvement in Latin America.

09/27/2011: Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse
Davidson Conference Center, Club Room
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 5:30PM
A talk by Shelley Riggers discussing her book about global impacts that Taiwan has on the world.

10/13/2011: USC Global Conference Hong Kong 2011: Global Challenges and Enhancing Opportunities
JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong, China
The two day conference will feature New York Times and Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas L. Friedman.

10/21/2011 - 10/22/2011: Media and Culture in Contemporary China
UCLA and USC Campuses, Los Angeles, CA
A two-day conference featuring Chinese Producer Zhang Jizhong.


08/21/2011: Family Amphitheater Performances: Jason Jiang
Skirball Cultural Center
2701 North Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049
Cost: Free with Museum Admission
Chinese acrobat Jason Jiang is guaranteed to keep you captivated as he spins and balances plates, teacups, his own body, and more.

08/22/2011: Fighting Polluters from the Grassroots Up: Zhou Xiang of Green Anhui, China
The Asia Foundation
Hayden Williams Room, 8th Floor, 465 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94104
Cost: Free
Time: 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Please join environmentalist Zhou Xiang for his discussion on Green Anhui and the challenge of working as a civil society organization in China.

08/29/2011: Corruption & Fraud in China: Challenges for US Companies & Investors
University of California, Berkeley
Boalt Hall, Room 110, Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
Cost: Free
Time: 12:45PM - 1:45PM
UC Berkeley presents a talk on China's political and economic climate for US companies and investors.

North America

 08/19/2011: The Mystical Arts of Tibet Opening Ceremony
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art
2010 Flora Street (Between Harwood & Olive), Dallas, TX 75201
Cost: Free
Time: 6:00PM
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art sponsors an event highlighting Tibet traditions.

08/19/2011 - 8/21/2011: Drunken Master
Freer Gallery, Meyer Auditorium
Address: 1050 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
Cost: Free
Time: 8/19/2011 at 7:00PM and 8/21/2011 at 2:00PM
Part of the series Sixteenth Annual Made in Hong Kong Film Festival

08/19/2011: Journey Through China
Miller Outdoor Theatre
6000 Hermann Park Drive , Houston, TX 77030
Time: 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Dance of Asian America presents authentic Chinese dances.

08/20/2011: Hop Fu: Hip-hop meets Kung Fu
Freer Gallery, Meyer Auditorium
1050 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
Cost: Free
Time: 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Hop Fu performs a live score for the classic Hong Kong film Super Ninjas.

08/21/2011: Lecture in the Galleries Meditation: A Tool for Conscious Living
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art | Grand Gallery
2010 Flora Street (Between Harwood & Olive), Dallas, TX 75201
Cost: Daily admission to the museum is FREE, suggested donations requested.
Time: 1:00PM
A lecture offered in connection with the Mystical Arts of Tibet exhibit.

08/21/2011: The Hip-hop/Kung Fu/Afro-Asian Connection: A Panel Discussion
The Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art: Freer Gallery
1050 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM
A discussion at the Freer Gallery.

08/24/2011: Gallery Talk and Tea: Opening the Heart: Arousing the Mind of Universal Kindness
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art
2010 Flora Street (Between Harwood & Olive), Dallas, TX 75201
Cost: Free
Time: 12:15PM
A talk offered in connection with the Mystical Arts of Tibet exhibit.

08/25/2011: China’s Diplomacy Toward India and Pakistan: Hyphenated or Not?
Johns Hopkins University
Room 500, Bernstein-Offit Building, 1717 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
Time: 12:30PM - 2:00PM
Johns Hopkins University presents a talk by Qiu Huafei.

08/26/2011: Japanese and Chinese Aesthetics and Woodblock Printing
The University of Michigan Museum of Art
Multipurpose Room, 525 South State Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1354
Cost: $27 UMMA and AAAC Members and UM students/$35 non-members; lab fee $13, materials included Advance registration required.
Time: 11:00AM - 12:30PM
Explore the Multiple Impressions exhibition and experience the central themes of Buddhist culture.

08/26/2011: Mystical Arts of Tibet: Prayer Flag Gift Presentation
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art | Grand Gallery
2010 Flora Street (Between Harwood & Olive), Dallas, TX 75201
Time: 5:30PM
An exhibition presented alongside the Mystical Arts of Tibet.

08/26/2011: The Mystical Arts of Tibet Closing Ceremony
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art | Grand Gallery
2010 Flora Street (Between Harwood & Olive), Dallas, TX 75201
Cost: Seating is limited; $30 for the public, $15 for Friends of the Crow Collection and students. Reservations are required.
Time: 6:30PM
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art sponsors an event highlighting Tibet traditions.



ends 08/26/2011: The Mystical Arts of Tibet
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art
2010 Flora Street (Between Harwood & Olive), Dallas, TX 75201
Cost: Daily admission to the museum is FREE.
Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery return to the Crow Collection.

ends 08/27/2011: City DNA III
Fabien Fryns Fine Art
314 N. Crescent Heights Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Fabien Fryns Fine Art, Los Angeles, is pleased to announce Lu Xinjian’s first solo exhibition in the US.

ends 08/28/2011: Jin Shan: It Came from the Sky
The University of Kansas
Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi Street , Lawrence, Kansas 66045-7500
The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas presents the work of Shanghai-based artist Jin Shan that investigates the varied conditions of authority.

ends 08/31/2011: Long Live and Prosper: Auspicious Motifs in East Asian Art
Tateuchi Galleries
1400 East Prospect Street Volunteer Park , Seattle, WA 98112
Paintings, lacquerware, jades, textiles, and porcelain from China, Japan, and Korea will be on display at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

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