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Talking Points, August 21 - September 10, 2008

The USC U.S.-China Institute weekly enewsletter.
August 21, 2008

USC U.S.-China Institute

Talking Points
August 21 - September 10, 2008

Xi Jinping is China’s vice president and is assumed to be the designated successor to current top leader Hu Jintao. He trained as a chemical engineer and earned a doctorate in law. In February, Xi assumed oversight over Olympic Games preparation, including the stunning high tech opening ceremony.

But when this 21st century leader needed to convey an important message this week, he employed a 19th century technology. He didn’t thumb out a text message, though about half a trillion of those were sent in China last year. He didn’t call, send a fax, or dash off an email. Xi sent a telegram.

"We all understand that Liu quit the race due to injury. We hope he will relax and focus on recovery. We hope that after he recovers, he will continue to train hard and struggle harder for the national glory," Xi wrote to China’s General Sports Administration. Liu Xiang, one of China’s most successful athletes, started but could not finish his first race. Xi’s widely-publicized message conveyed concern for the athlete and reminded all of these athletes’ mission.

China’s athletes have done spectacularly well, already winning 46 gold medals. Most have been gracious in victory and defeat. Some have been hilarious. After his team lost to Brazil’s, China’s soccer team captain Li Weifeng said, “We play soccer like the Brazilians play ping-pong.”

China’s fans have also been generous, cheering great performances no matter the nationality of the individual or team. But there have been some rough patches. U.S.-China friendship wasn’t helped along by Monday’s baseball game. Chinese pitchers hit four Americans, the Americans hit two Chinese. Two catchers were nearly knocked out and things became so acrimonious that three coaches were tossed out of the game. As it happens, both teams were led by Americans with Dodger ties.

We’re somewhat prouder of the Trojan athletes and coaches who are participating in the Games. Communications major Rebecca Soni earned a gold and two silver medals. In winning the 200 meter breaststroke final, she set a new world record. Four other former Trojan swimmers won medals.

Chinese politics student Ankur Poseria competed in the 100 meter butterfly. He’s written that walking in the opening ceremony was both a positive and negative experience. Seeing the lighting of the torch was quite moving, but he notes that it was unbearably hot and humid and that after standing and walking so long, many of the dehydrated athletes elected to lay on the ground. Poseria also writes of the energy, kindness, and seemingly inexhaustible cheerfulness of the many Chinese Olympic volunteers. In his opinion food at the Olympic Village compares quite favorably to the fare available at USC.

Our website has charts showing how Beijing’s air quality compares with LA’s, New York’s, and 2012 host London’s. There’s also an article about different approaches to counting medals. Our magazine US-China Today offers more quotations from the Games as well as daily news updates and feature articles on Disney’s Hong Kong challenges, rising interest in contemporary Chinese art, and other topics.

Among the most prominent news stories of the week was the announcement by Chinese authorities that 77 applications were received for permission to protest in one of the three designated zones. None was approved and the officials explained that consultations had resolved the issues raised in nearly all of the applications.

The repeated applications by Wu Dianyuan (79) and Wang Xiuying (77) are likely not included in those acknowledged by authorities. The organization Human Rights in China reports that they filed applications five times. On August 17, the elderly women received notice that they had been sentenced to a year of reform through labor for having disturbed public order. They were subsequently told that, since they had been sentenced, they were not eligible to apply to protest. Wu and Wang were evicted from their Beijing homes in 2001. Since then they have sought redress.

HRIC’s Sharon Hom argues the protest zones and application process were merely for show. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tried to apply for a protest permit and gave up when he was asked to present the ID number of all those who might join him in his demonstration. He argues though, that the mere existence of the process implies governmental recognition that protest could be legitimate. Kristof believes that represents a step forward.

As a Talking Points reader, you aren’t surprised that the Bowers Museum’s exhibition of Qin dynasty terracotta warriors is attracting record numbers of visitors. You can learn more about it and other exhibitions below and in the calendar section of our website. USC September events include presentations on Chinese visions of the future world order and on where Chinese and American non-proliferation policies and practices coincide and where they collide. On September 17, dean Qingyun Ma will engage three other giant figures in contemporary Chinese art and architecture in a discussion of their visions of China. And on September 30 director Xu Xing will screen his latest film, A Chronicle of My Cultural Revolution.

Have a great week. Please share Talking Points with others.

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


09/04/2008: Security, Identity and the Rise of China: Beijing's Foreign Policy Discourse in the 21st Century

USC University Club
Banquet Room, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
Phone: 213-821-4382
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
The presentation will examine how the recent revival of the ancient Chinese concepts is impacting China's foreign policy narratives for the 21st century.

09/10/2008: China-U.S. Cooperation and Divergency on the Non-proliferation Issue

USC University Club, Pub Room
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
Phone: 213-821-4382
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
Liu Qing ia a visiting scholar at the U.S.-China Institute and will examine nonproliferation issues in Sino-U.S. relations for the last two decades.


09/05/2008: First Emperor of China
Bowers Museum
2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92706
Cost: Free
Phone: 714.567.3600
Time: 6:30PM
The first documentary footage of Qin Shi Huang’s life-size terra cotta army, constructed 2,200 years ago for his tomb. The imperial system he created has endured for thousands of years, proving to be the world’s most durable political structure. 42 min.

09/06/2008: A Revisionist View of Qin

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
Dr. Michael Nylan, professor at UC Berkeley and author of several books, focuses on a revisionist approach to the Qin dynasty 

09/07/2008: A View of Everyday Religion in China in the Third Century B.C.

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
Dr. Donald Harper, University of Chicago, presents an examination based on archaeological artifacts and manuscripts of the ordinary Chinese of the Qin dynasty and their world view, particularly their interaction with the spiritual world as they engaged in daily life.

09/10/2008: Hero
Bowers Museum
Address: 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92706
Cost: General $7; Members $5
Phone: 714.567.3600
Time: 1:30PM
A martial arts epic, directed by Zhang Yimou, tells the legend of a fearless warrior who rises up to defy an empire and unite a nation. Graciously sponsored by an anonymous donor.

North America:

09/05/2008: Art and China's Revolution
Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York City.
The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm and Friday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Closed on Mondays and major holidays.
Cost: $5 - $10
Asia Society Presents First Comprehensive Exhibition Devoted to Revolutionary Chinese Art from the 1950s Through 1970s.


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.

09/10/2008 - 01/04/2009: Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection

2626 Bancroft Way, UC Berkeley campus
Cost $5- 12     General Admission
141 works by 96 artists, drawn from one of the world’s most important and comprehensive collections of contemporary Chinese art.


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