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Talking Points, August 26 - September 9, 2009

President Obama will go to China in November. This week's newsletter highlights the issues he'll likely be discussing with Chinese President Hu Jintao and others. As always, Talking Points includes a comprehensive list of China-related events and exhibitions across North America.
August 26, 2009

USC U.S.-China Institute Weekly Newsletter

Talking Points
August 26 - September 9, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama will visit China in mid-November. Jon Huntsman, America’s ambassador to China, announced this on Saturday at his first public appearance in Beijing. The itinerary and agenda for the trip won’t be released until much later, but it’s reasonable to assume that the following will receive attention.

Economic Concerns
Although some economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, are cautiously optimistic that economic activity in the U.S. and elsewhere is picking up, others are less

US-China Trade 1971-2008
Click on the image to see a large version.


convinced. On Monday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said, "There are still a lot of unstable and uncertain factors ahead and the economic situation ahead is still very grave….” Chief among Chinese leaders’ worries is continued weak foreign demand for Chinese goods. The Obama visit will allow for another review of macroeconomic trends and discussion of issues such as the security of China’s investment in American debt and ongoing trade and intellectual property disputes.



Select Resources:
(USCI) Speeches and documents from the July Strategic and Economic Dialogue Meeting
(USCI documentary) Tensions over Trade

(USCI) Global trade data and US-China trade disputes
(US-China Today) Chinese investment in US Treasury notes
(USCI Presentations) Robert Kapp | Henry Levine

Climate Change
In July U.S. and Chinese representatives signed a memorandum of understanding to “enhance the two governments’ cooperation on climate change, energy, and the environment,” reports indicate the two sides remain far apart. A measure that was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives could produce a backlash against American exports. If the American Clean Energy and Security Act becomes law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would impose tariffs on goods imported from countries which fail to adopt mandatory carbon emission limits. Xie Zhenhua, China’s top climate change negotiator, described this as trade protectionism disguised as environmental protection.

The US and China are the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. Each contributes about 20% of the world total. This is a significant rise in China’s share. The chart above shows that in 2000, the U.S. was producing about 19% of the total world emissions, while China produced 14%. What Chinese negotiators are quick to point out, however, is that the U.S. has been emitting much more for much longer. Since these gases linger in the atmosphere, the total U.S. impact on climate change is much greater. The chart below shows that from 1950 to 2000, the U.S. emitted 17% of the world’s total emissions, while China emitted just 10%. Of course, on a per capita basis, American emissions are much higher than China’s. The Chinese government, therefore, argues that the U.S. and other developed nations have much greater responsibility to act to reduce emissions. A recent Pew survey found that 88% of Chinese said they were willing to pay higher prices in order to address global climate change. Just 41% percent of Americans indicated such a willingness.

Select Resources:
(USCI presentation) Elizabeth Economy
(In a recent Foreign Affairs article, Elizabeth Economy and Adam Segal caution that a bilateral approach to many problems, including environmental protection is unlikely to work.)
(USCI) Energy consumption
(US-China Today) China goes green?

Many outside the U.S. and China worry that if the two big emitters cannot agree to mandatory reductions in emissions, that effective global action will be impossible. Just 101 days remain until representatives from 192 nations meet in Copenhagen to plan a coordinated strike against climate change.

Security Concerns
The U.S. wants Chinese assistance in getting North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program and to stop selling weapons technology to others. In recent weeks, North Korean leaders have signaled a willingness to reopen discussions with the U.S. The Chinese remain happy to help facilitate such talks and have also become more supportive of U.S. and U.N. calls for Iran to halt or at least accept inspection of its nuclear program.

The Chinese government argues that it is battling separatist elements, some of which use or condone the use of violence. Beijing says that U.S.-based Rebiya Kadeer and the World Uyghur Congress fomented the outbreak of violence in Xinjiang in early July. It blamed the Dalai Lama and Tibetan exile groups for stirring up unrest in Tibet in spring 2008. While the Chinese government does not expect the U.S. to arrest Kadeer or to ban visits by the Dalai Lama, it criticizes U.S. leaders for meeting with or honoring such figures. American leaders have routinely condemned violence in Tibet and Xinjiang, but most have been careful to not lay blame on either protestors or the Chinese government. Instead they have called for discussions among the parties to resolve differences and address sources of discontent.

Select resources:
(USCI documentary) China’s growing international clout
(USCI presentations) Thomas Christensen | Jay Davis | Robert Ross
(U.S. Department of Defense) Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2009
(PRC State Council) China’s National Defense in 2008


Human Rights and Taiwan
Each of the topics above has been more prominent than human rights or Taiwan in recent high level U.S.-China meetings. Other worries have kept top U.S. officials from emphasizing human rights issues in their meetings with Chinese officials. At the same time, Obama and others insist, “Support for human rights and human dignity is ingrained in America” and “guides our openness to one another and to the world….”

Chinese officials argue that foreigners raise human rights issues not out of genuine concern for people within China, but as a means of attacking, weakening, or even dividing China. In addition, the Chinese government now issues annual reports arguing that human rights violations are commonplace in the U.S.

Improved cross-strait ties since the March 2008 election of Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwan’s president have reduced U.S.-China anxieties over Taiwan. Still, the Chinese government has hundreds of missiles aimed at Taiwan and in October it condemned the Bush administration’s decision to sell $6.5 billion in arms to Taiwan. Beijing postponed top military exchanges for a few months, but these have resumed. On Monday, it was announced that the U.S. and China would beginning planning joint humanitarian relief training efforts, a decision prompted by the assistance U.S. forces provided Taiwan following the devastating Morakat typhoon.

Select resources:
(USCI documentary) Human rights
(U.S. State Department) Human Rights in China 2008
(PRC State Council) Human Rights Record of the United States in 2008

(USCI documentary) Taiwan and China’s military build-up
(USCI presentation) Alan Romberg


The USC School of Architecture exhibition Divergent Convergence continues in Beijing. Our fall public events schedule begins Thursday, September 10 with a presentation by Barbara Pillsbury on China’s population challenges. A week later, federal prosecutor Ronald Cheng will discuss U.S.-China law enforcement cooperation. Information about these events and other China-related talks, conferences, and exhibitions can always be found in Talking Points and in the calendar section of our website.

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

09/10/2009: China's Population Challenges
USC University Club, Banquet Room, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
4:00PM - 6:00PM
Barbara Pillsbury examines population policy, family planning dynamics and the dilemma of the aging population in China.


09/01/2009: The New Taiwanese Identity
Numata Seminar Room
2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor , Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk with Xi Cao.

09/02/2009: A Lifetime is a Promise to Keep: Artistic Expression and Resistance in the work of Huang Xiang
UC Berkeley IEAS Conference Room
2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor Berkeley, CA
Time: 4:00PM - 5:30PM
Huang Xiang in conversation with Michelle Yeh, UC Davis Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures and translator of Huang Xiang’s poetry.

09/08/2009: Lang Lang, pianist and author, in conversation with Sarah Cahill
Zellerbach Auditorium
UC Berkeley Campus, 2430 Bancroft Way , Berkeley, CA
Tickets:  $20 ($10 students)in advance at Cal Performances ( or at Cal Performances box office;
tickets at door if event is not sold out.
Time: 7:30pm
UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents one of the greatest pianists of our time. 

09/09/2009: Legal Reform in China: The Domestic Debate
UC Berkeley Boalt Hall, Room 110 Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 12:40AM - 1:40PM
Lunch provided, please RSVP Fredda Olivares at 510.643.6319
UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk with Thomas Kellogg.


08/23/2009 - 09/20/2009: Divergent Convergence: Speculations on China
Beijing Urban Planning Centre
20 Qianmen Dongdajie Chongwen District
Beijing China
A landmark exhibition in the heart of Beijing, exploring the future of architecture and urban design in China. 

08/16/2009 - 11/29/2009: Steeped in History: The Art of Tea
Fowler Museum

Cost: Free
The Fowler Museum at UCLA presents an exhibition on the history of tea in Asia, Europe, and America through art. 

11/03/2008 - 11/03/2009: Ancient Arts of China: A 5000 Year Legacy
Bowers Museum
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, California 92706
Bowers Museum presents a collection that portrays the evolution of Chinese technology, art and culture. 

11/14/2008 - 11/14/2009: Chinese Art: A Seattle Perspective
Seatle Asian Art Museum
1400 East Prospect Street , Volunteer Park , Seattle, WA 98112–3303
The Seattle Asian Art Museum presents an opportunity to see a collection with representative works from each dynastic period. 

11/15/2008 - 11/15/2009: Masters of Adornment: The Miao People of China
Bowers Museum
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, California 92706
The Bowers Museum presents a collection of exquisite textiles and silver jewelry that highlights the beauty and wealth of the Miao peoples of southwest China. 

02/12/2009 - 02/12/2010: Art of Adornment: Tribal Beauty
Bowers Museum
2002 N. Main, Santa Ana, CA
Cost: $5
An exhibit featuring body adornments from indigenous peoples around the world


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