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Talking Points, August 6-20, 2008

The USC U.S.-China Institute's weekly enewsletter.
August 6, 2008
USC U.S.-China Institute
Talking Points
August 6 - 20, 2008

In January and February snow storms paralyzed transportation, stranding millions of spring festival travelers, damaging the economy, and prompting an apology from the premier. In March and April civil unrest rocked Tibet and adjacent communities, the suppression of which drove demonstrations abroad. Also in April, torch relay points became contests between those critical of China’s government and those eager to note China’s achievements and aims for the Olympics. In May a massive earthquake and aftershocks devastated a large swath of Sichuan province, killing more than 70,000 people, leaving millions homeless, and generating unprecedented domestic and international relief efforts. Dramatic increases in food and energy prices caused economic worries. Those worries and nervousness about government efforts to revalue the currency and manage growth have caused investors to flee China’s stock markets, leaving indices down almost 50% from 2007.

All this troubling news, though, hasn’t induced a general gloom in China. The economy continues to grow at a remarkable 10% annual pace, and this Friday the largest and most scrutinized Olympiad ever opens in Beijing. A record number of international leaders will attend the opening ceremony which promises to be a remarkable spectacle of color, movement, and sound. Billions more will watch on television. Chinese and their leaders believe the Games confirm China’s reemergence as a great nation and that those watching the Games will be left with an even more favorable view of China.

Towards this end the Chinese government has spent a staggering $43 billion to build 19 world class venues, including the Bird’s Nest Stadium now featured on the nation’s 10 yuan note, plus infrastructure projects such as the Capital Airport’s Terminal 3, the world’s largest building. The road and subway network has been greatly expanded while pocket parks, sometimes with stunning plant sculptures have been created.

The Beijing authorities have relocated more than a million people to facilitate these construction projects. Thousands have been mobilized to assist visitors and tens of thousands of cab drivers have undergone English language and etiquette training. Bars and other entertainment enterprises have been guidelines intended to minimize the chance of patrons being tempted into disorderly conduct. Neighborhoods have undergone government subsidized makeovers. As part of the struggle to lessen Beijing’s air pollution, driving has been restricted, plants closed down, and clouds have been seeded to induce rain.

This effort to put the best possible foot forward has included a campaign to send domestic and international migrants without approved housing, employment, or residence permits packing. This is also intended to reduce security risks.

Security is a paramount concern. Any high profile international gathering is a potential target and one which includes 80 heads of state is unprecedented. The Chinese government announced this week that it is ready. More than 110,000 security personnel have been deployed. Spectators will be carefully monitored. Keeping protests out of stadiums and arenas is in keeping with the International Olympic Committee’s charter which prohibits political, religious, or racist propaganda at Olympic sites, venues, or other areas. The Chinese government will enforce and extend this. Only authorized demonstrations will be permitted in three designated protest zones.

Journalists, activists, and China watchers have followed all of these preparations closely. Most people, though, are just anxious for the Games to get underway. They look forward to seeing some 11,000 athletes from all over competing against each other, against the heat and pollution, and against all their predecessors to run or swim faster, jump higher or farther, balance, bounce or drive with greater grace and precision, lift more, or play with more skill and determination.

A lot of money has been wagered on us watching and feeling positively about the Games. Broadcast rights have been sold for $1.7 billion (NBC paid $894 million for the U.S. rights), multinational firms paid hundreds more as sponsors so they could put the Olympic rings on their ads and packages, and many companies have spent lavishly on the commercials they have and will air.

Beijing first sought to host the 2000 Summer Games. That 1993 effort failed, but in 2001 the Chinese bid prevailed. It’s now showtime.

And this is a show many in China have long wanted to host. As historian Andrew Morris notes, as far back as 1907, when the modern Olympics were just a decade old, many Chinese in Tianjin were anxious to respond to the challenge issued by the YMCA there:

1. When will China be able to send a winning athlete to the Olympic contests?
2. When will China be able to send a winning team to the Olympic contests?
3. When will China be able to invite all the world to come to Peking for an international contest…?

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


California Events
08/08/2008: Ancient China
Bowers Museum
Address: 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92706
Cost: Free
Phone: 714.567.3600
Time: 6:30PM - 7:00PM
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.

08/15/2008: 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: 

08/06/2008: 2008 Beijing Olympics: China’s Coming-Out Party
East-West Center Art Gallery
1601 East-West Road, Hawaii
5:30 p.m. Registration & Pupus
6:00-7:30 p.m. Program
The Olympic Games have put China in the spotlight on the world stage. Dr. Christopher McNally will discuss events in 2008 tied to the Olympics and what it means for China and the world.


07/15/2008 - 09/02/2008: The Jews in Modern China
Museum of Tolerance
Address: 9786 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles , CA
An exhibit celebrating the unique friendship between the Chinese and Jewish people at the Museum of Tolerance.
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
his series of educational workshops and historical reflections on Riverside's historical Chinatowns runs alongside the Sweeney Art Gallery exhibition, Absurd Recreation.
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.
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.

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USC U.S. – China Institute
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FIG 202
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Tel: 213-821-4382
Fax: 213-821-2382
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