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Talking Points, December 24, 2010 - January 5, 2011

This week's issue of the USC US-China Institute newsletter highlights how Christmas and New Year's are marked in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. As always, Talking Points includes information about China-centered museum exhibitions across North America.
December 24, 2010

Talking Points
December 24, 2010 -- January 5, 2011

It has been quite a year and we’re grateful to the many people and institutions who have helped us over the course of it. On behalf of President C.L. “Max” Nikias who established the USC U.S.-China Institute in fall 2006, and the faculty, staff, and students who make up the institute, we extend our very best wishes to you for a great holiday season and the best possible 2011.


In China’s cities, there are traces of Christmas. Some stores feature decorations, Santa figures

Christmas Eve crowd at the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church on Wangfujing Street in Beijing, est. 1655, rebuilt in 1904.
 Shanghai Community Church, est. 1924 (Chen Peijin, 2005)
 Santa visits the Expo in Dec. 2009.


are here and there, and eCards are lighting up computer screens. Of course, the growing number of Christians mark the holiday at home and in churches. Crowds at some churches are so large that entrance is restricted to those who have previously registered with the church.

China has five state santioned patriotic religious associations, including one for Catholics and one for Protestants. An estimated 5.3 million people worship in the Patriotic Catholic churches and 16 million worship in registered Patriotic Protestant churches. Many Chinese, however, elect to worship in underground Roman Catholic churches or in unregistered Protestant "house" churches. Some of these "house" congregations are far too large to meet in any home. Hundreds, for example, routinely attend the services of the Shouwang church in Beijing. In 2007, Horizon Research Consultancy, a respected polling firm, found that only 4% of adult Chinese identified themselves as Christian. At this rate, China has 40-50 million Christians. Some Christian organizations argue that the number of Christians is actually much higher.




Certainly demand for Santas is up. As workers constructed Finland's Shanghai Expo pavilion , Santa dropped by and held a press conference in December 2009. He returned to greet children in the heat of August. Thursday's Los Angeles Times tells of Richard Goodwin, a 79-year old from Southern Californian, who has spent the last five years being Santa in Shenzhen.



 Fireworks explode from Taipei 101 (Paul Chen, 2009, Creative Commons)



New Year’s Eve is a week away. The Lunar New Year is, of course, the principal Chinese holiday, but in Taiwan and Hong Kong, December 31 has become a major time to celebrate. In Taipei, there are performances and fireworks at many locations, but most notably Taipei City Hall Plaza and Taipei 101. A half million people are expected to gather to be part of the fun.
In Hong Kong as well, New Year's Eve is a major celebration with much of Sha Tin devoted to performances geared to different tastes, as well as outdoor movies, and fireworks.

But in China, December 31 is becoming a major holiday as well. In Beijing, rock pioneer Cui Jian will be in concert with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra. In Shanghai, Taiwan pop star Jeff Chang will be performing. And it’s just been announced that Aunt Susan (苏珊大妈) will be headlining in Nanjing. Outside of China, she’s better known as Susan Boyle, the star who emerged in 2009 via the television show Britain’s Got Talent. It will be Boyle’s first performance in China, but she’s well known there, in part through Chinese video sites Tudou (click here to see her triumphant first star turn) and Youku (click here to see an ad for the event).




Pop music isn’t for everyone, of course. Those wishing to visit Shanghai’s Longhua Temple to watch the ritual ringing of the bell will find it crowded and pricey. Tickets are 518 yuan (about US$80).




We wish you well however you choose to spend the holidays. We also hope that you’ll take the time to write. We always appreciate your feedback. You can reach us at

In 2011, we’ll have an online survey to solicit your opinion of Talking Points, our website, and more. Such surveys have become quite common for government websites, including those in China. We promise, however, to have more options for you than those offered by the Yongji County government in Jilin Province. That survey sparked a bit of an uproar among China’s netizens. Cartoonist Shang Haichun summed up the situation in November on his QQ blog:







Satisfaction Survey
Satisfied ___
Very Satisfied ___



There is one online form we’d love to have you complete before the end of the year. Please consider donating to support the USC U.S.-China Institute. Gifts of any amount are welcome. You can choose to offer general support or to target your donation to any of our projects (e.g., research, fellowships, student publications, documentaries, or public programming). Please click here to donate via the USC secure website. You may also send a check to us at the address at the end of this newsletter. Gifts are tax deductible. We appreciate every donation.

Happy New Year!

Best wishes,
The USC US-China Institute

Write to us at
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Support the USC US-China Institute with your tax deductible gift at

A new USCI call for proposals:

2011-2012 USCI postdoctoral fellowships (application deadline Feb. 18, 2011)

Web Features:

Houghton Freeman, Visionary Philanthropist (1921-2010)

Former US Ambassador to China Winston Lord on US-China relations

Nixon Aides Remember the Week that Changed the World

Asia Pacific Arts: Interview with Freddy Wong, director of The Drunkard


US-China Today: Life Across the Border: North Koreans in China


ends 12/31/2010: 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.


ends 12/31/2010: Tibetan Portrait: The Power of Compassion
The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
338 Lighthouse Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10308
Photographic portraits of Tibetans by Phil Borges.



ends 1/2/2011: The World of Khubilai Khan, Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028
Major exhibition drawing on loaned objects from Japan, Europe, and elsewhere in the US.





ends 1/2/2011: Ancient Chinese Bronzes - the Shouyang Studio
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603-6404
Exhibition presents items from the collection of Katherine and George Fan.





ends 1/9/2011: The Ideal Landscape
Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Marcia & John Price Museum Building 410 Campus Center Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0350
Exhibition presents thirteen landscape paintings from the Ming dynasty to the 20th century. 





ends 1/9/2011: The Emperor's Private Paradise
Peabody Essex Museum
East India Square (161 Essex St.), Salem, MA 01970
90 objects from the Qianlong garden located in a corner of the Forbidden City. 

ends 02/06/2011: China Modern: Designing Popular Culture 1910-1970
Pacific Asia Museum
46 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
The Pacific Asia Museum presents an exhibition that demonstrates how political ideologies and cultural values are transmitted via everyday objects in China.



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