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Talking Points, February 3 - 17, 2010

This week's issue of the USC US-China Institute newsletter focuses on the size of the tobacco market and efforts to shrink it. As always, the newsletter alerts readers to China-related events and exhibitions across North America.
February 6, 2010

Talking Points
February 3 - 17, 2010

On an average day, roughly two thousand Chinese die due to smoking. The pain they and their families endure is incalculable. Direct and indirect costs to the Chinese economy are estimated at $5 billion a year.

Two weeks ago USC hosted a presentation by Judith Mackay, for a quarter century one of the leading campaigners to reduce tobacco use in China. Mackay, a Hong Kong based physician is co-author of The Tobacco Atlas. Her energy and impact is such that in 2007 Time magazine named her one of the world’s 100 most influential people. Video of her talk is now available at the US-China Institute website.

China’s tobacco market dwarfs all others – and it is growing. In 1984, an estimated 31% of the population smoked. In 1996, the share had risen to 34%. By 2002, it was 40%. In the US, the prevalence of smoking has declined from 42% in 1965 to 30% in 1985 and 20% in 2007. Relatively few women in China smoke, but some 60% of the men do.

Altogether, China’s roughly 360 million smokers consume 37% of the world’s cigarettes. Because of its dominant position among Chinese smokers, China’s National Tobacco Corporation, a state-owned company, had 32% of the world tobacco market in 2007. Virginia-based Altria/Philip Morris was second at 19%, with London-based British American Tobacco at 17%. Profits from the tobacco monopoly and taxes on tobacco sales generates huge revenues for China’s government. In 2009, these increased by 12% to more than $75 billion. Philip Morris and other multinational firms have set up factories in China, but the total foreign share of the Chinese cigarette market is under 2%.



China is also becoming a major cigarette exporter. Shanghai Tobacco Group, for example, has developed Golden Deer brand for the Taiwan market. The US, though, is by far the biggest cigarette exporter.

Hongtashan is China’s most popular cigarette brand and the state-owned company is looking to increase its international profile. In December it rolled out Hongtashan International 100 with models and an extreme bike demonstration. The blue design was described as “internationally popular.”



 Images from 

In her presentation, Mackay highlighted several major achievements in China by tobacco control advocates. These include bans on broadcast and print ads, the expansion of smoke-free zones, recognition of the great human and economic costs of smoking, reversing an upswing in youth smoking, and China’s ratification of the 2003 United Nations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The US, she noted, is among the few countries which had not ratified the agreement.

Getting support from celebrities, public campaigns of various sorts, and making the Beijing Olympic Games smoke free has helped education the public about the hazards of smoking. Unlike earlier generations of leaders, China’s current top leaders are never photographed smoking.



Mao in 1977 propaganda poster.  Deng favored Panda brand cigarettes.

Even so, the challenges remain daunting. Men, especially, have been resistant to anti-tobacco messages. The tobacco industry is large and rich and the addiction is powerful. A 2007 study found that 23% of hospital-based physicians in China smoke, including 41% of male physicians. This was a large improvement over a 1996 study where 61% of male and 23% of female physicians smoked. Still, much has to be done. In the more recent study, 37% of those physicians who smoked did so in front of their patients. In the US, only 3% of physicians smoke.

Because smoking remains so prevalent, it remains attractive to young people. The photo below left is from an anti-smoking website, 我要戒烟 “I want to stop smoking”.com. On the right is a photo from a video that was posted to the web a year ago. The video of the two year old veteran smoker sparked widespread outrage among netizens.










Nonetheless, on Tuesday, a Nanjing newspaper reported that cigarettes are still the top lunar new year’s gift, with 52% of those polled saying they would give relatives and friends cigarettes. Custom rather than knowledge drives this choice. 67% of those polled said they knew that cigarettes were a harmful gift. The ritual of sharing a smoke is one all have observed. The child to the left (found on many web forums) has the routine down.






On Wednesday, we hope you’ll join us as filmmakers Xiaoli Zhou and Brent Huffman screen a rough cut of their film about China in Africa, The Colony, and The Women’s Kingdom (which received several awards and was broadcast by Frontline World). On Thursday, Ran Ran, this year’s US-China Institute postdoctoral scholar will examine reasons for the gap between China’s national environmental policies and regulations and what actually happens across the country. On Feb. 18, Bates Gill, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute will speak on domestic reasons for China’s leaders to take a hard line on relations with the US.

Lunar new year is just a week away and we’ll mark that in the next issue of Talking Points. We hope you find the newsletter useful and we welcome your feedback at

Best wishes,
The USC US-China Institute

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02/05/2010 - 02/06/2010: West Coast International Relations of Asia Conference
USC Davidson Conference Center
This workshop aims to foster discussion among international relations specialists working on Asia at West Coast universities.

02/10/2010: "The Colony" and "The Women`s Kingdom"
USC Leavey Library auditorium
Cost: Free
Time: 6:00PM - 8:00PM
The U.S.-China Institute presents a screening of two short films, The Colony and The Women`s Kingdom, as part of the documentary series. Join both directors for Q&A following the screening. 

02/11/2010: Local Environmental Politics in China: Explaining Policies Implementation Gap and assessing its implications
University Club, Pub Room, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
USCI`s postdoctoral fellow, Ran Ran, will examine China`s environmental policies.


02/07/2010: Chinese New Year Concert: Special Dance and Music Programs from Shenzhen, China
California State University, Northridge
Northridge Center, the University Student Union (Parking in Lot G3, accessed by entering Dearborn St. from Zelzah Avenue)
Time: 7:00Pm
California State University, Northridge presents a unique cultural experience with dance and musical performance by students from China.

02/08/2010: Bringing the Frontier to the Center: Empires and Nomads from Achaemenid Persia to Tang China
Brown Auditorium
Los Angeles County Museum of Art 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Time: 6:30PM
The Art of Middle East Council and the East Asian Art Council presents a talk by Dr. Wu Xin, an art historian specializing in Iran and Central Asia. 

02/09/2010: 1903: Racism, Revenge, and Ressentiment
UC Berkeley
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
UC Berkeley`s Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk by Peter Perdue on the international discourse of racial nationalism in the first decade of the twentieth century. 

02/10/2010: The Butterfly Lovers: Lecture and Demonstration by Beijing Dance Academy Resident Dance Company
Pacific Asia Museum
46 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
Time: 7:30PM
The Beijing Dance Academy Resident Dance Company performs classical dances at the Pacific Asia Museum.

02/10/2010: Ningbo Xiao Baihua Yue Opera Troupe
UCLA Freud Playhouse
Cost: $15 for adults and $10 for students/seniors/children
Time: 8:00PM
UCLA Confucius Institute presents the renowned Xiao Baihua Yue Opera Troupe from Ningbo.

02/11/2010: Progress in Making Peace Across the Taiwan Strait: An American Perspective
Pomona College Rose Hills Theatre
333 North College Way , Claremont , CA 91711
Cost: Free
Time: 8:00PM
The Pacific Basin Institute presents a talk by Raymond Burghardt on prospects for overcoming political and security issues that China and the U.S. still have not tackled. 

02/12/2010: Beijing Dance Academy Resident Dance Company`s Butterfly Lovers
Ahmanson Theatre
135 North Grand Avenue at Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
The Beijing Dance Academy Resident Dance Company presents a collection of classical Chinese dances at the Ahmanson Theatre. 

02/12/2010: Gender and Historical Memory in Early Qing Yangzhou
UC Berkeley
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
UC Berkeley`s Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk by Waiyee Li on the praise and blame of Yangzhou women during the Ming-Qing transition.

02/14/2010: Authors on Asia
Pacific Asia Museum
46 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
Cost: Free for members, included with museum admission for non-members
Phone: (626) 449-2742 ext. 20
Time: 2:00PM
The Pacific Asia Museum presents Canyon Sam, author of Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History. 

02/16/2010: Factory Town: Life in a Chinese Development Zone
Pomona College
Hahn 101 , Claremont , CA 91711
Cost: Free
Time: 4:15PM
The Pacific Basin Institute presents a talk by Peter Hessler on his research in Lishui, a factory town in southern Zhejiang province. 

North America

02/04/2010: Political Development in China: The Role of Civil Society
Indiana University
IUPUI Kelley School of Business, Room BS 4095 801 W. Michigan St, Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Time: 12pm
Indiana University`s Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business presents a talk by Professor Chu Songyan. 

02/07/2010: Up the Yangtze
Spurlock Museum, Knight Auditorium
Time: 7:00PM
Asian Educational Media Service presents the screening of a dramatic feature documentary on life inside the 21st century Chinese dream. 

02/09/2010: Changing Gears in China and the US, with Peter Hessler
Asia Society and Museum
Address: 725 Park Avenue, New York
Cost: $10 members; $12 students with ID/seniors; $15 nonmembers
Time: 6:30PM - 8:30PM
The Asia Society presents a talk by Peter Hessler on life in a rapidly changing contemporary China. 
02/10/2010: Confucius: His Life and Legacy in Art
China Institute
125 East 65th Street, New York City
Time: 4:00PM - 5:00PM
The China Institute presents a gallery talk on the exhibition on the life, teachings and continuing influence of Confucius.  

  02/10/2010: Institutions, Families, Communities: Towards a social history of the Ming military in southeast China
Location: TBA
Time:  4:30PM - 6:00PM
University of Pennsylvania`s Center for East Asian Studies presents a talk by Michael Szonyi on the social history of Ming institutions.

02/16/2010: Guilty of Indigence: The Urban Poor in China
Princeton University
211 Dickinson Hall
Cost: Free
Time: 4:30PM - 6:00PM
Princeton University`s Davis Center for Historical Studies presents a talk by Janet Chen.


01/06/2010 - 02/17/2010: Sketches of China: Works on Paper by Hyunsook Cho
Pacific Asia Museum, Gallery of Contemporary Art
46 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
Phone: (626) 449-2742
Sketches of China presents the artist`s re-interpretation of traditional Chinese ink painting in different media

 09/22/2009 - 06/30/2010: China`s Great Wall: The Forgotten Story
NYC offices of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, New York, NY
The Forgotten Story is a series of historically-based photographs of the Great Wall of China. It is a collaboration between Jonathan Ball, a California based photographer, and David Spindler, one of the world`s foremost experts on Great Wall history.

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. 

11/15/2008 - 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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