Talking Points, February 8-20, 2013

Our popular lunar new year issue brings snake stamps from all over the globe and a look back at snake years 1977, 1989, and 2001. Of course, it also features China-related events from across North America.
February 8, 2013
Print

 

Talking Points

February 8 - 20, 2013

skip to the stamps | skip to the calendar

Happy New Year! 祝您蛇年快乐!

Every lunar new year we gather stamps issued in China, the United States, and by many other countries and regions to mark the occasion. On February 10 this year, we usher in the Year of the Snake 蛇年. Last year, several governments issued lunar new year stamps for the first time. This year, Gibraltar joins the mix. Relative newcomer Liechtenstein utilizes a traditional papercut design.Here we share stamps from the U.S. and China. Our complete collection of stamps from more than thirty governments is at the end of the newsletter.
 

Looking back at previous snake years gives us a chance to quickly see how much has changed in China and in the U.S.-China relationship. In 1977, Chairman Mao Zedong’s widow and some of her political allies hadn’t yet marked six months in jail. Hua Guofeng was chairman of the party, premier, and chair of the party’s central military commission. In a prominent editorial just

 
 Posters of Mao and Hua, photographed by Tilman Schalmey in Hangzhou in 2006 (Creative Commons license)

before the lunar new year, the People’s Daily reiterated the “two whatevers” 两个凡是 approach Hua had articulated in October: “We firmly uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made and we unswervingly adhere to whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave.”

Deng Xiaoping and his supporters were maneuvering to restore him to power. He challenged Hua’s assertion that Mao’s policies and directives were sacrosanct. In a letter to central party officials Deng insisted “There has never been a person whose statements are always correct or who is always absolutely right.”

A central obstacle to Deng’s return was Mao’s verdict on the April 1976 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. Interspersed with mourning for Zhou Enlai, the late premier, were poems criticizing other leaders. Those demonstrations were suppressed by the authorities and subsequently labeled counterrevolutionary. Mao and his circle blamed Deng for the unrest. In early1977 Party elders presented evidence to Hua and others refuting this and Hua stopped public criticism of Deng. By summer, Deng was back in his old posts and by December 1978 he was fully in charge, initiating economic reforms and opening the country to foreign technology and investment.

 

 

Two other big shifts from that year of the snake continue to affect China today. The first was a renewed emphasis on developing China’s scientific capabilities. This would come through rebuilding higher education, including a return to competitive entrance exams and sending researchers and students abroad. In 1977, 5.7 million took the exam, with just 272,971 earning admission. Now, about three-fourths of the 9 million who take the exam are admitted. In fall 1978, a few hundred students went abroad, including four dozen to the United States. Three of those students came to USC. Today, more than 194,000 students from China are enrolled at U.S. universities, including more than 2,500 at USC. Deng was instrumental in this push to reinvigorate Chinese human capital.

 

Renewed state attention to population growth was another 1977 development with long-reaching implications. The government publicized statements Mao made in 1957 supporting efforts to stem population growth. This was significant because Mao subsequently condemned the work of those who wanted state action to limit growth, arguing that growth was a

Having just one child is good for the Four Modernizations.

sign of socialism’s success in building China. Also in 1977, a book on population theory was published (the sensitivity of the subject caused its authors to initially withhold their names). Over the next couple of years, scientists weighed in and the discussion was increasingly framed in national security terms . By 1980, the one child limit was mandatory for nearly all families.

 

Much of the drive to establish firm birth limits and rigorously enforce them (as opposed to the reliance on exhortations to delay marriage, extend the interval between births, and have fewer children: the wanxishao 晚 稀 少 slogan) stemmed from the 1960s baby boom. From 1962 to 1970, the crude birth rate was as high as 43/1,000 a year and never below 33/1,000 a year). Officials, though, were reacting to a trend that had already changed. By 1977, the crude birth rate had steadily dropped by more than a third to 19/1,000. The draconian enforcement measures and social responses that ensued and came at great political and human cost were probably not necessary.

Of course, planners in 1977 had little sense of the enormous changes that would come in Chinese society. They couldn’t have known that the economic development, urbanization, and higher levels of education for women that was in China’s future would “naturally” yield smaller families.
A few days before the 1989 lunar new year, astrophysicist Fang Lizhi published an essay which began:

"Nineteen eighty-nine is the Year of the Snake in China. It is not clear whether this snake will bring any great temptations. But this much is predictable: the year will stimulate Chinese into deeper reflection upon the past and a more incisive look at the present….

[T]here is no rational basis for a belief that this kind of dictatorship can overcome the corruption that it has itself bred; and that, based on this problem alone, we need a more effective role for public opinion and a more independent judiciary. This means, in effect, more democracy.” (translated by Perry Link)

 By this time, Fang was a well-known dissident. His writings and speeches helped inspire students to demonstrate in Beijing in 1986. As a result, he was stripped of his academic leadership position and was expelled from the Chinese Communist Party. But he was permitted to continue with his research and writing. The essay cited above was not Fang’s first provocative act of 1989. In January, he’d written a letter to Deng Xiaoping, later shared with reporters, calling for the release of political prisoners, including Wei Jingsheng who had been jailed in 1979 for arguing China needed a fifth modernization, democracy, in addition to Deng’s list of four.

 

 
 Pres. George Bush in Beijing, February 1989

Fang entered the international spotlight just a couple weeks later when he was invited to attend a banquet hosted by George H.W. Bush, who was making his first trip to China as U.S. president. Fang’s car was stopped by police and he was prevented from reaching the dinner. The White House publicly expressed regret over the police action, but privately sent signals blaming the incident on the embassy and suggesting to Chinese officials that Bush intended no offense. There were plenty of smiles when Bush met Deng and when he and his wife received Flying Pigeon bicycles from Premier Li Peng, a gift intended as a remembrance of how the Bush family sometimes bicycled around Beijing when he headed the U.S. Liaison Office there in the mid-1970s.

 

By April 1989, it was clear that Fang’s prediction that at least some Chinese would be in a reflective mood was correct. On April 15, students seized upon the death of Hu Yaobang, the former CCP general secretary removed by Deng Xiaoping over his handling of the 1986 student protests. Students went to Tiananmen Square, as others had done in 1976, and in mourning Hu also criticized other leaders and the authoritarian government. The protests grew in Beijing and spread to other cities. The party leadership was divided in how to respond. People’s Daily labeled the protests as counterrevolutionary and martial law was declared. Ultimately the party state used soldiers and guns to end the demonstrations.

Deng Xiaoping and his fellow elders removed Zhao Ziyang as CCP general secretary, congratulated the army on restoring order, and weathered the international condemnation that followed the bloodshed and rounding up of protest leaders.

Economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and others stung, but China’s post June 4 economic problems were even more a function of a credit contraction ordered in 1988 to stem inflation. In fact, resentment over inflation and official corruption had done much to bring workers and others into the streets to support the student-initiated protests.

Economic reform and engagement with the larger world continued, though it was not steady and sometimes required bold leadership. Exports were expanding, foreign investment increasing, and cities were growing as migrants from the countryside found factory, construction, and service work. American television shows as varied as cop dramas (e.g., Hunter), soap operas (e.g., Dynasty), and historical miniseries (e.g., Roots) were among the foreign fare that many Chinese had been consuming on state television networks since the 1980s. On pirated VCDs and, later, DVDs they watched a whole lot more. By the next snake year, 2001, China had quadrupled college seats compared to the early 1980s and more students were finding opportunities to study abroad.

Perhaps the most significant event of snake year 2001, for China and the world, was its December entry into the World Trade Organization. Premier Zhu Rongji had used this objective to help him push through reform of many of China’s moribund state-owned enterprises. Some went bankrupt and others forced workers into early retirement in order to improve their balance sheets. Many major enterprises were pushed to adopt at least the appearance of adhering to international norms of accounting so as to get access to capital through listing on exchanges in New York and elsewhere.

Getting China into the WTO wasn’t just an objective of the Chinese leadership. Many American leaders, including President Bill Clinton wanted it and pushed hard to make it happen. In asking Congress to grant China permanent normal trade relations status, Clinton argued, “[I]f you believe in a future of greater openness and freedom for the people of China, you ought to be for this agreement. If you believe in a future of greater prosperity for the American people, you certainly should be for this agreement. If you believe in a future of peace and security for Asia and the world, you should be for this agreement. This is the right thing to do. It's an historic opportunity and a profound American responsibility.”

Many things have happened in the eleven years since China entered the WTO and became more involved with other international organizations. First, China has become one of the world’s top trading nations (no. 1 in exports, no. 2 in imports and in the top four in services). China has

 

become the second most popular destination for foreign direct investment. Trade and investment have helped China build the world’s second largest economy. This progress is evident in the skylines of cities and in the much improved living circumstances of hundreds of millions of people. China’s gross domestic product per capita has increased fivefold since the country entered the WTO.

In 1977, the U.S. and China exchanged $372 million in goods. Last year, the two countries exchanged more than $500 billion in goods. Since entering WTO, China's exports to the U.S.

 

have increased fourfold. What most Americans don't realize is that U.S. exports to China have increased fivefold since 2001.

In snake year 2013 Chinese enjoy much more freedom in the personal lives than they did in 1977 or even 2001. The communications revolution and greater openness and opportunity for travel have expanded Chinese horizons and widened contacts immensely. At the same time, many political constraints remain and simple speech can be labeled a threat to the state and punished severely. Some are limited in their ability to peacefully practice their religion. Non-state sponsored organizations exist, but are vulnerable to arbitrary state action. The party-state remains jealous of its authority. The tendency to argue foreign hands must be behind organized expressions of discontent remains strong.

 

As China enters this year of the snake, it faces enormous challenges. In surveys, the Chinese public readily identifies many of these: horrific pollution, a widening gap between rich and poor, and pervasive official corruption tend to top the list, but people also complain about the prices of health care, housing and food prices. China’s increasingly better educated population has trouble finding satisfying work. Real improvements in living standards haven’t kept up with rising expectations of those saturated in advertising, soap operas, and the conspicuous consumption of their social media networks. The rapidly aging population and the skewed sex ratio of the under-30 population pose social and economic problems. The Chinese government no longer releases information on civil disturbances, but most believe strikes, marches, and other protests, some of them violent, have increased in number in recent years.

 

On the international horizon, China is engaged in several territorial disputes that threaten to flare up into serious conflicts. Multinational firms complain that they remain shut out of key Chinese markets and that the Chinese state unfairly aids its firms in moving into foreign markets. Some foreign firms are moving production out of China to save money, protect their intellectual property, or to get closer to vital markets.

This is a fairly daunting list of real and potential problems. At the same time, in snake year 2013 China has much greater resources to address some of these challenges. China is much more involved in international organizations (e.g., in 2012 China contributed more personnel to United Nations peacekeeping operations than the other four permanent members of the Security Council combined). Ties with countries such as the U.S. are multifaceted and those involved have found ways to effectively collaborate.

So much has changed for China, the U.S., and the world since snake year 1977. We are far more interdependent than we were then, which makes effective leadership and sustained cooperation all the more essential if we are to seize opportunities and cope with complex and pressing issues.

Here’s hoping we all have an outstanding year of the snake!

Year of the Snake Stamps
Which of the stamps is your favorite? Please vote on our Facebook page.

China

China 1989, 2001 versions

 

Hong Kong

Macau

Taiwan (Republic of China)

United States (and 2001 version)

Australia

Brazil (2001)

Cambodia (2001)

 

Canada

 
France

Gambia (2001)

Guyana (and also 2001 version)

Indonesia

 

Isle of Man

Japan

Korea, North

Korea, South

Liechtenstein

 

Mali (combination Dragon/Serpent stamp sheet)

Micronesia (2001)

 

Mongolia

New Zealand

Palau (2001)

 

Papua New Guinea

Philippines

 

Serbia

 

Singapore

Slovenia

Somalia (2001)

Thailand

United Nations

Most countries use the term "lunar new year," recognizing that several East Asian nations have utilized the calendar and celebrate the new year. The UN, however, prints its stamps on a sheet that says, "Chinese Lunar Calendar."

Vietnam

Some countries have opted to issue sets of twelve stamps to cover the full lunar cycle. Snake samples from those collections are below.

Antigua & Barbuda

Grenada

Liberia

Sierra Leone

 

Previous years:
2012 Year of the Dragon | 2011 Year of the Rabbit

2010 Year of the Tiger  |  2009 Year of the Ox

 

*****

Below and at the calendar section of our website we offer information about China-focused programs and exhibitions across North America. The resource section of our website offers information about available fellowships, our online collection of speeches, treaties, and reports, and more. We always appreciate your feedback grateful when you pass Talking Points on to friends, students, and colleagues. They can write to us at uschina@usc.edu to join our mailing list. Click here to see back issues of Talking Points.

 

We welcome and need your financial support. Donations in any amount are welcome and are tax deductible in the U.S. Click here to donate via the secure USC server

Thank you for reading. We look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,
The USC US-China Institute     

 

Subscribe at http://china.usc.edu/subscribe.aspx
Talking Points archive: http://china.usc.edu/resources60.aspx
USC and China in the News
Donate at china.usc.edu/ShowArticle.aspx

 

EventsEvents

USC | California | North America | Exhibitions

  

USCUSC Events

02/08/2013: Screening: Shanghai Calling 
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, George Lucas Building, SCA 108
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Time: 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Cost: Free, RSVP full.
The U.S.-China Institute, the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and the Asia Society present a screening of the romantic comedy about Sam Chao (Daniel Henney), a Chinese American attorney who is sent to China on business, and all the complications that ensue in both his work life and personal life. Followed by a discussion with producer Janet Yang.

02/13/2013: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something - Red? China's Performing Arts in the 21st Century: a marriage of tradition and modernity, east and west
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, ASC 204
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Time: 4:00-5:30PM
Cost: Free, RSVP at uschina@usc.edu

The USC U.S.-China Institute presents a talk with Alison Friedman to discuss how China is searching for a new globalized contemporary identity through music, dance and theater

02/14/2013: Remembering Nation Brands: Recollections of Visitor Experiences at the Shanghai World Expo, CPD Conversations in Public Diplomacy
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism 207 (Geoffrey Cowan Forum)
3502 Watt Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Time: 12:00PM
The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is pleased to host Professor Jay Wang for a discussion about the findings from his research into the 2010 Shanghai Expo.

02/14/2013: Asia and the Global South
Social Sciences Building (SOS) B40
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Time: 1:00PM - 5:00PM
JEASC Annual Conference & Graduate Student Professional Development Workshop on Asia and the Global South

Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, ASC 204
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089 
Time: 4:00-5:30PM
Cost: Free, RSVP at uschina@usc.edu.
The USC U.S.-China Institute presents a talk by Ryan Pyle, longtime China-based photojournalist, showcasing photographs and video from his most recent 18,000 km journey across China.
 

CACalifornia Events

 

 

02/08/2013: Violence and Scandal in Eighteenth-Century Eurasia
University of California Los Angeles, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron St., Los Angeles, CA 90018
Time: 10:00AM - 12:45PM
Cost: $20 per person to attend the conference; UC faculty & staff, students with ID: no charge
The UCLA Center for 17th & 18th Century Studies presents a talk on violence in eighteenth century Eurasia as a part of the core conference "Moralism, Fundamentalism, and the Rhetoric of Decline in Eurasia, 1600-1900."

02/08/2013: Cities, Texts, and Social Decline across the Eighteenth-Century Eurasian Continent
University of California Los Angeles, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron St., Los Angeles, CA 90018
Time: 1:45PM - 3:15PM
Cost: $20 per person to attend the conference; UC faculty & staff, students with ID: no charge
The UCLA Center for 17th & 18th Century Studies presents a talk on cities and social decline in eighteenth century Eurasia as a part of the core conference "Moralism, Fundamentalism, and the Rhetoric of Decline in Eurasia, 1600-1900."

02/08/2013: Critiques of State Power in Visual and Literary Representations across Eurasia
University of California Los Angeles, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron St., Los Angeles, CA 90018
Time: 3:30PM - 5:00PM
Cost: $20 per person to attend the conference; UC faculty & staff, students with ID: no charge
The UCLA Center for 17th & 18th Century Studies presents a talk on visual and literary representations in eighteenth century Eurasia as a part of the core conference "Moralism, Fundamentalism, and the Rhetoric of Decline in Eurasia, 1600-1900."

02/11/2013: Law and/or Justice in Island Disputes in East Asia
UC Berkeley Institute of East Asian Studies (6th Floor)
2223 Fulton Street, Berkeley, CA 94720
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
This discussion includes possible solutions to the Island Disputes best fit to the sense of justice in the region

02/16/2013: Chinese New Year Festival
Huntington Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108
Time: 10:30AM - 4:30PM
The Huntington Library hosts a celebration of the Chinese New Year.

02/17/2013: Screening: Invitation to World Literature
Pacific Asia Museum
46 N. Los Robles, Pasadena, CA 91101
Time: 1:00PM - 4:00PM
The Pacific Asia Museum presents screenings, including Journey to the West.

02/17/2013: Chinese New Year at Forbidden City
Forbidden City Restaurant
6380-A E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA 90803
Cost: $45 per adult at the door; $30 students, $10 Children under 10
Time: 5:00PM - 7:30PM
Celebrate the Year of the Snake! Join the Long Beach-Qingdao Sister City Association to celebrate the year of the snake with an evening of special entertainment including the traditional Lion Dance and a fine Chinese banquet.

02/20/2013: China-Latin America Trade on the Pacific Rim: Opportunities in a New Economic Era

Omni Hotel
251 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Time: 8:00AM - 2:00PM
The Institute of the Americas and the Institute of Latin American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) will convene experts from the United States, Latin America and China to discuss emerging business trends in China and Latin America and the impact on the Los Angeles economy.   

  

NorthAmericaNorth America Events 

02/08/2013: Embedded Feminist Agency: Wang Ping and Early Chinese Socialist Chinema
Harvard University, CGIS South, Room S153
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Time: 4:15PM - 6:00PM
Lingzhen Wang will examine the first Chinese socialist female film director and her most representative film: The Story of Liubao Village (1956), re-theorizing female cinematic authorship.

 

02/08/2013: Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse
Indiana University, Ballatine 004
1021 East 3rd Street, Bloomington, IN 47405
Time: 12:00PM - 1:15PM
Part of the Fourth East Asian Colloquium, Shelley Riggers will discuss her book on Taiwan's global impact.

02/08/2013: China's Century? Beijing's Rocky Road to Great Power Status
The Elliott School of International Affairs (Lindner Commons Room 602)
1957 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052
Time: 12:30PM - 1:30PM
On February 7, 2013, the Transatlantic Academy will host a lunch discussion with Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules the World.

02/08/2013: Empire in East Asia II
Columbia University, International Affairs Building, Room 918
420 W. 118 St., New York, NY 10027
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
The Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI) presents "Empire in East Asia II" as part of the workshop series, After the Postcolonial Turn: Global Perspectives.

  

02/12/2013: Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in Chinese Courts
Columbia University, Jerome Greene Hall Room 546
435 W. 116 St., New York City, NY 10027
Time: 12:15PM - 1:15PM
The Center for Chinese Legal Studies at Columbia University presents a talk on foreign arbitral awards in China.

02/13/2013: Green Innovation in China: China's Wind Power Industry and the Global Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy
Columbia University, International Affairs Building, Room 918
420 W. 118 St., New York, NY 10027
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
The Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI) presents "Green Innovation in China: China’s Wind Power Industry and the Global Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy," a brown bag lecture with Joanna Lewis, Assistant Professor of Science, Technology, and International Affairs (STIA), Georgetown University. 

02/13/2013: China's Middle East Pivot: Implications for Sino-US Relations
Columbia University, International Affairs Building, Room 918
420 W. 118 St., New York, NY 10027
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
The Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI) presents "China’s Middle East Pivot: Implications for Sino-US Relations," a brown bag lecture with Dru Gladney, Professor of Anthropology, Pomona College.

02/13/2013: Screening: When China Met Africa
The Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art, Meyer Auditorium
Freer Gallery Jefferson Drive at 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20004
Time: 7:00PM - 8:30PM
Cost: Free
When China Met Africa will be screened at the Freer and Sackler Museum of Asian Art.

02/14/2013: Chinese-African trade and investment relationships
Ohio State University, Mason Hall (Fisher College)
250 West Woodruff Avenue , Columbus, OH 43210
Time: 12:00PM
The Institute for Chinese Studies at the Ohio State University presents a talk on Chinese-African trade and investment relationships as part of the "China at a Crossroads" Lecture Series.

02/15/2013: An investigation of language usage in service category in Panyu District of Guangzhou
Ohio State University, Jennings Hall, Room 060
1735 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210
Time: 2:00PM
The Institute for Chinese Studies at the Ohio State University presents a talk on language usage in service category in Panyu District of Guangzhou as part of the "China at a Crossroads" Lecture Series.

02/19/2013: China Colloquium Series: Pamela Crossley
Yale University, Room 211, Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS)
320 York Street , New Haven, CT 06511
Time: 5:30PM
The Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University presents a talk with Pamela Crossley as a part of the China Colloquium Series and the International History Workshop Series.

02/19/2013: Notes on the Use of Narrative in Chinese Textbooks (1900-1937)
Columbia University, International Affairs Building, Room 918
420 W. 118 St., New York, NY 10027
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
The Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI) presents "Notes on the Use of Narrative in Chinese Textbooks (1900-1937)," a brown bag lecture with Peter Zarrow.    

 

ExhibitionsExhibitions

Below are exhibitions ending in the next two weeks. Please visit the main exhibitions calendar for a complete list of ongoing exhibitions.

 

ends 02/10/2013: Noble Change: Tantric Art of the High Himalaya
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art
2010 Flora Street (Between Harwood & Olive), Dallas, TX 75201
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, TX presents an exhibition that features Himalayan region art.

ends 02/16/2013: Curator's Tour: The Garden in Asia Exhibit
Pacific Asia Museum
46 N. Los Robles, Pasadena, CA 91101
Enjoy a closer look at the art and imagery of The Garden in Asia as curatorial staff lead a special tour of the exhibition.

ends 02/17/2013: Perspectives 180 - Unifinished Country: New Video from China
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
5216 Montrose Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77006
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston presents a cross-section of work by a new generation of artists from China working in video and video installation.  


     
USC U.S.-China Institute | 3535 S. Figueroa Street, FIG 202 | Los Angeles | CA | 90089

Tel: 213-821-4382 | Fax: 213-821-2382 | uschina@usc.edu | china.usc.edu   

Annenberg banner

Print

Events

February 28, 2019 - 4:00pm
Los Angeles, California

The USC U.S.-China Institute presents a discussion with Akira Chiba, the Consul General of the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles, on Japan's relations with China.

March 6, 2019 - 4:00pm
Los Angeles, California

Carl Minzner joins the USC U.S.-China Institute for a conversation about his new book. End of an Era argues that China's reform era is ending, and outlines the potential outcomes that could result.