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Talking Points, January 23 - February 1, 2012 Happy Year of the Dragon!

Our Lunar New Year edition includes our collection of dragon-year stamps from around the world, a brief summary of our look at the Taiwan presidential election, and our usual round-up of upcoming China-focused events and exhibitions across North America.
January 23, 2012

Talking Points

January 23 - Feburary 1, 2012
Happy New Year! 祝你们龙年快乐!

skip to the calendar | skip to the dragon stamps | read on the web

Updated in 2022, originally published on Jan. 23, 2012

It’s a lunar new year custom for elders to give “red envelopes” (红包 hongbao) to children
. Since this year’s Taiwan presidential election was just a week ahead of the lunar new year, each of the three presidential campaigns offered supporters red envelopes to use on the holiday. From the left, the People First Party (presidential candidate James Soong holds up a scroll which says “Gongxi facai 恭喜发财!” - Congratulations and be prosperous!), the Kuomintang (Nationalist) Party candidates Ma Ying-jeou and Wu Den-yih offer a couplet along the lines of “dragons soaring, tigers leaping, and complete happiness on the precious isle,” and the Democratic Progressive Party’s “Taiwan’s good fortune [begins in 2012].”

Please click here if you'd like to skip to our popular collection of new year's stamps.

KMT incumbent Ma Ying-jeou  馬英九 won the presidential race on January 14 by a large margin, but the race was much closer than his 2008 triumph
. Ma defeated DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen 蔡英文 by 800,000 votes. In 2008, he won by 2.3 million votes. On Friday, a USC U.S.-China Institute panel examined the key issues in the campaign, the strategies employed by the parties, what the election suggests about Taiwanese society, and what the outcome could mean for Taiwan’s relations with China and with the United States.

Americans should be interested in the election because Taiwan’s democratic development is recent and remarkable and American support for Taiwan is long-standing and a constant issue in the U.S.-China relationship. Identity issues used to animate these elections, but now there is a general consensus that strong economic ties with the mainland are necessary and desirable. At the same time, relatively few people in Taiwan favor formally declaring independence or pursuing some sort of unification with the mainland. This election affirmed general satisfaction with the gradual improvement of economic relations with the mainland. Ma and the KMT argued their victory represented popular support for the so-called 1992 consensus (that is, the notion that both sides of the Taiwan strait agree that there is just one China, but have different ideas about what that means). Others reject that view and describe the vote as merely affirming widespread support for the status quo – that is, an autonomous Taiwan which cooperates with the mainland, but operates independent of it.

Presentations explored the efforts the parties made to mobilize voters and how dramatically campaign ads have changed since the 1990s. Speakers discussed the gaps between the parties in financial resources and organizational strength. Several stressed that Taiwan’s democracy was maturing, but it was noted that non-partisan or bi-partisan civic organizations remain weak.

Three speakers emphasized that people in Taiwan were mindful that the Chinese government much preferred to deal with Ma and the KMT and that Doug Paal, the top American representative in Taiwan from 2002-2006, deliberately sought to convey the idea that the American government also favored Ma. The current American representative in Taiwan insisted this was not the case and that the U.S. would work with whomever the people of Taiwan elected. It was also noted that while many in Taiwan told pollsters they favored James Song of the People First Party for president, when it came time to cast ballots, they either stayed home or voted for staying the course with Ma.

In addition to his pledge to seek popular support before engaging in discussions about a peace treaty or political arrangments, Ma is likely to be constrained in his second term by his need to work with a legislature that looks quite different from the one he enjoyed in his first four years in office. The KMT used to have 81 of the 113 legislative seats. In the new legislature it holds 64 seats. It still has a majority, but the DPP and its coalition partner the Taiwan Solidarity Union now hold 43 seats, a big jump from the 27 they held previously.

The concluding presentation and much of the question and answer session focused on how Beijing will respond to Ma’s reelection. The Chinese Communist Party is absorbed in preparations for its own leadership transition this fall. It’s unclear if China’s current or new leaders will be anxious to push Ma to accelerate economic integration or to open political negotiations. They could view Ma and the KMT’s weaker showing in this election as reason to move quickly so as to possibly avoid having to deal with a DPP government after the next election. Or they could see the vote as validating the mainland’s policy of fostering gradual economic integration as the most effective means of binding Taiwan to the mainland.

Again, the full presentations, including maps, photos, charts, and advertisements are available at our website and YouTube channel.


The stationing of American troops in Taiwan and American support for Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT government there were large obstacles to Richard Nixon’s efforts to reach out to China’s leadership. Even after Nixon got to China, Taiwan’s status and American support for Taiwan remained a sticking point as negotiators sought to hammer out what became the Shanghai Communique.

Much of that story is well-known, though not as familiar as the dramatic images of Nixon and Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong. What isn’t widely known is how American and Chinese officials worked together to get news organizations to deliver those powerful images and how American journalists, including the most famous of them, jockeyed to be a part of the Nixon trip and struggled to offer readers and viewers something fresh and timely. Join us on Thursday, January 26 to see some of those officials and journalists tell their story in the newest segment in our documentary series Assignment: China, "The Week that Changed the World" (now available at: website, YouTube channel).

Ted Koppel (ABC), Dan Rather (CBS), Barbara Walters (NBC), Tom Jarriel (ABC), Stanley Karnow (Washington Post), Max Frankel (New York Times), and Robert Keatley (Wall Street Journal) are among the journalists interviewed along with Nixon aides, State Department officials, and an official from the Chinese foreign ministry. The documentary features news footage from the trip as well as never before released archival footage. Reservations are necessary to attend the screening. You can learn more about the project and see our earlier segment on the 1979-1983 period at


We continue our annual tradition of marking the lunar new year with dragon year stamps from a variety of countries. 

First, 2012 stamps from China and the United States.


United States

Both countries, of course, have issued dragon year stamps before. The first such stamp was issued in Tianjin in 1878. The first U.S. stamp commemorating the dragon year was issued in 1988.

Tianjin 1878

China 1988, China 2000

United States 2000

Hong Kong


1988 (still a crown colony)









Several countries which haven’t previously issued lunar new year stamps joined the celebration this year. Especially noteworthy in this regard is the United Kingdom. Its former colony of Hong Kong routinely issued such stamps, but this is the first time for the Royal Mail to issue a lunar new year stamp. Cynics might wonder if the motivation was hard budget times. Collectors world wide love these stamps (which partly accounts for why many smaller nations have long issued them). And others will note that the stamps themselves don’t actually mark the lunar new year. Instead that happens only on the special sheets of 20 stamps.

United Kingdom




Cambodia (2000)


Cote'd ivorie


Dominican Republic 2000 (highlights diplomatic ties with the Republic of China, Taiwan)




Guine Bissau

Indonesia 2000






Ryukyu Islands (U.S. administered),1954











New Zealand

North Korea

The Philippines

Sierra Leone



South Korea


United Nations




1976 (not issued - South Vietnam was absorbed by the North in 1975)

Want more lunar new year stamps?
2022: Year of the Tiger
2021: Year of the Ox
2020: Year of the Rat
2019: Year of the Pig
2018: Year of the Dog
2017: Year of the Rooster
2016: Year of the Monkey
2015: Year of the Ram/Goat/Sheep
2014: Year of the Horse
2013: Year of the Snake
2012: Year of the Dragon
2011: Year of the Rabbit
2010: Year of the Tiger
2009: Year of the Ox

We hope all Talking Points readers have a wonderful holiday. Please forward this newsletter to friends and family. We always welcome your comments at

If you've received an interesting or odd "year of the dragon" advertising pitch, we'd like to see it as well. Please send it to us at

Happy New Year!


Best wishes,
The USC US-China Institute

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USC | California | North America | Exhibitions




01/26/2012: Premiere Screening of Assignment: China – The Week that Changed the World
Vineyard Room, Davidson Conference Center
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free, please RSVP.
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
The USC U.S.-China Institute will screen the new segment of Assignment: China focusing on the historic visit to China by Richard Nixon.

01/26/2012: Soft Power through China’s Confucius Institutes: A Conversation with Jian (Jay) Wang
SOS 250
University of Southern California , Los Angeles, California 90089
Cost: Free, please RSVP.
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
The USC Center on Public Diplomacy presents a talk with Professor Jay Wang to examine the Confucius Institute as a platform for China’s cultural diplomacy within the larger context of U.S.-China relations.






01/26/2012: No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems by Liu Xiaobo - Perry Link, Editor
Asia Society and Museum
57 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94104
Cost: Asia Society/Mechanics' Institute members: Free admission. Non-members: $12.
Time: 6:00PM - 7:30PM
The Asia Society and Museum presents Perry Link in San Francisco, CA.

01/27/2012: Building China: Migrant Workers in China’s Construction Industry
UC Berkeley, IEAS Conference Room, Sixth Floor
2223 Fulton Street, Berkeley , California 94720
Cost: Free
Time: 5:00PM - 6:00PM
The Center for Chinese Studies at UC Berkeley presents a discussion with Katie Quan and Sarah Swider.

01/28/2012: Buried with the Sky with Dr. Ed Krupp
Bowers Museum
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706
Cost: Fee: Members $65 / Non-members $75
Time: 4:00PM - 9:00PM
The Bowers Museum presents Dr. Ed Krupp who plans to discuss astronomy and the tombs of ancient China.

01/31/2012: Divorce, Abortion and Sex Ratio at Birth: The Effect of the Amended Divorce Law in China
Stanford University
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor, Stanford, California 94305
Cost: Free
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
Stanford University presents a discussion with Ang Sun on whether and to what extent the relative circumstances of men and women following marital dissolution affect sex selection behavior within marriages.

North America

01/26/2012: China’s future: Smart State and Strong Society - a Review of the Wenchuan Earthquake Response
Harvard University, Yenching Common Room
2 Divinity Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
Time: 12:00PM
The Harvard-Yenching Institute presents Qiang Zhang.

01/27/2012: Protestant Missionary Publications in Chinese to 1911
Harvard University, CGIS South, Room S153
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Time: 12:15PM
Harvard's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies presents Ryan Dunch as part of the Chinese Religions Seminar.

01/27/2012: Special Event: Annual Chinese New Year Celebration
Cipriani 42nd Street

110 East 42nd Street (between Lexington and Park Avenue), New York, NY 10017
Cost: Tables of 12 - $4,500; Individual Tickets - $400
Time: 6:30PM - 11:30PM
The China Institute in America hosts a Chinese New Years Celebration in New York.

01/31/2012: Screening of Assignment: China – The Week that Changed the World
Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue, New York, NY
Cost: Student: $5, senior: $7, non-Member: $10, Member: Free
Time: 6:30PM - 8:15PM
The Asia Society presents a screening of "Assignment: China – The Week that Changed the World," a film that offers a fascinating and previously untold perspective on one of the most important historical moments of the 20th century.

02/01/2012: Rising Inequality in China: Housing Privatization and Other Factors
Harvard University, CGIS South, Belfer Case Study Room (S020)
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Time: 5:15PM - 9:00PM
Harvard's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies presents Terry Sicular as part of the New England China Seminar.

02/01/2012: The Roots of Local Territorial Control: Housing Privatization and Enterprise Reform in the 1980s and 1990s
Harvard University, CGIS South, Belfer Case Study Room (S020)
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Harvard's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies presents Meg Rithmire as part of the New England China Seminar.
Time: 5:15PM - 9:00PM


Below are exhibitions ending this week. Please visit the main exhibitions calendar for a complete list of ongoing exhibitions.

ends 01/25/2012: Of Power and Profit: American Seamen in Asian Waters
University of California, Berkeley
Institute of East Asian Studies 2223 Fulton, 6th Floor , Berkeley, CA 94720-2318
Cost: Free
UC Berkeley presents a photo exhibition of the Asian voyages taken by 19th century American naval officer, Asa Mattice.

ends 01/29/2012: The Empress Dowager
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Art
1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20439
Smithsonian Institute presents the only photographic series taken of Cixi—the supreme leader of China for more than forty-five years—that represents a unique convergence of Qing court pictorial traditions, modern photographic techniques, and Western standards of artistic portraiture.

ends 01/31/2012: Remembering Angel Island
Chinese American Museum
425 N. Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
The Chinese American Museum's Remembering Angel Island exhibition commemorates the 100th year anniversary of the opening of Angel Island Immigration Station through its history, legacy, and unforgettable stories.


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