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Talking Points, January 30 - February 13, 2008

USCI's weekly newsletter
January 30, 2008

USC U.S.-China Institute

Talking Points
January 30 - February 13, 2008

The lunar new year is just a week away and one out of five Chinese are traveling, often great distances, to return home for the holiday. Our “on an average day” series has an article (written last fall) about this annual “Chunyun” migration. This year heavy snows and energy shortages are halting trains and buses and leaving tens of millions stranded. More than fifty people have been killed in weather-related accidents. Aware of the vulnerability of travelers and mindful of how important the holiday is for people, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao made a well-publicized trip to South Central China and apologized to travelers stranded at the Changsha rail station. The government has ordered the army and police to set up shelters and to deliver food to people stuck on immobile trains. It is also implementing rolling blackouts and other energy conservation measures.

This crisis and the government’s response to it was one of the topics addressed at USC this afternoon by Li Zhongjie, head of a high level delegation from China. Li, vice minister of the Chinese Communist Party’s Party History Research Office, was the principal author of Party General Secretary Hu Jintao’s report at the recent National Party Congress. Li and the delegation met with USC researchers to discuss challenges confronting China and how the Party and government intend to address them. Most of the discussion focused on the government’s intention to continue pressing ahead with economic reform and international engagement, but Li also spoke about how these snowstorms demonstrated shortcomings in the government’s ability to implement emergency plans.

Li highlighted four themes from the report: 1) China’s economic reforms have produced remarkable progress, lifting hundreds of millions from poverty and having a positive and measurable effect on life expectancies and other measures. 2) The aim now is to continue these advances so that by 2020 China’s can be considered a moderately prosperous society. Long-term sustainability is part of this aim, through more efficient energy use and working to better protect the environment. 3) Such sustainable development will require a more systematic approach to social planning and economic decision-making. This “scientific development” effort is to bring greater numbers of people into the planning and decision-making process and will include a focus on addressing inequalities within and across regions and fostering innovation. 4) China’s leaders argue that China’s rise need not produce international strains. The government intends to work collaboratively to address global challenges. In response to a question, Li argued that differences among nations need not lead to conflict. Li noted that many in China are closely following the American presidential campaign and news about American economic woes, wondering about possible implications for U.S.-China relations and China’s economy.

A question about efforts to curb corruption sparked an extended response from Li. He noted the corrosive impact corruption has on popular attitudes toward the Party and the government and its officers and acknowledged that corruption has grown with economic expansion. Li argued, though, that both the Party and government were taking action to address the problem. He noted that investigations had resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of officials both high and low. Li cited the conviction of former politburo member Chen Liangyu as an example that even top officials are not immune from prosecution. Li detailed a number of preventive measures that were underway, including a “scared straight” program where officials are taken to prisons to hear from corrupt officials who are now doing time. Clearly Chinese leaders are sensitive to the potential corruption or perceptions of corruption have to generate popular discontent.

Over the next two weeks, USCI offers presentations addressing aspects of these issues. Disputes over working conditions, wages, and benefits and efforts to create a legal system to mediate them are among the topics Michigan political scientist Mary Gallagher takes up at 3 pm on Thursday, Jan. 31. On Feb. 12 Washington political scientist David Bachman will examine how China’s rise is likely to affect its relationships with America’s Asian allies. And on Feb. 17, a panel of historians and policy analysts take on the question of whether or not studies of the past help to illuminate the China's foreign affairs in the present. Details about these programs and others are below and in the calendar section of our website.

Secondary school teachers are reminded that the deadline to apply for our summer 2008 study tour to East Asia is February 1. We are also launching two new East Asia and New Media seminars and invite teachers to apply. Please go to the K-12 Curriculum section of our website for more information. We encourage USC faculty and students to learn about our research grants. The application deadline is March 3. Information is available in the announcements section of our website.


The new issue of our student-driven magazine, US-China Today, is out. The popularity in China of music and musicians from Taiwan, increasing American adoptions of children from China, and China's great internet firewall are among the topics in this issue.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions. Please pass Talking Points along to friends and colleagues. They can subscribe at

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

USC Events

01/31/2008: Legislating Harmony? Authoritarianism and the Rule of Law in China

USC Leavey Library Auditorium
Time: 3:00PM - 5:00PM
Cost: Free
University of Michigan's Mary Gallagher focuses on labor and law.

02/01/2008: The Early Modern in East Asia: The Challenges of Periodization

USC Social Science Building 250, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
Time: 9:00am-5:00pm
Please rsvp to:
Can we apply a standard periodization scheme across East Asia? Historians of China, Japan, and Korea examine economic and cultural networks, environmental patterns, intellectual trends, state structures and practices, and contemporary debates on "the nation".

02/12/2008: China's Rise and the Limits on Balancing by US Allies in Asia

USC University Club, Pub Room
Time: 3:30PM - 5:00PM
Cost: Free
David Bachman will speak on U.S.-China Relations.

California Events

01/31/2008: Meet the Author: James Mann, The China Fantasy
World Affairs Council 312 Sutter Street San Francisco, CA
Cost: $7 Asia Society Members. $15 Non-Members
Time: 5:30PM - 8:00PM
In The China Fantasy: How Our Leaders Explain Away Chinese Repression, author James Mann examines the evolution of American policy toward China and asks, "What are our ideas and hidden assumptions about China?"
01/31/2008: Chinese Independent Documentary Series: The Hurricane

2534 Melnitz Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Time: 7:00PM - 10:00PM
Phone: 310-825-8683
Cost: Free
Directors Duan Jinchuan and Jiang Yue's 2005 documentary "The Hurricane" provides personal accounts of the communist Land Reform (1946-1953). 
02/01/2008: "Will the Rise of Chinese Nationalism Make China's Rise Less Peaceful?"

IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor, Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
University of Denver's Suisheng Zhao addresses concerns regarding China's rise to great power status and the implications this has for Chinese foreign policy. Please click here to read about a presentation Prof. Zhao made in Feb. 2007 and click here to see a presentation Prof. Zhao made in April 2007.
02/05/2008: Poetry and Calligraphy in the Garden
Friends’ Hall
1151 Oxford Road , San Marino, CA 91108
Time: 7:30PM - 9:00PM
Professor Yang Ye explores the arts of poetry and calligraphy in a traditional Chinese garden. 
02/06/2008: China, Fragile Superpower: How China's Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise

IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor, Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 5:00PM - 7:00PM
Susan Shirk, Director, UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California, San Diego.

02/07/2008: All in this tea– A film screening with Les Blank
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (Main Gallery)
Address: 103 Kroeber Hall Berkeley, CA 94720-3712
Cost: Free
Time: 7:00PM - 9:00PM
World-renowned tea expert David Lee Hoffman explores some of the most remote regions of China in search of the best handmade teas in the world.

02/07/2008: Chinese Independent Documentary Series: The Other Bank

2534 Melnitz Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Cost: Free
Time: 7:00PM - 10:00PM
Phone: 310-825-8683
Director Jiang Yue's 1994 documentary follows a group of young Chinese actors and their unusual experiences in Chinese theatre. 

02/13/2008: The Criminalization of Adultery in 20th Century China

Hahn 101
333 North College Way, Claremont, CA 91711
Cost: Free
Time: 4:15PM - 5:30PM
Lecture by Lisa Tran, CSU Fullerton. 

North America Events: 

01/30/2008: Security, Identity and the Rise of China

Lindner Family Commons
The Elliott School of International Affairs, 6th Floor,
1957 E Street, NW
Cost: Free
Time: 12:30PM - 1:45PM
William Callahan will speak as part of Sigur Center's lecture series on Sub-national Asia. 

01/31/08: "Chinese Military Modernization: Strategic Contexts and Institutional Overview "

Thursday, January 31, 2008
Time: 12:00 PM-1:30 PM
918 IAB
420 West 118th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10027
Co-Sponsored with the APEC Study Center
David M. Finkelstein, Director of the China Studies Center & Project Asia at the CNA Corporation.


10/04/2007 - 02/08/2008: From the Abundant Pharmacy: Traditional Chinese Medicine in LA's Chinatown

The California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities: Big Sur Education Gallery
1000 N. Alameda Street , Los Angeles, CA 90012
Cost: Free
Time: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM; Monday thru Friday
The exhibition features historical and contemporary photographs and videos of selected stores and herbalists.

11/06/2007 - 02/10/2008: China on Paper: European and Chinese Works from the Late Sixteenth to the Early Nineteenth Century

Research Institute Exhibition Gallery, Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA
Cost: Free
Illustrated books, prints, and maps from the special collections of the Research Library tell the fascinating story of mutual interest and collaborative works produced by Chinese and Europeans from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century.

11/10/2007 - 02/17/2008: Everyday Luxury: Chinese Silks of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
1130 State Street , Santa Barbara, CA 93101
The exhibition features a collection of Chinese costumes and textiles from the last three hundred years.


01/23/2008 - 05/15/2008: Cycle of Life: Awakening - Works by Asian Women Artists
IEAS Gallery
2223 Fulton Street 6th Floor, Berkeley, CA
An exhibition featuring the art works of Asian women artists.


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We provide information about China-related events as a community service. If you would like your event considered for inclusion in the USCI calendar, please click here to submit event details.


USC U.S. – China Institute
3535 S. Figueroa St.
FIG 202
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1262
Tel: 213-821-4382
Fax: 213-821-2382
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