You are here

Talking Points, July 22 - August 5, 2009

The USC US-China Institute newsletter this week notes upcoming high level US-China meeting in Washington, economic trends, and the Chinese health care reform effort. And, as usual, we bring you a listing of China-related events and exhibitions across North America.
July 23, 2009

USC U.S.-China Institute Weekly Newsletter

Talking Points
July 22 - August 5, 2009

Beginning Monday, a Chinese delegation led by State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Vice Premier Wang Qishan will meet with President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and Secretary of the Treasury Geithner in the first installment of the new Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Key issues continue to be responding to the economic crisis, resolving trade and property protection disputes, addressing the problems posed by nuclear weapons proliferation, and working to reduce the threats posed by climate change.

On the economic front, it appears that Chinese government actions have made a significant difference. Chinese authorities dramatically expanded lending by 201% and this boosted economic growth over the past three months (7.9% according to the Chinese government). Unemployment and underemployment, though, remain high and many factories remain shuttered. Some worry that too much of the lending has been channeled into speculation. Shanghai’s stock market is up 80% this year. Many argue that Chinese consumer spending needs to substantially increase in order to make up for the decline in exports to the U.S. and elsewhere. McDonalds, for example, cut prices in China but still suffered a decline in customer visits and sales at its nearly 800 restaurants.

While U.S. stock markets have also responded positively to government stimulus efforts, unemployment is rising, along with personal bankruptcies, and housing foreclosures. Given the economy’s dependency on consumer spending, the recession seems long from being over.

Limited progress has been made in recent U.S.-China meetings to iron out trade matters and address the environmental concerns. One Chinese complaint, however, has been resolved. On July 10, the U.S. formally signed an agreement to build a pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. The U.S. was late to RSVP. More than 190 countries had already confirmed their participation. Money remains an issue as only half of the $61 million needed to build and operate the pavilion has been raised. A number of corporations have signed on as sponsors, but the U.S. organizers have much more fundraising to do. Hillary Clinton is credited with spearheading the effort to move U.S. participation forward.


The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a report today on global warming, noting that while the U.S. and China produce 40% of carbon dioxide emissions, “neither has yet been willing to take the dramatic actions that many experts deem necessary to achieve critical mass for a global effort.” The same committee also heard testimony today from Jon Huntsman, Utah governor and Obama’s choice as ambassador to China. Huntsman is expected to win easy confirmation. He speaks fluent Chinese, served as a missionary in Taiwan, was previously ambassador to Singapore and also worked as a deputy U.S. trade representative. He and his wife have seven children, including daughters adopted in China and India. Huntsman’s diplomatic skills were in evidence during the testimony and afterwards. He responded in Chinese to questions from Chinese reporters. Queried by a Utah reporter, Huntsman said he’d told them, “Utah is the best state in America.”


Health care reform is dominating American newscasts and talk shows. Americans spend twice as much (on a per capita basis) for health care than do people in other developed countries, yet 50 million are without health insurance and Americans don’t live as long as people in many developed countries. Until recent decades, China’s health care system got high marks among developing nations. Training paraprofessionals and promoting sanitation and hygiene improvements along with greater economic stability did much to lower the infant mortality rate of 25% in 1949 to 9% in 1970 and about 2% today. These measures also greatly reduced the incidence of many infectious diseases. In recent years, however, health care in rural areas has declined and the cost for all has grown immensely. Most Chinese are without real health insurance. A 2003 government survey showed the consequences of this. 30% of those households described as impoverished (pinkun 贫困) attributed their poverty to health care costs.

In April, China’s government announced a $124 billion three year effort to reform its health system. Today, the World Bank released a report looking at China’s recent health care experiences and advocating serious reforms. The report notes that China’s health care system has lagged far behind the country’s rapid economic development. (Other Bank studies have pointed to air and water pollution tied to that economic expansion as generating higher mortality rates.) Among the problems noted is the heavy financial burden borne by local governments and individuals. In many places this has encouraged a reliance on drug sales to pay the bills. Because of this, physicians, especially in rural areas, over-prescribe drugs. The Bank noted that the new reforms call on the central government to provide 40% of the financing, thus reducing the financial pressure on lower levels and individuals.

Below is a chart comparing the health indicators for the US, China, and the OCED average (the 30 mostly well-off nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Economic and health issues are among the topics to be examined in depth at this year’s USC Global Conference. It will be held in Taipei on October 29-31. Judith McKay is one of those who will speak. She's a Hong Kong based public health scholar and in 2007 she was named by Time Magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people. She’s an anti-smoking specialist and China represents an enormous challenge. China’s smokers consume 37% of the world’s cigarettes.

As always, we welcome your comments and encourage you to share Talking Points with others.

Best wishes,
The USC U.S.-China Institute
Support the Institute via the secure USC server:


07/27/2009: 2009 Summer Residential Seminar at USC 
USC, Davidson Conference Center
Los Angeles, CA 90089
For more information please visit:
An intensive nine-day equivalent of our "East Asia and New Media in My Classroom" professional development seminar for K-12 teachers employed outside of the greater Los Angeles area.


07/28/2009: Outsourcing R & D to China
The programs are free. Preregistration is required.
Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT
The U.S. Department of Commerce presents an Intellectual Property Rights in China Webinar Series.

North America  

08/03/2009: Deter, Defend, Repel, and Partner: A Defense Strategy for Taiwan
Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
Time: 9:30AM - 11:00AM
A report of the Taiwan policy working group.


02/10/2009 - 08/09/2009: Asian Journeys: Collecting Art in Post-war America
Asia Society and Museum
Address: 725 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021
Phone: 212-517-ASIA
Asia Society and Museum in New York presents John D. Rockefeller 3rd's exceptional collection of Asian art, as well as that of their adviser Sherman E. Lee.

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. 

11/14/2008 - 11/14/2009: Chinese Art: A Seattle Perspective
Seatle Asian Art Museum
1400 East Prospect Street , Volunteer Park , Seattle, WA 98112–3303
The Seattle Asian Art Museum presents an opportunity to see a collection with representative works from each dynastic period. 

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


Please invite others to subscribe to USCI’s free email newsletter for regular updates on events and programs. We will not share names or email addresses with any other entity. Sign Up.

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.

If you would like to support USCI by making a donation please visit

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

You have received this e-mail because you have subscribed to receive updates from USCI. If you feel this message has reached you in error or you no longer wish to receive our updates, please click, unsubscribe, and enter "Remove" in the subject line