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Talking Points, June 10 - 24, 2009

This week, the USC U.S.-China Institute's newsletter looks at General Motors in China, unemployment among college graduates, and the mindsets of young Chinese. As always, the newsletter offers information about China-centered events and exhibitions across North America.
June 11, 2009

USC U.S.-China Institute Weekly Newsletter

Talking Points
June 10 - 24, 2009

General Motors declared bankruptcy last week. The recession, product line weaknesses, and worries about warranty protections drove U.S. sales down 34% in April. Meanwhile, sales in China are rising rapidly. GM sold 50% more cars this past April than they did in April 2008. By 2008, China was already GM’s second largest market. Sales there have been further boosted by the Chinese government’s stimulus measures.

 Sales tax cuts on small engine sedans and minivans have dramatically lifted sales of GM’s Buick Excelle and Wuling Sunshine. (Images: GM)

As part of its strategy to exit bankruptcy, GM’s trying to shed its weaker brands. It announced last week a tentative agreement to sell its Hummer business to Sichuan Tengzhong, a heavy equipment manufacturer. As China’s motor vehicle market continues to expand, companies such as Tengzhong are looking to enter the passenger car market.

This expansion of vehicle use in China is increasing the demand for oil and air pollution. Despite the economic downturn, global oil prices have increased from $30 a barrel in December to over $70 a barrel today. Carbon emissions from China’s power generation and vehicle use is putting greater strain on our shared atmosphere. Top U.S. and Chinese negotiators failed to make significant progress this week in talks over mandated cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Sticking points include the size of the cut in U.S. emissions, whether China should be required to make cuts, and a Chinese demand that the U.S. pay to help China and other countries acquire green technologies. Chinese officials argue that U.S. sacrifices need to match America’s standing as the greatest per capita emitter of climate changing gases.

Elizabeth Economy’s recent U.S.-China Institute presentation included discussion of the prospects for U.S.-China environmental cooperation. Click here to view it. US-China Today also had a recent feature on environmental policies in China.





It’s graduation season. It’s easy for graduates to be discouraged as they enter the job market in the midst of the deepest economic downturn in seventy years. At USC a month ago Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told graduates not to be afraid of failure, naysayers, or hard work. Graduates will need to be diligent and determined in finding work. The unemployment rate in the U.S. in May was 9.4%. Education does make a big difference: unemployment among U.S. college graduates is high at 4.4%, but still much lower than the national average.

Chinese college graduates are facing even bleaker prospects. Unemployment among 2008 graduates was estimated by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to be about 25%. Overall unemployment among college graduates was put at 12%. Job fairs are attracting record crowds and applications for government job openings are flooding in.

Anticipating that China’s economic rise would require ever larger numbers of well-educated workers, the country has dramatically expanded college enrollments, from less than 2 million a decade ago to over 20 million today. About one in five college age Chinese are in school (more than half of U.S. high school graduates go on to college, though many do not earn degrees). The economic downturn is largely responsible for the projection that half of this year’s 6.1 million grads will not readily find work, but analysts point to other problems as well including graduates’ pay expectations and their unwillingness to leave big cities. Meanwhile employers complain that many graduates have not been trained to work independently and to solve problems. The education ministry has mandated curriculum changes to stimulate students’ creativity from a young age. USCI has met with two ministry delegations focused on improving teacher training and has taken groups of U.S. teachers to China to observe efforts to teach students to be more innovative.

 Chinese college enrollments, 1949-2008. Click on the image above to see a larger version at the USCI website. The U.S. has about 11.7 million college students.

A recent Brookings Institution symposium looked at the varying mindsets of Chinese young people, including those advocating a more assertive Chinese foreign policy, some of whom are described as “angry youth” (fenqing 愤青). USC’s Stan Rosen was among those speaking at the symposium, noting that Chinese youth exhibit a wide array of sometimes contradictory tendencies including internationalism, materialism, nationalism, and self-sacrifice “at different times… or even at the same time.” His presentation and some of the survey data supporting it is now available at the USCI website.

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06/18/2009: Journey from Zanskar
USC, Taper Hall 202, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Time: 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Cost: Free
Filmmaker Frederick Marx, producer of Academy Award nominated “Hoop Dreams,” will be premiering a rough cut of his new film.06/18/2009: Journey from ZanskarFilmmaker Frederick Marx, producer of Academy Award nominated “Hoop Dreams,” will be premiering a rough cut of his new film.
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.

North America 

06/11/2009: China and the Internet
Offices of Jones Day,New York City
Time: 5:30PM - 7:00PM
The National Committee on United States-China Relations presents a talks on China and the internet by Professors Ashley Esarey and Yang Guobin. 

06/22/2009: Buddhist Traditions of Tibet and the Himalayas (NEH Seminar)
Contact: Todd Lewis
Phone: 508-793-3436
The College of the Holy Cross a summer program focusing on the study of Buddhism in Tibetan and the Himalayas.  
06/23/2009: Transatlantic Perspectives on China
George Washington University
Room 113 The Elliott School of International Affairs 1957 E Street, NW, Ground Floor Washington DC
Time: 5:30PM - 7:00PM
The Sigur Center for Asian Studies' China Policy Program presents a conference about transatlantic perspectives on Chinese government and society. 


03/24/2009 - 06/14/2009: Wang Quingsong
Hammer Museum at UCLA
Los Angeles, CA
UCLA Hammer Museum presents the latest work of Chinese photographer Wang Quingsong, "Skyscraper".

04/11/2009 - 07/13/2009: Treasures through Six Generations: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Weng Collection
Boone Gallery, The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA
An exhibition of Chinese painting and calligraphy highlighting works spanning 900 years

04/22/2009 - 07/15/2009: Eternal Sky: Reviving the Art of Mongol Zurag
IEAS Conference Room
2223 Fulton Street, 3rd floor
The Institute of East Asian Studies at UC Berkeley presents an exhibition of the work of artist Narmandakh Tsultem, who paints in the traditional Mongol Zurag style.

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


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