William Overholt argues that as China reaches a threshold where success has eliminated the conditions that enabled miraculous growth, Xi Jinping is pursuing the riskiest political strategy of any important national leader. Alternative outcomes include continued impressive growth and political stability, Japanese-style stagnation, and a major political-economic crisis.
Talking Points, June 24 - July 8, 2009
June 24 - July 8, 2009
Twice in the past week, United States government trade representatives charged the Chinese government with unfair trade practices.
On Tuesday the U.S. and European Union went to the World Trade Organization, arguing China’s government is using illegal tariffs and quotas to limit exports of bauxite, coke, and manganese, essential raw materials for a variety of products. U.S. steel producers and others argue that China restricts exports of these products so they will be available for Chinese manufacturers at favorable prices.
Yesterday, the U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk wrote to Chinese officials to protest the Chinese government’s order that computer manufacturers include the Green Dam Youth Escort internet filtering software with all computers sold in China. Chinese officials say the software is needed to keep children from accessing pornography. Complaints about the mandate include the short notice given, alleged performance and security flaws in the software itself, the inclusion of politically sensitive terms among those to be blocked, and the cost imposed on already hard-pressed companies.
Some believe the domestic and international backlash against the Green Dam mandate provoked the Chinese government’s move this week to abruptly deny internet users in China access to some Google features. Authorities accused Google of “[spreading] lots of pornographic, lewd and vulgar content, which is in serious violation of Chinese laws and regulations." Some bloggers posted screen shots comparing results from Baidu.com, the leading search engine in China, with those from Google.cn. They found the Baidu results at least equally racy and argued Google was targeted because it is a foreign company.
Months ago, top American and Chinese leaders argued that trade barriers would exacerbate the economic crisis, but even then officials in both countries were condemning “protectionist” elements in the policies and practices of the other. Many will monitor the response to this week’s actions for signs of hardening lines in Washington and Beijing. Our Challenge of China documentary has a segment focusing on trade. You can follow this via the daily updates section of our web magazine, US-China Today.
Trade in some industrial commodities is booming. Many Chinese firms took advantage of the global downturn to buy large quantities of metals and other materials. This buying helped boost global prices for copper by 62% this year. Some analysts argue that this Chinese demand will not continue and that prices will slump.
So far, this has not happened for oil. Oil consumption has fallen in the United States since 2005, but it continues to rise in China. To meet this demand, China is ramping up imports and acquiring new resources. Imports in May were the second highest ever and were 6% higher than in May 2008. Sinopec, one of China’s three oil giants, announced that it was buying Addax Petroleum, a Canadian firm, for $7.2 billion. Addax’s board of directors has endorsed the sale. Addax’s assets include oil off the West African coast and in Iraq.
The United States and China are the world’s third and fourth largest producers of crude oil, but U.S. demand has long outstripped domestic resources and China’s rapid economic development and embrace of cars has caused oil consumption there to nearly double since 1998. China’s oil consumption, though, is only 42% of America’s. And on a per capita basis, American oil consumption dwarfs Chinese consumption. In 2008, per capita American consumption was more than 23 barrels of oil, whereas per capita Chinese consumption was just over 2 barrels. American reliance on automobiles for transportation accounts for the greatest share of the consumption disparity, though about 30% of American oil consumption is for power generation and heating. The charts below offer comparisons of US-China total and per capita consumption since 1980.
You can get a sense of what it’s like to work in a Chinese oil field from Crude Oil Part 2, a film screening this week at the Hammer Museum as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival. High school teachers from outside Los Angeles are invited to apply for the USCI’s residential summer institute focusing on East Asia since 1800. It starts on July 27 but only a few openings remain. Apply now if you’re interested.
Going to be in Beijing later this summer? The USC School of Architecture is sponsoring an exhibition there drawing on works from American architecture schools over the past decade. It opens on August 21. Details about these events are available below and in the calendar section of our website.
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.
06/24/2009: Authors on Asia: The East, the West and Sex: A History of Erotic Encounters
Pacific Asia Museum
Time: 7:30PM - 8:30PM
Beijing Bureau Chief Richard Bernstein will give a talk about his new book at the Pacific Asia Museum.
06/24/2009 - 06/25/2009: Crude Oil
Hammer Museum Gallery 6
An audacious undertaking for both filmmaker and audience, this film installation documents a workday at a remote Chinese oil field, from a stolen nap in a break room to the massive drills plunging into the earth.
06/27/2009: First Emperor
2002 North Main St, Santa Ana, 92706
Phone: (714) 567-3600
Based on the latest research, including location photography at key sites in China, this film sheds new light on the achievements, ambitions, and legacy of the enigmatic First Emperor of China—an emperor who wished to reign for all eternity. 40 minutes.
07/01/2009: Chinese Cultural Relics & Artworks: Auction Markets
UCLA Young Research Library, Conference Center, 11348 YRL
Los Angeles, CA
Time: 2pm - 4pm
Wang Yannan, Director and President of China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd., will speak on auction markets.
07/01/2009: Urban China: Jiang Jun & Benjamin Godsil
10899 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90024
Time: 7pm - 9pm
The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles presents a talk on urban China by Jiang Jun and Benjamin Godsil in conjunction with their ongoing exhibition "Urban China: Informal Cities".
06/26/2009 - 06/28/2009 : Locating Taiwan: Space, Culture and Society
The University of Texas at Austin
The College of Liberal Arts Building, Bats Hall and Mez Hall, Austin, TX
The 15th Annual North American Taiwan Studies Conference
06/26/2009: North American Taiwan Studies Association Conference
University of Texas
Austin, Austin, Texas
The The 15th Annual North American Taiwan Studies Conference at The University of Texas at Austin.
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
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
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
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
2002 N. Main, Santa Ana, CA
An exhibit featuring body adornments from indigenous peoples around the world
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Please join the USC U.S.-China Institute, the East Asian Studies Center, and the USC School of Cinematic Arts for a screening of the 1993 Chinese film Woman Sesame Oil Maker (香魂女). It tells the story of a woman in a small village who buys a peasant wife for his mentally disabled son after her sesame oil business becomes unexpectedly successful. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director, Xie Fei (谢飞).