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Talking Points, March 4 - 18, 2009

The weekly e-newsletter of the USC U.S.-China Institute
March 4, 2009

USC U.S.-China Institute Weekly Newsletter

Talking Points
March 4 - 18, 2009

"We need to promote transparency of government affairs and also need to make public officials' assets. Such a declaration system must be established and carried out so as to produce substantial results.”

           -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in an internet chat session on March 2, 2009

In a sign of the rising importance of the internet in China, Wen took questions in a live online chat. Some 90,000 questions were reportedly sent in during the two hour session. China faces grave economic challenges and officials have expressed publicly their worries that hard times could generate protests that challenge social order. In addition to moving quickly to launch infrastructure projects and offer rural consumers discounts on household appliances, the party-state has pledged to increase transparency in its spending and to energetically battle official corruption. So far, though, only county level officials in a single Northwestern prefecture have been required to publicly disclose their assets.

Many of China’s 298 million netizens are eager to have access to such information. Chinese blogs and online bulletin boards already debate a remarkable range of topics and ideas. Net police and political shills work hard to reign in dissent and to steer discussions, but must also worry about China’s many cybernationalists. Quick to note any perceived slight and calling for the government to take a tougher line towards other countries, these netizens pose a different challenge to the government than those demanding democratic reforms. In some respects, though, the challenge posed by the arguments and vehemence of the cybernationalists is more difficult for the government to deal with. This is because it routinely employs nationalism itself and thus finds it hard to restrain the cybernationalists while at the same time knowing that their extremism complicates its own efforts to cooperate with other nations on pressing issues. Next Thursday, Xu Wu of Arizona State University speaks at USC on “Cybernationalism: A Wild, Weird, and Wired Card in China’s Peaceful Rise.” Details are below and in the calendar section of our website.

Two contradictory trends of Chinese cyberspace, the freedom to put forward one’s views at least semi-anonymously and the tenacity of “human flesh search engines” in laying bare the private lives of their targets, are explored in the new issue of US-China Today. Other articles focus on the hardships migration imposes on children, rising unemployment among college graduates, environmental challenges, arms sales to Taiwan, troubling health trends, Chinese investments in Africa, quiet casino tables in Macau, and more. The issue also has an interactive map illuminating Chinese projects in Africa and slide shows of Tibet and Xinjiang and year of the ox celebrations. The new issue goes live at on Friday, but visit now for our daily news summaries.

Other USCI online resources include our documents collection. The latest additions to the collection are the just released dueling human rights reports of the American and Chinese governments. Both reports, incidentally, include charges that the other infringes on individuals’ internet privacy. The Chinese report argues that the U.S. government has deployed “deep-packet inspection, a brand new surveillance technology” so as “to record every visited web page, every sent email and every online search...."


Finally, the USC China studies family lost a valued member this week. Professor George Totten III passed away on Monday. We will post a more complete notice at our website, but here we want to celebrate his many contributions to China studies (and more generally East Asian studies) at USC over five decades. Totten joined the USC political science faculty in the 1960s, published widely, created courses, and inspired many students. He was an institution-builder, leading his department for a number of years and also heading the East Asian Studies Center. Political scientist Stan Rosen, the current EASC director, was one of those Totten recruited to USC. Beyond this, Totten was active in many community organizations, including the Los Angeles – Guangzhou Sister City Association. He and his wife, Lilia Huiying Li were devoted to fostering improved China – Taiwan ties. Some of these efforts are documented in photographs on

Deng Yingchao, Lilia Huiying Li, George Totten III

Institute walls showing Li meeting with Mao Zedong in the 1950s and of Totten and Li meeting with Deng Yingchao (Zhou Enlai’s widow) in the 1980s. George Totten was curious and productive to the very end. In his last years in Los Angeles, he took in Chinese graduate students and worked with them to annotate and translate the 1941 Nym Wales (Helen Foster Snow) book, A Song of Ariran(g). The book tells the story of Kim San, a Korean communist who joined the Chinese revolution. USC records show that Totten retired in 1992. All of us who joined the university more recently, however, can be excused for being a bit confused about this for George Totten never stopped working and was a fixture at events and in our offices. He was forever raising questions and contributing ideas. He moved to Ohio more than a year ago to be closer to family, but stayed in touch by phone and email. We miss him.

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



03/05/2009: Return Migration: The Role of Social Networks and Family Relations
USC, Taper Hall 301, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Cost: Free
Time: 3:30PM - 5:00PM
University of Toronto's Janet Salaff will speak on the role of return migrants in Asia.
03/07/2009: USC CASA 2009 Culture Show - Unforgettable
USC Bovard Auditorium
6:30PM - 9:00PM
Tickets are FREE for USC students with valid ID
For non-USC guests, tickets are $7.00 each.
The Chinese American Student Association is producing its 10th annual culture show! The story lies in 1936 Shanghai, a city unlike any other in the whole world, a heaven built on top of hell.

03/12/2009: Chinese Cyber Nationalism: A Wild-Weird-Wired Card in China's Peaceful Rise
USC University Club, Banquet Room, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 5:30PM
Arizona State University's Xu Wu will speak on U.S.-China Relations.


03/05/2009: Staying Alive: Thirty Years of Reforming China's Communist Party (CCP)
Stanford University
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall
616 Serra St., 3rd floor
Stanford, CA 94305
Cost: Free
Time: 4:15PM - 5:30PM
This talk is part of the Stanford China Program Winter 2009 China Seminar Series titled "30 Years of Reform and Opening in China: How Far from the Cage?" 

03/06/2009: Land Rights, Resources, and Chinese Development in Long-run Perspective
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
Kenneth Pomeranz of UC Irvine gives a talk on the on long-term aspects of Chinese development. 
03/11/2009: Stolen Life
Ocean Screening Room
1401 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica , CA
Time: 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Asia Society Southern California in cooperation with The Global Film Initiative, will show STOLEN LIFE on Wednesday, March 11th at the Ocean Screening Room in Santa Monica. 

03/12/2009: Dealing with Responsibility for the Great Leap Famine in the Peoples Republic of China
UCLA 10383 Bunche Hall, Los Angeles, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 4:30PM - 6:00PM
A talk by Felix Wemheuer (University of Vienna, Austria)

03/13/2009 - 03/14/2009: Religion and Globalization in Asia: Prospects, Patterns, and Problems for the Coming Decade
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Speakers in San Francisco explore the dynamics of globalizing forces on the established and emerging religions of South and East Asia. 
03/13/2009 - 03/15/2009: 3rd Annual Chinese Education Conference: Preparing Educators for a Global Future
The CAIS Institute
44 Page Street, Suite 403
San Francisco, CA 94102
The CAIS Institute presents a conference to bring together teachers, administrators, and educational leaders to learn and share the latest information in Chinese education.  
03/18/2009: The Chinese Lubitsch Touch: Post-WWII Comedies of Disguise
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Time: 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Xinyu Dong will explore how Chinese Lubitsch films rivaled American films on their own ground and gained competitive edge in challenging the Hollywood domination of the post-war market.  
03/18/2009: Intimate Politics: Marriage, the Market, and State Power in Southeastern China
IEAS Conference Room
2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor, Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 5:00PM - 6:30PM
Sara Friedman (Indiana University) explores the customs of eastern Hui'an residents, women in particular, as an anomaly among rural Han.

North America:  

03/06/2009: Asian American Art Symposium 2009: A Century of Asian American Art: Archives, Scholarship, and Curation
Casa Italiana
24 W. 12th Street, New York, NY
Cost: Free
Time: 12:00PM - 6:00PM
A symposium exploring Asian American art archive initiatives in America.


01/28/2209- 03/06/2009: Rubbings
Wesleyan University
The Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies
343 Washington Terrace
Middletown, CT 06459-0435 USA
Gallery Hours, 12-4 daily except Mondays
Wesleyan University presents an exhibition on contemporary Chinese rubbings. 

02/12/2009 - 06/07/2009: Noble Tombs at Mawangdui: Art and Life in the Changsha Kingdom, Third Century BCE to First Century
China Institute Gallery
Address: 125 East 65th St., New York , NY
Cost: $7
An exhibit featuring treasures of the Marquis of the Changsha Kingdom and his family

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
Address: 1400 East Prospect Street , Volunteer Park , Seattle, WA 98112–3303
Phone: 206.654.3100
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
Address: 2002 N. Main, Santa Ana, CA
Cost: $5
Time: 10:00AM - 4:00PM
An exhibit featuring body adornments from indigenous peoples around the world


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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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