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Talking Points, March 8 - 21, 2012

The USC US-China Institute newsletter watches the 1972 Nixon trip with law student Hillary Rodham, notes the big changes in the U.S.-China economic relationship, and celebrates how one Los Angeles school is infusing the study of China and of the Chinese language into their curriculum. As always, Talking Points includes a comprehensive calendar of China-focused events and exhibitions across North America.
March 9, 2012

Talking Points

March 9 - 21, 2012
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On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of President Richard Nixon’s 1972 trip to China,



“I was a law student in 1972. I was a poor law student. I did not own a television set. But I was not about to miss history being made, so I rented one – a portable model with those rabbit ears. I lugged it back to my apartment and tuned in every night to watch scenes of a country that had been blocked from view for my entire life. Like many Americans, I was riveted and proud of what we were accomplishing through our president.

President Nixon called it “the week that changed the world.” Well, if anything, that turned out to be an understatement.”


 TV Guide "Complete details of TV's unprecedented coverage," Feb. 19-26, 1972.

Clinton is right. Nixon’s trip ushered in a new era in U.S.-China relations. And Nixon understood that Yale law students weren’t the only ones who would be anxious to see him in China. Our documentary Assignment: China – The Week that Changed the World explores that media coverage through interviews with the journalists who went with the president and the American and Chinese officials who sought to facilitate and to shape the coverage. The film has already been screened on American and Chinese university campuses, for press associations, and for organizations. It’s been highlighted on Central Chinese Television and written about in American and Chinese newspapers. You can see it at our website and YouTube channel.



You can also explore the trip through documents and recordings available at our website. “Getting to Know You: the U.S. and China Shake the World, 1971-1972” includes conversations the president had with his aides, but also people such as California Governor Ronald Reagan about the trip. We read how Nixon worked to convince the Chinese he was their preferred partner and how he explained to Zhou Enlai that for domestic political reasons he could make no explicit promises about issues such as American troops in Taiwan, but that he planned to remove them. This collection follows our earlier gathering of materials about Henry Kissinger’s secret 1971 trip to China.


In addition to providing an inside look at the American and Chinese geopolitical thinking, the documents


also offer popular culture links. For example, on February 22, 1972 Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing hosted the Nixons at a performance of one of the revolutionary model ballets, The Red Detachment of Women. American television viewers saw it live in the morning. That evening, an estimated 15 million of them tuned in to watch the ABC Movie of the Week. Kung Fu starred David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a half-Chinese half-American monk trained in martial arts at Shaolin Temple. The Baltimore Sun reviewer wasn’t overwhelmed. She wrote, “[I]t wasn’t bad. Not a little pretentious. Not a little didactic, but not bad all the same.” But, “After 90 minutes, I still haven’t the slightest idea what Kung Fu means.” The network anticipated this problem. Most newspaper television listings explained, “Kung fu is a deadly Oriental science of personal combat.” The Boston Globe reviewer was impressed: “A story filled with Oriental ritual would not seem to be one to capture the imagination. Yet this ‘Movie of the Week’ had a most engrossing quality….”

American television viewers embraced the images. The response to the film was such that Kung Fu became a weekly series that fall, with the monk travelling around the 19th century American West, enduring prejudice and dispensing justice with his hands and feet. Encouraged by Mao Zedong, Red Guards across China had attacked and mostly closed temples such as Shaolin, but some American kids carried their lunch to school in Kung Fu lunchboxes.





 Vice Pres. Xi Jinping speaking at a Los Angeles economic forum to hundreds of officials, businesspeople, and community members (MOFA photo); Across the street supporters, including students from USC cheered; protestors included Tibet activists who used balloons to raise their message high and Falungong activists who held up signs and engaged in exercises (C. Dube photos); Feb. 18, 2012.

Three weeks ago, Xi Jinping, China’s leader-in-waiting, visited the United States. Hosted by Vice President Joe Biden (click here for a note on Biden’s August 2011 trip to China), Xi met with President Barack Obama, Sec. Clinton, American legislators, and others. Though issues such as North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons programs, the ongoing crisis in Syria, and human rights conditions came up, the focus of the visit was on economics and trade. In Washington, U.S. leaders pushed for China to allow American firms greater access to its markets and to better protect intellectual property. Iowa and California leaders enthusiastically welcomed Xi and the investment delegations accompanying him. In each stop, Xi and company received and brought gifts. Here in Los Angeles, for instance, he got a Lakers jersey with his name and number on it. In Washington, China pledged to open its car insurance market to American firms. In Iowa, big purchases of soy beans were promised. And in Los Angeles, Dreamworks entered into a joint venture to produce animated films in China and, at the very last minute, China announced that it would permit up to 14 3-D and IMAX films to be screened in China, in addition to the 20 foreign films it currently allows in each year. There were other deals made as well. California Governor Jerry Brown is said to have hoped for a Chinese commitment to invest in the state's high speed rail project, but in his speech at the economic forum with Xi, he only announced that California would reopen its Beijing trade office, which had been closed since 2003.



Brown also came close to apologizing for the opposition that arose in 2005 to the $23 billion bid CNOOC (China’s third-largest state oil company) for Southern California-based Unocal. Brown described that opposition, which helped to derail the purchase, as “a mistake,” and declared that California welcomed Chinese to invest in the state. (Disclosure: CNOOC was then headed by Fu Chengyu, a USC alum. Fu now heads SinoPec, a still larger Chinese state oil company, and serves on the USC Board of Trustees.)


It’s unlikely that any of those travelling with Nixon in 1972 ever imagined that a Chinese state company would be in a position to buy a large American oil company. Nixon and his group spent almost no time discussing trade with Chinese leaders, but a year before the president had already taken several measures open the door to trade. As the U.S. ping pong team was heading to China in April 1971, Nixon relaxed travel, currency, and trade restrictions on China. In June 1971, Nixon lifted the embargo on most products.


Press reports noted the eagerness of American firms to explore deals. North Carolina Governor Bob Scott announced he was sending a representative to the Chinese embassy in Canada to get visas so the state could go to China to push for a renewal of tobacco exports. Xerox reported that its British subsidiary had already visited Beijing to solicit copier business. China was far from the trading powerhouse it would become, but already 80% of its $3.9 billion international trade was with Western countries. Canada and Australia were exporting wheat to China and U.S. farm state senators such as George McGovern (D-South Dakota) and Robert Dole (R-Kansas) were both happy about the lifting of the 21 year-old trade ban.


George Meany, then head of America’s labor organization, the AFL-CIO, spoke out in opposition to one

Economic Policy Institute map showing the impact of jobs lost. Business groups have maps showing jobs created by exports to China.

part of Nixon’s action, the dropping of a requirement that half of all grain shipped to communist countries be carried on American ships. He argued U.S. laborers were “at least equal in importance to the assurance of wider profit margins for a few large corporate grain dealers who will be the main beneficiaries of President Nixon’s actions today.” American labor unions continue to complain that U.S. trade policies fail to defend their interests. The AFL-CIO (along with the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a business group) backs a bipartisan bill to “hold China accountable for manipulation of its currency. The union-affiliated Economic Policy Institute argues, “[t]he U.S.-China trade deficit has eliminated or displaced nearly 2.8 million U.S. jobs since 2001.”

This critical labor stance is what made last week’s announcement of an award to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao a bit of a surprise. The China Daily reported that the International Longshoremen’s Association, an AFL-CIO member, had given Wen a “Best Friend of the American Worker” award in Boston. China’s ambassador to the U.S., Zhang Yesui received the award for Wen as the port of Boston celebrated its 10th anniversary of working with COSCO (China Ocean Shipping). The ILA doesn’t mention the award on its website, but COSCO’s features pictures from the event. The ILA, of course, and ports champion trade. Wei Jiafu, the leader of state-owned COSCO, has previously received numerous awards (e.g., this one in Long Beach) and is on a speaking tour of U.S. port cities.


In Los Angeles, Xi Jinping visited the Port of Los Angeles. More than 40% of China’s trade with the U.S. passes through that port and Long Beach’s next door. America’s exports to China have risen by more than 50% over the past two years and now total $104 billion. Many American firms in China have been doing well in China. Business groups, though, complain market access is still restricted. Some argue that Chinese policies requiring foreign companies to form joint ventures forces them to transfer technology that they’ve invested heavily to create (US Chamber of Commerce report, US-China Business Council on the other hand, reports that relatively few member companies have been asked to turn over technology). The U.S. government alleges that Chinese hackers are targeting U.S. corporations' research and development efforts. Discussing China’s auto industry at USC recently, analyst G.E. Anderson noted that government policies have given Chinese state-owned auto giants no incentive to innovate and that most Chinese innovation in the auto industry is taking place among private companies such as BYD (which has ten electric test cars being tested by the Los Angeles Housing Authority) or Geeley (which bought Volvo from Ford). Click here to see Anderson’s talk.



Though there was little discussion of trade when Nixon met Mao and Zhou, there was much discussion of Taiwan. It was the key issue blocking the establishment of diplomatic relations. The documents mentioned above detail this at length. Cross-strait relations are much different than they were then. In a presentation at USC last Friday, Taiwan's chief representative to the U.S., Jason Yuan discussed the major improvements that have been made and the challenges that remain. Video of Yuan's remarks and of our symposium on Taiwan's January election, along with our documentary "The Thaw" are all available at our website and YouTube channel. US-China Today also has an interview with Ambassador Yuan.



ISLC drummers and dancers, in front of "Ming," the school's dragon mascot. Photo by Sayuri Sarango.

While in Southern California, Xi Jinping and Joe Biden dropped in at a remarkable school, Los Angeles Unified’s International Studies Learning Center. Located in South Gate, ISLC’s student body is almost entirely Latino. The school’s 800 students study a variety of languages, including Chinese. Led by Principal Guillermina Jauregui, the staff has worked hard to afford their students a rigorous curriculum to prepare them to be global citizens. Jauregui and nine ISLC teachers have gone through the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia program run by USCI, strengthening their ability to bring Asia alive for their students. This spring the school welcomed twelve students and two teachers from China to live with local families and to study with the Dragons (the school nickname). The vice presidents observed drumming, dancing, and spent time chatting with students. Xi encouraged the ISLC students to continue with their Chinese language study and to visit China. He argued that more students need to do this so that the U.S. and China can avoid misunderstandings.


We invite teachers interested in learn more about East Asia to visit our website and sign up for one of our upcoming seminars.

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The USC US-China Institute

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USC | California | North America | Exhibitions




03/26/2012 - 03/27/2012: Asia/Pacific Business Outlook Conference 2012
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California
3716 S. Hope Street, RAN 313, Los Angeles, CA 90089
The USC Marshall School of Business presents a conference on Business outlook in China.

04/03/2012: Housing Matters: Resident Protests in Urban China
University of Southern California
University Park Campus, Los Angeles, CA  90089
Time: 4-5:30 pm
Qin Shao draws on her forthcoming book, Shanghai Gone: Demolition and Defiance in a Chinese Megacity.

04/05/2012: China's Response to the Global Crisis
University of Southern California
University Park Campus, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
The USC Center for International Studies presents a talk by Professor Shaun Breslin.

04/06/2012: Global Hierarchy and Financial Statecraft: Rebalancing in Favor of Latin America and Asia
Davidson Conference Center, Club Room
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90007
Time: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
A conference on Global Hierarchy and Financial Statecraft: Rebalancing in Favor of Latin America and Asia will be held at USC.


03/13/2012: Re-reading Levenson: A Conversation

University of California Berkeley, Center for Chinese Studies, Institute of East Asian Studies
Time: 4:00PM
The University of California Berkley presents a panel discussion on Asian studies.

03/13/2012: I-House Film Series: San Yuan Li

University of California, Berkeley
International House Chevron Auditorium, Berkeley, CA 94720-2318
Cost: $5 Students; $10 Public
Time: 8:00PM - 10:00PM
UC Berkeley's International House Film Series presents a screening of San Yuan Li.

03/14/2012: Covering China: Disasters, Disease, Dissent, and More

UC Berkeley
3401 Dwinelle Hall, Berkeley , California 94720
Time: 12:05PM - 1:00PM

A discussion with Audra Ang, a former AP reporter in Beijing.

03/15/2012: Women in Tibetan Buddhism
Stanford University
Cypress -Tresidder Memorial Union (2nd Floor), Stanford, California 94305
Cost: Free
Time: 7:30PM - 9:00PM
Stanford University presents a discussion with Rinchen Khando Choegyal, the Director of the Tibetan Nun's Project.

03/17/2012: Asia Business Conference
University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business
2220 Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94720
Time: 10:00AM - 6:00PM
The 2012 Asia Business Conference will be held at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

03/17/2012: Workshop on the Four Noble Truths
Stanford University
Cypress, Tresidder Memorial Union, 2nd Floor, Stanford, CA 94305
Cost: Free and Open to the Public. Registration required.
Time: 10:00AM - 5:00PM
The Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University presents a talk with Tendzin Choegyal.

03/17/2012: CSUN Chinese New Year Banquet
California State University, Northridge
Grand Salon University Student Union, Northridge, CA 91330
Cost: Special discount for banquet reservation is available for CSUN students, visiting scholars and Chinese Student Association members.
Time: 6:00PM - 9:00PM
California State University at Northridge's China Institute and Chinese Student Association presents the annual Chinese New Year celebration.

03/20/2012: Chinese Garden Lecture - Architectural and Archaeological Heritage in Modern Chinese Visual Culture
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108
Cost: Free
Time: 7:30PM - 9:30PM
Allison Hardie, senior lecturer in Chinese studies at the University of Leeds will be speaking at the Huntington Library and Gardens.

North America



03/09/2012: The Shanghai Restoration Project with NeochaEDGE
Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021
Cost: $10 students/members; $15 nonmembers
Time: 8:00PM - 9:30PM
The Asia Society and Museum presents a night with NeochaEdge.

03/09/2012: The Color Scheme of Three Revolutionary Epics in Socialist China (1964-2006): Red Legend, Grey Performance, or Black Restoration to Capitalism
Ohio States University
Hagerty Hall, Room 0056 1775 College Road
Time: 4:30PM - 5:30PM
The Institute for Chinese Studies at the Ohio State University presents Xiaomei Chen from UC Davis.

03/10/2012: Ping Pong Diplomacy Tournament
University of Oregon
220 Gerlinger Hall, Eugene, OR 97403
Time: 3:00PM
The UO student-run Competition Not Conflict Club announces a tournament to remember this history.

03/11/2012: Reflections on the Shanghai Communiqué and U.S.-China Relations
University of Oregon
Ford Hall, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR 97403
Time: 4:00PM
The Confucius Institute at the University of Oregon presents Ambassador Nicholas Platt.

03/12/2012: The Shanghai Communiqué and 40 Years of U.S.-China Relations
University of Oregon
Ford Hall, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR 97403
Time: 4:00PM
The University of Oregon presents a panel discussion as part of the Nixon in China event.

03/12/2012: The New Rules of Innovation: Does China Have What it Takes?
Asia Society
725 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021
Cost: Free admission, but registration required
Time: 6:30PM - 8:00PM
The Asia Society New York presents author Vijay Vaitheeswaran.

03/13/2012: The Cultural Revolution Cookbook
China Institute in America
125 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10065
Cost: $10 member / $15 non-member
Time: 6:30PM - 8:00PM
The China Institute in America will host Sasha Gong, author of the Cultural Revolution Cookbook.

03/14/2012: The Rise and Fall of Chinese Legal Education: 1978-2011
University of Kansas
Rice Room (5th floor), Green Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045
Time: 12:30PM
The University of Kansas School of Law presents a talk with Carl Minzner.

03/15/2012: Forty Years of U.S.-China Business Relations
University of Oregon
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Studio One, Eugene, OR 97403
Time: 9:00AM - 12:30PM
The The Confucius Institute at the University of Oregon presents a panel discussion as part of the Nixon in China event.

03/16/2012 - 03/17/2012: Workshop on Innovations in Cantonese Linguistics
The Institute for Chinese Studies at the Ohio State University presents lectures associated with Chinese culture.

03/20/2012: China's Turn Against Law
University of Kansas
Malott Room, Kansas Union, Lawrence, KS 66045
Time: 7:00PM
The Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Kansas presents a talk with Carl Minzner.

03/20/2012: Internet Activism and Human Rights in China
University of Pennsylvania Law School
Silverman Hall, Room 240B, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Cost: All events are free and open to the public.
Time: 4:30PM - 6:00PM
The Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania presents a lecture with Guobin Yang.

03/20/2012: Dreams of Tibet
Whitehall Classroom Bldg 118
University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506
Time: 6:00PM
The University of Kentucky will screen Dreams of Tibet.

03/20/2012: Things Chinese: Antiques, Crafts, Collectibles
China Institute in America
125 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10065
Cost: $10 member / $15 non-member
Time: 6:30PM - 8:00PM
The China Institute in America presents a book signing with Ronald G. Knapp.

03/20/2012: Chan is Missing
Duke University
White Hall, Durham, NC 27708
Time: 8:00PM
The Pacific Studies Institute at Duke University will show a 1982 film directed by Wayne Wang.


Below are exhibitions ending this week. Please visit the main exhibitions calendar for a complete list of ongoing exhibitions.

ends 03/11/2012: Sin City – Impressions of Shanghai: New Work by island6

Tally Beck Contemporary
42 Rivington Street, New York, New York 10012

The Tally Beck Contemporary presents the work of island6.

ends 03/17/2012: Sweet & Sour: A Look at the History of Chinese Food in the United States
The Smithsonian
National Museum of American History,14th Street and Constitution Ave, Washington, DC 20004

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will present a Chinese American display, Sweet & Sour, opening March 17, 2011.

ends 03/17/2012: A Century of Change: China 1911-2011
Stanford University
Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion, Stanford, CA

An exhibition of China from 1911 to 2011 will be featured at Stanford University.

ends 03/18/2012: Fish, Silk, Tea, Bamboo: Cultivating an Image of China
The Peabody Essex Museum
East India Square (161 Essex St.), Salem, MA 01970
The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA presents an exhibition of delicate works that helped shape the emerging concept of the Middle Kingdom in 18th-century Europe.

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