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Talking Points, November 23 - December, 8, 2010

This issue of the USC US-China Institute's newsletter focuses on US-China worries over rising tensions on the Korean peninsula and the limited impact of China ads in the 2010 US election. As always, Talking Points includes a comprehensive calendar of China-centered events in North America.
November 23, 2010

Talking Points
November 23 - December 8, 2010


Yeonpyeong Island is home to about 1,000 South Korean soldiers, 1,600 civilians. It is 1 mile from the disputed "northern limit line" and 7 miles from the North Korean coast. It's 60 miles from the South Korean coast and about 120 miles from China.


Earlier today, an artillery exchange took place between North and South Korean forces. The South says that the North Koreans launched the attack on South Korean-controlled Yeonpyeong Island. The North says the South initiated the exchange. South Korea reports that most of the 200 shells launched by the North struck a military base, but civilian homes were also struck. Two soldiers were killed and sixteen wounded. United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has blamed the North and condemned the attack. The United States has done the same and affirmed its commitment “to the defense of our ally.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said, "We have heard reports and express our concern. The situation still needs to be confirmed."

The attack occurred while the South Korean military was conducting exercises in this contested zone and just after the North Korean government advertised its capacity to enrich uranium, thus establishing a second route to nuclear weapon building. It follows the March sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean naval vessel. South Korea and the US blame the North for the sinking, which took the lives of forty-six sailors. China declined to blame the North and condemned US and South Korean plans for joint military exercises in international waters between the Korean Peninsula and China.

The exchange also follows visits to China by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and the formal elevation of Kim’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un, to the rank of general. Zhang Liangui, a Korea specialist at the Chinese Communist Party School, told the Sydney Morning Herald that today’s attack may have been intended to raise tensions and to rally the North Korean military so as to strengthen Kim Jong-un’s position within the country. Many analysts assume that this is also seen as an effective means of reminding outsiders of the regime’s ability to stir things up.

At a USCI symposium last month, David Kang, director of USC’s Korean Studies Institute, discussed China’s relations with the two Koreas, and especially how China’s handling of the Cheonan incident damaged South Korean attitudes toward the country. You can see his short presentation at our website or at our YouTube channel. In September, USCI Senior Fellow Mike Chinoy discussed China-North Korea ties in an interview at the University of British Columbia, click here to watch it.



 tboothhk - a Hong Kong based photographer took this picture at the Guangzhou train station during spring festival 2008 (Creative Commons license).

The Thanksgiving travel season is America’s busiest. Some 24 million people will be taking planes, straining the capacity of airports and the patience of all. Many more will travel by auto. The American Automobile Association says 42 million will drive more than 50 miles to join family and friends this Thanksgiving. These are big numbers, but they pale in comparison to the roughly 152 million migrant workers in China who traveled home for the spring festival (lunar new year, the migration is called chunyun) holiday last February. About 105 million of those folks traveled by train. Next week, on Dec. 1, we are pleased to invite you to attend a screening of Last Train Home, an award-winning documentary by Fan Lixin. Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan wrote that, “Last Train Home is a story of parents and children, of mothers and fathers who make unimaginable sacrifices to ensure a good life for children who have ideas of their own and couldn't care less about their parents' dreams for them.” Fan Lixin will introduce the film and take questions afterward. Seating for this screening is limited and reservations are required. Click here for more information.


In the fall 2010 campaign, candidates and organizations produced and aired at least 51 ads condemning opponents for supporting policies that result in jobs being outsourced to China or China owning more American debt. The targets of the ads were evenly divided between Democrats (21) and Republicans (20). Also, two Democrats aired ads where they opposed such policies but didn’t name their opponent or suggest the opponent favored such policies. An earlier edition of Talking Points provided illustrations of these ads. Click here to see a


comprehensive list of the ads, their sponsors and targets, and the results of those races.
In several instances, both candidates charged the other with supporting policies that resulted in American jobs going to China or American debt to China increasing. This was the case in the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle senate battle in Nevada, in two Michigan house contests, and also in Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, and Ohio House elections.

The China ads generally fell into the broader category of ads condemning “sending jobs overseas” and pledging to “create jobs at home.” The state of the economy and especially the high rate of unemployment were the decisive issues in this election. 65% of those who said their family’s financial situation was getting worse voted Republican.

Even so, it does not appear that these China ads were especially effective. More than half of the 41 candidates targeted in the ads won. In election night speeches and post-election interviews and reports, no candidate, consultant, or commentator seems to have had anything to say about the importance of China as an election issue. It’s not clear that specifying China as “where the jobs have gone” or “owners of American debt” was any more effective that more general claims. It’s worth noting that in three of the four cases where China loomed particularly large in ads, Republican candidates still won (the California Senate race being the exception).

Nonetheless, China’s presence in the campaign was far greater and more explicit than in 2008 races. This can be attributed to China’s continued economic rise, passing Japan this year to become the second largest economy, and partly to the durability of the downturn in the US. A CNN Poll conducted Nov. 11-14, found that 58% of Americans believe China’s wealth and economic power is a threat to the US. Just 35% thought China’s economic rise represented an opportunity for the US. We can expect the US-China economic relationship to be an increasing part of American political debate.




The USCI website and the USCI YouTube channel currently feature a number of new videos. These include:

-- an interview with Winston Lord about the current state of US-China ties. Lord served under Henry Kissinger and was with President Nixon and Kissinger when they met with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in Feb. 1972. Lord later served as president of the Council on Foreign Relations, US Ambassador to China (1985-1989), and Assistant Sec. of State for East Asia (1993-1997).

-- our October symposium on "the week that changed the world" featuring Nixon aides Dwight Chapin, Larry Higby, and Jack Brennan where they discussed the challenges of organizing the historic 1972 journey; among the topics they addressed were efforts to manage the media and how difficult it was to settle on the terms of the important Shanghai communiqué.

-- our November presentation by journalist Jonathan Watts on China’s environmental problems and efforts to address them. Watts drew on his new book, When a Billion Chinese Jump.

Did you think we forgot? We are grateful for so much this Thanksgiving -- including having you as a reader. Please take care and have the best possible Thanksgiving!

(Looking for cooking tips? Here's Madame Wu's 2008 recommendation and Ming Tsai's 2009 recommendation. Here in Los Angeles, the Chinatown Business Council sent out a press release touting the dozen member restaurants offering turkeys.)


Best wishes,
The USC US-China Institute

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USC | California | North America | Exhibitions


12/01/2010: Last Train Home with Fan Lixin
Leavey Auditorium
650 W. 35th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Time: 6:00PM - 9:00PM
Cost: Free and open to the public. RSVP required.
Fan Lixin follows a migrant worker couple on their annual trek home to Sichuan Province where their children are being raised by family members. Director Q&A session will follow screeening.



11/27/2010: Red Cliff (Parts I and II)
Bing Theater
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Cost: $10 general admission. $7 museum members, seniors (62+), students with valid ID
Time: 4:00PM
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will screen John Woo`s Red Cliff as a part of their Hard Boiled Hong Kong Weekend Series.
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11/28/2010: Shanghai in the World--and the World in Shanghai, 1850-2010
Hahn 108, 333 N. College Way, Claremont, CA 91711
Cost: Free
Time: 4:15PM - 5:30PM
Professor Jeff Wasserstrom will talk on various ways that Shanghai has served as a window to the world and a window onto China in a public lecture at Pomona College`s Pacific Basin Institute.
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11/30/2010: Pacific Basin Institute Student Travel Grant Video Presentations
Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College
333 North College Way, Claremont, CA 91711
Time; 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Students who received travel grants from the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College will present their videos.
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12/01/2010: Archaeological Survey at the Wen-Si River Basin
A222 Fowler
UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Time: 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Professor Min Li will speak about archaeology at China`s Wen-Si River Basin at UCLA.
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12/01/2010: News and Stories from China
IEAS Conference Room, 6th Floor
UC Berkeley 2223 Fulton Street, Berkeley, CA 94720
Time: 1:00PM - 2:30PM
Yiyun Li, Assistant Professor of English at UC Davis, will host a talk in continuation of the IEAS book series: New Perspectives in Asia.
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12/01/2010: Space Production in China: Industrialism, Urbanism, and Culturalism
575 McCone Hall
University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720
Cost: Free
Time: 4:10PM - 5:30PM
You-Tien Hsing from the Department of Geography will give a talk on space production in China at UC Berkeley.

North America

11/29/2010: A Newly Discovered Inscription by Qin Gui (1090-1155) and Its Implications for Song Intellectual History
The Common Room
2 Divinity Drive, Cambridge, MA
Time: 4:00PM
Charles Hartman will speak on a newly discovered inscription by Qin Gui at Harvard University.
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11/30/2010: APEC 2010 Summit: “Seeking Prosperity After Crisis”
Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021
Cost: Members $10; students $12; nonmembers $15
Time: 8:00AM - 10:00AM
The Asia Society will join the US National Center for APEC and the US APEC Business Coalition in hosting a post-APEC briefing to review the issues that will be discussed at the Yokohama Summit and what they will mean for the region`s future in New York City.
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11/30/2010: Recessional Authoritarian Regime and Organized Contention
Pick Lounge
5828 S. University Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 5:30PM
Su Zhenhua, a Professor of Political Science from Zhejiang University will give a talk at the University of Chicago as part of the University`s The East Asia: Politics, Economy, Society, Culture Workshop.
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11/30/2010: Reinterpreting the Sino-Japanese War: 1939-1940, Peasant Mobilization, and the Road to the PRC and The Socialist Education Movement of 1965 in Shanxi Catholic Village: Visions, Activists, a Flying Bicycle, and the Third Secret of Fatima
S020, Belfer Case Study Room
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
Time: 5:15PM
David Goodman and Henrietta Harrison will lecture on Chinese history since 1939 at Harvard University.
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11/30/2010: Chicken Poets
Richard White Lecture Hall, East Campus
Duke University Trent Drive, Durham, NC 27705
Time: 8pm
The Asian Pacific Studies Institute at Duke University will screen Chicken Poets, a deliberately allegorical visual fantasy that focuses on the 30-something generation in China who have to adapt to a materialistic society very different from the political utopia of their childhood.
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11/30/2010: Ghost Town
The China Institute
125 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10065
Time: 8:00PM
Zhao Dayong`s acclaimed documentary Ghost Town will be screening at The China Institute in New York City.


Ends 11/28/2010: Masterpieces of Chinese Painting
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC 20013
Cost: Free
Smithsonian hosts an exhibition to trace the development of Chinese painting over generations.  

Ends 11/28/2010: Celebration: The Birthday in Chinese Art
Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for Chinese Decorative Arts, 3rd floor
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028
Cost: $10 for students
New York`s Metropolitan Museum of Art presents Celebration: The Birthday in Chinese Art. In Chinese art, the birthday is a celebration of a long and rewarding life. This exhibition—focusing on scenes of splendid celebrations and works incorporating the theme of longevity—draws together examples in many media from the Museum’s collection as well as some exceptional promised gifts. 

Ends 12/05/2010: Woodcuts in Modern China, 1937-2008: Towards a Universal Pictorial Language
China Institute Gallery
125 East 65th Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues), New York City, New York 10065
Cost: Admission is $7, $4 for students and seniors, and free for children under 12. Admission is free on Tuesday and Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The China Institute Gallery in New York will host a exhibition to display woodcut pictures that have been produced in China over the last 70 years. 

ends 12/31/2010: 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.

ends 02/06/2011: China Modern: Designing Popular Culture 1910-1970
Pacific Asia Museum
46 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
The Pacific Asia Museum presents an exhibition that demonstrates how political ideologies and cultural values are transmitted via everyday objects in China.


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