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Talking Points, October 22 - November 6, 2008

The USC U.S.-China Institute's weekly enewsletter.
October 22, 2008
USC U.S.-China Institute Weekly Newsletter
Talking Points
October 22 - November 6, 2008

Thirty years ago, Chinese leaders initiated the economic reforms that have enabled China to enjoy 9-10% average annual GDP growth rates, lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, erect dazzling skylines, and spend $43 billion to prepare for and host the Olympic Games. This week the Chinese government announced its latest reform: turning ownership of rural land over to individual rural Chinese.

In the early 20th century, Sun Yatsen and others argued that improving the livelihood of farmers required giving them title to land, giving them a stake in improving it and improving their social status. During the Chinese civil war, the Communists carried out land reform in areas under their control, redistributing land seized from the better off to those with or no land. This won the Party the gratitude of those receiving land, demonstrated the authority and ambition of the Party, and broke the economic base of the existing rural elite. The process was sometimes violent and was extended to all parts of the country after the Communist triumph in 1949. 

Individual ownership of agricultural land came to an end in the mid-1950s, as farmers were brought first into small cooperatives and then into larger collectives. The household responsibility system initiated in 1978 gave farmers the right to use and profit from assigned plots, but ownership remained with the collective. In the industrialization and building boom of recent decades, collectives have transferred land to companies and developers, often without providing reasonable compensation for the farmers displaced in the process. Farmer outrage over such transfers has frequently boiled over into large and sometimes violent demonstrations.

The mechanics and conditions of these land grants are not yet fully outlined, but many Chinese and foreign observers have lauded the plan. They and the government hope it will be an important step towards reducing the great disparity that exists between urban and rural Chinese in terms of incomes, resources, and life choices. Reducing those disparities are critical to increasing domestic consumption (essential for continuing China's economic growth) and lessening state-society tensions. It's a dramatic anniversary year initiative.


Those who missed Thomas Christensen's important address, "Shaping China's Choices: Some Recent Lessons for the Next U.S. Administration," at USC last week will be able to view it online at our website this Friday. The new issue of US-China Today will also be available on Friday. Nationalism, blogs, opinion polls, beauty trends, and sovereign wealth funds are some of the topics explored in the new issue.

Our "Election ’08 and the Challenge of China" documentary has won praise from educators and attention from bloggers. You can watch any of the segments at

The USC U.S.-China Institute invites proposals from postdoctoral scholars for 2009-2010. We invite applications from recent PhD recipients who specialize in U.S.-China relations, very broadly conceived, or on an issue in contemporary China that is likely to affect U.S.-China relations. Consideration will be given to applicants in all areas, but we are especially eager to encourage applications from scholars focusing on topics such as energy, the environment, investment, new media, film and television, soft power, migration, ethno-religious issues, and identity. Application details are available at: Next week the Institute will issue calls for research proposals from USC faculty and graduate students. 

On Friday, October 26, UCLA is hosting a conference exploring the changing legal climate in China. New laws regarding property, labor, and contracts will be among those discussed. In November, USCI will present talks by Victoria Tin-bor Hui (Notre Dame) and David Bachman (Washington). Hui will examine China’s past for clues as to potential policies toward other states and Bachman will explore how China’s rise affects American ties with China’s neighbors. For more information, please visit the calendar section of our website.

Please share Talking Points with friends and colleagues. We welcome your comments. Please send them to us at

Best wishes,
The USC U.S.-China Institute
10/23/2008 - 10/25/2008: Pacific Rim Entrepreneur Summit
Grand Hyatt Shanghai (Jin Mao Tower, Pudong)
Registration Fee: $975 (before August 31); $1,275 (after August 31)
Pacific Rim Entrepreneur Summit is the premiere gathering of alumni, friends, and affiliates of top entrepreneur programs in the Asia/Pacific region. 

11/06/2008: What Does Chinese History Tell Us About China’s Rise?
USC University Club, Banquet Room, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
Phone: 213-821-4382
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
USCI presents a talk with Victoria Hui.

10/22/2008: China: After the Olympics
Omni Los Angeles Hotel
251 S. Olive Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Cost: $45 for Asia Society members; $50 Guests and General Admission
Phone: 213-613-9934 ext.24
Time: 8:00AM - 10:30AM
An in-depth look at China's current economic and political environment and its opportunities ahead. 
10/23/2008: Pathways towards a New World Order: China's Challenge to the European Union
UCLA, 2355 Public Policy Building, Los Angeles, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
A talk by John Friedmann (Visiting Professor of Urban Planning), in the Harvey S. Perloff Lecture Series, presented by the UCLA's Department of Urban Planning
10/24/2008: 2008 US-China Business Law Conference at UCLA
UCLA Center for Chinese Studies
11381 Bunche Hall , Los Angeles, CA 90095
Cost: $150
Phone: 310-825-8683
8:00AM - 6:00PM
Doing business with partners in China? Understanding Chinese law is essential.
11/01/2008: Burning the Books and Killing the Scholars: Representing the Atrocities of the First Emperor of China
Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Lenart Auditorium
UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
UCSB professor Anthony Barbieri-Low will deliver the 21st Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture on Chinese Archaeology and Art. 
11/06/2008: Luxury Car
Laemmle Theatres Downtown
Mandarin with English subtitles.
Call to reserve your seats:  213/613-9934
Asia Society Southern California presents this film as part of the monthly Asian Film Series.  
North America:

10/25/2008 - 10/26/2008: CIGI'08: China in the Shifting World Order
57 Erb Street West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Cost: $200- $250
This event is by invitation only.
Approximately 200 leading experts and policy makers from Canada and around the world gather to discuss possible solutions to the issues raised by CIGI's research.  
10/27/2008: Chinese Lessons: Roadblocks on the Way to China's Superpower Status
Columbia University
Address: International Affairs Building, Room 918 , New York, NY 10027
Cost: Free
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
John Pomfret speaks at Brown Bag Lecture Series, "Reporting China"  

10/28/2008: China: Political and Security Challenges for the Next Administration
Harry Harding Auditorium,
The Elliott School of International Affairs
Suite 213, 1957 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052
Time: 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Sigur Center for Asian Studies presents a panel discussion on U.S.-China Relations. 

10/28/2008: Libertine Masculinity: Homosexuality and Homosociality in Late Imperial Pornographic Fiction
Room 1636 School of Social Work Building
1080 South University , Ann Arbor, Michigan
Time: 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Professor Giovanni Vitiello will discuss the figure of the male libertine in pornographic fiction and the boundaries of his sexuality and masculinity from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth centuries.

11/04/2008: The Rise of Guanxi in Chinese Transition Economy
University of Michigan
Room 1636 School of Social Work Building
1080 South University , Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
Time: 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Professor Yanjie Bian explores his theoretical model in which the role of guanxi is a function of institutional uncertainty and market competition. 

11/05/2008: Factory Towns: Portraits of Modern China
Columbia University
International Affairs Building, Room 918, New York, NY 10027
Cost: Free
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
No Reservations Required
Leslie Chang, former Wall Street Journal Beijing correspondent and author of the forthcoming Factory Girls
Peter Hessler, staff writer for the The New Yorker and a contributing writer to National Geographic.

09/10/2008 - 01/04/2009: Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection
2626 Bancroft Way, UC Berkeley campus
Cost $5- 12     General Admission
141 works by 96 artists, drawn from one of the world’s most important and comprehensive collections of contemporary Chinese art. 
09/17/2008 - 01/11/2009: Confucius: Shaping Values Through Art
Pacific Asia Museum
Address: 46 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena , CA 91101
Cost: $7 for adults, $5 for students/seniors
Phone: (626) 449-2742 
Confucius: Shaping Values Through Art explores how Confucian values have permeated East Asian culture. It utilizes the Museum’s own collection as a case study.  
09/05/2008 - 01/11/2009: Art and China's Revolution
Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York City
General admission is $10, seniors $7, students $5 and free for members and persons under 16
Asia Society Presents First Comprehensive Exhibition Devoted to Revolutionary Chinese Art from the 1950s Through 1970s. 

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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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