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USC and China in the News, May and June 2008

July 11, 2008

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May 6, 2008: Los Angeles Times

Joshua Kurlantzick, an adjunct fellow at the Pacific Council on International Policy at USC and a fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, wrote an op-ed about the new youth-led Chinese nationalist movement. The anger has spread to U.S. college campuses, including USC, where Chinese students last month spoke out against a visiting Tibetan monk, according to the story. This nationalism calls into question what kind of democracy China could be, Kurlantzick wrote. "Many Chinese academics, for example, believe that, at least in the early going, a freer China might become a more dangerous China. Able to truly express their opinions, young Chinese would be able to put intense pressure on a freer government to adopt a hard line against the West  -- even, perhaps, to invade Taiwan."

May 13, 2008: To the Point (KCRW)

Mike Chinoy, senior fellow at the Pacific Council on International Policy at USC, a visiting professor at the USC Annenberg School of Communications, and an advisor to US-China Today, was interviewed about the devastating earthquake which struck southwest China. Chinoy compared the openness of the government and the quick and competent response of the government to this quake with the reaction in 1976 when a devastating quake hit the northern city of Tangshan. More than 200,000 were killed in that earlier disaster and the government did not permit any foreign reporters to visit the site nor invite foreign assistance. Chinoy noted that at present, there are foreign reporters on the scene and cell phones and internet links permit ready access to images and stories about the disaster and the response. Chinoy expects that after the initial flurry of efforts for there to be fingerpointing regarding the human and financial costs of possibly shoddy construction and inept or corrupt government building oversight.

May 14, 2008: Wall Street Journal

Costas Synolakis of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering wrote an op-ed about the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan. "The massive earthquake that hit central China Monday is the second natural disaster to hit Asia within a week," Synolakis wrote. "Unlike the cyclone that hit Burma, however -- whose trail of destruction could have been mitigated had a warning system been in place -- China's tremor, which measured magnitude 7.9, wouldn't have been helped by such a system," he added. "Better building-code enforcement, on the other hand, could have saved lives.  China's code is now on par with similar codes in seismically active areas of the world. As in other countries, however, China's problem is that there are many older structures that do not meet the stricter new codes, or don¹t maintain it once the building is constructed."

May 16, 2008: Los Angeles Times

Rita Min Rui, a USC graduate student who receives her master’s degree today, was among the Sichuan natives quoted in a story about Southern Californians with roots in Sichuan province. Sichuan was hard hit by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake on May 12. Rui was surprised that few Americans she met when she came to the U.S. knew anything about Sichuan, China’s second largest province in terms of population. "I'm really proud of being Sichuanese… Unfortunately, when I came here and said I was from Sichuan, people knew nothing about it. They know Beijing and Shanghai."

May 22, 2008: CNN

USC Marshall School of Business students Lisa Takahashi and Fernando Campos were interviewed about experiencing the major earthquake in China's Sichuan province. Takahashi and Campos, along with another exchange student from UC Berkeley, were traveling on a bus near the earthquake's epicenter when it struck. "The bus pulled to a really sudden halt, and when we stood up to look ahead and see what was going on, there was a big cloud of dust and rocks falling," Takahashi recalled. "The rocks were hitting the bus and we weren't sure [what happened]," she added. The students first stayed in a nearby village and then set out on foot towards the nearest town. "The weather conditions were really unpredictable," Takahashi said. "It was very alarming to keep feeling the aftershocks," Campos said. At the town, they found rescue officials, called their parents on satellite phones and were then evacuated. "It really shows us how fortunate we really are," Campos said.


May 24, 2008: The China Times

Innovative bamboo shelters developed by Yan Xiao of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering are being constructed for survivors of the Sichuan earthquake. A prototype of the structure, which conforms to U.S. seismic building codes, is on display on the campus of Hunan University. The article noted that the structures are sustainable and less expensive than temporary housing of comparable durability made of traditional materials, such as light-gauge steel.

May 25, 2008: New York Times

Yan Xiao of the USC Viterbi School was quoted about the engineering shortfalls that may have contributed to the high death toll in China¹s recent earthquake. Many buildings, especially schools, were built with concrete slabs that were not properly joined, the story noted. When such components are not securely joined, they are "extremely dangerous, like time bombs," Xiao said. In addition, China rates overall building design codes from 1 to 4. Buildings rated 1 are considered ³important² and must meet stricter design requirements, but the system rates schools only as a 3, which means no additional design protections are needed, he explained. Xiao is an expert in earthquake-resistant designs and has toured damaged areas, a Wall Street Journal story noted. "The government really has to look after the life and way of construction in the rural regions," he added.

June 3, 2008, The Best of the Asian Studies WWW Monitor

"The Best" features the top 1,000 sites evaluated for The Asian Studies WWW Monitor based at Australia National University. The Monitor judged the USC U.S.-China Institute site to be an essential scholarly resource, highlighting the free online access to documents about US-China relations and other topics, the Talking Points enewsletter, and the US-China Today e-journal.


June 6, 2008: Singtao Daily 星岛日报 via

Clayton Dube, USC U.S.-China Institute associate director, was interviewed in an article about a recent Manhattan Institute study on the assimilation of immigrants into American society. The study offered an assimilation index based on US Census data in three areas: economic, cultural, and civic integration. The study offers scores for immigrants based on their place of origin and place of residence. According to the researcher’s formula, immigrants from China scored 21 on the index, whereas immigrants from Hong Kong scored 51 and those from Taiwan scored 41. The overall average was 28. Dube noted that the gap among the three groups can primarily be attributed to most Hong Kong and Taiwan immigrants having lived in the U.S. for longer periods and having stronger English language capabilities when they arrived and often greater familiarity with American cultural norms. The study, Dube noted, also produced counter-intuitive findings. Immigrants from some English-speaking countries were on average less assimilated than those from Hong Kong or Taiwan. Immigrants from New Zealand scored 29 and those from Australia 33. Immigrants from Canada scored 53, not much higher than those from Hong Kong. Immigrants from those societies scored 100 in terms of economic and cultural integration, but relatively low in terms of civic integration (measured by citizenship and military service). Dube suggested that immigrants from those English-speaking countries may feel less need to “secure” their membership in society by becoming citizens than do immigrants from Chinese societies.

June 8, 2008: Global Times 环球时报

In a widely reprinted article on Western media coverage of China, USC U.S.-China Institute associate director Clayton Dube was cited as saying that Chinese needed to remember that Western media are for the most part private enterprises (unlike China's state-dominated media) and are market-driven. Secondly, Dube noted that there are significant differences on key issues between Western and Chinese governments and that it should be expected that coverage would therefore be distinctly different.

June 10, 2008: Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle's "Building Grounds" blog highlighted work by Yan Xiao of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, who has designed a modular bamboo house to replace homes lost in the May 12 earthquake in China¹s Sichuan province. Xiao traveled to the region the day after the earthquake and produced a prototype house in two weeks, the story stated. "Unlike tents, the bamboo quake-relief house is insulated for heat and sound, is fireproof, allows residents to secure their possessions, and is more durable," he explained. "It is also inexpensive compared with temporary houses using other traditional materials, such as light-gauged steel. Finally, bamboo is a green and sustainable construction material, widely available in China and other Asian countries." Xiao, who previously designed a bridge made of the same type of material, has been serving as director of a Chinese Ministry of Education laboratory at Hunan University, the story noted.

June 10, 2008: South China Morning Post

A story highlighted an upcoming performance by Midori Goto of the USC Thornton School of Music and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. "On June 27 and 28, Osaka-born Midori promises another moving performance as the violinist will take to the stage playing Johannes Brahms' hugely popular Violin Concerto in D major," the story stated. "Aside from sharing her talent with audiences worldwide, Midori, who is also Jascha Heifetz Chair and co-director of the Midori Center for Community Engagement at [USC], works tirelessly on music education programs for underprivileged children."

June 12, 2008: Economist

A story highlighted a management brief sponsored by USC, called "Is China Still the World's Greatest Business Opportunity?" The brief was produced by Corporate Network, a division of the Economist Intelligence United, which aimed to offer a snapshot of discussions on the subject at China-based firms.

June 16, 2008: Condé Nast Portfolio

Writing about a study examining the correlation between happiness and wealth, columnist John Cassidy cited Richard Easterlin of the USC College. Easterlin is one of the founders of the happiness school of economics, the story noted. "In China, between 1990 and 2004, per capita income went from 5 percent of the U.S. level to 16 percent," Easterlin said. "Life satisfaction, if anything, seems to be declining. India, Chile, Turkey, Ireland - all of them show little or no improvement in happiness or well-being despite rapid economic growth." A large body of evidence indicates that economic growth doesn¹t necessarily lead to increased happiness, the article stated.

June 16, 2008: Twin Cities Daily Planet

Billy Pan, a 2007 biochemistry graduate from USC and an incoming medical student, is pedalling through China to raise money for charity. Red Thread Charities, a Minnesota organization, will benefit from the effort by Pan and two others. They plan to cover 2,000 miles and have built volunteer days into their schedule. Pan worked with Red Thread Charities on a medical trip in 2007. “I want to go to China – not as a tourist – but as someone who cares about China’s orphans and hopefully makes a difference,” Pan was quoted as saying.

June 17, 2008: People's Daily 人民日报 (pdf)

USC U.S.-China Institute associate director Clayton Dube was quoted in an article profiling documentary filmmaker Irv Drasnin. Drasnin made several influential documentaries on China, beginning with the 1972 CBS classic Misunderstanding China. (In October 2007, USCI hosted two presentations by Drasnin where he screened segments from that documentary and two others and spoke on the challenges of representing China on television.) Dube discussed the enormous importance and influence of Misunderstanding China, noting the size of the CBS audience in those days. He also said, "there are still many issues between the U.S. and China where misundertandings persist." The article was also distributed the Xinhua news agency and reprinted in many outlets.

June 19, 2008: Washington Post

Qingyun Ma, dean of the USC School of Architecture, was highlighted in a story about Chinese architectural trends. Ma is one of China¹s most outspoken and admired architects, the story stated. At a Columbia University conference recently, Ma said that he didn¹t like being asked the question "What is Chinese architecture?" Asking that question is similar to asking, "What is Western art?," since there is too much to be considered, the story stated.

June 21, 2008: Voice of America 美国之音

In a story about protests organized by the Save Darfur Coalition in several places in the U.S., U.S.-China Institute associate director Clayton Dube was interviewed. The Coalition is seeking to pressure Olympic sponsors such as Coca-Cola and General Electric to try to influence the Chinese government. Dube noted that the Chinese government is increasingly sensitive to the political costs of ties with rogue regimes. He pointed out that Chinese leader Hu Jintao met with Sudan's vice president during the week and that the Chinese government has pledged to join with others in playing a constructive role in Sudan. 

June 23, 2008: Washington Post

The work of Richard Easterlin, a USC College economist, was cited in a column by behaviorial economist Shankar Vedantam. Easterlin's work shows that economic development does not mandate greater happiness. He was quoted as noting that although China grew rapidly between 1990 and 2000, the portion of people surveyed who "described themselves as very happy plummeted from 28 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2000." Health and personal ties are the things most closely tied to personal happiness, but these are two things that often suffer during periods of breakneck economic growth.

June 23, 2008: People's Daily 人民日报

Clayton Dube  杜克雷 , U.S.-China Institute 美中学院 associate director, was interviewed about the institute. Dube noted that building USCI was an important component of the university's strategic plan. Unlike most university-based programs, USCI focuses on the U.S.-China relationship and trends in contemporary China and unlike think tanks, USCI draws upon faculty expertise in a much wider array of disciplines to explore the multidimensional relationship. Dube was quoted as saying "China's reemergence will be recorded as one of the great stories of the 21st century." He explained that changes in China are bound to affect the wider world, including the U.S. Though the institute is non-partisan, Dube indicated it aims to inform public debate and policymaking through cutting-edge research and public programs that are reliable, timely, and focused on pressing issues. The interview also noted the institute's strong board of scholars and faculty and its teaching and service work, including the student-produced magazine, US-China Today

June 24, 2008: Kyodo News

USC student Lisa Takahashi, who survived the Sichuan earthquake, was quoted about her experience. The chaos and the ensuing destruction made an impact, but it was the hospitality of those she encountered that left a lasting impression, the story stated. "We thought it was a landslide and thought that help would be on its way in a matter of hours," Takahashi said."The next hour though, we felt more aftershocks and realized that it was an earthquake." Takahashi and two others she was traveling with were aided by villagers until they could make it to a nearby town. "I couldn¹t believe how they gave up their food and supplies considering how much they had for themselves," she recalled. "I want to go back to China one day to thank those who helped me when they had nothing to gain by doing what they did," Takahashi added. "I want to thank them in person, especially the villagers who had so little and yet did so much for us."

June 30, 2008: Media (Hong Kong)


Jeffrey Cole of the USC Annenberg School was quoted about whether the large investments in China's digital sector are contributing to a bubble. Some investors will get burned, but overall the chances of a crash are low, Cole said. "I see some people irrationally throwing money in who may lose their investments, but I don't see a bubble that's going to burst," he added. "I don't see business plans written on the back of napkins that try to suspend the rules of business. I see some pretty rounded businesses." Cole directs the Annenberg School's Center for the Digital Future, the story noted.




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