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Video: China's Wastelands: How the World's Trash (Including Yours) Ends Up in China's Rivers

USC's Joshua Goldstein looks at recycling in China.
September 18, 2013

We all know that the U.S. imports over $400 billion dollars of clothing, toys, computers and other manufactured goods from China every year. Less well known is that the U.S.'s biggest export to China is our trash and scrap. Though the distance between your household recycling bin and the Chinese countryside might seem vast, you would be surprised at how quickly your empty yogurt container made that trip last year. This will be an informal, picture guided tour of the Chinese scrap economy, aka a peak at globalization's backside.

California's no. 2 export to China in 2012 was "waste & scrap." It was New York and Florida's top export to China.

Joshua Goldstein teaches history at the University of Southern California. Among the courses he teaches is the popular general education course "China and the World." Goldstein is the author of Drama Kings: Players and Publics in the Recreation of Peking Opera (2007) and many articles on Beijing Opera as a modern construction. He is also the co-editor (with Madeline Yue Dong) of Everyday Modernity in China (2006). He is currently at work on a study of the history of recycling in China.


This video is also available on the USCI YouTube Channel.



March 27, 2019 - 4:30pm
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Michael Dunne, author of American Wheels: Chinese Roads, will focus on General Motors in China since 1989. The discussion will be followed by a short introduction to the Mark L. Moody collection at the USC East Asian Library. 

April 9, 2019 - 4:00pm
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Please join the USC U.S.-China Institute for a screening of an episode of the Assignment: China series on American media coverage of China. This episode focuses on the work of journalists covering the massive demonstrations that rocked Beijing in spring 1989. Followed by a Q&A with USCI's Mike Chinoy, who covered the demonstrations for CNN.