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Video: Matt Sheehan Looks at Socioeconomic Ties between China and California

Despite tensions between the Chinese and American governments, the state of California has deep and interdependent socioeconomic exchanges with China that reverberate across the globe. Matt Sheehan examines these interactions that make California a microcosm of the most important international relationship of the twenty-first century. 

October 22, 2019
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Tensions between the world’s superpowers are mounting in Washington, D.C., and Beijing. But between these hubs of high-level politics, an entirely new reality is emerging. Yet the People’s Republic of China and the state of California have built deep and interdependent socioeconomic exchanges that reverberate across the globe, and these interactions make California a microcosm of the most important international relationship of the twenty-first century.
 
In The Transpacific Experiment, journalist Matt Sheehan chronicles the real people who are making these connections. Sheehan tells the story of a Southern Californian mayor who believes a Chinese electric bus factory will save his town from meth labs and skinheads. He follows a celebrated Chinese AI researcher who leaves Google to challenge his former employer from behind the Great Firewall. Sheehan joins a tour bus of wealthy Chinese families shopping for homes in the Bay Area, revealing disgruntled neighbors and raising important questions about California’s own prejudices and perceptions of immigration and the American Dream.
 
Sheehan’s on-the-ground reporting reveals movie sets in the “Hollywood of China,” Chinese-funded housing projects in San Francisco, Chinese immigrants who support Donald Trump, and more. Each of these stories lays bare the new reality of twenty-first-century superpowers: the closer they get to one another, the more personal their frictions become.
 
 
 
About the Author
 
Matt Sheehan served as the first China correspondent for The WorldPost, and is currently a non-resident fellow at The Paulson Institute, where he researches the growing ties between the two places he has called home: California and China. Sheehan grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent over five years living in mainland China. His writing has been published in Vice NewsForeign Policy, and The Atlantic. He is based in Oakland, California.
 
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Events

August 5, 2020 - 4:00pm

During this digital report launch, PEN America and our panelists will discuss the pressures filmmakers confront and the choices they make in order to have their films be shown in China. 

August 20, 2020 - 4:00pm

The USC U.S.-China Institute presents a webinar with Han Li to examine how Chinese are rediscovering the rural China and idealizing rural life in the social media age. She'll also look at the social and political forces driving this trend.