Sinica Podcast podcast

Sinica Podcast


A weekly discussion of current affairs in China with journalists, writers, academics, policy makers, business people and anyone with something compelling to say about the country that's reshaping the world. A SupChina production, hosted by Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn.

328 Episodes

  • Sinica Podcast podcast

    Revisiting the Red New Deal, with Lizzi Lee and Jude Blanchette (live at NEXTChina 2021)


    This week on the Sinica Podcast, we bring you Part 2 of a conversation with Lizzi Lee, an economist turned China analyst, and Jude Blanchette, the Freeman Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In September, Lizzi and Jude joined Kaiser and Jeremy to discuss the wide-ranging set of regulatory moves by Beijing, touching on many disparate realms of Chinese life — from real estate to renewable energy, and from entertainment to education. But much has happened since then, and as we promised at the end of that episode, we reconvened to discuss the same topic at our NEXTChina 2021 conference on November 10-11. Don't miss this one!3:53 – A reappraisal and clarification of the Red New Deal9:02 – Kaiser's hypothesis about why Xi Jinping is pushing such far-reaching changes now10:29 – Lizzi Lee offers her take on the timing14:41 – Jude on why "Red New Deal" doesn't quite go far enough in describing the changes afoot18:50 – Lizzi on the dangers of bursting the real estate bubble27:26 – Has Xi Jinping left any off-ramps?A transcript of this episode is available at Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
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    The Carter Center's survey on Chinese perception, with Yawei Liu and Michael Cerny


    Recent polls conducted by organizations like Gallup and Pew have shown a precipitous decline in U.S. public opinion toward China. But how do the Chinese feel about the U.S.? This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Yawei Liu, senior China advisor at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and with Michael Cerny, associate editor of the Carter Center's China Perception Monitor, about a survey commissioned by the center on Chinese attitudes toward the United States and Chinese perceptions of global opinion on China.7:48 – The methodology behind the survey13:02 – The survey's central questions25:30 – The polarized 55-64 age group28:17 – The drivers of Chinese negative perceptions of the U.S.37:35 – Inflection points in Chinese perceptions of the U.S.45:31 – Generational effects on Chinese perceptions50:27 – The causal direction: Do negative perceptions of the U.S. boost Chinese notions about international perceptions of China?A transcript of this interview is available at SupChina.comRecommendations:Michael: Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner; and Causal Inference: The Mixtape by Scott CunninghamYawei: How the Red Sun Rose by Gao Hua;, translated by Stacey Mosher; and The Battle of Chosin, a documentary film from PBSKaiser: Y: The Last Man, a post-apocalyptic TV show from FX, available on HuluSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
  • Sinica Podcast podcast

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    Peter Hessler live at the NEXTChina 2021 Conference in New York


    This week on Sinica, a live show taped on November 11 at the fourth annual NEXTChina Conference at the China Institute in New York, featuring Peter Hessler. Pete returned to the U.S. from Chengdu over the summer after his contract at Sichuan University, where he was teaching journalism and freshman composition, was not renewed. His departure sparked speculation about government displeasure at his reporting for The New Yorker — despite earlier criticism that his coverage of China's COVID-19 response had been too favorable to Beijing. Pete joins Kaiser and Jeremy to discuss his latest book, The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution, his approach to writing on China, his interactions with his students, and the real reasons for his departure from China.3:18 – How Egypt sheds light on China7:00 – Language-learning as a device in Pete Hessler's writing9:50 – How Pete kept in touch with over 100 students from Fuling — the making of a longitudinal cohort study18:33 – How Pete is viewed in China vs. in Egypt25:10 – Pete's writing on Chinese entrepreneurship29:02 – Why Pete & Leslie moved to Chengdu — and why they had to leaveA transcript of this podcast is available on Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
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    Psychologist George Hu of the United Family Mental Health Network on mental health in China


    This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy discuss mental health in China with George Hu, a Shanghai-based clinical psychologist who serves as president of the Shanghai International Mental Health Association and leads the United Family Mental Health Network. George describes how American ideas of psychiatry and psychology have shaped the way Chinese mental health professionals understand mental wellness and mental distress, resulting in the importation of approaches to diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders that may not always be the best fit with China's cultural, sociological, and historical realities.5:14: – Trying to assess the scale of mental illness in China9:45 – How mental health is diagnosed and classified in China19:00 – Mental health and the extraordinary competitiveness of life in China28:09 – The growing focus on the intersection between culture and mental health in China37:21 – Issues faced by American students in China 46:17 – Mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic50:42 – Bicultural therapyA transcript of this interview is available on Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake George: Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche by Ethan WattersKaiser: Awakening from Dukkha from the Inner Mongolian band Nine TreasuresSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
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    The worldview of Wang Huning, the Party's leading theoretician


    This week on Sinica, we present a deep-dive into the worldview of China’s leading Party theorist, Wáng Hùníng 王沪宁. Wang — the only member of the Politburo Standing Committee who has not run a province or provincial-level municipality — is believed to have been the thinker behind ideas as central (and as ideologically distinct) as Jiāng Zémín’s 江泽民 signature “Three Represents,” which brought capitalists into the Chinese Communist Party; Hú Jǐntāo’s 胡锦涛 “Scientific Outlook on Development” that focused on social harmony; and Xí Jìnpíng’s “Chinese Dream” that aimed at the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” While much of Wang’s life since he entered government has been hidden from view, his earlier writings contain many ideas that appear to have shaped Party policy across the tenure of three Party general secretaries over a period of nearly three decades, and offer clues about what still might be in store. Kaiser is joined by Joseph Fewsmith III, an eminent professor of political science at Boston University; the intellectual historian Timothy Cheek, professor of history at the University of British Columbia, whose work has focused on establishment intellectuals in the PRC; and Matthew Johnson, principal and founder of the China-focused consultancy AltaSilva LLC, who has studied and written about Wang extensively.4:31 – An outline of Wang Huning's career8:36 – Wang Huning's personality and temperament12:28 – Wang speaks16:45 – Wang as an example of post-charismatic leadership loyalty24:02 – Wang's America Against America31:04 – Wang Huning's concepts of cultural security and cultural sovereignty46:36 – Wang and Document Number Nine55:39 – Chinese conceptions of democracyA transcript of this podcast is available on The Nerves of Government: Models of Political Communication and Control by Karl Deutsch; and The Logic of Images in International Relations by Robert Jervis.Joe: Now that more Americans recognize that China is not becoming "more like us," they need a deeper understanding of China, and not one just rooted in hostility and militarism.Tim: In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova.Kaiser: River of Stars by Guy Gavriel KaySee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
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    Bonus Episode: Introducing the China Sports Insider Podcast


    A warm Sinica welcome to our newest network member, the China Sports Insider Podcast!If it's about sports and there's a China angle, our hosts Mark Dreyer — the China Sports Insider himself — and Haig Balian, the show's producer, will talk about it. This week: fewer than a hundred days to go to the Beijing Olympics, and foreign athletes have been trickling in for test events. What's happening? What are they saying? (7:18)The IOC released their playbook — their game plan for the Olympics. How will visiting media and athletes react to Beijing’s health and safety measures? (12:42)Then we talk to USA Today’s Dan Wolken. He's covered four Olympics, and he's coming to Beijing. What does he make of the playbook? (19:06)And we end with the saga of China's men’s national ice hockey team. Their story is getting a lot of attention from foreign media. At the Olympic tournament they'll be in a group with Canada, USA, and Germany, and there's a real chance they’ll get blown out. How did we get here? What’s the way out? (41:06)Update: Since we recorded this, the IIHF has announced that China will not be kicked out of the Olympic tournament. For more stories read China Sports InsiderFind Mark Dreyer on TwitterFind Haig Balian on TwitterLearn about the Olympic playbooksSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
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    It's Complicated: Getting our heads around a changing China


    This week on Sinica, we present a talk delivered on October 19 by Kaiser at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, as part of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations China Town Hall. In this 30-minute speech, Kaiser offers his views on Xí Jìnpíng's 习近平 "Red New Deal," discusses the many lenses through which China is viewed, and argues that the changes now afoot in China constitute a major historic shift — and perhaps even the end of the modern period in China's history.We'll be back next week with a conversation about Wáng Hùníng 王沪宁, the Chinese Communist Party's leading theorist, featuring three leading scholars on modern China's politics and intellectual history: Timothy Cheek of the University of British Columbia, Joseph Fewsmith III of Boston University, and Matthew Johnson, a historian who now runs a China-focused consultancy but has made Wang Huning a major focus of his work.A transcript of this episode is available on Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
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    Did tariffs make a difference in Trump’s trade war?


    This week on Sinica: Did the Trump-era tariffs have their intended effects? In other words, did they prompt companies to pull up stakes in China and re-shore jobs to the United States? Kaiser chats with two political scientists, Samantha Vortherms of UC Irvine and Jack Zhang, director of the University of Kansas’s Trade War Lab, about the paper they recently published with the intention of answering that question. The paper is called “Political Risk and Firm Exit: Evidence from the US-China Trade War.” They share their findings and explore the paper’s policy implications.4:16 – Sam and Jack offer their thoughts on U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai’s recent speech on U.S.-China trade10:05 – Distinguishing between tariffs and other aspects of the trade war13:46 – Previously, on the U.S.-China Trade War: A brief recap of the trade war to date18:35 – The Foreign Invested Enterprises in China dataset23:14 – A summary of the paper’s findings: Tariffs did not increase the likelihood of firms exiting47:15 – What explains the relative reticence of affected firms when it comes to voicing opposition to tariffs?55:36 – What would you tell Katherine Tai and Gina Raimondo if they were your captive audience?A transcript of this interview is available on The podcast Invisibilia, and specifically, a recent episode called “International Friend of Mystery.”Jack: The Masters of Chinese Economics and Political Affairs (MCEPA) degree program at UC San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy, and Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke (part of the Ibis series).Kaiser: A Song for Arbonne, a semi-historical fantasy novel by Guy Gavriel Kay.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
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    How Taiwan propelled China’s economic rise, with Shelley Rigger


    This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Shelley Rigger, Brown professor of political science at Davidson College and author of the new book The Tiger Leading the Dragon: How Taiwan Propelled China’s Economic Rise. Shelley recounts Taiwan’s rise as an export-led powerhouse and one of the Asian Tigers, and explains the wave of Taiwanese SMEs (small and medium enterprises) that transformed China into the factory to the world. She also opens a window on world-class Taiwanese companies like Foxconn, which employs some 15 million people in China and assembles some of Apple’s most iconic and consequential products, and TSMC, the world’s most valuable semiconductor company, and discusses how the island’s business relationship with China has complicated politics in Taiwan.4:34 - The story of Chen Tian-fu, Umbrella King of Taiwan9:27 - Explaining the psychological distance between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese19:08 - The conditions that created the Taiwan manufacturing boom33:42 - Why Taiwan manufacturing moved to the Mainland48:36 - The vulnerability of Taishang on the Chinese mainland53:03 - Moving up the value chain: Foxconn and TSMC1:07:31 - Beyond business: the impact of Taiwan on Chinese cultural life1:13:52 - Taiwan influence on Chinese institutionsA transcript of this interview is available on SupChina.comRecommendations: Shelley: Giri/Haji, a joint BBC-Japanese crime drama on Netflix.Kaiser: Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, CrossroadsSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
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    Can China meet its ambitious emissions targets?


    This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Michael Davidson, a leading scholar on China’s environmental policy, who holds joint appointments at UC San Diego as an assistant professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Jacobs School of Engineering. Michael unpacks recent announcements out of Beijing, including Xí Jìnpíng’s 习近平 decision to cease all funding for coal-fired power plants outside of China, and explains the linkage between China’s push for non-fossil energy and the recent power shortages that have affected 20 provinces. He also explains China’s new emissions trading scheme, or ETS, and discusses what China still needs to do to meet the ambitious targets set by Xi Jinping last year: reaching peak carbon emissions by 2030, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. 3:26 – Xi Jinping’s announced end to funding for coal-fired generators outside China at UNGA12:00 – China’s recent power outages and their relationship to emissions reduction19:32 – The basics of China’s new emissions trading scheme38:37 – Coercive environmentalism, command-and-control, and market instruments47:15 – Can U.S.-China competition result in a “race to the top” in emissions reduction?54:24 – GHG reduction and the Red New DealA transcript of this interview is available on The Chair, a Netflix show starring Sandra Oh.Kaiser: Bewilderment, the new novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Overstory, Richard PowersMentioned in the show: Valerie Karplus’s paper on China’s ETS; New York Times Magazine piece on The Many Saints of Newark, a Sopranos prequel.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

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