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Talking Points: April 29 - May 13, 2009

The USC U.S.-China Institute's weekly newsletter - news about U.S.-China relations and China-focused talks, conferences, performances, and screenings.

Release Date: 04/30/2009

USC U.S.-China Institute Weekly Newsletter

Talking Points
April 29 - May 3, 2009

Disease respects no border. The daily movement of huge numbers of people and goods over great distances is a challenge for any who hope to contain an illness. The spread of swine flu (zhuliugan 猪流感) over the past two weeks and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 pounded this message home. SARS cost hundreds of lives, especially in China and Hong Kong, and as a result of this, officials there have been quick to assert their readiness to respond should swine flu become a problem there.

Chinese officials are also mindful that people remember how millions of pigs died or were killed in 2007 because of blue-ear virus. Pork prices rose dramatically. Avian flu outbreaks in China and elsewhere in Asia resulted in the slaughter of millions of birds and infected a few individuals. Officials shut down a north central China school when fifteen students took ill, they also were quick to assert that they were infected with a virus other than swine flu. A temporary ban on flights to and from Mexico has been announced and today Chinese media is showing teams of medical personnel decked out in protective masks, googles, and protective clothing boarding an AeroMexico flight to Shanghai and aiming infrared temperature sensors at the heads of passengers. (Click here for an English version)

Public health specialists say flu-infected people are most contagious prior to displaying symptoms, so the extent to which these screenings actually lessen the hazard is limited. But officials are eager to alert the public to the need to wash their hands frequently and so on, and also to signal that the government is actively working to protect public health. Dramatic images help achieve these aims.


As with disease, dramatic events such as chemical spills draw our attention to pollution’s cross-border impact. However it is the steady and long-term impact of environmental degradation that demands action. Elizabeth Economy, director of Asian studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, spoke on this at USC yesterday. She documented the enormous and growing cost of pollution in China, noted government responses, and discussed ways the economic downturn affects these trends. Polls show that large majorities of Chinese consider water and air pollution among the country’s most serious problems. Economy described cases where popular protests have forced officials to halt or reconsider projects. She highlighted how determined individuals have worked in and out of government to monitor firms’ (especially those owned in full or in part by foreigners) compliance with environmental regulations. The rise of environmentally-focused civic groups is especially encouraging, though the government’s strict regulation of their aims and activities hampers their influence. And Economy examined the environmental consequences of China’s international quest for resources. American per capita resource consumption and pollution production dwarfs that of China, she asserted, and the U.S. must do much more to put its own house in order while working with China and other nations to address climate change and other pressing problems.

Video and a fuller report on Economy’s talk will be available soon at the USC U.S.-China Institute’s website. In the meantime, we hope you’ll visit the site to read about the hundreds of thousands of Chinese who die prematurely due to dirty air, about coal production and consumption in China, about the effectiveness of efforts to clean Beijing’s skies for the Olympics, and about the export and unsafe recycling of e-waste. Our student-driven web magazine, US-China Today, also features a number of articles about China’s environmental crisis.

A wide variety of events, screenings, and exhibitions are listed below and in the calendar section of our website. Of particular interest for those in or visiting Southern California is the current Huntington Library show of paintings and calligraphy collected by Weng Tonghe.

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The USC U.S.-China Institute
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  05/01/2009: Massive Unemployment and Worker Protests: So Why Were Workers More Restive in China than in France and Mexico?
UC Berkeley
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Time: 1:00PM - 2:00PM
The Center for Chinese studies presents a discussion by Dorothy Solinger on the increasing number of worker protests in China compared to that in France and Mexico.
05/03/2009: Autumn
120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012-3805
Phone: 213-680-4462
The screening of Autumn is part of 25th Annual Los Angeles Pacific Film Festival.
05/04/2009: Hearing the Future: Twenty Years of Listening to Popular Music in Taiwan
Grand Salon Kerckhoff Hall
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 5:30PM
UCLA Center for Chinese Studies presents a discussion by Nancy Guy on how the last two decades of popular music in Taiwan has impacted politics.
05/08/2009: Qing China's Perspectives on India before 1850: Some Approaches and Conclusions
UC Berkeley
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese studies presents a talk by Matthew Mosca on the Qing Empires relations with British India.
  05/11/2009: Ancient Chinese Checkpoints and How They Possibly Worked
UCLA 10383 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 5:30PM
UCLA Center for Chinese Studies presents a discussion by Enno Giele on the functionality of ancient checkpoints in China.
  05/15/2009: Life Writing as Literary Relic: Image, Inscription, and Consecration in Tibetan Biography
UCLA 243 Royce Hall
Los Angeles, CA
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
Time: 3:00PM - 4:30PM
A CBS Colloquium Series Lecture by Andrew Quintman, PhD (Cotsen-Mellon Fellow, Princeton University).
North America:  
  04/30/2009: “Heavenly Pattern Reading” and the Origins of Writing in China
Princeton University
202 Jones Hall
Time: 4:30PM - 6:00PM
The East Asian Program presents a discussion with David Pankenier on the role of astronomy in early Chinese writings.
  05/01/2009: The Rising Stakes of Refugee Issues in China
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 628
Constitution Avenue and 1st Street, NE , Washington, DC
Time: 10:30AM - 12:00PM
A roundtable discussion presented by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China
05/02/2009: The Rising Tide
Peabody Essex Museum
161 Essex Street, Salem, MA
Time: 2:30PM
A screening of Robert Adanto's film presented by the Peabody Essex Museum
  05/04/2009: Politics, Memory, and Dissent: May Fourth, June Fourth & Beyond
University of British Columbia Institute of Asian Research
C.K. Choi Building, Room 120, 1855 West Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Time: 8:30AM - 6:00PM
A workshop exploring calls for democracy, political dissent, public remonstrance, memory, and violence in modern China.
  05/06/2009: Approaches to Cross-Strait Relations
The George Washington University
The Elliott School of International Affairs, Lindner Family Commons 1957 E Street, NW 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20052
Phone: 202-994-5886
Time: 10:30am-11:30am
The Sigur Center Taiwan Education and Research Program and the Center for Strategic and International Studies bring Tsai Ing-wen, former Vice Premier of the Executive Yuan and current Chair of the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan, to discuss the various approaches to relations between Taiwan and mainland China. 
05/08/2009: T'ang Studies: The Next Twenty-five Years
University at Albany, Albany, New York
Time: 8:00AM - 5:30PM
An International Conference to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the T’ang Studies Society.
  05/08/2009: Insiders and Outsiders in Chinese History
Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies
Henry R. Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, CT
Cost: Free
Time: 1:30PM - 5:00PM
Yale University presents a conference in honor of Jonathan Spence.
  05/09/2009: Conference on Uygur Archaeology, University of Pennsylvania
Rainey Auditorium, University of Pennsylvania Museum
Time: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
The conference will explore Uygur remains, especially in the context of Tang China and as they relate to material evidence of other nomadic peoples of East and Central Asia, particularly Turk and Kitan.
  05/11/2009: Cross-Strait Relations One Year into the Ma Administration
Foreign Policy Research Institute
1528 Walnut Street Suite 610, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Cost: Free for Faculty, Students, and FPRI Members; $20 for everyone else
Phone: 215-732-3774
The Foreign Policy Research Institute assembles a group of experts to discuss the development of relations between mainland China and Taiwan in the year since Ma Ying-jeou became president of the Republic of China.
  02/12/2009 - 06/07/2009: Noble Tombs at Mawangdui: Art and Life in the Changsha Kingdom, Third Century BCE to First Century
China Institute Gallery
Address: 125 East 65th St., New York , NY
Cost: $7
An exhibit featuring treasures of the Marquis of the Changsha Kingdom and his family 
04/11/2009 - 07/13/2009: Treasures through Six Generations: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Weng Collection
Boone Gallery, The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA
Phone: 626-405-2100
An exhibition of Chinese painting and calligraphy highlighting works spanning 900 years
  11/03/2008 - 11/03/2009: Ancient Arts of China: A 5000 Year Legacy
Bowers Museum
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, California 92706
Bowers Museum presents a collection that portrays the evolution of Chinese technology, art and culture.  
 11/14/2008 - 11/14/2009: Chinese Art: A Seattle Perspective
Seatle Asian Art Museum
Address: 1400 East Prospect Street , Volunteer Park , Seattle, WA 98112–3303
Phone: 206.654.3100
The Seattle Asian Art Museum presents an opportunity to see a collection with representative works from each dynastic period.
  11/15/2008 - 11/15/2009: Masters of Adornment: The Miao People of China
Bowers Museum
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, California 92706
The Bowers Museum presents a collection of exquisite textiles and silver jewelry that highlights the beauty and wealth of the Miao peoples of southwest China.
   02/12/2009 - 02/12/2010: Art of Adornment: Tribal Beauty
Bowers Museum
Address: 2002 N. Main, Santa Ana, CA
Cost: $5
Time: 10:00AM - 4:00PM
An exhibit featuring body adornments from indigenous peoples around the world

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