Sinica Podcast

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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.


    • May 19, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekly NEW EPISODES
    • 58m AVG DURATION
    • 352 EPISODES

    Listeners of Sinica Podcast that love the show mention: kaiser, sinica, china podcast, beijing, understanding china, interested in china, happening in china, understand china, knowledgable guests, sidney, ccp, jeremy, chinese, absolutely worth, foreign policy, watcher, contemporary, stay up to date, american life, mainstream media.

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    Latest episodes from Sinica Podcast

    Too much of a good thing? Connectivity and the age of "unpeace," with the ECFR's Mark Leonard

    Play Episode Listen Later May 19, 2022 67:09

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser is joined by Mark Leonard, founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and author most recently of The Age of Unpeace: How Connectivity Causes Conflict. Mark talks about how despite the bright promise that increasing connectedness — whether in trade, telecommunications, or movements of individuals — would usher in a world of better mutual understanding and enduring peace, the reality is that this connectedness has made the world more fractured and fractious. He explains how the three "empires of connectivity" — the U.S., China, and the EU — each leverage their extensive connectivity to advance their own interests. He also unpacks his assertion that the world is coming to share China's longstanding ambivalence toward connectedness.1:05 – Kaiser tells how researching an abortive book project presaged Mark's conclusion that familiarity can breed contempt7:58 – How Mark came to be a deep ambivalence about connectivity16:03 – The three "empires of connectivity" and how they leverage or weaponize connectivity31:41 – How all the connected empires are taking on "Chinese characteristics"41:41 – How the Russo-Ukrainian War fits into Mark's framework in the book51:49 – Chinese intellectuals and the shift in their thinkingA full transcript of this interview is available on Chinese Hegemony: Grand Strategy and International Institutions in East Asian History by Zhang FengKaiser: "A Teacher in China Learns the Limits of Free Expression," the latest piece by Peter Hessler in The New Yorker; and the Israeli spy thriller Tehran on AppleTV.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    The rise and fall of U.S.-China scientific collaboration, with Deborah Seligsohn

    Play Episode Listen Later May 12, 2022 69:48

    This week on Sinica, Deborah Seligsohn returns to the show to talk about the sad state of U.S.-China scientific collaboration. As the Science Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from 2003 to 2007 — arguably the peak years for collaboration in science — she has ample firsthand experience with the relationship. Debbi, who is now an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University in Philadelphia, sees the U.S. decision to dismantle what was a diverse and fruitful regime of collaboration as a consequence of the basic American conception of the relationship: our tendency to see that relationship as one of teacher and student. She also argues that the American obsession with intellectual property protection is fundamentally misguided and inapplicable to scientific collaboration, which rarely deals with commercial IP.3:15 – The rationale for prioritizing U.S.-China scientific collaboration in the 1970s9:11 – A highlight reel of Sino-American scientific collaboration across four decades31:03 – The stubborn American belief that freedom and democracy are necessary — or even sufficient — conditions for technological innovation39:37 – The price we've paid and will continue to pay for the collapse of collaboration44:00 – The end of collaboration and the DOJ's "China Initiative"48:17 – How to rebuild the U.S.-China scientific partnershipA full transcript of this podcast is available on A Buzzfeed story by Peter Aldous about the strange origins of the "lab-leak theory" in the right-wing of the animal rights activist community; and two podcasts — Bloomberg's Odd Lots podcast and the Brookings podcast by David Dollar, Dollar and Sense.Kaiser: The sci-fi thriller Severance on AppleTV.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Chinese public opinion on the Russo-Ukrainian War, with Yawei Liu and Danielle Goldfarb

    Play Episode Listen Later May 5, 2022 61:22

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser is joined again by Yawei Liu, Senior Director for China at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia; and by Danielle Goldfarb, head of global research at RIWI Corp, an innovative web-based research outfit headquartered in Toronto. They discuss a survey commissioned by the Carter Center to look at Chinese attitudes toward the Russo-Ukrainian War: whether Chinese people believe supporting Russia to be in China's interest, what they believe China's best course of action to be, and whether they're aware of — and if so, whether they believe — disinformation pushed by Moscow about U.S.-run bio labs in Ukraine. Danielle also discusses other survey research that RIWI has conducted about China that relates to the war in Ukraine.2:41 – Why public opinion still matters in authoritarian countries5:35 – Has the debate over the Russian invasion of Ukraine been completely shut down in China?12:17 – RIWI's technology and survey methodology18:47 – The Carter Center questionnaire and its results28:05 – RIWI's Military Conflict Risk Index, and the China-Taiwan results35:26 – The puzzling correlation between education level and propensity to believe disinformation42:00 – Popular attitudes about the relationships among Russia, China, and the U.S.A transcript of this podcast is available on SupChina.comRecommendations: Yawei: How China Loses: The Pushback Against Chinese Global Ambitions, by Luke Patey.Danielle: Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez.Kaiser: Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake AdelsteinSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    China and India share a contested border and an uncomfortable neutrality in the Ukraine War — but not much else

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 28, 2022 74:31

    This week on the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser is joined by Manjari Chatterjee Miller, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations and associate professor of political science at Boston University; and Manoj Kewalramani, chairperson of the Indo-Pacific Research Programme and a China studies fellow at the Takshashila Institution, a leading Indian public policy education center. They offer fascinating analysis and insight into the complex relationship between China and India in light of the Russo-Ukrainian War, as powerful and populous Asian nations caught between their commitments to Russia and their well-founded fear of alienating the West. Their predicaments, however, are about all they have in common: despite Chinese overtures, New Delhi and Beijing have too much historical baggage, too many open wounds, and visions for a post-war geopolitical map that are too divergent to allow them to make anything like common cause.3:31 – Indian media positions, political elite takes, and popular opinion on the Russo-Ukrainian War9:05 – Is there a partisan divide in India on the Ukraine War?12:44 – Manoj's amazing potted history of Soviet/Russian relations with India, from 1947 to the eve of the war29:38 – Manjari on how China figures into the Indo-Soviet/Indo-Russian relationship35:33 – China as a factor in Indo-U.S. relations43:17 – China's relative tone-deafness when it comes to India55:56 – Sources of tension in the Russia-India relationshipA full transcript of this podcast is available at SupChina.comRecommendations:Manjari: Bridgerton on NetflixManoj: The 1995 Bollywood film Dilwale Dulhania Le JayengeKaiser: The high school comedy Metal Lords on Netflix; and Matt Sheehan, "The Chinese Way Of Innovation: What Washington Can Learn From Beijing About Investing In Tech" in Foreign AffairsSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    China, Europe, and the Russo-Ukrainian War, with Marina Rudyak

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 21, 2022 55:40

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser is joined by Marina Rudyak, assistant professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Heidelberg. She offers her unique perspective on the underlying tensions and potential conflicts between Russia and China, the "dialogue of the deaf" that was the China-European Union summit on April 1st, Beijing's failure to understand the European perspective on Ukraine, and China's diplomatic and developmental policies in the Global South.4:41 – Marina's personal background and its relevance to our topic6:53 – China and Russia are simpatico in Central Asia? Not so fast.17:14 – Europe, China, and the national security lens22:30 – China's goals with respect to Europe30:32 – What went wrong at the April 1st summit between Beijing and Brussels?41:37 – European and American efforts to counter China's presence in the Global SouthA transcript of this interview is available at Marina: Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges, by Otto ScharmerKaiser: Robert Draper, "This Was Trump Pulling a Putin," in the New York Times Magazine; Fiona Hill, There Is Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-first Century; and Steven Johnson, "AI is Mastering Language. Should We Trust What it Says?" in the New York Times Magazine.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Inside the Shanghai lockdown, with SupChina's own Chang Che

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 14, 2022 48:16

    The COVID lockdown in China's biggest city, Shanghai, hasn't been going exactly according to plan. This week on Sinica, we speak with our business editor Chang Che, who flew back to Shanghai in early March and emerged from quarantine just in time for "dynamic clearing." He gives us a first-hand look at the scramble for basic food, and offers his take on China's vaunted state capacity, the role of neighborhood committees in implementing central government policy, what went so badly wrong in Shanghai, and what lessons might be learned for the next Chinese city that sees an Omicron outbreak.2:38 – Chang's experience of the lockdown7:46 – The current mood in Shanghai11:02 – Neighborhood Committees: the foot soldiers of pandemic prediction14:00 – Explaining the relatively low rate of vaccination among the elderly in Shanghai18:47 – The case for locking down Shanghai, and how they might have done it better31:01 – The reputational damage to China33:31 – Schadenfreude41:04 – Why a state that can test 26 million in a day can't keep people fedA transcript of this podcast is available on Chang: Tokyo Vice on HBO MaxKaiser: The National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VirginiaSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    After the War: Scenarios China faces when the Russo-Ukrainian War eventually ends

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 6, 2022 74:03

    This week on the Sinica Podcast, in a show taped on March 23, Chinese foreign policy expert Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center, and former national intelligence officer for East Asia Paul Heer join Kaiser for a discussion of possible scenarios that China might face in the eventual aftermath of the Russo-Ukrainian War.5:03 – The uncertain outcome of the war10:06 – Russia as a pariah state14:43 – Which is the junior partner, Russia or China?17:17 – Can China impact the course of the war?22:32 – The three levels of Chinese support for Russia31:39 – What inducements could the U.S. offer China to move decisively away from Russia?36:35 – Scenarios beyond the war: Pax Americana, the Extended Director's Cut; and the Law of the Jungle40:43 – The West Divided, the Pivot Delayed44:19 – Bandung II51:01 – What about India?A transcript of this podcast is available at The Great Game In The Eurasia Continent by Fang JinyingPaul: Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate by Mary Sarotte; and Nazis of Copley Square by Charles GallagherKaiser: The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping's China by Kevin RuddSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Susan Thornton on the urgent need for diplomacy with China over the Russo-Ukraine War

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 30, 2022 49:05

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser is joined by Susan Thornton, former Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and a veteran diplomat. Susan makes a compelling case for the importance of diplomacy in the U.S.-China relationship — and the alarming absence of real diplomacy over the last several years. She helps interpret American and Chinese diplomatic engagements over the Russo-Ukrainian War and assesses the prospects for China actually playing a role in negotiating an end to the conflict.3:42 – What diplomacy is really all about, and why it's so conspicuously absent7:32 – Does it make sense for the U.S. to expect Beijing to outright condemn the invasion?10:40 – What should the U.S. actually expect from China?13:55 – Is China willing and able to play a meaningful role as a mediator?17:06 – What's up with the leaks?21:32 – Reading the readouts28:20 – What is China's optimal endgame here?32:06 – China's "southern strategy"34:50 – Do upcoming U.S. midterm and presidential elections matter to Beijing?41:29 – What are we missing when we talk about China's perspectives on the war?A full transcript of this interview is available on SupChina.comRecommendations:Susan: Butter Lamp, a short film directed by Hu Wei, nominated for Best Live Action Short at the 87th Academy AwardsKaiser: Birria Tacos. Here's a good recipe! (These should come with a doctor's warning) See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Chinese international relations scholar Dingding Chen on Beijing's position in the Russo-Ukrainian War

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 23, 2022 57:38

    This week on Sinica: Chén Dìngdìng 陈定定, professor of international relations at Jinan University in Guangzhou, offers his perspective on how Beijing views the war in Ukraine that began on February 24 with the Russian invasion. He concludes that while Beijing's short-term alignment with Russia is fairly locked in and unlikely to shift soon, the long-term prospects for the partnership are far less certain. Kaiser and Dingding discuss where Russian and Chinese worldviews are congruent, the unlikelihood that China will put itself forward as some kind of mediator in the war, and China's domestic considerations in the Russo-Ukrainian War.4:37 – China's assessment of Russia's comprehensive national power8:09 – Has the course of the war and Russian underperformance caused Beijing to recalibrate?10:37 – When did the Sino-Russian convergence really happen?24:47 – India and Vietnam as complicating factors in the Russo-Chinese relationship27:26 – Does Xi's personal relationship with Putin matter?29:16 – The leaks of alleged intel showing Russia asked for Chinese military assistance38:23 – The significance of the Hu Wei essay calling for Beijing to break with Moscow over the war46:38 – Domestic considerationsA transcript of this interview will be available soon on The late Ezra Vogel's Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of ChinaKaiser: Kingdom of Characters: the Language Revolution That Made China Modern by Jing TsuSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    China's soft power collides with the hard realities of the Russo-Ukrainian War: A conversation with Maria Repnikova

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 16, 2022 69:05

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Maria Repnikova, assistant professor of global communications at Georgia State University, who recently published a short book under the Cambridge Elements series called Chinese Soft Power. A native Russian speaker who also reads and speaks Chinese, Maria has been a keen observer of China's response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and offers her perspectives on Chinese media coverage of the war and the impact of China's pro-Russian tilt on Beijing's soft power ambitions. She recently co-authored a piece in The Atlantic arguing that China's apparent pro-Russian position is about one thing only: the United States and China's opposition to American unipolar hegemony.4:25 – Definitions of soft power: Joseph Nye's and China's8:49 – The Chinese discourse on soft power: three major schools14:09 – How talking about soft power allows the airing of hard truths23:24 – Chinese soft power in the global South37:49 – How badly has the Russo-Ukraine War eroded Chinese soft power?41:44 – How Russian media has been talking about China since the invasion of Ukraine began44:50 – Why China's pro-Russia lean is really all about America54:40 – Is Russia's media style the future of Chinese media? On the "RTification" of Chinese mediaA full transcript of this podcast is available on Prototype Nation by Silvia Lindtner; and an anti-recommendation for the show Inventing Anna, which is streaming on NetflixKaiser: Season 5 of the show The Last Kingdom; and the sequel to Vikings, called Vikings: Valhalla. Both are on Netflix.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    China's Ukraine conundrum, with Evan Feigenbaum

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 9, 2022 74:31

    This week on the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser chats with Evan Feigenbaum, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, former vice-chairman of the Paulson Institute, and (during the second George W. Bush administration), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs under Condoleeza Rice. Evan offers a very compelling analysis of the difficult position that Beijing now finds itself in after Putin's invasion of Ukraine — caught on the horns of a dilemma and unable to resolve conflicting commitments to, on the one hand, territorial sovereignty and, on the other, opposition to American unipolar hegemony. Meanwhile, Beijing is fearful of the repercussions of siding with Russia, fearing that sanctions may have a real bite. Evan also shares his thoughts on how China and Russia differ significantly in their posture toward the “rules-based international order,” on misguided thinking about Taiwan and the “strategic triangle,” and on the reshaping of the geopolitical and geoeconomic order that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will usher in.4:48 – The basic contradictions in China's competing objectives25:58 – Did Xi know about Putin's intention to invade?31:34 – Are the U.S. and NATO pushing China into the Russian embrace?35:15 – The economic impact of the war: China and sanctions40:30 – Taiwan takes and why straight-line thinking doesn't cut it48:53 – Does Beijing have an accurate sense of its ability to affect outcomes here?50:26 – China and Russia: the differences in their international behavior57:44 – The geopolitical and geoeconomic impact of Russia's invasion of UkraineA transcript of this interview is available at Summer Kitchens, a Ukrainian cookbook by Olia HerculesKaiser: Fareed Zakaria on the Ezra Klein Show from March 4, 2022; and the new Steven Spielberg remake of West Side StorySee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Biden's China policy needs to be more than "Trump lite:" A conversation with Jeff Bader

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 3, 2022 87:29

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Jeff Bader, who served as senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council during the first years of the Obama presidency, until 2011. Now a senior fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institute, Jeff was deeply involved in U.S.-China affairs at the State Department from his first posting to Beijing back in 1981 continuously for the next 21 years, through 2002. He later served as U.S. ambassador to Namibia and was tapped to head Asian Affairs at the NSC after Obama took office. Jeff is the author of a fascinating book on Obama's China policy, Obama and China's Rise: An Insider's Account of America's Asia Strategy. In this conversation, he offers a candid critique of the Biden China policy to date.Note that this conversation was taped in mid-February — before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, and before the Department of Justice announced the end of the "China Initiative."3:23 – How viewing China over 40 years of rapid development has shaped the way Jeff thinks about China8:54 – Jeff Bader's critique of the Biden administration's China policy19:40 – Is it important to have a China strategy?24:55 – Right-sizing China's ambitions: Is Rush Doshi right?31:17 – Defining China's legitimate interests38:31 – Has China already concluded that the U.S., irrespective of who is in power, seeks to thwart China's rise?43:16 – How can China participate in the rules-based international order?47:52 – Is it still possible for Biden to change his tune on China?52:57 – How much room does Biden have politically? Can he exploit to electorate's partisan divide on China?59:54 – What is the "low-hanging fruit" that Biden could pluck to signal a lowering of temperature?1:12:09 – Jeff Bader's precepts for better understanding of — and better policy toward — ChinaA transcript of this podcast is available at SupChina.comRecommendationsJeff: Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom, a book by Stephen Platt about the Taiping Civil War focusing on Hong Rengan.Kaiser: Re-recommending two previous guests' recommendations: Iaian McGilchrists's The Master and his Emissary recommended by Anthea Roberts; and Unfabling the East: The Enlightenment's Encounter with Asia by Jurgen Osterhammel, recommended by Dan Wang.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Veteran diplomat Bill Klein recalls the turbulent Trump years at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 24, 2022 66:27

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with William (Bill) Klein, who served as acting deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from 2016 to mid-2021. In a wide-ranging conversation, he offers insights about his postings at AIT in Taiwan in the aftermath of the Sunflower Movement, the APEC meeting in Hangzhou, and the vicissitudes of Sino-American diplomacy during the turbulent Trump years — Taiwan issues, the trade war, Huawei and diplomatic hostage-taking, the COVID-19 outbreak, and much more. Bill offers a measured and balanced view, exhibiting the same thoughtfulness and empathy that made him a great diplomat.2:56 – The aftermath of the global financial crisis as the inflection point in U.S.-China relations4:14 – Taiwan and the Sunflower Movement: Bill's years at AIT8:33 – The G20 meeting in Hangzhou, 201612:12 – Chinese perspectives on the U.S. presidential race of 201616:40 – The Tsai Ing-wen phone call19:17 – Trump pulls out of Paris21:09 – The onset of the Trade War24:44 – Ambassador Terry Branstad, his relationship with Xi, and what he accomplished27:48 – The conflict over Chinese technology: Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, and the Two Michaels.35:20 – The Trump response to early reports of the Xinjiang camps39:35 – The view from the U.S. Embassy as the SARS CoV-2 virus began to spread47:26 – The emerging Chinese consensus on U.S. intentions toward China — and how the Houston Consulate closure was a turning point.A transcript of this interview is available on Project Hail Mary, a science fiction novel by Andy Weir.Kaiser: "The Modern Chinese Novel," an online course available free on YouTube by Christopher Rea.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    What China is reading and why it matters: A conversation with author Megan Walsh

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 17, 2022 60:08

    This week on the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser chats with Megan Walsh, journalist, literary critic, and author of the brand-new book The Subplot: What China Is Reading and Why It Matters. The book offers an accessible overview of China's literary scene, from better-known writers like Mò Yán 莫言 and Yán Liánkē 阎连科 to writers working in fiction genres like crime and sci-fi, and from migrant worker poets to the largely anonymous legions of writers churning out vast amounts of internet fiction. Megan talks about the burden of politics in the life of writers, the wild popularity of dānměi 耽美 (gay-male-themed web fiction), and the surprising streak of techno-optimism in Chinese science fiction.7:09 – The long shadow of the May Fourth Movement12:09 – Politics and the western gaze17:51 – Why Yan Lianke is Megan's favorite Chinese writer26:51 – The literary scene in Beijing in the 2000s29:05 – China's ginormous and mostly terrible internet fiction industry39:19 – What makes Chinese science fiction Chinese?A transcript of this interview is available on Yiyun Li's memoir, Dear Friend, from my Life I Write to You in Your Life; and the New Zealand singer-songwriter Aldous HardingKaiser: The Audible Original epistolary audio drama When You Finish Saving the World by Jesse EisenbergSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    China's ideological landscape, with Jason Wu

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 10, 2022 59:05

    This week on the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser chats with Indiana University political scientist Jason Wu about his work on China's ideological landscape. With so many now framing the contest between the U.S. (or, more broadly, "the West") and China in terms of ideology, it makes sense to examine what "ideology" means to each party, to get a sense of what China's actual ideology consists of, and how Chinese people understand their own ideological positioning relative to concepts like "left" and "right" that are familiar in the West. Wu's research yields some very surprising results: In most countries that have been studied, the degree of ideological constraint — coherence or consistency among different issue positions — tends to be higher among people with greater knowledge of politics. But in China, as with so many other things, just the opposite appears to be true.4:23 – What is the meaning of "ideology"?15:37 – What is China's ideology?20:17 – On "The Nature of Ideology in Urban China" and the odd inverse correlation between political knowledge and ideological consistency in China40:18 – On "Categorical Confusion: Ideological Labels in China" and the meaning of "left" and "right" in ChinaA transcript of this podcast is available on The campus novels Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis and Straight Man by Richard Russo; and the two-person board game Twilight StruggleKaiser: The Magic Mountain by Thomas MannSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Why the law matters in China, with Jeremy Daum of Yale's Paul Tsai China Law Center

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 3, 2022 52:46

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Jeremy Daum, senior research scholar in law and senior fellow at Yale University's Paul Tsai China Center. Jeremy runs, a Wiki-style resource for translations of Chinese laws and regulations and an invaluable resource not just for legal scholars but for anyone interested in understanding China's policy direction. In a wide-ranging conversation, Jeremy talks about why the law remains important despite frequent assertions that there is no rule of law in China, critiques the "techno-authoritarian" narrative on China, and offers an informed take on the much-maligned "social credit system." Jeremy's work on the social credit system has earned him a reputation as a debunker, and in this episode, he makes clear what the system is and is not.3:28 – The project and its origins5:21 – Why does the law matter in China?10:09 – The technology narrative in Xinjiang13:12 – Can the U.S. learn anything from Chinese law?17:59 – Juvenile law and the Chinese conception of the state's role in the family24:13 – The paternalistic conception of law and the COVID-19 response in China28:49 – Mythbusting and the social credit system42:21 – China's Plea Leniency System and the case for engagement in jurisprudenceA transcript of this interview is available on The Fixer, a novel by Bernard MalamudKaiser: Going back to basics: Chinese stir-fry lessons on the YouTube channel "Chinese Cooking Demystified"See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Personality and political discontent in China, with Rory Truex

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 27, 2022 63:18

    This week on the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser welcomes back Rory Truex, who teaches politics and international affairs at Princeton. In a fascinating as-yet-unpublished paper, Rory draws on extensive survey research that examines both political attitudes and personalities among Chinese participants and finds a strong correlation between political discontent and "isolating personality traits," like introversion, disagreeableness, and lack of close personal ties with others. Rory and Kaiser discuss the paper, the fascination with authoritarian resilience among Rory's cohort of China scholars, and the fertile intersection of psychology and politics.4:03 – What's with the obsession among young China-focused political scientists with authoritarian resilience?10:02 – The problem of "preference falsification" in social science research in China — and the solution!16:29 – Rory describes the dataset and the approach behind his paper on personality and political discontent33:14 – What do the personalities of Party members look like?42:15 – Personality and politics in Russia vs. ChinaA transcript of this podcast is available at Rory: The work of the Center for Security in Emerging Technology (CSET); and the Fan Brothers' oeuvre of children's books, including The Night Gardner and The Barnabus ProjectKaiser: The immensely popular daily word game WordleSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Dan Wang on China in 2021: "Common prosperity," cultural stunting, and shortcomings of the "modal China story

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 20, 2022 75:36

    This week on the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser welcomes back Dan Wang, technology analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics, to talk about this year's annual letter. Dan's letters have become something of an institution: wide-ranging, insightful, and always contentious, his missives are read by a great many observers of contemporary China and spark some lively conversations. This year's letter contrasts the major megacities that Dan has lived in (Beijing, Shanghai, and the "Greater Bay Area" of the Pearl River Delta), examines Xi Jinping's efforts to shift the energies of China's technologists and entrepreneurs away from the consumer internet and toward deep tech, ponders the causes of China's "cultural stunting" and the challenges that China faces, and has not yet overcome, in creating cultural products that the rest of the world wants, and warns of the dangers of focusing only on China's weaknesses and problems and ignoring its prodigious capabilities. Tune in for a fascinating conversation with one of the Sinosphere's more original thinkers.4:15 – Dan appraises Beijing, Shanghai, and the PRD Greater Bay Area20:48 – How to think about the "common prosperity" agenda (a.k.a. the Red New Deal)39:21 – The tradeoff between efficiency and resilience: China as an inefficient but anti-fragile economy45:34 – Should the United States be learning from China? The case for reform of American institutions50:38 – A technocratic resurgence in China? The rise of a "Beihang Clique"58:17 – The causes of "cultural stunting" in ChinaA transcript of this podcast is available on Charles Dickens, Bleak House, and Jurgen Osterhammel, Unfabling the East: The Enlightenment's Encounter with AsiaKaiser: Ritchie Robertson, The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness, 1680 to 1790See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Mental models for understanding complexity, with Anthea Roberts and Nicolas Lamp

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 13, 2022 108:30

    What we think about China depends in large measure on how we think about China. As a nation of 1.4 billion people in the throes of world-historic change, it's more important than ever to examine our own mental models when it comes to our understanding of China. This week on the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser kicks off an informal series on "thinking about thinking about China" with a conversation with Anthea Roberts and Nicolas Lamp, co-authors of the book Six Faces of Globalization: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why it Matters. While the book focuses on globalization, in which China has been a central actor, it's really a book about ways to approach all complex issues — and will equip you with immensely useful ways to conceptualize any number of problems related to China. Kaiser calls the book "an upgrade to [his] mental operating system." Please enjoy this fascinating discussion with two brilliant scholars.5:36 – What are the building blocks of a "narrative?"8:08 – The six main narratives on globalization laid out26:23 – The challenge of articulating problematic or objectionable narratives in good faith53:54 – How China fits into the six "Western" narratives on globalization56:55 – Chinese perspectives on globalization1:11:58 – Different metaphors for integrative complexity1:21:01 – Disciplines and training that prepare or predispose people toward complexity1:24:33 – Name-checking the influencesA transcript of this conversation is available on The Master and His Emissary, by Ian McGilchristNicolas: The Once and Future Worker, by Oren Cass; and the China Trade Monitor website, run by Simon Lester and Huan Zhu.Kaiser: "China's Reform Generation Adapts to Life in the Middle Class," by Peter HesslerOther Links: This episode mentions a great many books and authors. Here's a partial list!Isaiah Berlin, The Hedgehog and the FoxDaniel Kahneman, Thinking, Slow and FastHoward Gardner, Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice; and his memoir, A Synthesizing MindPhilip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and ReligionPaul Blustein, Schism: China, America, and the Fracturing of the Global Trading SystemJulia Galef, The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don'tDavid Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized WorldC.P. Snow, The Two Cultures and the Scientific RevolutionEdward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge George Lakoff, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives ThinkGareth Morgan, Images of OrganizationSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    The sociologist watching the China-watchers: A conversation with David McCourt

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 6, 2022 81:06

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with David McCourt, associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis. For the last several years, David — who is not himself a China specialist — has undertaken a sociological study of "China-watchers," and has presented his findings to date in a series of papers as he prepares to publish a book. Focusing on China-watchers as a community, he offers fascinating insights into how they interact to shape the major narratives of "engagement" and "strategic competition.5:24 – Who counts as a “China-watcher”?13:53 – A taxonomy of China-watchers 21:43 – Small e engagement and capital E Engagement 28:35 – The sociological sources of China policy 37:54 – What China policy positions tell us about America 45:14 – Habitus and China policy orientation 55:19 – The China-watching community and American presidential administrations, Obama to Biden A transcript of this conversation is available at Recommendations: David: Gregoire Chamayou, The Ungovernable Society: A Genealogy of Authoritarian Liberalism Kaiser: The works of the great American political scientist Robert Jervis, who died on December 9, especially Perception and Misperception in International Politics and System Effects: Complexity in Political and Social LifeSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Damien Ma of MacroPolo on China's economic and political outlook

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 30, 2021 57:06

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Damien Ma, managing director and co-founder of the Paulson Institute's think-tank, MacroPolo. Damien discusses MacroPolo's new forecast of the property market in China and the likely impact of the predicted contraction of that market. Damien also offers advice on what smart China-watchers will be keeping their eyes on in the coming, highly political year in China in the leadup to the 20th Party Congress. And he shares the amusing story of what happened the evening after he last appeared on Sinica way back when.2:58 – Damien recalls how he nearly led Sinica's interns to their doom one fateful night in 20147:23 – MacroPolo's forecast of the property market through 202516:28 – How will local governments fund themselves without land sales?20:11 – Damien's take on Xi Jinping's "common prosperity" agenda28:53 – Understanding China today through the lens of scarcity30:49 – Tips for watching developments in China in this political year40:00 – Cool stuff from MacroPoloA transcript of this conversation is available on Derek Thompson, "America is Running on Fumes," in The Atlantic.Kaiser: Peter Jackson's epic Beatles documentary Get Back on Disney+See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    The investigative team from MIT Technology Review that found major flaws with the DoJ's China Initiative

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 23, 2021 49:38

    This week on the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser chats with Eileen Guo and Jess Aloe, two members of the three-person team of reporters at the MIT Technology Review who took a data-centered look at the U.S. Department of Justice's China Initiative and uncovered serious problems: an ill-defined mission, low conviction rates, post hoc efforts to remove cases previously described as falling under the China Initiative, and strong evidence of racial profiling.3:03 – The genesis of the report9:15 – How the Department of Justice defines — or doesn't define — the China Initiative19:00 – The deletion of China Initiative cases from the DoJ's website22:34 – Was the Anming Hu case a watershed?30:57 – The evidence for racial profiling38:26 – Biden's conundrumA transcript of this podcast is available on America for Beginners, a novel by Leah FranquiJess: The Expanse, a science fiction series on Amazon PrimeKaiser: Cloud Cuckoo Land, a novel by Anthony DoerrSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    FOCAC 2021 in Dakar, Senegal, and B3W — the U.S. counter to China's BRI?

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 16, 2021 74:35

    The recently-concluded Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting in Dakar, Senegal, generated surprisingly little international press coverage — except for a few stories that seized on what looked, at first blush, like a significant decrease in Beijing's overall investment commitment on the continent. If Beijing sees a concerted effort by the U.S. and Europe to diminish, tarnish, or counteract China's position in Africa, it might well be excused: Its triannual Sino-African love fest, after all, didn't receive nearly as much attention as two problematic stories did: one centering on the alleged Chinese seizure of Uganda's Entebbe Airport, and another claiming that China plans to build a military base in Equatorial Guinea — a base that could threaten the East Coast of the United States, as reports suggested.And then there's the U.S.-led "Build Back Better World" (B3W) initiative, which was launched at the G7 summit in June, and the European Commission's own answer to China's Belt and Road Initiative: the Global Gateway Strategy, which was announced on the final day of FOCAC. This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy speak with the Nairobi-based development economist Anzetse Were and Eric Olander, host of the China in Africa Podcast. They both have a lot to say about FOCAC coverage, media narratives on China in Africa, and the likelihood that programs like B3W and Global Gateway can move the needle when it comes to China's position on the continent.5:08 – Major takeaways from FOCAC 20217:19 – Just how much money did China commit this time?15:57 – FOCAC 2021 as an inflection point in China-Africa relations19:05 – Media disconnects on the China-Africa story and "psychological self-soothing"23:33 – The mistaken reports on China's alleged seizure of Entebbe Airport in Uganda30:28 – The Wall Street Journal's report on China's alleged plans to build a military base in Equatorial Guinea44:55 – China's vaccine diplomacy in Africa52:12 – B3W (Build Back Better World) and Global Gateway as counters to the BRIA transcript of this episode is available on SupChina.comRecommendations:Jeremy: Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society by Paul HollanderAnzetse: Market Power and Role of the Private Sector by the China-Africa Business Council; and "Africa's economic transformation: the role of Chinese investment," by Linda Calabrese and Xiaoyang TangEric: "Guānxì: Power, Networking, and Influence in China-Africa Relations," by Paul NantulyaKaiser: Beware of Pity, a novel by Stefan ZweigSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

    Sinica presents the best of China Stories 2021

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 9, 2021 122:55

    This week, we bring you a selection of the best of our China Stories podcast. Launched in late January this year, it has published nearly 400 narrated pieces from the best English-language media outlets focused on China: Sixth Tone, Caixin Global, The Wire China, Protocol China, The World of Chinese, and Week in China — plus, of course, SupChina. The stories are read by Chinese-speaking narrators who won't badly mispronounce Chinese names and other words. If you enjoy this sampling, please make sure to subscribe to China Stories wherever you get your podcasts.3:04 – Peter Hessler's last class, published in Sixth Tone, written by He Yujia, and read by Elyse Ribbons25:07 – Luo Jialing, a.k.a. Liza Hardoon, and the height of global Shanghai, written by James Carter, published in SupChina, and read by John D. Van Fleet37:22 – Qianlong Emperor: The worst poet in Chinese history?, written by Sun Jiahui, published in The World of Chinese, and read by Cliff Larsen46:52 – Partners in profit, published by Week in China, and read by Sylvia Franke52:36 – Shot heard round the world: China's Olympic return, written by Sam Davies, published in The World of Chinese, and read by Sarah Kutulakos58:32 – China's culture wars, now playing on Bilibili, written by Shen Lu, published in Protocol China, and read by Kaiser Kuo1:07:23 – I sacrificed 16 years to the mines, as told to Gushi FM in Chinese by Chen Nianxi, translated by Nathaniel J. Gan, published in The World of Chinese, and read by Elyse Ribbons1:34:50 – Family values, excerpted from One Thousand Years of Joys and Sorrows, by Ai Weiwei, published in The Wire China, and read by Kaiser KuoSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

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

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 2, 2021 39:08

    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

    The Carter Center's survey on Chinese perception, with Yawei Liu and Michael Cerny

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 25, 2021 72:04

    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

    Peter Hessler live at the NEXTChina 2021 Conference in New York

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 18, 2021 39:35

    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

    Psychologist George Hu of the United Family Mental Health Network on mental health in China

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 64:08

    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