The Month in U.S.-China Relations
We apologize for the late issue of the April Newsletter. We were sidetracked by an event we hosted in honor of Dr. Henry Kissinger on April 29 at which we unveiled the new logo of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States. It features the first character in Dr. Kissinger’s well known Chinese name, 基, which means foundation, cornerstone. The image reflects our commitment to analyzing the foundations of the bilateral relationship for policymakers and publics in the United States and China. The original calligraphy for the logo was penned by China’s Ambassador to the United States, the Honorable Cui Tiankai.
The major event in U.S.-China relations in April was President Obama’s trip to Asia. While he didn’t go to China this time around—he is expected to be in Beijing in November—questions about the power and policies of the United States and China were integral to his stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Video for Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy’s analysis of the trip can be viewed above. Audio for the Ground Truth Briefing that the Wilson Center conducted with experts in Tokyo, Seoul, and Manila can be heard here.
Major Issue Tracker
The striking thing about American coverage of Obama’s Asia trip was that so many U.S. journalists seemed to share Beijing’s premise: It’s All About China. The number of articles which suggested that, in visiting with allies and trading partners, Obama was dangerously, cheekily tiptoeing through “China’s neighborhood” indicated that China’s attempts to create a zone of deference in the Western Pacific are succeeding.
- INTERVIEW/ Evan Medeiros: China’s attempt to isolate Japan worsens bilateral relations (April 6): Evan Medeiros, senior director for Asian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, gave a comprehensive interview on U.S. China policy to the Asahi Shimbun. He managed to sound tough while repeatedly denying that Washington was taking a tougher line with Beijing...Read More >>
- The False Cry of the Pivot Deniers (April 25): Writing in Foreign Policy, Eli Ratner offered a vigorous defense of the Rebalance, which was undercut by a subtitle which claimed that the policy was both “real” and a “phantom” ...Read More >>
- 5 takeaways from Obama's trip to Asia (April 25): CNN offered a succinct summary of the trip’s hits and misses...Read More >>
- China Is Fine With Obama’s Trip to Asia - Except for Japan (April 29): Shannon Tiezzi for The Diplomat is building a thick folder of superb China clips at The Diplomat. In this piece, she summarizes China’s official responses to President Obama’s Asia trip...Read More >>
China as an Emerging Superpower
- China: Neither Ally nor Enemy on Russia (April 2): The Ukraine crises continue to beg questions about how close China will draw to Russia and whether the annexation of Crimea will embolden China to press its territorial claims in the Western Pacific even more aggressively. The National Interest’s Samuel Charap and Ely Ratner offered a timely look at the limits on Sino-Russian cooperation...Read More >>
- The Global Origins of China’s Domestic Conflicts (April 7): Wilson Center Global Fellow Zheng Wang and Vance Crowe, writing in The Diplomat, point out the domestic costs of China’s growing international engagement: “Chinese citizens have frequently ranked corruption, pollution, and social tension as their top concerns… all these issues are directly related to the factors of globalization that have helped China rise.” ...Read More >>
Trade & Economic Relations
- U.S. Chamber Report Finds Major Shift in Flow of U.S.-China Investment (April 29): The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report by the Rhodium Group’s Daniel Rosen and Thilo Hanemann stating that “Chinese annual foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States now exceeds FDI by U.S. companies into China by most measures.” ...Read More >>
- China poised to pass US as world’s leading economic power this year (April 30): The World Bank’s International Comparison Program estimated that the Chinese economy will surpass that of the United States this year when measured by purchasing power parity indices...Read More >> China promptly declined the honor here.
- Chinese spies keep eye on leading universities (April 21): In The Sydney Morning Herald, John Garnaut documented Chinese efforts to build spy networks among its students in Australian universities to “monitor Australia's ethnic Chinese community to protect Beijing's 'core interests’.”...Read More >>
- FBI Movie Warns U.S. Students Not to Spy for China (April 16): The FBI has long been concerned that American universities were targeted by China as soft targets for intellectual property theft. The FBI is also focusing on Chinese intelligence agencies’ recruitment of American students in China, as evinced by this sincere but dreadful drama about the real-life case of American student Glenn Duffie Shriver who is now doing time for espionage in an American prison…Read More>>
- U.S.-China differences are clear even as Hagel stresses cooperation in Beijing visit (April 8): American and Chinese military leaders continue to expand their exchanges even as tensions in the Asia Pacific rise. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited China in early April and had unusually testy public exchanges with his Chinese counterparts...Read More >>
- China angered by latest U.S. arms sale plan for Taiwan (April 9): The U.S. House of Representatives authorize the sale to Taiwan of four second-hand U.S. warships despite the protests of China's Ministry of Defense...Read More >>
- Pacific Navies Approve Conduct Code for Unplanned Sea Encounters (April 22): The 21 member States of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium, including the United States, China, Japan, and the Philippines, signed a non-binding Code for Unplanned Encounters to reduce uncertainty during unplanned regional encounters between ships and aircraft. The agreement was widely viewed as a positive if symbolic step...Read More >>
- April 4: Readers of this newsletter know that American filmmakers have been writing scripts and editing finished movies to suit the tastes of Chinese viewers and the requirements of Chinese censors. Here are two essays about Chinese preferences in the world of international publishing, one by an Australian writing for Reader’s Digest, and one by the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos about his decision not to publish a Mainland Chinese version of Age of Ambition.
- Looking Who is Walking (Away with U.S. Passports) (April 28): At Tea Leaf Nation, Rachel Lu documents the high-profile cases of Chinese television stars who chose to have their babies in the United States...Read More >>
- Chinese journalist Gao Yu is missing (April 23): Outspoken Chinese journalist Gao Yu went missing and her microblog went silent in what appears to be an attempt by Beijing to silence its critics before the June 4, 2014, 25th anniversary of Tiananmen. Others have been rounded up since the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Gao’s disappearance...Read More >>
- Degrees of Influence Peddling in China and U.S. (April 24): This is not a human rights story per se, but this New York Times comparison of Chinese and American cultures of corruption served as a timely counterpoint to the raft of stories about greedy Chinese officials...Read More >>
- In 'Disturbing' Reversal, Chinese Applications Fall at U.S. Graduate Schools (April 8): The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Karin Fisher (always excellent) reported that: “after seven consecutive years of double-digit increases, the number of Chinese applications to graduate programs in the United States this spring fell an unexpected 5 percent” while applications from India rose 20 percent...Read More >>
- Solving China’s Schools: An Interview with Jiang Xueqin (April 8): At The New York Review of Books, Ian Johnson interviewed Jiang Xueqin on the differences between the educational systems of the United States and China...Read More >>
- Are US universities choosing rich Chinese students over Asian Americans? (April 27): This Quartz article by Lily Kuo asks whether American universities are admitting fewer Asian American students as they enroll ever higher numbers of full (out-of-state) tuition paying undergraduates from China...Read More >>
- The Big Bang Theory, other programs disappear online in China (April 29): The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, NCIS, and The Practice were suddenly removed from a popular Chinese streaming site by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television due to their “questionable” content. The creator of The Big Bang Theory hit back...Read More Here >> And Here >>
If You Read/Watched Nothing Else in April…
The fine writing and film/videography on U.S.-China relations published each month far exceeds the assimilating capacity of any institution. It would be ridiculous to feature “the best” efforts of the past 30 days, but KICUS would like to highlight the following work nonetheless:
- A majority report issued by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rebalancing the Rebalance, called for closer coordination between and enhanced funding for the many government agencies that conduct cooperative programming with China. This outstanding effort should have been viewed as a call to action by anyone who takes U.S.-China relations seriously, but it seems to have been ignored to date.
- The Washington Post demonstrated how little funding for public diplomacy goes to the Asia Pacific region, despite the supposedly vigorous and comprehensive Rebalance...Read More >>
- Why did the FBI invest in a drama that has been widely and deservedly mocked on the Internet (see “Espionage” above) instead of publicizing this prison interview with the real Glenn Duffie Shriver? ...Read More >>
- In April, Georgetown University and the U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a day-long conference on China’s Roles in the World that covered How China Views Itself, China as a Rule Maker, China as a Rule Breaker, and China as a Partner...Read More >>
- The Smithsonian Postal Museum is currently exhibiting Pacific Exchange, which looks at the history of U.S.-China interaction through stamps. Congratulations to the Smithsonian for curating the entire exhibit in both English and Chinese. The entire show is on line here.