U.S.-China relations after six months of Trump, with Susan Shirk and Stan Rosen


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Two astute observers of Chinese politics discuss China’s growing influence on the world and the Xi government’s management of Trump turbulence.

Has the last half year of turbulent U.S.-China relations and Chinese politics passed you by? Confused you? Perhaps you’d like a clear recap in plain English?

If yes, then this is the podcast episode for you.

Susan Shirk is a professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego, where she’s also the chair of the 21st Century China Center. Susan served as deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia during the Clinton administration, and is the author of several influential books on China, including most notably China: Fragile Superpower.

Stan Rosen is a professor of political science at the University of Southern California and a close observer of the interplay between culture and politics in China. He writes on subjects as varied as the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese legal system, public opinion, youth, gender, human rights, Sino-American relations, and film and the media.

Kaiser spoke to them in front of a live studio audience, a notably not wonky group of teachers and China-curious folk at the 1990 Institute’s Teachers Workshop in San Mateo, California.

Topics covered include how China has dealt with Trump, trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, Chinese soft power and Belt and Road, leadership transition in China, and the country’s push into Hollywood.


Susan: The website of the UC San Diego 21st Century China Center, and also The Noise of Time: A Novel, written by Julian Barnes about the perspective of famed Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and what he endured under Stalin. The oppression of artists and writers in that time and place is newly relevant to China, after the death of Liu Xiaobo.

Stan: If you want to know more about Shostakovich, read his memoir, Testimony, or watch the film of the same name. Also check out three Chinese films, the first of which is the famous To Live by Zhang Yimou. Watch the film, but also read the book by Yu Hua, a much tougher version, which was toned down in its adaption to the screen. Second, The Mermaid, by Stephen Chow, by far the top-grossing film in China — until Wolf Warriors 2 overtook it this month. Finally, Lost in Thailand, which Stan describes as “like The Hangover, but without all the raunchiness.” Of course, that is a big part of the reason why Chinese films aren’t quite making it overseas.

Kaiser: Czech composer Antonín Dvořák and his Seventh and Eighth Symphonies — get the whole collection of his symphonies and concertos. (You may already be familiar with the Ninth, the famous New World Symphony.) And the Chinafornia newsletter, a great free weekly roundup of U.S. state-level engagement with China.