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.
Julie Klinger on China's rare earth frontiers
This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Julie Klinger, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware’s Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences, about rare earths — a family of 17 elements that are essential to the function of modern industry and are indispensable in everyday technology. Julie debunks many of the myths surrounding China and rare earths, and lays out her ideas about why, despite the relative ubiquity of mineable rare earth deposits, China has dominated production of these vitally important minerals for decades.
3:00: Debunking conventional wisdom on China and rare earths
9:55: What are rare earths and how important are they
21:30: How China’s near-monopoly on rare earths came to be
32:49: Mining and environmental degradation
45:32: China’s decision to slow down rare earth production and its consequences
Julie: Going outside for the sake of going outside, and The Probiotic Planet: Using Life to Manage Life, by Jamie Lorimer.
Kaiser: “The chip choke point,” by Tim De Chant, in The Wire China (listen to the article on China Stories).
Journalist Te-Ping Chen on her short fiction collection, Land of Big Numbers
This week on Sinica, Kaiser is joined by Wall Street Journal correspondent Te-Ping Chen to talk about her just-released collection of short fiction, Land of Big Numbers: Stories. Featuring 10 short stories all set in China or featuring Chinese characters, it showcases both the author’s keen eye for detailed observation and her imaginative powers and offers an unfailingly empathetic look at China from a wide range of disparate angles. Te-Ping even reads a passage from one short story, “Lulu,” which was previously published in The New Yorker.
10:51: A real-life inspiration for her fiction
28:30: A reading from “Lulu”
37:10: The cultural disconnect between China and the U.S.
43:16: Te-Ping’s writing and publishing process
Te-Ping: A short story collection titled What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, by Lesley Nneka Arimah, and My Country and My People, from a collection of essays from the 1930s by Lín Yǔtáng 林语堂.
Kaiser: The Index of Self-Destructive Acts, by Christopher Beha.
The Xinjiang camps on Clubhouse
This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy chat with three of the guests in a remarkable room on the drop-in voice chat app Clubhouse, which ran for 14 hours on Saturday, February 6. The room, called “Is there a concentration camp in Xinjiang?,” brought thousands of listeners from China and around the world to talk about the ongoing extralegal internment of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang. We spoke with the Han Chinese filmmaker who started the room (and wishes to remain anonymous); one of the main moderators, the journalist Muyi Xiao of the New York Times; and Rayhan Asat, a Uyghur attorney in the U.S. whose brother, a successful tech entrepreneur, has been put in the camps and has been incommunicado for three years.
Jeremy: The Ministry for the Future: A Novel, by Kim Stanley Robinson.
Rayhan: The Queen’s Gambit, available on Netflix.
Muyi: A type of Wuhan hot dry noodle: 想念武汉热干面 (xiǎngniàn wǔhàn règānmiàn), available for purchase on Yamibuy.
L: The 2012 film No, directed by Pablo Larraín.
Kaiser: The book Land of Big Numbers: Stories, by Te-Ping Chen.
China’s struggle for tech ascendancy, with Dan Wang of Gavekal Dragonomics
This week on Sinica, Kaiser talks with Dan Wang, a Shanghai-based analyst at research firm Gavekal Dragonomics, who also contributes a regular opinion column to Bloomberg. Combining firsthand knowledge of China’s tech sector with broad erudition and a humanist’s perspective, Dan offers a unique take on China’s innovation ecosystem, the country’s efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in technology, and the role of economic growth, fundamental optimism, and inspiration in China’s rise as a tech power.
13:53: The outsize importance of economic growth
25:02: An overemphasis on digital technology
33:55: Reciprocity and technological codependence
49:12: Technology is more than just tools and patents
Dan: The works of Marcel Proust, and the ham and mushrooms of Yunnan Province.
Kaiser: The Netflix series Flavorful Origins and Great State: China and the World, by Timothy Brook.
Read Dan's 2020 annual letter: http://danwang.co/2020-letter/
Talking Taiwan with former national intelligence officer Paul Heer
This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Paul Heer about the conundrum of Taiwan — one of the thorniest and most fraught issues confronting the new Biden foreign policy team as it navigates the U.S.-China relationship. Paul is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for the National Interest and studies Chinese and East Asian issues. He served as the national intelligence officer for East Asia from 2007 to 2015, and was previously a senior analyst at the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence in its China Issue Group. In December 2020, Paul published two articles about Taiwan policy in The National Interest: “The Strategic Dilemma of Taiwan’s Democracy” and “The Inconvenient Truth About Taiwan’s Place in the World.” This episode’s conversation centers on the diagnosis and recommendations made in those two pieces.
6:48: The democratic David versus the authoritarian Goliath
17:47: Taiwan reunification in the Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 era
36:55: The U.S. position on Taiwan
40:22: The future of one country, two systems
Paul: The works of Charles Dickens.
Kaiser: Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, by Rebecca Wragg Sykes.
Subscribe to China Stories here, the newest podcast in the Sinica Podcast Network.
A new U.S. strategy in East Asia, from the Quincy Institute
This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with the three authors of a new policy paper from the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a relatively new D.C.-based think tank that advocates restraint in U.S. foreign policy. Michael D. Swaine, Jessica J. Lee, and Rachel Esplin Odell authored the report Toward an Inclusive & Balanced Regional Order: A New U.S. Strategy in East Asia, which was published by the Quincy Institute on January 11. In this longer-than-usual episode, they detail their recommendations for how they believe the Biden-Harris administration should approach the region, especially China.
12:17: Sinophobia and Cold War mentalities
23:33: The most pressing issues in East Asia
42:59: Limited disentanglement in U.S.-China technology
52:07: The role of U.S. forces in Japan and South Korea
1:05:30: Taiwan’s “porcupine strategy”
Rachel: Women in Color, an album by Raye Zaragoza, and The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Jessica: Lengthy puzzles as a way to provide some respite from laptops and cell phones.
Michael: Continuing the trend of non-screen-related activities, Michael recommends taking up oil painting.
Kaiser: Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State, by Barton Gellman.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Jeremy and Kaiser offer the essential China podcast. Funny, snarky, but also serious when necessary. Great!
While living in China I have listened to this podcast. The best podcast on China’s current affairs - and great fun. Guys, please keep up the great work!
These guys know what they’re talking about. Great insights, guests and recommendations, and also great fun!