252 episodes

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.

Sinica Podcast SupChina

    • Business
    • 4.7, 339 Ratings

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.

    Standoff in Ladakh: Ananth Krishnan on the China-India border conflict

    Standoff in Ladakh: Ananth Krishnan on the China-India border conflict

    Late on the night of June 15, a deadly melee erupted on the banks of the Galwan River, in a disputed region called Ladakh, high in the mountains between China and India. To help guide a discussion on this landmark event in China-India relations, Kaiser welcomes back Ananth Krishnan, a longtime correspondent for The Hindu, who is based in Beijing. Ananth discusses the context of the clash, which pits two massive, nuclear-armed states with increasingly nationalistic populations and growing regional ambitions against each other, and assesses the prospects for a settlement of the long-standing border dispute.

    5:56: Context behind the India-China border clash

    17:49: Indian sentiments toward China before the Galwan Valley skirmish

    33:30: India’s future in the global geopolitical system

    43:19: What could be ahead for the India-China relationship

    Recommendations: 

    Ananth: Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy, by Shivshankar Menon, and a docuseries that explores the creation of the hit TV series The Mandalorian, titled Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian.

    Kaiser: The Takshashila PLA Insight newsletter, by Suyash Desai, and The Expanse, a sci-fi series available on Amazon Prime Video. 

    • 52 min
    The controversy over Fang Fang’s ‘Wuhan Diary’: A conversation with the translator, Michael Berry

    The controversy over Fang Fang’s ‘Wuhan Diary’: A conversation with the translator, Michael Berry

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser speaks with Michael Berry, the translator of the Wuhan-based writer Fang Fang’s controversial Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City. Michael discusses Fang Fang’s body of work and how her daily online posts on WeChat (which were compiled to become her book) drew the ire of critics who have denounced the diary as an act of national betrayal and have even leveled threats against both the author and the translator. Michael Berry is a professor of contemporary Chinese cultural studies and the director of the Center for Chinese Studies at UCLA. 

    5:21: Reflections on Fang Fang’s Soft Burial 

    10:42: Fang Fang’s diary, and its backlash 

    21:08: An excerpt from Wuhan Diary

    31:07: COVID-19: The common enemy of humankind 

    Recommendations:

    Michael: The album Free Spirit, by the band Chandresh Kudwa. For a taste, you can listen to the title track here. 

    Kaiser: The mockumentary TV show called What We Do in the Shadows.

    • 51 min
    Why doesn't the China bubble pop? A conversation with Bloomberg’s chief economist, Tom Orlik

    Why doesn't the China bubble pop? A conversation with Bloomberg’s chief economist, Tom Orlik

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Bloomberg’s chief economist, Tom Orlik, about his new book, China: The Bubble That Never Pops. A longtime resident of Beijing, Tom wrote for the Wall Street Journal before joining Bloomberg as chief Asia economist. His book argues that Beijing's leaders have learned valuable lessons from their own history and from the experiences of other countries, and applied them well to China's own economy. 

    5:33: The bears have it wrong on China

    10:08: Debt obligations and local government finance

    18:29: What the Chinese leadership has learned, and what it hasn’t

    30:21: Shadow loans, and the shadow banking sector 

    47:42: The tools that China’s central banks have to deal with risk

    Recommendations:

    Tom: China’s Unfinished Economic Revolution, by Nicholas R. Lardy, and The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber, Vol. 1: The Golden Days, by Cáo Xuěqín 曹雪芹, translated by David Hawkes.

    Kaiser: The 2010 Chinese television series Three Kingdoms.

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Censored: Molly Roberts on how China uses deterrence, distraction, and dilution to control its internet

    Censored: Molly Roberts on how China uses deterrence, distraction, and dilution to control its internet

    This week on Sinica, we continue with the ongoing California series of podcasts that Kaiser recorded last winter, and present a conversation taped in December, when he chatted with Margaret (Molly) Roberts, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. Molly also co-directs the China Data Lab at the 21st Century China Center, and her latest book, Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall, takes a deep, data-driven look at the way that internet censorship functions, and how it impacts Chinese internet users. 

    15:21: Dispelling two narratives about China’s internet censorship

    25:24: Distracting online communities by digitally flooding forums

    32:43: How censorship affects those who experience it

    41:52: How the discussion around Chinese internet censorship has evolved

    Recommendations:

    Molly: Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, by Virginia Eubanks. 

    Kaiser: The Syllabus, by Evgeny Morozov: A website offering curated syllabi featuring text, audio, and video on a range of topics, including technology, global affairs, arts and culture, and more.

    • 51 min
    ‘Superpower Interrupted’: A conversation with veteran China journalist Michael Schuman about his Chinese history of the world

    ‘Superpower Interrupted’: A conversation with veteran China journalist Michael Schuman about his Chinese history of the world

    This week, Kaiser and Jeremy speak with Michael Schuman, a reporter and writer who’s been covering China for 23 years, about his new book, Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World. The book sets out to present world history as China has understood it, and what that understanding of history tells us about what the China of today really wants. 

    11:12: Notable historical books on China that have withstood the test of time

    17:48: What Chinese exceptionalism means

    34:45: When historical context matters, and when it doesn’t

    42:11: Michael Schuman’s insights on what China wants 

    Recommendations:

    Jeremy: The work of SupChina’s very own society and culture editor, Jiayun Feng. Click here to explore more of her work. 

    Michael: The Analects, a work attributed to Confucius and his peers.

    Kaiser: The “Frankenstein” That Wasn’t: A Realistic Appraisal of Today’s China, an essay by Damien Ma of MacroPolo. 

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    • 54 min
    Max Fisher of the New York Times on media coverage of China, COVID-19, and Trump

    Max Fisher of the New York Times on media coverage of China, COVID-19, and Trump

    This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Max Fisher, one of The Interpreter columnists for the New York Times, on what U.S. media coverage got right — and wrong — about the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, and the concerning parallels between 2002 and 2020.

    8:33: American media coverage of the outbreak

    15:14: Dehumanizing the disease in China

    22:17: The role of the media in American political discourse

    39:11: Moving the American consensus point on China

    Recommendations:

    Max: The Farewell, by Lulu Wang. 

    Kaiser: Eternal Life: A Novel, by Dara Horn.

    • 55 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
339 Ratings

339 Ratings

Saint Gabriel ,

Excellent information and analysis

Excellent uncensored analysis without the condescension that seems ubiquitous in most English-language journalism about China. If you don’t think said condescension exists, you’re probably as duped as those who believe censored media is the only safe media.

Ghoast_of_ZhaoZiyang1989 ,

Kaiser Kuo is a CCP Apologist

Kaiser Kuo is an apologist for the Communist Party.

Backgrounds Information:

I listened to his show and participated in his Facebook page conversations for over five years, with even many in-depth one-on-one conversations with him through email and Facebook Messenger. Also, I want to point out that I identify as a secular, anti-imperialism, democratic socialist (like Bernie Sanders), not a neoliberal, ultranationalist, or neoconservative. I also lived and worked in China for a about decade and am literate in Chinese at the advanced level.

Why He is an Apologist:

He tends to promote a theme that we should have empathy for the Chinese people based on their brutal history of imperialism and self inflicted wounds, which I think many people can agree with at first glance. However, implicit in this claim is if you advocate human rights for the Chinese people you do not have empathy for them and are engaging in cultural imperialism, especially if you are white. Interestingly, this premise is similar to CCP propaganda that claims “You have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people”, are “interfering in their internal affairs”, and “you don’t understand China [because you are white]” every time they disapprove the actions of various international organizations or governments.

Kaiser tends to tone this perspective down on his podcast because of its broad audience, however, he does not limit himself in his associated Facebook page. Here we get a better idea of his biases and how they play into the delivery of his podcast. He allows the political views of many indoctrinated mainland Chinese and their sympathizers to take precedence over anyone who promotes human rights. It does not matter if you are a Trump supporting ultra-conservative/neoconservative, Biden supporting neoliberal, or even a Sanders supporting democratic-socialist who shuns America’s imperialistic illegal wars. If you promote human rights you are often explicitly or implicitly accused of promoting cultural imperialism or lacking empathy for the Chinese people, without being allowed to fully argue your point. Kaiser and his followers will often gaslight and curse at you. If you are white and promote human rights be prepared for many not to listen to you based on that factor alone.

In direct conversations with Kaiser he has claimed human rights abuses happening to Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, and on the mainland in general are hyperbole in western media, along with how China is constantly threatening Taiwan with military invasion. He has also mentioned that the Communist Party’s degradation of Hong Kong’s One Country, Two Systems policy does not matter to him.

If Kaiser wants to avoid the apologist label, perhaps he should realize that promoting human rights for China is a fundamental aspect of having empathy for the Chinese people and to ignore this is apologetic. He should realize that it is possible to promote human rights for China without imperialistic military force. He should realize that what he claims to be cultural imperialism are actually enlightenment ideals a large portion of the Chinese populace has already chosen themselves to embrace without violent foreign intervention. He should realize that the company he keeps is a reflection of who he is and, so far, it’s not good company if human rights is what he truly values.

RussellSG1 ,

One of the best podcasts on any topic

This has long been one of the leading podcasts and it is even better with Jeremy and Kaiser again working closely together. It is valuable to hear the thoughtful views of both hosts. And P.S., the podcast music is great — never change it! :>)

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