440 episodes

A weekly discussion of current affairs in China with journalists, writers, academics, policymakers, business people and anyone with something compelling to say about the country that's reshaping the world. Hosted by Kaiser Kuo.

Sinica Podcast Kaiser Kuo

    • News
    • 4.7 • 550 Ratings

A weekly discussion of current affairs in China with journalists, writers, academics, policymakers, business people and anyone with something compelling to say about the country that's reshaping the world. Hosted by Kaiser Kuo.

    The View from China: Leading IR scholar Da Wei of Tsinghua's CISS

    The View from China: Leading IR scholar Da Wei of Tsinghua's CISS

    This week on Sinica, I'm delighted to welcome Dá Wēi (达巍), one of China’s foremost scholars of China’s foreign relations and especially relations with the U.S. Da Wei is the director of the Center for International Security and Strategy (CISS) at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and is a professor in the department of International Relations at the School of Social Science at Tsinghua. Before September 2017, Professor Da served as the Director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a leading think tank in Beijing. He was at CICIR for more than two decades and directed the Institute of American Studies from 2013 to 2017.

    We discuss the state of Chinese understanding of the United States: how China’s strategic class assesses the state of the relationship, what brought it to this point, and what the future might hold.




    2:52 – American attitudes toward the U.S.-China relationship

    5:32 – The focus of academic think tanks and strategic communities in the U.S. versus China 

    11:13 – The Chinese strategic community’s understanding of American domestic politics with respect to the upcoming U.S. presidential election  

    15:08 – The Chinese strategic community’s understanding of why and how the current state of relations developed, and why China changed its trajectory  

    23:12 – The Chinese strategic community’s perspectives on American policy: Do they see a difference between the parties?

    27:02 – Da Wei’s concept of “Sullivanism” 

    33:41 – The question of mutual misunderstanding 

    38:37 – The role and influence of China’s think tanks in the policymaking process

    43:29 – The idea of cognitive empathy — aka strageic empathy, or intellectual empathy — and how it could aid mutual understanding and the policymaking process

    52:30 – The Chinese perspective on Russia and the war in Ukraine 

    57:37 – The Chinese perspective on China’s other international relations and the global context of the U.S.-China relationship 

    1:04:19 The issue of Taiwan and the question of the “status quo” 

    1:13:52 The importance of building people-to-people ties 

    1:16:51 – Da Wei's personal anecdote about an experience that influenced his understanding the U.S.-China relationship




    Recommendations:

    Da Wei:  Lust for Life by Irving Stone — a biography of Vincent van Gogh; Pablo Casals’s recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites; the films Cinema Paradiso (1988) and Forrest Gump (1994).  

    Kaiser: The Sopranos (1999-2007) TV series and The Sopranos Family Cookbook: As Compiled by Artie Bucco, written by Allen Rucker with recipes by Michele Scicolone. 







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    • 1 hr 25 min
    Did Netflix's Adaptation Ruin The Three-Body Problem?

    Did Netflix's Adaptation Ruin The Three-Body Problem?

    This week on Sinica, a discussion of Netflix's adaptation of Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem (or more accurately, Remembrance of Earth's Past). Joining me to chat about the big-budget show is Cindy Yu, host of The Spectator’s “Chinese Whispers” podcast, one of the very best China-focused podcasts; and Christopher T. Fan, who teaches English, Asian American Studies, and East Asian Studies at U.C. Irvine and is a co-founder of Hyphen magazine. Cindy and Chris both wrote reviews of the show and a bunch of other folks answered the call and contributed their thoughts as well.

    6:46 – 3 Body Problem as Chinese IP and audience reception 

    14:44 – The pros and cons of a more faithful adaptation, comparisons with Tencent’s adaptation, [and the Netflix production (process) (? Or keep it separate, 20:17)]

    23:44 – How the show portrays its Chinese characters and China and audience responses

    38:14 – Allegorical interpretations and real-world (political?) connections 

    48:11 – What to look forward to in (possible?) future seasons 

    51:14 – Chenchen Zhang’s humanity/autocracy binary and the 工业党 gōngyè dǎng 

    57:02 A win for Chinese soft power? 

    Recommendations:

    Cindy: The Overstory by Richard Powers 

    Chris: Same Bed Different Dreams by Ed Park

    Kaiser: Kaiser: Run and Hide by Pankaj Mishra; other novels by Pankaj Mishra, including Age of Anger: A History of the Present and From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia; and other novels by Richard Powers, including Galatea 2.2, Operation Wandering Soul, and The Gold Bug Variations 







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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Live from AAS in Seattle: What has become clear to you recently?

    Live from AAS in Seattle: What has become clear to you recently?

    This week on Sinica: I wandered the halls at the Association for Asian Studies Conference in Seattle and talked to 14 participants and asked them all the same question: What has become clear to you about our field recently? The fantastic diversity of areas of inquiry and of perspectives was really energizing. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

    02:25 Michael Davidson from UC San Diego on working towards climate change goals

    04:22 Timothy Cheek from University of British Columbia on the importance of continuing to study China despite political tensions 

    06:51 Chen Zifeng from LSE on Chinese propaganda that surrounds everyday life 

    11:08 Clyde Yicheng Wang (Wang Yicheng) from Washington and Lee University on Chinese propaganda and its spread into social media 

    16:57 Jeff Wasserstrom from UC Irvine on connections between events in China and the world

    18:26 Ian Johnson from CFR on researching China from afar and the importance of online databases 

    21:01 Daniel Leese from the University of Freiburg on the work of digitizing Chinese sources 

    24:06 Tyler Harlan from Loyola Marymount University on opportunities for cooperation in the environmental field 

    25:41 Abby Newman from the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies on the importance of spaces for conversation within the field

    27:55 Sophie Loy-Wilson from the University of Sydney on studying violence and war in Asia with more sympathy 

    33:45 Joe Dennis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the changes he has witnessed in Chinese studies at the university level 

    36:49 Ed Pulford from the University of Manchester on China’s differing perspective on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 

    39:49 Emily Matson from Georgetown University on the importance of Marxist and Mao thought in analyzing modern Chinese history and World War II

    42:14 Jan Berris from the National Committee on United States-China Relations on redirecting the U.S. government’s focus 

    Recommendation: The musical, poetic, and comedic work of Elle Cordova (formerly Reina Del Cid), on TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook; and the Led Zeppelin tribute band "Presence," fronted by singer Tamar Boursalian. (Alas, the band, which is new, has no online presence. See them if you're in Seattle!)

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    • 49 min
    Back to the Future: David M. Lampton and Thomas Fingar on What Went Wrong and How to Fix It

    Back to the Future: David M. Lampton and Thomas Fingar on What Went Wrong and How to Fix It

    This week on Sinica, I speak with veteran China analysts Thomas Fingar and David M. Lampton — Mike Lampton — about a paper they published in the Winter 2024 edition of the Washington Quarterly. It's an excellent overview of how and why the bilateral relationship took such a bad turn roughly 15 years ago, citing mistakes both sides made and the reasons why China shifted around that time from one of its two basic behavioral modes — more open, tolerant, and simpatico in its foreign policy — to the other mode, which is both more internally repressive and externally assertive.

    Thomas Fingar is Shorenstein APARC Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He was Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research. He served as the first deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and as chairman of the National Intelligence Council — and he’s the author of many books, including most recently From Mandate to Blueprint: Lessons from Intelligence Reform.

    Mike Lampton is Professor Emeritus and former Hyman Professor and Director of SAIS-China and China Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and Senior Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute. Mike was also formerly President of the National Committee on United States-China Relations.

    05:04 – The problem with the use of the term "autocracy" to describe China's system

    09:18 – Analysis of the motivation behind China's actions, questioning the assumption that all decisions are solely for perpetuating the Communist Party's power.

    10:25 – Rethinking Xi Jinping's personal influence over China's policy decisions: the checks on his power within the Chinese political system.

    15:58 – Critique of deterministic theories in political science regarding state behavior, particularly concerning China's foreign policy and domestic policy actions.

    19:13 – The importance of avoiding oversimplified and deterministic explanations for Chinese behavior on the global stage.

    23:43 – Discussion on the perception of China as an unstoppable juggernaut and the consequences of such a view for international relations and domestic policies in the U.S.

    24:41 – Analysis of the notion that China seeks to recreate an imperial tribute system in its foreign relations and regional strategy.

    28:09 – Introduction of the concept of two strategic constellations that have historically guided China's policy focus: national/regime security and economic/social development.

    33:11 – Exploration of factors leading to China's shift from prioritizing economic and social development to focusing more on national and regime security.

    37:38 – Examination of the internal and external dynamics contributing to China's policy shifts and the impact of globalization on societal and political tensions.

    48:47 – Reflection on the post-9/11 period as a time of relatively smooth U.S.-China relations and speculation on the role of international crises in shaping bilateral dynamics.

    52:59 – Discussion on the challenges and opportunities for the U.S. and China to adjust their policies and rhetoric to manage tensions and avoid further exacerbating the bilateral relationship.




    Recommendations: 

    Tom: The novels of Mick Herron (author of Slow Horses); the novels of Alan Furst, including Night Soldiers and The Polish Officer.

    Mike: Philip Taubman, In the Nation’s Service (a biography of George Schultz); and Liz Cheney, Oath and Honor

    Kaiser: The Magician, by Colm Tóibín — an unconventional novelized biography of Thomas Mann

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    • 1 hr 24 min
    Kerry Brown: on What does the West Wants from China, and the Exercise of Chinese Power

    Kerry Brown: on What does the West Wants from China, and the Exercise of Chinese Power

    This week on the Sinica Podcast, a show taped in Salzburg, Austria, at the Salzburg Global Seminar with Kerry Brown of King's College, London, on the prolific author's latest book, China Incorporated: The Politics of a World Where China is Number One.

    05:22 – Chinese worldview and historical perceptions

    07:51 – The unease with China's rise

    10:42 – Chinese exceptionalism vs. Western universalism

    17:30 – Parallels between American domestic unease and perceptions of China

    22:27 – Discussion on China's competing belief system

    33:56 – China's raw form of capitalism

    40:36 – What the West wants from China

    46:10 – The internet as a reflection of Chinese power and limitations

    51:17 – China's syncretism and its impact today

    55:00 – The narrative of Chinese success and its PR challenges

    1:05:32 – Revising Western narratives on China's development

    A complete transcript of this podcast is available at sinica.substack.com. Join the community on Substack and get not only the transcript but lots of other writing and audio to boot!

    Recommendations:

    Kerry: Civilization and Capitalism by Fernand Braudel

    Kaiser: Empire of Silver: A New Monetary History of China by Jin Xu; and re-reading Hilary Mantel's masterful Wolf Hall trilogy (Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, and The Mirror and the Light)




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    • 1 hr 30 min
    Historian Rana Mitter on ideology in China's "New Era" — live from Salzburg, Austria

    Historian Rana Mitter on ideology in China's "New Era" — live from Salzburg, Austria

    Historian Rana Mitter joins Sinica this week in a show taped live in Salzburg, Austria at the Salzburg Global Seminar, in which he discusses efforts by Party ideologists to create a Confucian-Marxist synthesis that can serve as an enduring foundation for a modern Chinese worldview in the self-proclaimed “new era.”




    01:28 – Is China a revisionist power?

    02:16 – Right-sizing China's global ambitions

    09:27 — How China utilizes historical narratives to support political ends

    10:43 – Marxism and China's Historical Understanding

    17:07 – China's "New Era" and Party history

    28:38 – The Confucian-Marxist Synthesis 

    56:58 – China's ability to reinvent itself

    1:02:15 – What’s the next big question?

    A complete transcript is available at the Sinica Substack.

    Recommendations: 

    Rana: Eliza Clark, Boy Parts

    Kaiser: Anthony Kaldellis, Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood: The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade 




    See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 1 hr 7 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
550 Ratings

550 Ratings

ColoradoNugget ,

Kaiser’s Pod is the Best One on China!

I’ve been listening to Sinica for several years, mostly while taking long walks in my neighborhood. Kaiser Kuo makes the time sail by with thought-provoking discussions and interviews with a wide variety of guests who are true experts on China and U.S.-China relations. He approaches China “without fear or favor”, as he said in his intros. This podcast will enhance the understanding of the Middle Kingdom for anyone who takes the time to listen weekly.

amortuga ,

Hong Kong one country 2 system

Hong Kong S.A.R. China one country 2 system and it’s engagement in East West tussle, rather than where East meets West. The November elections and the anticipated escalating of anti China rhetoric.

Crystalash ,

Interesting topics, meh host

Nice podcast that provide some much needed non-American centric views with regards to foreign affairs, if not all that in depth. However, the host could use some training in interviewing and speaking. Too much mumbling and rambling with a proclivity to cut off the guests at random that disrupts the flow of the main argument and goes in some trivia weeds, while always raise his voice to override others’ interjections. Would be much better if he takes into consider that these are not merely lively conversations between him and the guests, but also shows to be listened to an audience.

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