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The most convenient way to learn Chinese the way it is actually spoken and used. Start with our basic lessons, and in no time you'll be listening to music, watching films and television and engaging in the actual language. With free daily podcasts, a vibrant community, online study tools and much more, PopupChinese is the most powerful and personal way to learn mandarin.
Updated: 9 hours 8 min ago

Sinica - Hope and Fear in the Age of Asia

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 01:00

The West has spent decades pleading with China to become a responsible stakeholder in the global community, but what happens now that China is starting to take a more proactive role internationally? In today's show, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are delighted to be joined by Dutch journalist Fokke Obbema (the de Volkskrant correspondent with a perfectly normal Dutch name), author of the recent book China and the West: Hope and Fear in the Age of Asia.

As always, if you'd like to download new episodes of Sinica automatically, subscribe to our show via iTunes using our custom RSS feed. The easiest way of doing this is to open iTunes, select the option "Subscribe to Podcast" from the Advanced menu and copy the URL http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica into the box when prompted. Everyone is also welcome to download this show directly from Popup Chinese as a standalone mp3 file. Enjoy and let us know what you think.

Sinica - Tu Youyou and the Nobel Prize

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 11:14

This week on Sinica, we are delighted to present a show on Tu Youyou, the Chinese scientist who recently shared a Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of the anti-malaria compound artemisinin, thus making her the first citizen of the People's Republic of China to receive the Nobel Prize in the natural sciences. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - Edmund Backhouse in the Long View of History

Sat, 10/03/2015 - 06:14

Edmund Backhouse, the 20th century Sinologist, long-time Beijing resident, and occasional con-artist, is perhaps best known for his incendiary memoirs, which not only distorted Western understanding of Chinese history for more than 50 years, but also included what in retrospect can only be seen as patently fictitious stories of erotic encounters between the British Baronet and the Empress Dowager Cixi.

This week on Sinica, we are delighted to be joined by Derek Sandhaus of Earnshaw Books, who has recently produced an abridged edition of Backhouse's memoirs for the Hong Kong publishing house. As an expert on the facts and fictions of Edmund Backhouse, Derek joins us for a discussion of what is real and less-than-real in Backhouse's deathbed reminiscences, and what we can and should learn about Qing-era China from his memoirs. [standalone mp3 download]

Sinica - Hip Hop in China

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 02:13

Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are joined today by Jerry Chan and Matt Sheehan for a look at hip-hop in China. Both guests should be familiar to long-time listeners in Beijing. Jerry has been involved with the local music scene for over a decade and now works as marketing director for True Run Media. Matt Sheehan is the Beijing correspondent for the Huffington Post and has recently written on rap in China as well. [standalone mp3 download]

Sinica - Parading around China's Military Legacy

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 01:00

The interpretation of history is an inherently political act in China, and the struggle for control of the narrative of the War of Resistance Against Japan—World War II—has heated up during the approach to the September 3 parade commemorating the Japanese surrender. Joining us to talk about changing interpretations of World War II and the big miitary parade in front of Tiananmen is Rana Mitter, professor of modern Chinese history at Oxford University and the author of two books on twentieth century Chinese history: China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival and A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World. [standalone mp3 download]

Sinica - China's Millennials

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn record from San Francisco, where they interview Eric Fish: long-time China resident, writer at the Asia Society and author of the recent book "China's Millennials: The Want Generation". Join us as we talk with Eric about the stereotypes and realities surrounding the millennial generation in China. [standalone mp3 download]

Sinica - Bill Bishop: The Exodus

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 09:50

As anyone who reads the Sinocism newsletter knows, Bill Bishop is among the most plugged-in people in Beijing with an uncanny ability to figure out what is actually happening in the halls of power. But as casual readers may not be aware, he is also an excellent podcast guest due to his habit of bringing first cupcakes and now amazingly smooth bottles of Japanese whisky to our recording sessions before trading the latest gossip about the goings-on in Zhongnanhai.

On today's show we mark Bill's departure from China and his return to the United States where he plans to live for the next few years with his family. While not exactly your requisite "Why I Am Leaving China" blog post, this show gives Kaiser Kuo and David Moser the chance to talk to Bill about the reasons behind his decision, and explore why he sees an increasingly strained relationship between China and the United States over the next few years. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - The Tianjin Explosion

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 01:00

Insurance scam? Industrial accident? Political machinations? After August excursions to lands of clean air and English-language media, the Sinica team is back this week with a show covering the astonishing explosions that gutted the Binhai economic development zone in Tianjin last week. As the Chinese government struggles to deal with public pressures for greater transparency and conspiracy theories mount, we take a closer look at what we know and don't about the port explosion.

Enjoy Sinica? Join Kaiser Kuo and David Moser this week as they talk with two journalists who covered the aftermath of the Tianjin explosions in person from the Chinese equivalent of ground zero: Julie Makinen who heads the China bureau for the LA Times and Fergus Ryan who covers China for The Guardian. Please feel welcome to listen online or download our show as a standalone mp3 file and share with friends and colleagues.

Sinica - Beijing's Great Leap Forward

Sat, 07/25/2015 - 01:00

Great Leap Brewery is an institution. As one of the earliest American-style microbreweries in China, not only has the company rescued us from endless nights of Snow and Yanjing, but its also given us something uniquely Chinese with its assortment of peppercorn, honey and tea-flavored beers. So as much as we love the other microbreweries in Beijing and throw our money at them too, it's no accident the Great Leap taproom is our most frequent destination most evenings after recording a show.

Today on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo sits down with Great Leap founder Carl Setzer to talk about his story in China: why Great Leap got started, how the company fits into the beer industry in China, and what it's like to run a food & beverage startup as a foreigner. This is a surprisingly intimate look at one of the places we've grown to take for granted, filled with details on their touch-and-go early years and the bureaucratic run-in that almost crippled the business. We hope you enjoy hearing their story as much as we did. [standalone mp3 link]

Sinica - Good Riddance, Monsieur Epstein

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 01:00

We're not surprised that Gady Epstein is moving on. We used to buy the papers for his "Telegrams from the Orient", but then he took that Economist gig and his productivity plummeted and it has become hard to even remember what his writing is like anymore. "When are you going to come out with something new," we'd needle him over Chinese Twitter, only to be met with the vague insistence that he was "working on something" or "rushing to press" and "stop bothering me please." And then not a single byline for months....

Given this track record, it may be surprising that we even have him back on the show, but we figured it might help kick Gady out of his rut, and maybe also work as a sort of therapy session in which we try to get into the mind of one of the China Greats. Also, beyond discussing his future plans and long history of covering China, we also wanted to know what's he's learned on the beat and where in his opinion one can find the best Sichuan food in Beijing. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - Who will save us from the self-help revolution?

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 03:11

Someone desperately needs to call a fumigator, because China's self-help bug is eating up the woodwork. Train station bookstores may always have served the genre's trite pabulum to bored businessmen legging it cross-country, but in recent months the popularity of the cult has spread more widely, to the point one can't go to a party these days without being accosted for one's thoughts on "the Secret", or hear co-workers fume over where their cheese might have gone and which of their colleagues has probably taken it.

Drowning in this morass of anti-Enlightenment thinking? Join us on Sinica as we excoriate the self-help movement in a show featuring an almost unanimous bewilderment, tempted only by the fascinating insights of Eric Hendriks, Peking University postdoc and lecturer and researcher on this fascinating topic. We welcome all listeners to share their feedback and thoughts in the comment section below, and encourage everyone to download our standalone mp3 file to share this show with friends and colleagues who may have fallen victim to the self-help bug.

Sinica - The Brother Orange Saga

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 01:13

The story started when a Buzzfeed editor lost his iPhone in an East Village bar in February of last year and blossomed into the Sino-American romance of the century, and probably the most up-lifting and altogether unlikely China story that we can remember. It features Apple products, global crime networks, human flesh search engines, the draw of instant celebrity, and Ellen DeGeneres. Who can resist the cross-cultural romance of Matt Stopera and Brother Orange?

Joining Kaiser, Jeremy and David us to talk about this phenomenon and its backstory and are two guests who've seen it unfold from the inside: Matt Sheehan, China Correspondent for the Huffington Post, who wrote this piece about the saga, and Cecilia Miao, agent for Brother Orange and creator of Channel-C, a community for Chinese students who have studied abroad. So listen in online or download our show as a standalone mp3 file and share with friends.

Sinica - The People's Republic of Cruiseland

Mon, 06/15/2015 - 14:44

We have enough favorite writers on China that we've had to develop a sophisticated classification system just to keep track of everyone. That said, one of our hardest to place somewhere in the long-form taxonomy is Chris Beam, who you may have heard on past episodes talking about his experience in Chinese ping-pong bootcamp, or maybe his account of the birth of American football with the saga of the Chongqing Dockers.

If you liked those shows as much as we did, you'll be delighted to hear that Chris is back this week to talk about his latest essay, an entertaining and surprisingly sympathetic look at the international Cruise Industry and its attempts to romance one of the least sea-faring countries on the planet. And considering the phenomenal timing of this show -- taking place almost exactly as Jeremy Goldkorn "goes native" in America and enjoys his very first mega cruise -- we hope you enjoy the show as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.

Enjoy Sinica? Add our show to your favorite RSS reader using our customer feed. We also welcome all listeners to write us at sinica@popupchinese.com with suggestions on guests you'd like to hear from and topics you'd like to hear us cover. And feel free to download the standalone mp3 file of this show to share with friends and colleagues.

Sinica - Writers: Heroes in China?

Sun, 06/07/2015 - 19:39

If you happen to live in the anglophone world and aren't closely tied to China by blood or professional ties, chances are that what you believe to be true about this country is heavily influenced by the opinions of perhaps one hundred other people, the reporters who cover China for the world's leading media outlets and the writers who build a narrative to encompass it beyond the frenetic drumbeat of current affairs.

This week, Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn and David Moser are joined by accomplished writer Ian Johnson to talk about this phenomenon at first generally, but then specifically with regards to a piece Ian recently authored in the New York Review of Books called An American Hero in China, a look into the way China has embraced Peter Hessler and his writings on the country. We try to make sense of how exactly reporting is done here, what sorts of editorial decisions are made that affect coverage, and how the voice of the author struggle to make China intelligible to the outside world.

Like Sinica? Don't forget that you can subscribe to our iTunes podcast feed by using our custom RSS feed for the show. And please feel free to download this show as a standalone mp3 file and share with anyone you think might also like hearing the show. Thanks!

Sinica - Earthquake in Nepal!

Sun, 05/31/2015 - 04:50

On April 25, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the Katmandu Valley in Nepal, causing over 8000 deaths, countless more injuries, and triggering mountain avalanches which sent snow careening down the slopes of Mount Everest and burying the human settlements below. The days that followed Nepal would see a disjointed international rescue force arrive in the country as global geopolitical tensions spilled into the politics of local disaster relief.

This week on Sinica, we take a look back at the Nepalese earthquake through the perspective of two foreign correspondents who traveled to Nepal and reported on the disaster first hand: Julie Makinen, reporter for the Los Angeles Times' Beijing bureau, and Tomasz Sajewicz, head of the Beijing Bureau for Polish Public Radio. Our two guests are joined for this discussion by Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn and David Moser. Listen online, or download this show as a standalone mp3 file.

Sinica - Identity, Race and Civilization

Sun, 05/24/2015 - 09:27

It doesn't take much exposure to China to realize the pervasiveness of identity politics here. Indeed, whether in the Chinese government's occasionally hamfisted efforts to micromanage ethnic minority cultures or the Foreign Ministry's soft-power promotion efforts abroad, it seems that barely a day goes by without someone in the Chinese government confusing the idea of China (the state) with the Han ethnic diaspora.

This week, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are delighted to be joined by David Moser, director of the CET immersion program in Beijing, and Jeremiah Jenne, renegade Qing historian and director of The Hutong. We chat about what it means to be Chinese, where these ideas came from and whether anything is likely to change them in the future. So check out the show online, or download and share it here as a standalone mp3 file.

Sinica - Leonard Bernstein and China

Sun, 05/17/2015 - 05:10

This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are delighted to host Alexander Bernstein, son of Leonard Berstein and director of the Bernstein Family Foundation, and now also in China on part of a cultural tour. Accompanied by Alison Friedman of Ping Pong Productions and mezzo soprano Carla Dirlikov, Alexander joins us for a discussion on music, Broadway, the strengths and weaknesses of musical theater in China, and of course Bernstein's impressions of China itself.

Like Sinica? Write us anytime at sinica@popupchinese.com with complaints, feedback and suggestions for show topics you'd like to hear covered in the future. And if you know someone you think might make a good guest, why don't you drop a line to let us know as well. Also, feel free to subscribe to our dedicated RSS feed if you want to grab new shows as soon as they are released. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - India comes to China

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 01:00

Today we're going to talk about the upcoming visit to China of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who served from 2001 to 2014 as chief minister of Gujarat and was sworn into office almost one year ago this month. Modi's visit comes at an interesting time in Sino-Indian relations, following closely on the heels of recent Chinese summitry with India's arch-rival Pakistan and the closing of roughly 46 billion dollars in investment deals in the region.

Joining Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn for this discussion are two friends and experts on Sino-Indian relations: Ananth Krishnan of the India Today Group, and Sutirtho Patranobis of the Hindustan Times. This is a fun show and we're delighted to have such insightful guests. Join us as we get the background politics on Modi's visit, make occasional side-forays into Bollywood, and even discuss Modi's strange and celebrity happenings on Twitter.

New to Sinica? If you'd like to get notified when new episodes are available, subscribe to our private RSS feed using iTunes or your preferred RSS reader. All listeners are more than welcome to download our show as a standalone mp3 file directly from the site for saving or sharing with friends. Enjoy!

Sinica - The Furor and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 01:00

A total of fifty-seven countries have now joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China's newly-launched competitor to the Asian Development Bank that has sparked a flurry of objections from the United States, even culminating in a failed diplomatic campaign by the superpower to lobby allies including the United Kingdom and Australia to abandon the organization, whose stated mission is funding infrastructure projects in underdeveloped parts of Asia.

Although the news has passed mostly unnoticed in the American media, the political furor has raised questions about the future of the Bretton Woods system and China's place in it: what are the American concerns over the AIIB and is there any validity to them? Why is China attempting to setup a development bank outside the Bretton Woods framework, and what actions may have triggered the Chinese move? And quite specifically, how does the AIIB compare to its competitors both in capitalization as well as its power in the region.

Joining Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn for this discussion are two guests who are plugged into the financial gossip mill. They are Trey McArver, creator of China Politics Weekly, a newsletter which aims to keep business leaders, diplomats, and scholars abreast of developments in Chinese politics, as well as Simon Rabinovitch, former FT correspondent now working for The Economist out of Shanghai. [standalone mp3 file]

Absolute Beginners - Let me do it, myself

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 01:00

One of the things we're proud of at Popup Towers is our hard-fought ability to wring natural dialogues out of less-than-natural voice-actors, a skill that usually involves unleashing Grace at them in varying degrees of rage. And since recording a dialogue this way can take up a bit of time, the result is that we usually end up with a number of variants for each one, usually getting more and more natural as we go along.

If you're totally new to Chinese we suggest coming back to this show later -- the lesson is a bit tricky for the Absolute Beginner level -- but we wanted to showcase it here for two reasons. The first is that this show features not one but two dialogues. The interesting thing is that the first dialogue sounds a bit stilted while the second sounds extremely natural. And since they basically saying the same thing, we wanted to contrast and compare them, to learn what it is that makes mandarin sound forced and what makes it more colloquial.