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Updated: 4 hours 33 min ago

Sinica - Nationalism and Censorship

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 02:36

This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo, David Moser and Jeremy Goldkorn pull Christopher Cairns into the studio for a discussion of an upcoming paper the Cornell graduate student has scheduled for publication in the China Quarterly. Why are we so interested in this topic? Because Cairns and his colleagues at Cornell have actually found a way to measure the extent of government censorship over time, and their research has unearthed some particularly interesting ideas about the relationship between anti-Japanese nationalism and the extent of censorship on Weibo. So saddle-up your VPNs and get listening!

Enjoy Sinica? Be sure to add us on iTunes to get notified automatically whenever a new episode is released. The address of our feed is http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica -- and, yes, the address will work with any RSS feed reader, including non-iTunes software as well. Also, if you have comments, feedback or suggestions on guests we should have on the show, give us a shout at sinica@popupchinese.com. [standalone mp3 download]

Sinica - China's Ideological Spectrum

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 01:00

Last week Harvard doctoral student Jennifer Pan and MIT graduate student Yiqing Xu co-released a paper on "China's Ideological Spectrum" that has garnered a tremendous amount of attention in China-watching circles. And the reason for the fracas? Their paper uses data from the Chinese Political Compass to try and map out Chinese ideological tendencies and surprisingly discovers that China's ideological spectrum may be more uni-dimensional than it seems.

Joining Kaiser Kuo and David Moser to discuss this study and the question of what - if anything - Pan and Xu missed is Trey McArver, founder of China Insight and author of the China Politics Weekly newsletter. This is a fun show that veers from George Lakoff to Confucianism to Chinese patriotism and the anti-corruption crackdown. Join us and let us know what you think. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - Styling it in China

Sat, 04/11/2015 - 17:19

If you've been reading the Chinese blogosphere for a few years, you might remember our guest from a series of blog posts he wrote in 2007 while working as the only foreign "hair-washing trainee" in a Fuzhou hair salon. Sociologist Ben Ross has since moved on to become a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, where he focuses on Chinese labor migration and related issues.

Like Sinica? If you'd like to know when we release new shows, please feel welcome to subscribe to our dedicated Sinica RSS feed. And if you have any suggestions on topics you'd like to hear covered or guests you think would do well on the show, email us anytime at sinica@popupchinese.com. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - Cyber Leninism and the political culture of the Chinese Internet

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 10:03

Yesterday evening, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser were delighted to be joined in Popup Towers by Rogier Creemers, post-doctoral fellow at Oxford, author of the fantastic China copyright and media blog, and one of the most informed academics working on Chinese Internet governance. We've always enjoyed our previous chances to grill Rogier on his thoughts, and our discussion this week didn't disappoint either.

Enjoy Sinica? This month marks the fifth anniversary of our show, which means that we have an enormous archive of materials covering most of the significant political and economic developments in China over the past five years. If you're interested in checking them out, please feel welcome to grab them from our dedicated Sinica RSS feed. Suggestions about future show guests or topics you'd like to hear covered are also always welcome by email at sinica@popupchinese.com. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - Comfort Women and the Struggle for Reparations

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, we are delighted to be joined by Lucy Hornby, China correspondent for the Financial Times, and author of this phenomenal piece on China's last surviving Chinese comfort women, and their longstanding and often futile attempt to seek reparations in both China and Japan. Join us today as we talk about this piece, but also other stories of reparations and post-war politics that may leave you - like us - somewhat less cynical going out than coming in.

Enjoy Sinica? If you want iTunes to download new episodes of Sinica automatically as we publish them, feel welcome to subscribe to our Sinica RSS feed. You can also find Kaiser on Twitter at @KaiserKuo and Jeremy at @danwei. And here is the standalone MP3 file too. We hope you enjoy the show.

Sinica - In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 01:00

This week, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are delighted to be joined by Michael Meyer, the author of The Last Days of Old Beijing and now In Manchuria, a part literary travelogue and part journalistic account of three years spent living with family in rural Jilin.

Starting with stories of crime and punishment on the rural bus network and the ever-delicate question of where rice tastes best, our podcast moves on from the personal towards the broader subject of how Jilin's agricultural economy is transforming in the face of market pressures. And we also talk about the past, in the area's Manchu footprint and its continuing legacy from its period of Japanese occupation, both of which can still be seen as much from the people themselves as well as the monuments and cemeteries in the region.

Note: care to get notified when new episodes of Sinica are released? If you use podcast software like iTunes, try subscribing to our free Sinica RSS feed. We welcome everyone to listen to the show online, but if you'd like to download this show to share or just save for later, go for it: here is the standalone mp3 file.

Advanced - From the Archives of the CBC

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 01:00

Classical pianist Glenn Gould, the most improbable sex symbol in Canadian music history, set the world ablaze in the 1960s and 1970s with his emotional reinterpretations of Bach's keyboard repertoire. But what really distinguishes Gould from his contemporaries is the sheer volume of experimental recordings he bequeathed the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on his death, recordings made at home during his final years in recluse and only now available to the public for the first time....

Note to Listeners: we tried to keep this show focused on classical music, but then Grace kept mentioning how much she doesn't like Taylor Swift, and David felt forced to wave his populist flag, and that is how our podcast descended into nonsense shortly after our two hosts offhandedly diagnosed the vast majority of the Chinese population with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Sinica - Under the Dome

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 04:01

"Under the Dome," Chai Jing's breakout documentary on China's catastrophic air pollution problem, finally hit insurmountable political opposition last Friday after seven days in which the video racked up over 200 million views. The eventual clampdown raised many questions about the extent of internal support for the documentary.

In this episode of Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser interview Calvin Quek of Greenpeace, who works on pollution problems and has significant experience lobbying the private sector to curtail investments into the worst-offending, environmentally unsustainable technologies. We are also joined by Peggy Liu, chairperson of JUCCCE (Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy), a non-profit organization focused on Chinese government training and other green initiatives.

Enjoy Sinica? Get notified when new episodes are published by subscribing to our dedicated RSS feed. You are also welcome to download this show as a standalone mp3 file. Thanks for listening and please send us comments and feedback by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Sinica - Keep in Touch, Nightman

Sat, 02/28/2015 - 06:45

"What have I done, and what am I doing here?"

In 1997, Beijing was smaller city, and Keep in Touch, Jamhouse and Nightman were the hippest venues around. There was no traffic on the ring roads, and if you got tired of Chinese food you might take a trip to Fangzhuang to visit this Italian restaurant that had suddenly appeared (should we go to Fangzhuang tonight, honey)? And the really plugged-in? They might even heard of this new district called "Sanlitun" that had a couple of upcoming bars like Poachers....

This week on Sinica, Jeremy and Kaiser are joined by two old friends from the 1990s, Jessica Meider (now a professional musician) and Jonathan Ansfield (now a professional journalist). We don't chat much about, but if you're a long-timer in Beijing, or just curious what it used to be like, join us as we look back at youth, music and share tips on how to do a backflip in a PLA-owned bars.

Sinica - Business and F*cking in China

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 01:00

"Murdering a guy together is how you really get to know someone...."

So begins our discussion with James Palmer, and you won't know how badly we're twisting his words out of context until you listen to the full show, which starts with us grilling James on "what you have to do to be part of Chinese business culture" and descends from there into stories of the sort of booze-and-ketamine-fuelled business dealmaking that seems to consist of a large amount of male business culture in China. But why? And what is happening to the whole industry under Xi Jinping's recent crackdown?

Haven't heard of our guest yet? James Palmer is one of our favorite long-form writers on contemporary China, who counts among his China-related books The Death of Mao: The Tangshan Earthquake and the Birth of the New China (short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 2012). James is also the author of a number of fantastic pieces from AEON magazine on China's post-1980s generation and the deliberate marginalization of the disabled. We hope you enjoy the show as much as we do.

iTunes has been spotty for everyone in China since the New Year. But if you are outside China and would like to use it to keep up-to-date on the Sinica show, you can subscribe using our private RSS feed. We also invite everyone to download this show as a standalone mp3 file to share with your friends. If you have questions or suggested topics, feel free to reach out to us anytime by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Sinica - The Visual World of Jonah Kessel

Sat, 02/07/2015 - 23:24

This week on Sinica, Jeremy and Kaiser are joined by Jonah M. Kessel, former freelance photographer and now full-time videographer for the New York Times who has covered a wide range of China stories, traveled widely through the country, and produced a series of great videos on everything from the Foxconn scandals and the Southeast Asian heroin trade to more practical coverage on how to walk your cabbage. Join us as we talk to Jonah about his work and his experiences in China.

Like Sinica? Because our new layout makes it a bit harder to keep abreast of what has recently been published, we encourage all interested listeners to subscribe to our show via our dedicated RSS feed. And if you have questions or comments, please feel welcome to leave them in our comment section, or reach out to us by email at sinica@popupchinese.com. [standalone mp3 download]

Sinica - Shanghai and the Future Now

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 01:00

Expats in Beijing may be partial to our rugged smogtropolis, but even the most diehard northerner will admit that Shanghai is the more romantic of the two cities, with its very name conjuring up images of 19th century opium dens, jazz bars in the 1930s, and a sort of transcendent cosmopolitanism that connects the mystique of the city's international past with its almost tangible hunger for the future. Yet it was only really in the early-to-mid-1990s that Shanghai pulled away from its status as a second-tier city and began re-establishing itself as the world's future city.

Today on Sinica, we take our eyes off Beijing for a change, and direct our gaze to Pudong and Puxi, and talk about what Shanghai means to us, itself and others. Joining us for this discussion is Anna Greenspan, author of Shanghai Future. Among her other accomplishments, Anna is also a teacher of urbanism and cybernetic culture at NYU Shanghai, and is the founder of the Shanghai Studies Society and Hacked Matter. If you're living down south be sure to check them out! [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - Inside the Property Revolution

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, Jeremy is delighted to host Luigi Tomba, expert on municipal government in China, fellow at the Australian Centre on China and the World, and author of the book The Government Next Door: neighborhood politics in urban China. Since 2005, Luigi has also been the co-editor of The China Journal, a well-known academic journal on Chinese affairs.

We're also delighted to have Luigi since it gives us an excuse to talk about the property market, without obsessing over real estate speculation and prices per square meter. Instead, after starting with a look at the emerging middle class in China, we move on to talk about Luigi's ideas on how China's property revolution and the dismantlement of the danwei system has counterintuitively ended up strengthening rather than weakening the government's ability to control its citizens on a local level. We also look at how China's shift to community-based governance structure has improved the image of the Party at the grassroots level. [standalone mp3 download]

Sinica - China and Charlie

Sat, 01/17/2015 - 21:48

First there were the terrorist attacks in Paris. And then there was the global reaction to the attacks, with its spate of frenzied free-speech cartooning. And then there was the counter-reaction to the initial reaction, which played out mostly on Facebook. And then the China Daily decided to wade into the fray, vaguely blaming Charlie Hebdo for “[persisting] in its way of doing things" and alienating most thinking people with its somewhat baffling display of not-quite-sympathic-but-not-exactly-condemnatory rhetorical showboating.

So what does all of this have to do with China, and how are the terrorist attacks getting read by the Chinese government? Joining our two hosts to talk about this story is none other than Ada Shen, renowned social-media wunderkind, and longtime friend of both Jeremy and Kaiser. Ada joins us for an interesting discussion that meanders us from Algeria and King Lear to ancient Chinese horses and their sometimes-controversial burial customs. So please grab a seat!

Advanced - Intrigue at the National Gallery of London

Thu, 01/15/2015 - 09:15

The tip-off? It had come from an old landline in the basement of the National Gallery, so the caller could have been anyone associated with the institute, and possibly even the director himself. But finding out exactly who had made that call was proving more troublesome than Inspector Zhang had anticipated, since the phone had been wiped clean of prints, and none of the staff - even when questioned privately - showed anything but bewilderment at any suggestion of impropriety.

So who had snuck into that backroom, and was there any substance to their allegations of artistic skullduggery? Complicating matters further was the demand for extreme discretion coming down from his supervisors at Scotland Yard, who themselves were now under pressure from Downing Street and the House of Windsor, both parties well aware that with the integrity of the Royal Collection at stake, the nation itself might face a public scandal that could threaten the integrity of the monarchy itself.

Sinica - From the Interpreter's Booth

Fri, 01/09/2015 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Lynette Shi and William White, two globe-trotting adventurers who've found unconventional careers navigating the shoals of the professional interpretation circuit in China. So whether you're considering a career in interpretation and want the inside story on how to do it, or are just curious what two of the working greats consider the most unexpected and hilarious moments of their careers, join us for this show.

On a side note, the audio quality is a bit soft during this recording. We've tried to fix it as we can, but there are a few moments that might -- we'll be fixing this moving forward. In the meantime, if you have your own thoughts on Chinese-English interpretation or just want to nitpick our translators, please feel welcome to comment in the discussion space below, or write Kaiser and Jeremy directly at sinica@popupchinese.com. We're also pleased to release this show as a standalone mp3 file if you don't want to stream directly from Popup Chinese. Enjoy!

Intermediate - Negotiation and Fortune

Tue, 01/06/2015 - 18:17

As a professional negotiator with more than twenty years experience on the force, Richard had dealt with hostage cases before and knew that this would be a particularly tough one to crack. And his was an impression confirmed by the grim visages on the faces of the SWAT team. Holed up on the upper floors of the National Bank, the kidnappers had settled into a defensive position that would make storming the building a disastrous exercise in bloodshed, making a negotiated settlement the only practical option.

Sinica - Second Call-In New Years Show

Fri, 01/02/2015 - 01:00

Sorry for the delay in getting this show released, folks (all hail Internet issues), but we're delighted to finally publish Sinica's second annual New Years call-in-show. If you've been following all of the news and gossip involving China for the last year, join Kaiser and Jeremy as we take your questions and talk insider politics on everything from the ongoing anti-corruption campaign to the question of coming media controls and what on earth we are all doing with our lives in China anyway.

As we pull into 2015, let us remind you that in addition to listening to Sinica here on Popup Chinese, you are warmly invited to download our show as a standalone mp3 file. Questions or suggestions about the show are welcome by email at sinica@popupchinese.com, while we also encourage everyone to check out our dedicated RSS feed right here.

Sinica - Regulating the Fourth Estate in China

Fri, 12/26/2014 - 01:00

The explosion of the commercial media sphere in China over the last decade hasn't been particularly subtle, especially if you're anything like us and walk past multiple Chinese newsstands in the morning. But let's look beyond the way kiosks have traded promoting the Beijing Evening News for hawking glossy cosmetics adverts and celebrity gossip rags, and ask how the rise of a for-profit motive in the press has affected the way the Chinese government regulates the industry, and what the consequences of this are for the rise of what we traditionally think of as the role of the fourth estate in Western democracies.

As we turn our focus to these questions this week, Kaiser Kuo is delighted to be joined by Daniela Stockmann, assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Leiden and the woman who quite literally wrote the book on this subject with the publication of Media Commercialization and Authoritarian Rule in China, a fact-heavy tome that goes into detail about how China has managed to maintain its apparatus of media control despite its ostensible shift towards a commercially-oriented media sector.

On a final note, we should point out that we've just put together a new version of Popup Chinese platform, and one of the features of the new site is a fancy new javascript-powered audio player that will let you listen to all of our shows directly using your iPhone or Android or flash-free tablet. That said, if you still want to download today's show as a standalone mp3 file, please consider yourself welcome to do so. And if you have any feedback on the show or suggestions about guests you'd like to see us host in the future.

Sinica - Cooperation or Exploitation: Howard French on China in Africa

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 01:00

Exactly how exploitative are Chinese development activities on the African continent? What exactly is motivating the various resources-for-development deals inked by African governments over the last decade, and what strategies are these governments now adopting in the face of power imbalances with China? What is driving the mass migration of Chinese workers to the African continent, and why does everyone from Senegal seem to come from Henan?

This week on Sinica, we ask these questions and many more as Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are joined in conversation with Howard French. If you've spent a while in China, you may have head of Howard as the author of a well-known book on Shanghai's architectural legacy, and lecturer on the subject. What you may not know is that he is also an expert on African development, and the new author of China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa.

Want more Sinica, but frustrated at your biological limitations that force you to have to download each episode one-by-one (hint: standalone mp3 link)? Why not join the 21st century and set your computer to the task by subscribing to our Sinica RSS feed. If you have ideas on topics you'd like to hear covered or suggestions on guests we should feature on the show, please feel welcome to write the team at sinica@popupchinese.com.