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Shelley Rigger and Simona Grano discuss the U.S.’s longstanding, unofficial policy of “strategic ambiguity,” how Taiwan has been impacted by the Ukraine War, and much more.
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Below is a complete transcript of the Sinica Podcast with Shelley Rigger and Simona Grano.

Kaiser: Welcome to the Sinica Podcast, a discussion of current affairs in China produced in partnership with SupChina. Subscribe to SupChina’s daily, newly designed China Access newsletter to keep on top of all the latest news from China from hundreds of different news sources, or check out all the original writing on our website at supchina.com. We’ve got reported stories, essays, and editorials, great explainers and trackers, regular columns, and of course, a growing library of podcasts. We cover everything from China’s fraught foreign relations to its ingenious entrepreneurs, from the ongoing repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim peoples in China’s Xinjiang region to China’s travails, as it wrestles with a surging wave of COVID-19. It’s a feast of business, political and cultural news about a nation that is reshaping the world. We cover China with neither fear nor favor.
I’m Kaiser Kuo coming to you from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The Taiwan issue is very much back in the news, in recent months, as if it ever left, as the unofficial but long standing American policy of strategic ambiguity seems now to be in doubt, following a third gaffe by President Joe Biden, answering a question from a reporter at a Tokyo press conference on May 23 saying that the U.S. would in fact help to defend Taiwan were the PRC to attack the island. This comes after a long series of moves, some of them mainly symbolic, a few of them, arguably, more substantive intended to show American support for Taiwan, from visits or announced visits or intended visits by ranking politicians, to a seemingly small proposed change to what the T stands for in the acronym TECRO, the unofficial rep office of Taipei, or maybe Taiwan soon in D.C.
The U.S. is not, of course, the only country where this sort of thing is happening. Lithuania allowed the opening of a Taiwan diplomatic office in November of last year and has had to endure substantial diplomatic and economic reprisals from Beijing, as a result. After the Speaker of the Czech Senate met with Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu (吳釗燮 Wú Zhāoxiè), China promised retaliation against both Czechia and Slovakia, which also hosted Wu at a think tank.
Today on Sinica, we’ll be looking at Taiwan and the attention it’s been receiving from the U.S. and from Europe, as well as the attention, of a very different sort, it’s been receiving from the PRC. We look at how the Ukraine war has affected thinking in different quarters, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and much, much more. Joining me to discuss are two phenomenal guests, one of whom is making her debut appearance on Sinica. Simona Grano is senior lecturer at the Department of Sonology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and has directed the Taiwan studies project there for the past five years. She’s the author of Environmental Governance in Taiwan: A New Generation of Activists and Stakeholders, and the editor of a forthcoming book that looks at middle powers and how they’ve responded to China’s growing power and influence and growing willingness to use it, and how they’ve been caught in the middle of this increasingly tense global rivalry between the United States and China.
I had the pleasure of meeting Simona recently in Zurich. Simona, welcome to Sinica.
Simona: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here with you and Shelley, Kaiser.
Kaiser: Yeah, you anticipated it. I haven’t introduced her, but here she is. Also joining me is Shelley Rigger, who is doubtless familiar to the listeners of this show as the leading American scholar when it comes to Taiwan. Shelley is professor of political science at Davidson College, just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. She is the author, most recently, of The Tiger Leading the Dragon: How Taiwan Propelled China’s Economic Miracle, a book that we talked about in some depth the last time she was on the show. If you can’t get enough of Shelley, and who can, and you haven’t already heard it, then check out her interview with Neysun Mahboubi, my very dear friend of the University of Pennsylvania Center For The Study of Contemporary China.
Sinica ran that a couple years ago as a two-parter. I will say that, as I said last time, that interview is one of the most succinct, factual, and frankly enjoyable histories of Taiwan, from really all the way back to pre 17th century times through early 2019 when it was recorded. Anyone interested in getting a refresher on Taiwan could do a whole lot worse than starting with that double episode.
Shelley Rigger, welcome back to Sinica.
Shelley: Well, thanks a lot, Kaiser. You’re like my number one fan.
Kaiser: I am. I am. I really am. Actually, I think that honor might go to Maggie. She calls you Queen Shelley, I believe so …
Shelley: That’s just fantastic. I love that.
Kaiser: Yeah. Yeah.
Shelley: Hi, Simona. It’s good to see you.
Simona: Hi, Shelley. I’m also your number one fan.
Kaiser: I’ll fight you for that. Well, Shelley, let me start in with you and with these gaffes that President Biden has made. I think we’re all aware, now, I think of three times now that the White House has had to walk back these off the cuff remarks that he’s made about Taiwan. What should we make of this? I mean, what should Taipei make of it, and what should Beijing make of it? Are these honest gaffs? Are they trial balloons? Do they signal some change in either policy or just more broadly in attitude?
Shelley: Yeah, I think the last word of your question is the best place to start. There isn’t a change in U.S. policy, the formal policy, the declaratory policy, and what U.S. policy makers use as the foundation of their decision making about Taiwan is still the same. It’s the old mantra: the Three Communiqués, The Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances, which is a part of this kind of policy history that didn’t use to get as much emphasis as it does now. But I don’t think any of that has really been abandoned. But, I also think that President Biden is revealing something by repeatedly making this mistake or by saying what he says.
I think what he’s revealing is that, while in the past the U.S. was really concerned that the PRC might take action against Taiwan, it was kind of equally concerned that Taiwan might do something that would be provocative toward Beijing. The U.S. was always trying to kind of keep lids on both sides. But today there is much more concern in the U.S. and, I think as we’ll discover, elsewhere in the world about what Beijing might do. The kind of spirit of the moment, so the attitude, has begun to lean more heavily toward cautioning Beijing than toward keeping that kind of even handed approach. I think when Joe Biden says things like this, what he is doing is he’s reflecting the kind of mood in the U.S. and around the world that says the PRC is the problem here and that’s who we need to be speaking to.
Kaiser: Right. You mentioned elsewhere in the world. As we know, we have somebody from elsewhere in the world, from Switzerland, actually from Venice by way of Switzerland. Simona, when I heard this gaffe, and I was actually up in the mountains. I was in Switzerland. I talked to a lot of Europeans about this and what they make of it, how they look at the Taiwan situation. I’m really glad that we have you here because the sense was, talking to people, they thought, “Are you naive? Do you really think that it could be just an old man gaffing three times? No, there’s obvious significance to this.” What was the sense that you got from where you sit?
Simona: I think I have the same sense that you both described. If it would’ve been one time, you could think it was a gaffe. First of all, it’s the third time. It seems to me like a cat and mouse game that they’re playing by which they are revealing a little bit that they’re going to stand really militarily, probably, on the side of Taiwan. But at the same time, the following day, as Shelley says, we see that nothing much has changed in the declaration of the administration, which makes a full announcement that the One China policy remains the same. I think this is meant not to provoke Taiwan too much, but I think that the location and the timing of the statement, the fact that it really took place in Tokyo also really shows us that it cannot be coincidental.
I mean, we know that from Japan, out of Japan, including in the words of former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, Japan has been calling the United States to explicitly, or more explicitly, commit to Taiwan’s defense. I think that this also stems from the underlying motivation that Japan is aware that it would more likely be called to have a role to play in the event of a military contingency over Taiwan. I think that even though the comment or the gaffe, however we want to call it, appears to have, to a certain extent, broken with Washington’s long held stance of strategic ambiguity. As Shelley said, actually, the fact that they don’t reveal any details regarding what this would entail, practically, really shows us that this is mostly meant to deter China from making the step of militarily intervening against Taiwan.
Kaiser: Right. What we were talking about is this unofficial policy of strategic ambiguity. As you say, Shinzo Abe has called for an end to it. We had a really influential essay a couple of years ago now, where it was really first phrased by Richard Haas of the CFR who called for an end to this policy of strategic ambiguity. Has strategic ambiguity, Shelley, has it served to stabilize the Taiwan situation in the past, or is the semiofficial U.S. coyness over whether it would defend Taiwan actually increasing the likelihood of miscommunication or of misinterpretation between Washington and Beijing, as some people have argued, and therefore increasing the likelihood of a conflict. How do you stand on this?
Shelley: Yeah. You’ve got to look at strategic ambiguity from multiple directions. On the one hand, it clearly has been a very effective approach to implementing U.S. policy, because we haven’t had a confrontation, we have managed…we have muddled through this slow rolling crisis for decades now. The way we do that is by discouraging either side of the Taiwan Strait from trying to push beyond what is acceptable to the other side. People in Taiwan know that they can’t declare independence, or there’s going to be big trouble with Beijing. I think most leaders in Beijing also realize that if they take strong action to try and coerce Taiwan into unification, they’re going to have a big challenge on their hands as well. The U.S. reinforces both of those very pragmatic mentalities when it says, “Beijing, we reserve the right to intervene if we feel like you are taking a kind of gratuitous action that is designed to undermine the freedom and self determination and the peacefulness of the Taiwan Strait.”
Kaiser: Right.
Shelley: At the same time, though, the U.S. wants to be saying to Taiwan, “If you decide to bust a move and pull Beijing into a conflict that the PRC is not actually even initiating, we are not necessarily going to throw our blood and treasure behind that.” That has been a pretty successful strategy, what some people would call dual deterrence, for many decades. The question is, do we still need to deter both sides, or is Taiwan fully deterred? And therefore, we can sort of shift the focus toward a more one sided…
Kaiser: Yeah. Where do you stand on that? Do you think that Taiwan is fully deterred?
Shelley: Yeah, I think it’s a bad idea. First of all, Taiwan is not permanently deterred. There are people in Taiwan and politicians in Taiwan, who are looking for an opportunity to bust a move. They have put a lot of pressure on the current President, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén), back in the … right as she was sort of lining things up for her reelection campaign, people within her own party tried to get her to say she would not be a candidate, so make herself a lame duck, over a year before her term ended. This was what they were mad about. Why doesn’t she do more to push the envelope? I think we do need to deter Taiwan.
Then the other thing that I think we got to keep in mind is the U.S. wants Taiwan to do everything it can to defend itself. To, first of all, have a more robust deterrence of the PRC from Taiwan, absent the U.S., and also to ensure that whatever conflict the U.S. might find itself in it’s not all alone. Taiwan is doing its part. I think if the U.S. were to give Taiwan an unconditional security guarantee, which is what I think the original strategic clarity proposal really said, now they’ve walked that back. But if what we’re talking about is clarity, that’s an unconditional security guarantee. I think it would become impossible for Taiwan’s leaders to persuade their population, to spend the money and to make the kind of personal sacrifices that would be required for Taiwan to really be a significant deterrent to Beijing’s coercion.
Kaiser: Right. Right. This is one of the things that’s been really frustrating to me about the way that the idea of strategic ambiguity has been communicated in popular media here. I’m thinking in particular of not too long ago on The Daily, David Sanger came on and was talking to Michael Barbaro about this. He only talked about strategic ambiguity in terms of deterring Beijing. He didn’t mention the other side of it. I think that from the Chinese perspective, from the mainland Chinese perspective, there isn’t that much of a difference between strategic ambiguity and strategic clarity, given that China has always assumed that, ambiguity or no, the U.S. would intervene militarily. I mean it is baked into all of their plans. I wonder if there’s any difference at all in the deterrent effect, but I think what gets left out too often is this idea that, maybe it’s because people don’t want to say the quiet part out loud, that it’s meant to really discourage Taipei from moving too precipitously toward de jure independence.
Shelley: Yeah. I mean, I think what you’re describing is a situation where this whole question is viewed as a kind of corollary or component of U.S.-China relations and Taiwan is just a pawn here. The people that you’re describing, they’re not thinking about Taiwan as having any agency at all. They’re just thinking about what should the U.S. do to further restrict or restrain or intimidate the PRC, and they don’t understand the Taiwan component. I think they’re making a mistake.
Kaiser: Let’s talk about that Taiwan component. Simona, you are somebody with your ear to the ground in Taiwan. What’s your sense of, first of all, the mood right now, amidst the increasing tensions. How urgent do Taiwanese believe the risk of a military invasion actually? Because look, we’ve all seen the photos that have been circulating recently of Tsai Ing-wen with a shoulder-held anti-tank weapon. But give us a sense of how the debates over how best to bolster military preparedness are going. Shelley pointed this out. Is there an appetite broadly for the kind of changes to society that would be required? The fiscal changes but also just the cultural changes and the personal sacrifices that would need to be made, were Taiwan to make itself into the kind of hedgehog, the true deterrent, that many people have talked about. Are there new programs or policies that the Tsai administration has instituted in response to this? Anything that you’ve seen?
Simona: Well, first of all, I don’t know if I can say that I have an ear on the ground after two years of Corona, but thank you for the comment.
Kaiser: That’s true.
Simona: Yeah. Shelley probably knows much more than me. But I guess what I would say is that, first of all, we will talk about Ukraine later on, I’m sure. But just a quick mention, I think that the Ukrainian invasion by Russia has led to the rising of threat perceptions all over Asia. Of course, even more so in Taiwan, because Taiwan feels clearly threatened by a similar situation that China could invade it.
Regarding the mood and your question. Well, I think that the mood, I would describe it as one of careful examination. The island’s, how do you want to call it, top spy master? I mean, the chief of the National Security Bureau, Chén Míngtōng 陳明通, actually said last month that Beijing would be more cautious, in brackets, about its war plans given Russia’s poor performance in Ukraine, and similarly, that Taiwan will learn how to defend ourselves out of the lesson that we are gaining from Ukraine. Also, he said that he doesn’t think that the invasion of the island will be taking place until 2024. This being, of course, the year in which we will have presidential elections in Taiwan. He seems to be implying that if anything at all, China is probably waiting to see what will happen, who will win the elections. Also, it will take a couple of years to learn and draw some lessons on the ground from what has happened and what is evolving in Ukraine, which we also don’t know how it’s going to end in the end.
What I heard, which I’m sure is the same thing that you guys have heard, is that they are instituting plans, for example, to increase the period of basic military service instead of four months to one year, and really concretely to raising the military budget to 2% of the GDP. These are things that I’ve heard. I also read a survey which was quite interesting to me, but it’s a bit outdated in the sense that it was published one month ago, which said that people felt, maybe confidence is the wrong word in this regard, but that people felt more confident that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has prolonged the plans of China to militarily invade Taiwan, but that can change very quickly.
In regards to your question, whether people would be willing or not to defend, I think that’s a very tricky question that often even policy analysts are surprised by how populations react. I mean, we see that with Ukraine and the unprecedented level …
Kaiser: Once again. Yeah. Ukraine.
Simona: Exactly…of the nationalism or of the pride in their own nation. How many women also have stayed behind and have contributed to saving their nation. I think that is something that is very difficult to know how Taiwanese youth will … Especially, Taiwan’s youth being, for a very long time, having been described as being actually not particularly bellicose or not particularly willing to fight. We’ve seen, of course, social protests. We’ve partly disproved that this was the case and the strawberry generation, all of that. But I guess that, again, the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows that really not only conquering, but after that, if you want to call it like that, mastering a territory with people that are not willing to be conquered is actually a very difficult thing. That is something that China will need to take into consideration if it ever manages to get to that point.
Kaiser: Great. Let’s dig deeper on this Ukraine connection. Previous guests on this show have been right to be critical of the way that some pundits drew really simplistic parallels from Ukraine to Taiwan, or maybe imputed kind of puerile board game logic to the way that they assumed Beijing was going to respond. But clearly, the Ukraine crisis, even before the war, was very much on the minds of all parties involved with Taiwan. The way the war has played out since February 24 has definitely, as you say, had an impact on the thinking for sure in Taipei, which you’ve just described, but also in Beijing and in Washington. I know that’s a big question.
Shelley, first of all, would you agree with the way that Simona has characterized Taipei’s sort of lessons drawn from the war? Would you add anything to that? And then could you talk a little bit about how the Ukraine war, as far as you can tell, is being viewed from Beijing when it comes to thinking on Taiwan?
Shelley: Yeah. There’s definitely been a kind of bracing up effect of the Ukraine war in Taiwan. Taiwan tends to be very parochial. The media doesn’t talk about international affairs very often. Sometimes, when it does, they pick out kind of weird minutia to pay attention to, but two international events in the last few years have really grabbed the attention of Taiwanese people. One was the Hong Kong protests and the sort of ongoing crisis in Hong Kong, and the other is this Ukraine war. I think, in Taiwan, it’s very easy to see the parallels to Taiwan. It has, in some ways, kind of played into the timing that Tsai Ing-wen, President Tsai, was trying to accelerate because she was already out there. I don’t know if I ever saw her before now with a shoulder-mounted missile, but she’s been … I’ve seen more photos of Tsai Ing-wen in camouflage than any Taiwanese president since Chiang Kai-shek (蒋介石 Jiǎng Jièshí).
Because she has been trying to do this kind of bringing people to appreciate the threat that they’re under and the need for a military response since the beginning of her presidency. But this has really finally gotten people’s attention, and now everybody’s talking about it. I do agree that there’s … It’s not a straightforward effect on public opinion or the popular mood, because on the one hand it’s really scary and it has increased the sense that someday China might attack. I was looking at a poll and there was an increase of about 50% in the people who said it was somewhat possible that China would attack Taiwan between a poll taken right before the invasion of Ukraine and one taken right after the invasion of Ukraine.
Kaiser: That’s a huge bump. Yeah.
Shelley: Yeah. From 20% to a little over 30%.
Kaiser: Wow.
Shelley: That’s a big effect. It doesn’t mean they think it’s going to happen tomorrow. What it means is that they understand that this idea that in the 21st century war doesn’t happen or this kind of war doesn’t happen, that’s evaporated. It is making it easier for the Tsai administration to make some of the military changes that they’ve been trying to make for some time.
As far as Beijing is concerned, first of all my observation from talking to other people in a sort of similar role to mine in the mainland, is that there, at least initially, was quite a lot of disagreement and uncertainty about how to interpret the Ukraine war. The central government has a very clear line, which is actually not that clear, but we all sort of know what it is. But behind the scenes, a lot of people did not know how to interpret this development. They know that it’s destabilizing. They know that it creates hazards for China. Though what to do about it? There’s a lot of discussion. But I think one thing that certainly stands to reason, although I don’t have evidence because I don’t get to read the email traffic going in and out of Zhongnanhai, but one thing that stands to reason is …
Kaiser: You don’t? You’re not on that? I can put you on that list.
Shelley: I keep trying, I keep emailing the list manager. Put me on already! But they won’t do it.
But I do think it’s reasonable to look at this situation and say, if you were in Beijing, we know that there’s no urgency to, as they say, solve the Taiwan problem right now. They’ve always wanted to and succeeded in controlling the timeline. What I think the Ukraine war does is it’s a ginormous set of lessons. The PRC has a long history of studying lessons before making decisions and taking action. I think they’ll look at this as a fantastic experiment. Somebody else is getting experimented on, but they’re going to learn from it. What do we need to avoid? What do we need to do? How do we need to harden ourselves against economic sanctions, all the other stuff? They’ll do their war planning informed by this experience. The idea that this is going to be accelerating Beijing’s timeline just makes no sense to me. I think it just allows them to have a lot more information for planning a longer timeline and probably having more success later on.
Simona: May I make a short comment in regards to Beijing’s outcome of the war to what Shelley just said?
Kaiser: Of course. Of course.
Simona: Okay. I think that to a certain extent I totally agree with Shelley. I think China has suffered a setback out of the invasion of Ukraine on at least, I would say, four levels. First of all, I think that it was in the interest of President Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 to have a quiet year, because of course he wanted to pay the way for his third term in the fall. Instead he has challenges at home with of course the zero-COVID strategy, and at the same time, a very unstable geopolitical situation with the Ukrainian war. The second point I think is that its main strategic partner, Russia, has also been greatly weakened by this, and we don’t even know how the war is going to end. The third point I think is that prior to the war, China assumed that the United States and Europe were two independent political powers with which it could negotiate. Now, Beijing of course faces a strengthened and united, maybe united front is not the correct word, but united approach.
Kaiser: Transatlantic alliance. Yeah. Sure.
Simona: Fourth, I also think, in regards to what Shelley said and the sanctions at the economic level, that of course the Chinese were convinced that the kind of reserves that they have, the 3.2 trillion of international reserves, are certainly a great deal of money, but the sanctions have also shown that such assets can be frozen basically overnight or confiscated at any time. I think these are also major points that will absolutely go in the direction, what Shelley said will make them wait and ponder on the situation, essentially not jump onto an invasion tomorrow.
Kaiser: And yet, it’s strange that in Washington that does not seem to be the message that most people are taking away. Instead, they seem to be sort of hypervigilant and there’s this expectation among a lot of the beltway punditry that this will somehow have accelerated Beijing’s timetable or have spurred them to action. What’s going on with that thinking?
Shelley: I think part of what’s going on is the same thing we were talking about before, which is the inability to differentiate the Taiwan issue from the sort of broad thrust of U.S.-China relations. If you’re the kind of beltway bandit who is looking to suppress the rise of China, you’re buying into that power transition theory, that whole Thucydides thing, and you just think the U.S. has to stop China in its tracks; then you’re going to interpret everything through the lens of that kind of worst case thinking or highly conspiratorial thinking, where the PRC is just constantly looking for opportunities to create problems to strengthen itself and so on, as opposed to a more kind of modest and perhaps sober minded understanding that the PRC also has its problems and challenges.
The PRC is not just a kind of predatory revisionist out there looking for bad things to do. It’s actually got its own internal logic for the actions that it takes. Much of that internal logic, rightly or wrongly, is defensive. The PRC’s trying to protect itself. When Taiwan just becomes a pawn in that geopolitical game, all kinds of illogical thoughts are possible.
Kaiser: Yeah, absolutely. So well said. Simona, you have a book coming out soon, as I mentioned, a volume, I think it’s 12 essays about how middle powers in Europe and in Asia are navigating U.S.-China strategic rivalry. When I was speaking with you earlier, you noted how several authors, who submitted their chapters before February 24, have updated them since or have been working on updates for them, now that we have Ukraine’s kind of case study on how things can go terribly badly for middle powers caught in great power rivalries. They want to make some changes. Shelley, you contributed a chapter as well about the context of the COVID pandemic. We will talk about that too, in a second.
But first, Simona, what does your book, which by the way I look very much forward to reading and having you back on the show to discuss with me, how does your book address Taiwan’s situation? Because at first blush I suppose most people assume Taiwan just has no qualms whatsoever about picking sides. Yet, there are a lot of complicating factors. The DPP may be in power now; demography may be on its side, but as Shelley has written about Taiwan’s commercial interests in China are very, very extensive. As we’ll talk about later, there are also still very strong cultural, linguistic, and often familial ties across the Strait. So it’s complicated. How does your book address Taiwan as the middle power in this great power conflict?
Simona: Right. First of all, a brief premise, I’m not going to give too much away since you said you want to do another episode. I’d be glad to be on the show to talk about the book, but the reason why many chapters are changing has not only to do with the fact of course, that the kind of security architecture in Europe is changing because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So countries like Sweden or Switzerland, which are small countries which have been impacted. For example, Sweden in its neutrality policies obviously has to reflect on that. In Asia, we see, I would say, also changes, for example in the South Korean chapter because they’ve had presidential elections…The administration has been elected. Of course, it’s much more pro-U.S. commitment than the previous one. So all of that, it’s not just the Ukrainian war, but all of that brought the authors, of course, to reconsider their chapters.
Now, the chapter you mentioned about Taiwan is a bit of a peculiar chapter because it works a lot with survey data and basically discusses Taiwanese people’s support for an alliance with the United States against China, which you just mentioned would be kind of logical. But they find out through the survey and the data that a balancing strategy against China is actually favored by Taiwanese citizens. But this balancing strategy has less to do with traditional party affiliation or the unification independent aspirations, but is actually related much more to relevant circumstantial factors such as people’s threat perceptions. Of course, this moment is particularly important and the inclination of the people of distrusting versus appeasing China. How the government basically positions Taiwan, the country, considering its special relations towards both China and the U.S. is really the focus of the chapter on Taiwan, which is, by the way, co-authored by Wen Xinwu and our current representative of Taiwan in Switzerland, David Huang (黃偉峰 Huáng Wěifēng).
Kaiser: Oh. Oh wow. Very interesting.
Simona: Well, he’s at Academia Sinica, also a scholar of international relations. Already has other books about the United States and the China competition.
Kaiser: Fantastic. All right. Well, so staying with you for a second here, we’ve seen several European countries rekindle their ties with Taiwan in recent years. Lithuania, of course, green lighting the opening of that Taiwanese representative office and facing, like we said, a subsequent trade embargo from Beijing. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that the EU is now taking steps to address the impact of that embargo on Lithuania. They’re all kind of rallying. As I mentioned in the intro, the Czech Republic also may well find itself in a similar situation. How has Taiwan’s position with the EU and Europe more broadly changed since, well let’s say, in the period since the Trump presidency? What is driving this shift?
Simona: Right. I think what we have seen is that an increasing number of European actors have started to embrace the idea of broadening their engagement with Taiwan and to expand on existing economic ties and cooperation. But I think that there is another aspect, which goes beyond economic ties, which is that Taiwan is increasingly seen, also in Europe, as a like-minded partner, and the European Union, of course, also puts an emphasis on continuing to support its system of governance based on democracy, the rule of law, human rights, open society, free market — all that China is not, in a way. This has a lot to do, I think, with the pandemic. When, especially at the beginning, distrust and disquiet vis-a-vis China was intensifying across the globe, more and more countries came to look at Taiwan as a reliable partner or a more reliable partner in resilient supply chains, semiconductors, data protection. Overall, as I said just now, a like-minded partner in terms of, in general, economic and political cooperation.
I think this has a lot to do with the initial, masterful command of the pandemic on the part of Taiwan, and people in Europe being caught in a lockdown, watching the news, seeing this tiny island that was actually dealing with it in a much more freer way than anywhere else in the world, where life was going on as if nothing had happened with very low level of death, at least at the very beginning. It was impossible for this country to share its experience through the proper official channels with the rest of the world, because of course, out of political motivations, it was not allowed for Taiwan to share these experiences through the WHO channels. I think this is also what catalyzed and galvanized public opinion in Europe and probably in other countries in the world to sort of rally compactly or more compactly behind Taiwan.
At the more official level, this is also the top … Sorry. The bottom up push that then galvanized maybe more governmental and more official actions. What you see that has increased in Europe is official visits on both, I would say, parliamentary as well as trade delegation levels between both EU and single member states and Taiwan, despite pressures from Beijing. Of course, as you said before, Beijing interprets the EU’s policy in a much more conservative way. It expects EU states, governments to refrain from any direct or official contact with Taiwan’s authorities. Exactly this divergence in interpretation is, what you mentioned before, what led to tensions between for example, Vilnius, Lithuania and Beijing. Lithuania of course, has been very particularly active together, as you said, with Czechia or Slovakia in engaging the Taiwanese administration, even in opening a Taiwanese representative office, which was unprecedented among European members because most of them, of course except for the Vatican which recognizes the Republic of China, but most of the other European states of the European Union, of course, stick to the more conservative formula of Taipei representative office.
I think this is, to a certain extent, also paying off. I don’t know if you have heard that, but for Vilnius it is bearing economic fruits for Lithuania because Taiwan has actually announced tentative plans to invest something like 200 billion U.S. dollars in the Baltic states industries, possibly including in its strategic semiconductor sector. On top of that, of course, Taipei also wants to set up a joint Lithuania-Taiwan fund for joint projects. All of that, of course, also plays a role. Finally, among European institutions, you have the European Parliament, which has also articulated support for expanding links with Taipei. You had, if I don’t recall wrongly in November, actually a special committee of the European Parliament, going to Taiwan, investigating foreign interference and traveling to Taipei to discuss joint strategies to counter disinformation.
I think the question in Europe that is going on at the moment, even in many European countries such as Germany, is how can we make sure … With which policy or which economic method can we make sure that we continue to show solidarity towards Taiwan and towards its democracy as a cornerstone of our European China policy in a way, but without failing in this due to the obstacles which arise out of economic dependencies from China? Fear and monetary greed, so far, have controlled the China policy of European member states. Something is definitely changing out of the pandemic, I would say, and its outcome.
Kaiser: When it comes to the United States, the way that Beijing sees it is that the whole foundation of normalization was nested in this recitation of the commitment to only One China and all of this, the Three Communiqués. That isn’t there when it comes to China’s relationship with EU countries, many of which already recognized China, well before 1972 or well before 1980. I wonder whether China doesn’t get its knickers quite as much in a twist over European countries expanding their relations with Taipei or with Taiwan as it does when it comes to the United States. Shelley, is that your sense?
Shelley: Actually, my sense is that, first of all, Beijing sees the U.S. as the most important interlocutor. This is where they need to kind of be really clear about where their lines are.
Kaiser: Right.
Shelley: The U.S. has this really vague policy actually, which is in essence, “Okay. Taiwan, PRC, you guys say there’s only one China. We’re not going to argue with you about that.” That’s what the Shanghai Communique says, that’s what the Normalization Communique says. U.S. policy leaves the ultimate resolution, should there be one, which I don’t even think you necessarily have to have an ultimate resolution. I don’t even know in the grand sweep of history what an ultimate resolution of anything means, because everything is always changing, but whatever. If you guys are going to unify, if you’re not going to unify that’s up to you. The U.S. just has an interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
In some ways I think actually other countries that have signed on more explicitly to the PRC’s One China principle, which is that Taiwan is part of China, that may be the difference. The U.S. has always kept it kind of loose and so China’s always trying to kind of box us toward their position. We’re always kind of pushing back and saying, “That’s actually not our position.” Whereas, if you’ve already said, “Yes, we agree that Taiwan is part of China,” I think your freedom of action is actually diminished.
Simona, is it correct to say that, at least some, European countries do recognize that Taiwan is part of China? I honestly don’t know.
Simona: Yeah. I think I totally agree with you. First of all, some European countries, including I would say Switzerland, are a bit more conservative in this and really stick to the One China policy in a quite conservative way, which makes it also quite different and difficult for the representative of Taiwan to work with the local authorities because they don’t want to irritate Beijing. For example, when it comes to a free trade agreement, although Switzerland would be the only case I think to my knowledge, only New Zealand and Singapore have free trade agreements and are countries that recognize the PRC. But for example in this case, what Switzerland argues is that there are no disadvantages for the economy in terms of market access, because Taiwan, like Switzerland, is a WTO member and only has conducted a trade agreement, a bilateral one, with a few partners.
I would totally agree with you on this regard that European countries are sticking more to the version that Beijing wants. Here is the key point that you made, because I think that we often hear the Chinese authorities trying to deliberately obfuscate and push their own narrative of terms. For example, the One China principle, which you just mentioned, is actually something that really describes the PRC version of how they see the Taiwan-China issue. Then of course the Guomindang has yet another version for their own domestic audience. But we see increasingly that they try to push in onto other countries, and they try to obfuscate or substitute the country’s One China policy with the One China principle. To a certain extent, I totally agree with you. In Europe, that’s been much more successful. Probably, this is also what really led to a very irate Beijing last year when, of course, the Lithuania case exploded, because now they’re seeing that even in Europe things are changing.
Kaiser: That’s right. Hey, maybe it would be good … I imagine there are probably a couple listeners out there who are scratching their heads right now and going, what’s the difference between the One China policy and the One China principle. Shelley, do you want to quickly just sort of give everyone a textbook definition of what the two are and why they’re different and how one isn’t from China and the other is?
Shelley: Sure. The One China principle, as it is understood by Beijing, is there is one China in the world, Taiwan is part of it. Sometimes they add that Beijing is the capital. Sometimes they don’t add that part. It kind of depends upon who they’re talking to. In Taiwan, they downplay the “Beijing is the capital” of it. But in the rest of the world, it’s intended … The One China principle is intended to indicate, we, that is to say the Chinese Communist Party leadership with Xi Jinping at the core, is the official, legal government of all of China, of which Taiwan is a part.
Kaiser: That’s the principle.
Shelley: That’s the principle. The One China policy that the U.S. follows is, okay, you guys say there’s only one China. That’s what they were saying back in Taiwan, back in the seventies. That’s what they were saying in the mainland, back in the seventies. We defined our policy based on those positions back in the seventies. Our policy is the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, both maintain that there is one China and Taiwan is part of it. It is not our business to adjudicate any part of that. What it technically says, is the U.S. does not challenge that position.
Kaiser: Right.
Shelley: However, the U.S. has an interest in two things. One is peace and security, or peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Whatever you do, y’all want to solve this problem, you have to do it peacefully. The U.S. also has added to that ‘peacefully’ the element that any unification or any change to the status quo needs the assent of the Taiwanese people. That actually was added during the Clinton administration, that Taiwan’s a democracy, so their government cannot change the status of the Taiwanese state without consulting its own people. That’s the first thing. The U.S. wants it done peacefully and with respect for the democratic process in Taiwan. Then the other thing is that, as so long as the two sides are governed separately, they’re separate jurisdictions. The U.S. will have a relationship with the Taiwan side. That’s actually required by the Taiwan Relations Act, which is …
Kaiser: That’s right.
Shelley: A piece of legislation that obligates the U.S. government to treat Taiwan, for all sort of ordinary purposes, as if it were a state, while not actually recognizing it as a state. How’s that?
Kaiser: That’s well done. Bravo. Bravo. Before we went on off on that definitional tangent, we were talking a little bit about trade agreements, about bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. As we all know, Taiwan was technically excluded from the IPEF, from the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. The USTR, meanwhile, announced a separate Taiwan trade initiative. Is this order of business, I mean, the U.S. excluding Taiwan from this high profile, multilateral agreement, while engaging Taiwan directly on an issue by issue basis, is this the best option for the U.S., to both engage Taiwan and stabilize any potential conflicts with China. I mean is simply helping Taiwan’s economy on a bilateral basis enough, or should the U.S. and Europe be taking maybe a stronger stance on preventing Taiwan from being economically marginalized?
Shelley: Simona, you want to go first?
Simona: In regards to the United States, I’ll let you reply, but just one comment is I’m wondering whether the fact, of course, that Taiwan…is excluded. We know it’s largely because other members fear Chinese retaliation, as is often the case, so I’m wondering whether there is this fear. I’m wondering also to know what Shelley thinks about that in the United States, that without the ability to join into trade liberalization, Taiwan’s economy could fall behind, which would add to China’s leverage over the island. Thus, a U.S. trade deal with Taiwan, even though it is not so far allowed to join IPEF, could actually provide political cover for other countries to begin negotiations of their own with Taipei. I’m wondering whether that’s the case and what Shelley thinks, because of course in the economic realm that China has tried to, well, marginalize Taiwan in international trade, is certainly the case. We’ve seen cutting tourism to the island of Taiwan, banning imports, such as Taiwanese pineapples.
I think this is something that is very prominently also in the minds of European parliamentarians, when they talk about a possible, well, more trade agreements with Taiwan in Switzerland. The debate also has actually spanned … I think the parliament is meeting soon again, to discuss a possible free trade agreement with Taiwan. There are a lot of components of Swiss society which actually are really pushing the federal counselors to do that. Here, we also feel that the debate is taking a turn that requires the world to do more in international trade for Taiwan. I think going back to your question, Kaiser, I wonder whether this is also because people see, what I was mentioning in the beginning, that supply chains disruptions and semiconductor industries in all of that Taiwan plays such a crucial role that it’s possible that we need to pay more attention to defend it, also because our own economic and security architecture ultimately depends from stability across the Strait.
Kaiser: Indeed. Indeed. I mean, we’re seeing what the vulnerabilities are. I mean, they were laid bare with the blockade of the Black Sea ports in Southern Ukraine. Just the food security and we’re all now on the brink of a major food crisis. Can you imagine semiconductors? Anyway, that’s great.
Simona, you’re an Italian, a Venetian, you’re teaching in Switzerland. Not so very long ago, Italian, that word, it worked as a kind of geographic designation. But you know, before the time of Garibaldi and Mazzini, Italy wasn’t a nation state, and you go back just a little bit further and La Serenissima was constantly at war with Genoa. Switzerland itself is a multilingual creation. I mean, it goes back much earlier, of course, but it’s sort of an agglomeration of cantons that spoke different languages.
Europeans live in a world where ethnicity, language and nationality are by no means coterminous. I dare say, the overwhelming majority of their North American counterparts, they’re pretty horrified, most of them, when they see national projects that are based on this idea that people of one ethnicity, however you want to define that, who speak the same language, somehow ought to be living in the same polity. It smacks of Hitler or now of Putin. This is the kind of thing that Steve Bannon and right wing populists always talk about, ethno nationalists. They say it without apology. Yet, many people in the rest of the world, let’s be honest here, they live in these artificial polities with arbitrary national boundaries that were often drawn by colonial powers, by the imperialists. They cleaved apart ethnic or tribal groups, or they lumped them together uncomfortably with other, sometimes, rival ethnic groups.
We may regard most ethno nationalist impulses with kind of the contempt that cosmopolitans feel. But often they are at the heart of moments of self-determination that we do support. It would be hard to argue that in most of the world, outside of Europe and North America, that people are actually ready to embrace our enlightened ideas about what the basis for a nation state really ought to be. You know, melting pots or salad bowls or whatever.
Can you talk about the PRC and Taiwan in this context? I mean, how should we understand the way that the PRC’s ideas of ethnicity and nation collide with this growing sense of Taiwanese identity that we’re seeing developing over the last, what, three, four decades now. How does Taiwan try to disentangle the idea of the ethno-cultural ties and this notion that comes from China, that political unity is demanded because of these shared ethno-cultural ties. We could do a whole podcast just on this, but …
Shelley: One thing that I would just say to start us off is, one of those imperial powers that chopped up linguistic and cultural communities and mashed together linguistic and cultural communities that didn’t go together, one of those imperial powers was definitely the Qing Dynasty.
Kaiser: Sure.
Shelley: A lot of times people exempt China from imperialism, because that’s not what we mean when we talk about imperialism, but China absolutely has been, historically, an imperial power. The contemporary boundaries of the People’s Republic of China make sense only in the context of the imperial legacy from the Qing. The Qing was the biggest one except for Yuan, which obviously was really big, the Mongol Dynasty.
Kaiser: But also, you know, 800 years ago.
Shelley: And so what the contemporary PRC struggles with is an identity for itself, that is simultaneously rooted in ethno-cultural homogeneity. Which is to say the Han people. You can see this in documents, that the PRC government releases, that refer to xuetong (血统 xuètǒng), refer to bloodlines as the rationale for why people in Hong Kong or Taiwan need to be under the control of someone in Beijing.
Kaiser: Right.
Shelley: At the same time, they have this multiethnic reality, which is because the Qing was an empire, and because the PRC state inherited the Qing Empire, it is a multiethnic nation today. I think one of the most troubling trends in the PRC at the moment is the shift from embracing the multiethnic nature of the PRC, you know all these old propaganda posters from the Mao era with everybody wearing their own ethnic hat, to now the idea of a zhonghua (中华 zhōnghuà; Chinese nation) identity and culture that whether your ancestors were Tibetan or Zhuang, Mongol or Manchu, or Han or Hui, actually we are now being melted down and forced to become something that the Communist Party wants to claim has ethno-cultural essence, but it is made out of the blenderized fragments of all these other human communities.
Kaiser: Right. You’re talking about these second generation minzu (民族 mínzú; ethnic group) policies.
Shelley: Yes.
Kaiser: As they call it. I mean, the thing that of course the defenders of that would say is, look, isn’t that the nation building process that you all went through as well? Wasn’t that the case in Italy? Didn’t you have that experience where you sort of destroyed these local identities and repurpose them, refocused them on a new sort of created national identity? It’s just that when it’s happening in not the 19th century, but in the 21st, it’s a whole lot uglier. Everyone can see it, and you see the sausage factory.
Simona: Right? Yeah. I think that, if I may, there’s also an aspect that by transforming its own national and ethnic identities in which Taiwan is basically it is doing in a … Sorry. Taiwan is transforming its national and ethnic identities in ways that have, in my opinion, unwelcome implications for the PRC’s own national identity. I think it was Shelley, you wrote a book in 2011, Why Taiwan Matters. In that book, you actually talked about the China outside and the China inside, as I remember. It was a great book, by the way. I think that this is really what we also see today happening more and more, whereby the international community and the PRC in this case, the China outside, are sort of forcing Taiwanese people away from a Chinese identity. I think we all know that Taiwanese identity has deep historical roots, but its rise in recent years has much more to do with the PRC’s monopoly of representing China in the international community and society, I would say, and the pressure that it’s exerting on Taiwan as a consequence.
Probably, we can also argue, I believe that the new Taiwan’s identity that people congregate about and are so proud of, is actually based on civic and democratic values, what you were making the case for Italy or even for Switzerland, that actually bind Taiwan’s people together, given the fact that Taiwan has been completely liberalized since the 1990s and also has established a vibrant democracy.
This is visible in my opinion very often, especially in the past two years since the pandemic. Also in the kind of social cultural values that the Taiwanese administration wants to be associated with as a global player, as a responsible player, as a global health diplomacy player, that helps the world if the world will let it help. You have videos sure, which really show this. They really spell out these attributes very clearly. They go in constructing this new Taiwanese identity, so there’s a video which really ends with a quite powerful slogan, “Free to speak, free to learn, free to believe, free to vote, free to love. Free in Taiwan.” I think these are really new changes that we are seeing, whereby, that’s quite difficult to accept from the Chinese perspective, of course.
Kaiser: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, all of this seems so incredibly persuasive, and it’s I think easy to see why there is so much international sympathy. What is hard I think for a lot of non-Chinese people to see these days, even those who are in the foreign policy space, is to truly understand the emotional valence of the Taiwan question to Beijing, to mainlanders. Why so many political elites in China, as well as ordinary people, feel so invested in if not “reunifying” with Taiwan — that’s in quotes, if my tone didn’t convey it. If not reunifying, then at least preventing de jure independence. Shelley, I think you’re good at doing this. Is there a way for you to explain to those in the U.S. and Europe to understand why China feels that level of attachment to Taiwan that goes beyond just sort of mere territorial aggression or revanchism or what have you.
Shelley: Yeah. There are a lot of people who want to say the reason that the PRC cares about Taiwan is geostrategic. It allows them to project their naval power another couple hundred miles. I’m not saying that that doesn’t matter, but the question you’re asking is a different question, and it is a mutually reinforcing question with the geostrategic one. That is, this genuine emotion that people have with respect to this issue. Another question that we always debate is to what extent is that kind of an authentic emotion, and to what extent is that an emotion that is created by propaganda and socialization? Again, it’s kind of like it doesn’t really matter. Whatever the cause of it is, it is real now.
The way that that story gets told the narrative that creates that emotion has to do with the historical experience that is very much elevated in Chinese discourse of the failure and decline of the Qing Dynasty under pressure from external actors, European, and also internal actors, forces like the Taiping rebels. China, after centuries of success and excellent economic and cultural performance, imploded in the late 19th century and became vulnerable to all kinds of predatory actions. Ultimately, the worst imaginable predatory action, which was invasion by Japan, in the decade before … Americans always think that World War II began in 1941, but it began a lot earlier, in China. It was a lot more brutal and awful in China.
The whole story of China’s recent history is just covered with the barnacles of suffering. The actor that brought this suffering upon the Chinese people is increasingly externalized. During the early 20th century, a lot of Chinese were introspective, like, how did we allow our country to go off the rails like this? You have people like Wǔ Xùn 武训 blaming Confucianism and Chinese civilization for its own failure. But today the West gets blamed, and mainly the U.S. gets blamed. Everything is sort of compressed into this very minimalist tale of the West, which kind of today means the U.S., oppressing China, undermining China, allowing China to be made vulnerable and impoverished. What is the one thing that the U.S. is still doing that everybody can look at and say, “We’re still in that phase of our history?” It’s keeping Taiwan separated from the rest of China.
The reason Taiwan isn’t under the PRC flag right now is U.S. military intervention in the 1950s and the continued willingness of the U.S. to provide military assistance to Taiwan. For many people in China, they don’t care about Taiwanese people. They don’t care what Taiwanese people think or want. What they believe is that China’s destiny is denied because the U.S. refuses to let go and let the PRC actually achieve its destiny. If this sounds like the story that Putin tells about Ukraine, why did we have to invade Ukraine? Because NATO was leaning in on us, and denying us our rightful unity of what we decided are the Russo aligned places. It’s that same kind of thing. The U.S. becomes the enemy in both stories.
Kaiser: Some important differences. The Russian Federation recognizes the sovereignty of Ukraine..
Shelley: True. Yeah. So it’s worse.
Kaiser: Some pretty big differences, but yeah. That’s fantastic, Shelley. I’m, I’m really glad I asked you that question. We’re running a little long. You guys, what a fantastic pairing to have the two of you on. When the book comes out, I’d love to invite you both back to talk about it, because Shelley I know you wrote sort of that first introductory essay, not the first … There’s a preface of course that Simona, you wrote. I haven’t had a chance to read it, but as soon as the galleys are ready please send them my way, because I would love to read this book. Very excited about this.
Thank you both for taking the time to join me. This was just fantastic. I really look forward to another conversation focused on the book. Meanwhile, let’s move on to recommendations. First, a very quick reminder that the Sinica Podcast is powered by SupChina. If you like the work we’re doing with this, or any of the other shows in the Sinica Network, the best thing that you can do to help us out is to subscribe to our daily China access newsletter. Just go subscribe. It’s just excellent. Go to supchina.com/subscribe. Find the subscription plan that works best for you and helps out.
Okay. Onto recommendations. I am really excited. Simona, first time giving recommendations of this show. What do you have for us?
Simona: I go first? Okay. One is a book recommendation for you. It’s actually one of my absolute favorites and it has to do with the topic of today, so the second recommendation will not. It’s a book titled Orphan of Asia, which was actually written in 1945. Yeah, I’m sure you know it. But I thought it was perfect for this. I think it is really one of the best books that really depicts Taiwan’s difficult situation at the crossroads. These are still very contemporary topics between China, Japan, and simply being a country of its own. The protagonist of course was born in this Japanese occupied Taiwan, raised in the scholarly tradition of ancient China by his grandfather, forced into the Japanese education system and then ultimately becomes estranged from all three cultures. I think this really illustrates very well the dilemma that Taiwanese people find themselves in nowadays.
The second one is a Netflix series, which I watch in the evenings to take my mind off of everything else, including Taiwan and China, and it’s Orange Is the New Black. Maybe you guys know it.
Kaiser: Oh, I love that show. Yeah.
Simona: It’s a comedy drama, Netflix show, which is based on this … I think it’s based on a book Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. Well, I enjoy it. I think it depicts very well how women’s life, or in general, how inmates life can change when you are completely shut off from your contacts on the outside. But also how inmates’ quality of life can be impacted by for example corporations taking over prison and all that happens when they start sparing costs and all of that. That would be my two recommendations for you, Kaiser.
Kaiser: Thank you. Those are great. Those are excellent recommendations. It’s been a while since I’ve read Orphan in Asia, but I think I’m going to pick up another copy of it and reread it. Thanks so much. Shelley, what do you have for us?
Shelley: I’m going to just be consistent with my last recommendation, which was a bilingual, bad for you, which is to say fun to watch, TV show.
Kaiser: It was awesome by the way, God. Yeah.
Shelley: Giri/Haji. The Netflix series about the Japanese detective in London. This one is only sort of bilingual, and it’s just … I love it because it’s bilingual in that truly European way. Different languages are spoken, and they just speak whatever is the appropriate language at the moment. Sometimes when people talk to each other across national lines, they use English. But it’s actually a Norwegian show and it’s called Occupied. It’s on Netflix. It is creepy as hell to watch Occupied right now.
This show, there’s three seasons of it. First season was made in 2015. It’s basically…Russia occupies Norway. They go full Sun Tzu (孙子 Sūn Zǐ). They win without fighting. They find a way to bring the Norwegian government to heal and to force Norway to allow itself to be increasingly dominated by Russia. It’s a lot about the sort of domestic political conflict that is unleashed in Norway and the moral struggles of Norwegian leaders as they try to decide like should they resist, should they go along. But to watch this, one, in the context of the Ukraine invasion and to realize how real it is; it’s genuinely possible for a country to try to control another. But then also for me, it’s just way more about Taiwan and the PRC and the ways that the PRC could …
Kaiser: Without firing a shot.
Shelley: Yes. Without firing a shot, come to control critical aspects of Taiwan’s political decision making and sort of set in motion a series of events that would ultimately cost Taiwan its freedom and democracy altogether. So, Occupied.
Kaiser: Excellent. Well, Quisling after all was Norwegian. Anyway, great recommendation. I will watch that. Mine is for something new from the Carter Center’s U.S.-China Perception Monitor. They’ve started putting out a weekly roundup of official statements from the foreign ministry, from official media and popular social media posts on the U.S.-China relationship. It’s in Chinese, you can find it at meizhong.report. That’s the pinyin M-E-I-Z-H-O-N-G report. Apparently ‘.report’ is one of the new top level domain names. I didn’t even know that. Anyway, the one that I read the other day covers the week ending June 6th and it’s pretty grim stuff. But it’s extremely useful, and as always, my hat is off to Yawei (刘亚伟 Liú Yàwěi) who directs the China program at the Carter Center, who is just a pillar of the community, a paragon of sensible thinking on the U.S.-China relationship. I’m really glad that he’s doing this. So check it out: meizhong.report.
Kaiser: Simona, Shelley, thank you once again. It’s just so wonderful to talk to both of you. Let’s do it again soon.
Shelley: Great. Always a pleasure.
Simona: Thank you both. It was great for me to be the first time here and with the two of you.
Kaiser: Yeah. Simona, looking forward to reading the book. Congratulations on the publication of that.
Simona: Yeah. Thank you.
Kaiser: The Sinica Podcast is powered by SupChina and is a proud part of the Sinica Network. Our show is produced and edited by me, Kaiser Kuo. I want to give a special shout out this week to my intern, Marisa Muller, who helped a ton in preparing for this show, contributing some real first rate questions. We would be delighted if you drop us an email sinica@supchina.com or just give us a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts, as this really does help people discover the show. Meanwhile, follow us on Twitter or on Facebook at SupChina News, and be sure to check out all the shows from the Sinica Network. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week. Take care.
Kaiser Kuo is co-founder of the Sinica Podcast and editor-at-large of SupChina. Read more
Max Baucus
Former U.S. Ambassador to China
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uid This cookie is used to measure the number and behavior of the visitors to the website anonymously. The data includes the number of visits, average duration of the visit on the website, pages visited, etc. for the purpose of better understanding user preferences for targeted advertisments.
uuid To optimize ad relevance by collecting visitor data from multiple websites such as what pages have been loaded.
uuidc This cookie is used to stores information about how the user uses the website such as what pages have been loaded and any other advertisement before visiting the website. This data is used to provide users with relevant ads.
VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE This cookie is set by Youtube. Used to track the information of the embedded YouTube videos on a website.

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