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The China Beat Closes Its Doors

"Yi Lu Ping An" - Chinese phrase for Bon Voyage

Some blogs come and some blogs go, so what are you going to do about it, that’s what I’d like to know

That tune I found myself humming tonight when I opened my Twitter account to slews of tweets lamenting the end of an era, lamenting the end of the China Beat.

For the past four years, the China Beat, a blog out of UC Irvine, posted some of the most eclectic, insightful and best written posts on China.  Subtitled, “How the East is Read” and run by a group of Chinese historians, the blog covered a wide array of issues in a fun and engaging way, making China accessible to everyone.  But more than just the quality of its posts, the China Beat also afforded a platform for different voices in the field:  young students of Chinese studies, non-scholar observers of China, and women.

For much of the China Beat’s history, two women have been important members of the four person team  that ran the site: Kate Merkel-Hess and Maura Cunningham.  Does gender matter?  I think it does.  Each of us has a perspective through which we view this world and our experiences in life is what determines that perspective; gender plays a part in creating that perspective.  I’m making no normative assessments of these perspectives, just acknowledge that gender can at times offer a different viewpoint.

In the Western-based China world, women’s voices are often not at the forefront.  A review of my book shelf has just two China books written by women (Susan Shirk and Elizabeth Economy); my Google Reader lists blogs written by men (aside from Flora Sapio’s Forgotten Archipeligos); and most of the major journalists who regularly cover China are men (exceptions being Lousia Lim of NPR, Sharon LaFraniere of NY Times and Melissa Chan formerly of Al Jazeera).

So it was refreshing to have a blog that was 50% female-run, with high-quality women who offered amazing scholarship.

Regardless of the gender make up of the China Beat blog team, the fact that such an amazing blog is shutting down is a travesty in and of itself.

Bye-bye China Beat

As with many blogs, the China Beat editors were finding it increasingly difficult to balance blogging with their paid jobs and ultimately it was the blog that had to go.  As much as we all try, you cannot make a living on China blogging  and some other job must pay the bills.  But with all the efforts to improve Americans’ understanding of China such as the State Department’s 100,000 Strong Initiative, blogs like the China Beat, which helped to illuminate the mysteries of China to the average American, has to close its doors.  It’s a pity that there are no grants out there to support the work of the China Beat which lessened the distance between the American people, especially the vast majority who will likely never visit China, and the Chinese.

With the China Beat closing its doors, its left to other blogs to try to pick up the mantel of honest, interesting and smart blog posts.  While China Law & Policy will try, most likely no one will be able to replace the China Beat.

Good-bye the China Beat; we hardly knew ye’.

Chen Guangcheng to Study in United States – China to Agree


Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release                                                                                       May 4, 2012



Chen Guangcheng

The Chinese Government stated today that Mr. Chen Guangcheng has the same right to travel abroad as any other citizen of China. Mr. Chen has been offered a fellowship from an American university, where he can be accompanied by his wife and two children.

The Chinese Government has indicated that it will accept Mr. Chen’s applications for appropriate travel documents.  The United States Government expects that the Chinese Government will expeditiously process his applications for these documents and make accommodations for his current medical condition.  The United States Government would then give visa requests for him and his immediate family priority attention.

This matter has been handled in the spirit of a cooperative U.S.-China partnership.

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NY Event – China Town Hall – October 18

By , October 13, 2010

Ambassador Jon Huntsman

Don’t miss this year’s “China Town Hall” sponsored by the National Committee on US-China Relations on Monday, October 18 starting at 7 pm.  The China Town Hall is a night of China events, with the keynote address live from Ambassador Jon Huntsman (via webcast).  In its fourth year, this year’s event will likely prove to be the most interesting.  China has become a major campaign issue in the U.S.’ mid-term elections, the trade imbalance does not seem to be improving, currency is still pegged, and China doesn’t seem keen on allowing for greater freedom in the wake of the Nobel Peace Prize award to Liu Xiaobo.  To be sure Ambassador Huntsman will likely address some, if not all, of these issues.

While you can watch the event on your own over the web (here:, life is always more fun when you do things with others!  The National Committee is sponsoring various educational institutions across the country to host events and this year, Prof. Maggie Lewis of Seton Hall University School of Law will be hosting a China Town Hall, with Prof. Carl Minzner of Washington University in St. Louis School of Law providing comments and context to what will sure to be an exciting night.  RSVP is required for this event:

China Town Hall
Monday, October 18, 2010
7 p.m. – Discussion with Prof. Carl Minzner
8 p.m. – Live webcast featuring Amb. Jon Huntsman
Seton Hall University School of Law
One Newark Center
Newark, NJ
(Directions: – literally a hop skip & jump from midtown – 15 minutes on NJ Transit)

RSVP here:

For those not in the NYC-area, check out the listings of Town Hall events in your location:

Summer Reprieve

By , August 15, 2010

With the remaining three weeks of summer, China Law & Policy will be hitting the beach, so blogging might be less than regular.  Do not be alarmed.  We anticipate returning to regular blogging post-Labor Day.  There might be a few articles here and there before that – who knows what China-related things might be happening at the beach and China thoughts we might have will sipping mai tais in the sun.  But we will be actively back starting Sept. 7.

Thank you for your continued readership!

Will China Float its Currency?

By , April 16, 2010
Will China allow its currency to float?

Will China allow its currency to float?

As Marcy Nicks Moody pointed out in her article, “A Dusty Springfield Approach to the Chinese Exchange Rate,” the Treasury Department was to release its report on international economic and exchange rate policies on April 15.  But last week, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced that he would delay the release of the report  noting that key meetings with world leaders in the upcoming months necessitated the delay.  Many saw this as a sign that the U.S. was in dialogue with the Chinese about the exchange rate with the real possibility that China would give its currency some freedom.

But in today’s New York Times, Michael Wines reports that perhaps we shouldn’t be so sure.  Domestic fiscal and monetary policy issues are pushing Chinese leaders not to float the yuan, Chinese currency (a.k.a. the renminbi or RMB).  Interestingly, the online version of this article has the title “China’s Recovery Keeps Focus on Interest Rates and Currency” while the title in today’s paper version is the more explosive “China Move on Currency Not at Hand.”

So will China succumb to foreign pressure or will it remain focused on its own recovery and not look to change its currency policy just yet?  You decide.  Take our poll on this issue listed on the left hand side of the website.  Results will be posted next Friday, April 23.

恭喜发财! Happy New Year!

By , February 13, 2010

tigerWelcome to the Year of the Tiger!  February 14 marks the start of the new year for China as well as most other East Asian countries.   Tiger years are never dull and are often marked by huge and dramatic changes, both for individuals and for the world-at-large.  So if you thought 2009 was a bit of a roller coaster, you haven’t seen anything yet.   It’s generally not a year to be asleep at the wheel and you should seek to take advantage of every opportunity.

But to know what is really in store for you, you need to first know your own Chinese zodiac sign.  Each animal in the zodiac fares differently in the Year of the Tiger.  Click here to learn your sign and learn your fortune for 2010.

The Lunar New Year, also known as Chun Jie (the Spring Festival) in China is a 15-day holiday, when Chinese from the cities will return to their parents’ homes in the countryside and families spend the most of that time together.   The New Year is the most important holiday in the Chinese calander.

To all of our Chinese and East Asian friends, Gong Xi Fa Cai (pronounced Gong See Fa Tsai)!  May your new year be filled with family, fortune and luck!

Just For Fun: China Eyeing Gold in……Curling!

By , February 11, 2010

Curling – a.k.a. shuffle board on ice – is a sport long dominated by Canadians.  But in next week’s Olympic Games, curlingCanada might cede its Olympic dominance to….China?  Yes, to China.  In fact, some would argue it already has – in women’s curling, China currently holds the world title.  So it will be interesting to see China attempt to topple Canada while in Vancouver.  On top of that, China’s curling coach, Dan Rafael, hails from Canada.  Expect the Canadians to fight back with a vengeance.

The Chinese government puts a lot of stock in its athletes’ performances at the Olympics.  During Beijing’s 2008 summer games, China won a total of 51 medals, with the U.S. in second place with less than 35.  China will come nowhere near such numbers in the winter games, but it expects to take home more than the 11 medals it did after the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.  In addition to potentially winning gold in curling, China is expected to medal in freestyle skiing, snowboarding halfpipe, speed skating and pairs figure skating.

In the past 10 years, China has  put a lot of capital – both financial and human – into its Olympic training programs.  Chinese athletes are able to excel because all they do is practice; Olympic training is 100% subsidized by the government with the athletes receiving salaries from the state.  Athletes are chosen at a young age and come of age in the countries sporting training centers.  Usually, their education takes a back seat to their training.

Why?  Why should a country that still has a large number of people living in poverty, put so much money into Olympic sports?  It’s a way for China to prove that it has “made it.”  China’s rise does not come without baggage.  After ruling Asia, if not the world, for much of its 2,000 year history, starting in 1800, China was brought to its knees by the Western powers, first with the British after the Opium Wars and then other foreign powers when China was divided in various spheres of influences.  China has not forgotten this history and often brings it up – Chinese news reports about its Olympics exploits will mention that China is no longer the “sick man of Asia.”  The Chinese government also uses this history to increasing nationalist pride among its people.  It’s this nationalism that helps the Chinese Communist Party stay in power.

80 KORNELIA ENDER GDR MONTREALWhile some may be unsettled by China’s Olympic ambitions, others say, bring it on.  Really, the Olympics has not been nearly as interesting in our post-Cold War world.  Who can forget the sight of huge East German female swimmers?  Or judges from Soviet-bloc nations voting against Western athletes?  And the U.S. vs. U.S.S.R. hockey game?  It was a time when people actually watched the Olympics and when medals won was more than a victory in a sport, it was a triumph of an ideology.  Without the drama, intrigue and flaming of nationalist passions, what’s the point?  Maybe now NBC will be able to turn a profit on its Olympic coverage.

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