WA China Watch Digest Special!

Interview: Sidney Rittenberg on Liu Xiaobo’s death, Charter 08, and America’s “China Fantasy”

Sidney RittenbergBy Wen Liu   July 22, 2017

A few days before Liu Xiaobo's passing on July 13th, this writer sent out a little survey on the possibility of him traveling to the U.S. for medical treatment. We ran out of time. Liu Xiaobo’s death, as his life, was political, not a usual topic for this blog. However, we can’t escape politics. We have a former political prisoner of China’s among us: Sidney Rittenberg, who served as lengthy a jail time and also for his ideals of democracy, if in different ways. Liu Xiaobo wanted to change China’s one-party rule while Sidney wanted the Communist Party to become more democratic. So what is Sidney’s reaction to Liu Xiaobo’s death? What does Sidney think of Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08? What about America’s “China fantasy,” that trade and prosperity would lead to China’s liberalization? For these and other questions, we have here, with great honor, Sidney Rittenberg,Sr. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Andy Yip on Hong Kong’s return to China 20 years later, and Hong Kong-Washington trade

Andy Yip, 2015By Wen Liu   July 12, 2017

It is hard to believe but it is already twenty years since Hong Kong's return to China on July 1, 1997, and China's adoption of the “one country, two systems” policy for the former British colony, which allows Hong Kong to retain its capitalist economic system, legal system, legislative system, and people's rights and freedom for fifty years, till 2047. President Xi Jinping said in Hong Kong that “one country, two systems” was a great success. But thousands of Hong Kongers disagreed by demonstrating in the streets. So how does one see the 20th anniversary? What has changed in Hong Kong since the return? For these and other questions, we have Andy Yip, VP of Hong Kong-Greater China Business Association of Washington, a finance and real estate professional, born and raised in Hong Kong, a Seattleite since 1995, with an economics degree from the UW. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Beth Barrett on showcasing China stars, Chinese films at Seattle International Film Festival 2017

Beth BarrettBy Wen Liu   June 27, 2017

The curtain of the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival may have come down, the excitement lingers on. A big draw this year was the China Stars Showcase, with ten Chinese feature films as well as five short films from Beijing Film Academy, along with China Stars Awards, with Qin Yi, the 95-year-old actress, winning the Lifetime Achievement Award. There were Chinese directors and producers at the screenings, and Chinese and American corporate sponsors/collaborators throughout the festival. How did the China showcase program begin? What was the significance of China stars awards? How were the Chinese films picked and why? For these and other questions, we have Beth Barrett, Interim Artistic Director of SIFF, and 13 years as Director of Programming before that, who just took a short and well-deserved break after working 25 days straight at the Festival. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Karl Weaver on Consumer Electronics Show in Shanghai, and China leapfrogging U.S. in tech development

Karl Weaver at CES AsiaBy Wen Liu   June 20, 2017

With most headlines nowadays devoted to illusive Russian connections, one could miss those with more evidence like this one: “China’s copycat tech image is fading and that should worry U.S. tech giants,” or “The little barcode is driving China’s rapid shift towards a cashless society.” That’s right, cashless, as this writer found out recently in Beijing when friends paid for a ride or an art gallery ticket with their phone. One person who knows very well this tech transformation in China is Karl Weaver, Mobile Device ecosystem specialist, who just returned from Shanghai attending CES Asia 2017 from June 7-9. What was this CES in Shanghai all about? What new Chinese technology did he find and like? What about the ubiquitous QR code in China? And where is mobile payment in the U.S. in comparison, especially with tech companies in Washington state? Here is Karl. (Go to full story.)

Survey: Should Washingtonians care about those June 4th, 1989 liquor bottles?

Eight Liquor Six Four.By Wen Liu   June 3, 2017

This blog is mostly about info and news of what has happened between Washington state and China, in business, exchanges, etc., not usually politics. However, this 28th anniversary of June 4th of Tiananmen crackdown has caught up with Washington and Sichuan, our sister province. For a year now, as reported in the NY Times, four men in Chengdu, the capital, have been under detention for designing and marketing a set of Chinese liquor bottles with labels that said “Eight Liquor Six Four,” homophones for 89.6.4, with a drawing of the Tank Man and boasting of 27 years aging of the liquor. They have been charged with “inciting subversion of state power,” with no trials date yet. Considering China’s aversion to any mention of Tiananmen and the importance of China relations, here is the question. (Go to full story.)

Survey: Should Washington state companies participate in China's One Belt, One Road?

BRFBy Wen Liu   May 23, 2017

Chinese president Xi Jinping just hosted the inaugural Belt Road Forum in Beijing from May 14-15 and pledged $100 billion for infrastructure projects across Asia, Europe and Africa. Thirty heads of state and world leaders along with 1,200 individuals from 110 countries attended the gathering. As Commerce Department stated in the Initial Results of the 100-Day Action Plan of the U.S. - China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue that “The United States recognizes the importance of China’s One Belt and One Road initiative,” President Trump sent Matthew Pottinger, the administration’s senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, to the event. Considering that the U.S. was reluctant to become partner in an earlier China initiative, AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), here is the question. (Go to full story.)

Statement: Mercy Kuo, Andrew Wilson on U.S.-China, Washington state-China trade, their "platform" for Washington State China Relations Council

Mercy KuoAndrew WilsonBy Wen Liu   May 3, 2017

The new leadership team at the Washington State China Relations Council, Mercy Kuo as the president and T. Andrew Wilson as the board chairman, stepped onto the stage, literally and metaphorically, on March 15 when they opened China Council’s 37th annual banquet at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center. What they also opened was a new chapter, their chapter, of the Council history.

As they represent a new generation of China hands, watchers and practitioners, they also face a new landscape in U.S.-China and Washington state-China relations. What are their views on “fair trade” with China, as raised by President Trump? What’s their take on the widely cited auto tariffs of 25% when U.S. automakers sell to China, while the U.S. imposes just 2.5%? Do they see U.S.-China trade as skewed in favor of China, as mentioned by former USTR Charlene Barshefsky earlier in Beijing? What about Boeing building a 737 finishing plant, along with jobs, in China? And most importantly, like the winning ticket of a leadership campaign, what is their “platform” leading the Council forward, soon onto its 40th anniversary in 2019? (Go to full story.)

Interview: Diana Johns on Terracotta Warriors from behind the scenes

Diana JohnsBy Wen Liu   Apr. 18, 2017

The highlight of Seattle’s connection with China now is surely the new exhibit “Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor” at the Pacific Science Center. The ten life-size statues on display, from among some 8,000 unearthed since the 1970s, are, of course, from Xi’an, this writer’s hometown. This is not, however, the first time that the Science Center showcased China. There was “Son of Heaven - Imperial Arts of China” in 1988 and “China: 7000 Years of Discovery” in 1984. So why this exhibit now? How did it come about? What is the significance of the “science” of it? For these and other behind-the-scene questions, we have Diana Johns, VP of Exhibits at Pac Sci, who managed in her long career King Tut, Discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls, Lucy’s Legacy, Pompeii, and Race: Are We So Different among many important exhibits. (Go to full story.)

News: Brian Bonlender in Shanghai preparing Governor Inslee’s August trip to China

Bonlender meet Yang ChaoBy Wen Liu   Apr. 3, 2017

Brian Bonlender, Governor’s Inslee’s State Commerce Director, was in Shanghai last week, along with Chris Green, Assistant Director, according to Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.

The trip, as LawsValue news site posted, was part of the preparation for Governor Inslee’s trade mission to China this August, which will include a visit to Chengdu for a U.S.-China Governors Forum. Also under preparation was a U.S.-China Investment Seattle Forum to be held this fall jointly sponsored by Washington State and the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco.
(Go to full story).

News: Gary Locke tells China about Trump and U.S.-China relations, EB-5 immigration, and real reason he resigned as ambassador to China

Gary Locke on CNTVBy Wen Liu   Mar. 28, 2017

Just as watching the China Relations Council, watching Gary Locke is also a big part of China watching in Washington. Operating now as the Locke Global Strategies, LLC., Locke has got a lot of coverage in recent months in the Chinese media.

On March 26, Locke, also our former governor, gave an interview to People’s Daily. On the “one China” policy, Locke said that no matter it was Democrat or Republican, each American administration had adhered to that policy, and that President Trump’s call to Xi Jinping, reiterating it, was encouraging news. On possible trade war, Locke pointed out that U.S.-China trade still had a lot of potential, that the two sides should avoid a trade war, as no one would be able to win it. The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue... (Go to full story.)

Interview: Joe Borich on Taiwan trade, “one China” policy, and China Council

Joe BorichBy Wen Liu   Mar. 3, 2017

“The longest-serving executive director/president” is not the only record Joe Borich held at the Washington State China Relations Council. He was also the only one who was both a China hand and Taiwan hand, as he had served as an American diplomat on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. So what did Joe think when then President-elect Trump talked on the phone with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and questioned why the U.S. had to be bound by the “one China” policy? What about Taiwan as a trading partner of the U.S. as well as Washington state? What did “one China” mean for the China Council? Also, last October, Joe traveled to Taiwan as part of the 2016 Cleantech Business Mission. What did the mission do? I finally pinned Joe down after weeks of trying. Here is Joe answering these questions and also sharing his thoughts on the Council since he had left. (Go to full story.)

Observation: China Council through changing executive leadership, changing times

WSCRCBy Wen Liu   Feb. 20, 2017

With the announcement on Feb. 15 of the appointment of Mercy Kuo as its new president, the Washington State China Relations Council finally began its next chapter, ending six months vacancy of this position.

As someone who wrote the book “Connecting Washington and China--The Story of the Washington State China Relations Council,” my mind goes back to all of Council’s previous executive directors, the very different times they were in and ways they embodied and defined the Council. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Rick Foristel on connecting China and Seattle by way of Webster University

Prof. ForistelBy Wen Liu   Feb. 16, 2017

Last August, I got an email from Prof. Rick Foristel from websterchina.com. He was reading through my book “Connecting Washington and China—The Story of the Washington State China Relations Council” and founded it so useful that he decided to send a note of thanks. One fact he wanted to make sure was whether Shanghai and Seattle were sister ports and was glad to find it in the first part of the book. He had just visited Seattle, working on a 2017 study tour for his China MBA students, and was returning to Shanghai. Interesting! Webster University, I found out, was the first U.S. university to win approval for an American MBA program in China, and Foristel had been director of Webster China since 1997. Last month, I caught up with Foristel again, after his second trip to Seattle, and asked him about the wonderful tangle of Webster, China, Shanghai and Seattle. (Go to full story.)

Survey: What kind of a candidate would be appointed China Council’s next president?

WSCRCBy Wen Liu   Jan. 17, 2017

A big part of China-watching in Washington is watching the Washington State China Relations Council, the most prominent nonprofit on China in the state. The Council, however, has been without a president since last summer when Kristi Heim joined the genomic research company BGI. The latest word from an insider is that the Council would announce the new appointment soon, even in a week or two. It is getting exciting. Considering Council’s previous executive directors (later presidents) and their backgrounds, Robert Kapp a one-time China scholar, Bill Abnett a one-time China trade negotiator, Eden Woon a one-time China policy advisor, Joe Borich a one-time diplomat to China, and Kristi Heim a one-time China-focused journalist, and the impact of changing China policies under President Trump, here is the question... (Go to full story.)

News: Huang Qifan, long-time mayor of Chongqing, just resigned

Huang QifanBy Wen Liu   Jan. 2, 2017

When people in Seattle were getting ready to welcome in the new year 2017, something major was happening in their sister city Chongqing. At the last session of 2016 of the Chongqing Municipal People’s Congress Standing Committee on Dec. 30th, according to People’s Daily report, Mayor Huang Qifan (黄奇帆) offered to resign, and his resignation was accepted. No reason was given.

Having served Chongqing for 15 years, Huang Qifan, at 64, was mayor from 2010 and deputy mayor from 2001. Before that, Huang was deputy secretary general of Shanghai. (Go to full story.)

Year-end special: Top ten Washington state-China stories of 2016

By Wen Liu   Dec. 20, 2016

Another year, another chance to look back and rank the top ten Washington state-China news stories over the last 12 months. Here is an attempt with 2016, from 1 to 10. What do you think? Would you rank differently?

Murray and Ma Xingrui1. Mayor Murray of Seattle visiting China, signing nine agreements

Mayor Ed Murray led the 2016 International Leadership Mission to China in May, visiting Shenzhen, Hangzhou, repaying the visit to Seattle in Sept. 2015 by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Murray and the group signed nine agreements there, including joint research on precision medicine between UW and BGI, trade and economic cooperation between Shenzhen and Hangzhou, and cooperation between Washington State China Relations Council and Shenzhen Foundation. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Zhang Er, Greg Youtz on opera Fiery Jade – Cai Yan, and understanding China through music and poetry

Fiery Jade-Cai Yan posterBy Wen Liu   Dec. 6, 2016

For four nights in mid-November, at the Karen Hille Phillips Performing Arts Center, the Chinese flute solo, with its long, sorrowful and stirring trills, took the audience to a China that existed 2000 years ago, in the Eastern Han Dynasty. The three act opera that followed told the story of Cai Yan (also known as Cai Wenji) and her life through war times, including loss of husband to illness, capture by Xiongnu invaders, marriage and motherhood in enemy territory, and final release and return to her homeland. Through it all, she played her Guqin music and wrote poems, making her a legend in China’s history and a symbol of women enduring hardships through arts. What was also “out” of anyone’s perception or expectation, just as with the Chinese flute in an American opera, was the fact that the performers and the musicians of Fiery Jade – Cai Yan were all students and faculty of the Department of Music at Pacific Lutheran University. (Go to full story.)

Survey: What changes do you expect in Washington state-China trade under President Trump?

trump super-fans page.By Wen Liu   Nov. 22, 2016

With Donald Trump now elected the next president of the United States, changes are coming, including in U.S. China policy, especially on trade. During his campaign, candidate Trump used some tough words on China, including greatest theft in world history, stealing American jobs, manipulating currency, and threatened to impose 45% tariffs on Chinese goods. China responded that if President Trump carries through with his threats, some Boeing orders would be replaced by Airbus. After a phone call with President Xi Jinping, however, Trump stated that he believed the two leaders would have one of the strongest relationships for both countries moving forward. With China being Washington’s largest trading partner, with state’s exports to China totaled $19 billion and imports from China at $10 billion in 2015, and with the nature of campaign rhetoric, here is the question: What changes do you expect in Washington state-China trade under President Trump, starting January 2017, and why? (Go to full story.)

Translation: Weibo bloggers in China reacting, favorably mostly, to Donald Trump winning U.S. presidency

Weibo Trump search.By Wen Liu   Nov. 16, 2016

On Nov. 8, Donald Trump with his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton shocked not only people in America, but also people all over the world, including those in China. Americans, of course, chose their candidate out their own interest and along their own political beliefs about the United States, its economy, its trade, its direction, its government, its leadership in the world, etc. In China, however, without a stake in it, and without a free election of national leaders of their own, netizens showed a great interest in following the American presidential election and expressed freely their views, often favorable and sometimes confusing, about Donald Trump's win out of their overall impression of him or their own gut feeling. Here is a sample of their posts on Weibo, the micro-blogging site, over the last few days. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Kristi Heim on transitioning from leading China Council to leading a China company expansion into Washington

Kristi HeimBy Wen Liu   Nov. 1, 2016

After two and a half years, we really got used to having Kristi Heim at the Washington State China Relations Council serving as the president, perhaps for a long time to come. Now we need to move on with Kristi in her new position as the Senior Director of Business Development and Communications at BGI: the Shenzhen-based world's largest genomics organization, with branches in the U.S. and Europe as well as a MOU with UW to advance precision medicine. While Kristi is still working with the Council on its transitioning to a new leader, she shares with us here about her own transition, including her decision on this move, her accomplishment at the Council, her new role at the Chinese company as well as in Seattle-Shenzhen relations that she helped to establish. Here in the interview we have been waiting for since August. (Go to full story.)

News: As Xi Jinping’s guests, Lincoln High students had a blast of a visit to China

Lincoln students in Hong KongBy Wen Liu   Oct. 22, 2016

As reported in many news outlets as well as education sites in China, led by their principal Patrick Erwin, a group of students from Lincoln High School of Tacoma just completed their 12-day whirlwind visit to China!

During his visit to Washington state and the school in September 2015, President Xi Jinping invited 100 students from Lincoln High to visit China. After a year of preparation and a process of applications and selections, 97 Abes along with 21 teachers and public school officials embarked on their once-in-a-lifetime trip to China on Oct. 8, with their travel expenses covered by the Chinese government, including airfare, plus donations from businesses. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Joseph Ho on mainland Chinese homebuyers contributing to Seattle's recovery, bringing values back up

Joseph HoBy Wen Liu   Oct. 11, 2016

With their pivoting away from Vancouver B.C. and its 15% tax on foreign national purchases, mainland Chinese homebuyers began zeroing in on Seattle with a deluge of inquiries, turning Seattle into their new No. 1 U.S. market. In a recent WCWD survey, respondents saw this new ranking of Seattle’s in various ways: good, bad, things would change with China’s slowing economy, or more measures of tracking needed, etc. Well, how does a real estate professional see it? Here we have Joseph Ho, Director of New Markets Development at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate, an award-winning 30-plus-year veteran in both residential and commercial markets, who has been interviewed about his work in the Seattle area by Bloomberg News, The Seattle Times, CCTV China News, and more. (Go to full story.)

Survey: Is it a good thing that Seattle becomes No. 1 U.S. market for mainland Chinese homebuyers?

Juwai.com screenshotBy Wen Liu   Sept. 28, 2016

The Seattle Times reported on Sept. 15 that Seattle had become the No. 1 U.S. market for homebuyers from China, based on the number of inquiries received in recent months by Juwai.com, China’s biggest real-estate site for buyers looking in North America. The inquiries accelerated after British Columbia introduced in July a 15% tax on foreign buyers of real estate in Metro Vancouver. In dollar amount, buyers from China bought about $1.6 billion in homes in Washington in 2015, still way behind California, New York and Texas. Chinese money, however, now accounts for about 55% of all homes purchased by foreigners in Washington. Considering that on the one hand, Washington welcomes foreign investment, on the other, foreign buying helps drive up home prices for locals, here is the question: Do you think it is a good thing or not that Seattle becomes the No. 1 U.S. market for mainland Chinese homebuyers, not only in number of inquiries but also in dollar amount someday, and why? (Go to full story.)

Interview: Dennis Bracy on U.S., China ratifying Paris Agreement, and other stories from Hangzhou G20 Summit

Dennis BracyBy Wen Liu   Sept. 19, 2016

Earlier this month, the 11th G20 Summit took place in Hangzhou, China, with the theme, “Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive,” and a communiqué on global economic recovery. The bigger story out of Hangzhou, however, was the ratifying by the U.S. and China of the Paris Agreement on climate change adopted by 195 countries last December. One person who knows anything about the agreement is Dennis Bracy, Chief Executive Officer of the US-China Clean Energy Forum based here in Seattle. While we were at it, Mr. Bracy also shared his views on what the media called a “snub” at President Obama at the Hangzhou airport. With his many years dealing with China beginning in the 1980s, Mr. Bracy also has his own understanding of the changing attitude on the part of China in their dealings with the United States. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Carson Tavenner on leading a Chinese youth summer leadership camp in Gobi Desert

Commander CarsonBy Wen Liu   Sept. 1, 2016

We all know how Carson Tavenner burst onto the Washington state-China scene in 2011 with The Tai Initiative, first reviving the dormant Washington State Sichuan Province Friendship Association, then organizing three regional conferences on subnational U.S.-China relations in three years, and also hosting an online forum as well as a podcast on China-related topics, etc. What we didn’t know is that Carson has started yet another initiative, or found an exciting, vigorous and military way to spend part of his summers: in the Gobi Desert in China with a special group of young Chinese called the Gobi Expeditionary Army (戈壁远征军). What was this youth army about? What did it do in the desert? What did Carson do and find out there? Here we have Carson Tavenner, fresh from the Gobi, with tales, and sweat, and a tan. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Eric Schinfeld on Washington state China trade, TPP, and Trump, Clinton trade rhetoric

Eric SchinfeldBy Wen Liu   Aug. 16, 2016

Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT) has been promoting the state’s international trade since 1973 and China trade since 1979. While Washington has done really well in China trade, running a surplus instead of a deficit, studies show millions of American jobs lost, including in Washington, since China’s WTO accession. So does Donald Trump have a point? Meanwhile, TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Council has been actively promoting, is now opposed by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. How is the Council reacting to that? With populism surging in this election year, would Washington’s trade be affected under a new president, either Trump or Clinton? For these and other questions, we have none other than Eric Schinfeld, president of WCIT and executive vice president of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. (Go to full story.)

News: Gary Locke, Chinese investors’ “Insider” advisor on American opportunities

Gary LockeBy Wen Liu   Aug. 8, 2016

He may not be speaking as America’s top diplomat to China anymore, Gary Locke is still busy speaking in China, as the senior advisor and consultant for Davis Wright Tremaine and principal of his own Locke Global Strategies. He may no longer be the celebrity American ambassador of Chinese descent, Locke is still a celebrity in China, as an “Insider” advisor on business, education and investment opportunities in the U.S.

Yes, insider, that was the choice of word in this recent headline in NetEase news: “Views from ‘Insider’ Gary Locke.” (Go to full story.)

Survey: What impact would next POTUS, Trump or Clinton, have on Washington’s China, international trade?

Trump, ClintonBy Wen Liu   Aug. 1, 2016

It’s now official, after two very different national conventions: Donald Trump is officially the Republican nominee for president of the United States and Hillary Clinton the Democrat nominee for the same. Knowing how Donald Trump has described China trade as rape and TPP a horrible deal and how Hillary Clinton also came to criticize China for not following WTO rules and oppose the TPP after first championing it, and knowing how Washington state depends on trade, with China as its largest trading partner, and how TPP has been promoted by business groups such as the Washington Council on International Trade and supported by a majority of members of our Congressional delegation, here is the question: What impact do you think the next POTUS, Trump or Clinton, would have on Washington state’s trade with China, with Asia Pacific, and as a whole, and why? (Go to full story.)

Interview: Mike Fowler on Tacoma's new and growing business and friendship ties with China

Mike Fowler in China, 2014By Wen Liu   June 28, 2016

Seattle and Tacoma may have ended their rivalry in port operations with The Northwest Seaport Alliance, when it comes to ties with China, however, the two might still be in a friendly competition. Seattleites may have seen their Mayor Ed Murray take a delegation to China in May with new ties formed with Shenzhen and Hangzhou, Tacomans had their Mayor Marilyn Strickland visit China in April with new relationships made in Wuhan and Shanghai. Not to forget that Tacoma beat Seattle in hosting Xi Jinping in 1993! To tell us more about the ever stronger ties Tacoma is forging with China as well as the April trip, here is Michael Fowler, Director of the World Trade Center Tacoma’s Fuzhou Trade Project and Senior Consultant to City of Tacoma on China Investment & Trade Program, who traveled to China with Mayor Strickland. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Ben Shobert on China's aging, senior care, challenges and opportunities

Ben ShobertBy Wen Liu   June 10, 2016

China’s population story is an ongoing drama, the one-child policy, the imbalanced sex ratio, now rapid aging: China’s great graying; China getting old before getting rich; China’s workforce shrinking; the two-child policy too little too late, etc. So much so that President Xi Jinping himself used three superlatives recently to describe China’s elder population: largest, fastest growing, toughest to cope with. For Benjamin Shobert, a rising star among Washington's China Hands, Xi could have used a fourth: biggest senior care market. As Managing Director of Rubicon Strategy Group and a Forbes columnist on healthcare among other titles, Ben has been working in the senior care sector in China and SE Asia. Here is how Ben sees China’s aging population as well as challenges and opportunities it presents. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Shana Bestock on little Seattle Public Theater play taking on big China dissident politics

Shana BestockBy Wen Liu   May 26, 2016

When we say China watching, we do not usually think theaters, American theaters, not to say a local one like Seattle Public Theater. But that is about to change. Seattle Public Theater is presenting its fans with a new China-themed play, Caught, as the last show of its 2015-2016 Mainstage season. But the play does not just have any China theme, it is political China theme. It is also not just any political theme, but the very sensitive kind, of dissident, art, protest and prison. It was almost as if stumbling upon a quiet yet exciting conspiracy when walking into such an explosive show at the Bathhouse on the tranquil banks of Green Lake. What is going on? Why such a show, at this time? What is behind it? To solve this theatrical mystery on Chinese politics, we have Shana Bestock, Artistic & Education Director of Seattle Public Theater. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Sidney Rittenberg on Cultural Revolution 50 years later, its violence, its lessons

Sidney RittenbergBy Wen Liu   May 12, 2016

This website was not meant to be this political. But one cannot watch China and skip a historic date, May 16, the 50th anniversary of the official start of the Cultural Revolution from 1966-1976, which served as perhaps more than anything dark, scorched, bloody yet fertile soil for, as well as a huge rear-view mirror of, today’s China of skyscrapers, bullet trains, Xi Jinping, and even Internet censorship. One cannot also watch China and forget that it was in 1972, during the Cultural Revolution, that President Nixon went to meet Mao in Beijing. To help us reflect on the Cultural Revolution, its meaning, its violence, its lessons, there is no better person than a great fellow Washingtonian, journalist, scholar, a participant as well as a prisoner of not only the Cultural Revolution, but for 35 years Mao’s revolution: Sidney Rittenberg. (Go to full story.)

Interview: John Boesche on Chinese visitors to Seattle, and yes, they spend

John BoescheBy Wen Liu   May 8, 2016

You probably remember back in 2013 when the hit Chinese movie “Beijing Meets Seattle” first came out, especially how it served as perhaps the best, and free, advertisement for Seattle as a tourist destination to viewers in China. It attracted not only Chinese tourists, but also home buyers and business investors. How did the Chinese tourists do last year? What about this year? 2016 is a special year for Greater Seattle tourism, not only because it is the U.S.-China Tourism Year as designated by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, but also because of the recent release of “Beijing Meets Seattle 2.” To find out more about Chinese tourists and Seattle, we have none other than the Director of Tourism Development at Visit Seattle, Seattle and King County’s official tourism marketing agency, John Boesche, who was in Beijing last November promoting Seattle. (Go to full story.)

Survey: Is it important to reflect on the Cultural Revolution 50 years later?

Cultural Revolution stamp.By Wen Liu  Apr. 28, 2016

May 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the start of China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, known as the “ten year catastrophe.” Not much has been written on the topic in China’s official media except one article in March in Global Times (环球时报), which has now mysteriously become inaccessible. The article warned people not to go extreme in either trying to reevaluate the Cultural Revolution more positively or repudiate it more completely. Considering that the Cultural Revolution was not only a big part of China’s history, but also a big part of U.S. relations with China, as President Nixon as well as Washington state leaders Sen. Warren Magnuson, Sen. Henry Jackson, Governor Dan Evans and others first went to China in the 1970s when the Cultural Revolution was still going on, here is the question: Do you think it is important to reflect on the Cultural Revolution 50 years later as it helps the understanding of China as well as Xi Jinping’s policies today, and why? (Go to full story.)

Survey: What does Panama Papers’ revelation say about Chinese leaders?

Global Times says Panama Papers 'fabricated.'By Wen Liu  Apr. 11, 2016

One of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s signature political moves is his intense, three-year-long and on-going anti-corruption campaign, with tens of thousands of government officials investigated, disciplined or prosecuted, not to say those who committed suicide in fear of punishment. Now the Panama Papers have revealed links of secrete offshore companies to family members of top Chinese leaders, including Xi Jinping himself and other current and former members of the Politburo Standing Committee. So here is the question: Do you think this says more about the hypocrisy of the Communist Party or the futility of the one-party system trying to rid itself of corruption? (Go to full story.)

Interview: Bill Abnett on whether China is killing US in trade

Bill AbnettBy Wen Liu  Apr. 8, 2016

We’ve heard so many times from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that “China is killing us,” that China trade is “not free trade; it's stupid trade,” etc. Even though Census Bureau figure for U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China in 2015 was $365.7 billion, not $500 billion as Trump would say, it was still at a record high. So is China trade killing the U.S.? How should we view the huge U.S. trade deficit with China? Or job losses attributed to Chinese imports? And, as we are in an election year, would a Trump or Hillary presidency affect Washington state’s trade with China or Asia? To help us understand these and more is Bill Abnett, Senior Advisor to The National Bureau of Asian Research, chief China trade negotiator under President Ronald Reagan, and past executive director of the Washington State China Relations Council. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Robert Hamilton on understanding Washington state’s exports to China amidst China’s economic slowdown

Robert HamiltonBy Wen Liu   Mar. 14, 2016

At the National People’s Congress in Beijing recently, Premier Li Keqiang announced the new target of China’s economic growth for 2016: 6.5%-7.0%. That would be in keeping with China’s growth of last year at 6.9%, the slowest in 25 years, said the Wall Street Journal. 2015 also saw China’s exports and imports fall, by 2.8% and 14.2% respectively, reported Bloomberg News. What does that mean for Washington state, with China as its largest trading partner? In 2014, the state’s exports to China totaled $20.7 billion. Last year, it was $19.5 billion. Is there a connection between China’s slowing and the dip in state’s exports to China? What does the $19.5 billion actually mean? Helping us understand it all is Robert Hamilton, Governor Inslee’s Advisor for Trade Policy, who has advised governors on trade issues, agreements and legislation for over seventeen years. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Yulin Rittenberg on the bitter and the sweet of life, China, U.S. and Communist Party

Yulin RittenbergBy Wen Liu   Mar. 2, 2016

Many of us have read “The Man Who Stayed Behind" by Sidney Rittenberg who lived through Mao’s revolution, and jail, in China. Now Yulin Wang Rittenberg (王玉琳), the woman behind “the man who stayed behind,” has presented us with her own book, “After the Bitter Comes the Sweet.” As they say, behind every great man there is a great woman, Yulin is the ultimate embodiment of that woman. On Feb. 25, Yulin along with her husband was among speakers at the Wang Center Symposium “Countenance of Hope” at the Pacific Lutheran University. She reflected on her life, the hardship, the love, and most of all, the triumph of sweetness over bitterness, happiness over unhappiness. Here in the pages of WA China Watch Digest, Mrs. Rittenberg kindly responds to a few more questions about her book, her life, China, U.S., and the Communist Party. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Dan Harris on China’s “money moving” problems, effects on business, investment in Washington

Dan HarrisBy Wen Liu   Feb. 23, 2016

Not that Dan Harris really needs it, but his China Law Blog just got an even wider readership, or publicity, over the past week. One of his recent posts on China’s money moving problems caught the attention of not only the editors of the Wall Street Journal, but also publishers of major news outlets in China, from the government-owned Global Times to the popular micro-blogging site Sina Weibo. Why? In this particular post, Harris talked about how a Chinese company had approached him for help with a clever idea of moving money to the U.S. What was the company really trying to do? What’s happening with China’s money? Harris has certainly got an interesting story to tell and an illustrative way to help us understand China’s capital outflow or flight that is much talked about these days and any effects on Washington state companies. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Interview: Hyeok Kim on Shenzhen, China, her December visit there, and Mayor Ed Murray's in May

Hyeok KimBy Wen Liu  Feb. 16, 2016

As Seattle’s first female, Asian American, and very possibly the youngest, deputy mayor, Hyeok Kim has impressed not only her boss Mayor Ed Murray or Seattleites or Asian Americans, but also the people of Shenzhen, China. Early last December, she took a Seattle delegation to the fishing-village-turned industrial powerhouse and metropolis, her smiling face graced the pages of a number of Chinese media reports. Recently, while speaking at the annual banquet of the Washington State China Relations Council, she revealed that Mayor Murray would be vising Shenzhen, too, in May this year. So why did Hyeok Kim visit Shenzhen in the first place? Why is Mayor Murray visiting Shenzhen? What kind of relationship Seattle has with Shenzhen? For these and other questions, WA China Watch Digest presents Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim: (Go to full story.)

Interview: Bart Fite on China Club of Seattle and its centennial celebration

Bart FiteBy Wen Liu  Feb. 8, 2016

Not many organizations, not to say China-related, can say that they are celebrating their centennial. But the China Club of Seattle is unlike any other and IS celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the Year of the Monkey. Try if you can wrap your head around it: when the Club was founded in 1916, the United States was in the depth of enforcing the Chinese Exclusion Act while China experienced a return to a monarchy under Yuan Shikai. It may not be big, but the China Club of Seattle sure has history. What was the Club like in those early years of the 20th century? How has it changed with the change of “China”? And what is it doing to celebrate its big B-Day? For these and other questions, we have Bart Fite, president of the China Club of Seattle, who is, fortunately, much younger than 100 years. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Kristi Heim looking back on Xi Jinping's visit to Washington state and her two years leading the China Council

Kristi HeimBy Wen Liu   Feb. 1, 2016

In January 2014, Kristi Heim, once the award-winning journalist at the Seattle Times, took over as the president of the Washington State China Relations Council. It seemed to be in her fate that she would arrive at the helm of the Council at that moment: her years of China-related study and work, a deep family connection, with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all born in China, and, waiting for her on the horizon, two historic events for the Council: the 35th anniversary in 2014 and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in 2015. Now with the Council’s 36th annual banquet just wrapped up, Kristi finally had a little time to talk, about her job, Xi Jinping’s visit, and more. Don’t forget, Kristi used to be a professional writer/interviewer, now let’s see how Kristi is doing in this interview with her on the other side of the table. (Go to full story.)

Survey: Did Bill Gates make the right decision to sell Tiananmen images to China?

Corbis Tank Man sreenshotBy Wen Liu   Jan. 29, 2016

On Jan. 22, Bill Gates sold a large image archive owned by Corbis, his Seattle-based digital media company, to Visual China Group of Beijing. Among the images sold are those of the Tiananmen protests of 1989, including the iconic Tank Man, a young man standing in front of a column of tanks. According to CNN Money, Corbis said that the company carefully considered the future stewardship of the images and that selling the images would help it transition into an advertising agency focused on placing products in movies, TV and online. Considering that Tiananmen 1989 is a censored subject in China, WA China Watch Digest asked our China-watchers and readers this question: Do you think Bill Gates made the right decision to sell those Tiananmen images to a Chinese company? (Go to full story.)

News: Stan Barer gave talk at Beijing University on China’s urgent need of air rescue service

Stan Barer in Beijing, Dec. 2015 Source: XinhuaBy Wen Liu   Jan. 18, 2016

Ever since the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, according to CAAC News, there has been a growing call in China for air emergency rescue service.

Stan Barer, a veteran China hand and pioneer in Washington state’s relations with China, is blazing new trails for that need.

As Xinhua reported that last month, December 2015, Barer visited Beijing, a city he has returned to many times since 1975 when he first broke ground there on the resumption of U.S.-China bilateral shipping. His law firm Garvey Schubert Barer also has a Beijing office. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Mark Wen on Seattle Children's Hospital and its new alliance with China

Mark Wen in Beijing, Nov. 2015By Wen Liu   Jan. 7, 2016

Seattle Children’s Hospital is the pediatric medical center of the region that includes Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho and ranked 6th in the top ten children’s hospitals in the U.S. That, however, is obviously not enough. Children’s is going global and going to China. Heading that effort is Mark Wen, its new Vice President & Director for Global Business Development & International Medical Services since Jan. 2015. Mark, one success story among the China-born Chinese Americans in the Seattle area, was previously the Director of International Marketing at the Port of Seattle. By moving to the Children’s, Mark in fact returned to the health industry he had been in before. Last November, Mark and two of his colleagues from the Children’s visited Beijing and engaged in a number of events with local medical institutions. What did they do? What is Children’s up to in China? Let’s find out. (Go to full story).

Year-end special: Top ten Washington state-China stories of 2015

By Wen Liu   Dec. 30, 2015

WA China Watch Digest is new and small, but would like to start a tradition of a year-end countdown of the top ten news stories of Washington state and China. Here is the first attempt, with 2015:

JBLM10: First group of People’s Liberation Army soldiers visited Washington

In a Disaster Management Exchange program, about 80 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army of China spent three days in November on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It was the first bilateral training exchange between and U.S. Army Pacific and the Chinese army in humanitarian aid and disaster response missions. (Go to full story).

News: Most fun WA-Sichuan story of 2015: Seattleite in Chengdu wows China with flawless, jaw-dropping local dialect

Jian Nan of Chengdu from Seattle. Source: Guancha.cnBy Wen Liu   Dec. 22, 2015

Earlier in December, Chinese news site Guancha and a number of other online news outlets in China all carried the same story about how a Seattle man living in Chengdu, Sichuan, Washington state’s sister province, could speak flawless local dialect, as good as the hotpot, as one description went.

The news sites posted screen shots of this young man from Seattle as he appeared on a Chinese TV show along with a number of other non-Chinese guests. His name card showed the characters of his Chinese name to be 江喃, pronounced Jiang Nan. He was participating in a program called “World Young People Talk” hosted by a Jiangsu television station. For each session, the program would invite 11 guests from various countries along with a Chinese star to talk about things that young people in China cared about. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Robert Kapp on WA-China relations, Xi Jinping's Seattle stop, and U.S.-China relations

Robert Kapp in BeijingBy Wen Liu   Dec. 11, 2015

Robert Kapp is probably the only China hand to have reached prominence in both this and the other Washington. He once told me that back in the late 1980s, after twenty-some years in the China field since graduate school, he wanted to take a break. And he did, luckily for us, not too long. The fact is that from earning his Ph.D. in Modern Chinese History and then teaching it at the UW to taking on the executive directorship of a “start-up” like the Washington State China Relations Council in 1979 to leading the US-China Business Council in D.C. from 1994-2004 and to recent years back in this Washington speaking, writing and consulting on U.S.-China relations and business, Kapp has been in the China field, often at the forefront, for more than four decades.

WA China Watch Digest is proudly presenting this interview with Dr. Kapp on the state’s relations with China, on Xi Jinping’s Seattle stop, and on the big picture of U.S.-China relations. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Discovering “new” Washington state-China history with George Duff

George Duff in his officeBy Wen Liu   Nov. 23, 2015

Over the years learning and researching about Washington state and China, I had come to believe that the first trade group from our state to go to China was WCIT, the Washington Council on International Trade, in May of 1979, followed by the first state trade mission led by Governor Dixy Lee Ray in September the same year. Alas, all the time, I had been missing a big story.

To welcome President Xi Jinping to the region last September, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce had a short and quiet “Down Memory Lane” post on its website, stating that the Chamber had sent the state’s first business group to China in 1977. 1977? Two years before the normalization! What an exciting "find" of a "hidden" Washington-China story! (Go to full story.)

Survey: Should Washingtonians care about China’s human rights and Internet censorship while doing business with China?

China Human Rights Exhibition. Source: Chaoxing via BaiduBy Wen Liu   Nov. 2, 2015

In his recent visit to the United Kingdom, China’s President Xi Jinping received royal treatment and signed £40bn of business deals. Tom Wright, director of the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings, however, was critical of the message sent: “… that commerce and economic co-operation is the only metric that will guide the UK’s policy towards China.”

That takes us back to President Xi’s business-packed events in Seattle in September. Only one local article, by Pete Jackson at the Crosscut, raised the issue of China’s human rights: “Welcome, President Xi. Now about those dissidents…" In the meantime, the “Freedom on the Net 2015” report ranked China last of 65 countries, behind Syria and Iran. (Go to full story.)

Survey: Was Seattle being used by Xi Jinping to counter Washington D.C.?

Xis arriving in SeattleBy Wen Liu   Oct. 12, 2015

On Sept. 19th, a couple days before Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Seattle as his first stop on his state visit to the United States, The Seattle Times had this headline: "Once again a Chinese leader uses Seattle as counterpoint to D.C." So were we being used?

To a get a sense on that, WCWD conducted a one-question survey with a number of our China hands, watchers and practitioners, asking each of them this same question: Do you agree with that Seattle Times headline and why?

The following are some of the answers in the order they were received. (Go to full story.)

News: State legislators writing a letter to President Xi Jinping to bring pandas to Washington

Sichuan pandasBy Wen Liu   Oct. 7, 2015

Hidden amidst a sea of stories of business and technology events surrounding Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit here last month was a quiet yet exciting gem: former governor of Washington John Spellman presented a letter to President Xi when they met at the Lincoln High School in Tacoma. The letter was signed by a number of state legislators expressing their hope to bring native pandas from China to Washington state. The legislators mentioned the state's long, special and positive relations with China, especially Sichuan, Washington’s sister province since 1982 and home of the pandas, the establishment of the Washington State Panda Foundation, and how hosting two pandas would further expanding the interaction between Washington and Sichuan. Here is the full text of that letter, courtesy of Senator Steve Litzow. (Go to full story.)

Interview: Prof. Greg Youtz on Xi Jinping's legendary connection to Tacoma

Greg YoutzBy Wen Liu   Sept. 1, 2015

Of all the pairs of sister cities Washington state has with China, Tacoma-Fuzhou is the only one that has a connection with Xi Jinping, China’s president. In October 1994, The News Tribune of Tacoma had this headline, "Fuzhou, China, is added to Tacoma’s family." Who was the Communist Party chief of Fuzhou then? Xi Jinping! Now President Xi is embarking on his state visit to the United States and will stop over in Washington state from September 21-23, including possibly Tacoma. What better time to learn more about Tacoma’s relations with Fuzhou and Xi Jinping? Who better can help us with that than Professor Greg Youtz of Pacific Lutheran University, who serves as the chair of the Fuzhou Sister City Committee? (Go to full story.)

(For more information on major events in Washington state-China relations, go to WA China Chronicle.)