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Home > News > Tipsheet List > Tipsheet
Experts Tipsheet

China tipsheet

With China hosting the 2008 Olympic Games, the public has a growing appetite for expert perspective on the complex and often misunderstood country from its history and culture to its politics and economy. UC Irvine faculty can provide that perspective.

July 2008





Cultural Impact of Globalization on China

“The Beijing Olympics will give the world an opportunity to learn a lot about China. What I worry about is that we may be tempted to put what we learn into the oversimplified categories that have often shaped American perceptions of China.” — Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Jeffrey Wasserstrom is an expert on contemporary social, cultural and political issues in China, and has traveled, taught and studied extensively in the country over the last 20 years. A professor of history, he is the author of China’s Brave New World – And Other Tales for Global Times. The collection of essays focuses on the cultural significance of globalization, such as the opening of Starbucks and McDonald’s franchises there. He can provide insight into how America’s perceptions of China have evolved. Wasserstrom writes regularly for China Beat, a popular blog covering Chinese culture, the Beijing Olympics and Chinese/Tibetan relations among other topics. Wasserstrom has consulted on two award-winning documentaries, “The Gate of Heavenly Peace” and “Morning Sun” about the People’s Republic of China. He has written for Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times and the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal. Contact Wasserstrom at 949-824-0391 or

Growing Social Inequality in China

“Beneath the surface of steel and glass skyscrapers and fancy shopping centers, visitors likely will observe the rising social and economic inequality that China is creating. Much hope and hype is placed on the 2008 Olympics, but people also wonder: What comes afterward?” — Wang Feng

Wang Feng, professor and sociology chair at UCI, studies China’s social and demographic changes. His current research focuses on the demographic dilemmas facing China after more than two decades of the one-child policy, such as the shrinking workforce, skyrocketing senior citizen population and disproportionate numbers of men to women. Additionally, Wang is interested in China’s rising social and economic inequalities, and is the author of Boundaries and Categories: Rising Inequality in Post-socialist Urban China and co-editor of Creating Wealth and Poverty in Post-socialist China. Contact Wang at 949-824-1417 or

Evolution of the One-Child Policy

Anthropologist Susan Greenhalgh is considered a leading world expert on China’s one-child policy and its implications for society, politics and international standing. Her book, Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng’s China, documents the instrumental role a handful of Chinese missile scientists played in the policy’s formation. She co-authored Governing China’s Population: From Leninist to Neoliberal Biopolitics, which documents the evolution of the population policy, including the “softening” in enforcement after the millennium. Now a professor of anthropology at UCI, Greenhalgh previously worked for the Population Council, a third-world development think tank. Contact Greenhalgh at


Industrialization and the Environment –

“Industrialization is always a dirty process, no matter where you do it. Unfortunately, China is industrializing on an enormous scale, and at a time when better, cleaner technologies exist. But they are expensive, and the question is, who will pay for it? Is China going to pay for it? Is the rest of the world going to help? Or will we just argue about it while the world gets hotter and hotter?” — Kenneth Pomeranz

Kenneth Pomeranz, Chancellor’s Professor of History, researches labor, rural society, environmental change and economic development in China. He says visitors at the Beijing Olympics will see that city officials have tried to clean up pollution for the Games but warns that Beijing does not represent necessarily urban life in other Chinese cities. It’s not infrequent for cities in Northern China to disappear from satellite images for days at a time because of air pollution. Pomeranz’s publications include The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy, which looks at why sustained industrial growth began in northwestern Europe rather than East Asia. Pomeranz also has researched the history of popular religion in China. He is working on a book about the history of Chinese political economy as well as a book about the goddess of Taishan, a once-popular deity who is today almost unknown outside of rural Northern China. An ancient temple to the goddess was unearthed during construction of the Olympic Village. Pomeranz is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science and also writes for the China Beat blog, named one of the “Best of the China Blogs” by the Wall Street Journal. Contact Pomeranz at 949-824-5169 or

China as a Global Economic Threat

“While American politicians, policymakers and journalists remain dangerously preoccupied with events in the Middle East, China has emerged, largely unchallenged, as an economic superpower with an ever-growing ability to exert significant influence over U.S. economic, financial and political institutions.” — Peter Navarro

Peter Navarro is an economics professor at The Merage School of Business and author of The Coming China Wars: Where They Will Be Fought, How They Can Be Won. His expertise includes U.S.-China trade policy and unfair trading practices such as currency manipulation; energy and natural resources; counterfeiting and piracy; pollution issues related to the Olympics; Chinese militarization; and Chinese space exploration. His op-ed articles have appeared in Barron's, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post. He has appeared on major network news shows and CNN and is a regular CNBC contributor. Contact Navarro at 949-357-9330 or

Political Forces that Drive China’s Economy

“One of the paradoxes of the Beijing Olympics is that it provides lots of new jobs in construction and tourism, but at the same time, the government will try to push unemployed migrants out of the city because they don’t want beggars on the street during the Games.” — Dorothy Solinger

Dorothy Solinger, political science professor, has written on political aspects of economic reform, migration and unemployment in China. She says the Olympic Games present numerous issues with possible paradoxical outcomes: Beijing’s pollution is being cleaned up for the Games, but the events will add more traffic and congestion; tourism will boost the economy, but billions are being spent on preparation; the international spotlight may boost China’s prestige, but actions on the part of the government that are viewed as human rights violations have attracted high-profile international press. In 2001, Solinger won the Joseph R. Levenson Prize from the Association for Asian Studies for the best book on 20th century China, Contesting Citizenship in Urban China. Contact Solinger at 949-824-7521 or


America’s Cultural Connections with China

“Economic growth and anticipation of the 2008 Games have allowed people to overlook problems such as unemployment and growing dissatisfaction in rural areas. The Olympics’ lasting impact on China remains uncertain.” — Yong Chen

History professor Yong Chen's expertise includes the Pacific Rim and Chinese American history, with a focus on cultural and socioeconomic exchanges between China and the U.S. He can address such diverse topics as ethnic cuisine, education and financial investments. He is working on a book about the cultural significance of ethnic food in the United States. In 2005, he served as curator for a New York exhibit about the history of Chinese restaurants in America. Chen also studies educational exchanges between China and the U.S., including why top-performing students from China are attracted to American higher education. He contributes to the China Beat blog, written and edited by fellow UC Irvine history faculty and graduate students. Chen serves as a senior research follow at Peking University, and has contributed to major Chinese media outlets in the U.S. such as World Journal and ETTV . Contact Chen at 949-824-6920 or

Globalization of Traditional Chinese Medicine

“China has been pushing for a new image on the world stage, and the reinvention and globalization of Chinese medicine have been part of China’s effort to get on track with the world.” — Mei Zhan

Mei Zhan
, anthropology assistant professor, studies how Chinese medicine is being used around the world. Her forthcoming book, Other-Worldly: Making Chinese Medicine through Encounters, follows the popularization of the use of acupuncture and herbal medicine to prevent malaria in third-world countries during the late 20th century. It also explores the practices’ more recent ascent in the U.S. as treatment for stress and chronic pain. Chinese medicine also has become popular among the middle class in cosmopolitan areas such as Shanghai, where the traditional treatments had been marginalized by Western medicine. Zhan recently was awarded $5,000 from Taiwan’s Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation to support publication of her book. Contact Zhan at 949-824-8167 or

Additional resources:

UC Irvine’s Center for Asian Studies brings together 40 faculty members from a range of academic disciplines – religion to anthropology, literature to politics – who specialize in China, Japan, Korea, India or Southeast Asia. For a list of faculty affiliated with the center, visit:


Laura Rico


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