This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Damien Ma, author of In Line Behind a Billion People, a new book for China-watchers by Ma and William Adams, looking at how China's lack of affordable housing, its food and air pollution, the country's poor education system as well as its pervasive "moral scarcity" are going to affect global politics as well as China's own modernization drive over the next twenty years.

For those who haven't heard of our guest yet, Damien Ma is a Fellow at The Paulson Institute and previously a lead China analyst at the Eurasia Group, where he specialized in China's energy and commodities markets, industrial policy, relations with America, and social and Internet policies. Before joining the Eurasia Group, Ma managed publications for the US-China Business Council in Washington. He has written for The Atlantic Monthly online and has been published in a number of prominent journals including Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Slate, and Foreign Policy.

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 said on
March 2, 2014
(Links provided only for recommendations until time allows for a full list.)


Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House by Peter Baker


BBC global news - 22nd February PM addition (Link goes to main show page; just click “all episodes” to reach Feb 22. Episodes only available for 30 days after broadcast.)

HARDtalk (BBC) with Stephen Sackur


Ministry of Harmony

 said on
March 3, 2014
Damien - you are now officially my Sinica podcast hero for throwing some questions in there!

Kaiser's rebuttal on Japan was awesomely concise as well.

Great podcast guys.
 said on
March 4, 2014
Report in the WSJ on sources of pollution in Beijing...
 said on
March 4, 2014

Ouch... only four percent is from automobiles? Reading the pollution indexes for the last few months has made me quite glad to be based in Shenzhen. It is no picnic here, but lower than 120 most days, if only thanks to the ocean.
 said on
March 7, 2014
+ 1 for rwsavoy.

As to discussion, bleak, indeed. It is unreasonable to expect China to do what the West never did – both develop and be environmentally sound as they do so. On the other hand, neither China nor the world can afford a developing China that isn't environmentally sound..

The solution is obvious: if China is unable to do it alone then it is in the interests of the global community to aid China to develop in ways that are environmentally sane. What other solution is there?

There are, no doubt, numerous major problems with this as an answer. For instance, politics will intervene and it will be hard for the West to resist linking cooperation on environmental issues with seeking certain benefits in return. This will likely lead China to reject meaningful assistance. I would bet this scenario is playing itself out already.

It may be that it's not even possible to significantly impact China's environmental issues. Perhaps the scale of China's development - and attendant damage on the environment - is simply too huge to deal with. Or, more to the point, the country and party too caught up in the insoluble contradictions that arise when power is unable to put rationality ahead of self-preservation. The only solution then is to barrel forward and trust that some awesome technology/ies will emerge to save the day. Or the next ascension.

The recent talk and discussion of her book 'The Sixth Extinction' by Elizabeth Kolbert has much that is relevant to this podcast here. Not least the black and quixotian anecdote on giving hand-jobs to crows the author begins her talk with.

Mark Lesson Studied