Welcome back to the Sinica Podcast, a roundtable on current affairs in China featuring China-watchers from a wide range of backgrounds. In this week's installment host Kaiser Kuo talks about China's delicate maneuvering in the Middle East, as well as the recent health scandals to emerge around the vaccination of children in Shanxi and Jiangsu. Our guests this week include Bill Bishop, a tech entrepreneur and blogger at DigiCha.com and Sinocism.com, along with public relations expert William Moss, who writes the blog Imagethief.com.

This week: how should we interpret signs that China may be preparing for an about-turn on Iranian sanctions? Have recent Israeli visits hardened Beijing's position, or are we seeing quid pro quo linked to American pressure on currency manipulation and upcoming nuclear disarmament talks? And what is going on with the vaccination crises in Shanxi and Jiangsu? Are we seeing the first stages of another major public relations crisis, or does evidence point to this blowing over quickly?

Be sure to give us your take on things either in the comment section, or by writing us at sinica@popupchinese.com. And two extra notes. First, remember that you can download all of our Sinica podcasts through iTunes automatically by subscribing using our special RSS feed for the show. To get things working, open up iTunes, click the "Advanced" menu and select "Subscribe to Podcast". When prompted, copy the URL "http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica" into the box. Secondly, if you'd prefer to listen to this podcast elsewhere than through our onsite flash player, you can download this podcast as a standalone mp3 file.
 said on
April 9, 2010
On the oil front, I'd be skeptical anyone is really eager to take Iranian production offline except Israel. Mainstream energy analysts are starting to take peak oil seriously (assuming production hasn't already peaked), and with little evidence Saudi Arabia can spike production by increasing its rate of extraction from Ghawar, where is the extra oil going to come from?

On Bill's point - I've also heard reputable people argue that an uncontrolled float would likely send the RMB down not up. I think Yasheng Huang was making this argument too. It seems to center on the claim that much of the capital getting low returns in the Chinese stock and real estate markets would flow out of the country in search of better returns abroad. Private holders of RMB would presumably also want to diversify into other currencies. Which would give the RMB an immediate and significant depreciation within a short time after floating as wealth flowed out of the country and then a gradual lift over time.

Also, I don't see how the Chinese government can relax its currency controls without crushing the real estate bubble.

 said on
April 13, 2010
This season of the TV show "24" has been focused, to date, on a fictional Islamic state which is clearly meant to be Iran. The various stereotypes used are an interesting indication of US public attitudes towards Iran (with some Canadian inflections, since the show has a good deal of Cdn. direction).
 said on
April 24, 2010
I would think that another reason China would be hesitant to support sanctions is it's stance on sovereignty. The Chinese government is very careful joining any international regime which takes actions against governments which defy international norms/law. The CCP itself is a government which could be (and one could argue, should be) held more accountable by the global community.

If one looks at China's business with overseas governments, it are very careful to disassociate themselves from anything political, and make all of it's dealings purely about business. It's easier (and more profitable) to develop and spread a norm of international relations that is 'harmonious' and non-political
 said on
April 25, 2010
@odchase Absolutely, that's certainly one of the reasons that China opposes Iran sanctions, and one of the principles undergirding China's foreign policy positions much of the time. I think probably the reason that we didn't bring it up is perhaps that all of the guests sort of assumed it as a given. But you're right that the point was one worth making, and I certainly agree with your characterization of China's efforts to consistently delink business from politics, as well as your suggestion that China is itself vulnerable to such linkages for its own behavior that runs counter to international norms. Thanks for your feedback!
Mark Lesson Studied