This week on Sinica: China makes an about-face on Libya, we discuss a recent controversy in Beijing's arts community over independent filmmaker Zhao Liang, and get an on-the-ground update on the state of China's South-North Water Diversion Project: a little-publicized infrastructure effort that already dwarfs the Three Gorges Dam in both its human and environmental impact.

And we're lucky to have an incredible line-up of guests. Joining Kaiser Kuo in our studio this week is Ed Wong from the New York Times, whose recent profile of independent filmmaker Zhao Liang sets the stage for our discussion today. Kathleen McLaughlin from the Global Post is also here, fresh back in Beijing from a trip to Shaanxi to investigate the state of China's plans to redirect southern water to the country's parched north. We are also lucky to be joined by Sinica-stalwart Will Moss of Imagethief fame.

This week's recommendations from the host and guests of the Sinica podcast:
Kathleen recommends animal rights charity Animal Asia.

Ed recommends his favorite Zhao Liang films Crime and Punishment (Zuì Yǔ Fá) and Petition (Shàng Fǎng) as well as Jia Zhangke's documentary Still Life (Sǎn Xiá Hǎo Rén).

Will recommends Guardian Asia environment correspondent and former Sinica guest Jonathan Watts' book on environmental impact, policy, and realities in China When A Billion Chinese Jump.

Kaiser "recommends" with caveats Sir Edmund Trelawney Backhouse's China memoir Décadence Mandchoue and recommends sincerely Hugh Trevor-Roper's biography of Edmund Backhouse, The Hermit of Peking.

Finally, for an interesting take on "filming a filmmaker," check out visual journalist Jonah Kessel's account of filming Zhao Liang for Ed's New York Times profile here.

Enjoy Sinica? Get on-the-ground commentary on all things China fresh in your MP3 player each week by signing up for a Popup Chinese account and subscribing to the Sinica show. Alternately, you can also download this show as a standalone MP3 file, or signup manually through iTunes by selecting "Subscribe to Podcast" from the Advanced file menu, and providing the URL when prompted. Enjoy the show, and let us know if you run into any problems.
 said on
August 27, 2011
the comment by Kaiser kuo on the 30000 chinese in Libya been mostly oil workers is not true. they were mostly working in the construction sector building roads and cheap housings for the locals. if you do some research into the matter you'll know that china have never had a good relationship with gadaffi, the colonel was a close friend of taiwan, he received military training there in the 1960's. in 2006 the colonel hosted chen shuibian in tripoli, no other country in the world who have diplomatic relations with china have done that, and we all know who chen is.

On top of that gadaffi have on more than one occasion accused and condemned china for been the new colonialist in africa. the Libyans have never rewarded chinese oil companies with a single contract, even the construction works were mostly subcontracted to the chinese by western companies in Libya. There is no direct investment by chinese government/companies in Libya, not that they don't want to but it's impossible to deal with gadaffi. for the chinese no matter who takes over Libya it's going to be better than the colonel.
 said on
August 27, 2011

Interesting points. Funny to think that Gadaffi alienated himself from both the US *and* China. And certainly helps explain why China seems to have been so quick to roll over on this.
 said on
August 30, 2011
 said on
September 4, 2011
I just ordered a Zhao Liang box set (Petition la cour des plaignants, Crime et chatiment and Paper airplane) off It's €30 for those of you with a Region 2 DVD player if you can either read French subtitles or understand the original Chinese. Thanks for the recommendation guys and keep up the good work.
Mark Lesson Studied