MSSU China Semester

Lectures and Presentations

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In the Eye of the Hurricane
9:30 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Shaomin Li

Dr. Shaomin Li will take the audience through China’s modern history, blended with his experience as a farm boy, artist, a participant in the post-Mao reform, a student activist in the pro-democracy movement, a founding CEO of an IT firm, a political prisoner of China, and a scholar of international political economy. The lecture will discuss the causes and consequences of China’s “Great Leap Forward” from a revolutionary state to a red capitalist society, and its impact on the U.S. and the world. Historical and personal photos and art works by Dr. Li will be shown.

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Why China Thrives Despite Corruption
11:00 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Shaomin Li

It is commonly believed that corruption distorts the allocation of resources by diverting much-needed capital from economic development into corrupt officials’ pockets. Thus high-level corruption in a country is considered detrimental to its economic growth. However, some countries such as China have achieved rapid economic growth in spite of rampant corruption. Dr. Shaomin Li will describe how China is best known for its culture and practice of guanxi, which refers to the informal social networks based on the private relationships among people. In China, due to the monopoly of most economic resources by the government, corruption is rampant. The widely accepted view in China is that “power cannot be deposited in a bank, so you had better profit from it while you can.”

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The Rise of China in the 21st Century Through Sport
10:00 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speakers: MSSU volleyball team

The MSSU volleyball team, which toured Shanghai and Beijing in May, will share its experiences and discuss how China is using the platform of sports and recreation to influence the world and to shape the culture of 1.4 billion people within its borders.

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Two Worlds, Single Country: The Rural and Urban Divide in China
9:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 7, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. John Kennedy

While the level of per-capita income and economic opportunities has increased dramatically for all Chinese over the last two decades, the rural and urban divide continues to grow. The “rural and urban gap” includes vast differences in the quality of life such as educational opportunities and access to basic public services. Moreover, beyond the rural and urban distinctions there are also huge disparities within rural and urban communities. Many scholars and policy makers suggest these growing inequalities may contribute to greater social unrest and instability. Thus, reducing this gap may be one of the most important challenges for the Chinese central leadership.

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Democratizing or Legitimizing the Authoritarian Regime: Political Reform in China Since 1989
11:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 7, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. John Kennedy

While it is clear that China is currently governed by a single party authoritarian regime, a number of limited political reforms have been introduced over the last two decades. The most notable reforms are local elections for village leaders in the countryside (grassroots democracy) and laws that allow individuals to sue local government agencies and officials. The intent of the central leadership is not to democratize China. Instead, these reforms are meant to serve as an outlet for citizen dissatisfaction — that is, using legal means rather than protest and revolts. Indeed, many citizens view the national laws as tools to protect themselves from abusive local officials. Rather than undermine the position of Chinese Communist Party, these reforms have helped legitimize the central leadership. However, the unintended result of grassroots democracy and legal reforms may be a growing demand for greater democratic reforms.

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Eloquence in the Mandarin Court: The Place of Poetry in the Life of Chinese Court-Officials
9:30 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Ding Xiang

Join Dr. Ding Xiang Warner for an introductory look at the way in which the composition of poetry once played a central role in the social life of Chinese court-officials. Discover some of the conventions and decorums of Chinese poetry while exploring in particular the art of poetic exchange among literati in medieval China.

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The Politics of Piracy: Intellectual Property in Contemporary China
9:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 21, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Andrew Mertha

One of the principal assumptions about Sino-U.S. trade negotiations is that once the U.S. and China come to an agreement, the degree to which implementation will be successful is a function of Beijing’s will. Professor Mertha argues that this assumption is fundamentally flawed, that policy implementation is shaped by the actual contours of particular bureaucracies, quite independent of Beijing’s preferences. He uses the case of intellectual property to illustrate these claims.

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Six Things That Every Businessperson Should Know About China
11:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 21, 2007
Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Andrew Mertha

Books on how to do business in China have become something of an industry themselves.
Often, these books talk about handshakes, “face,” guanxi, and other rather superficial dimensions of the business relationship. In this talk, Professor Mertha cuts to the chase and describes the more fundamental aspects of the business relationship, and, specifically, on identifying where the real power lies. He says the conclusions may surprise you.

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The Flora of China: An International Project to Describe the 31,000 Wild Plants of China
7:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 24, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Nick Turland

This lecture will give a concise description of the Flora of China Project, an international collaboration between Chinese and non-Chinese botanists to catalog the estimated 31,000 species of wild plants in China. The project began in 1988 and now has a 21-member editorial committee and 11 partner institutions: four in China and seven in the West, coordinated by the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Institute of Botany, Beijing. The Flora itself is being written in English by more than 450 authors and will comprise 24 volumes of text and 24 accompanying volumes of illustrations, plus one introductory volume. Due for completion in 2012, so far 13 volumes of text and 11 volumes of illustrations have been published, accounting for more than 16,000 species.

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Travels in China for Botanical Field Work
11:00 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Nick Turland

If you wonder what botanists actually do when they go off on field trips to the world’s wild places, this lecture will attempt to explain. Nick Turland will describe traveling into remote rural regions of China in order to collect plant specimens for scientific study. Not only should this give a picture of botanical field work in general, but it will introduce you to China and its amazingly diverse flora of 31,000 seed plant species. Professor Turland will describe the day-to-day life of working in the field, focusing on trips that he has made, describing team members, language issues, transportation, equipment, locating suitable areas of habitat, methods of collecting and preserving plant specimens, food (very diverse in rural China), accommodation, and some of the hazards.

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Confucian Role Ethics: A Moral Foundation for Human Rights
10:00 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007
Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Henry Rosemont, Jr.

Although more than 150 nations have ratified the U.N. International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, the United States has not. In significant measure this is due to grounding the concept of human rights in a view of human beings as essentially free, autonomous individuals. In this way civil and political rights may be straightforwardly championed and legally defended, but not the social, economic or cultural, except on some other basis than rights. Seeing human beings most basically as interrelated persons, Confucians can easily champion both sets of rights, giving their role ethics a claim on our attention today as the gap between the wealthy and the impoverished continues to widen both at home and abroad.

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The Harry and Bernice Gockel International Symposium:
The "China Challenge" as Myth and Reality
9:30 a.m., Thursday, Sept 27, 2007
Taylor Performing Arts Center
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Chen Jian

Few countries have experienced more dramatic changes as did China in the past century — and the past quarter century in particular. From a “revolutionary country” to a “status quo power,” and from an “outsider” to an “insider” of the existing international system, the realities of the grand transformation in China’s state, society and international outlook have often been obscured by all kinds of myths. For the purpose of highlighting the realities and shattering the myths, Professor Chen discusses the origins, processes and implications of China’s rise from the perspective of a historian of U.S.-China relations.

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China and the U.S.: Who Threatens Who?
7:00 p.m., Thusday, Sept. 27, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Henry Rosemont, Jr.

The defense budget of the U.S. has already grown to a point at which it is equal to all the defense budgets of every nation in the world combined. To justify maintaining this level of funding, the U.S. must find clearly identifiable enemies, even where no real antagonistic relationships exist. China’s sheer size and rapid economic growth make it a prime candidate to become America’s newest “enemy.” Professor Rosemont will argue that, rather than China threatening the U.S., it is actually the U.S. that has positioned itself in a way that can be seen as threatening to China. If, after its concerns in the Middle East no longer occupy center stage, the U.S. continues to maintain or escalate this threatening posture, China will be forced to respond - resulting in a conflict that would be disastrous for both countries. Dr. Rosemont will discuss how the U.S. relationship to China can be understood from economic, political, and military perspectives and also the role non-governmental organizations and global institutions, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the International Monetary Fund, play in this complex international relationship.

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Encountering the Rising China: Three Challenges Facing Sino-American Relations
7:00 p.m., Thusday, Sept. 27, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Chen Jian

China’s rapid rise as a prominent world power in the past quarter century has profoundly changed the world today and has the potential to change the world even more significantly in the future. This should be regarded more as the “China challenge” rather than the “China threat.” Professor Chen will discuss how America can be prepared to meet this challenge in three areas: strategic, policymaking and implementation, and cultural and educational. He will focus on how institutions of higher education in the United States can be a part of America’s responses.

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Uncontested Nationalism and Realpolitik in China’s Changing Relations with the U.S.
11:00 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Maorong Jiang

Professor Jiang will discuss the changes in China’s political spectrum, trying to give a realistic evaluation on the emerging “big-economic power” mindset and its changing relations with the U.S. He explores the Chinese International Relations theory as to “see” what the future is going to be in the changing relations with that mindset manifested in the peculiar nationalistic way Chinese.

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Modern China and Chinese Past: A Political Analysis of China-Japan-Taiwan Triangle
1:00 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Maorong Jiang

Professor Jiang expounds on the fact that China is living in its past despite its economic success. The resentment toward Japan and its determined goal of unifying Taiwan often provides limited space as to make itself a nation able to share the responsibility in world affairs. U.S.-China relations continue to be a façade of “strategic partnership” resulting from China’s nationalistic geo-political practice.

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Doing Business in China: The New Entrepreneurs
10:00 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007
Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall
Admission: free
Speakers: George Heim, Arnold Berney, Melanie Pellham, Gregg Ward, and Brent Kembell

Breaking into a country of 1.3 billion potential customers without getting burned is full of daunting challenges. Area entrepreneurs and business leaders share their success stories and tips, including how to identify prospective Chinese buyers, how to understand local business practices and the Chinese consumer, how to build relationships and cultivate guanxi, and how to overcome cultural barriers.

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From the Heartland of China to the Heartland of America
10:00 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Victoria Liu

Victoria Liu traveled to the United States in 1997 with nothing but a dream and two suitcases packed full of 22 years of her life in China. At MSSU, she met several people who became instrumental in her personal growth and career choice. During this presentation, she shares one of the most important lessons she learned from her time here: nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it. In her 10 years in America, Dr. Liu has discovered herself and learned how to keep her dreams alive.

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One Life to Live: Born in China...What is Your Future?
9:00 a.m., Monday, Oct. 29, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Christine Jorgensen

A look at the lives of Chinese from birth through early 20s, the traditional life as well as the modern, changing lives of Chinese young people. A peek at their view of individuality, the community, and the country. And what about sex and crime and social work?

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The Young and the Restless: Dating, Marriage, and Career Mobility in China
11:00 a.m., Monday, Oct. 29, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Christine Jorgensen

A look at the lives of adult Chinese — how they negotiate life and choose a school, career, and a mate amid issues of privacy, family, community, and upward mobility routes. And, where do politics, the party, the military, the Falon Gong, and religion fit in? Oh, and your in-laws? Is there a place for social work here?

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The Golden Years and Grave Justice: The Social Safety Net — Whole or Full of Holes?
1:00 p.m., Monday, Oct. 29, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Christine Jorgensen

Where have all the children gone, especially girls, and who will take care of me? The cradle to grave society and social security in the PRC, from Communism to Socialist Economy with five-year plans. Mao is not just turning over in his glass grave, he’s shrinking. How do Chinese citizens prepare for the future? In China, where is the future?

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The Evolving Socio-Economic and Political Landscape of International Business in China
9:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 1, 2007
Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall
Admission: free
Speaker: Ilan Alon

The keynote presentation of the “The Dragon Awake: China and its Emergence as a Global Business Leader” conference focuses on the economic, social, and political changes affecting international business in China, a country in transition, moving rapidly through the development cycle and emerging as an economic superpower. However, with this economic transformation also comes strain on the political, economic, and legal infrastructure and changes in societal values. These changes have altered the human condition in China as well as the atmosphere for investors, consumers, entrepreneurs, and laborers. The presentation will include a contextual overview of these changes to increase understanding of opportunities and threats in the Chinese market.

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The Dragon Sleeps: The Smoking Opium Business in the 19th Century American West
9:00 a.m., Friday, Nov. 2, 2007
Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Diana Ahmad

America’s current “war on drugs” is not the nation’s first. Though only a very small minority of Chinese immigrants in America were actually involved in the opium business, the spread of opium use in Anglo-American communities was deemed a threat to the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit and to its growing importance as a world economic and military power.

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Tigers and Rats and Snakes, Oh My! Chinese Zodiac Symbols — Fact or Fantasy?
11:00 a.m., Monday, Nov. 5, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Feng Lei

According to Chinese custom, every year has a corresponding “birthpet” — the mouse, cattle, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog, pig. When a baby is born, special attention is paid to the mannerisms of that year’s birthpet. Professor Feng Lei relates some interesting stories about the birthpet and its impact on modern Chinese society.

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Composing Music Between Countries
1:00 p.m., Friday, Nov. 9, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Zhou Long

Dr. Zhou explains the concept behind his lecture: “Thinking about what we could do to share different cultures in our new society, I have been composing music seriously to achieve my goal of improving the understanding between peoples from various backgrounds. My conceptions have often come from ancient Chinese poetry. There are musical traits directly reminiscent of ancient China: sensitive melodies, expressive glissandi in various statements, and, in particular, a peculiarly Chinese undercurrent of tranquility and meditation. The cross-fertilization of color, material, and technique, and on a deeper level, cultural heritage, makes for challenging work.”

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Family Planning in Rural China
10:00 a.m., Friday, Nov. 16, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Ethan Michelson

In light of the crushing pressure China’s enormous population exerts on limited natural resources, most scholars agree on the economic benefits (and even the economic imperative) of government controls on fertility in the world’s most populous country. In this presentation Professor Michelson will explore a variety of unintended social and political costs and consequences of China’s family planning policies, typically referred to as the “single-child policy.” He will show that the enforcement of family planning policies accounts for a sizable portion of the work of local government, has heightened negative attitudes toward local government, is responsible for a significant volume of conflict and contention, and has contributed to highly skewed gender ratios (the problem of “missing girls”)

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Sources of Conflict in Rural China
11:00 a.m., Friday, Nov. 16, 2007
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Ethan Michelson

Media reports abound of the growing volume and intensity of conflict in China. In recent years excessive taxation, “land grabs,” and the enforcement of family planning policies have produced and aggravated conflict in the Chinese countryside. Although they are important sources of conflict, Professor Michelson will show that these reasons cannot completely explain why some areas of China are more conflict-ridden than others. Villagers in different parts of China have responded very differently to similar objective social and economic conditions. He will use the extraordinary case of southeast Henan Province to illustrate the importance of memories of past trauma. In particular, a series of traumatic events — namely, the Great Leap Famine (1959-61), the Zhumadian flood (1975), and the HIV/AIDS epidemic (mid 1990s-present) — have taught villagers in southeast Henan to distrust local government. Compared to villagers in other parts of China with even heavier tax burdens and even less favorable economic conditions, villagers here, owing to their memories of these large-scale disasters, have been exceptionally aggressive, litigious, and disobedient.

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Appreciation Rarely Appears First: A Testimonial from an MSSU Student Who Spent Two Years in China
On request
Please contact Dr. Chad Stebbins at  417-625-9736 to schedule a presentation

Students hiking in ChinaThere is little to give the impression of permanence and stability in China, possibly none more so than from the eyes of a visitor. Being caught up in just such a maelstrom of impermanence, one discovers an infinitely faster pace of life. It seems as though barely anything remains untouched for longer than the shelf-life of 2 percent milk. Yet such impermanence was not limited to inanimate objects, if not for such a simple reason as the myriad of people who lived in or used those objects. In contrast, small-town America often can be summed up by the words steady and even monotonous. In both of these two worlds, Michael Edwards says he hardly left a footnote, yet both carved deep impressions in his soul.

In his presentation, Michael will address the following:

  1. Overcoming constant assumptions of what people mean. Essentially learning to become a child again and asking lots and lots of questions.
  2. Sociability — how learning a language became the absolute best socializer, and helped him overcome fears of social ackwardness.
  3. Relearning how to learn properly. That is, discovering the importance of retention due to constant application. Stepping back from the theoretical drawing board of most education.
  4. Accepting the different, not as different but as an exciting new way to getting things accomplished.
  5. Traveling in China. Barely knowing his whereabouts in the United States, after spending a month traveling in Southwest China and in other areas it brought about a realization and appreciation for doing plenty of traveling in America.
  6. Overcoming America’s media bias. The world can’t be read through a book or a newspaper, and too often bad impressions or outrightly wrong judgments come into play by reading them. For example, the diversity of China is real while the myth of near continental uniformity is just that, a myth.
  7. An appreciation for the difficulty of being a minority. Nothing prepares you for suddenly becoming the black sheep, where everyone is staring at you and your physical appearance plays a role in every instance.
  8. Loneliness and isolation. These two are the most difficult to deal with and makes long-term staying a near impossibility for most.

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