Documentary on China Featuring IR/PS Professors Reviewed
The China Question Blu-ray Review
Chris Chiarella, Big Picture Big Sound
Professors Susan Shirk and Barry Naughton appear in the documentary, 'The China Question."
The issue of United States/China trade relations is so gargantuan and labyrinthine, one hardly knows where to begin. Kudos then to gifted young filmmaker Brook Silva-Braga for opening his documentary The China Questionwith a context of American consumerism and its now familiar face, Black Friday. We want stuff, cheap, and as a society we don't always think beyond those terms. His mom however, also introduced, lives by a strict "Made in China" boycott, which practically begs debate.
Silva-Braga spent more than a year traveling between the U.S. and the People's Republic, always with an open mind in hopes of formulating possible answers to the query of the title, which might be summed up as "What does it mean to America to contribute to China's rise?" They now export a billion dollars worth of goods per day just to us, which is four times what we sell to them. The economic ripples are sufficiently profound, but there are also great personal, political, and vast cultural factors to consider.
A fascinating history lesson going back hundreds of years helps to explain how we reached this point, from the first textile factory in the 1700s through the widespread use of cost-saving cargo containers in the 1950s and all the way to the Chinese export boom of the 1990s. The allure of buying more for less money is universally understood, and so we delve deeper, learning how they do it--China's secret strength is its efficient labor-intensive final assembly, no matter where the materials and machinery come from--and hearing from a range of informed voices about the good and the bad of the situation, with reserved conjecture about the future.
Susan Shirk is director of the University of California system-wide Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and Ho Miu Lam professor of China and Pacific Relations at IR/PS.
She founded in 1993 and continues to lead the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD), an unofficial “track-two” forum for discussions of security issues among defense and foreign ministry officials and academics from the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and the Koreas.
Barry Naughton is an authority on the Chinese economy, with an emphasis on issues relating to industry, trade, finance, and China's transition to a market economy. Recent research focuses on regional economic growth in the People's Republic of China and the relationship between foreign trade and investment and regional growth.