Trump Goes to China

President Trump is on tour in Asia this weekend: relieved maybe to be “getting out of Dodge” as his campaign team is getting indicted in D.C.  But it’s awkward, and unprecedented over there, too, that our president knows he’s meeting—as The Economist put it— “plausibly… the world’s most powerful leader” in China’s party chairman, Xi Jinping. 

The new power in China doesn’t come just from Chairman Xi. You can see the new order arranging itself around the other men now rushing to meet with the Chinese leader before Trump’s visit.

That’s two tiers of almost 40 technologists and billionaires – ours and theirs: Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma, Elon Musk, Google, Apple – toeing the line in a photo op with Xi Jinping.

Bill Kirby is the Harvard Business School’s eye on Chinese enterprise, old and new. In our conversation, Bill is pulling on the thread of his last book, Can China Lead??

Donald Trump and Xi Jin Ping meet in China, 45 years down a road that opened in front of our guest Chas Freeman. He was the foreign service officer at the start of his own brilliant career, translating the breakthrough meetings with Henry Kissinger, Chou En Lai, President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao, among others. He is giving us a tough-minded review of the needs and wants of the strongest Chinese leadership since Mao, running a “police state” at home and a vast “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure project “from Portugal to the Bering Straits.”

We’re also interested in cultural puzzles and contradictions in modern “Chimerica.”  The bilingual, and profoundly bi-cultural Kaiser Kuo, the Chinese rocker and host of the Sinica Podcast, gives us his take from his new homebase in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Ian Johnson, Pulitzer Prize winner for the Wall Street Journal, describes China’s spiritual crisis and revival over the the last decade in his book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao. We continue our earlier discussion with Johnson on the evolving spiritual and moral values in modern China.

The education reformer in Beijing, Jiang Xueqin — Chinese to the bone, with a Yale undergraduate degree as well — is telling us of his own work in the gap between China’s prodigious achievements in math and science, and the unmet goals in ’emotional intelligence’ and humanities.

Guest List
Bill Kirby
professor of business and China studies at Harvard, co-author of Can China Lead?
Chas Freeman
Nixon's translator in China, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia for George H. W. Bush, and author of Interesting Times.
Kaiser Kuo
Chinese-American tech evangelist, former heavy-metal guitarist of Tang Dynasty, and host of the Sinica podcast.
Ian Johnson
Beijing-based reporter and author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao
Jiang Xueqin
Beijing-based educator who advises Chinese schools on how to teach creativity, and writes for a variety of Chinese and global media.

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