“Chatting About China” —Harvard Professor Discusses Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign at FACES

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STANFORD, CALIFORNIA: The Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES) and the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia–Pacific Research Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI APARC) co-hosted a “Chatting About China” event with Yuhua Wang, Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard University. Held at Stanford’s historic Encina Hall, the event provided an intimate and relaxed environment for students to ask Professor Wang about his work and a variety of issues in China.

Wang’s research focuses on the emergence of state institutions, with a regional focus on China. He is the author of Tying the Autocrat’s Hands: The Rise of the Rule of Law in China, and he is currently working on a book-length project examining long-term state development in China.

President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign began in 2012 and is the largest campaign of its kind since the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China. Much debate surrounds the motivation behind the campaign, with some arguing that it is meant to further Xi’s political interests while others contend that it is a sincere effort to reduce corruption.

Wang stated that the empirical question regarding the campaign’s effectiveness is whether it can reduce not just corruption within the current system, but also corruption in the future. He identifies this as the fundamental problem of any campaign: it can be effective in the short-term, but have unclear long-term effects.

Students from across campus asked a variety of questions about the campaign’s current and future state, broader issues in China, and Wang’s research. Three key areas of concerns emerge regarding anti-corruption campaigns: the motives behind the campaign, the role of rule of law and the media, and public opinions of the government due to such campaigns.

Motives Behind Xi’s Campaign

On the motives behind the campaign, Wang said that Xi’s campaign is about succession. According to Wang, anti-corruption campaigns are a very common political strategy for attacking the enemy and consolidating power and has been used historically in China by new leaders. By abolishing term limits and not naming a successor, Xi was able to consolidate his power and use his anti-corruption campaign as leverage to maintain support.

“My working hypothesis is that the anti-corruption campaign is actually a collective and also intentional attempt by the 'royal' families to take over,” said Wang. “They want to take the power back from the meritocratically promoted leaders within the party.”

The Roles of the Courts and Media

  Professor Yuhua Wang speaks on Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign with FACES at Stanford’s Encina Hall.

Professor Yuhua Wang speaks on Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign with FACES at Stanford’s Encina Hall.

Several students asked about the role of the media and the courts in the campaign. Wang said that investigations begin with the party, are then publicized in the media, and finally are selectively handed to court, though this does not happen with most cases as the party often wants to protect its members. As a result, the courts are largely irrelevant, but the media plays a big role, according to Wang. He talked about how the level of detail in coverage of the corruption investigations is unprecedented with certain high-level party officials such as Bo Xilai, the former Minister of Commerce of the PRC and governor of Chongqing.

“[Because of this, the campaign] kind of backfires, because people realize that the party officials are more corrupt than they thought,” said Wang. “When people are exposed to the news on the media, they will actually decrease their support for the party because they are shocked by the amount of corruption in the government particularly on the higher level.”

Criticism of the Government Might Be Exaggerated

Regarding his research on politically sensitive topics, Wang talked about the obstacles he has faced, such as being unable to ask certain questions or know whether respondents are truthful. He also pointed out some interesting findings of false reporting of opinions, particularly among Chinese university students.

“The idea is that they might lie to you, they might overreport support of regime because they have a fear of [being watched by the party],” said Wang. “Recent study shows that it’s actually the opposite—that is when you do surveys with college students, they will over-report criticism [of the party] because they want to appear cool. For college students it’s cool to be critical, rather than nationalistic, because being critical shows that you are a real intellectual.”

After speaking with FACES in the morning, Wang delivered a lecture in the afternoon titled Why Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Has Undermined Chinese Citizens’ Regime Support? about his research on China’s public reaction to the campaign. He presented his hypothesis that the anti-corruption campaign, usually a method of gaining public support, has in fact reduced support for the Communist Party and government by revealing the extent of corruption, although it may have increased support for Xi himself. The presentation was followed by a question and answer session with the audience.


Author: Emily Wan ‘22, FACES Department of Communications

Seven Faces of FACES: Summit 2018

 FACES delegates from around the globe pose for a candid photo at the Golden Gate Bridge after an Summit filled with intellectual, academic, and interpersonal exchange.

FACES delegates from around the globe pose for a candid photo at the Golden Gate Bridge after an Summit filled with intellectual, academic, and interpersonal exchange.

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA: Forty extraordinary young leaders arrived from all corners of the globe on the Stanford University campus in early October for the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford’s Annual Summit on U.S.-China Relations.

Founded in 2001, FACES is a student-led, international organization based at Stanford University, dedicated to strengthening the U.S.-China relationship through fostering intellectual, academic, and interpersonal exchange between young professionals and students on both sides of the Pacific.

As Chinese-American relations falter worldwide, FACES’s pioneering model of Track 3 diplomacy — providing a common ground where leaders from both nations can meet as people, and leave as friends — remains as important as ever. Gain a window into the diverse range of insights, experiences, and perspectives delegates bring to the FACES Summit by learning about some of this year’s delegates: representing four continents and a wide range of disciplines, dreams, and ambitions.

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FACE I: Austin Price

With U.S.-China relations deteriorating in fields ranging from trade to geopolitical cooperation, Austin Price arrived to the FACES Annual Summit a tad discouraged. Having dedicated his rising career to informing U.S. policymakers on defense and security issues in Northeast Asia, watching mistrust and misunderstanding crest due to recent events was cause for consternation. Connecting with his diverse range of peers at FACES, however, led optimism to win the day.

“Engaging with delegates here at the Summit made me feel better despite the current pessimistic environment,” Price said.

As a Company Executive Officer in the United States Army currently stationed in Korea, Price has a front-row seat on the complex and changing nature of the current U.S.-China relationship. Knowing that understanding perspectives from all sides today is critical to make the right defense and security decisions tomorrow, Price feels that the experience of the FACES Summit, in particular learning from his Chinese peers, has proved transformative.

“The FACES Summit, honestly, was my first opportunity to interact with Chinese exchange students at an Ivy League university,” Price revealed. “I believe [the Summit] opened up doors to a lot of social circles I’ve never had access to before in my life.”

Price also had positive remarks for the Summit’s smooth and professional organization.

“I do a lot of event organizing in my current work, and the conference is definitely very well planned out,” Price affirmed.

FACE II: Aaditee Kudrimoti

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Having grown up in suburban Tucson, Arizona in a close-knit Indian-American family, Aaditee Kudrimoti at first glance may appear a world apart from the arena of U.S.-China relations.

Such an impression would be misleading — not only because Aaditee attends the nearby University of California at Berkeley, but also due to her unbridled passion for kindling collaboration between the United States and China on issues of environmental protection and energy. Meeting delegates from across the world and from every discipline, Aaditee was floored by the intellectual vitality and energy of her peers.

“I’ve met all these amazing people here, and they’ve all done such astounding things,” Aaditee remarked. “They are my role models.”

Seeing the FACES Summit as a rare opportunity to comprehend differing views and beliefs from around the globe, Aaditee in particular sought to engage with perspectives that, in other contexts, would be hard to encounter.

“A lot of my experience on U.S.-China relations has been with Chinese Americans,” she said. “Getting input from Chinese nationals has been invaluable.”

A third-year undergraduate with a wide range of interests, Aaditee came to the Summit eager to learn more about the different fields of Sino-American relations her diverse delegate cohort brought to the table. At the same time, as an aspiring academic with a passion for the political economy of renewable resources, she was determined to share her own expertise on a topic with great bilateral and international importance.

“Here at the Summit, I’ve been finding so many people who were initially not interested in the niche part of U.S.-China relations I’m interested in,” Aaditee laughed. “And then I’ve been talking with them about it.”

FACE III: Qingjie (Bob) Zeng

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Qingjie Zeng occupies a unique cross-cultural place in the complex U.S.-China relationship.

“I consider myself a 1.5 generation immigrant who was born and raised in China, but has spent considerable time of his formative stage in the United States,” he states.

Qingjie, who also goes by Bob, grew up in Foshan, a “mid-sized” Chinese city of ten million. Traveling across the Pacific for his secondary and tertiary education, he found himself at Southern California’s Pomona College, a close-knit, renowned liberal arts institution with a class size of 400 annually. Realizing the value of intimate person-to-person dialogue through his four years at Pomona, Bob arrived at the FACES Summit with high standards. He, however, was far from disappointed.

“My favorite part of the Summit so far has definitely been the moments I get to spend with fellow delegates one-on-one, and talk about very personal and deep topics,” Bob said. “I’ve been surprised by how open people are despite the fact that we just met.”

Having completed an interdisciplinary major as an undergraduate, Bob was pleased by the diversity of the speakers and delegates at the Summit.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the chance here to talk to people from such a diverse background,” Bob remarked. “I love the diversity of the crowd, be it academic interests or cultural background. I think that’s really valuable.”

Given his unique perspective, Bob hopes to serve as a bridge between the United States and China in his career, fostering the type of personal and cultural understanding the FACES Summit has worked towards for nearly two decades. Bob flew in from Washington, D.C., where he has started work at the U.S.-China Strong Foundation and has had a front-row seat on the increasingly tense state of Chinese-American relations. His experience at FACES, however, has brought him hope.

“The atmosphere in D.C. has been really pessimistic,” Bob reflected. “Seeing FACES and young people like us talking about the issues and taking the time to hear each other has been refreshing, and tells me that there is room to be optimistic.”

Face IV: Emily Weinstein

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Emily Weinstein has been a student of the U.S.-China relationship for quite a while. By her own admission, she made up her mind at the age of fourteen to pursue a career studying China. Despite her long-standing passion for understanding perspectives on both side of the Pacific, however, Emily found the FACES Summit transformative.

“I’ve been surprised by the assumptions I went in with about what people would think and say,” Emily said. “Over the last few days, most of those have been blown away in a good way.”

A recent graduate of the University of Michigan with a Bachelors of Arts in Asian Studies with a minor in International Studies, Emily is pursuing a Masters in Security Studies at Georgetown University. As an emerging thought leader on U.S.-China security, Emily has been quoted in the CNN World and the UK’s Sunday Times. Given the intensity she puts into her chosen field, it is no surprise that she has brought the same passion to interacting with her fellow delegates.

“I’ve really enjoyed relationships that I’ve made so far,” Emily said.

FACE V: Gawie Kanjemba

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Gawie Kanjemba doesn’t take “no” for an answer. If he had, there would have been no way he could have risen from a modest childhood in the southwest African nation of Namibia to pursuing a master’s degree at the famed Sciences Po – Paris.

As he advanced through his studies and career, Gawie’s dreams also grew — from aspiring to teach at his local school to possessing the global influence, knowledge, and power needed to sail his country to greater heights. Given his goals, he quickly realized that a sophisticated knowledge of the U.S.-China relationship was critical to translating ambition into action.

“I recognized that the United States and China will likely remain the two most influential countries for the remainder of the 21st century, especially for emerging economies like my own,” Gawie stated. “The day to day decisions of these two superpowers can be felt as far as a small village in northern Namibia. It is thus crucial to observe and learn how to engage these two countries as individuals, and as partners to one another and to other states.”

Having traveled far to attend the FACES Summit, Gawie has felt amply rewarded. He has found a new sense of invigoration engaging with the diverse range of perspectives his peers bring to the Summit.

“I’ve found new views, contrasting views, of what’s been going on,” Gawie said. “And I love it.”

While he’s greatly enjoyed the speakers featured at the Summit, Gawie is clear on the chief reason why he’s here.

“The people, always the people,” Gawie responded when asked what he’s enjoyed most about the Summit so far. “The networks are invaluable, and getting to bond with everyone has been stunning.”

Face VI: Sibo Liu

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Sibo Liu isn’t new to FACES. In fact, as Co-President of the FACES chapter at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, she’s been engaging with tough issues in the world of U.S.-China relations for years. The experience of learning from the top academic, business, and diplomatic leaders FACES features at its Annual Summit, however, has proved powerful.

“I was incredibly impressed by some of the professors and their knowledge on China,” Sibo remarked. “I have really gained a lot of insights from these last few days.”

Equally impressive for her has been learning from the perspectives of her fellow delegates — building friendships she hopes will last for a lifetime.

“The cohort has been really nice,” Sibo said. “As everyone’s from different parts of the world, it’s been great to communicate with one another. I’m excited to have a long-term relationship with all of them.”

FACES VII: Marcin Mateusz Jerzewski

A true global citizen, Marcin Mateusz Jerzewski speaks seven languages and has attended school on three continents. This autumn, however, Marcin traveled nearly thirteen thousand miles to gain something new — the honest, one-on-one perspectives of his peers.

“It is so important to have these people-to-people level interactions, because we tend to rely too much on the elite aspect of international relations. We need to avoid the ivory tower of similar views,” Marcin expressed.

Marcin has conducted research at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of his native Poland, and presented papers on topics ranging from China-Latin America relations, to Europe’s shifting position in a globalizing world, to Chinese film culture. Now at Taipei’s National Chengchi University, he is ready to take the next step onto true impact on the U.S.-China stage. Marcin believes that next step starts with FACES.

“It’s been an excellent blend of academic, professional, and personal perspectives,” he says.

Introducing the 2018-19 Stanford FACES Executive Team

 The 2018-19 Stanford FACES Executive Team poses for a collegial photo on Stanford's historic main quad. Pictured from left to right, front row: Zhenqi Hu (Vice President, On-Campus Programming), Caroline Zhang (Vice President, Alumni Relations), Nick Shankar (Co-President), Celia Xinuo Chen (Co-President), Victoria Yaqing Yang (Executive Member), Cathy Dao (Vice President, Budget). Back row: Cami Katz (Vice President, Telesummit), Lilian Kong (Outgoing Co-President), Troy Shen (Executive Member), Zecheng Wang (Vice President, Chapter Relations), Yulou Zhou (Executive Member). Not pictured: Andrew Tang (Executive Member), Francesca Lupia (Outgoing Co-President and Executive Member).

The 2018-19 Stanford FACES Executive Team poses for a collegial photo on Stanford's historic main quad. Pictured from left to right, front row: Zhenqi Hu (Vice President, On-Campus Programming), Caroline Zhang (Vice President, Alumni Relations), Nick Shankar (Co-President), Celia Xinuo Chen (Co-President), Victoria Yaqing Yang (Executive Member), Cathy Dao (Vice President, Budget). Back row: Cami Katz (Vice President, Telesummit), Lilian Kong (Outgoing Co-President), Troy Shen (Executive Member), Zecheng Wang (Vice President, Chapter Relations), Yulou Zhou (Executive Member). Not pictured: Andrew Tang (Executive Member), Francesca Lupia (Outgoing Co-President and Executive Member).

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA: The Forum for American/Exchange at Stanford University (FACES) recently unveiled its new leadership team for the 2018-19 calendar year, as the organization prepares to organize its flagship Annual Summit at Stanford this fall.

Outgoing co-presidents Lilian Kong '18 and Francesca Lupia '19 appointed Vice President of Publicity Nick Shankar '20 and Vice President of Chapter Relations Celia Xinuo Chen '20 as the new co-presidents for the 2018-19 calendar year. Francesca will stay on as a mentor and Summit Programming leader in the upcoming year.

On-Campus Programming executive member Zhenqi Hu '21 was chosen as the new Vice President of On-Campus Programming, replacing Yulou Zhou '20, who will stay on as an executive member. Budget executive member Cathy Dao '21 was selected as the new Vice President of Budget, and will serve as interim Financial Officer, replacing outgoing Financial Officer Sinclair Cook '18. Replacing Celia as Vice President of Chapter Relations will be current Chapter Relations executive member Zecheng Wang '21, and Caroline Zhang '21 will serve as Vice President of Alumni Affairs. Cami Katz '21 will remain as Vice President of FACES's innovative Telesummit Programming division.

Additionally, FACES welcomes new executive members Troy Shen '21, Andrew Tang '21, and Victoria Yaqing Yang '21, who have enthusiastically signed on to help ensure FACES's upcoming Summit is the strongest yet.

The FACES executive team is diverse, experienced, and committed. Hailing from Chengdu to Chicago, and with interests ranging from Political Science to Philosophy, executive members bring a wealth of perspectives to their work. Executive members will collaborate with FACES's 285 Stanford student affiliates, faculty advisors, current Summit delegates, and over 850 alumni to further the organization's mission of strengthening U.S.-China relations through vibrant intellectual, academic, and interpersonal exchange.

FACES is always looking for committed, motivated Stanford undergraduates and graduates to join our executive team of students and sponsors working to facilitate intellectual, academic, and interpersonal exchange across the Pacific. Currently, we have open Financial Officer and Vice President of Publicity positions, as well as a strong need for additional students on the expanding On-Campus Programming and Budget teams. You can apply to join FACES's executive team by completing the form at this link, or by emailing our organization at recruitment.faces@stanford.edu.

FACES Partners with 1990 Institute to Promote "Youth Voices on China" Video Contest

On February 28, Executive Director of the 1990 Institute Monica Lee spoke to Stanford students about the upcoming annual video contest “Youth Voices on China”—a digital media learning initiative sponsored by the 1990 Institute.

Monica Lee is a technology entrepreneur and angel investor with a wealth of experience in helping venture capital firms and tech startups enter China. Apart from her previous investment projects in data security and enterprise software, Monica is concerned about American students’ general lack of interest in and understanding of modern China. This motivated her to help coordinate the national video contest as part of the program of the 1990 Institute, whose mission is to to build trust between US and Chinese nationals through education.

This year, with the theme “China: Collected Stories,” in hopes of fostering global awareness and deeper awareness of US-China relations, the contest encourages students in the US to collect personal stories from Mainland China. Finalists of the contest will receive professional videography training and have a chance of winning the prize of $30,000. In her presentation, Monica showcased a video entry from a past contest. The touching story detailed the contestant’s constant struggles in reconciling her Chinese and American identities. Similarly, this year the organizers and judges are looking for videos that will make them “laugh, cry, smile, or awed and enlightened.” Monica revealed that among the judges this year is Joan Chen, 1990 Institute board member and famed actress. Monica additionally emphasized her hope to see more entries from undergraduate students. The deadline to submit video entries is April 3.

Monica’s presentation ended with an engaging trivia contest on China’s current affairs. The audience enthusiastically participated in the trivia, with questions ranging from China’s investments in the US to Chinese pop culture and Chinese memes.

 For more information about the 1990 Institute's “Youth Voices on China” video contest, please visit http://youthvoices.1990institute.org/.

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Opening the Dialogue on Media Politics in China: A Conversation with Professor Maria Repnikova

What is the relationship between journalism and the party-state in China? On February 21st, FACES members and alumni had the opportunity to attend a private talk with visiting Professor Maria Repnikova and hear an expert perspective on Chinese political communication. The event was carried out with the support of FSI and took place in conjunction with the professor’s public speaking event later in the day. Before the talk, participants were provided with access to Professor Repnikova’s research and written articles on relevant topics such as journalism education in China and the Little Pink gendered cyber-nationalism wave that occurred in 2016.

During the roundtable event, the conversation covered a wide range of subjects. Attendees asked and learned about the effects of censorship on a growing social media celebrity culture, ways foreign journalists can maintain their position, changes under the Xi regime, and more. They also had the privilege of hearing about Professor Repnikova’s personal experience and insights on the current and future climate of journalism in China. She spoke about the rise of new media innovations such as Shanghai-based PengPai, an online news-platform that although is state-funded, has consistently delivered investigative and in-depth journalism.

From Professor Repnikova's perspective, there will likely be a continued increase in top-down regulation of media under the current party government. However, she touched on the fact that resistance to censorship is certainly present, and there are creative methods of dissent from individuals ranging from journalists to university students to even propaganda officials. Professor Repnikova also shared details on her research such as the intricacies of sensitive data collection and the long and often unpredictable process of cultivating connections. Professor Repnikova additionally touched on her future work on comparing Chinese media politics with that of other countries. Overall, the discussion was an insightful introduction to and overview of the uniquely protected media landscape in China.

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