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The Chinafornia Newsletter 12.14.2016 - What Trump's Cabinet Picks Mean for Chinafornia

Welcome to the fourth edition of The Chinafornia Newsletter, your weekly digest of news connecting th
December 14 · Issue #4 · View online
Matt Sheehan's Newsletter
Welcome to the fourth edition of The Chinafornia Newsletter, your weekly digest of news connecting the Golden State and the Middle Kingdom.
At the top here I’ll give a bit of analysis before sharing the week’s links below. This email may get clipped at the bottom, so make sure to click “view full message” for an excellent Golden Oldie and Culture Corner at the bottom.
Some of this week’s biggest news came out of Trump Tower, where the President-elect’s appointments all suggest a very hard line with China on trade: packing his trade team with veterans of steel dumping cases against China, hiring a national security advisor who once literally warned that China would force the US to cancel the Fourth of July, etc. The one friendly face for China will be Trump’s pick for an ambassador – an “old friend” of Xi Jinping – though that language doesn’t mean much and the posting is far less important to policy than many DC gigs. 
While a harsh line on trade could be highly damaging for Chinese investment in US (and US manufacturers that use Chinese inputs), it’s also worth remembering the last time the US worried about a rising Asian export powerhouse. Concerns over cheap Japanese car exports led the Reagan Administration to essentially force Japan into “voluntary export restraints” on cars. Those restrictions likely hurt US consumers, but they also spurred Japanese car companies to build US factories, leading to tens if not hundreds of thousands of new U.S. manufacturing jobs. I’m not saying this will happen with Trump – Chinese exports aren’t as high-margin as cars – but it is worth keeping in mind that the US does have leverage we likely haven’t utilized yet.
Broadly, Trump seems to be laying the groundwork for scapegoating China while cozying up to Russia. Aside from the outrageous/shocking prospect of Trump as a Russian puppet, I also see a racial dynamic coming into play. Don’t be surprised if Trump ramps up racial dog-whistle language around Chinese companies and people – especially if the economy takes a turn for the worse.
One of the most interesting questions for Chinafornia going forward will be how a stormy national climate affects robust grassroots ties: the cities courting Chinese manufacturing investment, California-China climate partnerships, the 300,000+ Chinese students at US colleges, Air BnB’s ambitions for China, and Chinese acquisitions of Hollywood studios. Trump doesn’t actually have that many levers to directly affect these activities, but rhetoric at the national level matters. My hope and belief is that local actors – mayors, schools, businesses – see too much upside from smart and constructive engagement at the grassroots level. 希望是
The Chinafornia Newsletter is created by me, Matt Sheehan. I spent over five years in mainland China, including two as The Huffington Post’s first-ever China correspondent. I’m now back in my native California consulting on China-related projects and writing a book on Chinafornia.
You can read some of my best work on my own website: An Optimist’s Guide to China. Follow me on Twitter @mattsheehan88 and feel free to email me at

Airbnb Inches Its Way Into China - Bloomberg
Google Caps Active Year in China With Resumption of Developer Forum - Caixin
Baidu is poised for ambitious growth in the US. Here the plan.
Outspoken Billionaire Works to Salvage His Tech Empire in China - Bloomberg
Jean Liu on how she defeated Uber in China — FT
Curbs to China Investment Risk U.S. Jobs: Wanda’s Wang - Bloomberg
Ban China's State Firms From Acquiring U.S. Companies - WSJ
China pledges to increase openness with foreign investment rules| Reuters
Wanda's Theater Flop - Bloomberg Gadfly
Tencent Hunts for Hollywood Deals to Feed China’s Film Boom
Electric Shadows - China Film Insider
Real Estate
Small Investors Join China’s Tycoons in Sending Money Abroad
Big new SF tower project breaks ground. Well, not really. - San Francisco Chronicle
How Arcadia is remaking itself as a magnet for Chinese money - LA Times
Chinese HNWIs Choose California For Homebuying | Mingtiandi
Old Chinatown, New Chinatown
Searching for Lady Kung Fu
Chinese-American History Finds Permanent Home in San Francisco - NBC News
The Beltway and Beijing
Trump packs trade team with veterans of steel wars with China| Reuters
10 things to know about Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Trump’s pick for ambassador to China - The Washington Post
U.S. Won’t Grant China Market Economy Status, Senior Administration Official Says - WSJ
Taiwan is trending, and L.A.'s Taiwanese community has mixed feelings about it - LA Times
Jobs and Events
Employment Opportunity - Associate Editor, China | Foreign Policy
Golden Oldie
When Abacus Bank Was Accused of Fraud - The New Yorker
Culture Corner
The China History Podcust: The Song Emperor Huizong Part 1 – Teacup Media
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