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The Chinafornia Newsletter is back!

April 9 · Issue #44 · View online
Matt Sheehan's Newsletter
And we’re back!
Welcome to the 44th edition of The Chinafornia Newsletter, your digest of news connecting the Golden State and the Middle Kingdom.
First, a bit of personal news:
Apologies to all the Chinafornia readers for the radio silence over the past five months. Starting last October, I began a super-full-time job working closely with Dr. Kai-Fu Lee on a new book he has written: AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order. The book covers the rise of Chinese technology, AI competition between China and the US, and the social impact of these technologies globally. It will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt this September, and I believe readers of this newsletter will find it a fascinating read.
Kai-Fu is one of the most influential figures in the Chinese technology community, having founded Microsoft Research Asia, Google China, and Sinovation Ventures. He’s also one of the few people with first-hand experience at the highest levels of technology in both the US and China, having begun his career as a leading AI researcher at Carnegie Mellon and Apple, and then working as a VP at Microsoft in Redmond. Working with him really enriched my understanding of the Chinese technology sector, filling in the macro-level picture with fascinating stories from the trenches at Google China and elsewhere.
That project also threw me head first into researching artificial intelligence in China, including the complex interplay of startups, tech giants, researchers, and the Chinese government. The impact of artificial intelligence in both China and the US is a fascinating, hugely important, and sometimes scary story that we will need to understand and shape in the coming years. As I continue dissecting these links between China and California, I will likely focus my research on these emerging technologies.
My own publications:
The work with Kai-Fu ate up all the time I would have devoted to this newsletter (plus a lot more), but I did manage to continue publishing a number of pieces for MacroPolo, including:
1. Google China 2.0 and the Ethics of AI Engagement - a look at Google’s decision to open an AI research center in Beijing, and the ethical implications of doing AI research in China.
2. How China’s Massive AI Plan Actually Works - my analysis of why the AI plan fundamentally differs from past technology upgrades (like the high-speed rail build out), and why the government’s “Wish List Approach” is particularly suited to promoting a diffuse technology like artificial intelligence in a top-down political system like China’s.
3. Trump’s Trade War Isn’t About Trade. It’s About Technology. - I read the Trump administration’s 180-page Section 301 that kicked off the latest trade dispute. In it, I was surprised to find a very cogent analysis of China’s attempts to gain access to American technology and surpass the US in key fields. This piece breaks down that report and subsequent trade actions.
And finally, the newsletter itself:
This one newsletter clearly can’t cover the entire last five months, so instead I included a few of the most important stories that capture a key trend, and included more analysis than usual below. Personally, I found a lot of food for thought in the stories in the China/town section this week.
This week’s top reads:
1. China Box Office Biggest in the World so far in 2018 - Variety
2. The 7,000 Mile Divide - 34th Street Magazine (on Chinese students’ social isolation on US campuses) 
Two logistical notes
1. Email inboxes often cut off the bottom of newsletters like this. To read the whole thing, scroll to the bottom of the email and click “View Entire Message.”
2.And for Gmail users: if this email ends up in your ‘Promotions’ tab, just drag it into your inbox and click ‘Yes’ to ‘Do this for future messages?’
The Chinafornia Newsletter is created by me, Matt Sheehan. I’m a fellow at The Paulson Institute and write for the think tank’s site MacroPolo. I spent over five years in mainland China, including two as the first-ever China correspondent for The Huffington Post and The WorldPost. I’m now back in my native California where I’m consulting on market entry and communications for 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

For the U.S. and China, a Technology Cold War That’s Freezing Over - The New York Times
AT&T Drops Huawei’s New Smartphone Amid Security Worries - The New York Times
Apple moves to store iCloud keys in China, raising human rights fears | Reuters
Google’s Pichai Sings China’s Praises in AI, Pledges Bigger Team - Bloomberg
Chinese Workers Abandon Silicon Valley for Riches Back Home - Bloomberg
Three Less Understood Aspects of Chinese Investment in America - MacroPolo
U.S. clears Chinese acquisition in rare move | Reuters
China Box Office Biggest In The World So Far In 2018 – Variety
The coming Chinese crackdown on Hollywood - The Washington Post
Trump’s Trade War Could Slow China Film Quota Talks – Variety
The 7,000–Mile Divide | 34th Street Magazine
China’s Long Arm Reaches Into American Campuses – Foreign Policy
The FBI director says Chinese society as a whole is a threat to the US - Business Insider
Targeting China, Trump Threatens Student Visas
Caught in a crossfire: Chinese students abroad and the battle for their hearts - SupChina
Real Estate
As China puts the brakes on overseas investment, Los Angeles' development boom takes a hit
SEC Looks Into Kushner Cos. Over Use of EB-5 Program for Immigrant Investors - WSJ
Jean Quan Discusses the Legacy of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee - The Atlantic
Palo Alto school board picks new names for two schools
‘Comfort Women’ Statue in San Francisco Leads a Japanese City to Cut Ties - The New York Times
The woman who fought Chinatown sex slavery for decades - San Francisco Chronicle
The Beltway and Beijing
California would be on front lines of US-China trade war - San Francisco Chronicle
Culture Corner
Higher Brothers - Young Master (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO) - YouTube
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