John Grobler is a Namibian investigative reporter who has devoted more than two years of his life to examining the complex webs of organized crime funneling rhino horn from Africa to east Asia. Shi Yi 石毅, a Chinese environmental reporter, worked with him and went undercover posing as a businessperson to meet and report on the young Chinese men who engage in this nefarious activity abroad. Jeremy chatted with both of them when he attended the Africa-China Journalists Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa in November 2016 (listen to his other conversations with African journalists on last week’s Sinica Podcast).
Separately, Kaiser interviewed Nicole Elizabeth Barnes of Duke University, an expert on Chinese medicine. Nicole, John, and Shi Yi all discussed China’s role in the illegal rhino horn trade, debunking myths about its use as an aphrodisiac and explaining how upper class and status-conscious Chinese and Vietnamese are fueling demand for this and other rare natural products.
All three recommended listeners to support WildAid, one of the foremost organizations campaigning against the poaching of elephants and black rhinos. John also recommends supporting Oxpeckers, an African environmental investigative reporting unit that supports his work in Namibia. Nicole further recommended supporting the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, and marking World Rhino Day, September 22nd, on your calendar to raise awareness of the work CITIES and TRAFFIC do to monitor and crack down on illegal wildlife trade.
In November 2016, Sinica co-host Jeremy Goldkorn attended a conference in his native South Africa called the Africa-China Journalists Forum. The forum was convened to discuss the often-polarized media coverage of China’s involvement in Africa, and to consider how to accentuate the African perspective — rather than the Chinese or Western ones — on how China is changing lives in Africa. In addition to moderating the forum, Jeremy interviewed two organizers of the forum who are longtime observers of China in Africa: Barry Van Wyk and Bob Wekesa. Both are highly knowledgeable of journalism in Africa, and work for the Africa-China Reporting Project at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, where the forum was held.
In this short episode, Barry and Bob explain the differences between Chinese, African, and Western journalists, the state of reporting on China-in-Africa issues, and the work that the Africa-China Reporting Project is doing to build a “human grassroots approach” to reporting such a large and controversial story. They also recommended several of their favorite stories that have come out of the project in its work to sponsor aspiring African and Chinese journalists:
A top diplomat during the Clinton administration, author of the influential book China: Fragile Superpower: How China’s Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise, research professor and chair of the 21st Century China Center at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego, and co-author of a new high-level task force report on U.S.-China policy, Susan Shirk is one of the most sought-after voices on Chinese politics and U.S.-China relations.
Today’s Sinica Podcast features an interview with Susan recorded live on January 30 during the Chinese New Year celebrations at the Long US-China Institute at UC Irvine. Susan talks about how China and its role in the world have dramatically changed in the last decade; how the country’s leaders have grown increasingly fragile and fearful of disloyalty even as their power has grown; and how those leaders likely share her trepidation that the Trump administration may recklessly “trash the entire relationship” between the two countries.
Jeremy: His new hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, a wonderful place to visit, contrary to the misconceptions that many coastal Americans have about the South. Also Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Kaiser lives.
Susan: The School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego, which has a special focus on Asia and a strong group of China scholars. The China Focus blog, written by students at UC San Diego. The China 21 Podcast, produced by the 21st Century China Center.
In the last three years, John Zhu has embarked on a mission to build a bridge between Chinese and Western cultures by retelling one of China’s great classics in accessible audio episodes. He has released over 100 chapters of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms Podcast.
Three Kingdoms, as it is sometimes called, is one of China’s four great novels, along with Water Margin, Journey to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber. Together, they have exerted an influence in China similar to the extraordinary impact on language and culture of the King James Bible and Shakespeare in the Anglophone world. Three Kingdoms is reminiscent of a fantastical epic like Lord of the Rings, with its tales massive medieval military forces competing for dominance, and introduces hundreds of iconic characters representing the gamut of the human experience.
Listen to Jeremy and Kaiser’s interview with John Zhu to get a taste of Three Kingdoms and how John’s global listeners are responding to a Chinese classic. To learn more about China’s four great novels, see this piece by the editors of SupChina.
Jeremy: “Trump on China,” ChinaFile’s tracker of every Trump administration statement relating to China, plus quotes from Trump going back five years.
John: For readers of Chinese, lianhuanhua.mom001.com (连环画 liánhuánhuà), a website where you can find scanned and catalogued pictures from hundreds of classic Chinese graphic novels and children’s books. For non-readers of Chinese, the Chinese Sayings podcast, new from Laszlo Montgomery (noted for his long-running China History Podcast). A few of the Chinese Sayings episodes have already sought to explain phrases originating from Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Kaiser: Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI, a turn-based strategy video game where you can role-play, control cities, develop land, run economies, build and train armies, and strategize wars, all in the historical setting of Romance of the Three Kingdoms.