At Harris Bricken, we keep close tabs on what is happening around the world, and we know that our friends and clients do, as well. We are happy to provide this podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench, where we look at the world by talking with business leaders, innovators, service providers, manufacturers, and government leaders around the world.

In Episode #57, we are joined by Dr. Elizabeth Freund Larus, chairman of the University of Mary Washington’s Political Science and International Affairs Department and author of Politics and Society in Contemporary China.

We discuss:

  • China relations at a time when we know the country “won’t morph into a more liberal polity.”
  • The pragmatic origins of Dr. Larus’ interest in China.
  • Taiwan’s foreign relations, and why America wants other countries to recognize Taipei (even if it doesn’t officially do so itself).
  • The Belt and Road Initiative’s impact on Central and Eastern Europe, and why China and Russia don’t see eye to eye on the subject.
  • Why Dr. Larus expects China to get “stronger and stronger” … till demographics get in the way.
  • Advice for those interested in foreign affairs, including unexpected paths such as hospitality.
  • Listening, and watching recommendations from:

We’ll see you next week for another exciting and informative episode when we sit down with Joe McCall to discuss what’s happening in the Emerald Isle!

This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.

Fred Rocafort  0:07 

Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other. The importance on the global stage of developing and developed nations waxes and wanes, while consumption and interconnectedness steadily increase all the while laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. But how do we make sense of it all? Welcome to Global Law and Business hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort.


Jonathan Bench  0:37 

And I’m Jonathan Bench. Every week, we take a targeted look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of international experts. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We cover the important, the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.


Fred Rocafort  1:02 

We hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please connect with us on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.


Dr. Elizabeth Fruend Larus is professor and chairman of the Department of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Mary Washington, and author of Politics and Society in Contemporary China. Her research interests concern cross strait relations, Taiwan’s foreign policy and US policy in the Asia Pacific in 2015. But alerus was awarded a Taiwan fellowship from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. to research China’s view of the US rebalance policy to the Asia Pacific. Dr. Lauer has received a Fulbright scholarship in 2020, to conduct research in Poland, on China’s Belt and Road initiative investments in Central and Eastern Europe. Dr. aleris is the author of three books, as well as more than 25 book chapters and scholarly articles. She regularly offers commentary to international media outlets and online platforms, including CNBC, Asia, in this news, Vietnam news, courthouse news, the Financial Times, the South China Morning Post, Taiwan insight, and US politics and policy, among others. She is a member of the board of directors of the American Association for Chinese studies, and is a member of the National Committee on us China relations.


Jonathan Bench  2:41 

Liz, thank you for coming on the podcast. We’re absolutely thrilled to have you with us today. One of your areas of specialization is the cross strait relationship between Taiwan and China to get things started, could you give us an overview of the state of that relationship? Are we as close to the edges some analysts suggest?


Elizabeth Larus  2:56 

Well, well, we’re not close to the edge. We’re certainly skirting around it. US China relations have been this chilly since June 4 1989. You know, the big difference between now and 30 years ago is a view that China isn’t going to morph into some sort of democratic polity, along with a liberalized economy. In the 1980s. When I first went to China, both Americans and Chinese were really fascinated with each other, or at least positively curious. And there was a feeling in the air that China was moving away from the political campaigns and the close markets of the Mao era, but not really knowing where China was going. So there’s an opportunity for the US and the west to influence China’s political and economic trajectory. You know, 30 years on, we see that low. The CCP, like every Chinese leader, you know, before them prefers a centralized polity and control over the economy, whether it be socialist or capitalist leaning economy. Now, that wouldn’t be of concern to the United States. But it’s the militarization of this centralized policy that really concerns the US. You know, we wouldn’t care if China was strong, but didn’t threaten the US standing in the world. But it does. China has been remarkably successful in building its influence international organizations and global markets diplomatically. Its economic statecraft and its military modernization. So, you know, ideologically we’re miles apart. You know, for example, on Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, even back in the 1980s, the 90s, the US had problems with China trade, Taiwan, and Tibet was the hot issue then. Right. So what’s changed? Right? So back then two things influenced our calculus. That is the US was stronger, diplomatically, economically and militarily than China. And there was the thinking that China would change. So 30 years on We see Marxist Leninist ideology still drives the party state there. And Chinese become stronger in all of those three aspects has become stronger, diplomatically, economically and militarily.


Jonathan Bench  5:12 

And so I’d love to hear what took you to China initially. All of us, Fred and I are China hands as well. And we love hearing, you know, even even tidbits of what first piqued your interest.


Elizabeth Larus  5:23 

It was the opportunity. I was actually living in Hawaii at the time, and I had the decision, do I want to go to Japan? Or do I want to go to China, and at the risk of dating myself, the United States was actually engaged in the trade war with Japan, we were starting to have testy relations with Japan, China was just opening up, it was new. And I honestly thought, you know what, that would be a good niche. For me, I have been working as a press secretary on Capitol Hill. And I had kind of exhausted the possibilities there. So I was looking for something else that I wanted to do. And China was just opening up, it was really the beginning years of the, the dung shopping, you know, era. And so I thought, you know, if I could learn Chinese, that would be a really good niche for me. And so I went to China, and I studied Chinese for a summer, and just kind of took it from there. And then I went on, you know, to graduate school and decided to pursue Chinese studies. So it started out as like a really pragmatic decision, you know, being in the right place at the right time kind of thing. And then, of course, the more I got into it, the further down that road, I walked.


Jonathan Bench  6:44 

That does show quite a bit of foresight. I think in the 80s, there was a relatively modest group of people who had your similar thoughts, right. I mean, those of us who came along in the 90s, and later, certainly looked look to you. We’re glad for your your groundbreaking work, and thanks for thanks for blazing the trail and making it a little easier for the rest of us.


Elizabeth Larus  7:03 

You’re welcome.


Fred Rocafort  7:04 

You bring up an excellent point regarding just why China is such a concern when I have conversations with folks about China. And when certain topics come up, for example, you know, things, the things that are happening in Hong Kong, the things that are happening in Xinjiang, there’s often that retort of Well, there’s a lot of governments around the world that are doing things that we don’t agree with, but in some cases we have good relationships with with those governments. But I think you really drove home the point that China presents this combo, if you will, where Yes, there is that problematic character of the of the government, but also the very real challenge that it is making. And I think that’s really where why it’s such a such a unique threat, at least compared to two other possible threats that exist, sort of following that, that line of thought and focusing on the issue of Taiwan. We’re definitely hearing a lot about this issue. So perhaps we don’t need to talk too much about that. I’d like to focus on one specific issue, and that is Taiwan’s foreign relations, even and I think for people that follow Taiwan issues closely and I and I do my my wife is from Taiwan. So so that’s part of why I am so interested. But there’s other reasons for it as well. But when it comes to to Taiwan’s foreign affairs, infrastructure, I think, for obvious reasons, right? There’s just not not as much perhaps that that’s visible. And I think it’s it’s a bit of a bit of a mystery to many observers. So I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about how Taiwan carries out its foreign policy, and specifically, to what extent, thus the lack of official recognition by all but a handful of countries to To what extent is that truly hinder Taiwan, as opposed to being simply a reputational or pride issue?


Elizabeth Larus  9:01 

Well, at the risk of sounding like a professor, which I am, we need to have a little bit of context right to get to that answer. So the formal name for the government on Taiwan is actually the Republic of China, which was founded in 1911, officially, 1912 following soon yet since revolution, you know, Mainland China which overthrew the last emperor of China in the last dynasty, the Ching Dynasty, right. So the Republic of China was a sovereign independent nation state, which moved to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War, and stay there, of course, after the Civil War, and then the founding of the PRC, the People’s Republic of China in 1949. So now, according to the definition of statehood, a state has a bounded territory, a permanent population and a form of government So the orosi, the Republic of China, on Taiwan has all of those. I mean, it certainly has a bounded territory, right the island territories permanent population, it is a population of nearly 24 million. And it has a form of government presence sighing when a legislature its currency, it’s a military legislature, right? So it has all of those. Now, it is questionable, but it is generally accepted that a fourth condition for statehood is recognition by other sovereign independent nation states. And here, Taiwan does have about 15 diplomatic partners. Granted, it’s not a lot. It’s down from where they were about 10 years ago, but they still do have 15. And those 15 diplomatic partners do add legitimacy to Taiwan’s claim. Officially formally, the Oro C’s claim that it is a sovereign independent nation state distinct from the People’s Republic, which exists on the mainland and was founded decades after the RFC was founded. Right. So the RFC claims it has never been a part of the PRC, and is trying to maintain its diplomatic partners. Right. So now while it only has 15 diplomatic partners, what’s the importance of questions? What’s the importance of having the partners or the lack of diplomatic partners, having diplomatic partners is important for Taiwan’s membership, and participation in international organizations where that’s where a lot of action happens, right? So its diplomatic partners represent Taiwan and international organizations that require statehood for membership. So Taiwan is not a member of international organizations that require statehood, because largely because the China, China says orosi is not a sovereign, independent nation state. And so those those international organizations kind of back off on Taiwan membership. However, you know, its lack of official recognition does not stop Taiwan from participating in international organizations that do not require statehood for membership, such as the World Trade Organization, which is huge. And APEC, you know, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and that’s big, obviously, in Asia. So I sincerely doubt that these entities would throw Taiwan out if Taiwan lost its diplomatic partners. But But you know, we don’t want to see that right. We don’t want to, you know, answer that question.  But Taiwan is an important member of those organizations. You know, Taiwan is one of the world’s largest economies, for a population of 24 million, which is about the population of the state of Florida. It is the world’s 19th largest economy. Sure, it’s not one or two, but out of like, 200 economies in the world, it’s number 19. And perhaps even more important, it is the sixth freest economy in the world. Economy is even freer than that of the United States. So for those reasons, it is important that the Taiwan participate, at least in these economic organizations. And it is hard to ignore Taiwan because of those characteristics.


Fred Rocafort  13:35 

Just want to follow up and I wanted to ask you for for your views on a related subject. When I used to work for the State Department, one of the things that surprised me, I was working mostly on Latin American affairs at first, and one of the things that surprised me was the degree to which the US was really encouraging countries that had diplomatic relations with Taiwan to official diplomatic relations to maintain those and I think, if anything, that trend has intensified in more recent years, but what I’m talking about was 2003 2004. So this has been going on for for a while. Back then it did strike me as curious, right, because I thought, well, we don’t have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and yet we are leaning on other countries to to maintain those relationships. Would it be fair to say that in a way the US is trying to compensate for its own lack of recognition by pushing others to to keep their relationships official?


Elizabeth Larus  14:40 

I think a different way to look at it is the United States is reacting to China’s muscle and trying to get Taiwan’s diplomatic partners to switch away from Taipei to Beijing. If we go back to The myinfo era, that is when my NGO was president of Taiwan. Cross strait relations were were good things were pretty copacetic. And I believe Taiwan had approximately 30 something that’s around 30 something diplomatic partners. Now, before the MA administration, China had been trying to let’s say poach, some people say poach Taiwan’s diplomatic partners, try to use financial leverage to get countries to switch away from Taipei to Beijing, and then Taiwan and how to respond by writing very, very big checks to keep countries you know, diplomatically aligned with Taiwan. And so under Ma and, and, and the Chinese government during the administration, China called essentially a truce with Taiwan and said, you know, if we can have better cross strait relations, and more integration of the economies, we will not seek to squeeze your diplomatic space by trying to buy off our diplomatic partners. So for the eight years of the mine, Joe presidency, Taiwan did enjoy the company of many diplomatic partners and was not threatened by them departing and going over to Beijing. But that ended after Thailand was elected president in 2016. And it it’s an understatement to say that Thailand and Taiwan and Xi Jinping do not see eye to eye. And so like the truce was off. And Taiwan started losing its diplomatic partners again, and the United States was saying, Beijing, you are poaching these partners. You are punishing Taiwan by poaching their diplomatic partners. So under the Trump administration, written into one of our authorization acts was the the idea that the United States would actually punish countries that switched away from Taiwan to mainland China, you know, whether that’s enforceable, whether the United States would carry through on this? We haven’t we haven’t seen it tested. So I do think it’s doubtful, especially now that there was a new administration, that the United States would follow through on that. But you You’re absolutely right. What matters the most to Taiwan, is us support. And the US shift shifted recognition from the Republic of China to the PRC, in 79. But our biggest support for Taiwan, of course, comes in the form of military aid. So that’s kind of like the ace in the hole that Taiwan still has. And that’s probably the most important factor, you know, in the Taiwan situation.


Jonathan Bench  18:08 

Liz another one of your areas of expertise is the impact of China’s Belt and Road initiative in Central and Eastern Europe. We would love to hear your general perspectives on the BRI, but also on Central and Eastern Europe generally, how do the economies in see size up against their Asian counterparts?


Elizabeth Larus  18:24 

Well, the economies in central Eastern Europe are much smaller, then many or all of the provinces in China, each of the provinces in China have larger economies and much larger populations than most of the countries in Europe. So you know, individual, Eastern and Central European countries, there’s no matchup with China itself, and then perhaps with some of the other Asian countries. Now, when you look at Europe as a bloc or European Union, then it’s a different story, right? Because that is a common market. It’s more of a common front. When I noticed when I was doing my research, right around last year, at this time, I was in Poland and then traveling throughout Central and Eastern Europe doing research on the VRI is, you know, a number of scholars pointed out there’s a difference between Chinese investments in Europe and VRI projects. Of course, Chinese investment came first. You know, for example, you may have heard of the 16 plus one, now, what’s called 17 plus one forum, and that is the, you know, 17 Central Eastern European countries plus China, engaging in economic cooperation, trade, investment, economic statecraft, things of that nature. This was rolled out around the year 2012 to great fanfare and great expectations. But when I was in Europe, and it was right before COVID just raged throughout Europe, there was already this sense of, you know, promise fatigue, or that China wasn’t really carrying through on its investments in Central and Eastern Europe. And some of those investments that they did carry through on, were a tremendous disappointment. You know, one example was China had bid on completion of a highway in Poland. Well, you know, initially it was it was overpriced, then it took forever to complete to my factor, I don’t even know if China completed their portion of it. Because they came in, and they made, you know, promises that we’re going to be able to get it done in so much time at a certain cost, and none of those which they fulfilled. So that put Poland’s on guard. And so when I was doing my research on VRI, there were very few VRI projects in Poland, there was still Chinese investment, and trade, but not not, they weren’t embracing VRI projects. Now, the PRI concept itself, I have to admit is really brilliant. It’s it’s multipurpose, it expands markets for Chinese goods, especially its overland belt, from China and across through Central Asia and into Europe. It creates ports for trade and possibly for the military. You know, that’s something else us is concerned about. It certainly enhances China’s diplomatic outreach, and its soft power, right? You know, it makes China look influential, it’s strong, it’s rich, it helps countries that either couldn’t afford or didn’t have the expertise to build a world class infrastructure, or first of all countries couldn’t be bothered building infrastructure, right shuns maybe some projects in some of these countries. And it also supports China’s state owned enterprises. You know, it keeps them in, I should say, It empowers them, because they’re very strong now, right? 10 of the world’s largest construction companies are Chinese. It supports Chinese banking, because for most of these projects, countries are borrowing from Chinese banks to pay China to the Chinese companies to carry out these projects. Right. So it’s, it’s it’s all very well linked. So it appears right that the VRI projects are a win win. But here’s the big caveat. Right? You know, they’re overpriced projects are largely overpriced due to non competitive bids, right, that’s a condition that China puts on VR projects is you’re not gonna send this out for competitive bid which violates By the way, European Union, you know, regulations. The contracts are not transparent. You know, once once they’re written up, they’re they’re not open to the public. And as you probably know, they create a lot of debt for middle income and poor countries. So, you know, getting back to my original point in Europe, VRI has been really disappointing overall. Right? And, and one example I’ll give you is the Belgrade to Budapest railway. And that’s part of the the link of the VRI, from the port of Piraeus down in Greece, right, then up through Serbia, and then up into Budapest, in Hungary, well, it’s wildly expensive, just the Hungarian part is going to be $3 billion, that’s three with a B billion dollars plus interest. It’s to be built with the help of a 20 year Chinese loan, right, which will cover about 85% of the cost. The financial details have been classified or are going to be classified for 10 years. So the European Union, of course, got wind of this and launched an infringement procedure against Hungary for the lack of transparency in the bid. And the Hungarian public is, of course, very aware of the expense of this, and the Hungarian government is going to have to float bonds for this. So yeah, that’s that’s it. That’s just one example of one project that has run into a lot of problems there. And so this, the VRI, was rolled out as this gleaming project, and they’re seeing, you know, it’s a bit tarnished in reality.


Jonathan Bench  24:37 

And I’m always curious when we talk about Eastern Europe about how Russia views China’s influence in its backyard. So do you have any thoughts on that?


Elizabeth Larus  24:46 

Yeah, there’s been a lot in the media about Russia and China cooperation rapprochements. But you know, historically, China and Russia don’t see eye to eye and Russia, historically has been very nervous about Russia and Russia has been there. So China, China nervous about Russia. And so, you know, in the Western media, I would say I would say the Chinese media, like, particularly global Global Times, is going to portray this as a great, you know, Win Win kind of situation. But there’s a lot of suspicion on both sides. And when you look at Central in Eastern Europe, you need to consider like, what are Russia’s interests in Central and Eastern Europe? Certainly security interest. We know that Putin over in Moscow is still very, very concerned about security. China doesn’t have that same interest in Central and Eastern Europe, and is certainly not as concerned about Russia’s security. Right. So what’s China’s interest? In Europe, it’s mostly investments. And Russia certainly invests in Europe. But it doesn’t look like China is stepping on the toes of Russian investment. You know, if there’s any concern, it would be maybe that Chinese goods would come in and take Russia’s market share, and central Eastern Europe. But I don’t see honestly a lot of cooperation between the two, because they just don’t have the same agenda that would link them together. So I think there still is daylight between them. And I think perhaps that daylight between China and Russia is probably good for, you know, the security and the fortunes of Central and Eastern Europe.


Fred Rocafort  26:45 

That’s fascinating. one takeaway from my time in China was that as much as like you said, the official press likes to highlight the warm, fuzzy relation between Russia and China, certainly at the ground level, the Chinese know the Russians well, right. They’re well aware of all the history there. And they got the feeling that they might see some some opportunities to to band together to some degree, but I don’t think there’s any any illusions as to the true character of Russia and the challenges it presents. And I imagine, I’ve never been to Russia, but I imagine that it’s very similar. On the other side, these are countries with deep, long histories, right? So they they know exactly who they’re who they’re dealing with. Turning once again to China, looking at the crystal ball is always a dangerous exercise. And of course, if we knew exactly what was going to happen in China in 10 years, we’d probably be doing different things at the moment. But that said, I’d like to, I’d like to ask you for for your views. Definitely all of the anks to really that that here in the United States and elsewhere in the world, we feel towards China. There’s a sort of general sense of what might happen. If we could perhaps, go a step further. And in general terms, at least try to start making some general predictions as to how things are going to look, there’s a lot of potential developments that that can be scary in some cases, but looking at it, perhaps in a somewhat sober way. Where do you see China in in, say, 10 years?


Elizabeth Larus  28:31 

I see China in 10 years, stronger and stronger. There’s a lot of momentum in China. Just looking at the economic scene, and the vibe in the Chinese cities, there’s a lot of excitement. There’s a lot of drive. There’s a lot of innovation there. There’s a lot of energy, economic wise, the made in China 2025 program, and the 1000 talents program will have tremendous influence and helping to drive the Chinese economy. The made in China 2025 program is Xi Jinping Yang’s plan to boost indigenous innovation. Xi Jinping wants China to be integrated into the world economy, to the extent that the world relies on the Chinese economy, either for its goods or for it being a central part of the supply chain. However, Xi Jinping does not want China to be dependent on the world. And so Xi Jinping is very much aware of the US The West’s tendency to impose sanctions for various reasons might be trade sanctions might because of, you know, human rights abuses, you know, in China. And so Xi Jinping believes that China’s economic security and probably it’s national security is best served by building, innovating inventing its own technology, artificial intelligence, bits and pieces, you know, for machinery. So that’s what this made in 20, made in China 2025 program is not to rely so much on Western technology, not to rely on, you know, the the software, the guts, the pieces from other countries to be able to do it themselves. And so imagine you’ve got like 1000s millions, I should say, of people over there, where the government is saying, I want you to invent this, I want you to innovate this. And, and they are benefiting from being late commerce, right? That is they’re benefiting from all of the Western technology that came with the Western businesses there. And so they had that benefit, they’ve already picked the low hanging fruits right now. Now, they’re moving up the market to invent that themselves, so that they can compete with the West, and then beat the West out. in technology, the 1000 talents program is also another Chinese program to essentially recruit Chinese people who work and study and work abroad, to bring their knowledge back to China, you know, much of it legally, but they’re not going to turn down gains that come illegally, let’s say, you know, a flash or something, you know, download his intellectual property downloaded to a flash drive that is brought over to China, that’s also part of 1000 talents program. Okay. So there’s lots of momentum there until until things start to slow down due to demographics. And we and we do see, actually a shrinking work force. But we don’t see it hitting the Chinese economy hard just yet. 10 years out, you will have a different demographic picture. So I think in these 10 years, there’s going to be a lot of momentum. And I think China is going to be stronger, you could do a lot in 10 years. Right. And they could do amazing things in 10 years. So you know, and even like, during these 10 years, even if the United States continues to have Chile relations with China imposes sanctions on China. There are other countries that are there. Germany is in China, Sweden is trying to Francis into Japan, everyone is there just even like a cursory look at link to N indicates, you know, these young, relatively young people, they’re saying, you know, just to open this new factory just just took, you know, leadership at this new project there. And they’re and they’re inspired to work in China. So it still is a place of opportunity for Europeans and they’re against Africans in China. Now, 10 years out the scary part is its its military modernization, particularly the Navy, particularly its naval modernization, China is building a peer Navy, that is appear to the United States Navy, China now has a larger Navy than the US. And if it continues at its current rates, China will have more than 400 ships and 100 submarines by 2035. I betcha and that’s a conservative figure, right? China’s Navy, when I first went to China, could be characterized or described as a bucket of bolts right now 70% of China’s Navy is considered to be modern, up 50% from just 10 years ago, right? It’s also producing larger ships. Largest ships are more capable of accommodating advanced armaments and onboard systems. You know, for example, China has anti ship missiles, right the anti ship ballistic missiles, which have been dubbed carrier killers, and they are the best, they are the best. China has two aircraft carriers, no way Do they imagine scalar technology, the US aircraft carriers and the new Ford class carriers, but China has a third one in design and it’s a mega carrier. It’s big. You know, carriers indicate forward projection of power forward presence. You don’t use an aircraft carrier in your coast guard for you know defense of your coast. This indicates that China aspires to a Bluewater navy and aspires to a global Navy. You know, in fact, you know, Chinese military documents state point blank that China wants to have a global Navy, by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. And so and of course, you know, their, their their agenda is to have hegemonic power. Right, the UN do influence the unquestioned influence. In the Asia Pacific since World War Two, the United States has been the maritime regimen, right in the Asia Pacific. And so China wants to replace the United States as the most influential maritime power in the Asia Pacific. It doesn’t necessarily say, yeah, we’re going to shove the us out. I’m sure they would love to do that. But no, no, they really want to have the preponderance of power in the Asia Pacific. And all of that I said nothing about China’s cyber capabilities. You know, Chinese sacred cyber capabilities are formidable as well, that would be a whole nother podcast. And also note that space and the Arctic, are the new frontiers in the security domain. And again, that would have to be a whole nother conversation. But that is something to keep our eyes on.


Fred Rocafort  36:24 

There’s quite a few places where we could go from there. What advice do you have for persons who are interested in careers related to foreign affairs?


Elizabeth Larus  36:34 

There are innumerable things that people can do in foreign affairs, perhaps more than any, you know, time in history. As you mentioned, the Foreign Service State Department is only one path. There’s the military, and, you know, the military, they have, you know, attache is around the world. Anyone in the military probably has the chance, you know, to travel quite a bit with the military businesses are all over the place and American businesses abroad, multinational international businesses, find businesses abroad. academia, obviously, is another way, and not just to do research abroad, but to teach abroad, travel, travel and hospitality, travel agents, agencies, you know, bringing groups you know, abroad, a travel host. There’s also an unbelievable number of international organizations, you know, people think, oh, the UN, right, you know, kids, I want to be a translator at the UN. But there’s the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, there’s NATO headquarters there, the various courts in Brussels in Geneva, and they are non governmental organizations. And very often I recommend my students to look at the NGOs, because there are so many of them, and they are all over the world. So then the question is, how do you prepare, right? How do you prepare for a career in foreign affairs, international relations or international affairs. And so you know, I recommend that my students be broadly educated, that they know politics, society, economics, and history and get a very, very broad as broad an understanding possible of all of those, you know, history is important, because it gives you the context for understanding current events. Travel is key, you know, VSI, Paul had a really good quote, he had said that, to travel is to discover that anyone is everyone is wrong about other countries. So it’s, you know, it’s really hard to get out of the US Western mindset, because that’s our environment, we are products of our environment and our education. But it’s really important to try to understand where people from other countries are coming from, you don’t have to agree. But it really helps to understand. So I, you know, I would recommend people take advantage of study abroad, perhaps, you know, when they’re in college or a gap year, probably an immersion language abroad would be very helpful. And if people can’t do that, you know, just go abroad and sit in your relatives kitchens, you’re gonna learn just by being in another culture, you’ll learn a lot just by getting beyond the boundaries of the United States.


Fred Rocafort  39:26 

You bring up excellent points. And I would specifically like to to address one of those alternatives that you mentioned. When I was working in Guam. Joe, one of my best friends, was a manager at the at the local Marriott and his experience really opened my eyes to just how international career in hospitality can be and in fact, I remember thinking of how similar his career track and that of other hotel errs was to my own they Would they would have postings for a few years in one country and then in some cases would be would be transferred to other places every once in a while that they might have a chance to cycle back to headquarters. But I guess the ultimate point is that there are many ways so unexpected in some cases of having an internationally oriented career. We usually end our podcasts asking our guests for recommendations. But today, I want to switch things up a little bit. And that’s because I really want to hear about your book. So I’m going to take the liberty of making that one of your recommendations. But please tell us more about the book and the subjects it covers.


Elizabeth Larus  40:48 

Yeah, the book is really a culmination of decades of observing China and studying and living in China. The book offers a quick, you know, look at China’s history, China’s got 5000 years of history, I leave most of that to historians, but it offers history again, so you understand the political context. Today, you have to understand something about China’s history to understand something about China’s politics. So it begins there. And then it takes the reader through the Mao years the rollercoaster ride of the Mao years and then the DUNS reforms Dongsha pings economic reforms, but the bulk of the book concentrates on China during Xi Jinping regime, you know, he came to power in 2012. And you know, you can say that Mao carried out the first revolution in China, the first Chinese revolution, was overthrown the nationalist regime regime pretty much booting out the foreigners and establishing the PRC in 1949. Deng Xiaoping ushered in the second revolution, and that is when the Chinese Communist Party jettisoned socialism for some form of state capitalism. So now you have capitalist communists or communist capitalists. I do believe that Xi Jinping is ushering in a third revolution. It is a technological revolution. It is China gone global. It is China gone powerful, both economically and militarily. So this book traces the trajectory from the rise of Xi Jinping. And you know, beyond like the political institutions and the changes to the Constitution, various policies, whether they be social policy, military policy, economic policy policy in the arts, population policy, it covers quite a bit, and really less than 300 pages. So it is very readable. It is not nearly tailored to let’s say, an undergraduate who’s interested in China, it’s accessible to people who really know nothing about China, they’re going to get a lot out of it. But also, it’ll be a value to people who know quite a bit about China, because it has these interesting nuggets all throughout it. That comes from my observations from being on the ground in China for three decades.


Fred Rocafort  43:28 

Well, I’m definitely looking forward to checking that out. Jonathan, what about you?


Jonathan Bench  43:33 

Today I’m recommending a china 2021 trends white paper by China skinny, I think I’ve mentioned them before, they are a company that keeps a great pace with all of the retail consumer trends in China. I get there, I think their newsletter comes out weekly. And I always like to peruse it just to see what’s going on to do a very deep analysis into market trends on the consumer side of China every week. And then there’s 2021 trends white paper that they put out, I think at the end of 2020, early 2021 is looking at forecasting ahead. So to the extent that you are involved in China, ecommerce, anything related to China consumers, I recommend that you check this out in its entirety, you can find that I’ll give you the link quick it’s if you just Google China skinny China 21 trends you’ll find it and we’ll also have the link in the in the blog post that accompanies this. Fred, what about you?


Fred Rocafort  44:28 

My recommendation is also related to China, but it is a much less formal one. There is a Twitter handle called the relevant organs. And the relevant organs refers to a formal name sometimes used in official Chinese speak to talk about government departments and agencies. And the relevant organs I find to be one of the best parody accounts out there. They Essentially pretend to be a spokesperson of some sort for, for the Chinese authorities and it is really, really well done, it’s very clear that whoever is behind the the handle knows China very well. And his suit has quite a bit of width, quite a bit of, of intelligence, I sincerely hope that I have the opportunity to meet them at some point. So if you’re on Twitter, they’re relevant or against if you’re not on Twitter, this is the sort of content and there’s not a lot of it. But this this sort of content that should make you consider getting an account, even if you don’t tweet yourself just to read some of the really good stuff that some people are putting out there. Well, thank you once again, for coming on the podcast really, really enjoyed our conversation, and I certainly hope that we can have you again before too long, and discuss the book.


Jonathan Bench  45:59 

We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode, we look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue discussing developments in global law and business. This podcast was produced by Harris Bricken with executive producer Madeline Williams music composed by Stephen Schmid. Tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then.


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