Harvard’s Tony Saich on the Hong Kong Demonstrations



As the demonstrations in Hong Kong continue, I get calls and emails from CHINADebate Members, especially hedge funds concerned about what the impact will be on investments, asking what I think will happen. I have had to answer that I don’t know. Any serious impact would come from the actions of China’s leadership, and we don’t have any precedents from the Xi Jinping regime.

That said, insightful China watchers can give us analyses that will at least allow us to weigh expectations. Of these, one of my handful of go-to experts is Tony Saich.

Anthony Saich

Anthony Saich

Besides his positions as Daewoo Professor of International Affairs and Director Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School, Tony Saich is, I am honored to say, a frequent speaker at the CHINARoundtable and a member of CHINADebate’s Advisory Council. And I am pleased to say that he will be a speaker at the November 11 CHINARoundtable.

Tony has commented on the demonstrations in Hong Kong in an interview with the Harvard Gazette  and in an op-ed in The Boston Globe, ‘Hong Kong Protesters Shouldn’t Push China Too Far.’   From the Harvard Gazette interview…

GAZETTE: Is the protest movement likely to change Beijing’s view, and if not, is there a resolution both sides could live with?

SAICH: I think it’s hard to see what the resolution is. I don’t think Beijing will back down on the decision that was made earlier. The demonstrators say that they have a number of core objectives, one of which is to rescind that decision, but also for [Leung] to step down. I don’t think they’re going to get the first. They may, through some maneuverings, get the second. Because the only tactic for Beijing, short of greater oppression, is to distance themselves and not say their decision was wrong, but to say that [Leung] and the senior Hong Kong leadership have implemented their control around the demonstrations poorly, and that they haven’t explained this sufficiently to the Hong Kong people, that they haven’t allowed sufficient negotiation — that might be one area of wiggle room for them. The only other hope is that if there’s not continued repression of the demonstrations, over time the enthusiasm might just fade away, and that might allow for a calming period where some kind of discussion could take place. But I think it’s very problematic for Beijing. In a sense, they are really losing a generation. You have a group of young people — college students, high school students — who’ve clearly expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the way Hong Kong is being managed. It’s hard to see what Beijing could do that would win back trust from that group, which is not a very promising situation for the future.

And for a fuller analysis, listen to Tony’s 13 minute  ‘The Aims and Aftermath of the Hong Kong Protests,’ on the Harvard Kennedy School PolicyCast.

Welcome to Mercy Kuo, CHINADebate’s Chief Strategy Officer

Mercy Kuo

Mercy Kuo

Mercy comes to us from the Committee of 100, where she was successively Director of Research and then Managing Director. The Committee of 100 describes itself in this way…

The Committee of 100 is an international, non-profit, non-partisan membership organization that brings a Chinese American perspective to issues concerning Asian Americans and U.S.-China relations. Our organization draws upon the collective experience, knowledge and resources of our members – Chinese Americans who have achieved prominence in a variety of fields and work in partnership towards our mission.

It is a who’s who of Chinese-Americans from Lucy Liu to Yo Yo Ma to Ronnie Chan and Victor Fung.

Close to my heart–and adding fuel to speculation that CHINADebate is a CIA cabal–Mercy also served for six years in the Agency’s Directorate of Intelligence.

I hope you will welcome Mercy, as we do, to the CHINADebate family.

Finally, here is her formal statement of background…

MERCY A. KUO | 郭恩憫

Mercy A. Kuo is Chief Strategy Office at CHINADebate.

She was formerly managing director and director of research at the Committee of 100, an international, non-profit leadership organization focused on strengthening US-China relations.

From 2006-2008, Dr. Kuo was a senior project director and director of the Southeast Asia Studies and Strategic Asia Programs at the National Bureau of Asian Research, a US-based foreign policy think tank.

She served with the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst of Chinese foreign policy and Northeast and Southeast Asian political, security, and military issues from 2000-2006.

She was the first Chinese-American lecturer in the Sinology Department at the University of Warsaw in Poland and a visiting researcher at the Polish Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Political Studies.

Her China-related publications include:

  • Contending with Contradictions: China’s Policy toward Soviet Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Sino-Soviet Split, 1953-1960 (Lexington 2001),
  • “China in the Year 2020: Bridging the Academic-Policy Gap with Scenario-Planning,” Asia Policy, Volume 4 (2007),
  • “Defence Policymaking in Strategic Asia,”Handbook of Defence Politics: International and Comparative Perspectives (Routledge, 2008),Strategic Asia 2008-09: Challenges and Choices—What the New President Should Know, (The National Bureau of Asian Research 2008), and
  • “China’s Strategic Orientation: Assessing Alternative Futures,” China in the 21st Century: History, Security and International Relations, Volume 3 (Praeger, April 2014).

She earned a Ph.D. in Modern History from Oxford University, M.A. in Chinese Studies from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and B.A. in Asian Studies from Pomona College in Claremont, California, and is proficient in Chinese, Polish and Italian.

CHINAEconForum Tele/Videoconference Aug 27

CHINADebate is introducing the CHINAEconForum, a monthly tele/videoconference discussion about the hot issues in the China economy.

The first CHINAEconForum will be on Wednesday, August 27, from 4:00-5:00pm EDT, and I would like to invite you to participate, either by telephone or videoconference.

Pieter Bottelier–professor at SAIS, former World Bank head in China, and a regular speaker at the CHINARoundtable–will lead the discussion. His picks for issues are…

  • China’s Real Estate Market…how its continuing slide is impacting the China’s economy
  • China Banking…how China is strengthening capitalization in anticipation of higher NPLs
  • China’s Anti-Monopoly Drive…why China is targeting foreign companies

Besides these, what issues would you like to cover? Let me know, and I will add them to the agenda.

If you would like to participate by either telephone or videoconference , please write back, and I will send you the call/log-in information.

The CHINAEconForum is the next step in our efforts to, as I like to say, disrupt how you think about China. I am really excited about the Forum and hope you will join in the discussion.

China ECommerce–Engaging And Informative Presentation

Brand to China

Most of our CHINADebate hedge fund Members are particularly interested in two things: China gaming and China Internet, especially ecommerce. So, as I am keeping up with what’s happening in China, I pay attention to these industries.

Today, on SlideShare, I came across an excellent summary about China ecommerce, presented with clear and well-ordered slides, from Totem Media, a Chinese social media solutions company.

I found it engaging and informative, and, done so well, entertaining. Interesting to anyone following trends in China business. Let me know what you think. Here’s the presentation:

Introducing the CHINAEconForum

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 12.07.47 AM

CHINADebate is introducing the CHINAEconForum, a monthly tele/videoconference discussion about the hot issues in the China economy.

The first CHINAEconForum will be on Wednesday, August 27, from 4:00-5:00pm EDT, and I would like to invite you to participate, either by telephone or videoconference.

Pieter Bottelier–professor at SAIS, former World Bank head in China, and a regular speaker at the CHINARoundtable, and Junheng Li, founder of JL Warren Capital and author of Tiger Woman on Wall Street–will lead the discussion on…

  • China’s Real Estate Market…how its continuing slide is impacting the China’s economy
  • China Banking…how China is strengthening capitalization in anticipation of higher NPLs
  • China’s Anti-Monopoly Drive…why China is targeting foreign companies

Besides these, what issues do you think we should cover? Let me know, and I will add them to the agenda.

The CHINAEconForum is the next step in our efforts to, as I like to say, disrupt how you think about China. I am really excited about the Forum and hope you will join in the discussion.

Julian Chang Joins Schwarzman Fellows

Julian Chang

Julian Chang

Our congratulations–and best wishes–to Julian Chang, a member of the CHINADebate Advisory Council, has joined the Schwarzman Scholars.   Here is more…

Schwarzman Scholars today announced that long-time Kennedy School administrator Julian Chang has been appointed Associate Dean of Student Life. Inspired by the prestigious Rhodes scholarship, Schwarzman Scholars is designed to educate future world leaders about China. 200 elite students from around the world will spend a postgraduate year studying at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious academic institutions. As part of that experience, they will gain unrivaled exposure to China through mentorship opportunities, cultural immersion, extensive travel and access to distinguished visitors. Mr. Chang joins Schwarzman Scholars to develop and oversee these unique co-curricular elements of the program.

Stephen A. Schwarzman, the program’s founder, said, “Julian’s wealth of academic and administrative experience makes him an incredible asset as we continue to build out our team and develop this spectacular program. The extensive extracurricular programming is a core part of the program, giving students an unparalleled opportunity to learn first-hand about China, its people, culture, history and motivations.”

Chang joins Schwarzman Scholars from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, where he served as the Executive Director of the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia. During his tenure at the Kennedy School, Chang co-founded the annual “China Goes Global” conference and led an international team studying the investment activity of Chinese enterprises.

As Associate Dean of Student Life for Schwarzman Scholars, Chang will be based in Beijing, living and working at Schwarzman College, the academic and residential college being built for the program, which is inspired by the residential colleges at Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge. Chang will report jointly to the Executive Director of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Education Foundation in New York City and to the Schwarzman Scholars Dean, David Daokui Li. Chang will aid in the oversight, development, management, administration, and implementation of the full program, with a specific emphasis on and responsibility for programmatic elements and issues related to student life.

Julian Chang said, “I could not be more excited to join Schwarzman Scholars as we plan for this unprecedented student opportunity to gain knowledge of China and build relationships with talented and ambitious peers. I especially look forward to my work ahead with Dean Li and our partners at Tsinghua, whose crucial support in this endeavor cannot be overvalued.”

Prior to joining Harvard in 2001, Chang served as the Assistant Director of the Center for East Asian Studies and Deputy Director of the Asia Pacific Research Center at Stanford. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University and his B.A. from Yale University.

About Schwarzman Scholars:

Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace, and is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Blackstone Co-Founder Stephen A. Schwarzman personally contributed $100 million to the program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $200 million from private sources to endow the program in perpetuity. The endowment will support 200 scholars annually from the U.S., China and around the world for a one-year Master’s Degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious universities and an indispensable base for the country’s scientific and technological research. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling, and developing a better understanding of China. Admissions will open in the fall of 2015, with the first class of students in residence by the summer of 2016. Learn more at www.schwarzmanscholars.org

McKeown on the CHINARoundtable

My friend, Kevin McKeown, president of LEXBLOG, put an all too flattering profile of me on his excellent blog, Leadership Close Up. Thanks, Kevin!

Kevin McKeown

As much as I appreciated his kind words about me, I appreciated even more his introducing the CHINARoundtable to his many readers.

Especially the upcoming February 26 CHINARoundtable at the Harvard Club of New York. We’ll tackle an issue that threatens to tank not just China’s economy but the whole world economy: the deepening financial and banking crises.

We’ll hear from four leading China experts and have a full morning of spirited, in-depth discussion between the experts and our China-informed Members. (more below)

My aim is for our Members to return to their offices that afternoon better prepared for how ever these crises play out–reform, muddle though, or collapse. With the stakes so high, this might be our most important CHINARoundtable yet.

Returning Kevin’s shoutout, I encourage you to explore his Leadership Close Up blog. Besides great posts about strategy, leadership, and the like, you will find the real treat is his photography. Beautiful and often about my favorite, dogs.