UCLA Asian Studies Faculty in the News -- December 2005

Comment on the Vietnamese American community, China's one child policy and adoption trends, and the place of Mao in today's China

Thu-huong Nguyen-vo, assistant professor of Asian Languages and Cultures, teaches Vietnamese history and has been actively involved in the Vietnamese American community for years. She spoke with Los Angeles Times reporter Mai Tran about the community and discussed its rising philanthropy. Tran quotes her as saying, "We haven't had a long time to accumulate enough wealth in the United States in order to do a lot of philanthropic work... We're not a rich community, but cumulatively, it has been huge."

Geography professor Cindy Fan spoke with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about how Chinese parents' bias in favor of having sons means that nearly all the children given up for adoption in China are girls. In a Dec. 25 article, Tribune-Review writer Bobby Kerlick quoted Fan, "Because families only have one chance, they may decide to abandon the girl and try again... "Boys are considered better for labor. And when a girl gets married, she becomes a member of her husband's household and cares for them. The girl's family is losing something. You're gaining something when you have a son."

In writing about a new biography of Mao Zedong (d. 1976) and discussing the former Communist Party Chairman's place in contemporary China, Knight Ridder reporter Tim Johnson drew on the expertise of Richard Baum, professor of political science. The wire service article has been published in a number of papers including the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times, and the Miami Herald. Baum has served this fall as the director of a new UC-Beijing University program and was interviewed in Beijing. Johnson quotes him as saying, "There's enough awareness that the system is corrupt and Mao had horrible flaws as a human being, but there's no interest in digging it up further." Baum went on to say, "When something you've been brought up with as second nature is shown to be a lie, most people don't want to hear it. It's too jarring.''

Knight Ridder's Johnson turned to Prof. Baum when writing about China's economic rise. The article, published on December 21 in the San Jose Mercury News, also discussed the nation's leadership. Baum is impressed with China's current leaders and told Johnson,  "I'd be willing to put up the top 20 leaders in China any day against their counterparts in the U.S. in terms of competence." He went on to note, though, that people's expectations are rising. "You're getting a much more knowledgeable citizen with more access to information who want more out of life and are beginning to understand their legal rights," Johnson quotes Baum as saying, "And that's putting great stresses on the system."

Earlier in the month, Bloomberg.com's Allen Cheng spoke with Prof. Baum about Hu Yaobang, the Chinese Communist Party chief who was ousted in 1987 and whose 1989 death was the immediate catalyst for the democracy protests that spring in Tiananmen Square. On Nov. 18, a celebration of what would have been Hu's 90th birthday was held in Beijing with more than 300 Communist Party members attending. "Hu's rehabilitation is like the first warm day of spring,'' Baum was quoted as saying. "You hope for more days like this.''

Early in the month, India's ambassador to the United States, Ronen Sen, spoke to the annual meeting Association of Scientists of Indian Origin in America. He called on the Associations members to foster ties with Indian colleagues and noted that the U.S. and Indian governments were working to foster greater collaboration. After the ambassador's speech, the organization presented UCLA physciatry professor Anand Kumar with its senior scientist award. Prof. Kumar was recognized for his work on the neurobiology of late life depression. The event was reported in the India Post.


Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2005