ChinaTalk

Jordan Schneider

Tech and US-China Relations

  • 1 hour 30 minutes
    Taiwan War + Grand Strategy for Cold War II

    Is Cold War II upon us? What should America do to prevent it from becoming a hot war? 

    To discuss, ChinaTalk interviewed Dmitri Alperovitch. Dmitri emigrated from Russia in 1994 at age 13. He co-founded the leading cybersecurity startup Crowdstrike, and has spent the past four years running his new think tank, the Silverado Policy Accelerator. 

    He's also the author of the new book World on the Brink: How America Can Beat China in the Race for the Twenty-First Century. 


    We discuss:

    • Lessons from Cold War crises that almost went nuclear;
    • Underappreciated parallels between the Soviet Union and China today;
    • Groupthink in Washington as well as in Silicon Valley;
    • What a productive economic relationship with China would look like given national security concerns;
    • Some bold military and diplomatic recommendations for Taiwan;

    … and more!


    Work with Matt at Open Philanthropy: Clickable link, URL: https://jobs.ashbyhq.com/openphilanthropy/f33460e1-e092-46ae-918a-85338ffad9a3

    Kennedy's speech to the American people regarding the Berlin Wall: JFK Library.

    Outtro music: Leningradskie mosty from 1957 USSR

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    17 June 2024, 12:10 pm
  • 1 hour 9 minutes
    The Best Chinese Songs of 2024 - with Concrete Avalanche

    Jake Newby is the author of Concrete Avalanche, a free newsletter about music from China. Today, he's here to play you some of his favorite tracks from 2024 thus far — including everything from psychedelic rock to rare Uyghur folk, and from Beijing kawaii core to Tibetan Buddhist chants mixed with footwork.


    00:00:00 'Narcissus' Death' — Backspace (read more)

    00:05:38 '红喷泉' — Pepper Heart (read more)

    00:09:35 'Mail from the River' (live) — Wang Wen (read more)

    00:15:30 '她的力量来自海洋' — Yang Haisong & Wang Xiaofeng (read more)

    00:22:32 'Ollie' — 西红、CNdY (read more)

    00:26:43 'Lost in Bamboos' — Cola Ren (read more)

    00:30:38 'Southern Shanghai' — Voision Xi (read more)

    00:34:20 'Liquid' — Duck Fight Goose (read more)

    00:36:54 '玉林敬酒歌‘ — Run Run Run (read more)

    00:40:35 'Mountains in Yukashima' — Birdstriking (read more)

    00:45:38 'SonicBaby' — XIAOWANG (read more)

    00:48:25 'My Vagina' — Fakeorgasm (read more)

    00:50:25 'Mantra of Vajra Armour' — Howie Lee (read more)

    00:54:08 'Bash Bayawan Muqam' — Mekit Dolan Muqam Group (read more)

    00:59:13 'Μῆνιν ἄειδε, θεὰ παραμαινομένη ἐμοῦ...' — Ὁπλίτης (read more)

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    14 June 2024, 11:30 am
  • 1 hour 15 minutes
    Shakespeare and Power

    Are politicians and actors two sides of the same coin? Can you become a better public speaker by studying soliloquies? What can Shakespeare teach us about the nature of power?

    To discuss, ChinaTalk interviewed Eliot Cohen: SAIS professor, military historian, and counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He is also the author of The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare on How Leaders Rise, Rule, and Fall

    Co-hosting is Jordan’s little brother, actor Phil Schneider. He recently graduated from Yale where he starred in a production of Hamlet. He’s played Romeo, Octavius Valentine, Richard II, and Leontes. Also, he’s looking for a new agent — reach out at [email protected]!

    They discuss: 

    • Royal/executive power — what getting it does to you, and why relinquishing it is so hard;
    • Court intrigues of yore (and today);
    • Timeless techniques for exhorting and manipulating the masses;
    • What makes a great speech;
    • What it really means to be an effective leader, and how great leaders know when it's time to quit.

    Nixon's Farewell speech: Youtube link.

    Outtro audio: Orson Welles Recounts Crossing Paths With Hitler And Churchill. Youtube link.

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    10 June 2024, 9:24 am
  • 51 minutes 57 seconds
    Why America Didn't Invade Taiwan: WWII Lessons for Xi's Invasion

    One does not simply invade Taiwan — but George Marshall once thought long and hard about it. In 1944, in the middle of the island-hopping campaign, American war planners set their sights on Japanese-controlled Formosa.

    What did the American invasion plan look like? Why did Marshall decide to go another route? What lessons do this and other amphibious invasions hold for Taiwan’s current force posture?

    To discuss, ChinaTalk interviewed US Army Field Artillery Lieutenant Colonel J. Kevin McKittrick, currently at the Air War College in Alabama and a veteran of multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Co-hosting today is our resident Taiwan consultant Nicholas Welch.

    We discuss:

    • The US military’s aborted plan to invade Taiwan during WWII;
    • Why bigger is better when it comes to amphibious assaults;
    • What the US got right and the CCP gets wrong about civil-military relations;
    • Taiwan’s defense concept, and the opportunities presented by “operational pause”;
    • The awful, unending relevance of traditional artillery in modern war;
    • And why the US doesn’t need its own “rocket force” … yet.


    Outtro music: 被動 (Passive) by 伍佰 Wu Bai&China Blue. Youtube Link.

    Photo: White House, July 29, 1942. Left to right: Admiral Ernest King, Admiral William Leahy, and General George Marshall. | Wikimedia Commons

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    6 June 2024, 1:23 pm
  • 1 hour 32 minutes
    Preventing an Invasion of Taiwan

    Taiwan’s government agencies are battered by 5 million cyberattacks every day. China is holding invasion drills at a replica of Taiwan’s presidential palace in Inner Mongolia. Last week, the PLA openly rehearsed an encirclement of Taiwan in so-called “punishment drills.”

    What happened to deterrence in the Taiwan Strait? Can the status quo be saved?

    To discuss strategies for avoiding WWIII, ChinaTalk interviewed Jared McKinney of the Air War College and Peter Harris of Colorado State University, who recently co-authored a monograph entitled, “Deterrence Gap: Avoiding War in the Taiwan Strait.

    Co-hosting today is ChinaTalk’s resident Taiwan consultant, Nicholas Welch.

    We discuss…

    • Evidence of deterrence decay in the status quo;
    • The difference between constraints and restraints, and how they fit together to form a lattice of successful deterrence;
    • Whether symbolic solidarity with Taiwan does more harm than good;
    • The values and costs of strategic ambiguity;
    • How Taiwan can optimize its deterrence posture;
    • Lessons from the dance of death between Iran and Israel;
    • Objective factors for measuring invasion risk, and whether the world should be scared about 2027;
    • How to analyze decision trees for fundamentally irrational decisions;

    ... and more!


    Outtro music: MJ116, 辣台妹 (HOT CHICK) - Official music video: MJ116【辣台妹 HOT CHICK】- (youtube link)

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    3 June 2024, 11:01 am
  • 1 hour 12 minutes
    Sovereign AI

    Good AI is good and bad AI is bad, but how do lawmakers tell the difference? Will AI bring the world together or balkanize the internet beyond repair? Why do governments even need cloud computing anyway?

    To discuss, ChinaTalk interviewed Pablo Chavez, a fellow at CNAS and former Vice President of Google Cloud's Public Policy division, as well as the inestimable investing tycoon Kevin Xu. Xu, formerly of GitHub, is the founder of Interconnected, a bilingual newsletter on the intersections of tech, business, investing, geopolitics, and US-Asia relations.

    In this interview, we discuss:

    • The digital sovereignty movement and the lessons we can learn from China's Great Firewall;
    • The value and risks of open source architecture in the future of AI governance;
    • Meta’s long history of open source and how Llama fits into that strategy;
    • The geopolitical and cultural forces driving nations to pursue their own AI strategies;
    • The viability of sovereign AI initiatives in the face of global tech giants.

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    28 May 2024, 11:01 am
  • 42 minutes 57 seconds
    AI Roundup: GPT4o, SCSP AI Expo, Open vs Closed

    Nathan Lambert of the Interconnects substack and Allen Institute joins for a roundup where we get into:

    • What DC should understand about the Bay Area AI engineer psyche
    • What GPT4o and Google's AI Dev Day mean for the future of AI
    • OpenAI's model spec, and exit, voice, and loyalty in the leading labs


    Outtro music: Scarlett Johansson's The Moon Song

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    17 May 2024, 8:50 pm
  • 1 hour 7 minutes
    250 Years of US Trade Policy

    We're taking one out of the archives!

    Douglas Irwin is a Dartmouth professor and the author of Clashing Over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy. On this episode, Irwin provides an overview to the history of U.S. trade policy from the 18th century to the modern day, highlighting significant legislation as well as the formation of important intergovernmental organizations that have sprung up along the way.

    Outro Music: Janis Joplin, Mercedes Benz

    19:53: On the flawed logic behind the Tariff Act of 1930, and the parallels with similarly problematic thinking in the modern day: “There’s absolutely a parallel there because some Democrats in Congress said, ‘You know, we ought to really think about this carefully, and not just our domestic interest but also our export interests, and other countries might retaliate.’ And basically, the reaction of most members of Congress was, Republicans at the time, ‘No, we don’t have to worry about that. This is a domestic piece of legislation, it doesn’t really concern other countries. They’re not going to retaliate.’ And, of course, they did.”

    39:40: Doug discusses the tips and tricks behind one example of “tariff engineering”: “The tariffs applied to motorcycles with piston displacements of 700cc and above. What Honda started doing is producing a 699cc version. Now the difference [between the two] is imperceptible, but just by changing that one cubic centimeter, it changed the whole tariff treatment and you avoided a 45 percent tariff and were assessed at a much, much lower rate.”


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    17 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 1 hour 17 minutes
    EMERGENCY POD: Biden's Electric Curtain

    Brad Setser of CFR talks Biden's new tariffs!

    Earlier podcast deep dive on Chinese EV policy: ChinaTalk: Why Chinese EVs Will Take Over the World on Apple Podcasts

    Earlier podcast on the deep history of US trade policy: ChinaTalk: Tarriffs, taxes, and trade: Doug Irwin on ChinaEconTalk on Apple Podcasts

    Brad's paper: Power and Financial Interdependence (ifri.org)

    Outtro Music: Golden Earring's Radar Love

    Here's a fun playlist on the best car songs: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6l0sSAdFwyCH1yzQX2IrKQ?si=fb3b8fdd29644631

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    15 May 2024, 1:27 am
  • 51 minutes 58 seconds
    MITRE on S&T Strategy

    Charles Clancy is the CTO of MITRE, an American not-for-profit organization managing federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) supporting various US government agencies in defense, healthcare, national security, and cybersecurity fields, among others.

    In this interview, we discuss:

    • What is MITRE and how does it support national science & technology strategy
    • How China threatens America’s infrastructure and university R&D
    • The cyber workforce gap and how AI could fill it
    • Finding mission-driven work for highly skilled technologists
    • How the ecosystem of S&T and R&D funding evolved through the 20th century to today

    Outtro music: Yung Bae, Magic Yung Bae - Magic (youtube.com)

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    13 May 2024, 11:04 am
  • 45 minutes 15 seconds
    TSMC Takes Arizona

    TSMC is taking on Arizona. How's it going? To discuss, ChinaTalk interviewed Viola Zhou, journalist at Rest of World. She has published pieces on Foxconn's quest to make iPhones in India and most recently, a gripping feature about the cultural challenges that TSMC is facing trying to manufacture semiconductors in the USA. Throughout her story, we get a peek into a world of rigid hierarchies, American workers who are slow on the uptake, and culture clash over pornographic desktop flair. 

    Today’s interview discusses:

    • Sleuthing techniques for independent journalism;
    • The challenges faced by Taiwanese semiconductor engineers relocating to Arizona;
    • TSMC’s management style and the complaints raised by new American employees;
    • The similarities and differences between TSMC’s expansion to the USA and Foxconn’s expansion to India;
    • Whether adapting to American work culture will tank the prospects of the new Phoenix Fab.

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    2 May 2024, 12:18 pm
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