China

OpenCalais Metadata: Latitude: 
32.9042932784
OpenCalais Metadata: Longitude: 
110.467708512

On a typical night at  Mala Sichuan Bistro, customers dab their watering eyes over dishes of live tilapia or rabbit meat soaked in flaming red chili oil.

The restaurant, located in Houston’s Chinatown, is owned by UT alumni Cori Xiong and Heng Chen. Xiong moved to Texas from the Sichuan province of China when she was 12 years old. Chen left his home city of Shenyang, China, for the U.S. when he was 16 years old. When the now-husband-and-wife met at UT, they discovered a shared passion for Sichuan Chinese food.

After Xiong and Chen graduated in 2009 with economics degrees, they decided to take a leap of faith and jump into the restaurant business. They set up a shop in Houston’s bustling Chinatown, offering lunch plates and Sichuan staples. They lacked experience in the business, which at times made the work challenging.

“We pretty much had to cross the river by feeling the stones,” Chen said. “Hiring the right people, keeping the good people and leading these people has always been a challenge.”

On Friday, Xiong presented some of her restaurant’s signature dishes at Taste of Texas, a part of the Austin Food and Wine Festival.

“I’ve loved seeing so many non-Chinese people enjoying our food and not taking it as something weird and exotic,” Xiong said. “I feel like I’ve bridged some gap between different cultures.”

Xiong and Chen named Mala Sichuan Bistro after the restaurant’s signature flavors. In Mandarin Chinese, ma refers to the numbing sensation caused by peppercorns native to the Sichuan province, and la refers to the spicy flavor of red chili peppers.

“Numbing is a flavor — or more of a sensation — that most people do not know humans are able to taste,” Xiong said. “Our spices activate the touch sensory receptors and make each one of the nerve endings in the tongue and the mouth area think that they’ve been repeatedly lightly touched, like a constant light buzz.”

To set their restaurant apart from the several traditional spicy Sichuan restaurants in Houston’s Chinatown, Xiong and Chen added an alcohol menu and prioritized establishing a friendly ambience.

“I want to excite the diners with the bold flavors of food and perfect pairings of beer and wine that they don’t usually see in ethnic restaurants,” Xiong said. “But I also want to give them some bits and pieces of impressions on Sichuan culture and my hometown.”

The duo will soon open a Mala Sichuan Bistro location in Montrose, a trendy neighborhood of Houston. The restaurant’s new location will be across from the restaurant Underbelly, a critically acclaimed mainstay of Houston’s food scene. Chris Shepherd, Underbelly owner and executive chef, said he looks forward to his new neighbors.

“Mala has become a destination restaurant in Chinatown,” Shepherd said. “People who weren’t previously familiar with Chinatown have now experienced Houston’s incredible Asian cuisine as a result of Mala’s influence. The Montrose location will touch an even larger group of inner-loop Houstonians, and I hope it opens the door for even more exploration.”

Although Xiong and Chen have specifically reached out to non-Chinese customers, they said their priority is to serve up authentic Chinese food.

“I want to offer an experience that is different from other Chinese restaurants,” Chen said. “But I still want to let diners know that this is the real, traditional Chinese food — that this is what people eat in China — not egg rolls or orange chicken.”

On a typical night at  Mala Sichuan Bistro, customers dab their watering eyes over dishes of live tilapia or rabbit meat soaked in flaming red chili oil.

The restaurant, in Houston’s Chinatown, is owned by UT alumni Cori Xiong and Heng Chen. Xiong moved to Texas from the Sichuan province of China when she was 12. Chen left his home city of Shenyang, China, for the U.S. when he was 16 years old. When the now-husband-and-wife met at UT, they discovered a shared passion for Sichuan Chinese food, which involves spicy meat dishes and noodles.

After Xiong and Chen graduated in 2009 with economics degrees, they decided to take a leap of faith and jump into the restaurant business. They set up a shop in Houston’s bustling Chinatown, offering lunch plates and Sichuan staples at reasonable prices. They lacked experience in the business, which at times made the work challenging.

“We pretty much had to cross the river by feeling the stones,” Chen said. “Hiring the right people, keeping the good people and leading these people has always been a challenge.”

On Friday, Xiong presented some of her restaurant’s signature dishes at the Austin Food and Wine Festival. At the Taste of Texas event, Xiong formally introduced her authentic, Chinatown-honed Sichuan cuisine to the Austin food scene.

“I’ve loved seeing so many non-Chinese people enjoying our food and not taking it as something weird and exotic,” Xiong said. “I feel like I’ve bridged some gap between different cultures.”

Xiong and Chen named Mala Sichuan Bistro after the restaurant’s signature flavors. In Mandarin Chinese, ma refers to the numbing sensation caused by peppercorns native to the Sichuan province, and la refers to the spicy flavor of red chili peppers.

“Numbing is a flavor or more of a sensation that most people do not know humans are able to taste,” Xiong said. “Our spices activate the touch sensory receptors and make each one of the nerve endings in the tongue, and the mouth area think that they’ve been repeatedly lightly touched, like a constant light buzz.”

Xiong and Cheng found that several traditional spicy Sichuan shops already called Chinatown home. To set their restaurant apart, they incorporating aspects of contemporary American dining, added an alcohol menu and prioritized establishing a friendly ambience.

“I want to excite the diners with the bold flavors of food and perfect pairings of beer and wine that they don’t usually see in ethnic restaurants,” Xiong said. “But I also want to give them some bits and pieces of impressions on Sichuan culture and my hometown.”

The duo plans to continue their efforts to expand their customer base to non-Chinese people. They will soon open a Mala Sichuan Bistro location in Montrose, a trendy neighborhood of Houston. The restaurant’s new location will be across from the restaurant Underbelly, a critically acclaimed mainstay of Houston’s food scene. Chris Shepherd, Underbelly owner and executive chef, said he looks forward to his new neighbors.

“Mala has become a destination restaurant in Chinatown,” Shepherd said. “People who weren’t previously familiar with Chinatown have now experienced Houston’s incredible Asian cuisine as a result of Mala’s influence. The Montrose location will touch an even larger group of inner-loop Houstonians, and I hope it opens the door for even more exploration.”

Although Xiong and Chen have specifically reached out to non-Chinese customers, they said their priority is to serve up authentic Chinese food.

“I want to offer an experience that is different from other Chinese restaurants,” Chen said. “But I still want to let diners know that this is the real traditional Chinese food, that this is what people eat in China — not egg rolls or orange chicken.”

From left to right, Soo Jeong Kim, Asian cultures and languages and finance senior, theatre graduate student Yong Min Lee and David Nielsen, Asian cultures and languages and finance senior, perform in an art piece about a family that leaves North Korea as part of Liberty in North Korea’s Awareness Day. The event aims to raise awareness about the human rights violations that are taking place in North Korea.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The UT chapter of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) urged students to send letters of solidarity to the North Korean people during its biannual day of awareness for the human rights violations occurring in North Korea. 

The event Friday aimed to educate the University community about the human side of the political crisis in North Korea, according to Sarah Choi, UT LiNK chapter’s vice president and cellular and molecular biology junior. The current turmoil started in 1945 when Cold War geopolitics split the peninsula into North and South Korea.

“We wanted to emphasize the people side of North Korea, instead of the politics,” Choi said. “There is an abuse of human rights that is going on in North Korea apart from the nuclear issue and the dictatorship.”

The national organization focuses its efforts on using the funds University chapters raise to rescue refugees. Otherwise, Chinese officials would send these refugees back to North Korea, where they would face likely imprisonment in concentration camps, Choi said.

“When North Korean refugees leave the country, they cross the [Yalu] River to enter China, a country that does not recognize their refugee status,” Choi said. “LiNK headquarters sends rescue teams to China to help the refugees get refugee status through the U.S. or South Korea. Basically, we are an underground railroad.”

Most of the $3,500 it takes to rescue a refugee is used to convince officials in China and North Korea to release the refugees into the hands of LiNK rescue teams, according to Kirstin Helgeson, UT LiNK chapter’s social media chair and linguistics and mathematics sophomore.

“3,500 sounds like it is a lot of money for just one person, but really most of it is used for bribery, which is sad,” Helgeson said.

The UT LiNK chapter has helped save a total of 12 refugees since its founding in 2006.

LiNK uses $500 of the funds to help provide educational scholarships to the refugees, said Amy Kridaratikorn, LiNK member and advertising junior.

Kridaratikorn said the way LiNK clearly outlines how the organization intends to use the funds makes her confident about its philanthropic efforts.

“For LiNK, you raise a set amount of funds, and then you save a refugee,” Kridaratikorn said. “Later on, they send you [the refugee’s name] and a thank you note from them, so I know exactly who my efforts are helping.”

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

The University has been invited to take part in a new summer exchange program with Peking University in Beijing.

Ray Han, professor and assistant dean of engineering at PKU, visited UT for the first time in hopes of establishing an official association with the University for the program, which is called Globex. The program is a three-week study abroad program at PKU in July, and it includes primarily engineering classes along with some classes about Chinese economy and society.

In order to form the connection between UT and PKU, Han is meeting with Richard Flores, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts, and Gerald Speitel, associate dean for academic affairs in the Cockrell School of Engineering. If they reach an agreement to make Globex officially affiliated with UT, it will be one of 40 universities worldwide set to participate in the program.

“In a very globalized world there’s a lot of, you know, movement of people all over the world to look for jobs,” Han said. “[People are not] confined to national boundaries. I think [Flores] will be supportive.”

China and the U.S. have the two largest economies in the world, and that is an important reason for establishing a partnership with UT, Han said.

“I think it’s good for [American and Chinese students] to be meeting and talking and exchanging,” Han said. “We are just doing little baby steps to get students to start talking to each other.”

Since Han arrived at UT on Monday, he has met with students, engineering faculty and China-focused faculty in disciplines such as history and government, along with Flores and Speitel, said Susan Mays, Asian American studies lecturer. Mays will also be teaching a course on China’s economy during the Globex program in July. 

“The academic quality is high [at PKU],” Mays said. “It’s a good opportunity for American students to study abroad but to actually get to study with Chinese students.”

Flores said gaining different perspectives of the world through direct experiences is a core value of UT study abroad programs. Studying in China and engaging with the country is critical because of the many business partnerships we share, Flores said.

“There’s a lot of trade; there’s a lot of business; there’s a lot of work that we do with China,” Flores said. “It’s important that we understand [each other].”

Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

Is it just me, or has our world taken a turn to greater incivility in the last few years? The evidence seems overwhelming. Our politicians attack one another and show no inclination to listen to anything but what they already believe. Politics has always involved aggression, but we have crossed a line when national figures compare peaceful protesters to international terrorists and prominent personalities accuse their adversaries of “not loving America.” Our public discourse leaves little space for legitimate and respected disagreement. You are loyal and upstanding or you are traitorous and debased, depending on who is listening.

This phenomenon is global. The dismissive renunciation of Greece’s calls for reform in European Union finances and its pleas for some alternative to economic policies crushing its population show how European politics are also plagued by callousness toward dissent. China and Russia have only increased their intimidation, torture and even murder of dissidents. The killing last week of Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and leading liberal politician in Russia, was one more sign that rulers around the world are cracking down on public critics. Shot dead in sight of the Kremlin, Nemtsov’s murder is a deadly warning to all, in Russia and beyond, who challenge established authority.

Growing inequalities of power and wealth are a necessary part of this story. During the past half-century, millions of people around the world have gained access to education, high incomes and personal security. At the same time, many more millions have been left behind. By most measures, the gap between the lucky “haves” and the unlucky “have-nots” has grown across societies. This is perhaps true in the United States most of all, where a narrow sliver of the population has seen unprecedented income growth, while the vast majority of citizens face real declining wages. The children of the wealthy and the educated in our society can expect lives of great abundance and opportunity; the children of the poor have much narrower prospects, with less hope than during prior decades.

In a growing but deeply unequal world, the stakes in political debate are often violent. Those who have acquired much in recent years fear, legitimately, that those left behind want to take what they have. Since the poor have “proven” they cannot help themselves, the argument goes, they must want to steal someone else’s earnings. Taxes, health care and even aid for education get coded as thievery by the lazy and unqualified, or those who are doing their bidding.

On the other end of our polarized debates, those who speak, legitimately, for citizens left behind claim that privileged citizens in our society have somehow cheated and stolen from others. There is a populist hatred of well-educated hard working professionals that seeps through the nasty condemnations voiced by the Tea Party’s supporters and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. Both blame elites for their personal frustrations when, in fact, most of the highly educated and high earning members of our society are also hard-working and simply playing by the rules. Successful professionals in our knowledge industries do not work with their hands, but they are the sources of innovation and productivity that allow even our poorest citizens to live better material lives than their predecessors. Although elites (like most of us reading this column) are beneficiaries of current inequalities, we did not make them, and we often do what we can to help broader parts of our social community. Self-interest and concern for the public good are not necessarily contradictions, and they do not correlate with one’s income-level.

Inequality is encouraging incivility today because of the fear I mentioned earlier. Those at the top fear that their position is not secure, especially as they see how far they can fall. Those near the bottom fear that they do not have an opportunity to climb even part of the way to the top. That is the story of our vituperative politics around health care. It is also the story surrounding European Union finances and political authority in China and Russia. When the world is increasingly divided between “haves” and “have-nots,” each side has more to fight for, at almost all costs.  In these polarized circumstances, democracy becomes a secondary concern, even in the United States – witness the cynical efforts by certain politicians today to discourage poor, young and minority voters from casting their ballots.  

The solution to our current global inequality and incivility is not clear. I do not have a simple roadmap to offer. We must, however, begin by diagnosing and discussing the problem. We must study the numerous causes and their many consequences as social scientists, humanists and cosmopolitan citizens. We must push ourselves to contemplate creative policies – in our universities, in our home communities, in our nation and our world – that push against these problems. This should be a calling for our best universities and our best young thinkers.

If we are not studying these issues, we can expect more violence and democratic decline in coming years. Money and moral self-righteousness will mean little if our society does not find the resolve to encourage more civility and more equality. You can visit Boris Nemtsov’s grave in Russia to see the alternative.

Suri is a professor in the Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. He writes about foreign policy. Follow Suri on Twitter @JeremiSuri.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

The two matches against China’s Zhejiang club team came at the right time for the Texas volleyball.

After falling to rival Oklahoma at home for its first conference loss since 2012 and losing some of its momentum from a previously undefeated season, Texas rebounded with two wins this week over one of China’s best club volleyball teams.

“I think we did get better, and we tried some different lineups, and that’s good for us,” sophomore outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame said. “Some people got experience they weren’t able to do before, and it was a good learning experience, and we’re ready to go back to the Big 12.”

The No. 5 Longhorns return to their normal conference play in time to start the second half of the Big 12 season, beginning Sunday at Iowa State.

“With the loss, we’re now in a race with Oklahoma, and we’ve got to make sure there’s some urgency here,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said.

Before falling to Oklahoma, it had been 23 matches since the Longhorns had last lost a conference match. Since that last loss, which came at Iowa State, Texas won a national title and posted an undefeated conference record last year.

But the Oklahoma game has brought the team back to Earth. After posting 12 service errors, which got the ball rolling with other mistakes, Prieto Cerame said it was a learning experience for the team.

“It just showed us that, if you don’t show up, anybody can show up and beat you,” Prieto Cerame said.

Iowa State has struggled this season, though. After being picked to finish third in the Big 12, the Cyclones have only managed to pull together a 3-5 conference record, which includes road losses to Baylor and TCU. Iowa State ranks first in the conference in assists and digs but is at or near the bottom in almost every other statistical category.

Despite the struggles, Iowa State has played well at home in the Hilton Coliseum, posting a perfect 3-0 record in conference play. Elliott said the biggest reason Iowa State plays so tough against the Longhorns is because of the confidence the Cyclones have at home.

“They feel comfortable there,” Elliott said. “They’ve got a big crowd there, and when we go in there they’re probably going to have eight to 10 thousand people that are going to be yelling at us and get us off our game.”

With Texas no longer undefeated and having to fend off Oklahoma and Kansas State, which are both 6-2 in the Big 12, for the remaining eight conference games, Prieto Cerame said it’s just about discipline now.

“We have to focus in practices being good from the beginning to the end,” Prieto Cerame said. “That should also be in the games and not making dumb errors.”

Texas welcomed Chinese club team Zhejiang in a meet and greet with the Texas men’s basketball team Monday.

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

At first glance, the members of Zhejiang volleyball team from China look like any other tourists in Austin. They took pictures of the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, ate barbecue and left with bags of gifts.

While it might seem like a vacation, it’s a little bit more for Zhejiang.

The defending champion of China’s national volleyball league is in Texas to compete against what it considers to be the best collegiate team in the U.S.

“We have been in the States for almost a week and have been playing with a couple of teams already, but we know that this team is the strongest team we’re going to play,” Zhejiang head coach Wu Sheng said through a translator.

Zhejiang and Texas, perennial contender on the collegiate stage, square off twice this week, with the last match tonight at 7 p.m. Zhejiang has already faced off against Texas Tech, winning the match in Lubbock in five sets and swept TCU on Friday night.

This, however, will be by far its toughest test in the States. In addition to facing a team ranked in the top five, Zhejiang will have to deal with the Gregory Gym environment. Up until Saturday, the Longhorns had a 34-match win streak at home, and the advantage Texas enjoys has made it tough for it to schedule tough opponents at home, which head coach Jerritt Elliott said is a reason they scheduled a matchup with Zhejiang.

But Zhejiang is no stranger to difficult environments. Sheng said they’ve faced similar tests back in China.

“It really just depends on how our players adjust to the environment,” Sheng said.

The matches between Zhejiang and Texas go past simple volleyball matches. They play into men’s athletic director Steve Patterson’s goal to grow the Texas brand, especially in China. The Texas men’s basketball team, which had a meet and greet and lunch with the Chinese volleyball team Monday, will open the 2015-2016 season against the Washington Huskies in China.

Although former athletics director DeLoss Dodds scheduled the match against Zhejiang, Patterson said these matches will get the student athletes learning about China and its cultures.

“It’s a great educational opportunity for all of your student athletes, whether you’re entertaining a foreign team here or taking a team to play in China,” Patterson said. “That’s really the key we’re working towards.”

The Longhorns are no strangers to international play. Texas has travelled twice to Europe to play top club and national teams, and many of the players play professionally overseas after graduation.

“We’re really excited when the opportunity presents itself on our campus to give the international flavor to our fans,” women’s athletic director Chris
Plonsky said.

And with sports expanding internationally, Plonsky said she doesn’t think this is the end of it, either.

“You hear about the NFL maybe putting a team in London,” Plonsky said. “Sports is global, and sports is universal, and I think that applies to college sports as well.”

But aside from the branding and growth of sports on the international level, once they hit the court, Sheng said he has one goal for his players.

“Our goal is to have all of our players fully at their best,” Sheng said.

Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

The future of democracy might rest on the shoulders of courageous student protesters in Hong Kong. Thousands of young men and women on the island have taken to the streets to stall Chinese efforts at rigging local elections. Hong Kong enjoys greater political freedoms than any other part of China, and Beijing now wants to end that. If the Chinese leadership succeeds, this will have a chilling effect far beyond the mainland of Asia. Democratic activists and their government repressors in Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and even Russia are watching.

The British Empire wrested Hong Kong from the Chinese Emperor in 1842 as a forced indemnity following the First Opium War. The British coerced the Chinese into importing opium, and they seized a key trading post off the southern coast of the mainland. During the next 155 years Hong Kong became a center for British trade, a magnet for wealth and a creative space for free thinkers who merged British and Chinese language and culture. Hong Kong was part of London’s imperial system, but it also emerged as a thriving island of capitalism and democracy. 

The Chinese government regained control over Hong Kong in 1997, as part of a treaty negotiated with Britain to rescind the imperialist imposition from the prior century. Beijing promised to protect the unique culture of Hong Kong, including its free market system and its freedom of speech. Citizens of Hong Kong embraced a future with China, but they expected the right to elect local leaders who would guard their autonomy from the suffocating dominance of the Chinese Communist Party.

Many observers questioned whether this agreement could ever work. How long would Beijing allow an island of freedom to operate within a larger political system that restricted speech and political choice? Would Chinese leaders feel compelled to change Hong Kong, fearful that otherwise it might change the mainland? 

Optimists, myself included, hoped that Hong Kong would become a beachhead for democratic change, spreading throughout China. In 1989, student protests for greater freedom in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and other urban areas brought this hope close to reality. We now know that democracy activists were tantalizingly close to convincing Chinese Communist Party leaders to undertake the kinds of democratic reforms they have never allowed. Frightened by what this would mean for their power, China’s most elite figures chose military repression in place of reform, ordering what became a bloody massacre of students. The crackdown carried to Hong Kong, but Beijing’s leaders were careful not to alienate foreign countries, including the United States, by closing off all democracy on the island. 

In the last few months, China has stepped beyond these limits. Beijing will now require that any candidate for chief executive of Hong Kong have prior approval on the mainland. This restriction of political choice for island residents —  a clear violation of local democratic institutions — is part of a broader campaign to give the Chinese Communist Party a stronger hold over communications, trade and all forms of political opinion. Chinese leader Xi Jinping wants to stamp out any pressure for reforming his autocratic government. He hopes to make Hong Kong’s “special administrative region” into another cowering province under the dominance of the Communist Party. 

This is more than just a political struggle. It is a conflict that will determine the possibilities for democracy throughout Asia, in the shadow of a stronger and wealthier China. The students who are protesting want to be loyal to China and to their hopes for democracy. They are unwilling to give up their freedoms and their choice of leaders. They want to determine their own future, without the uncompromising dominance over professional opportunities and political authority that the Community Party wields on the mainland. 

The United States and Europe have been much too silent about events in Hong Kong. We are watching with sympathy, but doing little else. Our passivity reflects fatigue with failed democratic movements, especially the Arab Spring, and preoccupation with crises in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and other dangerous parts of the world. The democratic struggle in Hong Kong seems distant from our daily concerns.

The future of democracy in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia will, however, affect our lives more than almost anything else. If the most populous continent gives up on democracy, it is unlikely to survive in other parts of the globe. If the Chinese government succeeds in extending its authoritarian control over the entire region, then the trade and access that Americans take for granted will become much less assured. Most important, the denial of democracy in Hong Kong will be yet another defeat for the free hopes of young entrepreneurs against the repressive actions of old dictators. 

Americans, especially those on college campuses, must speak up in support of the Hong Kong students. We are part of their struggle for a more democratic, just and peaceful world. We can help them by raising our voices, and inspiring others to do the same.  We can help them by showing that we care.

Suri is a professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Department of History. 

Fred Beach, assistant director for energy and consumption, discusses China’s energy consumption on campus Thursday.

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Surpassing all other countries, China continues to demand the most industrial energy consumption, according to Fred Beach, assistant director for energy and technology policy for the Cockrell School of Engineering.

Beach spoke Thursday on China’s continued success in leading the area of major energy sources as part of the University’s Energy Symposium. He said he focuses his studies on the relationship between China and the global energy demand.

“China’s energy consumption has doubled in 10 years,” Beach said. “China is now number one.”

Beach said the reason that China has such a big lead in the energy industry is because of the country’s large population. With more than 1.3 billion people living mostly on the eastern coast of the country, China has the largest population in the world.

China is not just a leader in the coal business but practically dominates it, Beach said.

“China consumes more coal as a nation than the rest of the world,” Beach said. “It was like someone hit a switch, and they decided to take over.”

This was possibly because of the Chinese government wanting to raise the quality of life of its people, according to Beach. 

“All of the world’s people have every right to live and consume energy like you and I do,” Beach said.

According to Beach, when added to the country’s total population, this consumption rate becomes dangerous because the population then becomes an energy problem. Beach said the number of citizens burning coal as their source of energy in their own homes is a major contributing factor to China’s consumption rate.

Beach said the world should be concerned about China’s rate of energy consumption and use of fossil fuels because an end result could be an increase in global temperatures, causing sea levels to rise and a climate to change

Petroleum engineering senior Gordon Tsai said he liked how Beach broke down the material.

“[It was] interesting how they compare to the U.S.,” Tsai said.

Chemical engineering senior Dylan Gust expressed the same sentiment and said that it was very informative to him as well.

“It was great hearing the macro-perspective,” Gust said. “Knowing this information will aid in my studies.”

Dr. Susan Mays gives a talk over  China's rapid growth in the electronic industry Friday afternoon. Mays emphasized the significance of semiconductors and how they have affected China's status as a major power in technology. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

The rapid growth in China’s electronics industry in the 1990s was because of increased government investment and technological development, said Susan Mays, a research fellow at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, in a talk on campus Friday.

In a lecture hosted by the department of Asian studies, Mays focused on the development of semiconductors, which she said are the core electronic “brains” of a product. Semiconductors vary in size and are used in everything from microwaves to iPods. In 1995, China’s semiconductor industry only made up 2 percent of the global market, but 10 years later, that number had jumped to 25 percent, according to Mays.

“In the 1990s, if companies wanted to build a semiconductor plant in China, people would tell them they might as well go dig a hole in Shanghai and put their money in it, because they weren’t bringing in any profits,” Mays said. “By 2005, 18 out of 25 of the world’s largest semiconductor firms had design groups in China.”

Mays said one reason for this rapid improvement was the Chinese government’s willingness to invest in semiconductor businesses.

“[China] had the market and the demand for semiconductors but not the capital,” Mays said. “It’s hugely expensive to set up a semiconductor industry, so the government made a series of investments in certain electronics companies.”

Robert Oppenheim, associate professor of Asian studies, said China’s growth in the semiconductor industry was important because of the close economic relationship the country has with the U.S.

“It’s important for the U.S., and particularly students, to be aware of China’s growing economy, since we compete with them in the technology industry,” Oppenheim said.

Chinese companies ran into problems as they realized they didn’t have the manufacturing capacity or expertise to make products, Mays said.  

“By industry standards, China was way behind,” Mays said. “They learned by doing. It was a trial-and-error process. They just wanted to get one enterprise up and running.”

Mays said improvements in management, technology and foreign partnerships helped bolster the industry’s success. 

“[China] wanted to be like HP and Intel — to harness the creativity and passion of the younger generation,” Mays said. “[One company] hired a younger CEO and outsourced manufacturing to Taiwan, which finally made them a profit.”

Mays said China’s big breakthrough came when it convinced a Japanese semiconductor company, NEC, to partner with some of its electronic companies.

“At that time, China’s microchip market was doing fairly well,” Mays said. “China said, ‘Look, if you partner with us, we’ll give you our [microchip] market.’ Once they had foreign interest, the industry really took off.”

Government sophomore Josh Tsio said he thinks the increasingly global focus of China’s economy is vital for students to pay attention to.

“Everything is more integrated now, so I think it’s important as Americans for us to know what’s going on on the other side of the world, especially with all the globalization and industrialization,“ Tsio said.