read material on a range of issues on China and its
relationship to the world. On our Yellowdig message board, students will be required to post a
reflection responding to the weekly Discussion Prompt. Reflections should draw from the assigned readings and other material as specified each week in the Discussion Prompt.
This is the material.
As I’ve said in my other announcements, I’ll be offering my thoughts on the readings on the weekly readings, which includes important context and summarization, here on Yellowdig at the beginning of each week.
Let’s begin with the discussion prompt. I’m asking you to do two things, so let’s go through each.
First: Look at the U.S.-China Barometer, and then the piece John Graham and I did in the Harvard Business Review based on the Barometer. Do you see what we did? The U.S.-China Barometer is a statistical review of US-China relations, showing comparative statistics for both countries, such as piracy rates, GHG emissions change, internet use etc., and showing statistics about their interaction, such as bilateral trade, linkages between cities via corporate HQ-Branch offices, and bilateral travel. In the notes section of each slide we describe the context of each statistic, why it matters, the background, and how it relates to current events. For our Harvard Business Review piece, we thoughtfully reviewed the Barometer, asking ourselves, what important patterns are emerging? The result was the HBR piece in which we focused on the question “Is China actually stealing American jobs?”, and provide some answers using Barometer statistics on purchasing power, unemployment and patents being granted in both countries.
Now I’m asking you to do something similar. What do YOU see in the numbers? What story emerges when you begin comparing across different types of statistics? Do you see one series of data increase while the other decreases, and is this meaningful or not? First make sure you read the ‘notes’ section of the Barometer slides, which contain explanations of what you’re looking at, then consider the potential relationships that may exist between some of these variables, but are not openly explored in the Barometer.
Second: We are in the midst of a global pandemic, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). It should be clear to you by now that data is what guides us through this pandemic, both the daily global growth in cases and the projections of when peak resource use and deaths should theoretically occur. China holds a unique position in this situation. You are to watch the video describing the origin of the COVID-19, which will inform you of how the virus originated and spread from China.
There are of course political problems surrounding China as the origin of the virus, with US President Trump’s calling it the “Chinese virus”, which drew criticism from respected China experts such as Michael Swaine. However, let’s focus on the numbers. Right now there are multiple data sources on COVID-19 cases, some of them regionally-focused, some of them globally and others locally-focused. Find a source of time-series (i.e., over time) data on COVID-19 cases in China. Aside from the cases starting in Wuhan, what other patterns do you see of the virus’ spread inside China? Discuss your findings and share your data sources.
This exercise is important for two reasons: First, 50% of your grade is the final project, which is a quantitative one. Understanding China in general numbers like these is important, and this will help guide you formulating much more specific questions and aiming for much more specific data for your final project. Second, beyond this class, numbers matter. A few days ago the IMF announced that we have entered a recession. Much like COVID-19 cases, good data will be crucial for our daily understanding of “where we are” in terms of the emerging recession, and how it will affect our immediate future.
I look forward to reading your posts!