The Fake Farmer

terracottaby Duncan Allen

Since its opening-up to the West in 1978, China’s tourism industry has witnessed a massive surge in popularity. Foreigners flock to China’s numerous ancient landmarks, from the Great Wall to the Shaolin Temple to the Summer Palace. Many Chinese citizens’ livelihoods depend on the fifty million or so laowai’s (foreigners) who come to the country each year. In China, like in any country, tourists’ lack of caution, unfamiliarity with local customs, or inability to understand the Chinese language make them easy targets for overcharging and scams.

I had the pleasure of experiencing the Chinese tourism industry firsthand during my study abroad orientation this summer, where our host university treated my fellow Tufts students and I to three days in the ancient city of Xi’an. While there, we were accompanied by a local tour guide who took us from landmark to museum to restaurant everyday, all the while informing us on each location’s rich history.

One particular story that stood out from the trip was about the farmer who discovered the legendary terracotta army in 1974. Our tour guide told us the farmer and his entire village were rewarded handsomely by the Chinese government for their discovery, and the lucky farmer even had the honor of meeting U.S. President Bill Clinton during one of his visits to China. According to the story, the farmer could barely speak any English, and when meeting Clinton, mistakenly asked “who are you” instead of “how are you”. Clinton chuckled and said “I’m Hillary’s husband” to which the farmer replied “me too”.

Our tour guide then informed us that the farmer still lives in the village where the army was discovered, and on occasion signs books and shakes hands with tourists who pass through. If we were lucky, we might be able to meet this man, she told us.

And lucky we were. Inside the very first village gift shop sat a weathered old man who looked to be about seventy. A banner strung up behind him proudly declared he was Yang Zhifa, the first farmer to discover the terracotta warriors. All around the shop were photos of the man shaking hands with various people, including Bill Clinton. A few of my classmates actually bought books about the terracotta army, which he graciously signed. He even gave them a “generous student discount”.

As it turns out, the man inside the gift shop was not Yang Zhifa. The story of the discoverers of the terracotta army is much less pleasant than our tour guide led us to believe. Yang, who discovered the first terracotta warriors while digging a well with his brothers and a family friend, is now well into his eighties and lives about a kilometer away from the village. Though he and his family were given a stipend by the government as a reward, it is reportedly rather small, and Yang still lives in relative poverty. Within months of the discovery, Yang’s village was seized by the government and transformed into a museum and tourist attraction. Though the villagers were compensated, many remained angry at Yang for causing their displacement from their ancestral home. Two of Yangs brothers died penniless in the 90s, and the family friend who witnessed the original discovery hanged himself rather than burden his family with medical bills.

Their eviction from their land by the government has transformed the lifestyles of the remaining villagers. What was once a farming commune is now a completely commercialized tourist hotspot. Restaurants, food stands, and gift shops line the streets. McDonalds and Starbucks are here to stay. And on almost every corner is another Yang Zhifa.

David Rawson Memorial Lecture by Dr. William Overholt

by Peter de Guzman

Earlier this month, we held our annual China-U.S. Symposium on April 13th-14th. This symposium was composed of four panels, a lecture, and a keynote speech by Singaporean Ambassador to the United States Dr. Ashok Kumar Mirpuri.

Following a riveting panel entitled “A Nuclear North: What Korea Means to Sino-US Relations,” SURGE presented the David Rawson Memorial Lecture by Dr. William Overholt. The David Rawson Memorial Lecture honors the life of Tufts Class of 2007 alum David Rawson whose life was tragically cut short the summer after his graduation. Previous David Rawson Memorial Lecturers include Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy and Dr. Victor Cha.

Dr. William H. Overholt is the ​President of Fung Global Institute, a Senior Research Fellow at John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Principal of AsiaStat LLC. Prior to his current endeavors, Dr. Overholt has also worked in the private sector, having worked in investment banking for 21 years. Dr. Overholt has also published numerous books, with his most recent work titled “China’s Crisis of Success” (Cambridge University Press, 2017). This recent publication inspired Dr. Overholt’s lecture at the China-U.S. Symposium in which he shed light on China’s economic condition and the challenges China and the U.S. may face in the future.

Dr. Overholt opened the lecture recounting his process of writing “The Rise of China” (W.W. Norton, 1993) which was the first book to predict China’s success in the realm of economics and geopolitics. Dr. Overholt drew upon his knowledge of Asian economic development when comparing present China to South Korea and Taiwan’s miracle economic rises before inevitably facing difficulties including massive debt and powerful political interest groups asserting their will. Following this comparison, Dr. Overholt detailed how former Premier Zhu Rongji’s political and economic reforms were initially disliked, but later appeared to be prescient in the era of former General Secretary Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao.

Sharing his insight into the significance of current General Secretary Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption, Dr. Overholt expressed his view that these are not the actions taken by a confident leader, but instead that they display the instability in China that could create conditions for negative outcomes such as potential capital flight.

Following his lecture, Dr. Overholt drew upon his wealth of private sector and academic experience when answering undergraduate and visitors’ questions. When asked by a student his views on Chinese investment in African nations and concerns of neocolonialism, Dr. Overholt spoke on his views of Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative as a net positive for nations partnering with China, while also drawing attention to the potential threat of large debt accumulation by partner nations.

SURGE would like to once again thank the Institute of Global Leadership and the rest of the Tufts community for its invaluable support.

10th Annual CUS Symposium

The 10th Annual China U.S. Symposium came to a close Saturday following our Keynote Address delivered by Dr. Lyle Goldstein from the US Naval War College. A special thanks to all of our members who organized the event and to all of our speakers who helped make this symposium so memorable. 

We would like to recognize the following individuals for their contributions:

Dr. Victor Cha, Senior Adviser and Korea Chair, CSIS, and Professor at Georgetown, for his David Rawson Memorial lecture addressing the balance of power in the South China Sea and the future of U.S. Chinese relations in the region. 

The Cultural Panel consisting of Simon Lang from the Mercator Institute and Professor Wayne Wenchao He from Rhode Island University for their comparison of education and in the United States and China and its possible effect on future relations between the two countries.

The Business Panel composed of Professor Saikat Chaudhuri from the Wharton School of Business, Senior Lecturer Sharmila Chatterjee from the Sloan School at MIT, and Mark Sullivan from the Boston office of International Trade and Development for their examination of the connection between the U.S and Chinese economies. 

The Regional Panel comprised of William Wise from the John Hopkins Southeast Asia Studies Program, Avery Goldstein, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and Shihoko Goto, the senior Northeast Asia associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center for their analysis of the current political climate in the Western Pacific and the responses from countries around the region to the rising power of China.

The Security Panel consisting of Commander Mike Dahm, Marvin Ott, an Adjunct Lecturer from Johns Hopkins University, and Mathew Weinburg from Booz Allen Hamilton for their examination of cyber security and espionage in the modern era and their insight into events in the South China Sea.


CUS Coundown

To Our Honored Guests,

Welcome to the 9th Annual China-U.S. Symposium. This two-day academic conference is held every spring at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Our goal is to foster positive relations between China and the United States, cultivating cooperation and understanding between students and experts from different backgrounds and cultures. We believe in building on the unique crossroads of ideas, experiences and people that characterize Tufts University to promote an atmosphere of deep analysis and critical awareness.

Our theme this year is “Moving Forward,” and the primary aim of this framework is to tackle issues that Sino-US relations experts will be debating on for years to come, namely cybersecurity, Hong Kong and the Umbrella Revolution, International Business and Investment, as well as the growing pollution problem.

This year, the Symposium includes four panels, four breakout sessions, and two keynote addresses. Our speakers have traveled from across the country and across the world, and include policy-makers, practitioners, and academics who specialize in a variety of areas that are critical to China-U.S. relations.

Preparing for this Symposium has been an eight-month long effort involving dozens of students, professors, and members of the Tufts administration. Our success is due to the pure dedication of each of these individuals, and we sincerely thank everyone who has played a role.

Enclosed in this booklet you will find descriptions of each of our events, biographies of our speakers, and more information about the Symposium and our sponsorship.





Cultural Panel: Voices Behind China’s One Child Policy

In the Culture Event hosted in December, SURGE conducted a discussion about the former One-Child Policy in China.

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We were honored to have Ms. Melissa Ludtke, an award-winning journalist and Yankee Quill Award winner, as our guest speaker. During the event, Ms. Ludtke talked about her book and education series: Touching Home in China, which is a project on the influence of the One-Child Policy, and the experience of her own beloved daughter Maya who was adopted from China. In addition to Ms. Ludtke, Jiahe Chi, a Chinese senior and former member of SURGE, shared his insights on how the policy changed the lifestyle and perspectives of urban and rural populations in China.

2015 Tufts China U.S. Symposium:Common Ground is Officially Over & Thanks!

The 2015 Tufts China U.S. Symposium:Common Ground has come to a close.

A Huge Thank you from the whole SURGE Team to all of our amazing speakers, attendees and Hemispheres: The Tufts University Journal of International Affairs for all of their insight, participation and help!

Another huge thank you to the entire SURGE planning committee and our Director Sean Gunn and our Deputy Director Joe Mark for their great leadership and amazing help in coordinating the symposium!Continue reading “2015 Tufts China U.S. Symposium:Common Ground is Officially Over & Thanks!”

The 2015 Tufts China U.S. Symposium: Common Ground Has Begun!! Live Stream Available!

The 2015 Tufts China U.S. Symposium: Common Ground Has Begun!!

We hope that you can make it today and tomorrow for this great learning opportunity!

If you cannot physically make it, check out our Live Stream from our Youtube Channel! Follow our Channel for updates and more videos in the future!