The Transpacific Experiment: How China and California Collaborate and Compete for Our Future

The Transpacific Experiment: How China and California Collaborate and Compete for Our Future

by Matt Sheehan


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A timely, vital account of California’s unique relationship with China, told through the exploits of the entrepreneurs, activists, and politicians driving transformations with international implications.

Tensions between the world’s superpowers are mounting in Washington, D.C., and Beijing. Yet, the People's Republic of China and the state of California have built deep and interdependent socioeconomic exchanges that reverberate across the globe, making California and China a microcosm of the most important international relationship of the twenty-first century.

In The Transpacific Experiment, journalist and China analyst Matt Sheehan chronicles the real people who are making these connections. Sheehan tells the story of a Southern Californian mayor who believes a Chinese electric bus factory will save his town from meth labs and skinheads. He follows a Chinese AI researcher who leaves Google to compete with his former employer from behind the Great Firewall. Sheehan joins a tour bus of wealthy Chinese families shopping for homes in the Bay Area, revealing disgruntled neighbors and raising important questions about California’s own narratives around immigration and the American Dream.

Sheehan’s on-the-ground reporting reveals movie sets in the “Hollywood of China,” Chinese-funded housing projects in San Francisco, Chinese immigrants who support Donald Trump, and more. Each of these stories lays bare the new reality of twenty-first-century superpowers: the closer they get to one another, the more personal their frictions become.

“Cuts right to the heart of the relationship between Silicon Valley and China: the tangled history, the current tensions, and the uncertain future . . . a must-read.”
—Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China and founder of Sinovation Ventures

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781640094208
Publisher: Catapult
Publication date: 08/04/2020
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.63(w) x 8.66(h) x 0.87(d)

About the Author

MATT SHEEHAN served as a foreign correspondent in China and is currently a nonresident fellow at the Paulson Institute's think tank, MacroPolo. There he researches and writes on the Sino-U.S. technology relationship and ties between California and China. In 2018, he was short-listed for the Young China Watcher of the Year Award. Sheehan grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent over five years living in mainland China. His writing has been published in Vice News, The WorldPost, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic. He is based in Oakland, California.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: Welcome to Chinafornia

Chapter 2 The Mayor Who Loved China

Chapter 3 Freshmen Orientation

Chapter 4 Sea Turtles and Technology

Chapter 5 Silicon Valley’s China Paradox

Chapter 6 Hollywood vs. Hengdian

Chapter 7 A Phoenix Rising from the Toxins

Chapter 8 Chinese Americans for Trump

Chapter 9 Conclusion: Our Transpacific Future

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