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Chinatown 2.0

Richard Yan

1 Creator

Chinatown 2.0 is a video podcast that interviews world citizens of Chinese heritage. Our interviews are long form, deep dive, rationalist conversations. Our guests are thinkers and doers, and come from areas of startups, finance, law, art, academia, et al. Some videos will be in English, and others in Mandarin. Host: Richard Yan (

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Top 10 Chinatown 2.0 Episodes

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Nuo Yan is a Tokyo-based software architect. He was previously based in Seattle and San Francisco, and was founding engineer at multiple tech startups, one of which was acquired by Pinterest. Nuo discussed his philosophy of avoiding shortcuts in software design and implementation, the purpose of life as completing a journey instead of checking boxes, and why Japan is a great place to live for him.

Nuo shared with us:

Joining a startup right out of undergrad * Reluctance in taking shortcuts in code (or in life) * Anxiety of China citizens explained by country's rapid rise, similar to 90s Japan * Japan's extremely stable and equitable society * Why Japan's life quality trumps that in the US for Asians * Friendly Japan immigration policies * Japan's startup scene doesn't measure up to that in the US/China * Exploration of why Japan feels like Nuo's home city (nowhere else does) * Decision to become a software engineer very early in life * Why being treated as a foreigner in Japan is a good thing

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Robbie Yan is cofounder of a quantitatively driven hedge fund based in China. We talked about the nature of quantitative investing, governmental efficiency in China and associated tradeoffs, argument for protection of privacy, China's startup scene, and more.

Robbie shared with us:

What makes good quant traders

Mistakes that might occur in quant trading

Competitive landscape in quant trading in China

Motivations in starting a quant hedge fund

Advantages of Scandinavian countries

Public infrastructure efficiency in China

Safety in China amid mass surveillance

Argument for protecting privacy

Tradeoffs of bias vs variance in political systems

Convenience of payment tech in China

Power of consumer super-apps in China

Successful startups in China

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Jingzhu Yang started her PR company AmeriChina to bring Chinese companies to high-end and exclusive American events, such as Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and charity dinners with ex US presidents. In the peak year of her business, the company made revenues of 10M RMB (1.5M USD).

Jingzhu covered these topics:

Why she started AmeriChina

AmeriChina business case: VidCon LA

More business cases, including charity dinners with ex-US presidents

How US-China relation affects business

What uniquely contributed to her success

How she tried to matchmake west-coast boys with east-coast girls

Chinese women's advantage over Chinese men as entrepreneurs

Family influence on entrepreneurship

Her observation of lives of kids from wealthy/elitist Chinese families in the US

Getting used to China's natural environment

Finding love with non-Chinese men

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Sixiang Wang is an assistant professor in Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA, specializing in Korea’s premodern history. He speaks fluent mandarin, writes Chinese poems and is well-versed in China's history and culture. Sixiang described his journey of attempting to self-distance from his Chinese identity to embracing and mastering the language and culture. He shared how studying Korean history somehow helped him reconcile a lifelong passion for Chinese studies with his American identity. We also talked about the current state of Sino-US relation and analogized Trump's presidency with past Chinese emperors. Lastly, we touched upon Sixiang's philosophy of child-raising that deviates from the traditional Chinese parenting style.

Sixiang shared with us:

Guest intro * Growing up in a rough Queens Hispanic neighborhood as "the only Chino" * Childhood struggles between desire to be American vs love for Chinese language & culture * Epiphany in reconciling American and Chinese identity from reading Korean history * Sentiment towards US-China tensions from a Chinese American perspective * Ways to understand Trump presidency, e.g., the angle of history of Chinese emperors * De-emphasizing goals of admittance to top colleges and high test scores in raising children

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Wei Luo quit his software engineering job to become a contractor in 2006. After 14 years, he had a business (based in San Francisco Bay Area) consisting of 50+ employees and multiple business lines, including home renovation, interior design, cabinetry and appliances.

Wei shared with us how he persuaded his parents to pursue a new career with seemingly low barrier to entry, challenges and turning points of his business, a severe problem of labor shortage in the contracting field, a squeeze on margins due to regulatory pressure from sino-US tensions, and more.

Don't forget to like, share, subscribe, and ring the bell (YouTube)!

HB Kitchen & Bath: Alice Cabinetry:

0:00 Teaser 0:35 Host monologue 2:31 Guest self-intro 4:33 Getting into contracting business after helping handyman roommate with limited English skills 8:34 Making the decision to get a license and "do things the right way" 10:12 Transition from computer engineering to contracting, and convincing parents to make the jump 15:16 Description and evolution of multiple business lines: renovation, design/retail, cabinetry and appliances 22:46 Recap of duration of running the business, team size, number of projects 24:02 Initial friction to earn respect from laborers that dismiss leaders that don't work in the field 27:04 Challenges in recruiting new blood given a plethora of options and aversion to blue collar work 28:47 Suggestion for running home renovation summer camp for teens 32:52 Contracting going O2O 34:30 Growing up as a natural leader among kids and unhappiness with Chinese schools parochially focused on academics 37:01 Business opportunity for better consumer protection, vendor selection and service review in contracting 40:44 Concerns about manufacturing leaving China thanks to anti-dumping regulations

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Professor Anne Chao is a Chinese modern historian that lectures at Rice University. She is also manager of the Houston Asian American Archive, an oral history archive that looks to document the challenges faced and contributions made by the Asian American community.

As the daughter of a Taiwanese diplomat, Anne moved between Congo, Australia, Washington DC, and Taiwan as a kid. Her Ph.D. dissertation was on the social networks of Chen Duxiu, co-founder of the Chinese Communist Party and publisher of the influential magazine Xin Qingnian, or New Youth.

In this interview, we covered her multi-continental childhood, views on Asian’s involvement in politics, a history of discrimination suffered by Asian Americans, inspiring stories from the Houston Asian American archive, and her work on Chen Duxiu.

Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA) oral histories:

Intro * Multi-continental childhood between Congo, Australia, Washington DC and Taiwan * Nativism, liberalism, populism of major Western countries today * Black Lives Matter awakens Asian Americans to more active political participation * A brief history of discrimination of Chinese, Japanese and Indian Americans * Asians’ general inactiveness in the American political process * Age-old question of mainstream assimilation for Asian Americans * Stories from Houston Asian American Archive * China’s history around the rise of Chen Duxiu and his publication 新青年

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Jie Zhang has been an instructor, administrator and leader of American education institutions for more than three decades. She began her career teaching math to prisoners on Rikers Island (New York). Her most well-known positions included principal of the Ivy League feeder Stuyvesant High School, and principal of the now Chinese company-owned New York Military Academy, which US President Trump attended. She recently returned to China to run two international high schools.

Besides recounting her eclectic career, she also shared stories of helping prisoners get high school degrees, challenges in teaching American high schoolers as a foreigner, her firsthand experience dealing with pressure to democratize enrollment at magnet public schools, making decision to return to China despite overwhelming opposition from family and friends, and cherishment of the exciting work environment and an energetic team of coworkers at the two Chinese schools she now manages.

Jie Zhang: * Stuyvesant High School ("Stuy"): * New York Military School: * Hongwen School:

0:00 Teaser 1:01 Host monologue 4:32 Guest self-intro 11:20 Pressure of running international schools amid China-US tension 15:55 Coronavirus deepened financial woes of US private schools (pre-college) that preceded the pandemic 22:04 Journey to State University of New York at Stony Brook and family ties to Chinese Physicist CN Yang 27:50 First job teaching math at a prison in Rikers Island in New York City 35:54 Transition to teaching regular schools, and challenges of teaching Americans as a foreigner 42:53 Her son (Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, startup) and daughter (Berkeley, speech pathology studies) 45:18 Transition from purely instructive to administrative roles 51:56 Willingness to take risks plays big role in advancing her educational career from teaching at schools to leading schools to returning to China 1:01:03 Assignment to “clean up” Stuyvesant after test-cheating scandal as interim principal 1:06:15 Natural esconsement to permanent principal as the first China Mainland born principal at Stuyvesant 1:09:36 Her response to public pressure to remove academically focused entrance tests for magnet schools like Stuy in the name of equity and inclusiveness 1:21:44 Chinese parents’ general anxiety and formulaic approach on getting kids to Ivy League 1:32:33 Kids at the academic “bottom” 5% at Stuy still do well in life 1:40:49 Leaving Stuy partially due to significant red tape and a lack of autonomy 1:46:00 Move to lead recently out-of-bankruptcy New York Military Academy, increasing communication with China education institutions not previously available at public school 1:50:00 Growing interest and increasingly clear reasons for leading American-style secondary education in China 1:55:11 Making decision to return to China at late 50s against overwhelming opposition from family and friends 1:59:28 Contrast the more lively, positive and cooperative Chinese colleagues with American colleagues seeking stability and resisting change 2:03:47 Clash with the ways of Chinese education admin lifers from local public school system 2:10:28 Strong pride in being able to make unique and significant contribution, and fierce love for passionate and diligent colleagues 2:13:08 Managing and dealing with people at work is just as hard between America and China 2:17:32 Strong chemistry between energetic Chinese subordinates welcoming western management methods and expat leaders tired of managing uninspiring and inert public sector Americans 2:25:30 Emphasis on mutual respect regardless of status as her management style 2:32:32 Anecdote of helping a sincere and unassuming Chinese grandpa on high speed train, as an illustration of her drive to excel in positions with no direct fame or monetary reward

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Morgan Jones is a Black American that previously spent six years in China as a radio host, movie production assistant and EMBA English teacher. He is a “Chinese son-in-law” (中国女婿), a self-described Tiger Dad (“虎爸”) and a fluent Mandarin speaker.

He got his EMBA from Cornell and bachelors from Middlebury College, or 明德大学 in Chinese.

This episode was recorded in Mandarin. We discussed Morgan’s adventures in China, takeaways from his marriage to a Chinese woman, his relationship with Chinese in-laws, growing up Black in the US, and other American race issues such as affirmative action and recent police involved incidents.

We discussed:

* Host of a jazz radio show in Shanghai * Teaching English to execs 20 years his senior at Nanjing University EMBA program * Learning about Nanking massacre as an assistant for Chinese movie production * Personal experience of semi-discrimination against Blacks in China * Reaction to detergent commercial that turns a black person into a white person * Minor cultural difference with his Chinese wife * Relationship with Chinese in-laws, especially when it comes to getting their help in raising grandchildren * Self-branded Tiger Dad * Recent and past race related tragedies and conflicts in the US * Call for stronger focus in building community relations in police departments * Growing up Black in America * Affirmative action (CA Prop 16 re-allowing racial preference to raise black/latinx representation in public colleges)
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Jing Cheng is the co-founder and CEO of the largest North American Children's Chinese magazine, Pipa Magazine. She shares her inspirations for starting the publication, the challenges of running the business of print media against digital headwinds, and her philosophy and suggestions for Chinese immigrants raising bilingual kids. To learn more about Pipa Magazine, visit: You can also subscribe to their WeChat public account by searching for 小枇杷 Jing shared with us: * Pipa Magazine as a companion to kids and bridge to communicate with older generations * Why young kids like to read the same books repeatedly * Self-identity for kids with Chinese heritage * Learning Chinese culture in addition to the language * Maintaining emotional intimacy between first and second generation immigrants * Immigrant parents need continual self education to keep up with kids' American ideas * Pipa Magazine's way of teaching Chinese language in the context of Chinese culture * The development of Pipa Magazine as a business since 2012 * The difficult business of the Chinese culture-themed magazine * Pipa Magazine as between a nonprofit organization and a commercial business * How donations can help Pipa Magazine's missions Jing shared with us: * Pipa Magazine as a companion to kids and bridge to communicate with older generations * Why young kids like to read the same books repeatedly * Self-identity for kids with Chinese heritage * Learning Chinese culture in addition to the language * Maintaining emotional intimacy between first and second generation immigrants * Immigrant parents need continual self education to keep up with kids' American ideas * Pipa Magazine's way of teaching Chinese language in the context of Chinese culture * The development of Pipa Magazine as a business since 2012 * The difficult business of the Chinese culture-themed magazine * Pipa Magazine as between a nonprofit organization and a commercial business * How donations can help Pipa Magazine's missions

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Rui Ma is an investment banker (Morgan Stanley) turned VC (500 Startups) turned podcast host (Tech Buzz China). Her show covers current tech trends in China, with a focus on power players such as ByteDance and Alibaba. Her diaspora journey included a childhood in the China countryside, college and grad school education in the US, a career of finance/tech in Shanghai/Beijing, and podcast operations from Silicon Valley.

We discussed Bytedance ban, Niall Ferguson's "TikTok = China's digital imperium ambitions" quote, Chinese female diaspora experience, China's sexist society, the notorious 996, her podcast-turned-business and more!

Tech Buzz China podcast: Rui’s newsletter: Rui's twitter:

Rui shared with us:

Childhood in China's countryside, California education, work in China, return to Silicon Valley

* The businesslines and ambitions of ByteDance * ByteDance acquisition of * ByteDance reaction to TikTok ban * Chinese netizens reaction to TikTok ban * ByteDance's negative reputation in China (similar to local gaming industry) * Niall Ferguson's demonization of TikTok as China's weaponization against the West * China bashing recently arose from a corner of Silicon Valley Twitter * Pandemic-induced lockdown has strengthened echo chambers on social media * US' negative attitude on immigration deters inflow of intellectual capital * US still top destination of tech and research talents * Notorious 9-9-6 work schedule in China * Tradeoffs associated with living in China as expat * Female expat's unpleasant experience in China's sexist society * Chinese tech podcast forces the host to do more bigger-picture research than as an venture investor * Bringing interested podcast listeners (pubic equity investors) to visit Chinese tech giants
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How many episodes does Chinatown 2.0 have?

Chinatown 2.0 currently has 25 episodes available.

What topics does Chinatown 2.0 cover?

The podcast is about Society & Culture, Chinese, Interview, Law, American, Startup, Growth, Documentary, Podcasts, Finance, America, Journey, Personal, Business and China.

What is the most popular episode on Chinatown 2.0?

The episode title 'Ep. 3: Software Architect Nuo Yan on avoiding shortcuts in life and the appeals of living in Japan' is the most popular.

What is the average episode length on Chinatown 2.0?

The average episode length on Chinatown 2.0 is 72 minutes.

How often are episodes of Chinatown 2.0 released?

Episodes of Chinatown 2.0 are typically released every 8 days, 8 hours.

When was the first episode of Chinatown 2.0?

The first episode of Chinatown 2.0 was released on Jul 31, 2020.

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