China Books Review LaunchVIEW EVENT DETAILS
Three Generations of China Writers
Join us for the launch event of the China Books Review, a new online publication of the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations and The Wire China. To usher in this new publication of commentary on China writings new and old, three generations of writers will talk about how the field of 'China watching' has changed over the decades. From the black box of the 1960s and 70s, to the opening of the 80s, to new realities post-Tiananmen, through the booming 2000s into the tightening 2010s and 2020s, what writers on China – both Chinese and outsiders – have witnessed and been able to document has changed dramatically. We survey these generational differences with three serial mini-interviews, in a whistle-stop tour of how the world of China writing got to where it is today.
The launch will be followed by a cocktail reception.
1960s - 1980s: Jianying Zha interviews Amb. Winston Lord & Orville Schell
1990s - 2010s: Dave Barboza interviews Ian Johnson
2010s - Today: Jiayang Fan interviews Yangyang Cheng
Dave Barboza is the co-founder of The Wire Digital Inc., a New York-based news and data platform focused on China and global supply chains. Previously, Barboza was a longtime business reporter and foreign correspondent at The New York Times. In 2013, Barboza was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting “for his striking exposure of corruption at high levels of the Chinese government, including billions in secret wealth owned by relatives of the prime minister, well-documented work published in the face of heavy pressure from the Chinese officials.” He was also part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting, for his coverage of Apple’s operations in China. Barboza joined The Times in 1997 as a staff writer. He moved to China in 2004 as a business correspondent, and then, from 2008 to 2015, was the paper’s Shanghai bureau chief.
Yangyang Cheng is a Research Scholar in Law and Fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center, where her work focuses on the development of science and technology in China and U.S.‒China relations. Her essays on these and related topics have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, The Atlantic, WIRED, VICE, MIT Technology Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and many other publications, and have received awards from the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA), Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Born and raised in China, Cheng received her PhD in physics from the University of Chicago and her bachelor’s from the University of Science and Technology of China’s School for the Gifted Young. Before joining Yale, she worked on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) for over a decade, most recently at Cornell University and as an LHC Physics Center Distinguished Researcher at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
Jiayang Fan is a Chinese-American journalist. She was born in Chongqing and immigrated to the United States at the age of seven. She has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 2016. Her works include cultural and political commentary, personal history, and food critique. Her first book, Motherland, is scheduled to be published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in 2023.
Ian Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, researcher, and Senior Fellow for China Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. His new book, Sparks: China’s Underground Historians and their Battle for the Future, describes how some of China’s brightest minds are are challenging the Communist Party on its most important pillar of support: its control of history. Johnson has reported from China for The Baltimore Sun, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and other publications. He won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of China, two awards from the Overseas Press Club, an award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and Stanford University’s Shorenstein Journalism Award for his body of work covering Asia. In 2019, he won the American Academy of Religion’s “best in-depth newswriting” award.
Amb. Winston Lord was U.S. Ambassador to China from 1985 to 1989 under President Ronald Reagan, and served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1993 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton. In the 1970s, he was Special Assistant to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and then Director of the State Department Policy Planning staff. During this period, he was on every China trip and attended every meeting that President Nixon, President Ford, and Dr. Kissinger had with President Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai, and Deputy Premier Deng Xiaoping, and was a principal drafter of both the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué and the 1973 Paris Peace Accords. In the 1960s, Lord served in the Pentagon and the Foreign Service. Outside of government, his service has included President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Co-Chairman of the International Rescue Committee, and Chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy.
Orville Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society. He is a former professor and Dean at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism. Schell is the author of fifteen books, ten of them about China, and a contributor to numerous edited volumes, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Nation, and The New York Review of Books. His most recent book, My Old Home: A Novel of Exile was published in 2021. Schell worked for the Ford Foundation in Indonesia, covered the war in Indochina as a journalist, and has traveled widely in China since the mid-70s.
Jianying Zha is a writer, journalist, and cultural critic in both English and Chinese. She is the author of two books in English, Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China, and China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids and Bestsellers Are Transforming a Culture and six books of fiction and non-fiction in Chinese, including the award winning Bashiniandai (The Eighties). Her work has appeared widely in publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nineties Monthly, Dushu, and Wanxiang. Her latest book (co-authored with Kato Yoshikazu), Freedom Is Not Free: A New Decameron, was published in 2020 by Oxford University Press in Hong Kong. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Zha also has been a regular commentator on current events on Chinese television, and worked for many years for India China Institute at The New School.
Alec Ash (moderator) is the editor of the China Books Review. He is a writer and editor focused on China, where he lived from 2008-2022. He is the author of Wish Lanterns, literary nonfiction on the lives of young Chinese, and the forthcoming The Mountains Are High about city escapees in Dali, Yunnan. His articles have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Sunday Times and elsewhere. He formerly edited the China Channel at the Los Angeles Review of Books.