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Assignment: China is the USC U.S.-China Institute’s twelve-part documentary series on American reporting on China. Mike Chinoy reported and directed the series. Now, Chinoy has a book based on this series and additional interviews.

Reporting on China has long been one of the most challenging and crucial journalistic assignments. Foreign correspondents have confronted war, revolution, isolation, internal upheaval, and onerous government restrictions as well as barriers of language, culture, and politics. Nonetheless, American media coverage of China has profoundly influenced U.S. government policy and shaped public opinion not only domestically but also, given the authority and reach of U.S. news organizations, around the world.

The book, Assignment China: An Oral History of American Journalists in the People’s Republictells the story of how American journalists have covered China — from the civil war of the 1940s through the COVID-19 pandemic — in their own words. Chinoy assembles a remarkable collection of personal accounts from eminent journalists, including Stanley Karnow, Seymour Topping, Barbara Walters, Dan Rather, Melinda Liu, Nicholas Kristof, Joseph Kahn, Evan Osnos, David Barboza, Amy Qin, and Megha Rajagopalan, among dozens of others. They share behind-the-scenes stories of reporting on historic moments such as Richard Nixon’s groundbreaking visit in 1972, China’s opening up to the outside world and its emergence as a global superpower, and the crackdowns in Tiananmen Square and Xinjiang. Journalists detail the challenges of covering a complex and secretive society and offer insight into eight decades of tumultuous political, economic, and social change.

At a time of crisis in Sino-American relations, understanding the people who have covered China for the American media and how they have done so is crucial to understanding the news. Through the personal accounts of multiple generations of China correspondents, Assignment China provides that understanding.

Chinoy is a nonresident senior fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California. He spent twenty-four years as a foreign correspondent for CNN, serving as the network’s first Beijing bureau chief and senior Asia correspondent. Before joining CNN, Chinoy worked for CBS News and NBC News. He won Emmy, Dupont, and Peabody awards for his coverage of China.


Learn more about USCI on their website and Youtube

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