The Joys and Difficulties of being a Foreign Correspondent in China
Michael Bristow, Former BBC Beijing Correspondent
Co-presented with the China Studies Centre as part of it inaugural annual China Studies Centre Conference to showcase recent research in the field each year.
There has never been a better time to be a foreign journalist in China. The country is undergoing a radical transformation that is changing the lives of everyone who lives there – and reporters have a ringside seat. What makes this an even better assignment is that there are relatively few foreign journalists reporting from a country that is still little understood by the outside world. But there are difficulties, not least from a sometimes hostile government that thinks foreign reporters are at best misguided, at worst anti-China. I will explain what it is like to be a journalist in China and look back on my five years as a correspondent for the BBC in Beijing.
Michael Bristow has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, starting out as a reporter on a weekly newspaper before moving to an evening publication and then on to the UK’s Press Association. He then switched to broadcasting, initially working for the BBC World Service. For the last five years Michael was a correspondent for the BBC in China, a country he first studied at university. His reports on everything, from politics to the occasional outbreak of plague, have appeared on TV, radio and online. He reported on the Sichuan earthquake, the Beijing Olympics and unrest in Tibet, as well as trying to work out exactly who’s ruling the country. He has just left China and moved back to the UK, where he is attempting to write a book.