Thursday, March 8, 2012 | 10:30 AM EST - 12:30 PM EST

President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in February 1972 changed the course of history, reshaping the global balance of power and opening the door to the establishment of relations between the People’s Republic and the United States.

It was also a milestone in the history of American journalism. Since the communist revolution of 1949, Beijing had barred virtually all American reporters from China. For the Nixon trip, however, the Chinese agreed to accept nearly 100 journalists, and to allow the most dramatic events – Nixon’s arrival in Beijing, Premier Zhou Enlai’s welcoming banquet, visits to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City – to be televised live.

Mike Chinoy, senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s U.S.-China Institute and former CNN senior Asia correspondent and Beijing bureau chief, joined us for a screening of Assignment: China – The Week that Changed the World at the New York Institute of Technology on Thursday, March 8. The documentary offers a fascinating and previously untold perspective on one of the most important historical moments of the 20th century. Mr. Chinoy, who reports and narrates the film, offered insight and commentary after the screening with National Committee President Steve Orlins.


Mike Chinoy is a senior fellow at the US-China Institute at the University of Southern California (USC).

Previously, he spent three years as the Edgerton Senior Fellow on Asian Security at the Los Angeles-based Pacific Council on International Policy, focusing on security issues in North Korea, China, and Northeast Asia. At the same time he was a visiting professor of journalism at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.

His book on North Korea entitled Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis, was published by St. Martin’s Press in August, 2008, and was hailed by the Washington Post as “a tour de force of reporting.” A paperback edition came out in October, 2009, and a Korean language translation was published in early 2010.

Before joining the Pacific Council and USC in 2006, Mr. Chinoy spent 24 years as a foreign correspondent for CNN, including stints as a roving reporter based in London, eight years as the network’s first bureau chief in Beijing, bureau chief in Hong Kong, and, from 2001-2006, senior Asia correspondent, responsible for coverage throughout the Asia-Pacific Region. He began his career working for CBS News and NBC News in Hong Kong in the 1970s.

He has reported on the most important events in Asia since the mid-1970s, including the death of Mao Zedong, the “People Power “ revolt in the Philippines, the Tiananmen Square crisis, the rise of China, the Hong Kong handover, the fall of Indonesian President Suharto, the Soviet and U.S. wars in Afghanistan, the Southeast Asian tsunami, elections and political crises in Taiwan, and developments in North Korea.

His access to North Korea is unmatched among American journalists. He has visited the country 15 times since 1989. He was the only journalist to accompany former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on his historic trip to Pyongyang in 1994, and has returned regularly since then, most recently in the summer of 2011.

Mr. Chinoy is the author of the acclaimed book China Live: People Power and the Television Revolution, and has received numerous awards for his journalism, including the Emmy, Peabody, and Dupont awards for his coverage of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crisis, and a Dupont Award for his coverage of the tsunami.

Mike Chinoy holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.S. from Columbia University. He lives in Arcadia, California.

Politics & Foreign Relations