Monday, April 23, 2007 | 12:00 AM EDT - 12:00 AM EDT
This public program examined had a “then and now” focus, as it examined how the work of foreign journalists in China has changed in the 35 years since the signing of the Shanghai Communique. Richard Bernstein, who opened TIME magazine’s Beijing bureau in 1980, talked about some of the hurdles that foreign reporters faced in the early days of China’s opening to the world, while Joe Kahn, the current bureau chief for the New York Times, discussed where changes have taken place and where journalists still face restrictions. Both speakers agreed that China is an extremely interesting story to cover, given the pace and scale of changes taking place and the potential impact of these changes on world affairs. At the same time, reporters need to be measured in their reporting and avoid giving too much weight to some events. China is in a process of evolution, rather than revolution, and so change is typically incremental. Therefore, a recent development should not be portrayed as the tipping point that will push the country toward inevitable democratization or social unrest or market liberalization.