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John Pomfret stands with his notebook behind Wang Dan and Wu’erkaixi, leaders of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. / Courtesy of John Pomfret

The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: Part Two

The second part of our conversation with veteran journalist John Pomfret takes us through U.S.-China relations from the Treaty of Versailles, which settled World War I, through the Chinese Civil War and up to the present.

ohn Pomfret first went to China as a student in 1980 and covered the Tiananmen demonstrations in 1989 for the Associated Press. He was expelled for his efforts, but returned to Beijing a decade later to head up the Washington Post’s Beijing bureau. For more on his experience and some compelling and little-known stories, listen to the first half of this two-part Sinica Podcast and read our accompanying Sinica backgrounder.

In this week’s episode, Kaiser and Jeremy continue to talk with John about his new book, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom, which charts the history of America’s relationship with China. John explains that the countries have been intertwined long before the ping-pong diplomacy often credited for ushering in U.S.-China relations in the early 1970s. You can read the short prologue to John’s book, republished with permission here.


John: The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen, and The Boat Rocker, by Ha Jin.

Kaiser: The albums Tarkus and Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends ~ Ladies and Gentlemen, by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Jeremy: A VICE video on ginseng in the Appalachian Mountains, and The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, translated by Jack Zipes.

How to Listen

Download this episode. Subscribe on Overcast, iTunes or Stitcher, tune in with your favorite app using our feed or check out the Sinica Podcast archives.

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