Gary Liu, CEO of the South China Morning Post


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With a huge infusion of cash from the paper’s new owner, Alibaba, new chief executive Gary Liu hopes to bring the Hong Kong paper of record into the digital era.

The South China Morning Post has been up to big things recently — and faced big doubts from those who worry about its editorial independence as Hong Kong’s paper of record.

In late 2015, it was announced that the paper would be acquired by Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, bringing the paper both a huge infusion of cash and a wave of questions about whether the new owners would maintain the SCMP’s editorial independence from Beijing.

Gary Liu, formerly CEO at content aggregator Digg and head of labs at streaming music service Spotify, was appointed CEO of the SCMP a year after the Alibaba acquisition. He aims to adapt the 114-year-old newspaper for an age of technology disruptions, and talked to Jeremy and Kaiser about the paper’s editorial independence, its plans to evolve and build out digitally, and how it plans to contribute to the global conversation on China’s rise. This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at the China Institute in New York on October 9.


Jeremy: The WeChat app of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), a good way to get real news about China because spitting out propaganda is not a priority of the NDRC. Just search “国家发改委” (guójiā fāgǎiwěi) on WeChat.

Gary: The Party, a book by Richard McGregor that gives a fascinating exploration of how the Communist Party of China wants the world to perceive it, how it plans to stay in power, and how it manages to affect everyone’s life in China. Also, Destined for War, by Harvard professor Graham Allison, which discusses the Thucydides Trap, China’s rise, and the history of great power rivalries.

Kaiser: A research paper from the Mercator Institute for China Studies titled “Ideas and ideologies competing for China’s political future,” which identifies really interesting clusters of people in China who have diverse ideological alignments. A Sinica podcast on a similar subject can be found here.