The View from Chengdu: Freelance Reporting Outside First-Tier Cities


On this episode of ChinaEconTalk, Jordan interviews Lauren Teixeira, a freelance reporter based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. After what has been a jam-packed few months of China news, Lauren discusses a wide range of topics, from engaging with mainlanders about the anti-Extradition Bill protests in Hong Kong to the downsides of Chinese superblock urban planning. Lauren finishes the interview with a wide-ranging introduction to contemporary pop culture artists in China whose innovation and creativity are helping people to stay inspired at a challenging time.

What to listen for on this week’s ChinaEconTalk:

6:59: Lauren recalls Ian Johnson’s comments to her during their conversation on engaging in political discussions in China: “He said to me, ‘There’s a ceiling for your rhetoric because at some point you can’t tell someone to “look it up” because they can’t look it up.’ Epistemologically you’re not on even ground. And so, if you want to really get into a real discussion with someone,  you basically have to redpill them.”

14:41: On K-pop and geopolitics, as China tries to develop its own pop music industry: “It’s half import substitution and half, I think, just a concerted effort to build your own idol industry that you can better control. For example, there would be all these geopolitical conflicts. If something happened in the South China Sea, the Chinese idols would have to go on Korean television and be like, ‘F*** this, I’m a patriot.’ There was once a Taiwanese idol who waved a Taiwanese flag on a Korean reality show and she had to absolutely bend the knee to get back into the good graces of China, which was putting pressure on her agency.”

Jordan will be in New York and Washington, D.C. this September and October so reach out if you want to meet up! Email him at or connect on WeChat using his WeChat ID, jordanschneider.

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This podcast was edited and produced by Jason MacRonald.