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Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 19:30

As China celebrates its 40 years of reforms, the leadership is stepping up with more reforms and more opening up. What will be the implications for ordinary Chinese and the rest of the world?

A panel discussion with Ian Johnson and Zhang Lijia DU


The Chancery of the United Nations Development Program
No.2 Liangmahe Nanlu, Beijing


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This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform era, which has seen the country move from an isolated impoverished country to the world's second-largest economy and a global power. But behind such headlines, what has this meant for ordinary people--how have their lives changed and what are their prospects in the coming decades? 

Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, Ian Johnson, and Chinese Author Zhang Lijia will talk about the impact of the reforms and opening up, both the benefits and the challenges it has brought along.


Ian Johnson has lived in China for over 20 years, coming for the first time in 1984. A Pulitzer-Prize winning writer focusing on society, religion, and history, he works out of Beijing, where he also teaches university classes. Johnson has spent nearly twenty years in the greater China region, first as a student in Beijing  from 1984 to 1985, and then in Taipei from 1986 to 1988. He later worked as a newspaper correspondent in China, from 1994 to 1996 with Baltimore's The Sun, and from 1997 to 2001 with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered macro economics, China's WTO accession and social issues. 

In 2009, Johnson returned to China, where he writes features and essays for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books as well as other publications. He teaches undergraduates at The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies  , where he also  a fellowship program. In addition, he formally advises a variety of academic journals and think tanks on China, such as The Journal of Asian Studies, the Berlin based think tank Merics , and New York University's Center for Religion and Media.

He worked in Germany twice. From 1988 to 1992 he attended graduate school in West Berlin and worked a a free-lancer, covering  the fall of the Berlin Wall and German unification for Baltimore's The Sun, The St. Petersburg Times, The Toronto Star, and other newspapers. In 2001 he moved back to Berlin, working until 2009 as The Wall Street Journal's Germany bureau chief and senior writer. He headed coverage of European macro-economics, and wrote about social issues such as Islamist terrorism. 

He was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and won in 2001 for his coverage of China. He also won two awards from the Overseas Press Club, and an award from the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2017, he won Stanford University’s Shorenstein Journalism award  for his body of work covering Asia. 

Lijia Zhang is a factory-worker-turned writer, social commentator and public speaker. One of the few Chinese who write regularly in English for international publications, her articles have appeared inThe Guardian, The South China Morning Post,Newsweek and The New York Times. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir “Socialism Is Great!” about her rocket factory experience and her debut novel Lotus, on prostitution in contemporary China, was published by Macmillan in January 2017. She is a recipient of the prestigious fellowship in the International Writer’s Program at the University of Iowa. Lijia has lectured at many conferences, institutions and universities around the world, including Asia EU Economic Forum, European Institute for Asian Studies, The University of Sydney, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford and New York University.She is a regular speaker on the BBC, Channel 4, CNN and NPR. She lives in Beijing