China Beat Archive



Rowan Callick

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July 19, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright July 19, 2008 Rowan Callick. Used by permission.


It’s hard for me to compare how Australians and others cover China, in part because we rarely actually meet each other to swap notes, except for the occasional encounter via the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (an admirable organization, but one without formal standing in China because it lacks—for obvious reasons on both sides—the sponsorship of a party or government body) and in part because the whole structure of journalism in China does not bring reporters together frequently, as it does in most other countries.

I sometimes go for weeks without encountering another journalist. For China has few press conferences, parliament sessions (two weeks in a year), company annual general meetings or special meetings (never), court hearings open to the media (in my experience, again, never) that bring journalists together. We tend to do our own thing, often, which—if we are attentive to our audiences—reflects their interests.

What, as a result, do I tend to report on?

My readers like to see “their” correspondent’s name on the big story of the day. So I will cover the major domestic and international events involving China, as other journalists do. I was in Sichuan, for instance, covering the horrific human impact of the earthquake there. But because China has become Australia’s top trading partner—and has played a prominent role in driving Australia’s continued economic growth, now in its 17th year—I also write substantially on economic and business stories. And there is a constant call for cultural and arts stories, about Chinese writers, film makers and artists.