China Beat Archive



Date of this Version


Document Type



June 22, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright June 22, 2008. Used by permission.


The Public Broadcasting Corporation’s Frontline series has a long tradition of airing documentaries on China. Carma Hinton and Richard Gordon’s prize-winning look at 1989, “The Gate of Heavenly Peace,” was shown as part of the series, for example, as was a later Tiananmen documentary, “The Tank Man.” And thanks to the online extras, from guides to further reading to lesson plans for teachers, the PBS Frontline site has become a valuable resource for those who offer classes or simply want to learn about the PRC. Still, it is rare (probably unprecedented) for two China shows to run back-to-back on Frontline. But that is just what is happening now, as yet another sign that 2008 is no ordinary year where either Chinese events or international fascination with China are concerned. Last week’s “Young and Restless in China,” which was the subject of an earlier China Beat postand has become the latest Frontline show to be supplemented by online classroom-friendly features, is about to be followed by “Jesus in China,” which premieres June 24.

No one at China Beat has seen the show yet. But we did check out the materialsavailable in advance online, which include a “video diary” featuring Chicago Tribune reporter Evans Osnos. So, we decided to pose a few questions by e-mail to the award-winning journalist, who along with his involvement in the film has continued to file reports on the earthquake and other breaking news stories for the Tribune and has also begun to write occasionally for The New Yorker. Here is what he had to say about “Jesus in China” and the general topic of the surge of Christianity in the PRC, which is also the subject of a series he’s doing in print, beginning with this piece published today.