Ian Johnson is a Pulitzer-Prize winning correspondent, writing for The New York TimesThe New York Review of Books, The New Yorker and other publications. He is also an advising editor of the Journal of Asian Studies and a senior policy fellow at Merics, a Berlin foundation specializing in China.

 Johnson has spent half of the past thirty years in the Greater China region, first as a student in Beijing in 1984 to '85, and in Taipei from 1986 to 1988. He later worked as a correspondent in China from 1994 to 2001, first with Baltimore's The Sun and then The Wall Street Journal, where he covered macro economics, China's WTO accession and social issues.

He studied and reported from Berlin between 1988 and 1992, covering the fall of the Berln Wall and German unification for Baltimore's The Sun and other newspapers. He moved back to Berlin in 2001, where he served as The Wall Street Journal's Germany bureau chief for five years, heading coverage of European macro-economics, introduction of the euro, German economic restructuring, and social issues such as Islamist terrorism. He returned to China in 2009.

 In 2001, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of China. He has been a Nieman fellow at Harvard and received grants from the Open Society Foundation and the Alicia Patterson Foundation.

 Johnson has published two books, one on civil society and grassroots protest in China (Wild Grass, 2004) and another on Islamism and the Cold War in Europe (A Mosque in Munich, 2010), and contributed chapters to three other books: My First Trip to China (2011), Chinese Characters (2012), and the forthcoming Oxford Illustrated History of China (2016). 

 

Last Updated: May 22, 2015

What Holds China Together?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
It’s easy to put oneself in the minds of government propagandists and feel that things are going quite well in China. Yes, faraway Hong Kong is in crisis, with huge anti-government protests going on since March. But it was always going to be tough...

China’s ‘Black Week-end’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
When Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun began publishing articles last year criticizing the government’s turn toward a harsher variety of authoritarianism, it seemed inevitable that he would be swiftly silenced. But then, remarkably, dozens of...

Conversation

05.14.19

Islamophobia in China

Ian Johnson, Kelly Hammond & more
Roughly 20 million Muslims live in China today; many of them live in the northwest region of Xinjiang, where the government is incarcerating an estimated one million Uighur Muslims. In recent weeks, news reports have emerged of the razing of mosques...

‘One Seed Can Make an Impact’: An Interview with Chen Hongguo

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Chen Hongguo might be China’s most famous ex-professor. Five years ago, he quit his job at the Northwest University of Politics and Law in Xi’an, publishing his resignation letter online after administrators prohibited him from inviting free-...

China: A Small Bit of Shelter

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
At night, a spotlight illuminates four huge characters on the front of the Great Temple of Promoting Goodness in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province in northwestern China: mi zang zong feng, “The Esoteric Repository of the Faith’s Traditions.”...

A Specter Is Haunting Xi’s China: ‘Mr. Democracy’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Something strange is happening in Xi Jinping’s China. This is supposed to be the perfect dictatorship, the most sustained period of authoritarianism since the Cultural Revolution ended more than 40 years ago, a period of such damning disappointment...

‘It’s Hopeless But You Persist’: An Interview with Jiang Xue

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The forty-five-year-old investigative journalist Jiang Xue is one of the most influential members of a group of journalists who came of age in the early 2000s, taking advantage of new—if temporary—freedoms created by the Internet to investigate...

‘My Responsibility to History’: An Interview with Zhang Shihe

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
“Tiger Temple” (Laohu Miao) is the nom de guerre of Zhang Shihe, one of China’s best-known citizen journalists and makers of short video documentaries, many of them profiling ordinary people he met during extraordinarily long bike rides through...

The Uighurs and China’s Long History of Trouble with Islam

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Last month, I spent several days at the Forbidden City, the gargantuan palace in the middle of Beijing where China’s emperors ruled the land for nearly five hundred years. I was there to attend a conference on religion and power in imperial China,...

In Search of the True Dao

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Last year I got a call from Abbess Yin, an old friend who runs a Daoist nunnery near Nanjing. I’ve always known her as supernaturally placid and oblique, but this time she was nervous and direct: a group of Germans were coming to spend a week...

Breaking Eggs Against a Rock

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Blood Letters is an important new biography of Lin Zhao, the journalist who was executed 50 years ago this spring for criticizing the Communist Party’s misrule in the 1950s and 1960s. After years of imprisonment, torture, and mental deterioration,...

Viewpoint

07.13.18

‘Liu Knew His Responsibility in History’

Ian Johnson
He was risking not the immediate arrival of soldiers, but the inevitable and life-threatening imprisonment that befalls all people who challenge state power in China today. This was not an active decision to die, but a willingness to do so. The...

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