John Pomfret was a longtime, award-winning correspondent with The Washington Post. He covered big wars and small in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Congo, Sri Lanka, Iraq, southwestern Turkey, and northeastern Iran. Pomfret spent seven years covering China—one in the late 1980s during the Tiananmen Square protests, and then from 1998 until the end of 2003 as the Bureau Chief for The Washington Post in Beijing. Returning to the United States in 2004, Pomfret was the paper’s West Coast Bureau Chief for two years before being appointed the Editor of its Outlook section, the Post’s weekly commentary section, which he ran from 2007 until September 2009. Pomfret moved back to China in 2011 to undertake research funded by a Fulbright grant and the Smith Richardson Foundation for his new book The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present.

Pomfret speaks, reads, and writes Mandarin, having spent two years at Nanjing University in the early 1980s as part of one of the first groups of American students to study in China. He has been a bartender in Paris and practiced Judo in Japan. He studied at Stanford University.

In 2003, Pomfret was awarded the Osborne Elliot Award for the best coverage of Asia by the Asia Society. In 2007, he was awarded the Shorenstein Award from Harvard and Stanford universities for his lifetime coverage of Asia. In 2011, he was awarded the Weintal Award from Georgetown University for diplomatic coverage.

He is also the author of the critically-acclaimed Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China.

Last Updated: October 14, 2016



The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom

John Pomfret
From the clipper ships that ventured to Canton hauling cargos of American ginseng to swap for Chinese tea, to the U.S. warships facing off against China’s growing navy in the South China Sea, from the Yankee missionaries who brought Christianity and education to China, to the Chinese who built the American West, the United States and China have always been dramatically intertwined. For more than two centuries, American and Chinese statesmen, merchants, missionaries, and adventurers, men and women, have profoundly influenced the fate of these nations. While we tend to think of America’s ties with China as starting in 1972 with the visit of President Richard Nixon to China, the patterns—rapturous enchantment followed by angry disillusionment—were set in motion hundreds of years earlier.Drawing on personal letters, diaries, memoirs, government documents, and contemporary news reports, John Pomfret reconstructs the surprising, tragic, and marvelous ways Americans and Chinese have engaged with one another through the centuries. A fascinating and thrilling account, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom is also an indispensable book for understanding the most important—and often the most perplexing—relationship between any two countries in the world. —Henry Holt{chop}



Is the Growing Pessimism About China Warranted?

David Shambaugh, David M. Lampton & more from Washington Quarterly
There are few more consequential questions in world affairs than China’s uncertain future trajectory. Assumptions of a reformist China integrated into the international community have given way in recent years to serious concerns about the nation’s...

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