Mary Kay Magistad was, for the past decade, China correspondent for the PRI/BBC radio program The World. She traveled widely throughout China and the region, reporting on the implications of China’s transformation on ordinary Chinese and on the world. Her 2007 series “Young China” won an Overseas Press Club award; her 2009 series on China’s quest for greater innovation, “Created in China,” won a Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists award.

Magistad also opened NPR’s Beijing bureau in 1996, and served as its China correspondent from 1995 to 1999, initially from a Hong Kong base. Previously, she was NPR’s Southeast Asia correspondent (1993-95), after several years (1988-92) as a regular contributor from Southeast Asia for The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, NPR, CBC, and other media. While based in Southeast Asia, she especially focused on Cambodia’s civil war and the plight of Cambodian refugees, the Burmese junta’s crackdown on pro-democracy forces and ethnic minorities, and Vietnam’s quest to emerge from its post-war isolation. She also covered the aftermath of genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and has reported more recently in Zambia, Rwanda, and Congo, on the impact of China’s rise.

Magistad has an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Sussex (UK), and a Bachelor’s in Journalism and History from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. She has been a Nieman Fellow and a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University.

Last Updated: April 5, 2021

Sinica Podcast


Whose Century Is It, Anyway?

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Veteran China journalists Mary Kay Magistad and Gady Epstein discuss the increasingly complex “frenemyship” of China and the United States, the South China Sea, the role of “old China hands,” and how the Middle Kingdom is changing the world and...



Should the U.S. Change its China Policy and How?

Hugh White , Mary Kay Magistad & more
The past several months have seen a growing chorus of calls for the U.S. to take stock of its policy toward China. Some prominent voices have called for greater efforts by the U.S. and China to forge “a substantive sense of common purpose,” while...



What Should the Next U.S. Ambassador to China Tackle First?

Mary Kay Magistad & Robert Kapp
Mary Kay Magistad: Gary Locke succeeded in a way that few U.S. ambassadors to China have—in improving public perceptions of U.S. culture.  Locke’s down-to-earth approachability and lack of ostentation certainly helped. So did the...

Sinica Podcast


A Goodbye to the Magistad

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Can it have been merely a few weeks ago that we sequestered Evan “The Turncoat” Osnos in our studio and grilled the celebrated writer on his decision to leave China for what must have myopically seemed like greener pastures? At the time, we intended...



To Reform or Not Reform?—Echoes of the Late Qing Dynasty

Orville Schell, John Delury & more
Orville Schell:It is true that China is no longer beset by threats of foreign incursion nor is it a laggard in the world of economic development and trade. But being there and being steeped in an atmosphere of seemingly endless political and...

Sinica Podcast


Turning the Tables on Sinica

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week sets a new record for introspective profanity as we reverse our usual format, in a show that features David Moser and Mary Kay Magistad turning the tables on Jeremy Goldkorn and Kaiser Kuo with an interview that explores how both view...

Sinica Podcast


All-Sinica Federation of Women

Mary Kay Magistad & Leta Hong Fincher from Sinica Podcast
Considering that this was the week Zhang Ziyi found her name dragged through the mud on the Bo Xilai scandal, there couldn’t be a more topical subject for Sinica than the double standards that are often applied to women in China, and the way Chinese...

Sinica Podcast


L’affaire Daisey

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
If you smell anything burning, it’s likely your Internet cable melting from the heat of all these rumors. Which is why at Sinica we turn our unforgiving gaze this week at unsubstantiated press, foreign and domestic, focusing first on reports of...

Sinica Podcast


Running Dogs and Locusts

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Ongoing tension between Hong Kong and mainland citizens erupted into open flames on February 1, when a Hong Kong group raised more than HKD 100,000 to publish a full-page anti-China advertisement in the Apple Daily comparing mainlanders to parasitic...

Sinica Podcast


The Elections in Taiwan

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
If your impression of Taiwanese politics has been dominated by the island’s recurring stories of vote-buying and parliamentary brawls, you’ll probably be shocked to hear what Mary Kay Magistad has to say about her recent trip to cover last week’s...

Sinica Podcast


Train Wrecks

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
After a long and hot July marked by the near-absence of most of our guests, Sinica host Kaiser Kuo is pleased to be back this week leading a discussion of the recent accident on the high-speed Hangzhou-Wenzhou rail line, an accident that has...

Sinica Podcast


The Exercise of Power

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
In the last week, power and pageantry have engulfed Beijing as China has convened its Twin Congresses: the annual meeting of the country’s two highest decision-making councils. As the Communist Party has seized the opportunity to celebrate its grip...

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