2021 Journalism Awards: A China Reportage Reading List

CDT celebrates the award-winning reporting on China from this past year. It has been an exceptionally challenging year for foreign correspondents in China, amid expulsions, government intimidation and harassment, and the narrowing space for investigative reporting in general. And despite these challenges, reporters have produced exceptional stories that have awakened, educated, and moved the international community. Below is a selection of stories that have picked up top journalism prizes in 2021:

The 2021 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Public Service
Winner: The New York Times

For courageous, prescient and sweeping coverage of the coronavirus pandemic that exposed racial and economic inequities, government failures in the U.S. and beyond, and filled a data vacuum that helped local governments, healthcare providers, businesses and individuals to be better prepared and protected. [Source]


January 6, 2020 – China Grapples With Mystery Pneumonia-Like Illness
By Sui-Lee Wee and Vivian Wang

January 23, 2020 – Live Briefing: Coronavirus Death Toll Climbs in China, and a Lockdown Widens

February 1, 2020 – As New Coronavirus Spread, China’s Old Habits Delayed Fight
By Chris Buckley and Steven Lee Myers

February 2, 2020 – Wuhan Coronavirus Looks Increasingly Like a Pandemic, Experts Say
By Donald G. McNeil Jr.


June 26, 2020 – How the World Missed Covid-19’s Silent Spread
By Matt Apuzzo, Selam Gebrekidan and David D. Kirkpatrick

December 19, 2020 – No ‘Negative’ News: How China Censored the Coronavirus
By Raymond Zhong, Paul Mozur, Jeff Kao and Aaron Krolik

May 23, 2020 – Front Page: U.S. Deaths Near 100,000, An Incalculable Loss

The 2021 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Investigative Reporting
Finalist: Dake Kang and the Staff of Associated Press

For a penetrating investigation of China’s state secrecy and its fatal consequences, reflected in the country’s early response to the coronavirus outbreak and in human rights abuses against the Uighurs. [Source]


April 14, 2020 – China didn’t warn public of likely pandemic for 6 key days

June 1, 2020 – China delayed releasing coronavirus info, frustrating WHO

December 3, 2020 – China testing blunders stemmed from secret deals with firms
By Dake Kang

December 30, 2020 – China clamps down in hidden hunt for coronavirus origins
By Dake Kang, Maria Cheng, and Sam McNeil

August 30, 2020 – In China’s Xinjiang, forced medication accompanies lockdown
By Dake Kang

June 28, 2020 – China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization

March 5, 2020 – Gadgets for tech giants made with coerced Uighur labor
By Dake Kang and Yanan Wang

The 2021 Pulitzer Prize Winner in International Reporting
Also: The 2021 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Explanatory Reporting
Winners: Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek of BuzzFeed News

For a series of clear and compelling stories that used satellite imagery and architectural expertise, as well as interviews with two dozen former prisoners, to identify a vast new infrastructure built by the Chinese government for the mass detention of Muslims. (Moved by the Board from the Explanatory Reporting category, where it was also entered and nominated.) [Source]


August 26, 2020 – China Secretly Built A Vast New Infrastructure To Imprison Muslims
By Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek

August 26, 2020 – What They Saw: Ex-Prisoners Detail The Horrors Of China’s Detention Camps
By Megha Rajagopalan and Alison Killing

August 26, 2020 – Blanked-Out Spots On China’s Maps Helped Us Uncover Xinjiang’s Camps
By Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek

December 3, 2020 – Inside A Xinjiang Detention Camp
By Megha Rajagopalan and Alison Killing

December 28, 2020 – We Found The Factories Inside China’s Mass Internment Camps
By Megha Rajagopalan and Alison Killing

September 25, 2020 – A Uighur Woman Who Was At Risk Of Being Forcibly Sent Back To China And Detained Has Arrived Safely In The US
By Megha Rajagopalan

The 2021 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in International Reporting
Finalist: Staff of The Wall Street Journal

For an authoritative and deeply reported portrait of China’s nationalist leader Xi Jinping and his increasingly authoritarian control of the state, its economy, and politics, conducted even after the news organization was expelled from the country. [Source]


December 23, 2020 – How the U.S. Misread China’s Xi: Hoping for a Globalist, It Got an Autocrat
by Jeremy Page

December 10, 2020 – China’s Xi Ramps Up Control of Private Sector. ‘We Have No Choice but to Follow the Party.’
By Lingling Wei

November 27, 2020 – ‘Their Goal Is to Make You Feel Helpless’: In Xi’s China, Little Room for Dissent
By Chun Han Wong

December 30, 2020 – Xi’s China Crafts Campaign to Boost Youth Patriotism
By Liza Lin

October 21, 2020 – In Xi Jinping’s China, Nationalism Takes a Dark Turn
By Chao Deng and Liza Lin

December 31, 2020 – Beijing Accelerates Campaign of Ethnic Assimilation
By Eva Xiao, Jonathan Cheng and Liza Lin

December 28, 2020 – Pushback on Xi’s Vision for China Spreads Beyond U.S.
By Drew Hinshaw, Sha Hua and Laurence Norman

Livingston Awards, International Reporting
Winner: Chao Deng, The Wall Street Journal

The Livingston Awards for Young Journalists at the University of Michigan honors outstanding achievement by journalists under the age of 35.

Chao Deng, 32, of The Wall Street Journal for “On the Front Lines in Wuhan,” a remarkable series of reports which, despite the Chinese government’s attempts to silence her, tells the complex and rapidly evolving story on the ground at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the early stages of the crisis. [Source]


February 11, 2020 – At Outbreak’s Center, Wuhan Residents Question Accuracy of Virus Tests
By Chao Deng

February 14, 2020 – In Wuhan, China’s Virus Outbreak Overwhelms Residential Committees
By Chao Deng

February 14, 2020 – One Doctor’s Life on the Coronavirus Front Lines. ‘If We Fail, What Happens to You All?’
By Chao Deng

Osborn Elliott Prize For Excellence in Journalism on Asia
Winner: Alice Su, The Los Angeles Times

The independent jury that awards the Oz Prize — chaired by former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal top editor Marcus Brauchli — released a statement which said in part:

“Alice Su’s ambitiously conceived, deeply nuanced journalism humanized and added important new dimensions to our understanding of Xi Jinping’s China. She explained how missteps by a top-down regime dedicated to control contributed to the rapid spread of the terrifying pandemic that swept out of Wuhan. In a year of wide-ranging and difficult reporting, she showed the human cost of heavy-handed government policies, even as China’s economic power grows.” [Source]


December 17, 2020 – Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak
By Alice Su

September 3, 2020 – China cracks down on Inner Mongolian minority fighting for its mother tongue
By Alice Su

November 20, 2020 – China’s new campaign to make Muslims devoted to the state rather than Islam
By Alice Su

July 15, 2020 – First a pandemic, then the floods: Villagers in southern China face devastation again
By Alice Su

June 27, 2020 – China’s crackdown on professors reminds many of Mao era
By Alice Su

May 24, 2020 – Wuhan’s survivors find no closure from the coronavirus
By Alice Su

October 22, 2020 – Dreams of a Red Emperor: The relentless rise of Xi Jinping
By Alice Su

Emily Feng of NPR received a Gracie Award honorable mention for her reporting on China’s coronavirus crisis.


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