David Schlesinger has observed China from up close for three decades. In an interview, the former Reuters editor-in-chief reflects on China’s complexities, challenges and self-interest.


“I’ve become less and less sure about what I actually understand about China.”

That’s a disarming admission from the former editor-in-chief of one of the world’s biggest news organizations who has spent three decades observing China.

But the point that ex-Reuters News chief David Schlesinger is driving home is that he, like the world, is still coming to grips with China’s complexities.

“Here I am, 30 years on, and I really think that I’ve been on this journey towards ambiguity,” Schlesinger says in an interview. “Where once I was very sure about things, now I’m really not sure at all.”

In the above video, Schlesinger, who is founder and managing director of the media and China independent consultants Tripod Advisors, talks about his first exposure to China, when as a school boy he followed from afar former U.S. President Richard Nixon’s ground-breaking 1972 trip to a country that had been Washington’s foe for more than two decades.

In the video, Schlesinger says:

  • coverage of China by foreign news organizations tends to follow “clichéd notions;”
  • many young Chinese today do not know about events at Tiananmen Square in 1989;
  • the world has underestimated the difficulties China faces in modernizing its economy;
  • China, like other countries, is self-interested and will pursue its “its dream, its growth, its trajectory.”

The interview with Schlesinger is the first in a series of chats with News-Decoder correspondents.

3 Comments

China watch: A journey towards ambiguity

  1. Fascinating stuff. For me the big eye opener has been how absolutely absorbed the young, educated Chinese are in the goings-on in the rest of the world and their eagerness to absorb new trends while retaining many of the traditional cultural mores.

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