In conversation: Mei Fong, 'One Child'
August 01 2017
Photo: Anna Carson DeWitt
The Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) at the University of Technology Sydney welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winner Mei Fong to discuss her book, One Child, which examines the effects of the one-child policy on the global adoption market, among other unexpected side-effects. The book recently won a non-fiction award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She was recently voted by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the top 50 shapers of US-China relations. Mei Fong spent over a decade reporting in Asia, most notably as China correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. She is a winner of Amnesty’s Human Rights Press Award.
For over three decades, China exercised unprecedented control over the reproductive habits of its billion citizens. Now, with its economy faltering just as it seemed poised to become the largest in the world, the Chinese government has brought an end to its one-child policy. It may once have seemed a shortcut to riches, but it has had a profound effect on society in modern China. Combining personal portraits of families affected by the policy with a nuanced account of China’s descent towards economic and societal turmoil, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mei Fong reveals the true cost of this most controversial of policies.
Time: 5:15pm for 6:00pm-7:30pm
Please note: A cash bar is available from 5:15pm to 6:00pm.
Mei Fong is an author and journalist who owes the start of her writing career to the Queen of England. As a 16-year-old, the Malaysian-born Fong won an essay competition that garnered her an invitation to meet Queen Elizabeth II, in town for a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Emboldened by the meeting—'nothing so exciting had ever happened in my dull life until then,'— Fong resolved to become a journalist and writer.
After graduating from the National University of Singapore she started her journalism career as a reporter at The New Paper, writing stories on local crime, forest fires in Indonesia and gang warfare in Macau. In 1999 she moved to New York for graduate studies at Columbia University with a scholarship from Singapore’s Lee Foundation, graduating with a Masters in International Affairs. While a summer intern at Forbes, she created its Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list ('Sales from the Crypt') which is still published every year by the business magazine.
She joined The Wall Street Journal in 2001, covering the aftermath and recovery of New York city after the 9-11 attacks. Later, she covered Hong Kong and China, where she won a shared Pulitzer for her stories on China’s transformative process ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She is believed to be the first Malaysian to win a Pulitzer.
Her stories on China’s migrant workers also won a 2006 Human Rights Press Award from Amnesty International and the Hong Kong Correspondents Club, as well as awards from the Society of Publishers in Asia and Society of Professional Journalists. After leaving the China bureau, she was on faculty at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications. She is currently a fellow at think tank New America.
She is married to journalism professor Andrew Lih. They have two sons and live in greater Washington DC.