Mary Kay Magistad

Whose Century Is It?

Mary Kay Magistad is a former correspondent for The World in East Asia.

Mary Kay Magistad is formerly The World’s East Asia correspondent. She lived and reported in the region for two decades. Mary Kay is now based in San Francisco.During her time in Asia, she traveled regularly and widely throughout China and beyond, exploring how China’s rapid transformation has affected individual lives and exploring the bigger geopolitical, economic and environmental implications of China’s rise. She stepped back every so often to do an in-depth series on such topics as the China’s urbanization — the biggest and most rapid move from the countryside to the cities in human history, on the potential for innovation in China, and on the ripple effects on Chinese society of the One Child Generation coming of age. Mary Kay’s seven-part series on that subject, called “Young China,” won a 2007 Overseas Press Club Award, one of several awards she has received.Mary Kay started out in Southeast Asia, based in Bangkok, as a regular contributor to NPR, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and other news media. She covered the Cambodian civil war and the UN peace process, the Burmese army’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and the United States’ wary rapprochement in the early ‘90s with Vietnam. Mary Kay also reported farther afield, covering the aftermath of genocide in Rwanda, tensions with Iraq in Kuwait, and other stories.Mary Kay became NPR’s full-time Southeast Asia correspondent in 1993, and in 1996 she opened NPR’s first Beijing bureau. She took time out for two fellowships at Harvard — a Nieman and a Radcliffe fellowship — enough time to realize China was too interesting a story to leave — before going back to China for The World.Mary Kay graduated from Northwestern University with a double major in journalism and history, and has an MA in international relations from the University of Sussex in England, completed on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, left, is shown the way by Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,China, April 24, 2019.

As Ethiopia’s civil conflict intensifies, the future for Chinese investment is uncertain

On China's New Silk Road

China’s investments helped Ethiopia become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Now, the country is embroiled in a conflict that has displaced tens of thousands — and threatens to destabilize a region in which China is heavily invested.

A demonstrator wearing a protective face mask with a message attends a protest demanding to boycott China-made products.

India guards against China’s growing regional plans

On China's New Silk Road
In this Oct. 31, 2019, file photo, attendees walk past a display for 5G services from Chinese technology firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing.

China’s new Silk Road runs through cyberspace, worrying rivals and privacy advocates

On China's New Silk Road
The harbor of Nuuk, Greenland's capital.

China’s Arctic ambitions have revived US interest in the region

The Bridge of the Americas, located at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal.

China’s new Silk Road runs through Latin America, prompting warnings from the US

Sihanoukville, Cambodia, has become a construction site in recent years, with dozens of Chinese projects to build business and apartment high-rises, and with roads under construction around town.

Opening the door to Chinese investment comes with risks for Southeast Asian nations

On China's New Silk Road

Southeast Asian countries have long managed a complex relationship with China, the region’s biggest trading partner and their most powerful neighbor. China’s new Silk Road promises opportunities for economic growth, but at what cost?

Venice’s Grand Canal was for centuries a thoroughfare for the global shipping trade on the ancient Silk Road.

Italy is caught in the middle of the EU’s tussle with its ‘systemic rival,’ China

On China's New Silk Road

Italian populists—skeptical of the value of EU membership—drove Italy to become the first G7 country to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Then the pandemic brought generous EU aid, leaving Italy to reassess who its real friends are and how best to help its economy.

Kazakhs protest what they see as excessive expansion of Chinese influence in Kazakhstan, including new Silk Road investments, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Dec. 2019.

China’s new Silk Road traverses Kazakhstan. But some Kazakhs are skeptical of Chinese influence.

On China's New Silk Road

The tradeoffs of China’s investment in Kazakhstan require Kazakhs — most of whom are Muslim — to reckon with the persecution of Muslim minorities just across their border.

A billboard advertising the "China dream" in Chengdu, China, in June 2019.

The ‘China dream’: The new Silk Road begins at home

On China's New Silk Road

In the first episode of “On China’s New Silk Road,” The World’s former China correspondent Mary Kay Magistad looks at Chengdu, China, a stop on both the ancient Silk Road and the new one, for clues on China’s global influence via its Belt and Road Initiative.

A US Huey Cobra fires rockets at an enemy target in Ia Drang, October 1965.

How the Vietnam War shaped my life and my career


Journalist Mary Kay Magistad grew up thinking about the Vietnam War, and it helped launch her career as an international correspondent. The former World China correspondent and host of Whose Century Is It? talks about how Vietnam shaped her.