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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Young Chinese have grown up in a time of epic change, as China has become more prosperous and powerful, more urban, more educated, more connected with the world through technology, travel, television and more. Chinese have also become more connected with each other, with some 800 million of them online. And despite an ongoing government crackdown on free speech, especially dissent, and even the discussion of Western ideas such as democracy, human rights and rule of law, attitudes and expectations are radically different among young Chinese than for many previous generations in China, in ways that could affect not just China, but the world, in this century.
Roiled by two years of recession, the impeachment of one president and indictment of another, and its worst corruption scandal ever, Brazil is not exactly on the path predicted at the beginning of this century, when it was hailed as one of the globe's most promising rising economic powers. What happened? Inequalities and imbalances at home may have been papered over in boom times, but they didn't go away, and now Brazil's leaders face the challenge of finding a more sustainable and equitable way forward.
It wasn't so long ago that South Africa was seen as the natural leader of its continent, with bright economic prospects and a nascent, post-apartheid democracy. It developed strong trade ties with China, and, in 2010, was named one of the BRICS countries — with Brazil, Russia, India and China, the economies seen by some investors (the term was coined by a Goldman Sachs executive) to be the era's dynamic up-and-comers. But it hasn't quite turned out that way. This year, South Africa dipped into recession, with unemployment near 30 percent. What happened?
At a time when a surprising number of young Americans say it's not important to them to live in a democracy, when honest journalists are accused of pedaling fake news, while purveyors of actual fake news are too often taken seriously, spare a thought for a man who thought democracy, freedom of speech and a just society are so worth fighting for, he spent four terms in Chinese prisons and work camps, and died in custody, of liver cancer. Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is being remembered for his tenacity and principled focus, and for believing in the power of peaceful protest and the possibility of change, in the face of authoritarian repression.
China's rise has been fast, impressive, and a little intimidating to some. Howard French, author of "Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power" argues that while this rate of growth won't go on forever, the next 10 to 20 years is a potentially dangerous time, as China's leaders consolidate their gains before growth slows, the population ages, and already thorny problems at home demand more attention. Building islands in the South China Sea, a new infrastructure investment bank, and an ambitious new Silk Road network of regional infrastructure may just be the start of a shift of the global center of gravity, back to what many Chinese see as its rightful, historic place.