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News News 2021 in Review: The Year in...

2021 in Review: The Year in FCC Zoom Events

For the second year in a row, the FCC wasn’t able to host as many in-person events featuring guest speakers as we normally would due to the ongoing pandemic. Fortunately, we made up for it with our ongoing series of Zoom events featuring notable guests from around the globe, including diplomats, authors, judges, and journalists such as Bob Woodward, Fareed Zakaria and Evan Osnos.

In total, we hosted more than three dozen Zoom events this year, so scroll down to see the lineup and watch videos of those you may have missed.

February 9: ‘Social Media Bans’ Panel

Freedom of expression has its limits when it comes to spreading falsehoods and promoting real-world violence, a panel of experts including Maria Ressa, Craig Silverman and Alejandro Reyes said during this Zoom event.

February 22: ‘Myanmar on the Edge’ Panel

In a pre-dawn operation on February 1, Myanmar’s military moved to take control of the government, detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected officials in a coup. In the aftermath, the FCC hosted a discussion on Myanmar with Ai Fowle, Manny Maung and Wai Wai Nu.

February 23: Evan Osnos

A staff writer at The New Yorker, Osnos is the author of Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, which was released in October 2020. The FCC invited Osnos to participate in a virtual book talk to discuss the biography, which draws on lengthy interviews with Biden and conversations with more than a hundred others.

February 24: Bob Woodward

During Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency, legendary investigative journalist and author Bob Woodward produced two best-selling books that pulled back the curtain on the often chaotic inner workings of the administration. The FCC invited Woodward to discuss his reporting process, the final days of the Trump presidency and much more.

February 26: Dr. Li Shan

In his first public remarks since the formation of the Bauhinia Party in March 2020, party chairman Li Shan said he wanted the new political party to bridge Hong Kong’s blue-yellow divide to solve the city’s pressing social problems.

March 4: Esther Chan

Governments and journalists both have a role to play in combating the spread of COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation, First Draft APAC Bureau Editor Esther Chan said In a virtual workshop hosted by the FCC.

March 8: Carmela Fonbuena

“If we don’t fact-check information that’s spreading on the ground, that’s what people will believe if no one corrects it,” journalist Carmela Fonbuena said while discussing her latest book, Marawi Siege: Stories From the Front Lines.

March 9: Elizabeth Becker

Three pioneering women correspondents — Frances FitzGerald, Catherine Leroy and Kate Webb — changed the nature of modern war reporting and even the course of history with their coverage of the Vietnam War, Elizabeth Becker said in this FCC book event.

March 16: Fuchsia Dunlop

English food writer and cookbook author Fuchsia Dunlop, an expert in Sichuan cuisine, recognised the importance of calling out cultural appropriation but also highlighted the benefits of intercultural exchange during a Zoom webinar hosted by the FCC. “I don’t think the solution is that you should be confined to the food from your own heritage,” Dunlop said. 

March 18: Bay Fang

Publicly-funded news organisations require firm protections from political influence in order to maintain editorial independence and avoid becoming propaganda units, said Bay Fang, president of Radio Free Asia, in a Zoom webinar hosted by the FCC.

March 23: Te-Ping Chen

Journalism and fiction are, by definition, opposite forms of writing, but as writer Te-Ping Chen explained in a book talk hosted by the FCC, the two aren’t as different as you might think. “In some ways, [writing] fiction and journalism is a similar process in as much as you are taking the material at hand,” Chen said, “except with fiction, the material at hand you can just draw from, in so many ways, a deeper universe around you.”

March 24: ‘Asian Hate in America’ Panel

The mass shooting in Atlanta that took the lives of six women of Asian descent is another tragic event in the United States’ long history of anti-Asian violence and discrimination, three Asian American women writers and journalists — Eileen Cheng-yin Chow, Jiayang Fan and Michelle He Yee Lee – said in a panel hosted by the FCC. 

March 26: Sarah Frier

Instagram is typically thought of as a lighthearted platform for posting food photos and looking at your friends’ vacations snaps, but as Bloomberg journalist Sarah Frier, author of No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, explained in an FCC Zoom talk, it’s also rife with misinformation and illegal activity.

March 29: ‘Belt and Road at a Crossroads’ Panel

Nearly eight years after it was first announced, the Belt and Road Initiative has a mixed record of successes and failures, but the panelists who participated in a discussion hosted by the FCC said that greater transparency from China and better decision-making from its partner countries were both necessary for the BRI to move forward in a positive direction.

April 7: Christopher Robert Hill

The United States needs to be proactive in finding ways to communicate and collaborate more closely with China rather than pursuing a policy of decoupling, said Ambassador Christopher Robert Hill, a former career diplomat, in a talk hosted by the FCC. 

April 8: Marianna Spring

Description goes here.Misinformation and conspiracy theories may be considered problems that primarily affect social media and online discourse, but as BBC specialist disinformation reporter Marianna Spring explained in a Zoom talk hosted by the FCC, the negative consequences of viral falsehoods spill over into real life all too often. 

April 13: Fareed Zakaria

The relationship between the United States and China is set to define the global order for decades to come, and both countries will emerge strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways, said journalist and author Fareed Zakaria in a Zoom webinar hosted by the FCC.

April 15: Sonny Swe

Protests taking place across Myanmar in the aftermath of the February 1 military coup are unlike any prior demonstrations because of the unity between different generations and the use of technology, said Sonny Swe, co-founder and publisher of Frontier Myanmar, in a Zoom webinar

May 3: World Press Freedom Day Panel

On World Press Freedom Day, an FCC Hong Kong panel of speakers representing press clubs across Southeast Asia painted a dire portrait of press freedom in the region as various governments have vilified, attacked and even arrested journalists throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 11: Barkha Dutt and Rana Ayyub

Local and independent reporters have played an essential and often high-risk role in revealing the true scale of India’s COVID-19 catastrophe while many in the mainstream media have preferred to parrot the government’s narrative, journalists Barkha Dhutt and Rana Ayyub said in an FCC webinar.

May 14: Henry Litton

Hong Kong’s judiciary has lost its former efficacy and judges need to focus on remedies and practical issues rather than esoteric arguments, said Henry Litton, former judge of the Court of Final Appeal, in an FCC webinar

May 18: Fongyee Walker

Offering a fascinating look at the inner workings of the Chinese winemaking industry, Master of Wine Fongyee Walker highlighted the many business challenges facing producers during a Zoom talk. “There are people making terrific wine, but who do you sell it to?” said Walker. “You’re trying to sell a premium product to a market that almost doesn’t exist — it’s a huge challenge.”

May 31: Bill Bartles and Michael Smith

In September 2020, deteriorating relations between Australia and China led to a five-day diplomatic standoff during which the two remaining foreign correspondents employed by Australian media, Bill Birtles and Michael Smith, were evacuated from the PRC. In a Zoom event, the two journalists shared their accounts of the days leading up to their escape. 

June 2: Ivan Hung

In a Zoom presentation, Professor Ivan Hung of the University of Hong Kong offered an in-depth update on the status of the global pandemic, covering topics including vaccinations, viral variants and asymptomatic transmissions.

June 24: Brian Stelter

On the day that Apple Daily published its last edition following 26 years of operation, CNN’s Brian Stelter said in a webinar that journalistic solidarity is needed in challenging moments such as these. “Nothing unites journalists more than a threat against a newspaper or a publication or against journalism itself,” Stelter said. “Nothing unites this industry more than a moment like this.”

June 29: Eric X. Li

China’s income disparity and environmental degradation are the biggest challenges currently facing the ruling Chinese Communist Party at the 100th anniversary of its founding, said Shanghai-based venture capitalist and political scientist Eric X. Li, who vigorously defended the party’s style of government while expressing doubts about liberal democracies around the world.

July 7: Hans van de Ven

As the Chinese Communist Party celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding, Professor Hans van de Ven acknowledged the party’s success in a Zoom talk, but he also said that its history over the past century was never written in stone. 

July 22: Marty Baron

The proliferation of online disinformation sites purporting to be legitimate news has created an incredibly difficult and hostile environment for journalism, said Marty Baron, former executive editor of The Washington Post, in a discussion moderated by FCC President Keith Richburg. 

July 26: Antonio T. Carpio

Tensions and territorial disputes in the South China Sea are unlikely to result in warfare because of the Philippines’ mutual defence treaty with the United States, said former Philippine Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio

August 24: ‘COVID-19’s Lasting Impact on India’ Panel

Bloomberg correspondent and FCC Correspondent Governor Iain Marlow moderated an insightful discussion on India’s handling of the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic with a panel of revered experts of global health, public policy and economics.

August 31: Linda Jaivin

The history of China may be long, but it’s not necessarily that complicated according to Linda Jaivin, author of The Shortest History of China, which runs less than 300 pages.

September 1: ‘Tech War 2.0’ Panel

China’s active approach to governing social welfare goals in the age of big tech has become a widely known attribute of the CCP’s modus operandi in recent years. However, according to a panel of experts, this starkly contrasting approach to regulation in the West poses a myriad of uncertainties for some of its largest companies looking to raise capital in U.S. equity markets.

September 23: Peter Martin

China’s so-called ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomacy is not a new phenomenon but it has taken on a new dimension over the course of the pandemic, said Bloomberg reporter Peter Martin in a Zoom talk. “Some of China’s strengths have been highlighted; its ability to use its supply chains to produce massive amounts of vaccine and personal protective equipment, and to ship those around the world, kind of plays to a strength of the Chinese system,” Martin said.

October 19: Joanna Chiu

The author of China Unbound: A New World Disorder, which details China’s rapid international rise and the ways Western nations have contributed to a state of global disorder, Chiu explained how her reporting revealed “paranoid rhetoric” and a tendency of United Front effort to focus on individuals and “no-names” who don’t pose a meaningful threat to the CCP. 

October 21: ‘Startups and Substack’ Panel

COVID-19 has caused widespread tragedy and turmoil, but a panel of journalists and media experts said that there have been upsides for journalists and newsrooms in the midst of the pandemic.

October 28: Michael Sheridan

The Hong Kong handover negotiations between Britain and China were fraught with tension, anxiety and distrust according to former foreign correspondent Michael Sheridan, author of The Gate to China: A New History of the People’s Republic & Hong Kong

November 23: Gina Chua

Technology has changed the way journalism is produced and distributed, but Reuters executive editor Gina Chua argued in favor of greater changes for the news business in a Zoom event hosted by the FCC. “What we do today is essentially the same thing we did 50 years ago,” Chua said. 

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