|Update on entry to Private Functions: Negative RAT test/ PCR test required|
|With the number of COVID-19 Omicron cases in Hong Kong continuing to rise, the Government has announced a new measure starting from Sunday, 28 August 2022.|
|All Members holding a private function or joining a Club event, and any Members’ guests joining these activities, must before entering show our staff photographic proof of a negative RAT test. The RAT test must be taken within 24 hours of joining the function and must show the person’s name, date, and time the test was taken, as per photo sample. Alternately an SMS notification can be shown containing the result of a negative PCR test received within the 48 hours preceding his/her entry to the Club.|
|(Sample of RAT test result)|
|For reasons of hygiene and the safety of all Members and staff, RAT tests must be conducted prior to your arrival at the Club. Tests cannot be taken here at the Club.|
|If Members are in any doubt as to whether their event or booking is affected by these new conditions, please contact the office at 2521 1511 or email [email protected]. Those who do not follow these measures will not be admitted to the event.|
|Thank you for your continued support of the Club. Please take care, stay safe and healthy.|
30 August 2022
Obituary: Tad Stoner – ‘Hot as a pistol, but cool inside’: journalist, publican, guitarist and very much more
By Paul Ehrlich
Tad – Bartine Albert Stoner III – was a character of the highest order. He was loud, witty, smart and kind-hearted, though he would have denied this with a deep, full-throated laugh. What he wouldn’t deny is an affinity for whimsical braces (aka suspenders), a sartorial flourish for which he became renowned.
Born in Philadelphia in 1951, Tad attended Swarthmore High School and Pennsylvania State University. He later studied journalism as a postgraduate at the University of Missouri, where he met his future wife, Iris. “Tad was a cutie,” she recalls. “When I met him, he had long hair and the most amazing blue eyes. Hard to resist!”
Tad travelled to Beijing in 1981; Iris arrived six months later, and they were married the day after she landed. Following two years sub-editing at Xinhua News Agency, they spent a holiday in Hong Kong and fell in love with the place. “It had everything Beijing didn’t,” says Iris, “including a vibrant press, an abundance of energy and a thriving entertainment scene. Plus, back then, it was free of the oppression that was prevalent all over China from both a journalistic and social perspective.”
The couple moved to Peng Chau, living in the same hilltop home for 20 years, raising their three children – Erin, Ben and Adam – and, at one point, co-owning and operating The Forest bar and restaurant. “It was the first place in Hong Kong to serve the Belgian wheat beer, Hoegaarden, which required effort to ensure its continued freshness,” recalls Iris. “Tad would happily regale each patron with the story of the beer, regardless of whether they were ordering it, asked about it or were there for a completely different drink.
“He also was in charge of the music and kept a tight rein on his CD collection. As time went on, he loosened up a bit and would take requests. But when Jerry Garcia died in 1995, he played his very extensive collection of Grateful Dead CDs nonstop for several days, which did not go down well with all of the regulars.”
A talented guitarist himself – playing his much-loved Martin acoustic – he’d join fellow journo friends dubbed “The Stiff Picks”: Nigel Armstrong on bass, Robin Lynam on guitar, Karin Malmstrom on fiddle, and Steve Shellum on steel guitar and banjo. “Tad always led the way with a seemingly bottomless well of songs and was also a strong vocalist,” says Shellum.
Tad’s first job in Hong Kong found him reporting for Commercial Radio. He also wrote for the South China Morning Post, TIME and The Hollywood Reporter. He put in a stint as executive speechwriter and corporate communications officer for STAR TV, and later became chief reporter for the Eastern Express. After selling The Forest in 1998, he joined PCCW as corporate communications officer.
After more than two decades in Asia, in 2005 the couple decided they wanted to be closer to their ageing parents and their daughter, who was at university in the US, but they didn’t want to live there. Iris had a connection to the Cayman Islands through a friend, and after a successful interview with the then-daily newspaper, Caymanian Compass, they moved there and worked as reporters. Other jobs followed.
Over the last few years, Tad renewed his focus on playing the guitar, despite having lost a few fingers to a rare, chronic autoimmune skin disorder. “He and our son Adam practised enough to develop quite a repertoire of mostly classic rock,” says Iris. “For the last year or so, they performed together at open-mic nights every week around Grand Cayman.”
Tad bravely fought several medical battles over the years. That he lived with courage and grace and humour throughout is an inspiration.
Tad died on 17 June, aged 70. He leaves behind his wife Iris, daughter Erin and son-in-law Chris, sons Ben and Adam, grandchildren Max and Lyla – who called him GrandTad – mother Elizabeth Welsh and brother Jonathan.
Obituary: Ewen Campbell – ‘A newspaperman, and a brilliant one at that’
By Jon Marsh
Warm, funny, generous… A great colleague, an even better friend… The bloke you wanted beside you in the office as deadlines loomed, and sitting next to you in the pub afterwards. The tributes to Ewen Campbell have flowed thick and fast since Hong Kong lost one of its most talented and best-loved journalists.
An FCC stalwart, he lunched at the same table in Bert’s with the same close friends almost every Friday for more than 15 years; popular rants included Trump, Brexit and Boris. On Sunday afternoons, he was a regular at the China Bear in Mui Wo.
Hong Kong took to Ewen the moment he stepped off the plane in 1986 to join the South China Morning Post. And, despite a typically brutal introduction to Murdoch journalism – he was shafted before he even started – he returned the favour to the city with all that lust for life everyone loved in him.
Hired as sports editor, he arrived to find that seat taken and was shuffled off to the back bench before eventually taking over the sports editor’s role. At the time, Murdoch executives ruled the Post via a mix of fear and stupidity. Ewen (among others) took particular relish in winding up an especially thick deputy editor nicknamed BIFFO – Big, Ignorant Fucker from Oz.
Ewen next found himself at the centre of the launch of Eastern Express by the Oriental Press Group in 1994 where editor Steve Vines was quick to recruit him as production editor.
They were exciting, stressful times. “The launch deadline was very tight and the new technology shaky,” says former managing editor Jon Marsh. “His relentless energy and extraordinary ability to get people to work together pulled us through. He was the glue. Without Ewen, Eastern Express would never have met that deadline. He was a force of nature, and a wonderful friend and colleague.”
Despite the teething problems, the new daily was an editorial success. Relations with the management were at first cordial, with chairman CK Ma playing the role of generous patron. Over drinks one evening Ma asked: “Would you like a cigar?” Ewen replied: “A car?” Amazed, Ma countered: “You want a car?” He then gave him a second-hand runabout, a very slight upgrade on his old banger.
However, bolting an English-language newspaper onto a large, family-run Chinese newspaper group proved to be fraught with difficulties. Relations with management soon soured, leading to an exodus of senior staff, and it closed within two years.
By then Ewen was in Bangkok, working on another newspaper, Asia Times. Launched in 1995, the project was the brainchild of Sondhi Limthongkul, a flamboyant Thai media mogul. Again, Ewen helped muscle the publication into life despite working with an eccentric, almost comically inexperienced production team. But the newspaper suffered commercial challenges and fell victim to the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Next stop was Auckland, where Ewen became sports editor of The New Zealand Herald before returning to Hong Kong in the early 2000s. He went on to work for the iMail and the satirical magazine Spike before re-joining the SCMP, leaving as night editor in 2012. Ewen later moved into corporate communications before helping to resuscitate the online version of Asia Times as an editorial consultant.
At the start of his career in England, he initially worked for the Whitley Bay Guardian and The Northern Echo and in 1979 joined the Daily Star. Close friend Gordon Watts said: “Ewen was always a newspaper man, and a brilliant one at that. He was also one of life’s good guys.” Another former colleague, Steve Wolstencroft, nailed it when he said: “There aren’t many people in the sometimes-backstabbing world of newspapers who never have a bad word said about them. Ewen was one of them. He was the bloke you’d want to have beside you in the office and next to you at the bar in the pub.”
Ewen died from cancer last July, aged 69. He leaves his beloved partner Teri, daughters Sarah and Molly, son Hamish and grandchildren Malcolm and Edie.
Obituary: Suzanne Pepper – The China Watcher who China Watchers Watched
By Frank Ching
Suzanne Pepper, a noted China scholar who called Hong Kong home for more than half a century, died in late June, days after a week-long hospital stay for a battery of tests. She was 83 years old.
Suzanne arrived in Hong Kong in the 1960s to study Chinese, and promptly met fellow student Virupax Ganesh Kulkarni – known as VG – an Indian army officer attached to his country’s consulate. The pair decided to marry. VG left government service to become a journalist. He and Suzanne tied the knot in New York in June 1970.
VG studied journalism at Columbia University and interned at United Press International. Suzanne got a PhD in politics from the University of California at Berkeley.
The couple returned to Hong Kong in the 1970s. VG began his journalistic career while Suzanne renewed her affiliation with the Universities Service Centre (USC) on Argyle Street, where she had previously done research. It had been set up in 1963 by American scholars to study Mao Zedong’s revolutionary China and was funded by various foundations.
In a history of the centre that Suzanne wrote in 1988, she said: “In its prime… the USC served as the main research base in the field for several generations of China scholars… as interest quickened during the late 1960s and 1970s, a period of affiliation with the USC became de rigueur for American social scientists in particular.”
She was to be associated with the centre for the rest of her life.
As John Dolfin, the USC’s longest serving director, said of Suzanne, she and the USC “have become synonymous in the minds of virtually everyone in the international China studies field.”
Hong Kong was long the China-watching capital of the world, and western scholarly efforts centred on the USC.
However Beijing was highly suspicious. On 27 December 1979, the People’s Daily, in an article on a different subject, mentioned in passing that the USC was a “national front organisation of spies.”
This remarkable charge was followed by a rare retraction the following month and a letter of apology to the centre’s director.
The opening-up of China led scholars – and foundations – to shift their interest northward. The USC’s loss of financial support led to its closure in 1988, when its holdings were taken over by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Suzanne, too, moved to the university.
CUHK kept the centre going for three more decades. Last year, its holdings were placed within the university’s library, but Suzanne, a fiery writer and speaker who lived up to her patronymic, managed to cling onto her perch.
She authored major books on the Chinese civil war and education reform in the 1980s. In 2008, she brought out Keeping Democracy at Bay: Hong Kong and the Challenge of Chinese Political Reform.
VG died in 2014, after which the FCC made Suzanne an honorary lifetime member.
About that time, Suzanne started her blog, Hong Kong Focus, and began publishing articles in the media. When Hong Kong Free Press launched in 2015, she became a contributing writer, providing analyses on political affairs; she later became a columnist, bringing her knowledge of China to bear while analysing Hong Kong politics.
In a recent piece after John Lee emerged as Beijing’s choice for Chief Executive, Suzanne examined the implications of the move.
“Beijing is making the rules and Beijing is deciding up front who will be Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive,” she wrote. “No more niceties about public opinion, consultations and the like. There must be no doubt as to the source of authority for this decision.”
Suzanne was at the university six days a week. She did not have a computer at home. She also did not have a mobile phone.
This made it difficult for people to contact her during her final days. Several, including her sister, Patricia in California – another sister, Katie, lives in New York – and close friends Jean Hung and John Dolfin, were able to speak to her. Their later inability to reach her resulted in the police being called, who subsequently found her body at home.
Suzanne’s death brought forth a torrent of accolades from the academic community.
“Suzanne Pepper deserves honour in our field, and I believe that scholarly attention to her works will increase further in later years,” said Lynn White, a Princeton University scholar. “We will miss this spicy person too.”
He won’t be the only one.
Former LegCo President Jasper Tsang says The Chinese Central Government should speak to Hong Kong Pan-democrats
Former Legislative Council President and veteran pro-Beijing politician Jasper Tsang said he believed many members of the rival pan-democratic camp “satisfy the requirements to be patriotic,” but he said many of them failed to draw a line between themselves and the radicals.
Tsang called for the pan-democrats to reorient themselves and find new roles. He was previously quoted saying one sign of the success of China’s “one country, two systems” governing policy over Hong Kong was whether Beijing resumes dialogue with the pan-democrats. However he told a luncheon crowd at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong on July 7, 2022 that “the timing is not right yet” to open a dialogue because the city was still recovering from the upheaval.
Asked about the 47 opposition candidates arrested for running in a primary election for the since-postponed Legislative Council elections, Tsang said, “Taking part in the primary election is not illegal. And if you check, not everybody who took part in the primary election has been prosecuted.”
The 47 targeted, Tsang said, “were arrested and may be prosecuted because of suspected offences defined in the new NSL, four very specific offences and very clearly targeted. Either you sort of call for Hong Kong independence to try to break Hong Kong away from China, or you want to subvert the so-called government institutions. And most of them were suspected of having committed this offence.”
“What they told the public was, look, we’re gonna win the majority of the seats in LegCo and after that, we will make the government accede to our political demands,” something which Beijing considered a grave threat, Tsang told the luncheon gathering.
Tsang said people involved in the 2019 extradition bill protests were not conscious of being manipulated by foreign powers, but that many politicians in United States had spoken in support of the protests and said Hong Kong people are fighting for democracy. He also said protest leaders were received by top U.S. officials in Washington and that American officials had bragged to him about fomenting similar “colour revolutions” in other Asian countries he did not name.
Asked to share information with the audience of any proof of involvement by foreign forces, Tsang replied, “I don’t know. It’s pure logic. Pan-democrats would be angry at them too, if they (the foreign powers) had done nothing.”
Tsang said he regretted many young people engaged in violent acts during the 2019 protests and were now in prison and with arrest records. He said it will be up to the Correctional Services Department to help integrate those young people back into society.
Tsang also encouraged the FCC to invite Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu to speak at the Club and to take questions.
To watch the whole talk, please visit the FCC’s YouTube channel on youtube.com/fcchkfcc.
Obituary: Robin Lynam – ‘He put the “Gentle” Into Gentleman’
By Andrew Dembina
“Van Morrison’s playing reminds us that he used to be quite a sharp acoustic guitarist… a welcome inclusion on an engaging, enthusiastic but inessential set.” So concluded an incisive review of a then new CD called The Skiffle Sessions, published in the May 2000 issue of HMV’s now defunct magazine The Voice, penned by the late long-time Hong Kong resident and part of the furniture at the FCC’s Main Bar for decades: Robin Piers Lynam.
While pulling no punches in his music writing – mostly on rock, jazz and blues – for a great many publications, Lynam reached his conclusions via a wide, long-accrued knowledge that was closely rivaled by his in-depth understanding of food and (alcoholic) drink, another of his preferred areas of focus as a contributing writer.
While he would often tell it like he saw it in media or social gatherings, Lynam was not one to put someone down for the sake of it – generally, that is. On occasion, I recall him reaching boiling point when a know-it-all at a media gathering veered into verbose overdrive – or, even worse, got a fact wrong.
Anyone who knew him well loved this acerbic side of the otherwise exceptionally courteous, intelligent and witty Lynam. He “put the ‘gentle’ into gentleman” was one of the most apt tributes to appear on the Facebook page of Karin Malmstrom, his long-term partner, following his premature passing in the early hours of 20 February. A struggle with prostate cancer which shifted to his colon, bouts of chemotherapy and finally, ensuing surgical procedures were to take an accumulated toll. Appreciative remarks about Lynam, in social media and elsewhere, also expressed shock that he was gone far too soon, having just turned 63.
Despite illness hampering his activities for a while, Lynam had managed to catch up with his good friend and host of a longstanding Christmas get-together, Chris Davis, editor of Banking Today, in Hong Kong. “Lynam was a great pal for more than 30 years – it was not unusual to see each other two or three times each week,” he says. “He and Karin joined us for our journos’ and friends’ Christmas lunch for 20 years or more.
“Last year, he had to see us just before that lunch, as he couldn’t be exposed to many people [in his condition]. Previously, he was always the first to arrive and last to leave – his conversation was always as eloquent on his first glass as it was after his third bottle. With a pithy comment, he could say or write in one sentence what might take others 1,000 words.
“They both also played music at my wedding party in 2005. I miss him so much – he was one of my closest friends.”
Davis travelled on a number of press trips over the years, which were made all the more colourful for Lynam’s presence. One of Davis’ fondest memories is when “as someone with absolutely no interest whatsoever in sport – he actually went to the Rugby World Cup in Australia [in 2003], which I was also attending. He’d said ‘no thanks’ to the invitation from the PR company at first, but then they told him there would be some wine to try.” That changed Lynam’s mind and they had a great time – even at the rugby games.
Lynam was born in London in February 1959. Both his father and brother served in the British armed forces and he spent part of his early childhood in Tripoli, Libya, while his father was posted there. Family bonds were strong. “Robin was very close to his mum and dad,” says Malmstrom, “and he adored his [late] brother Jeremy [who was stationed in Hong Kong for some years].” Lynam attended Dulwich College Prep School and Cranbrook School, before moving to University College London to study English literature. He was also very fond of his cousin, the English actress Jenny Agutter, who he would occasionally see in London.
“My best memory of Robin is through knowing him as a child,” recalls Agutter, who was six years his senior. “Spending time with him over many years, I think always of his warmth and humour. When my husband and I visited Hong Kong, we had the benefit of his wealth of knowledge about food, and the joy of discovering great restaurants with him. I loved being in his company.”
Bernie Kingston, a young tutor at Cranbrook when Lynam was there, recalls: “He told me that he played guitar, and I told him I had always been fond of The Shadows and could play Apache note-perfect, so for fun we formed Bernie and The Jets, which may have been his first band.”
British TV presenter Sankha Guha, who studied at UCL at the same time, says: “Lynam was one of my closest friends over the years and across continents. From the moment we met, we plotted the hijacking of the university newspaper together.”
Upon arrival in 1982 in Hong Kong, Lynam’s first work was for Hong Kong Tatler and Hong Kong Business magazines. The editor of Tatler at that time, Steve Knipp, recalls his impression of the budding contributor: “a lovely guy, he was a true Edwardian-era English gent.
“As our arts and culture correspondent, he penned a stack of insightful, beautifully written film and book reviews, plus profiles of visiting jazz musicians.
“Lynam told me he had zero interest in ever taking a fixed staff post. I think installing him in a petite office cubicle would have been like trying to put a seagull in a birdcage – very noisy, quite messy and short-lived.
“Later, when I joined Travel & Leisure, I sent him on trips, including to then-exotic Shanghai on an old rust-bucket coastal liner. He loved it.”
While Knipp agrees with the consensus that Lynam was a kind and gentle fellow, he recalls some fearless tendencies: “On a press trip to Spain, he and I found ourselves in a dingy waterfront dive in Barcelona, well past midnight. The scruffy, unshaven barman looked like a super-sized Tony Soprano. Lynam smiled at him and said something in debauched Spanish; the scowling barman walked away, returning a minute later with two glasses and a bottle of sparkling white Cava wine.
“Lynam poured two glasses, sniffed his, then instantly held up his hand, waving to the brute behind the bar. I feverishly asked what the problem was. He glanced at me through the gloom and said, ‘Mr Knipp, as a colonial American, you may not be aware of this, but our wine has clearly not been properly chilled. The barman must bring us another bottle, promptly, and at the proper temperature.’
“Thankfully, I was able to convince him to let this late-night barbarism slide.”
Malmstrom, a strategic advisor to Cotton Council International who arrived in Hong Kong in 1980, met Lynam at the FCC. They became a romantic item in 1996, having both worked together planning events on club committees when she was Second Vice President. “At that time, one of his Mind Your Head bandmates retired and they invited me to join [playing an electric blue violin]. Being in his company sparked so much happiness.
“He was always so thoughtful,” she continues, describing their blossoming as a couple. “He made me feel very appreciated. He would surprise me with all sorts of information, insights about so many topics, especially arcane facts about 1960s and 1970s musicians and old movies.”
The couple enjoyed travel but with different preferences: “He was used to five-star hotels, I didn’t mind a backpacker hostel,” Malmstrom says. “We met in the middle and enjoyed years of globetrotting. He loved Paris and each time we visited he insisted on making a pilgrimage to Harry’s New York Bar [known for its live jazz, as much as its cocktails].”
Other journeys took them to North Korea, Cuba and the Blues Highway from Chicago to New Orleans – in time for its annual jazz festival. “We were fortunate to squeeze in possibly the best trip – just before Covid hit two years ago – when we lazily cruised aboard The Strand Hotel’s luxury riverboat on the Irrawaddy.
Lynam was formerly married to Gillian Smith “and they have remained good friends throughout the years,” says Malmstrom.
And how would Malmstrom most want Lynam remembered? “He was a kind, clever and caring soul whose wit and humour filled people’s lives with joy,” she replies, which seems spot-on – as long as some fool was not spouting nonsense within earshot for too long.
2021 in Review: Our Most Popular Guest Speakers on YouTube
Between in-person events at the club and virtual events on Zoom, we hosted dozens of guest speakers in 2021. In case you didn’t already know, we post videos of all guest speaker events on the FCC HK YouTube channel, which allows us to reach audiences far beyond Hong Kong and our membership.
Unsurprisingly, some of our events have gained a lot of traction on YouTube. These are the most popular ones that took place in 2021.
#1: Eric X. Li
Views: 143,985 and counting
#2: Marianna Spring
Views: 2,112 and counting
#3: Barkha Dutt and Rana Ayyub
Views: 2,065 and counting
#4: Regina Ip
Views: 1,641 and counting
#5: Fareed Zakaria
Views: 1,285 and counting
#6 (tie): Henry Litton
Views: 1,211 and counting
#6 (tie): Hans van de Ven
Views: 1,211 and counting
#8: Cheng Huan
Views: 1,176 and counting
#9: Fuchsia Dunlop
Views: 1,034 and counting
#10: Dr. Li Shan
Views: 910 and counting
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 webinarhttps://www.fcchk.org/anti-coup-protests-in-myanmar-are-breaking-new-ground-frontier-publisher-sonny-swe/.
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.
2021 in Review: Looking Back at Our Guest Speaker Events
As the COVID-19 pandemic entered its second year, life in Hong Kong continued to be far from normal, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club was no exception to the rule. Much like 2020, our ability to plan in-person events this year was severely reduced by government restrictions that prevented us from hosting our popular club lunches. (We organized plenty of Zoom events, however.)
Fortunately the situation improved in the second half of the year, and in August we were able to resume inviting notable guest speakers to the club. Here’s a look back at the lineup of speakers we hosted in 2021.
August 12: Matthew Marsh
For our first in-person speaker event of the year, Fox Sports Asia analyst (and FCC member) Matthew Marsh gave a behind-the-scenes look at F1 in the age of COVID.
“As a journalist, being able to talk to other journalists, being able to talk to team people, being able to watch the way they behave is critical,” Marsh said, comparing the experience of firsthand, in-person reporting versus remote reporting.
The flip side of that is… when I interview drivers on Zoom or whatever it is we’re using, it’s better. Would you believe?” he said.
September 1: Dr. Trisha Leahy
Dr. Trisha Leahy, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI), joined the FCC for an in-person discussion about the lead-up to Hong Kong’s Olympic success.
“These are the results of the system we’ve been building for the last eight to 12 years,” Leahy said.
September 2: Harry Harrison
For over 20 years, award-winning political cartoonist Harry Harrison has put pen to paper satirizing Hong Kong life and politics for the South China Morning Post. Having recently released a new book, Add Ink: Cartoon Chronicles of Life in Hong Kong, Harrison appeared at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club to discuss his career and the process of drawing cartoons.
“I’m continuing doing what I do assuming I’m treading the right side of whatever invisible red line there. As far as I know, that’s what’s happening and they know what my cartoons are about. Either that or I’m sitting on a powder keg”, Harrison said.
September 14: Michael Schulman
In his insightful historical survey Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World, journalist and author Michael Schuman examines how the Chinese view their past and their place in the world—and how that affects their present policies and ambitions.
In a lunch talk at the FCC, Schuman said that his own experience of learning history had inspired the book.
“We are, I think, all in part shaped by our history and, more importantly, how we learn our history and how we perceive our history, or in some cases, misperceive our history,” Schuman said.
September 21: Regina Ip
Offering an overview of the relationship between China and Hong Kong, longtime public servant and politician Regina Ip, a member of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council, said that tensions between the mainland and the SAR were natural and to be expected.
“The implementation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ was never expected to be painless and trouble-free,” Ip said. “It is a bold and innovative concept, but the accommodation of a small but radically different system within a large, continental-size economy, is bound to be fraught with tensions and challenges.”
September 28: Mark O’Neill
In China’s Russian Princess: The Silent Wife of Chiang Ching-kuo, author Mark O’Neill tells the extraordinary and largely unknown story of how a factory worker named Faina Ipat’evna Vakhreva ended up married to the son of Chiang Kai-shek.
In a presentation at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, O’Neill recounted how Chiang and Vakhreva met while they were working, most unexpectedly, at the same heavy machinery plant in Yekaterinburg. She was born in Orsha in 1916 and fled war to the more favorably located Yekaterinburg. Chiang, meanwhile, had asked his father, Chiang Kai-shek, if he could study at Sun Yat-sen University in Moscow, where he excelled at learning Russian and drinking and dancing, among other things.
October 11: David Yeung
The role raising livestock for meat consumption plays in increasing greenhouse gas emissions is well known, but as Green Monday CEO David Yeung explained, eating seafood should be considered equally bad.
“There is a gigantic piece of the puzzle that is missing, that is not talked about and public awareness is extremely low, and it’s about the ocean,” Yeung said. He shared data showing that fishing has increased by 900% over the last 70 years, a trajectory that he called “utterly unsustainable.”
October 12: Cheng Huan
In a lunch talk during which he shared his thoughts and reflections on the 2020 National Security Law passed by the central government, senior barrister Cheng Huan said that Hong Kong has a legal obligation to enact its own national security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law as soon as possible.
“My biggest disappointment is that, for 17 years after 2003, one administration after another, and especially the members of LegCo, consistently failed to carry out their constitutional duty according to the Basic Law by not enacting Article 23,” Cheng said. “Because they failed to do so, Hong Kong now has a National Security Law imposed from above. This should never have been necessary.”
November 1: Biodiversity & Climate Change Panel
While COP26 took place in Glasgow, Laurence McCook of WWF Hong Kong, KPMG China partner Irene Chu and conservationist Dr. Billy Hau spoke at the FCC on November 1. During this lunchtime panel, the environmental experts spelled out Hong Kong’s ecological toll and outlined its role in creating a more sustainable world.
The WWF ranks the city’s ecological footprint (measuring human demand on land and water) as the third worst in Asia-Pacific and 14th worst globally.
November 3: Afghanistan Panel
Nearly 20 years after the defeat of the Taliban in November 2001, a panel of journalists told an audience at the FCC that no one could have predicted the ease with which the Taliban regained control of Kabul this past August.
CNN’s Anna Coren, who was on the ground in Afghanistan earlier this year, said that she and her colleagues sensed trouble because of the way in which the Taliban seized control of the provinces, but even they were surprised by what happened in Kabul.
“I don’t think in our wildest dreams we thought that the Taliban would just roll in on the 15th of August without a shot being fired, which is basically what happened,” Coren said.
November 9: Herald van der Linde
Anyone looking to invest or have a better understanding of how Asia’s stock markets function shouldn’t be paying attention to the performance of the Dow Jones Index, said renowned market analyst Herald van der Linde during a lunch talk at the FCC.
“You should look at what the bond market does first,” van der Linde said. “What happens there and how do we translate that back into the stock market?”
November 17: Capt. Alan Loynd
In a lunch talk at the FCC, Loynd discussed the highlights of his exciting and at times dramatic career, which included stints on cargo ships, passenger ships and avoiding attack in the Persian Gulf during the Iran–Iraq War, all of which is recounted in his recently published memoir All at Sea.
“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to go to sea,” Loynd said.
Reuters Executive Editor Gina Chua on How News Organizations Need to Innovate
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 Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong.
“What we do today is essentially the same thing we did 50 years ago,” said Chua.
She said that technology should be used in smarter ways to create journalism that is more personalized and better serves readers.
“Technology is a solvable problem. What we really need, aside from capital, is imagination and culture. I think those are some of the big deficits,” said Chua, who added that young journalists will be key players in experimenting and driving innovation in the industry.
In a wide-ranging conversation moderated by FCC member and Wall Street Journal reporter Natasha Khan, Chua also spoke about the importance of language in journalism, why publications need to better understand their audiences, and how journalists should be engaging with statistics and social science methodology when working on stories “to prove that it matters.”
Chua, who transitioned in late 2020, is one of the most senior openly transgender journalists in the industry, and she also spoke about the importance of diversity in newsrooms.
“No single view is correct. Everyone’s ‘ordinary’ is different,” she said.
“Newsrooms need to be more representative of the communities they cover, and the stories need to be more representative of those communities.”
Chua also spoke openly about her personal journey of acceptance and self-understanding, and she said the experience of spending so much time at home during the pandemic had a positive effect on her transition.
“Life’s too short to be someone you don’t want to be,” said Chua.
Watch the full discussion below: