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Assignment: China - Follow the Money

The final episode of Assignment China, "Follow the Money" focuses on the behind-the-scenes story of the journalists who during 2012 conducted ground-breaking investigations about China's nouveau riche, and the dramatic, controversial, and often frightening consequences.

September 30, 2015

English | 中文

Assignment: China Homepage

In many decades of western news coverage of China, 2012 was a watershed moment. In the space of just a few months, a Bloomberg News team headed by correspondent Michael Forsythe publishing a sweeping expose of how relatives of China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, has earned vast fortunes in a variety of often disguised business deals. Soon after, David Barboza of the New York Times published his own revelations of the wealth accumulated by the relatives of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.

Both stories broke new ground, not only in terms of what they revealed about China’s new rich- but also as examples of a new kind of investigative journalism that has become increasingly important for covering a rapidly changing China. The correspondents took advantage of China’s evolution towards a more open, internationally engaged, market-style economy to unravel a series of complex, opaque, often hidden set of business dealings reaching to the highest levels in the People’s Republic.

The behind-the-scenes story of the journalists who conducted the investigations- and faced the dramatic, controversial, and often frightening consequences- is the subject of “Follow the Money.” Based on extensive interviews with most of the leading figures involved, the film chronicles the emergence of a new kind of journalism that will become increasingly crucial as reporters- and the public at large- seek to understand the dynamics of a new, wealthy, and increasingly powerful China.
“Follow the Money” is the final episode of Assignment: China, a 12-part series chronicling the history of American correspondents in China from the 1940s to the present day produced by the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California.  The lead reporter is Mike Chinoy, a Senior Fellow at the Institute and former CNN Beijing bureau chief and Senior Asia Correspondent.

This video is also available on the USCI YouTube Channel.

Interviewees featured in this segment:
David Barboza
Hannah Beech
Andrew Browne
Chris Buckley
Melissa Chan
Leta Hong Fincher
Peter Ford
Michael Forsythe
Stan Grant
Joseph Kahn
Evan Osnos
Jeremy Page
Austin Ramzy
Ben Richardson
Keith Richburg
Edward Wong
Eunice Yoon


Assignment: China is a signature project of the USC U.S.-China Institute. Most Americans continue to learn about China primarily through the media and we feel that it is vital to understand the process by which news about China is gathered and shared. Mike Chinoy, USCI senior fellow, reports the series which is filmed and edited by Craig Stubing. Clayton Dube conceived of the project and oversees it. Many students and volunteers assist with research, transcription, and translation.

Assignment: China is possible only because of the willingness of journalists and others to share their stories, documents, and images with us and through the generous financial support of individual and institutional donors. We are grateful to all those who have helped. Please click here to contact us or here if you would like to contribute.