John Pomfret (journalist)

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John Pomfret is an American journalist and writer.


Pomfret was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and raised in New York. He attended Stanford University, receiving his B.A. and M.A. in East Asian Studies. In 1980, he was one of the first American students to go to China and study at Nanjing University. Between 1983 and 1984 he attended Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies as a Fulbright Scholar, researching the Cambodian conflict.

He started his journalistic career at the Stanford Daily as a photographer, from where he was fired. After that he worked at a newspaper in Riverside County, California, and after a year was hired by Associated Press to work in New York, covering the graveyard shift.

After two years with the AP in New York, in 1988, he was sent to China as a foreign correspondent, thanks to his knowledge of Mandarin and Asian studies background. Among other things he covered the 1989 student protests in Beijing, after which he was expelled from China due to alleged links with student ringleaders. After that, he worked in several countries, including Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. For more than 15 years he covered the armed conflicts in these countries and the politics of the post-Cold War era. He later served as the editor of the Washington Post′s weekend opinion section, Outlook.

During his career, he received several awards, including 2003's Osborne Elliot Prize for the best coverage of Asia by the Asia Society and 2007's Shorenstein Prize for coverage of Asia.

The experiences he had when he attended Nanjing University, and his perspective of the Chinese opening, are narrated in his 2006 book Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China.

Pomfret won an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship[1] in 2004 writing about education in China. In 2011, he was award the Edward Weintal Award for Diplomatic Reporting from Georgetown University for his work covering America's relations with China. He is currently a Fulbright Senior Scholar in China finishing a book charting the interactions between Americans and Chinese.

He speaks, reads and writes Mandarin, and also speaks French, Japanese and Serbo-Croatian. He lives near Washington, D.C., with his wife Zhang Mei, and family.[2]


External links[edit]


  1. ^ Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship
  2. ^ Pomfret, John. Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China. New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2006. Print.