For over 60 years, American correspondents have shaped American perceptions of China with their coverage, but when the People’s Republic of China was established, the new government in Beijing banned all American reporters from the Mainland. This changed when President Nixon visited China in1972 and nearly 100 journalists were allowed to cover his trip. Their stories transformed American perception of a long-isolated China and facilitated the normalization of U.S.-China diplomatic relations, a process that was finalized by President Carter and Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping in 1978. Following normalization, American news organizations were able to base reporters in China.

Assignment: China, a documentary series produced by the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California, reveals the behind-the-scenes story of how American journalists have covered China since the 1940s. The series features interviews with these journalists and Chinese and American officials who managed news coverage of China.

Click here to view the documentary series.

Photo courtesy of the National Archives.