Get into the heads of Chinese leaders and see the world as they do

Even Osnos, among the best writers on China today, joined a must-listen podcast conversation with Ezra Klein.
Cam MacMurchy

I am a huge fan of The Ezra Klein Show, a Vox Media podcast that goes deep into some random but fascinating issues like loneliness, identity politics, atheism, poetry, veganism, “political hobbyism”, class conflict, I could go on. Klein is the best kind of journalist: struggling to make sense of the world, genuinely curious, and open to having his mind changed. 

Another of my favorite journalists is Evan Osnos, an award-winning staff writer for The New Yorker. Evan was based in China for a long time, overlapping with a few years that I lived in Beijing. I didn’t know him well at all, but occasionally ran into him at Luga’s, a dive burrito shack pouring fake booze for just over $1 in a seedy bar district. Osnos is arguably the best writer on China today; he speaks Putonghua well and has taken the time to dive deep into the culture. Not only does he “get” China in a way that few other journalists and pundits do, he’s able to articulate the many nuances and contradictions in both society on the ground and in the highest levels of government in a way that helps the rest of us understand the country better. (One of the best recent books on China is Osnos’ Age of Ambition, which is a fascinating look into how the country’s growing political and economic power is shaping society on the ground.)

When you throw these two into a podcast studio, it’s sure to be an enlightening discussion — and that’s exactly what happened. Osnos and Klein had a captivating talk about how Chinese leaders see the United States (tired and in decline) as well as how they handled the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan (well). This is the single best talk about China I’ve heard in quite some time, so if you want to know more about the country and why its acrimonious relationship with the US is so dangerous, press play below or subscribe to the show. You won’t be disappointed.

Notes

  • The podcast episode is called “Coronavirus has pushed US-China relations to their worst point since Mao”. If you see a different episode below, it means subsequent episodes have been released since this post was originally published. Scroll down the list until you find the right episode, or find it here.
  • I want to get more podcast suggestions happening, so if you have a favorite show or episode please share in the comments.

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