• About

    Jonathan is Beijing Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times, reporting on politics, business and social trends across East Asia. Previously, he was a correspondent for the Guardian, and before that, a Fulbright scholar researching folklore in China’s rural southwest. He has also written for the New York Times, The Atlantic, and Foreign Policy Magazine, and has appeared as a commentator on the BBC, NPR, PRI, WNYC, CBC, and many others.

     

    Jonathan is currently writing a book for Random House about a missing American flight crew in 1940s China and the mysteries of World War II. He has lived in Beijing for eight years, and speaks fluent Mandarin.

  • Articles

    Los Angeles Times, 08/18/2017

    The legend of the blond, blue-eyed slave: Retracing a crashed WWII pilot’s journey through China

    Almost everybody in Liangshan knows the story of the American slave.

    Los Angeles Times, 08/17/2017

    Meet Charles Robert Jenkins, an American detained by North Korea for 40 years

    “In North Korea, I lived a dog’s life,” Jenkins said in a rare interview. "Ain’t nobody live good in North Korea."

    Los Angeles Times, 08/09/2017

    China says it built a railway in Africa out of altruism, but it's more strategic than that

    The first in a series of reports on a massive program of Chinese investment that is reshaping Africa

    Los Angeles Times, 4/19/2017

    There's no such thing as a failed missile launch: Lessons from North Korea, the post-truth capital of the world

    All afternoon we obsessively checked our phones, seeking a reason — or even a clue — as to why North Korea wouldn’t let us leave.

    Los Angeles Times, 02/10/2017

    A human rights activist is slain in Cambodia, and the mystery leads all the way to California

    Cambodia’s most shocking killing in years happened in broad daylight, on a muggy July morning, just as its capital city was stirring to life.

    Los Angeles Times, 01/09/2017

    Eat, pray, love the Communist Party: a road trip through Tibetan lands, guided by China

    It was a road trip through one of China’s most tightly controlled regions.

    Los Angeles Times, 10/28/2016

    Two Army buddies and a fateful night in Korea: A complex tale of military justice

    The text messages arrived on Chrissy Royal’s phone at 3:23 a.m.
     

    “I got arrested [help] me,” said one.

    Then: “Yongsan police station.”

    Los Angeles Times, 8/24/16

    Meet the Nightcrawlers of Manila: A night on the front lines of the Philippines' war on drugs

    “In the morning, if you shoot dead people, it's gory, but at night it’s almost beautiful,” he said, clicking through photos on his laptop. “You can hide the blood, because of the shadows. It's psychedelic, the colors.”

    Los Angeles Times, 7/29/2016

    Killed in a car accident, cremated, and then he returned: Mystery shrouds one man's disappearance in China

    Nobody doubted the dead man’s identity. He had been disfigured in the crash, but the white hair, the short stature — it all pointed to Ma Jixiang.

    Los Angeles Times, 4/10/16

    North Korean ships with corpses on board have been washing ashore in Japan

    "Then, as we were pulling the boat to this port, we noticed a pair of legs sticking out from underneath, bobbing up and down with the waves."

    Los Angeles Times, 2/25/16

    Peru has copper. China wants it. And now Beto Chahuayllo is dead.

    When the Chinese took over the Las Bambas copper mine here in the Andes Mountains in 2014, Beto Chahuayllo at first barely noticed the change.

    Los Angeles Times, 2/1/16

    In China, rise of Salafism fosters suspicion and division among Muslims

    They call it "Little Mecca": a city of prayer caps and hijab, minarets and oxidized green domes.

    Los Angeles Times, 10/14/2015

    Survivors tell the camera the hidden tale of China's Great Famine

    When Li Yaqin was 16, she ate what her family could scavenge: dandelion leaves, alfalfa, rice sprouts, corn husks ground and pressed into cakes. As her college-age granddaughter quietly captured her on digital camera, the 73-year-old told of watching her father starve to death.

    The Guardian, 9/8/2015

    China’s funeral revolutionaries
     

    Inspired by Silicon Valley, two entrepreneurs set out to disrupt China’s seedy funeral industry. Could they succeed in the face of decades of corruption and bureaucracy?

    Los Angeles Times, 09/08/2015

    In Laos' economic zone, a casino and illicit trade beckon in 'lawless playground'

    "Here, you can get whatever you want, as long as you have the money."

    Los Angeles Times, 08/08/2015

    Meet two Indonesians who are training to join Islamic State

    When Rahmat and Afrian talk about Islamic State, their eyes widen, their speech slows, and their expressions soften into smiles.

    Los Angeles Times, 07/21/2015

    On the trail of the sea bass pirates: High stakes on the high seas

    Four Thai customs agents in a gunmetal-gray speedboat slowly circle a decrepit fishing vessel, its huge white hull streaked with filth and rust.

    The Guardian, 07/22/2014

    Does multimillion dollar Chinese investment signal Detroit’s rebirth?

    Last autumn, a group of Chinese real estate developers arrived in downtown Detroit for a city tour. As they walked through its small central cluster of high-rises – some in use, many long-ago abandoned – they were impressed by what they saw.

    Foreign Policy, 12/04/2013

    Hack Tibet: Welcome to Dharamsala, ground zero in China's cyberwar

    Lobsang Gyatso Sither sits at the front of a Tibetan school auditorium, the bright rectangle of his PowerPoint presentation dimly illuminating the first few rows of students before him.

    The Guardian, 01/06/2014

    Chinese tightrope walkers' balancing act between Xinjiang and Beijing

    From the top of the Prince of the Sky's high tower, the pavement below is a vertigo-inducing abstraction, a coarse grey expanse dotted with people-like specks.

    The Guardian, 10/04/2013

    The Chinese city living in fear of giant killer hornets

    Chen pointed with a shaky hand at the small plot of cabbage, spring onions and corn where his friend, Yu Yihong, had been stung to death by giant hornets.

    The Guardian, 09/20/2013

    Former herder reveals perils of being a shaman in atheist China

    Erdemt, a Mongolian shaman, tells of his life and work in the mining boom-town of Xi Wuqi

    The Guardian, 06/04/2013

    Inside China's "cancer villages"

    Xie Zhengqiang is no stranger to death, but he trembles every time he thinks about his nephew.

    The Guardian, 02/21/2013

    Going undercover, the evangelists taking Jesus to Tibet

    Chris and Sarah recently moved into a newly renovated two-bedroom apartment in Xining, a bustling Chinese city on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, where they manage a small business and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    Foreign Policy, 06/14/2012

    Pit of Dreams:

    Can China's rust belt reinvent itself as a tourist destination?

    To understand this industrial Chinese city’s past, begin with the smoldering crater on the south side of town, an open-pit coal mine as wide as Manhattan and deeper than the height of the Chrysler Building.

    New York Times, 07/17/2011

    Ethnic Music Tests Limits in China

    They have toured Europe, played alongside marquee names like the band Coldplay and earned plaudits in the international press. But here in China, the growing popularity of the Mongolian rock band Hanggai has not exactly inspired adulation from the authorities.

    The Atlantic, 02/09/2011

    Razing History: The Tragic Story of a Beijing Neighborhood's Destruction

    On a cloudy day last March, a retired office clerk surnamed Sun stood outside of his courtyard home in the heart of Beijing, lit a cigarette, and tried not to dwell on the eight-acre swath of rubble down the street that used to be his neighborhood.

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