I'm the deputy Beijing bureau chief and China tech correspondent for the Financial Times.
I'm particularly interested in shoe-leather reporting, in investigations, and in writing essays and profiles. Topics I follow include China’s tech policy, monopolies, censorship, civil society, and labour abuses.
I was raised in the UK and moved to Beijing in 2016. You can reach me on Twitter @YuanFenYang.
how to contact me
- If you want to contact me to discuss a story, please email yuan -dot- yang (at) ft.com. If you prefer protonmail, I'm yuanistravelling.
- To contact me more securely, you can email me and ask for my Signal; or you can send email to me encrypted with my PGP public key. Please do not use my older (pre-2019) key available on the public keyservers.
Here are some stories I’ve written, as of May 2020:
personal essays, memoirs, diaries
- (2020/01) My travels through a China in lockdown - an essay on travelling between the two faces of China: rural and urban, at the start of the epidemic, and the country's culture of internal migration.
- (2018/09) I am an expat in the country I was born in - an essay on the fun and contradictions of living in Beijing after growing up in the UK, and what it means to "be from here".
- (2020/05) Should super-apps share the spoils with restaurants? - it often feels that China's tech giants are one downturn away from an anti-trust battle. Now the epidemic has hit, restaurants are fighting against Meituan's platform monopoly.
- (2019/03) Small cracks in China's Great Firewall — one of my regular Tech World columns for the FT Magazine, on how an app launched by the propaganda ministry sparked ridicule — and a rare public discussion about censorship on Microsoft's GitHub platform
- (2020/04) Yan Lianke: ‘Propaganda is a nuclear bomb’ — my first Lunch with the FT, with one of China's most famous living novelists, on dancing with the censorship system — and why he is still a ‘peasant’ at heart.
- (2019/08) From the hutong to high politics: a driver's journey - my profile of our former FT Beijing bureau office driver, who had worked for us for 24 years.
- (2020/04) China, coronavirus and surveillance: the messy reality of personal data — we tend to assume data flows freely within China between companies and the government, but the country is not a data monolith. This is an in-depth look at the way data is shared, and siloed, within the sprawling Chinese government system.
- (2020/01) US-China tech dispute: suspicion in Silicon Valley - Chinese engineers who have made their careers in the US are beginning to question their place in the country. A deep-dive into their lives, reported from Silicon Valley.
- (2019/02) Inside China's crackdown on young Marxists — a feature-length cover story for the FT Magazine on why a wave of university students at China's top univerisites have rallied for workers' rights, and why the government has taken more than 50 of them into detention
- (2018/08) Supply chains: the dirty secret of China’s prisons — an investigation into prisoners being forced to produce goods for illegal export, for which I traced a garlic delivery truck from a detention centre to an exporter's warehouse
- (2018/04) The quiet revolution: China’s millennial backlash — a feature story centred on the lives of three young Chinese women and their personal rebellions against familial expectations
- (2017/11) Apple’s iPhone X assembled by illegal student labour — an investigation into forced labour in Apple’s supply chain, for which I interviewed teenagers working at a Foxconn factory over a number of days. Following this report, Apple and Foxconn ended the years-long practice of forcing students to work at this plant, where the majority of the world's iPhones are assembled.
You can find all my FT.com pieces online by visiting my author page
Apart from writing articles I also write poetry and short stories.
I think of my poetry the same way I think of my journalism: as non-fiction. In my poetry, I strive for emotional clarity. I write about family, politics, China, sex, gender, and growing up disjointedly in several cultures.
I was one of the six London Laureates selected by Spread the Word from 2015-16. I was a member of the Barbican Young Poets from 2014-15. I cut my teeth with the Yorkshire Writing Squad from 2007-11, and still feel like all of my poetry originates in a way from some classroom in Sheffield.
From May 2018 I've worked to advance media freedoms as an officer on the board of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China.
In a past life I was an economist and a campaigner. I co-founded Rethinking Economics, a UK-headquartered charity that campaigns for more diverse economics education in universities worldwide.
If you prefer audio to text, I take part fairly regularly in the BBC World Service's hour-long Business Matters show, which is a breakfast show (if you're in China) or a late night show (if you're in the UK). Here's one episode in which I discuss Iran sanctions and peaceful protest.
I'm happy to come talk at your school, non-profit or conference if you think I'd be a good fit and it's for a good cause: email me.
You can hear me talk about the Rethinking Economics campaign on the New Economics Foundation's Weekly Economics Podcast. You can also listen to me discuss Rethinking Economics on BBC Radio 4 with Aditya Chakrabortty, and again with Peter Day.