John Pomfret covered news events in China for seven years. During his time, he covered the events of the Tiananmen Square protests of June 4, 1989. Pomfret had been a war beat writer for 15 years in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Congo, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. He was the bureau chief of the Washington Post in Benijing from 1998 to 2003.
1980 was the first time Pomfret traveled to China. He lived in China for two years in a dormity as he attended Najing University. He was just as interested in the lives of the Chinese people that he lived with as they were interested in his life.
Pomfret wrote the novel, “Chinese Lesson: Five classmates and the story of the New China.” He writes about his different roommates and describes the events he saw in China, and the changes in China after years went by.
He describes his classmates as he describes issues in China. Pomfret discussed demographics, birth and death rates, water pollution, and how his classmate’s business boomed.
He described China as a “superpower country” wanting to grow rich, while Pomfret said the country will grow old first. He talks about his classmate, Lucey, who left for America. Pomfret said she had faith, she “believed in something and (her classmates) were impressed…”
In his book, he mentions more of his classmates, and other issues including life in China, the environment, and the government.
Pomfret returned to China in 1988 to work in journalism. He described a sense of difference in China. He said the different time as a “buzz of evoulation in the air.”
In 1988, Pomfret heard a women say, “to create, you must destroy.”
Pomfret was expelled by the Chinese government after reporting the events of the Tianamen Square protest.
Pomfret said that the public in Benijing was supportive of the people in Tianamen Square. He said that 30 leaders survived, 800 to 2,000 people were killed during the protest.
“The city became friendly because of the students . . . the students put their lives in danger for the change,” Pomfret said.
China wanting democracy, had their “dream ended on June 4, 1989.” Pomfret said the movement for a freer China ended.
Pomfret said that the Chinese “never talk about (the Tiananmen Square protest).” In China, if they are “creating the future, they’re not interested in the past.”
Years after the protest, he returned to work for the Washington Post. From 1998-2005 Pomfret worked as the Post’s bureau chief in Beijing.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a second-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.