Bai Yansong

Bai Yansong (Chinese: 白岩松; pinyin: Bái Yánsōng) (born August 20, 1968) is a Chinese news commentator, anchor and journalist for China Central Television (CCTV). He has become one of the most recognizable figures in China, serving as the lead anchor on stories such as the Sydney Olympics and the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Bai worked in the newspaper industry before moving to televised news and eventually became an anchor for Focus Report and Oriental Horizon, where he had a reputation as a politically incisive journalist.[1] During his time with CCTV, Bai has been involved in the establishment of several news commentary programs including Timeline and News 1 + 1, the first live news commentary program in China.[2] He has also been the anchor on several more news programs and was a host on the talk show Tell It Like It Is.

Bai Yansong
Bai Yansong 20100924.jpg
Bai Yansong at a book-signing in Nanjing.
Born (1968-08-20) August 20, 1968 (age 53)
EducationBeijing Broadcasting Institute
OccupationBroadcast journalist
Years active1989–present
RelativesZhu Hongjun (朱宏钧)

Born in Inner Mongolia, he lived on a university campus with his parents who were both professors and graduated from the Beijing Broadcasting Institute before beginning his career in journalism. Bai has extensively covered diplomatic ties between China and Japan during his tenure at CCTV and is part of a political consultancy group that advises the two countries on Sino-Japanese relations. He works to promote political reform through his position in the media, and critical reports on his programs have been suppressed by government censors at least once.[2] As a humanitarian, Bai has been involved in supporting disaster relief efforts following the Sichuan earthquake and promoting efforts against HIV/AIDS.

Early life and educationEdit

Bai was born in Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia on August 20, 1968.[3] His parents were intellectuals in Inner Mongolia and his father had been condemned as an "anti-revolutionary" when China was under the leadership of Mao Zedong.[2] Both of Bai's parents were professors and he grew up on the campus of a university during his time in Inner Mongolia. Bai later graduated from the Beijing Broadcasting Institute in 1989.[2]


Bai started his journalistic career working for the China Broadcasting Newspaper of the Central People's Broadcasting Station, but did not consider himself suitable for televised news.[2][4][5] He helped found the CCTV program Oriental Horizon and was chosen to be a regular anchor for the show in January 1996, sharing the post with several other journalists.[2] Along with his co-anchors, Bai was seen as politically incisive and his work on Oriental Horizon gained him national notoriety as a television host. He hosted the first talk show in China, Tell It Like It Is alongside Shui Junyi and Cui Yongyuan and other popular news hosts.[1]

He became anchor of Focus Report on China Central Television when it was the only news commentary program in China. During his time as anchor, Bai covered news stories such as the handovers of Hong Kong and Macau, the 50th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China, and the Sydney Olympics, making him one of the most recognizable figures in China. He has also established several news programs on CCTV such as Timeline, modeled after Ted Koppel's Nightline on ABC News. Bai's reporting was the primary subject of a book about Focus Report that was written by the show's producer.[6] News 1 + 1, another news program Bai started, was the first live news commentary program in China.[2]

During the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Bai Yansong was the lead anchor for CCTV.

In the midst of warming ties between China and Japan, Bai filmed a documentary piece for CCTV in 2007 focusing on Japanese culture and the early history of Sino-Japanese relations.[7] He had proposed filming the piece a year before, but says it was considered too sensitive to air until relations improved.[8] Bai later presided over a forum on Sino-Japanese relations, which included ministerial-level officials from Japan and China and discussed issues such as military spending and Tibet.[9]

During the Sichuan earthquake, Bai served as the lead anchor and later noted the significance of open Chinese news coverage of the disaster by stating "this time, it is not a simple live coverage."[10] His reporting on the quake was praised by CCTV editor Xiong Qu for its delivery with Xiong saying Bai "stood the test" as China's lead anchor.[11]

Some of the reporting in Bai's programs has faced opposition from government censors. After a program Bai was going to air on a chemical plant in Dalian was cancelled by censors, Bai commented on his blog to criticize the decision to cancel the piece, which led to his account being blocked.[12] Dong Qian, co-anchor of Bai's News 1 + 1 program, was temporarily taken off the air after Bo Xilai talked to the CCTV president about a piece on the program that highlighted serious concerns regarding the nature of Bo's anticorruption campaign in Chongqing.[2]


Haiqing Yu has identified Bai as being part of the first generation of Chinese journalists to adopt an outsider's approach to journalism, as opposed to previous generations, who viewed their role as being to prop up the Party and the government.[13] Bai has stated that he tries to use his position in the news media to help instigate political reform and promote democratic ideals in China and supports liberal market reforms of government-run media. He argues that the media is more responsive to public needs when it is subject to market forces, but believes that news reform can only advance alongside political reform.[2] In a commentary for The Beijing News, Bai argued that insuring rationality in government was dependent on moving China further towards the rule of law.[14]

When Tibetan independence supporters disrupting the Olympic torch relay in Paris prompted calls for a boycott of French retailers in China such as Carrefour and Louis Vuitton, Bai went online to oppose a boycott. He encouraged proponents of a boycott to be calm and consider the consequences for Chinese nationals working at the affected retailers.[15]

Bai is also a member of the 21st Century Committee for China-Japan Friendship, a group that consults the two countries on policies concerning their mutual relations. Following a 2008 meeting of the group, he spoke approvingly of a speech by then Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda for emphasizing a collective view of their interests stating that "For Sino-Japanese relations, it is no longer the question of 'You' and 'I'. Now we are a community of interests with our feet in Asia and facing the world together."[16] Following anti-Japanese demonstrations over the East China Sea islands dispute, Bai decried acts of violence during the protests as committing crimes under the guise of patriotism.[17]


Bai has served as a spokesman for efforts against HIV/AIDS in China.[18] He was named the Image Ambassador for the AIDS Prevention Education Project for Chinese Youth following the project's establishment and served as an ambassador for the China Red Ribbon Foundation.[19] As a CRRF ambassador, Bai attended a gala that the group organized to promote efforts against AIDS on the eve of the 25th World AIDS Day. During the gala, Bai held on-stage interviews with the Chinese Health Minister, the Executive Director of the CRRF, and the General Manager for the Global Fund.[20]

Following the Sichuan earthquake, Bai hosted a live program together with fellow CCTV hosts in order to raise funds for disaster relief.[21] He also made a show of support for the victims when he was carrying the Olympic torch for the 2008 Olympics relay.[22]


  • Painful and Happy (Chinese: 痛并快乐着), (2000).
  • Yansong Goes to Taiwan (Chinese: 岩松看台湾), (2005).
  • Yansong Goes to Japan (Chinese: 岩松看日本), (2007).
  • Yansong Goes to America (Chinese: 岩松看美国), (2009)
  • Are You Living Happily Now? (Chinese: 幸福了吗), (2010).
  • A Person and This Times (Chinese: 一个人与这个时代), (2013).
  • Walking Between Love and Hate (Chinese: 行走在爱与恨之间), (2014).
  • Bai Say (Speak in Vain) (Chinese: 白说), (2015).
  • Yansong Goes to Taiwan II: Distant History and Close Feelings (Chinese: 岩松看台湾——远的历史近的情), (2016).
  • All Things Will Come True (Chinese: 万事尽头,终将如意), (2016).


  1. ^ a b Ying, Zhu; Berry, Chris (2009). TV China: A Reader on New Media. Indiana University Press. p. 42. ISBN 0253220262.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ying, Zhu (2012). Two Billion Eyes: The Story of China Central Television. The New Press. pp. 78–87. ISBN 9781595588029.
  3. ^ "Bai Yansong". China Central Television. 25 August 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  4. ^ "BAI,Yansong". Boao Forum for Asia. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  5. ^ Scotton, James F.; Hachten, William A. (2010). New Media for a New China. John Wiley & Sons. p. 76. ISBN 1405187964.
  6. ^ "A TV anchor weighs in". Sina. 26 December 2002. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Cherry blossoms symbolize China's warming to Japan". China Daily. 10 April 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  8. ^ Oon, Clarissa (30 January 2007). "CHINA: China uses TV to signal warmer ties with Japan". The Straits Times (via UCLA). Archived from the original on 6 January 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  9. ^ Roman, Kianti (27 March 2009). "Renowned Chinese News Anchor Is Next Poynter Fellow". Yale News. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  10. ^ Zhang, Ziaoling (2011). The Transformation of Political Communication in China: From Propaganda to Hegemony. World Scientific. p. 131. ISBN 9814340936.
  11. ^ Xiong, Qu (22 May 2008). "The weakest link". China Central Television. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  12. ^ LaFraniere, Sharon; Wines, Michael (15 August 2011). "Protest Over Chemical Plant Shows Growing Pressure on China From Citizens". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  13. ^ Haiqing, Yu (2009). Media and Cultural Transformation in China. Taylor & Francis US. p. 95. ISBN 0415447550.
  14. ^ Zhang, Jiawei (8 February 2010). "Common sense, rationality needed for society: CCTV host". China Daily. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  15. ^ An, Lu (16 April 2008). "Chinese netizens urge Carrefour boycott after torch relay incident". Xinhua. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Neighbors will stand together". People's Daily. 29 January 2008. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  17. ^ Qin, Amy; Wong, Edward (10 October 2012). "Smashed Skull Serves as Grim Symbol of Seething Patriotism". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  18. ^ Jane (15 September 2010). "Chengdu University starts province's first and nation's second sex-education major". GoChengdoo. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  19. ^ "AIDS Prevention Education Project for Chinese Youth launched". People's Daily. 27 December 2006. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  20. ^ "Charity Gala Celebrates AIDS Day". All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  21. ^ "Fund-raising show to be broadcast on CCTV". China Internet Information Center. 18 May 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  22. ^ Lee, Woods; Zhang, Chris (6 August 2008). "Stars shine on Beijing torch relay". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2012.

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