I am the author of three books on Asia.
- The Invention of China a groundbreaking account of how the ideas that define the China that we know today were created by a small group of intellectuals and activists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Published by Yale University Press in 2020
- South China Sea: the struggle for power in Asia was the first book to explore and explain the disputes in this crucial area of the world for a general audience. It was published by Yale University Press in 2014.
- Vietnam: rising dragon is the most comprehensive and up-to-date account of the country today, aimed at a general reader. It was originally published by Yale in 2010 with a second edition published in 2020.
I began my journalistic career with a focus on the Middle East. My first ever assignment, in 1995, was to travel to Iran and interview Ayatollah Ali Akbar Mohtashemi and ask him if he organised the Lockerbie bombing. Sadly he didn’t provide the scoop we were hoping for and the programme was never made. While working for DowJones TV I helped set up and launch and then run the al Jazeera (Arabic) business programme for 18 months. In 1998 I self-shot two 30 minute TV documentaries for BBC News: one about political unrest in Yemen and the other on discrimination against the Beduin minority in Israel.
Central and Eastern Europe
In 1999 I began to focus on European affairs: making a half-hour documentary for BBC News on NATO’s strategic reorientation. In 2001 I moved to the European section of the BBC World Service and covered developments in Central and Eastern Europe as the region moved away from the conflicts of the 1990s and towards integration with the European Union.
In 2006/7 I spent a year as the BBC’s reporter in Vietnam and then wrote my book, Vietnam: rising dragon which was published in 2010. In 2011 I began writing my South China Sea book, which was completed during 2013 while I was working in Myanmar. The book was published in 2014. My book on ‘The Invention of China’ was published in 2020, along with a second edition of Vietnam: rising dragon.
I have worked for BBC News since 1998 and currently work for BBC World News TV. In the past I’ve worked in the World Service (Radio) Newsroom, on Radio News Programmes and with the European language services. Before joining the BBC I freelanced for several years at APTN, CNBC, European Business News, and Sky News.
Training & Consultancy
During 2013 I spent a year embedded with the state broadcaster of Myanmar, MRTV, both in its remote rural headquarters and in Yangon. I consulted on the restructuring of the organisation and the introduction of new technology and working practices. I helped develop two new TV programmes – both the first of their kinds. One was a parliamentary news programme that included, for the first time on MRTV, interviews with members of opposition political parties. The second was a current affairs programme tackling topics of social concern. I also helped develop MRTV’s radio output and delivered tailored training to producers and reporters.
In the past I’ve worked as a trainer for BBC World Service Radio in London and for its reporters and producers in Central and Eastern Europe. I have also provided training for the Media Diversity Institute in Georgia and the British Council in Vietnam. In the UK I’ve worked with RedR (the disaster relief NGO), a regional equal opportunities organisation, Anglia Actives, and also a few local schools.