Before finishing a journalism fellowship at Stanford University in the mid-1990s, Hu Shuli, then an international editor of a state-owned Chinese newspaper, was thinking about her future. There were suggestions that she should get a job in the United States, but Hu insisted on returning to China.
Her university mentor said: ‘Shuli, I respect your decision to go back to China, but it will be very hard for you. Chinese journalism will never be part of the mainstream of international journalism.’
Hu came back to China at a time when its economy was being transformed. The media sector – once fully controlled and subsidized by the state – was changing and commercial media were being encouraged.