"Bamboo curtain" is a term metaphorically used during the Cold War era indicating an institutional barrier preventing China from being known by the outside world. In fact, somewhat ironically, there was a media organization in China, which was specially initiated and designed to report on what was happening in China to foreign readers at that time and has since been reporting and circulating for half a century.
Founded in 1958 the magazine, initially called Peking Review and later changed to Beijing Review, was an avant-garde journal in China for a long time, being the only weekly news magazine produced on the Chinese mainland providing China-related content for foreign readers.
The first version of the magazine was in English, and the French, Spanish, Japanese and German versions became available from 1963 to 2000. The magazine even published its Indonesian, Portuguese and Arabic versions for some years, making it a multilingual mammoth publication with an intent to target every region of the world. The information barrier of the Cold War era was a golden time for Beijing Review, witnessing its circulation rising to 130,000 for every issue in the mid-1960s.
Like every organization in China, the magazine has experienced the ups and downs of the nation's history, all the while covering these changes. What's amazing is that the news desk has never once stopped operation to miss even a single issue during the past 50 years, no matter how harsh sometimes the social and political climate was in influencing its editorial and production process.
Because of its special market and readership, Beijing Review needs a special group of skilled journalists who understand foreign cultures. Generations and generations of talented individuals have contributed their wisdom and labor to the publication, with the help of foreign experts from every part of the globe, giving their advice and suggestions, thus enabling the magazine to remain the country's top weekly news publication as we now celebrate its golden jubilee.
(This article appears on centerfold page 2, VOL.51, NO.10 MAR.6, 2008)