It’s 1983. Scott Savitt, one of the first American exchange students in Beijing, picks up his guitar and begins strumming Blackbird. He’s soon surrounded by Chinese students who know every word to every Beatles song he plays. Scott stays on in Beijing, working as a reporter for Asiaweek Magazine. The city’s first nightclubs open; rock ‘n’ roll promises democracy. Promoted to foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times then United Press International, Scott finds himself drawn into China’s political heart.
Later, at 25 years old, Scott is the youngest accredited foreign correspondent in China with an intimate knowledge of Beijing’s backstreets. But as the seven week occupation of Tiananmen Square ends in bloodshed on June 4, 1989, his greatest asset is his flame-red 500 cc. Honda motorcycle—giving Scott the freedom to witness first-hand what the Chinese government still denies ever took place. After Tiananmen, Scott founds the first independent English language newspaper in China, Beijing Scene. He knows that it’s only a matter of time before the authorities move in, and sure enough, in 2000 he’s arrested, flung into solitary confinement and, after a month in jail, deported.
Scott Savitt’s memoir turns this complex political-historical subject into an extraordinary adventure story.
Scott Savitt is a former foreign correspondent for The Los Angeles Times and United Press International in Beijing. In the latter capacity he covered the Tiananmen Square Massacre (photos here).
His articles have been published in Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and many other publications. He has been interviewed on NPR, BBC, ABC's Nightline and the CBS News. He is the in-house Chinese-English translator for numerous human rights organizations.
In 1994 he founded the Beijing Scene, China's first independent weekly newspaper. In 2003 he published China Now magazine. He's the founding editor of the award-winning Contexts magazine. He is presently a visiting scholar at Duke University.