Misunderstanding China


Thursday, February 24, 2022


12:00 PM


2:30 PM
Play Video


Join the SAIS China Global Research Center for virtual screening and discussion of Misunderstanding China, a CBS Reports broadcast on the eve of President Nixon’s historic meeting with Mao Zedong in Beijing, February 1972.

This documentary film looks at American attitudes toward China, including depictions of Chinese people in American mass media and the history of foreign relations between China and the United States.

The virtual discussion with Misunderstanding China Director Irv Drasnin and Dr. Xioyan Zhao,  in conversation with Prof. Andrew Mertha, the George and Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies and the Inaugural Director of the SAIS China Global Research Center.

Event Guests

Dr. Xiaoyan Zhao

Global Strategic Communications Researcher and Consultant

Dr. Xiaoyan Zhao was most recently Senior Vice President and Global Director of Research and Consulting at GfK Roper Public Affairs but is now working on creative writing projects including a novel which takes place in 1960’s China. Her work includes polling in the Soviet Union and subsequently in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, public diplomacy projects for the U.S. State Department and Qatar Supreme Committee, values and trends research for global companies, and reputation monitoring for government institutions. With research spanning 60 countries, Xiaoyan has delivered presentations to clients on all continents including the World Bank, United Nations Peacekeeping, the Washington D.C. diplomatic community, and the Global Summit of Women. 

Xiaoyan has attended the Stanford Creative Writing workshops and the Northern California Writers’ Retreat. Dr. Zhao obtained an M.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a Ph.D. in Communications from Stanford University.

Irv Drasnin

Documentary Filmmaker and Journalist CBS News, PBS, Independent

Irv Drasnin is an American journalist, and a producer-director-writer of documentary films for CBS News and PBS (Frontline, The American Experience, Nova) for over 35 years. Irv’s thirty films cover a wide range of subjects, both domestic and foreign, contemporary, and historical, including a multi-documentary chronicle of modern China beginning with Misunderstanding China (CBS News), Shanghai (CBS News), Looking for Mao (PBS/Frontline), China After Tiananmen (PBS/Frontline) and The Revolutionary, an independent feature-length film. His foreign reporting also covered southern Africa and the last stands of white colonial rule in Who’s Got A Right to Rhodesia (CBS News) and in Apartheid (PBS/Frontline). Mr. Drasnin’s domestic topics include The Guns of Autumn (CBS News), You and the Commercial (CBS News), Health in America (CBS News), Inside the Union (CBS News), The Radio Priest (PBS/The American Experience), The Chip vs The Chess Master (PBS/Nova), and Forever Baseball (PBS/The American Experience). 

Among the awards he has received for broadcast journalism are the duPont-Columbia, the Directors Guild (DGA), the Writers Guild (WGA), and the American Film and Video Blue Ribbon. 

He graduated with a B.A. in political science from UCLA and earned an M.A. in East Asian Studies with a specialization in China from Harvard University. He has taught in the Masters’ Documentary Film Program at Stanford University.