Sophia Yan is an award-winning international correspondent whose work examines the intersection of money, power, politics, and government, and how that impacts human rights, gender equality, and innovation. She has worked for CNBC, CNN, Associated Press, and Bloomberg News, based in Beijing, Hong Kong, Honolulu, and Washington, D.C. A versatile multi-platform reporter, she is equally adept at grilling CEOs in sit-down interviews, and improvising in the field as a one-woman band.
Her extensive coverage of China examines the global impact of the country’s rapid rise, and spotlights unique angles that illustrate the growth of the economy. She dives into the real-life, human side of complex business stories, and analyzes the intricacies of China’s fast rise.
Recent highlights include reporting and presenting feature shows for CNBC on China’s massive bike-sharing boom and growing entrepreneurship in the country. She has also covered for CNN the pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2014, and broke stories on the increasing trend of wealthy Chinese entering global immigrant investor programs. Her series on the booming “birth tourism” industry, which caters to Chinese who want to secure foreign passports for their children, was cited in court documents that led to a U.S. Homeland Security raid on suspected California “maternity hotels.” She has also investigated human trafficking and forced labor among Southeast Asian domestic helpers in Hong Kong and Chinese construction workers in U.S. territories, as well as Chinese prison labor.
Sophia has interviewed venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee; award-winning Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou; actor Jackie Chan; CEOs and senior executives at companies including Boston Consulting Group, BTCChina, Google DeepMind, Huawei, Inter Milan/Suning, LiuGong, Mobike, Nasdaq, New Hope Liuhe, Ofo, RoboTerra, Sinopec (watch) (read), Turing Robot, Xiaomi, ZhenFund, ZTE; along with top government officials in the U.S. and Asia.
She has led live coverage from major events, including China’s annual legislative meetings from Tiananmen Square, the World Economic Forum in Dalian, and a deadly earthquake in Taiwan filing live reports, text stories, stills, and video with just an iPhone.
Sophia lived in Japan as a 2015 Abe Journalist Fellow, reporting a series of features on women’s issues in Japan, looking at child poverty among single-parent households, overall gender inequality, challenges faced by professional women, and impact on the economy.
She was honored with a “Best in Business” finalist award in 2013 from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for breaking a series on the record number of Americans giving up citizenship over U.S. tax complexities.
At Bloomberg News, she covered a range of beats across business and government including Asian equity markets, U.S. government contracting, and health care regulation. She began her career in Time Magazine’s Washington bureau, reporting on President Barack Obama’s historic inauguration in 2009, the environmental impact of mountaintop mining, and the first successful defense using a Facebook status as an alibi. She has also published a spate of travel and food features for CNN, and debuted on CNN Español in 2014, speaking in Spanish and hitting a gong.
Sophia is a frequent speaker and moderator, including events at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Swiss Embassy in Beijing, Hong Kong Baptist University, Colgate University, Asian American Journalists Association, and RISE HK.
She is fluent in Mandarin, constantly attempts to improve her Taiwanese, Cantonese, Spanish, and Japanese, and can always order a delicious meal in French.
When Sophia isn’t busy reporting, she is tickling another kind of keyboard. She is an accomplished classical pianist with numerous awards, and performed in prestigious venues across the globe including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Kennedy Center — all by age 16. She has premiered more than 100 works by living composers, and has continued to concertize extensively in diverse venues ranging from New York’s Steinway Hall to Hong Kong’s premier venue, the Fringe Club, and performing live on RTHK.
Sophia has been described by the New York Times as a performer whose “music literally pulls her off the piano bench; she ranges up and down the keyboard so quickly and with such ferocity that mere sitting will not do.” She is also the co-founder and pianist of critically acclaimed classical ensemble, Western District, and records music for the Lawfare and Rational Security podcasts.
In 2016, she was named to The Loop HK’s “30 under 30” list. Sophia holds a B.A. in English, with Honors, and a B.Mus. in piano performance from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music.
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