Sophia Yan is an award-winning foreign correspondent whose work has taken her around the world, examining the intersection of money, power, politics, and government, and reporting extensively on women’s rights, technology, and innovation. She has a decade of experience, and has worked for CNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg News, based in Beijing, Hong Kong, 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 half-hour 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, the increasing trend of wealthy Chinese entering global immigrant investor programs, and the booming “birth tourism” industry, which caters to Chinese who want to secure foreign passports for their children.
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, Google DeepMind, Huawei, LiuGong, Mobike, New Hope Liuhe, Ofo, RoboTerra, Sinopec (watch) (read), Suning, Turing Robot, Xiaomi, and 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 stills, video, reports, and text stories with just an iPhone.
In 2015, Sophia was named an Abe Journalist Fellow, funded by the Social Science Research Council and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. She spent nearly two months in Japan the following year reporting a series of features on women’s issues, looking at the challenges the country faces in boosting its ranks of working women and the impact on the economy.
She was honored with a “Best in Business” award in 2013 from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for her coverage on the record number of Americans giving up citizenship as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act takes effect, and how U.S. tax complexities affected American expats. She has also covered the application of tax laws in international waters and airspace, and how that complicates things for American astronauts and pilots.
She began her career in Time Magazine’s Washington bureau, covering a range of stories, including 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 published a range of travel and food features for CNN, and made a debut appearance on CNN Español, speaking in Spanish and hitting a gong.
Sophia is fluent in Mandarin, constantly attempts to improve her basic understanding of 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 live music spot, 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 Podcast, which focuses on national security law and policy.
Sophia holds a B.A. in English, with Honors, and a B.Mus. from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music.
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