China Seminar | 12 September 2002

A Tale of Three Cities: China Revisited

John Roderick John Roderick

Veteran AP correspondent John Roderick returns to the China Seminar with a report on his first revisit to China since retirement in 1984. An AP correspondent and editor since 1937 (not having worked for any other news organization), Mr. Roderick’s life is a true story of adventure personally and professionally. The last of five boys in his family and orphaned at 16, he first encountered China at the age of 13 when caddying on a golf course in Maine. Eighteen years later he met Zhou Enlai in Yan’an, where he was the only foreign correspondent to witness the work of the Dixie Mission in the Communist headquarters in the Shaanxi caves. When he accompanied the American ping pong team in 1971 to China, Roderick was greeted by Premier Zhou Enlai with the now-famous “Mr. Roderick, you opened the door.”

Mr. Roderick saw other major postings. He was transferred to Palestine two weeks before the creation of Israel. He was posted to London, Paris and French Indochina, where he reported on the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Mr. Roderick is past president of the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo, honored by the Japanese Emperor with the Order of the Sacred Treasure. He spends the cold months of Japan in Honolulu and travels elsewhere; the rest of the year he resides with his surrogate family in the idyllic hills of Kamakura.