Yan Zhang writes for Hong Kong’s largest native online media for Chinese readers worldwide. She formed The Initium’s reporting team from mainland China, reports on topics such as urbanization and economic reform and writes “what China’s officials didn’t want the world to know”

“Working under China’s Great Firewall for eight years, I’m thinking how the Wall affects the world, and how journalists respond to such influence,” Zhang said. “The best way to defend freedom is to continue to tell the truth. … I call my experience ‘peeling the onion’. I strip off the outer layer of the truth like peeling the onion skin, and show the core to the public.”

Vivian Wu, Hong Kong Bureau Chief of BBC World Services, said Zhang has produced “outstanding” stories explaining a rapidly transiting China to the readers. “Her angle is always international and comparative, never constrained to a local view,” Wu said. “For example, she has reported how the Internet empowered Chinese young mothers seek optional challenges for safe milk formula and children products through global e-commerce platforms.”

Zhang will work on the Money team at the USA Today and be based in the Washington, DC, headquarters.

Zhang’s fellowship is funded by Bill and Christy Gautreaux, Norm and Lynette Siegel, and George Hanson.