Really Covering Asia

Pick up the phone any morning after 6:45 Hong Kong time, and the voice you're likely to hear on the other end is a heavy-breathing Mark Clifford. That's because Mark has just come off an intensive 30-minute workout on his Concept2 home rowing machine, and his oxygen-rich brain is cranking out new ideas as fast as he has been racking up meters.

We've never been sure whether it's the workouts or Mark's naturally wide-ranging mind that is responsible for all of this good stuff, but whatever it is, it has worked wonders for us in recent years. As BusinessWeek's Asian regional editor, Mark oversees the coverage of some 20 countries, heading a team of six correspondents and numerous special writers. The turf includes China and Greater China, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and, since the events of last fall, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and assorted pieces of their troubled "-stan" neighboring countries.

Clifford's partner is Tokyo bureau chief Brian Bremner, who keeps a sharp eye on Japan and North Asia and also serves as the magazine's Asian economics editor. Last year, the Mark & Brian Show brought you 21 separate cover stories devoted to Asia, in addition to hundreds of profiles of the region's people, companies, and technology. The two also are responsible for picking the future leaders who go into our annual Asia Stars supplement and for linking our Asian coverage to events in Europe and the U.S., so you always get a global viewpoint.

Mark's crew includes Beijing bureau chief Tiff Roberts, Shanghai correspondent Alysha Webb, Singapore bureau chief Michael Shari, and Bombay bureau chief Manjeet Kripalani. As Hong Kong bureau chief, Mark oversees our Asian technology specialist, Bruce Einhorn, and correspondent Frederik Balfour, who is just back from 10 weeks of war coverage. With 15 years' experience in Asia, Mark brings a veteran's perspective to our stories. "From where we sit, Japan and China are the two great economic stories of the world right now," he says. "China looks like the future, and Japan the past. They've gone full circle in a dozen years."

Brian might disagree--but not hugely. As a former New York corporate editor and Washington correspondent--who closely followed the workout of the U.S. savings and loan scandal--Bremner zeroed in early on Japan's fundamental problem: the wild overvaluation of its companies, banks, and real estate. His deep-digging balance-sheet stories, such as "Japan's Real Crisis" (Cover Story, May 18, 1998), showed how the market would value the real worth of Japan's assets if it could. In our view, he has gotten closer than anyone else to explaining why there is such a huge cultural and political divide between Tokyo and Washington on how to fix Japan's economy. America says: Take the financial hit and move on. Japan says: Buy time. Meanwhile, Japan's real loss in value now exceeds $2 trillion.

Brian's group includes Tokyo-based technology specialist Irene Kunii and corporate writer Chester Dawson, two key players who work closely with BusinessWeek's corporate and tech writers in Europe and the U.S. Brian also supervises Seoul bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, who writes about huge Korean debtors one day and companies leading the amazing resurgence of Korea as a broadband, chip, and wireless power the next. "The Korean economy is like Jurassic Park and Future World," says Brian.

Asia has enormous economic problems, to be sure. But as global magazine editors, we know that the region's will to work them out is unmatched in the world. That's why we have a long and deep commitment to the Asian business story. And it's why we have Mark and Brian leading our coverage.

By Bob Dowling, Managing Editor--International

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