Yuen-Ying Chan is a writer and founder of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at Hong Kong University. She has additionally worked as a journalist for the New York Daily News and NBC News. She has worked as an advisor to The GroundTruth Project, a left-of-center news organization that runs Report for America.
Chan is best known for reporting on an alleged attempt by a Taiwanese political official to influence the 1996 U.S. presidential election. Chan and her co-reporters successfully defended themselves in a landmark defamation case in Taiwan that established a precedent supporting freedom of the press in the country.
Early Life and Education
Yuen-Ying Chan was born in Hong Kong. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and sociology  from Hong Kong University, and a master’s degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  In 1972, Chan moved to the United States to work towards a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Michigan, but she dropped out after two years. She later attained American citizenship.  
After dropping out of her Ph.D. program, Yuen-Ying Chan worked as a reporter for Chinese-language newspapers, initially reporting on gang activity and slumlords. In 1990, the Daily News hired Chan to investigate an international people smuggling operation based out of China. In 1993, she won a Polk Award for a story on undocumented Chinese immigrants in New York City. 
In 1999, Chan founded the Journalism and Media Studies Center at the University of Hong Kong, and she served as director until 2016. At some point, Chan also served as founding dean of the journalism school at Shantou University in China. 
From 2008-2020, Chan was a board member of the Media Development Investment Fund. 
In 2016, Chan became a distinguished fellow at Civic Exchange, a Hong Kong-based think tank. She also has been a member of the World Economic Forum’s Future Council on Entertainment and the Media. 
Liu Tai-ying Libel Suit
In 1996 Yuen-Ying Chan worked with Shieh Chung-Liang of Yazhou Zhoukan, a Hong Kong-based magazine, to investigate allegations that persons associated with the Taiwanese government had attempted to influence the U.S. presidential election. They published an article alleging that Liu Tai-Ying, a senior leader in the Kuomintang political party, had offered $15 million to then-President Bill Clinton’s (D) presidential campaign through ex-aide Mark Middleton.  Middleton and Liu denied the allegations, a witness to the alleged offer later asserted he “had misunderstood what transpired,”  and there was no evidence any contribution was ever made. 
Liu filed a criminal libel suit against Chan, Shieh, and Yazhou Zhoukan under Taiwanese law. Facing the possibility of up to two years in prison and $15 million in damages, the defendants refused to settle out of court and took the suit to trial.  The Committee to Protect Journalists and ten major U.S. media companies supported the defense. 
In April 1997, a Taiwanese district court ruled in favor of the defense. The decision was seen as a landmark victory for freedom of the press in East Asia.  The ruling was upheld in 2000, with the Taiwan High Court ruling that Yazhou Zhoukan “was not guilty as it had fulfilled its duty to verify facts.” 
For their efforts, Chan and Shieh were given International Press Freedom Awards by the Committee to Protect Journalists. 
In 2006, while living in Hong Kong, Yuen-Ying Chan criticized Google for agreeing to demands made by the Chinese government to offer a censored version of its flagship search engine in mainland China. In public statements, Google claimed that censoring the search engine was the only way Google would become available in China, while Chan asserted that Google’s decision emboldened Chinese censorship efforts.  In 2010, Google stopped its services in China after a cyber-attack targeted its servers, allegedly in an attempt to identify Chinese dissidents.