John Simpson: My 50 years with the BBC

  • 19 December 2016
  • From the section World
Simpson in South Africa in the 1970's
Image caption John Simpson reporting from Soweto in the South Africa of the 1970s

The world has changed hugely since the day in 1966 when I first started work at the BBC.

In those days, America seemed infinitely far ahead of the rest of the world. Russia was entering its long, sclerotic phase when no change, political or economic, was allowed. Mao Zedong was just about to impose the horrors of the Cultural Revolution on China. Europe was still getting over the ravages of World War Two.

As for Britain, it was a stodgy place, stuck in its old class system. It scarcely had a tourism industry: the idea that anyone might want to visit Britain for a holiday made people smile.

Within a couple of years or so, much of this had changed.

The United States was convulsed by the Vietnam War protests, and never quite got its old dominance back, the Soviet grip on Eastern Europe was challenged, Europe began its long rise to wealth and influence... and Swinging London became the capital of the world.

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Critics fear Beijing's sharp turn to authoritarianism

  • 3 March 2016
  • From the section China
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Media captionThe BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson reports from Beijing.

The atmosphere in Beijing has changed noticeably in recent months; and many liberal-minded people here now fear that the government of Xi Jinping has made a sharp turn towards authoritarianism.

As nearly three thousand Communist Party delegates gather in the capital for the National People's Congress, this is clearly a critical time for China's economy.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Critics fear a new brand of Maoism

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2015: Tumultuous year of migrants, IS and Putin

  • 28 December 2015
  • From the section World
Migrant boat rescue
Image caption Hundreds of thousands of people have crossed the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe in search of a better life

This has been, above all, the year of the migrant. But it has also been the year of so-called Islamic State (IS). And it has marked a major turnaround in President Putin's international position.

I have spent a lot of 2015 watching all these developments, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Russia.

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This migrant crisis is different from all others

  • 24 December 2015
  • From the section World
Migrants and refugees wait in the early hours outside Berlin's Central Registration Office for Asylum Seekers of the State Office for Health and Social Services on 9 December 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many migrants have headed for Germany

As winter has approached, the apparently ceaseless flow of migrants heading for Western Europe has eased off.

But 2015 has unquestionably been the year of the migrant.

Read full article This migrant crisis is different from all others

Lockerbie truth buried in Libyan chaos

  • 22 October 2015
  • From the section Africa
A group of people attend a celebration rally on the fourth anniversary of Gaddafi's death at the es- Suheda square in Tripoli, Libya on 20 October 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Libyans in Tripoli celebrate the anniversary of Colonel Gaddafi's death

Today, Libya is a deeply divided, war-torn country which is apparently in a state of near-collapse.

It has two rival governments, based in different cities 1,000 miles apart, each insisting it deserves international recognition.

Read full article Lockerbie truth buried in Libyan chaos

Peace remains a distant dream in Afghanistan

  • 4 September 2015
  • From the section World
An Afghan migrant carries his grandmother, moments after arriving on a dinghy on the island of Lesbos Image copyright Reuters

This country has been at war for 40 years. As a result, Afghans form what's widely reported to be the second largest group of people trying to make their way to a new and more peaceful life in Europe. Only Syrians outnumber them.

In Kabul, a man of 75 stands looking at the heap of rubble where his house stood until it was destroyed by a Taliban bomb last month. Now he has nowhere to live, and exists on the charity of friends.

Read full article Peace remains a distant dream in Afghanistan

In court as Gaddafi's son sentenced to death

  • 28 July 2015
  • From the section World
Former Gaddafi regime's officials sit behind bars during a verdict hearing at a courtroom in Tripoli, Libya July 28, 2015 Image copyright Reuters

The accused men sat behind the bars of their cage in blue prison-issue pyjamas, their heads close-cropped.

Once they had been some of the most powerful men in Libya, with the power of life and death over their fellow citizens.

Read full article In court as Gaddafi's son sentenced to death

Uneasy calm hides turbulence in Tripoli

  • 27 July 2015
  • From the section World
Soldiers march during a military parade to mark fourth anniversary of revolt which ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The atmosphere in Tripoli remains tense

The main airport has been destroyed, all the main embassies have been closed down, the big international hotels all stand empty. There are long and frequent power cuts.

And yet Tripoli appears entirely calm.

Read full article Uneasy calm hides turbulence in Tripoli

Gaddafi's legacy continues to haunt Libya

  • 20 January 2015
  • From the section World
Opposition fighter guards a building in Benghazi Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Benghazi has been at the centre of unrest since the fall of Gaddafi

The partial ceasefire announced by the Libyan army on Sunday, following peace talks with various factions in Geneva, is the first good news to come out of Libya for months.

But even if the ceasefire holds and the peace talks bear fruit, there is a long, long way to go before the chaos there can be sorted out.

Read full article Gaddafi's legacy continues to haunt Libya

Predicting the future? Remember the Berlin Wall

  • 9 January 2015
  • From the section World
Fall on the Berlin Wall in 1989
Image caption Crowds begin to dismantle the Berlin Wall in 1989

For many years at around this time, when I was a columnist on a leading British newspaper, my editor would ask me to write an article predicting what was going to happen in the coming year.

I would do my best, trying to work out from the few certainties - election dates, anniversaries and so on - to give an idea what the year might look like.

Read full article Predicting the future? Remember the Berlin Wall