Almost eight years ago in December 2005, Danwei published the first Model Worker Awards, with the following note:
Blogs went mainstream this year. Proof, if needed, is that The Economist now uses the noun and verb ‘blog’ without explanation.
So it seems fitting to look back on the year in China blogs, with a small virtual award ceremony. Hence the first, and perhaps only, Danwei Model Worker awards, for the best China-related blogs of 2005… No democracy was used in the production of this list.
The winning Model Worker of 2005 was Roland Soong’s ESWN blog, which set the standard for finding, translating and archiving key documents from the Chinese Internet from 2003 until 2012, when Soong ceased updating frequently. Back then, most of the websites on our list were personal blogs. Now, many of the best websites about China are produced by a group of people who have funding or institutional support, and Danwei itself is a for profit research business. But our aim with the Model Workers Awards of 2013 remains to support and encourage English language niche publishing, self-publishing and plain old blogging about China. We believe that the more voices, opinions and diversity of reporting about China, the better.
But there are now so many websites about China that this year, we decided to be more selective than in the last. We have not included websites that have not updated since July 2013, and we have aimed to keep the list short and punchy rather than comprehensive. For the first time the Model Workers list now also includes proper sections for podcasts as well as for Weibo.
The main part of the Model Workers does not include our own websites, those of our parent company the Financial Times, or the China sections of large media companies except where the site is presented as a blog, or as representing the personal views of contributors. But we have included a list of links to good China pages in large media organizations, and another list of links to English language urban life guides about Chinese cities.
Links to all previous editions of the Danwei Model Worker awards are available at the bottom of this page. This year’s Model Workers were decided by Danwei full time comrades Jeremy Goldkorn, Joel Martinsen, Eric Mu, Barry Van Wyk, and our summer intern comrades Alex Ye, Hans Gaebler, Johan van de Ven and Neil Thomas.
Tea Leaf Nation
Model Worker of the Year 2013 – Blogs and Websites
Founded in December 2011, Tea Leaf Nation is an online magazine featuring stories and translations from Chinese social media. In the last year, the site has come into its own, publishing interesting, properly edited, and well-considered pieces about Chinese online conversation, by a variety of contributors, mostly Chinese and American. The editors do a superb job of framing and contextualizing the concerns of Chinese Internet users, and reporting on new Chinese social phenomena. An excellent representative Tea Leaf Nation post is: Don’t Dream Big — Four Vignettes on Social Mobility in Modern China
Model Worker of the Year 2013 – Twitter
New York Times correspondent and veteran China journalist Chris Buckley is a recently prolific tweeter under the handle @ChuBailiang. His sometimes acerbic tweets mostly summarize and link to Chinese language stories concerning the government, Party, and important social trends and the prevailing political climate.
Model Worker of the Year 2013 – Weibo
From 2005 Hu Xijin 胡锡进 has served as Editor-in-Chief of the English and Chinese editions of the Global Times 环球时报. Hu is an enthusiastic user of Sina Weibo and has developed an unrivalled ability to rile up social media users who frequently mock him as a propagandist and a running dog for the Party. Hu has thick skin: despite the insults heaped on him by Weibo users, he perseveres with his explanations of why the government is generally doing a good job managing a “complicated China”. Whether you agree with him or not, reading Hu’s Weibo feed is probably a better way to understand China and its problems than many of the more critical voices that make up most of our list of recommended people to follow on Weibo.
China History Podcast
Model Worker of the Year 2013 – Podcasts
Since June 2010, the inimitable Laszlo Montgomery of Claremont, California, has been telling stories from China’s past on the China History Podcast. Ranging as far back as the mythical Yellow Emperor and going right up till the rise of Xi Jinping, Montgomery’s podcast is an enjoyable and compelling way to learn about China’s long history. We know of two professors of Chinese history who assign China History Podcasts to their students, but they also work as pure entertainment if you enjoy listening to stories.
MEDIA, INTERNET, CURRENT AFFAIRS & SOCIETY
Honourable Mention – China Media Project
Translation, analysis and commentary on Chinese media, media policy, censorship and journalism run out of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong. David Bandurski edits the site, and writes many of the articles himself; but China Media project ALSO regularly publishes commentary and reportage by important Chinese editors, journalists and academics (see the Fellows page for biographies and links to their work). The site also hosts a growing section of special features, such as the China Media Map, the Media Dictionary, and the Anti-Social List of deleted Weibo posts.
Original notes on Uyghur life and culture, and the situation in Xinjiang.
A “dollop of China” that updates very regularly with trending videos, Internet memes, commentary and sarcasm about Chinese life and media.
Blocked on Weibo
An archive of words and phrases that are blocked or filtered on popular Chinese microblog Sina Weibo, with each entry including an explanation of why it has been blocked, plus historical monitoring of blocking and unblocking trends.
Blood and Treasure
A perceptive blog about Chinese politics and media, issues of the left and the former Communist world, current events in Britain, China and across the globe and more; can seem cryptic to the novice. The blogger is also on Twitter.
Offbeat coverage of life and society in Chengdu and Sichuan.
Website about activists that describes itself as “news and commentary from those who work for change”.
China Copyright and Media
Translations and articles on the law and policy of China’s news and entertainment media.
New English section of Chinese website dedicated to investigative reporting and commentary. (Disclosure: Danwei’s 2013 interns are also working on China Current.)
China Daily Show
The Onion meets China Daily: satire and spoof news.
China Digital Times
Bilingual site that aggregates, filters and contextualises English-language news about China, translates Chinese-language media stories, compiles the comprehensive Directives from the Ministry of Truth database of online censorship and propaganda, and maintains a glossary of Chinese Internet slang, the Grass Mud Horse Lexicon. The site also features cartoons by Hexie Farm. Deputy Editor Samuel Wade is active on Twitter.
A China-focused spin-off of the Asia Society, China File publishes commentary, discussions, articles and archival materials on a huge range of China issues in a range of multimedia forms. The site pulls together a huge variety of materials and writings by leading China scholars.
China in Africa
A blog by author and scholar Deborah Brautigam, documenting and often providing an on-the-ground perspective to China’s political and commercial involvement with Africa.
China Labour Bulletin
Research, analysis and commentary on the Chinese labor market and labor rights issues.
Translations of popular stories and postings from the Chinese Internet, together with summaries and translations of user comments. The Danwei Model Worker of the Year 2012 for blogs and websites, ChinaSMACK has recently focussed upon expanding its model to Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Russia.
The China Story
Web-based account of contemporary China featuring new writing on the Chinese world, short biographies of key Chinese intellectuals, and article by scholars, former diplomats, journalists and specialists in various China related subjects. Also home to the Australia-China Story, an archive of speeches, press reports and essays on the Australia-China relationship. Disclosure: Danwei is a contributor to The China Story, and affiliate of the Australian Centre on China in the World which operates the site.
The Diplomat’s China Power Blog
Analysis of China’s international relations, politics, economy and society.
The Economist’s Analects Blog
A snapshot of social, political and economic issues facing China. For news and snark, Analects blogger and Economist correspondent Gady Epstein is also worth following on Twitter.
Global Voices: China
Collaborative global blog and translation aggregator; the China section is a useful source of links to news stories about China and also publishes translations of Chinese Internet reports and interesting social commentary.
Monitoring of Chinese Internet censorship and tools to avoid and analyze it.
High Peaks Pure Earth
Translations from Tibetan and Chinese language blogs, commentary on Tibet related news and issues, and posting on modern Tibetan arts and culture; the only consistent English language source for Tibetan writings from within the People’s Republic. Contributor Tsering Woeser is worth following on Twitter.
Interviews and translations from a German blogger who describes his attitude towards the CCP as “cold-warlike”.
Ministry of Tofu
Translations, commentary and photo compilations from Chinese social media and news articles.
Stories and translations about urban life in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dongguan.
Topical and often amusing translations and summaries of Internet memes and popular postings.
Very useful daily newsletter and website put together by Bill Bishop aggregating and commenting on the most important articles on China from both Chinese and international media. Bishop is worth following on both Weibo and Twitter (he was last year’s winning Model Worker for Twitter).
Regular translations from the Chinese press. Eclectic topics presented with a healthy side of attitude from a pseudonymous Beijing-based blogger.
South Sea Conversations
Translations and analysis of Chinese media reporting, public opinion and PLA commentary on territorial disputes in the South China Sea and Diaoyu Islands by scholar Andrew Chubb, who is also on Twitter.
TECH, IT AND STARTUPS
Honourable Mention – Tech in Asia: China
China section of an Asia tech industry blog providing a stream of news on the business of hardware, Internet, mobile, apps and gaming in China. Edited by Charles Custer, who tweets using the China Geeks handle and recently released a film about kidnapped children in China, Living With Dead Hearts.
Bilingual coverage of Internet and tech industry news.
LIFE IN CHINA
Honourable Mention – My China Kanfa
An old fashioned personal blog by an American about Chinese culture, business, society, and being married into a Chinese family.
300 Shots at Greatness
A blog by Chengdu-dwelling Derek Sandhaus, which follows his quest gain an appreciation for Chinese baijiu (liquor).
Live music in Beijing.
Regular notes from an Englishman who has been living in Liuzhou, Guangxi, since 1999. This blog is probably the longest-running, currently active digital journal of life in a lesser known Chinese city.
News, vignettes, and practical guides by foreigners living in China, run by Ryan McLaughlin who also operates Hao Hao Report (like Digg for Chinese topics), China Blog Network, and the website construction service Dao By Design.
By Richard Burger, author of a book on Sex in China, the Peking Duck is a stalwart of the China blogging community with a very active comments section, despite the author no longer living in the PRC.
Another stalwart, Sinosplice was one of the earliest English language blogs about China. Run by John Pasden with consistently interesting postings on the Chinese language, contemporary Chinese society, and life in Shanghai and China.
CULTURE & SPORT
Eclectic hodge-podge of articles and commentary on Chinese contemporary tech, media and design from a team with multidisciplinary backgrounds, including ethnographer Tricia Wang, also on Twitter.
A foreigner writing on rock music in Shanghai and elsewhere in China.
Celebrity, fashion, film, television and entertainment gossip from the PRC.
A thorough rundown of fashion, high end brands and couture in China with plenty of photos, commentary and interviews by industry insider Timothy Coghlan.
Marco Polo Project
The Marco Polo Project publishes a selection of essays, fiction and other writings from established and emerging Chinese writers, submitted and translated by the website’s users. The translations are “crowd-sourced”, and the site is looking for new translators.
Perhaps the only focused resource for English speakers interested in Chinese professional basketball. Frequency of updates varies depending on the Chinese basketball calendar.
Paper Republic Blog
The blog of an online resource for translators, writers and publishers of translated Chinese fiction. Former Danwei comrade Alice Xin Liu and editor of Pathlight, a magazine of literary translations, is a contributor.
Phonemica is a crowd-sourced archive of recordings and transcriptions of stories told in Chinese dialects and regional accents. Disclosure, Danwei comrade Jeremy Goldkorn is a financial supporter of the project.
Blog documenting street fashion and industry news in Beijing and beyond.
Wild East Football
A comprehensive English language blog about the China football (soccer) scene, from regular analysis and team updates to bribery scandals and Beckham. Disclosure: Danwei intern Johan Van De Ven contributes to this site.
BUSINESS & LAW
Honourable Mention – China Law Blog
Regular, engaging, detailed and practical commentary and expert insight into Chinese law and doing business in China. Includes plenty of no-nonsense advice for small companies and information about general issues of interest to anyone with commercial interests in China.
Asia Health Care Blog
Group blog about the healthcare industry from pharma to hospitals to care of the elderly. Covers Asia but focused on China. Includes section on employment.
Buy Buy China
A website about Chinese consumers, the retail industry and branding.
China Accounting Blog
Paul Gillis’ blog provides detailed insight and accessible commentary on topical accounting and corporate financial issues in China.
China Car Times
Developments in the car industry, new models and news, and reporting on Chinese auto shows.
China Economic Review
Magazine covering economics, finance and business in China.
Commentary on Chinese legal affairs and business by Beijing-based lawyer Stan Abrams.
Chinese Law Prof Blog
Analysis and articles on Chinese legal issues by law professor Donald C. Clarke.
Jerome Cohen’s Blog
Blog of Professor Cohen, doyen of the study of Chinese law and legal development.
Interviews, articles and news about luxury products, marketing and business in China.
Law and Border
Visas and the law for foreigners living in China and emigrating Chinese.
China Oil Trader
In-depth analysis of the oil trade in the world’s second thirstiest nation.
M Taylor Fravel
Perhaps the leading tweeter on Chinese militarisation and maritime issues.
Very active Beijing-based correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, Moore used his Twitter feed to break the first English news of the Wukan standoff in Guangdong province in 2012.
Chinese politics, economics and finance. Also retweets important articles from the Chinese language media.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist formerly of the Wall Street Journal, Johnson’s Twitter is a well-curated feed of links to English-language writing about China.
Kim Rathcke Jensen
China correspondent for Danish newspaper Politiken. A good person to follow for retweets from other China journalists, and occasionally sardonic posts about life in Beijing.
Director of the Environmental Performance Directive and PhD student at Yale University, Hsu tweets are about China’s environmental policy.
Former business professor at Tsinghua University, now working for an asset management company in the States. Bearish tweets on the Chinese economy.
Beijing correspondent for the New York Times, retweets a lot of good stuff.
Leta Hong Fincher
Tweets about general China news and women’s and gender issues in China.
Honourable Mention – Zuo Yeben
Well-known caustic commentator who focuses on social affairs and politics.
CEO of tech incubator Innovation Works, former China chief of Microsoft and then Google, Lee is a Weibo megastar who is often critical of government malfeasance.
Real estate entrepreneur, husband to Zhang Xin the CEO of SOHO China the firm they run together, Pan’s Weibo was the biggest factor in mass Chinese awareness of PM2.5 air pollution, after he started postings statistics from the US Embassy air quality feed in 2012.
Businessman Xu is one of the founders of New Oriental, the largest education firm in the world that specializes in teaching English and arranging overseas study trips.
A famous actress who sometimes lends her voice to social causes and criticism; for instance she spoke out during the January 2013 Southern Weekly censorship incident on behalf of the newspaper’s editors.
A caricaturist and cartoonist with an anti-establishment bent.
Chinese defense lawyer famous for his high success rate who became famous nationwide after the Chongqing government accused him of falsifying evidence and obstruction of testimony by the Chongqing Government during the trial of a local mobster, when Bo Xilai was still in charge of the city.
Professor and co-director and of the Rural Social Issues Research Centre at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Frequently posts about social issues and the rights of vulnerable groups.
Businessman who raises funds via Weibo to help people in need of financial support, particularly those who have difficulty paying their medical bills.
Honorable Mention – China Hang-up Podcast
A weekly discussion with social, business and political figures hosted by Eric Fish (see Sinostand blog above), Hudson Lockett and Nicole Sy for the Economic Observer newspaper.
Interviews with industry experts, government officials, academics and journalists.
China Money Podcast
Interviews with economists, fund managers and analysts on the Chinese economy and business.
Discussions and interviews on business and economy in China.
China Policy Brief
Short podcasts on economic issues in China produced by the Beijing-based research and advisory firm China Policy.
Hong Kong Heritage
Discussions on the social, cultural, architectural and artistic heritage of Hong Kong.
Discussions on Taiwanese genre cinema of the 1970s and ’80s.
Advertising, marketing, and the media industry in China via interviews with industry experts.
China Business Cast
Interviews and discussions with entrepreneurs and business people about the nitty-gritty of doing business in China.
Danwei founder Jeremy Goldkorn and writer / rock musician / Baidu executive Kaiser Kuo host the weekly current affairs podcast Sinica podcast, which has been excluded from the list above. Kaiser Kuo is also on Twitter.
Below is a list of useful resources for English speakers in various cities across China.
City Weekend – Beijing
TimeOut – Beijing
City Weekend – Shanghai
TimeOut – Shanghai
City Weekend – Guangzhou
That’s Pearl River Delta
What’s On Tianjin
Focus on Dalian
Chongqing Expat Club