Olympic Model Workers: The best Chinese blogs


Every year or so, Danwei chooses the best blogs about China in Chinese and English to be Model Workers. The winners are chosen by Danwei’s Central Committee; no voting or democracy of any kind is involved.

The focus tends to be on media and other subjects covered by Danwei, so there are few purely personal blogs. This year, we publish the Olympic edition of our Model Workers list.

You can see previous Model Workers: 2007 English, 2007 Chinese, 2005.

Congratulations to all Model Workers and keep the good stuff coming.

== Roundups of hot topics ==

These sites have their fingers on the pulse of the net, which they summarize in daily or weekly posts:

Memedia 草莓周刊

A crowd-sourced weekly roundup of the most popular topics in the Chinese blog world.

izaobao 爱枣报

Every weekday, this group blog posts a roundup of ten top stories, ranging from serious news items to the latest Internet meme. On Wednesdays, it features book, film, and music reviews.

Ran Yunfei’s Weekly Comment 冉氏新闻评论周刊

A Sichuan-based liberal blogger offers his opinions on a selection of the week’s news, typically having to do with social issues and civil liberties. Ran, editor of the journal Sichuan Literature, had his Tianya blog shut down this year, but he’s found new homes at Bullog and 1510. In addition to his weekly commentary, he often posts about rightists in China’s history. [posts]

Huang Jiwei’s Keywords 一周语文

Huang keeps a weekly record of catch-phrases, new news vocabulary, and Net-speak inspired by current events.

Ramblings of a Drunkard 醉人呓语

Blogger Beifeng wraps up the news making waves online each week.

Tianya Weekly

A roundup of the week’s activity at Tianya, a major discussion forum.

== Individual Commentary ==

Tiger Temple: 24 Hour 老虎庙:24小时在线

Blogging about China’s underprivileged. In 2007, Tiger Temple took to the northern China countryside to talk to ordinary people. In Beijing, he’s reported on how the lives of indigents have been affected by urban renewal, and the changes that Olympic construction have brought to the city. [posts]

The World According to Zeng Ying 曾颖眼中的世界

Like other journalist-bloggers, Zeng Ying posts interesting media-related anecdotes, but the bread and butter of this blog is its fiction, which ranges from fables to longer serializations, to regular stories about people living on the margins of society. A particularly interesting series tells the story of migrant workers who move in to an unfinished office tower. [posts]

Lian Yue’s 8th Continent 连岳的第八大洲

Lian Yue, an advice columnist and an author, was one of the driving forces increasing awareness about the Xiamen PX plant, making him the face of Chinese blogging in 2007. He encourages readers to contact, and he often thoughtful emails from readers on a variety of subjects. The conversation that goes on makes his blog worth reading, even if he’s no longer in the media spotlight. [posts]

Pro State In Flames 钱烈宪要发炎

This is an essential read. Inside information into Chinese journalism; rumors about politics and current events show up here near the start of the cycle. NOTE: URL updated 2008.11.25 after his bullog blog was closed. [posts]

Wang Xiaofeng 王小峰

Sarcastic and sometimes very funny commentary about media and media regulation, cultural trends, music and urban miscellanea. Wang Xiaofeng is also known by the name Wears Three Watches (带三个表), a mocking reference to the Three Represents theory. [posts]

Hecaitou 槽边往事 “Bygone days beside the trough”

This Yunnan-based blogger publishes an eclectic mix of commentary, entertainment, and quirky diversions. Look here for memes, funny videos and images, and rational analysis of current events. Hecaitou also writes perceptive book reviews in the mainstream media and on Douban. [posts]

Han Song 韩松

Xinhua journalist, science fiction author. Han writes with black humor about the official media and current events. In the past year, Danwei has translated his thoughts on Spielberg’s change of heart, the moon photos, and the new Beijing airport. [posts]

Li Yinhe (李银河) is a sociologist at the influential Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and a fierce defender of individual sexual freedoms. She frequently tangles with critics in the Chinese-language blogosphere (XYS, in particular, isn’t too thrilled with her), but her writing is always though-provoking. [posts]

Ten Years Chopping Timber 十年砍柴

This blog (actually titled 钢筋水泥森林里的斧头 “An axe in the concrete jungle”) is written by a pundit, popular historian, and Legal Daily reporter whose columns frequently appear in the mainstream press. History intermingles with current affairs analysis on this blog. [posts]

Han Han 韩寒

He’s still got the knack for getting his online flame wars picked up by the print media, but he’s still writing clever articles as well. Like we said last year, “You may not care for his novels, but his blog is really worth reading.” [posts]

Xu Jinglei (徐静蕾) is an actress, director, blogger, and media entrepreneur whose blog is rated the most popular in the world (by certain measurements). She generally writes about day to day life and is very popular with young women with a Hello Kitty aesthetic. But her position in Beijing’s media world makes her someone to watch. Danwei recently covered Xu’s travels in South Africa. [posts]

Hong Hung, aka Hung Huang (洪晃) is the column-writing CEO of CIMG, a media company that publishes Time Out, amongst other magazines. She’s well-connected in the media world and is the daughter of Mao Zedong’s English teacher and translator Zhang Hanzhi. [posts]

Zan Aizong 昝爱宗

Commentary on journalism, civil society, liberal issues, and religion, as they relate to Chinese law. He also keeps an overseas homepage (blocked on the mainland). His mainland blog host, Fatianxia (法天下) features a varied assortment of writers who blog about legal issues in China. [posts“>posts]

Yin Lichuan (尹丽川) is a poet, writer and film director. She is closely associated with the ‘Lower Body Writing’ movement that until recently occupied the literati of Beijing.

== Art, design and urbanism ==

Ai Weiwei 艾未未

The famous Beijing artist might be even better known now for his provocative statements about the Beijing Olympics. He’s repudiated his work on the design for the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium and has made waves in the foreign press this year as a critic of superficial changes that haven’t brought any real transformation to the people’s lives. [posts]

Ou Ning 欧宁,

Ou Ning is a prolific designer, curator, cultural archivist and commentator. [posts]

== Group Blogs and Aggregators ==

Bullog 牛博

Luo Yonghao’s home for bloggers with attitude was forced to go overseas (to bullogger.com) when its Mainland license was pulled last autumn. It remained in exile until April, when it reopened at its original URL.

1510 一五一十部落

This small portal was started by Rose Luqiu, a Phoenix TV journalist. Subscribing to the top posts feed provides a constant flow of original articles. The site also puts up text versions of the weekly newsletter from Catnet (originally published as an e-magazine), a distillation of the best original writing posted to that forum. [posts]

New Threads 新语丝

Run by anti-fraud crusader Fang Zhouzi, this daily mailing list mixes original contributions with reposts of blog and newspaper articles blasting academic dishonesty, bad science, and traditional Chinese medicine. No quarter given. A Mainland accessible site is at XYS Reader. [posts]

Mindmeters 思维的乐趣

This well-known group blog focuses mainly on business and marketing, with photos, poetry, and social commentary thrown into the mix. [posts]

Chinese blogging is far bigger than the few examples we’ve mentioned here. As we noted last year, many columnists keep blogs where they repost articles that were first printed in the mainstream media (and the blog version often includes sensitive material that was deleted in print).

This year, the blog of one journalist, Chang Ping (posts), became one battleground in a major online flame war that spilled over from BBS forums.

Since China’s media commentators tend to write for a number of different media outlets, their blogs are still worth subscribing to if only as a convenient way to keep up on the latest public opinion without traipsing around to multiple newspaper websites.

The Danwei Model Worker badge is adapted from an old model worker pin issued by Wuxing County, Zhejiang. Founded in 1912 from the merger of three Qing Dyansty counties, Wuxing ceased to exist in 1981 when it was absorbed into Huzhou City. The image was taken from a thread (since deleted) on the Old Badges BBS (陈陈徽章论坛).

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