Olympic Model Workers: The best of the China blogs


Every year or so, Danwei chooses the best blogs about China in English and Chinese 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.

There are a few newcomers on this year’s list, while we’ve regrettably had to remove some old favorites that have stopped updating.

New winners are marked with asterisks (see previous Model Workers: 2007 English, 2007 Chinese, 2005.

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


== China news aggregators and translations from Chinese ==

* Fool’s Mountain: Blogging for China

This new collaborative blog is a lively forum for debate. Posts mix original opinion pieces with translations from Chinese online sources and print media. It is run by Chinese professionals living in the US.

Global Voices China section

Global Voices translates and aggregates blogs from around the world, with the emphasis on developing countries. Global Voices co-founder Rebecca MacKinnon‘s interest in China has helped to make the China section of the site one of the most active, with frequent contributions by John Kennedy, Kelly Proctor, and Bob Chen.


The king of China bloggers, Roland Soong is a one man media powerhouse who updates ESWN almost every day with translations from a huge variety of Chinese language sources, together with perceptive, sometimes quirky commentary about politics and media in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Soong is a professional statistician. His day job involves elucidating or tearing apart competitors’ analyses and survey reporting for a media buying agency, so he has the technical skills to destroy arguments based on the erroneous use of statistics.

China Digital Times

Bloggers often call this website CDT. It’s updated daily with summaries and links to stories about China in the Western media, and an increasing number of translations from Chinese media. CDT is a project of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. Blocked in China.

China Media Project

A project of Hong Kong University Journalism School, the China Media Project is an excellent source for viewpoints on Chinese media regulation and new media trends. Contributor David Bandurski translates influential opinion columns and offers insightful analysis of the regulatory landscape.

* Mei-Zhong Guanxi

Anton Lee Wishik II, an American who lives in Shanghai, translates opinion pieces from the Chinese media and offers his own analysis of their arguments.

* chinaSMACK

Strange stuff people are talking about on Chinese online forums; this site translates BBS threads on the latest memes and hot topics. (updated 2008.08.20)

== Blogs of China-related journalists ==

Richard Spencer

The Beijing correspondent for Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Spencer is an amusing commentator on Chinese current affairs and what it is like covering them for a foreign newspaper. The comments sections attracts people who can spell and write adult English, which is rare amongst China blogs.

Tim Johnson

Tim Johnson is a journalist for McClatchy Newspapers. About half of this blog is devoted to stories currently in the Chinese news; the other half presents an interesting look behind the scenes at a reporter going about the business of being a China correspondent, from setting up interviews, to pulling together sources, to getting hauled in for a lecture from the authorities.

Shanghai Scrap

Adam Minter is a writer whose twin focuses are Chinese Catholicism and the scrap trade. He’s also got a keen eye for lazy and irresponsible journalism in the Chinese and foreign press.

The TIME China blog

A blog written by Time’s China correspondents. The posts are frequently excellent; skip the comments section.

Black and White Cat

Thoughtful commentary on China news and occasional revelations from the corridors of CCTV 9, the English language channel of the State broadcaster.

China Herald

The blog of a Dutch former foreign correspondent turned entrepreneur, China Herald has been a fixture China’s English language blog scene since the early days. Quirky comments and lots of links to stories about media, media regulation and business.

* Zhongnanhai Blog

An expat-run blog offering news, information, analysis, and opinion. Contributors have extensive experience inside China’s state-run media apparatus.

* Pomfret’s China

A blog by John Pomfret, former Washington Post Beijing bureau chief.

Access Asia Weekly Snarkfest

Access Asia is a research firm run by good writers with a specialization in consumer goods and the retail business. They also produce an irreverent weekly newsletter, available on a link from the Access Asia homepage (no permalink), or you can subscribe to an email version of it by sending a message to info@access-asia.info.

* Thomas Crampton

Media, tech and business in Asia by a former IHT correspondent who also posts to Danwei.

* James Fallows

Fallows is a correspondent for The Atlantic and has written some informative articles on China for that magazine. His blog is a mix of astute social commentary, wonky tech stuff, and photos of Beijing’s air quality. (updated 2008.08.20)

== Olympic Blogs ==


Many western news organizations have launched China-focused blogs in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. It’s a bit too soon to tell whether they’ll have staying power (or even if they plan to), so calling them “model workers” seems . Instead, we’ll present them with the Staff of Media, specially created for the practice of journalism in China during the Olympics.

Countdown to Beijing

Newsweek‘s China blog. Though nominally related to the Olympics, its posts cover a whole range of social issues. Jonathan Ansfield’s blogging home has moved here from the China Digital Times. The magazine also recently launched Beijing Beat, which is devoted exclusively to the Olympics.

Blogging Beijing

A Seattle Times hosted blog by Fulbright scholar Daniel Beekman. Started nine months before the opening of the Beijing Games, the blog includes quirky commentary and observations on pre-Olympic Beijing. Final Post: 2008.08.24

Beijing 2008 Olympics

Christian Science Monitor journalists blog about China-related topics.

View from the Bird’s Nest

Reuters’ Olympics blog, formerly “Countdown Beijing.” Bloggers cover China topics, profile Olympic athletes, and follow the torch (even up Everest!). Goodbye Post: 2008.08.26

James Reynolds’ China

BBC hosted blog by James Reynolds, the BBC’s Beijing correspondent, with thoughts on day-to-day events and Olympic coverage.

China Journal

The Wall Street Journal‘s China blog, edited by Sky Canaves. It features a daily roundup of other interesting articles posts on English-language blogs about China.

== Advertising, marketing and PR ==


This American PR professional arrived in Beijing by way of Singapore and writes a very funny blog about public relations, communications, the tech industry, and life in China.

Digital Watch

News from and analysis of the world of digital marketing and media from Kaiser Kuo and others at the ad agency Ogilvy’s China offices.

Sam Flemming

Commentary on word of mouth and brands on the Chinese Internet, by the CEO of CIC Data, a company that analyzes and quantifies online chatter on behalf of multinational companies.

== Law and intellectual property ==

China Law Blog

A blog about business law in China by Dan Harris, based in Seattle, and Steve Dickinson who lives in Shanghai. Both are experienced lawyers whose firm has significant amounts of work in China.

IP Dragon

A blog that tracks news about intellectual property in China, including copyright, patent and trademark law and IPR enforcement.

* Forgotten Archipelagoes

A blog by Italian Flora Sapio tracking detention and criminal law developments in China.

* China Law Prof Blog

Donald C. Clarke, of the George Washington University Law School, blogs about legal issues in China.

== Business, finance and technology ==

* The China Business Network

Blog posts, videos, podcasts and aggregated content about business and business people in China.

* bizCult

Blog and podcast series about business in China.

Silicon Hutong

David Wolf is a very sharp consultant who works in the technology, media and telecom industries in China. His blog covers his areas of professional interest and, once in a while, some general China stuff.

China Web 2.0 Review

A Chinese view of the Internet business and Internet startups, China Web 2.0 Review is written by two Chinese guys who work in the industry, and presents clearly thought-out posts about new developments. A valuable resource for anyone interested in Internet innovation in China.

Managing the Dragon

Mr China by Tim Clissold is an entertaining book about China and business. The ‘Mr China’ of the title is a charismatic investment banker who first came here in 1992, was smitten, and then employed Clissold to help him lose a lot of money. Now, several years after the publication of the book, Mr China has now revealed himself to be Jack Perkowski, and he is apparently now making boatloads of money. Perkowski has written a book called Managing the Dragon, and he also runs the Managing the Dragon blog.

* China Economic Review

Website of the print magazine of the same name, with blogs and Web only content.

Updates (2008.08.20)

* CNReviews

Views on China and the Chinese Internet by a crew of young tech entrepreneurs living in China.

* Andrew Lih

A fine blog on Wikipedia issues, the Great Firewall, and other China and Web2.0-related things. He may not update as regularly as some blogs, but he is nonetheless a regular read for us.

* This is China

Bill Dodson writes entertaining and informative accounts of doing business in Suzhou and more far-flung areas of the country.

== Environment and corporate social responsibility ==

China Dialogue

Environmental issues in China. Edited by Isabel Hilton, this blog has a distinguished editorial board, and features a completely-bilingual website – all articles are published in both Chinese and English, and reader comments are translated by the blogging team.

Responsible China

Tagline reads: “sustainability. CSR. social entrepreneurship.” The blog, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, profiles entrepreneurs and offers a weekly roundup of corporate responsibility news ites.

* China’s Green Beat

A website and video series providing information, education, and entertainment concerning China’s environment. Centered around a series of short videos on the environment produced by the “Green Brothers,” an American Fulbright scholar and a young Chinese environmentalist.

== Academic and Literary blogs ==

Jottings from the Granite Studio

“A Qing historian reads the newspaper…notes from a student of China and Chinese history” reads the self-description. Readable, historically-informed commentary on current events is mixed with stories from China’s past. “The Historical Record” is a this-day-in-history feature that gets posted periodically. The blogger also occasionally posts at the Peking Duck.

* The China Beat

A group blog whose contributors are academics and writers with a connection to China. The posts are always fascinating, and cover Chinese media, contemporary life, western media and publications about China, and of course the Olympics.

Frog in a Well

Historians blog about China. The posts often include old photos, scans of old documents, and other interesting artifacts of history. The updates may not be frequent, but each one is a gem.

* Paper Republic

A group blog on Chinese literature and translation.

* China Film Journal

A blog tracking contemporary Chinese-language films featuring film reviews, commentary, and video clips. Co-founder Peijin Chen keeps his own blog, a shameful waste of madhouse time, which occasionally posts translations from the Chinese press.

* China Heritage Quarterly

A quarterly website about Chinese history, architecture, and culture.

* Inside-Out China

Xujun Eberlein blogs about literature and society, and frequently features interesting commentary by guest bloggers.

== Regional Blogs ==

* Beijing Sounds

A blog for the Beijing-obsessed and the Chinese language maven. The author uses recordings of real Beijingers and explains, in clear language, how the ‘Beijing dialect’ works.

* bezdomny ex patria

This Kiwi blogger translates Beijing-related articles from the city’s newspapers and describes his own wanderings through the capital’s outskirts.

* Shenzhen Fieldnotes

Mary Ann O’Donnell looks at Shenzhen from the perspective of an anthropologist.

* The Humanaught

Expat life in Suzhou. The same blogger also runs the Lost Laowai community and the Haohao Report.

* Cup of Cha

Josh, who used to edit the Daily Tea Leaves blog at China Expat, now posts amusing commentary about Chinese news and life in Beijing.


Part of the Gothamist franchise, this group blog publishes Chinese media news, translations from the local media, and news about the Shanghai expat party scene. The editor of the Shanghai site is Dan Washburn.


Language, comedy, and life in Shanghai. This blog has been around for years and has an active, good-natured comments section. (added 2008.09)

Opposite End of China

In Korla, Xinjiang, Michael Manning writes about life in China’s wild west.

* The New Dominion

News and information about China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Also, translations of The Awakened Land, a historical novel published in 1985 by the Uyghur author Abdurehim Tiläshüp Ötkür.

Mutant Palm

Incisive commentary on politics, military affairs, and the Chinese media. The blogger used to be based in Xinjiang and still occasionally posts about the region.

Go Kunming

News about Kunming and Yunnan. The bloggers also run China Sports Today and China City Listings.

Surviving Beijing since 1980

Blog by a Belgian guy who has lived in Beijing since 1980.

Liuzhou Laowai

Blog by an eccentric Englishman who lives in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province. Eye-opening stories of local politics and everyday life.

Shanghai Eye

Paintings and art news from Shanghai.

* Son of Shenzhen Zen

After stints in Shenzhen and Thailand, the author now works as a state media polisher in Beijing.

* Stylites in Beijing

Photoblog that tracks fashion developments in China’s capital, including new store openings, fashion trends, and street fashion photography.

Beijing Boyce

A “somewhat young China hand on thelocal drinking scene” covers nightlife in the capital. The same blogger also reports on wine industry gossip at Grape Wall of China.

Peking Duck

The grand-daddy of expat blogs experienced a rebirth this year. The comments section can still get rather rowdy, but it’s a nice to see that it’s not dead.

* Absurdity, Allegory and China

An expat in Tianjin blogs about current events in China. Has something of an obsession with the new CCTV building in Beijing.

Updates (2008.08.20)

* Quirky Beijing

Anecdotes of life in the capital.

* Stupid Pig’s China Blog

A Cantonese-Chinese-American English trainer blogs about current events.

* Too Many Tribbles

Atheism and photography of Olympic venues and Beijing architecture; see also her Flickr page.

== Blog Directories ==

For more interesting blogs, we suggest you consult the following directories:

China Blog List

The master index of China-related blogs. Cool maps and search tools. Run by John of Sinosplice, a ‘non political look at life in China’ and one of the oldest existing blogs about China in English.


Chinalyst, run by FiLi of Filination, aggregates a huge number of China-related blogs.

Hao Hao report

A Digg-like aggregator that covers China-related information from a wide variety of sources. It has a slick interface that’s been given a couple face-lifts over the last year.

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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