Model Workers 2012

Model Workers 2012

Today we present the Danwei Model Worker Awards 2012, a list of the best specialist websites, blogs and online sources of information about China.

The first Danwei Model Worker list came out in 2005. You can find links to all previous editions of this list at the bottom of this posting. This year, we thoroughly debated every website on the list. We’ve been stricter than in the past by excluding some sites that have not updated regularly, that have have strayed too far from their focus, written at too much or too little length, and those that have turned their blog into a mere feed of tweets. We’ve also reduced our list of people to follow on Twitter to just ten, plus a winner.

We’ll update this list over the next month if we discover any site we’ve omitted, so if you have suggestions for websites we’ve left out, please take to Facebook and Twitter, or email feedback -at- danwei dot com.


Model Worker of the Year 2012 – Blogs and Websites

ChinaSMACK is an entertaining crash course in Chinese Internet culture, as seen by Chinese Internet users themselves. The site publishes translations of popular stories and postings, together with summaries and translations of user comments. Stories range from the wildly sensationalistic to the more serious, and include subjects like car accidents, sex, crime, corruption, social issues, education and misbehaving foreigners. ChinaSMACK’s Glossary is a useful reference guide to Internet slang as used behind the Great Firewall.

Some object to the site’s occasionally lurid headlines and use of graphic images. But we’ve selected ChinaSMACK as Model Worker of the Year for 2012 because the site has consistently highlighted stories that excite Chinese Internet users, rather than subjects that conform to a journalistic conception of news. This is what blogs and niche media are made for.


Bill Bishop
Model Worker of the Year 2012 – Twitter

Niubi is the Twitter name of Bill Bishop, an American living in Beijing who has worked as a translator and media entrepreneur in China and the U.S. He co-founded CBS MarketWatch and saw it through to its sale in 2004 to Dow Jones. Bishop tweets continuously on Chinese life, scandals, news, economics, finance, the culture of the super rich in Beijing, Chinese Internet and media, Western commentary and journalism on China, air quality, and just about anything else you care to know about China. Bishop also blogs at DigiCha, and Sinocism where he publishes annotated indexes of the material he tweets about.


BLOGS – Runners Up
Below are the other Model of Workers of 2012 in the blogs and websites section.


Articles and commentary about Chinese contemporary design, news and tech. Team includes Tricia Wangand Jin Ge, both of whose personal blogs are worth following.

Artspace China
Detailed analysis of Chinese contemporary art forms with added reviews and interviews.

The Great Flourishing
Arts and culture in contemporary China by a husband and wife team: Sheila Melvin has been writing about arts and culture in China for more than 15 years; Cai Jindong is an orchestra conductor and professor at Stanford University.


Blocked on Weibo
An archive of words and phrases that are blocked or filtered on popular Chinese microblog Sina Weibo; each entry includes an explanation of the probable cause of the block.

China Daily Show
Spoof news site that came into its own during the Bo Xilai scandal.

China Digital Times
News, issues, translations and aggregation. Two special sections worth mentioning are the Grass Mud Horse Lexicon, which is an excellent glossary of online slang and subversive puns, and Directives from the Ministry of Truth, an archive of propaganda and censorship instructions.

China Hush
Translations, vignettes and memes from Chinese social media and news articles.

China Media Project
Translation, analysis and commentary on Chinese media, media policy, censorship and journalism. David Bandurski edits the site, and writes many of the articles himself; but China Media project 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, the Anti-Social List of deleted Weibo postings and the News Wire, a feed of summaries of news stories from the Chinese press.

Prolific translator, statistician, and polymath Roland Soong’s website ESWN was a long time winner of previous Danwei’s Model Worker awards. Soong has been publishing less frequently in the past few years, but is still always worth reading. ESWN was the site that published the first translations of Chinese heart-throb car-racing blogger Han Han’s Three Essays: RevolutionDemocracy and Freedom.

Global Voices China section
Collaborative global blog and translation aggregator; the China section is a good source of links, and at times also publishes timely translations of Chinese Internet reports on breaking news and interesting social commentary.

Free More News
The new English section of a Chinese blog-style news portal devoted to publishing articles about sensitive issues, scandals and breaking news.

Ministry of Tofu
Translations and photo compilations from Chinese social media and news articles.

Offbeat China
Translations and summaries of Internet memes and popular postings.

Paper Republic blog
The blog of an excellent online resource for translators, writers and publishers of translated Chinese fiction.

Shanghai news mixed up with links and aggregation of wider China news, expat gossip, and snapshots from Chinese social media. The main man behind the site is Kenneth Tan, who is worth following on Twitter. Sample recent post: Xi’an investigative TV program mistakes a two-way dildo for a rare mushroom.

Tea Leaf Nation
Translations, explanations and commentary on China as seen through social media. This site is frequently updated by a number of authors, and is often the first site to report and compile data about new topics of discussion on the Chinese Internet.


Beijing Cream
Videos, Internet memes, commentary and sarcasm about Chinese life and media.

Blood and Treasure
A preceptive 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.

China Rises 
Blog by McClatchey’s Beijing bureau chief Tom Lasseter (see also his Twitter feed).

China Geeks
Essays, articles and translations by Charlie Custer and others; see also Living with Dead Hearts, a documentary film about kidnapped children in China that’s currently in production.

Inside-Out China
Commentary from Xujun Eberlein, a Chinese writer based in the States, recently notable for insights into the Bo Xilai affair and Chongqing after his fall.

Reportage of insider riffs within the Party, recently peppered with an increasing number of translations. This German blogger describes his attitude towards the CCP as “cold-warlike”.

Peking Duck
Discussion of news, social and political issues in China, with a very active comments section.

Rectified Name 
Entertaining new group blog with contributions from Will Moss, a.k.a. Imagethief (one of the funniest commentators on media, PR and life in China), historian Jeremiah Jenne and his better half YJ who also write Jottings from the Granite Studio, translator Brendan O’Kane and Dave Lyons.

Seeing Red in China 
Translations, commentary and current affairs by three bloggers.

Analysis and commentary on news, politics, culture and business.


Asia Society
An Asia portal featuring news and articles in a range of multimedia forms. The Asia Society also produces China Green, and recently announced the immanent launch of a new China-focused site called China File.

China Heritage Quarterly
A publication covering recent developments and scholarship in areas related to China’s heritage, culture, history and society. Recent issues include Tea, the West Lake, the Xinhai RevolutionShengshi, China’s Prosperous Age, and Yang Xianyi. See also the slowly-developing Glossary.
The China Heritage Quarterly is published by the Australian Centre on China in the World.

China Rhyming
The blog of Midnight in Peking author Paul French, self-described as a ‘gallimaufry of random China history and research interests’.

East Asian History
Online journal of scholarship on East Asia, published by the Australian Centre on China in the World.

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.


300 Shots at Greatness
A blog by Derek Sandhaus, who is living in Chengdu and questing ‘to answer the following question: can an outsider gain an appreciation for Chinese baijiu‘ (strong liquor made from grain and rice)?’ The blog is a diary of Sandhaus’s stumbling through spirit-fueled enlightenment.

Beijing Boyce
A blog on Beijing’s bar scene, sister to Grape Wall of China, a blog about wine in China.

Beijing Daze
Live music in Beijing and China; see also Noodle Diaries by the same blogger.

Bezdomy ex patria
A Kiwi living in the rural suburbs of Beijing; see his history of Yanqing county.

Blog and events calendar with feature stories about Kunming and Yunnan.

Hao Hao Report
Something like for English stories about China, Hao Hao Report is one of the websites run by Ryan McLaughlin. He also manages China Blog Network, a platform for finding and promoting blogs about China, and Lost Laowai, a group blog and forum that disseminates information about life in China for foreigners, including useful stuff for newcomers such as how to set up an English QQ account.

High Peaks Pure Earth
Translations from Tibetan and Chinese language blogs, and commentary on Tibet related news and issues; the only consistent English language source for Tibetan writings from within the People’s Republic.

Liuzhou Laowai
Notes from an Englishman in Liuzhou, Guangxi province. This blog is perhaps the longest-running, currently active digital journal of a lesser known Chinese city.

Shenzhen Noted
A blog devoted to recording Shenzhen’s urbanisation in impressive detail, using photos, translations, original writings and information from the media.

One of the earliest English language blogs about China, with occasional postings on learning Chinese, Chinese characters and language, and life in Shanghai and China.

The Nanfang
News and translations about the Pearl River Delta, as well as nightlife and cultural events, job ads and other information about life in south eastern China.


China in Africa
A blog by Deborah Brautigam, author of The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa, documenting the Chinese presence in Africa.

South Sea Conversations
Translations and analysis of Chinese media reporting and commentary on the South China Sea.


Asia Health Care Blog
Group blog about the the health care 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 issues in China. This is an especially useful resource for following the Big Four corruption scandal.

China Car Times
Developments in the car industry, new models and news, and reporting on Chinese auto shows.

China Economic Review
News, reportage and commentary.

China Hearsay
Commentary on Chinese legal affairs and business by Beijing-based lawyer Stan Abrams.

China Law Blog
Practical commentary on Chinese law and its application to business. Includes lots of no-nonsense advice for small companies and information about general issues of interest to anyone doing business in China.

Chinese Law Prof Blog
Analysis and articles on Chinese legal issues by law professor Donald C. Clarke.

Jerome Cohen’s blog
Blog of the venerable Professor Cohen, most recently in the news for his efforts on behalf of self-taught legal activist Chen Guangcheng.

Jing Daily
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.

Fashion and couture from an expat seasoned in the industry. Includes plenty of photos and some commentary on the latest Beijing fashion shows and private screenings.

Silicon Hutong
Business, PR, Internet and technology from China media and tech industry veteran David Wolf. See also Wolf’s Twitter feed.

A tastefully minimal blog documenting street fashion and the fashion industry in Beijing and beyond.


China Dialogue
Bilingual site focusing on China’s environmental issues with contributions from Chinese and global journalists and activists.

China Labour Bulletin
Research and analysis of labor issues and rights.


Tech in Asia
Good China section of Asian tech industry blog.

Internet and tech industry news. Founded by Lu Gang.

The Chinese Internet and digital industries, from startups to established players, founded by Kai Lukoff.


TWITTER – Runners Up
Below are the runners up for the Model of Workers of 2012 — Twitter section. This year we have restricted the list to ten entries.

Black China Hand
Notes from a ‘black criminal defense attorney on the road in the heart of China’, also blogs occasionally at the Black China Hand blog.

China Geeks
Links, news and opinions on current affairs by Charlie Custer of the China Geeks website.

Gady Epstein
News and sark from Beijing-based correspondent for The Economist.

Media, PR and communications in China by Will Moss, who is also behind the Imagethief blog.

Josh Chin
Editor of the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report.

M Taylor Fravel 
A China security expert tweeting on maritime issues and militarization.

Malcolm Moore
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.

Relevant Organs
‘China’s soft-power vanguard, rectifying your thought since 2010′. You WILL follow it.

Tania Branigan
The Beijing correspondent for the Guardian.

Victor Shih
Politics, economics and finance.



AmCham China
Interviews with industry experts, government officials, academics and journalists.

Artman Talks
Interviews with writers, industry experts and bloggers about Chinese subjects. Artman also co-hosts China Punks, a podcast with C, Custer of the China Geeks blog mentioned above.

China in Africa podcast
Podcast series connected to the China Africa Project by Eric Olander.

China History Podcast 
Weekly podcast by Laszlo Montgomery on various topics from ancient history to very recent history. The podcast is non-chronological, jumping back-and-forth between different periods.

China Money
A podcast focused on economics, finance and investing in China, featuring economists, fund managers and analysts.

McKinsey China
Detailed conversations on business and economy in China from the suits.

A talk show style weekly podcast with new guests every week who are industry experts, journalists and academics, Sinica is co-hosted by Kaiser Kuo and (let this count as disclosure) Danwei’s Jeremy Goldkorn.



Charlie Custer for Link Asia
Video blog by Charlie Custer of China Geeks, with commentary on topics in the news media and current affairs.

USC China Institute Youtube Channel
Documentaries and video footage of lectures and speeches from the University of Southern California’s China Institute.


James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly (not all about China)
Adam Minter on Bloomberg, see also his blog Shanghai Scrap
The Economist’s Analects blog
The Financial Times
The Guardian
MSNBC’s Behind the Wall blog
The New York Times
Blog by the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos
The Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report


Rian Dundon
Peter Carney
Sean Gallagher
Jonah Kessel
James Wasserman
Janek Zdzarski


2008 (Olympic edition): EnglishChinesesupplement
2007: EnglishChinesesupplement
2006: Chinese blogs — a list of favorites
2005: Inaugural Model Workers

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