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Blogging in China is huge

In Blogs about China,Chinese blogs on February 23, 2010 by chinascribe

Blogging in China is huge. The China Internet Network Information Center’s 24th annual report records 181 million blog users in mid-2009; there are personal blogs, photoblogs, official blogs at all levels of government (see, for example, the Public Security blog), self-help, agony aunt and stock market blogs; and of course a proliferation of China-watching blogs overseas. The most popular blog on Sina.com – Han Han, novelist and amateur race driver, described by Time magazine as “China’s Literary Bad Boy” (on which more below) – has received over 325 million visits since 2007, and 3,000 comments have been left on today’s post. There is a small (English-language) academic industry dedicated to blog-watching in China that reflects some of what we have thought blogging will mean for China – growth of new communities in civil society, opportunities to bypass the mostly still relatively, um, staid  mainstream media – but on the whole this doesn’t dig very far into the millions of blogs that attract much less attention than Han Han and other blogged-up celebrities (well, you can see why, I suppose…).  But that stuff does matter; it does show us quieter lives in a China that doesn’t always catch our attention. Some of this we can see at second hand, through the work of the China-watching blogs – but there is much, much more out there – so here we go…

Let’s begin with a random selection of China-watching blogs: accessible (if you read English but not Chinese), eclectic  and thought-provoking

One of the best is probably The China Beat featuring China scholars providing ‘context and criticism’ on China and current affairs: informed, intelligent comment on those aspects of China that matter to the rest of the world. Recent posts include a survey of work on religion and modernity in China and Taiwan, and a round-up of commentary on China, Tibet and the US in the run-up to Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Equally interesting, and rather more political is EastSouthNorthWest, which offers translation, commentary and critique of media stories from and about China, from mining disasters and journalists’ ‘gag fees’ to a thread provoked by the Han Han interview in Time (this could all become terribly circular, could it not?)

There are also some productive blog aggregators: chinaSMACK offers stories from China, translated into English: content ranges from discussion of adultery (and how to face the consequences) to Google’s recent dispute with the Chinese authorities.The founders note that, ‘chinaSMACK hopes that translating and sharing the content that is most hot or viral on China’s internet, as well as the comments of Chinese netizens themselves, foreign netizens can better understand a part of China’s modern society and that Chinese people aand foreigners are really not so different after all.’

ChinaHush does something very similar, but is rather darker in tone (observe the prominence in the tag cloud of terms such as ‘Crime’, and ‘Death’. The founder states that, ‘… I created ChinaHush first and mostly for personal reasons, as a way to record what I have been learning about China, and to share this knowledge with those who also have an interest in China. I think the Western media does not do a good job of presenting China to the western world.’

ChinaGeeks is a third translation site, carrying news and blog translations (there is an accompanying Chinese-language blog). The site blurb tells us that ‘We post articles, original essays, translations, news, and relevant links to further the English-language discourse on China. Topics covered include (but are not limited to) history, current events, politics, literature, culture, and philosophy. We take pride in our writing standards–everything you find here will be well-written and worth your time (we hope!)’ And check out the interesting blogroll.

The HaoHao Report collects English-language media stories about China.

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