China bridge-blogs are those blogs that give insights, analysis, opinions and news about China to a foreign audience, and before I start annoying you with my own stuff, I wish to write about my favorite ones, those I have been reading in the past six years. This list does not pretend to be the cream of the crop of the Chinese blogosphere, instead simply represent my tribute to a huge source of valuable knowledge. Of course there are many, many other valuable Blogs, but I enlisted only the ones I am familiar with. At the moment of writing I am in Vicenza, Italy, so I am not able to tell which of these Blogs are being blocked by the Great Firewall. Some other blogs had made history and are now defunct, like for example EastSouthWestNorth, or almost dead, like C. Custer’s ChinaGeeks. Blogs like these won’t be mentioned in the list below, but you are not a China expert if you don’t know about them.
Shanghaiist and Beijing Cream are to me a daily must, since a couple of years ago. With the first one based in Shanghai and the second one in Beijing I could not mention The Nanfang which is based in the Pearl River Delta an thus covering news about Dongguan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen etc. Apart from The Nanfang which features less updates on their news section, the other two have tons of news updated everyday, all edited with a tabloid irreverent to sarcastic tone. Less brilliant but still worth a read are ChinaHush and the once-good-now-not-so-interesting chinaSMACK, serving up content on trends in the Chinese web and translated into English. While the first owes its weakness to not being always so up-to-date as it should, the second one is sometimes puerile and over sensationalist, without any deeper analysis and sometimes self-censors some potentially sensitive content. Ironically (but not so much maybe), many Western media rely on chinaSMACK or use some of its coverage for their China reporting. There is only one Italian language Blog making it into this list, but it’s gem, it’s called China-Files and you can actually choose between Italian and Spanish before entering the homepage. People behind that blog are true journalists, this is why I have to praise the Italian newspaper ilFattoQuotidiano to host some relevant articles from it.
Probably the highest quality of insights can be seen on weekly Blogs like Tea Leaf Nation, China Digital Times or ChinaFile. These are between the most important resources if you want to get a bit of what’s really going on in China and especially why it is. In this category falls also one of the most important China Blogs ever, Danwei. Founded by Jeremy Goldkorn, this Blog translates Chinese articles from different media into English, and is an essential source of opinion and news. Similar to ChinaHush in terms of content is Offbeat China, still a good read. Last I want to mention The Peking Duck, as it says it is the “hybrid of personal journal, dilettantish punditry, pseudo-philosophy and much more” by the long time China expat Richard Burger. The Peking Duck as surely a more personal slant but be sure to go trough its archive because some articles will give you goosebumps.
Bars and Food blogs
Despite the fact that I enjoy Chinese food and Beijing’s night life, I am not a reader of food and bar blogs as much as I am a restaurant and bar goer. Anyway, there are some good blogs that I recommend, for example Beijing Boyce and its sibling Grapewall of China by Jim Boyce. The first one is probably the most accurate source of dining and drinking informations, while the second is the most prominent english language blog about Chinese wine. And if you are wondering where to hang out next weekend in Beijing you might want to have a look at Live Beijing Music.
Law and Biz insights
When it comes to business analysis in China you have a big bunch of good blogs you can choose. Buy Buy China started off as a brilliant resource to understand how foreign companies brand themselves when it comes to China or how Chinese companies deal with going international, but it recently became too slow in posting new articles. Managing The Dragon gives you a good vision on how business are evolving, and it does a good job with its prediction on where Chinese economy will head to. China Hearsay and China Law Blog are a must read if you work in China and need some tips on Chinese law for businesses, with the last one being possibly the best blog falling into this category, with
almost daily updates. An other mention goes to the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report.
Fashion and design blogs
When it comes to fashion my first mention goes to Stylites, by Nels Frye, now the most prominent voice when it comes to serious street fashion blogging in Beijing. I have to say it used to be much better a few years ago, but it surely still is the most influential street fashion blog in China. Jing Daily is absolutely the best choice for being daily updated about the fashion and luxury business in China. If you are into design and architecture, there isn’t a big choice of good blogs, but there is at least one, simply called Design China, that re-posts links from other media with good articles about new Chinese projects going on. Photography of China serves the best anthology for present and past China-related photography, everybody should pass by this blog for some visual orgasms.
There is only one blog on this category, but it’s a politically incorrect pearl of the Orient: Laowai Comics.
Tech news and analysis
An other category where you can find a large number of quality blogs is technology. In this category falls Tech in Asia, which as the name suggests is not only about China, but it’s the most updated and interesting blog about tech and startups. If you are particularly interested in startups development I would suggest you to read Start Up Noodle by Shlomo Freund, a blog based on Shlomo’s first hand experience about “how to become a [tech] entrepreneur in China”. I met Shlomo in Wudaokou’s Bridge Café back in 2012 while I was chilling and pretending to be studying and he was doing a behavior research interviewing student, his blog is for real. While I was chatting with him he mentioned his friend David Wolf, and I didn’t have any idea about who he was until he told me he’s the author behind Silicon Hutong, a very serious blog about tech and marketing in China, by a real China old hands. The posts are not frequent but the depth of his analysis and predictions makes it a must read for everybody. The last blog making into this category is contextChina, a Seattle based blog and media agency reporting about tech and innovations in China.
You have enough to spend the next couple of years on those blogs’ archives, have fun! If you have some other blogs to suggest please use the comment area below. Peace.[Update] I recently discovered this new amazing blog called Eightsix, by Elliot Richards. It promotes Chinese Design with daily updates and news in the will to chronicle the shift between “made in China” and “created in China”.