Old China Blogs4 min read

We salute the fallen heroes of the Golden Age of China blogs

We’re indulging ourselves with an act of nostalgia before close of year, and listing some of the old China blogs that we used to read and enjoy. Many of these are relics of a bygone age of the internet: the era of personal blogs, before the web was corporatized and Web 2.0 social media took its place. Some of them are still going strong. But mostly this is a record for posterity of that golden age (the 2000s and early 2010s) when the English-language Chinese blogosphere – as it was alarmingly called, as if some Borg spaceship – was as exciting and varied as life in China and Chinese blogs were, before the Great Chill of the Xi era.

We’re not including on the list: old blogs affiliated to mainstream media, such as NYT‘s Sinosphere or The Economist‘s Analects; city-guide websites including Shanghaiist and The Beijinger; long-running sites with institutional funding like China File; those affiliated to Chinese media, such as World of Chinese or Sixth Tone (both excellent sources regardless); activist/aggregation websites such as China Change and CDT; and those with paying customers like the well-known Sinocism and supChina. Rather, this is a look back at 24 little guys in a burgeoning blogging community trying to make sense of China – including your humble editor’s old individual and group blogs – before the media landscape, and China, changed.

East West South North
Roland Soong single-handedly translated the entirety of the Chinese internet – or so it seemed – with a focus on Hong Kong

Will Moss, a PR professional from Palo Alto, waxed lyrical on current affairs while he was China-based

Mutant Palm
Dave Lyons (aka davesgonechina) mused/complained about life in China with characteristic wit

Brendan O’Kane wrote on l’affairs literary, cultural and political with sardonic flair [expired]

Rectified Name
Formely home of the three bloggers above, now dead wood

Once king of the China blogosphere, the old Danwei(.org) was a cornucopia of China expertise

China Geeks
Charlie Custer’s home on the interweb, with sharp analysis and commentary; also writing at china/divide with others 

Shanghai Scrap
Adam Minter’s blog on the recycling industry that became a book

Granite Studio
Hard as granite, Jeremiah Jenne’s still at it (under a new domain name)

Peking Duck
15 years in the running, Richard Burger’s takes on the China headlines

China Rhyming
Paul French’s “gallimaufry of random China history”, still updated

Black and White Cat
“I no longer live in China. It’s still not about cats.” [expired]

Beijing Newspeak
A secret mole inside Xinhua blogged on Chinese state media [expired]

The China Beat
1000 posts before they retired, from academics and journalists

The once luridly-pink one-stop shop for viral China stories; read LARB’s interview with the founder here

Beijing Cream
Your “daily dollop” of China virality, whose editor Anthony Tao is now at supChina

Tea Leaf Nation
One of the China blog success stories, watching the Chinese internet before being bought by Foreign Policy

Eric Fish’s commentary kiosk on China news, media and politics

the Anthill
Alec Ash’s old “writers’ colony” of China stories, which started in 2012 and folded into the new LARB China Channel in 2017

Before the Anthill was Alec’s painfully lime green ‘Six’, following six young Chinese in and around Peking University from 2008-10

The Licentiate’s Ledger
Historical marginalia and commentary from academic Austin Dean

An Optimist’s Guide to China
Because it’s not all bad: reports and thoughts from Matt Sheehan [expired]

Ministry of Harmony
Amusing parodies of Chinese state media (such as its territorial claims)

China Daily Show
Satirical kicks at the expense of the CCP and foreign China writing tropes

A version of this list first appeared at the Anthill