Closing the China Channel

After four thrilling years, our run has come to an end

Ed: Please note this site is no longer active, but is archived here in full. – Alec Ash

In September 2017 we launched the Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel, “for the sinophile and the sinocurious,” to fill in the white space of China coverage. Since then we have published nearly 600 essays, reviews, dispatches, podcasts and more on Chinese society, politics, culture and history, from a range of trusted voices. We’ve been amazed at the success of the site, in terms of audience (20k+ monthly unique readers) and contributions (from hundreds of China experts, including Yu Hua, Julia Lovell and Geremie Barmé) over the years.

Yet all good things come to an end. After four years of generous support from grants and donors, we were unable to secure sustainable funding for the future. Already, limits on funds had brought our posting down from four or five posts a week to two or three. The coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn makes funding for nonprofit media particularly tricky at this moment in history, which we fully understand. And so it’s time to close the gates.



Staff Picks

Staff Picks: China Sources

One more round of recommendations for the road, from our editors

Since the launch of the Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel in September 2017, we have occasionally featured a staff picks column of recommendations from our masthead of editors and advising editors – from new China works to overlooked gems (even rice crackers and Finnish saunas). We’re resurrecting the feature for one final hurrah: recommendations of China sources of knowledge, from websites to podcasts, new newsletters to online collections of photography and translation. - The Editors

Jeffrey Wasserstrom (Founder)

I was torn between suggesting a site that features engaging writing, a site that features a podcast, or a site that was useful as a different sort of resource relating to China. Then I realized that there was a recommendation that would not mean having to choose: the NüVoices site is all those things and more. There you'll find a magazine, a podcast, and an ‘expert directory’ that includes the names of hundreds of women with expertise on different China-related topics. Readers of the China Channel will find many familiar names among those involved.



12 Best China Documentaries

Our pick of the best TV and film docs about modern China

Our end-of-year 'best of' season continues, for our listicle sins. On top of China books and Chinese fiction, we previously ran a list of the 12 Best Modern Chinese Films, so there is one last hole to plug: China docs. From Michelangelo Antonioni's 1972 glimpse of Maoist China, Chung Kuo, to the cinéma vérité of Jia Zhangke's 24 City, documentary films about China fill an essential space to record a nation changing faster than we can keep up with. Here are the China Channel's pick of the top 12 from recent years. We're then going on break for Christmas, and will return in the new year. Happy holidays to all.



Top 10 Recent China Books

A holiday shopping list of China nonfiction and fiction

The season of end-of-year listicles has arrived, and we're kicking it off with a Christmas wish list of noteworthy China titles from the last several years. We've previously run lists of 20 Best China Books and 12 Best Chinese Contemporary Fiction Books, and this one has some overlap, but the focus here is on recent titles published in the last decade, and we've capped it at a more manageable ten. From Shanghai streets to fictional fields, historical biography to family memoir, the list is far from comprehensive and necessarily misses a number of excellent titles (such as your not-so-humble editor's own new rerelease), but it covers a range of topics and genres to fill out any growing China bookshelf. The first are by foreign journalists and academics; the second half is from Chinese voices. Wishing everyone a happy holidays, and a comfortable reading couch to rest your feet.



Old China Blogs

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 the 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.