Three years of the China Channel

We celebrate our birthday, and ten best posts of the last year

Three years ago – on Lu Xun's birthday, in the spirit of his iconoclasm – we launched the Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel to fill in the white space of China coverage. Three years later, we are still going strong, publishing reviews, essays, dispatches and podcasts, with a focus on culture and history rather than the news cycle. We want to take this moment to thank you, our readers, for following and supporting us, and making this possible. In these uncertain economic times nothing lasts forever, but we're proud of what we've accomplished over the last three years. Below are ten of our favorite posts from 2020, and do consider donating on Patreon to fund our new translations. Cheers! – The Editors



Support Chinese translation

A call for Patreon donations to fund original translations from Chinese

Last week, we featured a long translation (by our own translations editor Anne Henochowicz) of scholar Tang Danhong's search for an interred Uyghur intellectual and former colleague who had since been locked up in a Xinjiang re-education camp. We believe that funding and publishing such translations is an invaluable addition to the China conversation. Hearing Chinese voices adds much-needed perspective to the issues of the day, such as Tang's outrage at what her own nation is perpetrating in its far West.

Since our launch in fall 2017, we have published scores of original translations of the best contemporary non-fiction, fiction and poetry. We have done so in partnership with Read Paper Republic, One-Way Street Magazine, and The Initium, and have also commissioned many original translations from Chinese into English. This is made possible through your support. Please consider adding your name to the list and donating on Patreon to our translations drive, from as little as $1 or $5 a month, to help us publish more content such as Tang's essay in the future.



10 Bad China Takes

A tongue-in-cheek list of imperfect China articles

As China-US relations sour and nations become more cloistered in their own interests, it's more important than ever to have nuanced information about, and reporting from, China. In its stead (and in the wake of recent journalist expulsions), there are ever more hot takes, helicopter articles, stereotype-bolstering blogs and second-hand opinions. That's why we feel its valid and valuable to collect a few of the more egregious "bad China takes" from the last decades, in the hope that the next years can bring more informed detail and sager balance. To avoid cheap shots, we're calling out established publications rather than smaller blogs. In no particular order:



Chinese Corner

Learning Chinese

FAQ and tips for those seeking to study Mandarin

We're back from summer break, and in anticipation of the new academic year to come (albeit a socially-distanced one for much of the world) we're giving some tips on Chinese learning. Whether you're looking to pick up Chinese, or brush it up, here are some pointers. – Alec Ash

First things first. How long will it take me to learn Chinese?

If you are living in China, two years full-time study is enough to get good conversational Chinese from scratch, as well as basic reading and writing. That is, you will be able to hold a conversation about pretty much any non-specialist topic, as well as write and read texts and emails – i.e. you can operate in Chinese, albeit awkwardly. Even part-time study for a couple of years in China will give you a good enough foundation to build on with self-study after. If you’re learning outside of China, double that time to get the same results. Being immersed in the language environment is a huge boon.


2020 China Books

2020 China Books (Part 4): History, Art, Literature

A fourth list of new China books – compiled by Brian Spivey

We have arrived at the fourth and final part of our 2020 China Books series (also read parts one, two, and three), showcasing books about China’s past that came out, or are coming out, in 2020 – and giving their authors, who wrote the blurbs below, an opportunity to suggest why readers might be interested in their book in this current historic moment. Art and culture in various forms features prominently in this list: from the literature of Yan Lianke to the global spread of Chinese antiquities; Chinese cinema to Maoism’s influence on modern and contemporary art; before ending with historical fiction on Ming courtesans, and literary nonfiction on China’s youth.  – Brian Spivey