I see I’ve been tagged by China Law Blog as one of China’s “thinking bloggers,” and am thereby expected to offer up my own list of five China-related blogs that make me think. This is a tough call, because I now know so many bloggers here personally, and many more than five belong to this category. If they’re on my blogroll, they make me think.
As a lot of you know I am engulfed in a big project here that eats up my days and nights, but I do want to take a minute to offer up my choices, though I can’t give it the attention to detail that China Law Blog does. So I’ll just offer some names and links and one or two lines about why I chose them.
1. EastSouthWestNorth: Roland can infuriate me and he can delight me. But I go there first thing every day because his site always makes me think. He often makes me think about how poorly certain issues in China are being covered by the mass media. He often sheds light on “the other side of the story” that somehow didn’t make it into the Western edition. Whether you love him or hate him or feel ambivalent, Roland is definitely a thinking blogger, and many of us probably spend more time thinking about his blog, for better or worse, over any other.
2. Danwei. Since it’s inception, this has been “headquarters” for media junkies like me who are fascinated with China. When it was basically a one-man show run by Jeremy Goldkorn it was great; as others joined him, like resident genius Joel Martinson, it became even greater, and there is something there every day for everyone to think about. As with Roland, I don’t always share the viewpoints espoused on Danwei, but I respect them and look forward to studying them every day.
3. Granite Studio. Jeremiah’s brilliant musings, accompanied by a vast and panoramic knowledge of Chinese history, put Granite Studio in a class all by itself. I can’t believe how lucky I am that he’s willing to share some of the brilliance here, especially at a time when I’m unavailable.
4. Positive Solutions A blog after my own heart, Charlie combines deeply personal musings with sharp political observations and a dose of humor that can only be matched by the great Imagethief (who’s going to show up on just about everybody’s list). Charlie makes me think and he makes me laugh and he makes me angry (at China Daily, not at him). He’s on a par with that great humorous blogger who used to live in Hong Kong, who always brought a smile to my face. (Go there now to see what I mean – he’s still doing it.)
5. Bokane. This blog has gone without an update for so many weeks I may have to drop it from my blogroll. (Hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call.) But when Brendan is inspired to post, it’s always first-rate – from the heart, often funny and always beautifully written. And it’s profound, too. Read this intoxicating post and tell me if it doesn’t fill you with thoughts and with images, and maybe even tears. I read it many weeks ago and still think about it. Not many blogs wield that sort of power.
This is a difficult exercise, because there are so many brilliant blogs out there, and each one that is good is good because it makes you think. So much talent crammed into our incestuous circle, so many great minds and deep insights. There are several, like those listed above, among whom I feel impossibly small, and the one thing that thrills me and keeps me going even now, when I shouldn’t be blogging at all, is the thought that this site has helped to bring a lot of us together, and actually made a difference for some of us. And that’s something to think about.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.