Thank you for the people, China

I just want to say that the people who showed up for my party last night are the greatest anywhere. Old friends, journalists, colleagues, blog readers, bloggers, Chinese and foreigners – a perfect batch of outstanding friends. The tragedy in Urumqi ate into the list, as several reporters were on their way there, but about 60 guests managed to find their way to the reclusive cafe for the get-together, which lasted from 7pm past 1am.

As I prepare to leave, I keep being reminded of how lucky I’ve been in terms of the people who’ve let me into their lives. Last week I spent an afternoon sipping coffee with Matt Schiavenza, a long-time member of the blog roll and all around great guy, at a cafe in Kunming to discuss the joys and challenges of living in the Yunnan city I love so much. The week before I spent an hour with one of the newer and most impressive English-language bloggers, Mark, at a Beijing Starbucks. Last night I met John Kennedy of Global Voices Online, someone I’d had some disagreements with over the years, and I think it’s safe to say a new friendship was created. Of the people who came last night, I know probably about 40 percent from this blog, in one way or another.

I know there are some terrible things happening here, and I haven’t been offering my opinion because right now I don’t have the time to follow them and make any meaningful contribution to that conversation. But no matter what is going on around you, even in the worst of times, it’s the people you know, the relationships you develop and grow, that keep us going. I had no friends when I came here in 2002, and now I feel I’m friends with just about everyone. What a difference that makes in your outlook on life. The difference between bitter and sweet.

So thanks again to all who attended, and thanks to all of you who keep trudging to this site despite the government’s best efforts to keep you away.

Lisa and I will go to Qingdao for a couple of days starting today and I expect the blog to continue being slow for a while, maybe until I’m back and settled in America in a couple of weeks. But it isn’t disappearing, even if the site traffic is (thanks, Nanny). Please stay, and thanks for letting me into your lives, if only for a few seconds a day. This blog will remain my lifeline to China.

The Discussion: 36 Comments

Oh, and sorry for the Abba-like headline. Couldn’t resist.

July 8, 2009 @ 11:49 am | Comment

Richard, this is what happened in Xinjiang:

July 8, 2009 @ 1:19 pm | Comment

Now, if only we could get on youtube here with enough bandwidth to actually watch a video here.

July 8, 2009 @ 2:58 pm | Comment

Safe journey to you and Lisa. Many friends will welcome you back.

July 8, 2009 @ 9:42 pm | Comment

Your blog entries were worth more than a few seconds’ attention each day. 😉

July 9, 2009 @ 2:34 am | Comment

I wish I could have been there to meet you in person and say ‘thanks’ for the ongoing contribution this site makes to our understanding of all things Sino. Not possible from the other hemisphere, sadly. Then again, I do have unfettered access to TPD.

Enjoy your remaining time in China and I can’t wait for the Duck’s view from across the Pacific.

July 9, 2009 @ 9:19 am | Comment

I never quite caught why/where you are going, but I hope we will continue to read Peking Duck.

While I was in Mannheim (Germany) last week, I actually took a picture of a Peking Duck restaurant, flanked by German beer ads, to send you … alas, seems I can’t post photos here and don’t have a blog of my own. But hopefully it’s the thought that counts!

July 9, 2009 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

Thank you for all you do Richard. Your posts and the funny, strange, and thoughtful comments on this site are little golden nuggets in the stream of life.

I worked on that line for 5 minutes and it still sucked. Sigh.

July 9, 2009 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

I’ve been reading your blog all these while, but i’m not from china.
It’s nice reading your posts.

July 9, 2009 @ 1:31 pm | Comment

I’m happy I had the chance to get to meet you, Richard. It was great to chat about China, America, and the future with you.

This site truly is the gold standard when it comes to China blogs. Your passion towards China and its people jumps off the screen every time I visit this site. What a shame that it continues to be blocked.

I’m sure that the great perspective on things will continue from the States when you make it there in a few weeks. Just think about how much easier it’s going to be keeping up-to-date on China news from outside the jurisdiction of the Net Nanny. How weird is that?! It’s easier to know China (at least on some levels) by leaving the country!

Enjoy your time as you leave China. I hope you have a smooth transition getting back into American life.

July 9, 2009 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

Good luck in the US. I hope you’ll help correct many false impressions and prejudices Americans have about China.

July 12, 2009 @ 1:24 am | Comment

Cheers Richard 🙂 Keep in touch.

July 12, 2009 @ 7:23 pm | Comment

All the best in the US.

By the way, in case you don’t know, FORAP called you a prominent example of foreign “stooges” of the Chinese tyranny in his most recent blog post LOL.

Come back often when you have time.


July 12, 2009 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

“hope you’ll help correct many false impressions and prejudices Americans have about China.”

That is a PR task more on the Chinese side than on the American side.

What about rising the block to PkDuck to begin with? 😉

July 13, 2009 @ 5:07 am | Comment

Just consider how difficult is Richard’s task now.

Richard:”I have a blog where I try fight against the false impressions people have about China”
Someone: “That is interesting. Can you give me the URL”
Richard:” Of course.
Someone: “Hhhmmm…..lets see… Something seems to be wrong. Is your hosting server OK?”
Richard: “Server is OK. The problem is that my blog is blocked in China”
Someone:” What did you just said about false impressions about China…?”


July 13, 2009 @ 5:44 am | Comment

Thanks everyone, it’s good to be back in Beijing, where I am now emptying my apartment and getting ready physically and psychologically for the great leap westward.

Mark, you are way too kind. This year I’ve been the epitome of what a good blogger shouldn’t be – lazy, random, inattentive and unproductive. Granted, I had good excuses, such as a zombifying job and the difficult decision to go back home, but I could’ve/should’ve done better. My goal is to get back to the old routine of at least three posts a day.

Oia, FOARP can say whatever he chooses on his site. How one defines an “oppressive” regime is in the eyes of the beholder. In my eyes, the CCP is indeed oppressive. But that isn’t all it is. There’s a lot of it I fear and despise. On the other side, my own government has been and is oppressive, though most of the time it’s more busy helping people rather than oppressing them. But there is that dark side, to all governments, and especially those of developing countries where opportunities for corruption provides limitless low-hanging fruit. In any case, my own goal was to introduce to at least a few people a different way to look at party slogans, how to identify them as such and then to challenge them or suggest not using them. I also wanted to learn how the media system works, which I did. Was I going to change the system or make a big difference? Nope. But I did help some people think with a different perspective and I know I made an impact, as have several bloggers like me who sought to learn what it is like on the other side. As with everything about this country, there’s no black and white. Everyone sincerely thinks they’re doing what’s best for their country (as they do in most governments, the best and the worst) and there is constant conflict between the editorial side and the censorial side, and often who the winner will be is a surprise. The very fact that these conflicts now exist, and that they can actually be argued and that the censors can be brought to change their minds certainly says a lot. And yes, I know, China tortures and kills people, and that its Internet censorship is increasing. I’ll report on that, too, as I always have in the past. They get no free ride.

July 13, 2009 @ 1:28 pm | Comment

Good luck to you!
I have been reading your blog for the last several years. Thank you for the love of Chinese culture and its people. You love China more than many Chinese people I know. As long as people like H.X. existing China will never become a modern society. It is sad but it’s a reality for the future of China.
Hope still can read your blog in the future!

July 13, 2009 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

@Oia – Actually, I said nothing of the damned kind – perhaps the meaning of the question mark is still a mystery to you?

July 13, 2009 @ 7:33 pm | Comment

Godspeed, Richard. You’ve been an inspiration. Let me know next time you’re in Taipei.


July 13, 2009 @ 8:15 pm | Comment


That’s a quite proactive use of question mark – the text at least sounds to me as accusational. Perhaps you don’t realise it, but you sounds exactly like those Chinese whose first “argument” against people of different opinion tends to be naming them Wu Mao or traitor. Maybe witch hunting is part of the definition of freedom of speech? I’ve seen enough of this among the Chinese liberals, but didn’t expect to see an foreigner doing the same – perhaps you had stayed in China for too long?

July 13, 2009 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

And FORAP … I can’t help but to marvel at your precise timing of bringing this question mark up just when Richard is heading back to the US and will be in need of a job there.

July 13, 2009 @ 10:14 pm | Comment

And naming Richard’s full name … FORAP you are brilliant LOL.

Ah you freedom fighter, so much decency.

July 13, 2009 @ 10:30 pm | Comment

@OIA – So you mean that none of the people listed had a case to answer? In case you missed it, my point was that the people who work for media outlets like Russia Today, Press TV, and CCTV 9 risk compromise, but should not all be tarred with the same brush. Will you now admit that you were deeply wrong about me having labelled Richard a ‘stooge’?

July 14, 2009 @ 2:24 am | Comment


Absurd. None of them have any case to answer to you, because it is not up to you to judge anyone. Who do you think you are? Laughable.

You definitely portrait Richard as a “stooge”. Only that you think you are smart by playing with words. Don’t assume others are fools, otherwise you make yourself one.

You say whatever you want, and others think whatever you are.

July 14, 2009 @ 10:26 am | Comment

@Oia – I do not ‘portrait’ anyone, and when it comes to playing with words it would seem that you never learned the rules to the game. Goodbye.

July 14, 2009 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

‘Guys, can we maybe change the subject. Oia, I appreciate your defending me, but I didn’t take ay offense at FOARP for using my full name, as it appeared publicly in the Danwei interview and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, life is taking on a surreal glow as I prepare myself for leaving China, which is not at all an easy thing to do.

July 14, 2009 @ 10:17 pm | Comment

Agree that we stop digging this further. Richard, FYI I’m not defending YOU (I don’t like liberals in general and I don’t like you deleting my posts a few weeks ago). But I dislike name-calling and back-stabbing the most.

Cheers. Hope everything goes well for you. Beijing and LA is only 12 hours away. Visa should not be a problem after the CCP’s paranoid easing a bit after this year’s national day. If you are not happy in the US (or run out of money), you can alway retreat to Dali to be a junkie.

July 15, 2009 @ 1:15 am | Comment

@Richard – I for one hope that in the fullness of time you will come back to the far east and China especially to see how it has changed. I hope your return home will be easier than mine, I came back at the end of 2007, amid much interest from British companies and the offer of a contract in what would have been an awesome firm to work for, which then all disappeared when the credit crunch hit in the first half of last year. Right now I’m getting ready to return to the far east, I guess I’ve become the expat stereotype, but at the moment there really is nothing I can do about it.

July 15, 2009 @ 9:07 pm | Comment

FOARP, for all its oddities and problems and injustices, China is still the place to be, at least in terms of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. Unlike you in 2007, I’m returning home fully aware that the job market is bleak and opportunities limited. I have no idea what lies ahead for me. But I know I’ll be coming back to China, in one capacity or another. Maybe I’ll meet up with you over here one day.

July 16, 2009 @ 12:58 am | Comment

“Maybe I’ll meet up with you over here one day.”

Invite FOARP to a Beijing starbuck and silently approach him from his back … you know what to do next, don’t you Richard?

I just can’t help but to think this up.

July 16, 2009 @ 6:40 pm | Comment

This blog has been one of the most informative blogs I’ve ever encountered throughout the world wide web. Just putting a bit of my appreciation out there. It is good to know this blog will stay despite the government’s efforts to block people in the motherland from reading it. I’m also glad to see the positivity of China in general coming from the admin. I strongly feel more people (Westerner’s in general) should focus more on China’s positive factors rather than mope and complain about its flaws.

July 16, 2009 @ 10:20 pm | Comment

I think Richard has always been positive about Chinese people he has met, worked with and with whom he has interacted. He has also been pretty fair about pointing out the flaws of lawlessness and inequity which exist everywhere one looks in China.

Here is a good example of the latter from today’s NY Times:

The gall of Chinese officials Chinese officials bemoaning the alleged payment of bribes is unbelievable coming from government officials who have made a career of squeezing bribes out of everyone. Perhaps they just didn’t get their “share.” Disgusting.

July 17, 2009 @ 6:45 am | Comment

You and your blog have been great evolution to see too. Congrats on accomplishing a major milestone too!

July 17, 2009 @ 12:31 pm | Comment

The july 20th edition of the onion is a shining example of model behavior for all western media

July 21, 2009 @ 4:00 am | Comment

Although The Onion’s mockery does not ring entirely true, I commend them for it. Any country that takes itself so seriously should be mocked all the more for being so sensitive. And it’s so easy; look at this article from Richard’s former employer, you could hardly write a better spoof if you tried:

Was Richard the only foreign editor, by the way? The standard of English has really slipped.

July 21, 2009 @ 8:33 am | Comment

For a moment I thought it was a link to The Onion, but no, it is a link to Global Times….


July 21, 2009 @ 8:16 pm | Comment

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