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For over a month now we’ve been covering the story of Chen Guangcheng, thanks largely to Yaxue’s “Heard on Weibo” section. We’ve seen it grow from an online protest, to manifesting in the physical world with activists attempting to enter Chen’s village only to be beaten back time and again (this link is an incredible account of such a group). The issue is now widely known, and the angry question seems to be “How can Linyi’s government treat people this way?” But now the question is starting to shift to “How can the central government allow local thugs to treat people this way?” In China, calling for action from the Central government would typically be an ineffective approach. Most of the high-profile cases are never officially […]


In China, white people get an inexplicably large amount of respect simply by being white (I didn’t use “foreigners” here because people with darker skin are typically excluded from these “perks” regardless of their country of origin). You get preferential treatment when it comes time to find a job (often making several times what your Chinese counterpart makes)and even in Chengdu, a city with a decent number of foreigners, Casey and I were offered positions as “marketing managers” for a wine company while we shopped at a supermarket. A few months ago, I was offered a spot in an advertisement for a nearby restaurant. For reading a few lines in Chinese I would have received 2,000RMB (close to what a factory worker earns in a month), and a scrumptious banquet […]


For those of you reading this outside of China, it’s important to understand that China has probably close to a dozen different kinds of police. There are traffic police, railway police, bus police and countless others. When there is a problem, like when my friend had her i-Pod stolen as she got on a bus, it took 6 phone calls to figure out which police should handle the case (ultimately it was the bus police, even though they didn’t think it was their jurisdiction because she wasn’t fully on the bus when it happened). Of these police, there is one branch that is the most feared and despised, they are known as the Chengguan (City Management). While most criticisms of gov’t agencies are only ever whispered […]


A few websites have already rushed to translate the reactions of Chinese internet users responses to the news of Bin Laden’s death (ChinaSmack’s coverage). As you know though, I am much more in favor of soliciting views of people who don’t know their comments will be made public. China’s net users often try to say the most inflammatory things simply for attention (like many net users around the world), and so their views aren’t really representative of most Chinese people (Wall Street Journals coverage of this story is more representative of thoughtful netizens, which was met with hundreds of more inflammatory comments). So far my co-workers seem completely indifferent to the news, which isn’t surprising since it took nearly 20 hours for People’s Daily to […]


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