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This article was published on November 13, 2008


    How to paint a gray picture of China

    How to paint a gray picture of China
    Ernst-Jan Pfauth
    Story by

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

    I’m touring around China with bloggers. I hope to give you as many updates as possible about this land of endless opportunities. Thanks to Spil Games for sponsoring me.

    During this China 2.0 week, a rather large group of Beijing bloggers gathered in the Blue Frog, an American haven in China’s capital with excellent wifi. During a square (as in not round) table discussion about business 2.0 and outsourcing, tweets were pumped onto the web. The hashtag “china20” even ranked no. 1 trending topic at some point. The part of this discussion which interested me the most was the annoyance of Chinese bloggers about us, the western ones. The issue: we don’t paint a gray picture of China.

    “Bloggers who speak little or no Chinese do lousy research”, complained Brendan O’Kane. “They find one English-writing blogger from China and project his beliefs and writings on all Chinese bloggers. Hence our image of being online nationalists”.

    Richard from Peking Duck agrees with Brendan, but also admits he used to do the same when he started blogging back in 2002. “My blog used to be a wealth of misconceptions, a mess full of prejudice. Now I know better.”

    “When my favorite bloggers from abroad address China, even the most liberal ones paint a black and white picture,” said Richard, concerning reports about human rights and censorship.” It’s actually pervasive in all western media”.

    After hearing these complaints, I asked the two gentleman how we could paint a gray picture of the country they reside in. “Read lots of blogs about China to broaden your view”, said Brendan. “Try Fool’s Mountain“. Richard added that Peter Hessler from The New Yorker also writes interesting pieces about China.

    I’d like to add that Brendan’s and Richard’s blog are also worth reading. They both have a sharp pen and use it to publicize their refreshing thoughts.

    Photo credits: CN Reviews