For the seventh straight year, Danwei has come out with its Model Workers List of best China blogs in various categories. Yes, China Law Blog is on the list, but honestly, we are running this link-over because the list is so thoughtful, so informative, and so thorough.  Danwei’s blog list is considered by many (me included) to be the definitive list of best China blogs.

Danwei breaks the blogs out into various categories, the most relevant to our readers being “Business and Law,” which consists of the following (my comments are in italics):

  • Buy Buy China. A website about Chinese consumers, the retail industry and branding.”  I am embarrassed to admit this is the first I have seen of this blog, but it is very good and it fills an important niche. 
  • China Accounting Blog. Paul Gillis’ blog provides detailed insight and accessible commentary on topical accounting issues in China. This is an especially useful resource for following the Big Four corruption scandal.” This blog is on our blogroll (which we take very seriously) for good reason. Gillis knows more than anyone out there writing on China accounting, particularly as that relates to China’s publicly traded companies and VIEs.  
  • “China Car Times. Developments in the car industry, new models and news, and reporting on Chinese auto shows.” I’ve been a big fan of this blog for a long time; the only reason it isn’t on our blogroll is because it is so industry-specific.  But if you are doing anything relating to cars in China, it’s a must-read.
  • China Economic Review. News, reportage and commentary.” Not a blog, but definitely the best English language China business magazine on the planet.
  • China Hearsay. Commentary on Chinese legal affairs and business by Beijing-based lawyer Stan Abrams.”  It’s an excellent blog and it’s been on our blogroll since our inception — for good reason.
  • China Law Blog. Practical commentary on Chinese law and its application to business. Includes lots of no-nonsense advice for small companies and information about general issues of interest to anyone doing business in China.”  What can I say beyond the fact that I really like the description we get.
  • Chinese Law Prof Blog. Analysis and articles on Chinese legal issues by law professor Donald C. Clarke. The true dean of China law blogging and an absolutely first rate (and often highly topical) blog.  It too has been on our blogroll since our inception and that too has been no accident.  
  • Jerome Cohen’s blog. Blog of the venerable Professor Cohen.”  Calling Professor Cohen venerable is an understatement. He is truly the dean of China lawyers.  His blog makes for a great read, mostly on deep-think legal and political issues.
  • Jing Daily. Interviews, articles and news about luxury products, marketing and business in China.” Along with Maosuit (see below), the place to go regarding China’s luxury market.
  • LawAndBorder. Visa and the law for foreigners living in China and emigrating Chinese.” These are the guys to whom my firm refers China visa matters. ‘Nuff said.
  • Maosuit. Fashion and couture from an expat seasoned in the industry. Includes plenty of photos and some commentary on the latest Beijing fashion shows and private screenings. Along with Jing Daily (see above), the place to go regarding China’s luxury market.
  • Silicon Hutong. Business, PR, Internet and technology from China media and tech industry veteran David Wolf. See also Wolf’s Twitter feed.” I have been a huge fan of Wolf for years.  He just gets it when it comes to China business, particularly media and internet.
  • Stylites A tastefully minimal blog documenting street fashion and the fashion industry in Beijing and beyond. I’m hardly qualified even to comment.

Anyway, if you are looking for some more good China reads, I urge you to check out the ones above that appeal to you and I also strongly suggest you go to Danwei’s full post to check out the list of other great China blogs.

What do you think?

Received an interesting email the other day from a loyal reader complimenting us for having maintained our “Alexa ranking” through the “downturn” in blog readership. I then checked our Alexa ranking, which ranking is allegedly based on the number of readers and it looked pretty good, at least as compared with other leading China blogs. I then had one of our legal assistants review the blog rankings of all the China blogs of which we are aware to compare blog rankings for this post.  

I did this because I was mildly curious who is being read and who is not being read and, mostly, to see if there is any correlation between quality and readership. Not surprisingly, there is, in that the most read blogs are all good (I am excluding our blog from this description) though, as you would have guessed, there are some truly excellent blogs that are still wallowing in obscurity.

I also asked her to review whether readership of the leading blogs had, for the most part risen, fallen, or stayed the same. Based on her very quick review, she felt that readership had risen in the last two years for “nearly all of them.” The Alexa number given is the overall rank (supposedly based on readership) of each site, with Google at #1, etc. ChinaSmack has the leading readership at 16,850, Shanghaiist is number 2, at 33,438, M.I.C. Gadget is number 3 at 74,426, ChinaHush is ranked number 4 at 88,637, Danwei is number 5 at 123,281, and this humble little niche law blog is number 6 at 173,628 and China Digital Times is number 7 at 190,051 and China Car Times is number 8 at 209,173. Near as we can tell, these are the only China blogs with a ranking of less than 300,000.

All of these blogs have something to say about China that people obviously want to read and so I urge you to check them all out to see which suit you.

I am not exactly sure what all of this signifies, if anything, but it does make me feel good to know we have so many readers and I will say we love 99.9999% of you.

What do you think?

About a year ago, in Part I of this series, I promised we would go through our blogroll and justify and expound upon each blog, five by five.  Six months ago, I did Part 6 of this series. This is the seventh of this slowly running series, where I explain, in alphabetical order, why it is that each blog managed to qualify for our blogroll under our admittedly “slippery, vague, and subjective criteria:”

Our blogroll basically consists of those blogs we like and which we think our readers will like or should be reading. We tend to like blogs that are unique in their content, well written, or consistently helpful. If we really like a blog, it makes it on no matter what. The less we like the blog, the more we have to believe it can be helpful to our readers. If a blog has not posted for a couple of months, we start seriously consider removing it from the rolls. Three months and it is usually removed. We obviously focus on China related blogs and, within that, we generally focus on those blogs related to law or business.

So without further ado, the seventh five in our alphabetical list:

China Translated [link no longer exists]. This blog is written by Tom Orlick, the China Economist for Stone & McCarthy Research Associates, with quasi-regular guest posts by Don Johnson, Senior Economist at AECOM, and Duncan Innes-Ker, Senior Economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit. These are three serious China economists and China Translated is one serious and excellent blog on China’s economy.

ChinaBizGov. Written by G.E. Anderson, who describes himself as a “China specialist, former CFO, and PhD Candidate in Political Science at UCLA. Research focuses on state-owned enterprises, corporate governance and China’s auto industry.” I have learned a ton about China’s state owned entities (SOE) and auto industry from this blog and I am a huge fan. [Note: This blog is blocked in China]

Chinalyst. Chinalyst is not really a blog; it is a blog consolidator. And though I am not ordinarily a fan of these sort of things, but Chinalyst does such a great job in consolidating China blogs (and it even gets its own comments), that I am a fan of this one. It is a great place to go to check up on newer China blogs that might otherwise not make it onto your radar. Chinalyst is the brainchild of Fili An, a Hong Kong based management consultant. [Note: This blog is blocked in China]

Chinese Law Prof Blog. This is truly the dean of China law blogs, having been online for more than five years. it is put out by Donald Clarke, a Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School, and one of the leading academic lights on China law. Chinese Law Prof Blog focuses primarily on the big issues relating to China law and it describes itself as providing “China law resources, information, and news for the academic community.” [Note: Though this blog is blocked in China, Don maintains an unblocked blog within China with the same content here.

CnReviews. CnReviews’ explanation of its blog is both dead on and better than anything I could say, so here goes:

CNReviews.com (CNR) is an English-language blog for those interested in learning more about this generation’s most exciting economic story: China.

CNR focuses on three very practical areas:

People: Who is interesting? Who is successful? What are they up to and what can we learn from them?

Business: Looking to work in China? Hoping to start a business? What are the opportunities and what are the challenges?

Life: Planning a visit? Already here but struggling to adapt? How to survive and just why is China the way it is?

Do we have all the answers? No, just most of them. Either way, we hope that sharing our experiences and our insights will help more people better understand the phenomenon that is China, and figure out how China will matter to them. It’s all about asking the right questions and starting the right conversations.

CnReviews is put out by Elliott Ng and Kai Pan.

Danwei. Danwei is the brainchild of Jeremy Goldkorn, but it today has many contributers. It has been online since 2003 and it is probably the most widely read China blog, and with good reason. [Note: This blog is blocked in China] Its description of itself is spot on:

Danwei is a website about media, advertising and urban life in China.

With frequent reference to and translations from Mainland Chinese media, we publish fresh information about China that you won’t find anywhere else. We also produce original video shows and audio podcasts about China.

Using extensive Chinese language sources, we keeps tabs on a wide variety of subjects including legal and business stories, media and entertainment gossip, and the environment.

The Chinese word ‘Danwei’ (单位) means ‘unit’, as in a unit of currency or measurement, or as in ‘work unit’ – the old term for a state-owned company that was supposed to provide cradle-to-grave employment, housing and medical treatment.

A couple years ago, I did a blog post, entitled, “Five Deserted Island China Blogs — Just The Essentials, Ma’am,” setting out the absolute essential China blogs. Danwei made that list, with this explanation:

Danwei. Why? Because there is something worth reading on there every day and every week or so there is something on there that is completely original and of critical importance.

As true today as it was back then.

More to come….

What do you think?

I received a couple congratulatory emails today on China Law Blog’s showing up first on a just published list of “The Nine Best China Business Blogs,” by Susie Gordon at eChinaCities.  I was, of course, initially quite pleased to hear the news and I rushed over to the site to see the other eight. I was mostly curious to see the other eight because I was not aware of their being even nine good China business blogs out there. The list claims to set out the best blogs on doing business in China.

The list turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment. It listed out nine blogs, but many of those blogs have been, to put it mildly, pretty quiescent, some for a very long time in blog years. My list would have been much shorter. Here’s the list with my comments:

  1. China Law Blog. What can I say but thanks?
  2. Larry Salibra. What can I say but that this blog has not had a post since February?
  3. China Hearsay. Stan Abrams’ blog. I emphatically agree.
  4. China Solved. Andrew Hupert’s blog. I completely agree.
  5. China in Depth [link no longer exists]. I disagree. First off, this is not a blog. Second, though it looks incredibly slick, it seems all of its good information requires payment.
  6. Path to China [link no longer exists]. I disagree. This “blog” every few months regurgitates a Chinese law in English. Everyone just move along.
  7. Cleaner Greener China. [link no longer exists] Maybe.  This is a legitimate blog, but it has had just one posting since June. Why not China Dialogue instead?
  8. Managing the Dragon.  Jack Perkowski’s blog. Absolutely.
  9. The China Observer.  Joel Backaler’s blog. Certainly.

What do you think of the above list?  What does not belong and what is missing?

I know I am really late to this party, but I did not get around to listening to this until tonight, and now that I have, I have to recommend it. The “it” is a podcast discussion, entitled, “Death of the China Blog,” between veteran bloggers Kaiser Kuo, Will Moss and Jeremy Goldkorn, in an always lively no-holds barred discussion/lamentation on the history of China blogging and its present.

Really great stuff by some really forthright and smart people and I recommend you go here and give it a listen.   

Update: Just saw that Sinosplice has a good post on this podcast as well, entitled, “China Blog Death and Relevance.

I am finding that one of the best things about this relatively new series on up and coming (a/k/a promising) China blogs is that readers are alerting me to excellent China blogs of whose existence I was previously unaware. Put the East-West Station blog on that list

East-West Station is subtitled, “Musings and Bladderment from One Fat Englishman Out East,” and its writer describes himself as follows:

I’m an English English teacher who’s lived and worked in Hungary, Japan, Thailand, England, and now in Dalian, North-East China — which is my wife’s home town. Life seems good in this city and we will probably bring up our daughter here. So, a decade of Dalian beckons, more than likely, and that’s about how long I’m going to need to learn to speak and read Chinese.

By blogging about various matters east-west, I intend to bring about mutual understanding and harmony between so-called western and eastern cultures. Yes, this blog wants world peace.

And you?

Not sure if his question regarding world peace is meant to be rhetorical, but just so the record is clear, my view on world peace has always been that if Ms. America is for it, I am too.

East-West station consists of somewhat random musings on China (most of which have more relevance to China cultural issues than to China business issues), but the posts are consistently very well written and sometimes extremely thoughtful. For example, the post on the dreaded C-word (which word I am not spelling out so as to avoid such a fate for this blog), entitled, Why Can’t We Just Talk, should be read by everyone who wants to know more about how the Chinese view their own country and their government. The post, The Three Taboo Ts would be hilarious were it not so troubling.

Check it out.

This is the second of an occasional series highlighting promising new blogs.

Today’s choice is a blog called Ben’s Blog: A Midwesterner in the Middle Kingdom. Ben’s China blog came online earlier this year and I have been enjoying it ever since. It is certainly distinctive. To say the least. It is also one of the best China blogs out there right now.

Ben has an undergraduate degree in anthropology and, among other things, he is an ethnographer for Pacific Ethnography.  Ben describes himself and the purpose of his blog, as follows:

My name is Benjamin Ross and I am an American originally from Kansas City. I finished college in 2003 and came to China the following year. My reasons for coming to China were that I wanted to experience a lifestyle completely different from my cushy life in the “burbs.” I wanted to be shocked and isolated. I also wanted to learn a foreign language and actually have the chance to use it. For this reason, I did not want to go to a major city like Beijing or Shanghai. Rather, I found a job in Fuqing, a small town located in Fujian province in Southeastern China. For a year and a half I worked there as a University English teacher, until I moved to Fuzhou (the provincial capital in Summer of 2005. My current gig is doing ethnographic research for Pacific Ethnography.

I am also an amateur writer and photographer. Unless otherwise noted, all of the photography on this site was done by me. While in China I have also worked as an interpreter, TV extra, regular game-show contestant, and token white guy. Interesting (and often humorous) things happen in China all the time, so this blog is where I try to keep people up to date of what’s going on in my little corner of the Middle Kingdom.

What makes Ben’s blog unique, however, is Ben’s recent foray into hair cutting (hence the incredibly witty title of this post).  Ben is working as a trainee at a local barbershop for less than $100 a month so as to get a better feel for China’s working class.

I will let Ben explain:

As an American living in China, I have spent the last three years of my life enjoying the benefits of being a citizen of a country which is far wealthier than the one in which I reside. I travel around town by taxi. I drink at expensive bars. I eat sushi. I take trips across the country, and when my apartment is dirty, I call a maid to clean it up. My life is not that different from the other several hundred Westerners who call Fuzhou home. We all come to China for the “China experience,” but we still live our lives with the advantages of being Westerners. But what is it like to be one of the 6 million Chinese residents of Fuzhou, especially those of the working class? For us China is fun and relaxing. It’s a place we come to expand our horizons, to learn a culture, to spend our copious free time studying Tai Chi and Chinese cooking or picking up girls at the bar. But for Fuzhou’s working class, there is no such fun and relaxation, no time for hobbies and no money for Tsingtaos at the pub. Work is a way of life and a means for survival.

Tomorrow I will begin a one-month stint as a ?? (trainee) at a local barber shop/salon. The manager will be treating me just like any other beginning employee his first days on the job. I will be starting at the very bottom of the barbershop food chain, and my duties will include sweeping hair, cleaning bathrooms, assisting barbers, and entertaining customers as they have their hair cut. Throughout the month I will have only three days off, and work the rest from 9 am to 8 pm. I will essentially be a slave to my job which for one month pays what I would make in one day of teaching English.

What I hope to gain from this experience is an understanding of what Chinese workers go through on a daily basis. What is it like to work a job 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, for a salary of less than $100 a month? How will this put into perspective my life in China as a foreigner, or my life in America as an American? How does the other half (or in this case 99.9%) live, and how do the respond to a foreigner trying to do the same? I hope to find the answers to these questions, and hopefully have a little fun doing it. I will be keeping my blog updated daily for the next month, so check back regularly for updates, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Now obviously one month in one barbershop is not going to tell us what it is like to be a member of China’s working class, but it will (and has) certainly given us glimpses of that. Fascinating stuff, and I urge everyone to check out Ben’s Blog.

Though I have been a long-time regular reader of the Cal Poly MBA Trip Blog, I never considered putting it on our blogroll because it is written by a business school professor mostly as a means to interact/educate/communicate with his MBA students. On top of this, most of the posts have as many questions as answers.

Today though, I read yet another thought provoking post on the blog and started writing my own post on the same topic: China’s contradictions. Halfway through my post, I realized this educational blog with the funky name is simply too good to leave off our blogroll containing what we see as the best China blogs. Yes,  some of the posts will probably be relevant only to Professor Carr’s MBA students, but I find nearly all of the posts quite relevant to those of us seeking a better understanding of China. And is there any blog (present blog included) whose posts are relevant to all of its readers?

I should have added it long ago.

As its name implies, much of the blog focuses on an MBA student trip to China Professor Carr leads every year, and the post that pushed me over the blogrolling edge fits into that. It is entitled, Get Your Head (And Heart) Ready for China’s Contradictions. It essentially talks about some of the things the China trip MBA students can expect to learn on their China trip and how to go about engaging in that learning:

There’s a well known saying among those who write about China: “After you have been in China for a week, you think you can write a book. After you have been in China for a month, if you are lucky you might be able to muster a short article. After you have been in China for a year, you keep silent.” The point of this quote is, the more you learn about and experience China, the more you realize it has too many faces, it is too complex a place to master, and you have too much to learn. Many of you (all of us?) will return from China with more questions than answers. If so, that’s okay and natural.  It’s also, in my view, the way true education should work and is one of the ways a truly educated person learns to view and experience the world. Happily for us, our goal for this trip and course does not require us to become China experts, but to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, the global economy and our ability to operate effectively within it.

In China CEO: Voices of Experience from 20 International Business Leaders, China attorney Norman Givant reminds us that China’s booming economic development has taken place despite the messy, chaotic, and confusing backdrop of the transformation from a communist to a socialist and market-based system. He very insightfully notes, “[Unlike many Westerners] the Chinese have no problem at all in living with contradictions. Their question is: Does it work over time? He points to Shanghai’s remarkable growth as an example. “Look out the window: you see a prosperous, dynamic city that has grown tremendously in the last 20 years, and it grew primarily by ignoring the contradictions and focusing largely on economic development.” (Page 205) Simon Keely echoes a similar tune: “China is full of contradictions. Here we are a socialist country, but it’s one of the most competitive places on earth.” Well stated. Both men clearly “get” and understand this facet of China. I don’t think this means the US is not a place of contradictions, but the China hands I call friends seem to suggest that in China the contradictions are deeper and more disturbing than most places.

For more great examples of some of the contradictions in China that will mess with your mind and tug at your heart, check out following recent Wall Street Journal and NY Times articles:

The blog makes for an excellent online course on China and I recommend it.

Oh, and the “cheap sex” part of this post’s title. I just put that in there after noticing that (like so many other blogs and websites) the word “sex” pulls in far more readers to this blog than any other. If “sex” is good, I am thinking “cheap sex” should be even better.

I am generally not a big fan of what I call “observational” China blogs.  You know the type.  Blogs written by a fairly new China arrival talking about strange food or extolling the virtues of bargaining for a pirated DVD.  Enough.

But there are some really good such blogs out there.  These blogs see things in China others might miss and, perhaps most importantly, their recordings of life in China are well written and a joy to read.  Despite its occasional (okay, frequent) harshness on China, Talk Talk China [link no longer exists] was definitely one such blog, but it is no more.

Tim Johnson’s China Rises: Notes from the Middle Kingdom Blog is my favorite of the genre and it is one of the best China blogs out there.  The guy can write.  Clearly and simply.  So often he puts into words barely formed thoughts in my head.  A thought from one of his recent posts illustrates this perfectly:

It happens to me all the time in China.

Usually on the same day, I’ll experience a sensation of how well China is doing in some aspect. Then within an hour or two, something else occurs giving me the opposite feeling.

Who in China has not experienced this?

Check it out.

One of my favorite blogs, the Asia Business Law Blog just shut down in a sea of recriminations between its four bloggers.  This is truly a shame as I came to count on that blog for insightful and hard hitting analysis on China and other Asian countries, particularly Vietnam, Mongolia, and Myanmar/Burma. I linked over to that blog as much as any.  It was written by four Hastings law students, many of whom worked in China this summer, and it quickly became one of the best China blogs. As can be inferred from the comments on its last post, [link no longer exists] creative differences killed the blog.  But all is not bleak.

Christopher Cassidy and Travis Hodgkins (who together wrote the overwhelming number of Asia Business Law’s posts) have assured me they will be up and running soon with a new blog that will include their best posts from the Asia Business Law blog.  I will post as soon as that new blog goes live.

But as we regretfully remove Asia Business Law blog from my blogroll, we are replacing it with another law student blog, China Speed, which bills itself as “Commenting on China’s Ever-Changing Culture, Language, Politics, Law, Society and Economy.”

In adding the very new China Speed blog, however, I am breaking my own rule not to recommend a blog until it has been up long enough to convince me of its staying power (probably an especially risky thing to do in light of Asia Business Law’s demise).  In this case, however, I have three strong reasons for making an exception.

First off, I know the person behind this blog: Benjamin Kostrzewa (Ben K., for obvious reasons).  Ben was a summer associate at my law firm this summer, splitting his time with our Seattle-based international law firm and with the Wincon firm in Qingdao, China.  Ben just finished his second year of law school at the University of Washington and, more importantly, he grew up only blocks (and decades) from me in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Ben did a great job with us here in Seattle and my friends at Wincon tell me he was a great addition for them there as well, and not just because he so ably represented the firm in the Qingdao lawyers’ league badminton and foosball competitions.  Secondly, Ben has a deep and abiding interest in China.  He was actually born in Tianjin and lays claim to being “the first American baby born in China in the modern era.”  He had a fellowship to study Chinese and research Chinese law at Peking University and last summer he worked for the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on the development of the rule of law in China.  His Chinese is “near fluent.”  Thirdly, I like what he has done so far on his blog.  I particularly enjoyed his personal take on Chinese hatred of the Japanese and his review of the book, Will the Boat Sink the Water?

I urge you to check out China Speed with all deliberate speed.