Why Chublic Opinion?
I started this blog partly as a way to prevent my written English from rotting in the daily writing of emails and internal documents. From the very beginning I figure that I need an area of focus that is broad enough to allow a steady stream of writable topics and at the same time narrow enough to create some consistency. (Online) public opinion stands out as a desirable option for the fact that 1) there are always interesting things happening; 2) materials are readily and publicly available; 3) It is sufficiently relevant and consequential that enables reflective and critical writing.
Without question this area of focus also has its limitations. For one thing, what’s said on the internet and in the Chinese media does not fully represent “public” opinion in China. It only represents a portion of the Chinese society that is privileged and vocal enough to have its voice heard. Secondly, much of it is secondary information that has gone through all kinds of distortion. But since I have a full-time job by day, this seems to be a compromise I have to live with while being explicit about it.
Nowadays much is said about China around the world. There is an abundance of INFORMATION but still a shortage of INSIGHT. I’m not saying that this blog is in any way close to providing valuable insights but at least it is something I try to do. In the process, I am deeply humbled by the realization that the most insightful analyses and commentaries of contemporary China come from inside this country, in Chinese. Only a tiny portion of that manages to penetrate into the dense and noisy global conversation about China. For instance, the website MJPRESS used to provide a daily summary of public debates and a dispassionate record of China’s shifting media landscape, which serves as a great inspiration to this blog (it no longer does, which is a pity. For a sample of what they did, see Xu Danei’s column archived on FT’s Chinese site) ; commentators such as @石扉客 and 宋志标, both veteran journalists, offer piercing observations of current affairs; and analysts such as 元淦恭 produce interesting and original analyses about China’s politico-economic developments (his article shedding light on the transformation of the new leadership’s propaganda strategy by tracking the public appearance of key “political singers” is a classic example of how far you can get with publicly available information.) I am fully aware that if my blogs are translated into Chinese, they will probably not stand out among all the illuminating writing that is happening in the fast-changing world of the Chinese cyber space. In other words, if you have a decent grasp of Chinese that allows you to read these people directly, you probably do not need to read this blog…
With the above qualification and caution, I welcome you to Chublic Opinion. A few words about myself: I am a Shanghai native who currently live in Beijing. For the past decade I have been working in the area of environmental advocacy(In order to keep my organization from getting entangled with opinions expressed here I decide to keep the blog anonymous). As English is not my first language, please bear with the occasional grammatical errors and poor choices of words 🙂
You can also find me on Twitter: @