China Online – What to Read

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Op-Ed Commentary: Chris Devonshire-Ellis

Aug. 28 – Years spent anywhere mean the gradual accumulation of outdated and stored material. As I gradually move Westwards (I left Beijing a week ago, Hong Kong two days ago, am now in Delhi and will eventually arrive in the United States mid-September) I have had to cull websites, RSS feeds, and even LinkedIn Groups from my reading list, just to make room for those I will want to gravitate towards, and cut out those which no longer (in my opinion) provide value.

Below then, dear reader, is what I am left with as recommended China reading.

China Blogs
English language blogging in China ranges from the downright offensive to the very good. Much of the rubbish of course is deliberately nasty and typically operated by people with false names – avoid these as they are usually self-opinionated rants. The very good, that remain balanced, fair, well-moderated and well-written with excellent original content include:

All Roads Lead to China
Written by Richard Brubaker in Shanghai, All Roads deals with macroeconomic news with a leaning towards environmental issues and demographics. Good, well thought out articles.

China Hearsay
By Stan Abrams, based in Beijing, the go-to blog for IP issues in China, coupled with some sardonic wit. As regularly referred to by the South China Morning Post.

Silk Road
From David Dayton in Shenzhen, a very good introduction to the myriad issues concerning sourcing and buying in China.

This is China!
By Bill Dodson, based in Suzhou, a good introduction to China. Particularly concerning learning about how to do business and the regional variations within the country.

There are some other, very good technical blogs that should also be mentioned in passing as specialists, including Silicon Dragon, ChinaTechNews, China Private Equity and Asia Healthcare, while China Herald acts as a good quality aggregator of sorts, featuring good pieces from a variety of different China hands on a regular basis.

For getting out there, the blogs China Expat, Far West China, and Mark Tanner have some great stories on China’s wild places. Our own China-India comparison site, also deserves a mention as it is quite unique.

LinkedIn Groups
I’ve found that these tend to wax and wane. I recently culled 50 of my China groups down to just a few, these are who remained:

China Briefing
Our own LinkedIn group, but then I’m kinda obliged to read it!

China CFO Forum
Run by Robin Adams in Beijing, some useful pieces in there on the financial issues associated with running a business in China.

Shanghai Business
Unlike many, not too overtaken with trolls, endless links to self-promoting articles, or spam. Let’s hope it stays that way.

I dumped all the others – but that’s not to say I may not rejoin, or that my culling has not been too harsh.

I’ve replaced many of the purely China focused ones with those that have a broader, Asian appeal, and these are worth checking out if that fits with what you want to do:
ASEAN Affairs
BRICS Countries
India-ASEAN Business Group
Myanmar Business Community
Singapore Global

Various China-based individuals have written books over the past 12 months. The following are those I’d recommend:

Shaun Rein: The End of Cheap China
Details the rise of cost of labor in China and why it is occurring

Bill Dodson: China Fast Forward
Discusses the brand, technology and social innovation trends recasting China for the 21st Century

James Fallows: China Airborne
The history of China’s aviation

I’ll also be reading Richard Burger’s book “Behind the Red Door: Sex in China” on the plane to London. You’ve kinda got to with a title like that!

Finally, the best book ever written about China? Well that depends on what you’re looking for, but Paul Theroux’s “Riding the Iron Rooster” remains in my view the most comprehensive travelogue ever composed about the country. The worst? Well, “The Coming Collapse of China” I’m sure was a financial success, but it never came true in the time-frame described, did it?

Limiting blogs and groups is a necessary evil, and I don’t have the time to either read or include everybody. However, if you have a blog, group or book to recommend, please submit to the comments section below, and we’ll be pleased to feature it. But seeing the wood for the trees, the above is what I spent my precious time on – although I can be easily persuaded to add some others. This especially the case if they are about “China Plus” – meaning China plus Asia or other specific countries. No one yet has really come up with a China blog in the context of ASEAN business and trade, for example, so there are definitely gaps in the market. Happy reading!

Note: Submissions for blogs about China not actually written in the country, or those that promote ill-feeling and trash talk about individuals or China per se will not pass moderation in our comments section.

6 thoughts on “China Online – What to Read

    To get the ball rolling, one I omitted: Paul Gillis’s China Accounting Blog over at:
    Paul is a Professor at Peking Universities Guanghua School of Management.

    Jim Nelson says:

    Thanks for the write up Chris. Meeting with a Singapoirean business leader today. We feel the best is yet to come in China.

    This China Business Leadership Blog is written in China and for China, but over half its material is related to great leadership that could be applied in any geography. Great Leadership is needed in China, so the focus is that way. It is written every business day. I will write today about the book, The Coming Collapse of China, being reminded of it by Chris here.

    Thanks Jim – just had a look at your blog (readers: click on his name above) looks good. I’m in Singapore now actually – the main focus here (I also just met with the Government) is Sing companies going to India – all my business meetings here are all India rather than China focused. Thats an interesting change of dynamics. But China will be OK too, its just that the foreign investment focus is shifting to consumerism there, while India is about infrastructure development, cheap manufacturing to access ASEAN, and domestic consumerism. There is more going on in India right now than in China. A lot is now understood about China, whereas India remains relatively unknown. But click on my name, and our India Briefing website will appear…
    Best regards;

    Wee Tan Ping says:

    Chris, I noted your piece about Raghuram Rajan over at your 2.6billion website. It is very illuminating news and I believe very interesting that no China hands even know who he is. He will change the India economic dynamics without doubt, hes a brilliant choice. China should watch out!

    Thanks Wee Tan Ping, I agree the global business community has become far too China-Centric. Rajan is going to be an important player in Indian and Asian economics and is just the man India needs right now. Readers who want to access the article about Rajan may do so here:

    Mark Tanner says:

    Many thanks for recommendation Chris. I couldn’t fault your list of esteemed reads on China; all great ways to keep up with this fascinating and ever-changing land that is China. All the best in the new land, with the reverse culture shock and pork how it should be eaten!

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