Blogs went mainstream this year. Proof, if needed, is that The Economist now uses the noun and verb 'blog' without explanation.
So it seems fitting to look back on the year in China blogs, with a small virtual award ceremony. Hence the first, and perhaps only, Danwei Model Worker awards, for the best China-related blogs of 2005.
Below the award winners is a list of good English-language blogs about China. No democracy was used in the production of this list.
Chinese language blogs are absent; a list of good Chinese blogs will be published before the end of the year on Danwei. There is however a small list of photoblogs right at the bottom of the list.
English language Model Worker
Roland Soong, who writes ESWN, is a one man media machine. His blog is updated almost every day with translations and commentary from Chinese langauge sources in the Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The blog provides coverage of the Chinese world that you cannot find anywhere else on the Internet or in print. Aside from the amount and variety of information provided, the blogger's personal idiosyncracies are part of the reading pleasure.
Chinese language Model Worker
Only noticed by Danwei recently, Massage Milk has shot to the top of the Chinese blog ranking because of a quality about the blog's writing that China needs most: irreverence.
With his online handle 带三个表 being a pun on the Chinese for Jiang Zemin's famously confusing "Three Represents" theory, the author of Massage Milk is an editor at Life Week magazine. He has a sharp line in Beijing cynicism, he's smart, and he's funny.
Other workers who have advanced the cause of international proletarian information junkies:
An American PR executive in China writes about media, PR, China and the oddities of life in Beijing and the rest of the country. A nice mix of cynicism, media savvy and enthusiasm. Image Thief writes well and his stuff is funny.
Shanghainese guy who works in media writes about the Internet, Shanghai, Chinese politics and occasionally food and women. The blogger is an enthusiastic reader and commentor on English language blogs about China, often disagreeing with the opinions of the foreign devils, but always defending their right to express themselves.
The Black China Hand
Self-described as "Random gibberish from a brother on the road in China", it's not gibberish. The Black China Hand sees things in China a little differently from most Americans.
Occasionally cynical writings of a foreign correspondent based in Beijing.
In the Footsteps of Joseph Rock
Occasionally updated, mostly with photos, this blog documents the writer's walking expeditions to some of the wilder areas of Yunnan and Sichuan, often tracing the travels of American adventurer and botanist Dr. Joseph Rock. The author also once blogged at Leaking State Secrets, where he documented his job at The China Daily with increasing exasperation. He also has a photographic blog at Beijing Observer. All these websites are on Blogspot, which seems to be blocked again in China. Gee thanks Nanny!
An Englishman in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province writes about local life. Sadly blocked in China now. Find yourself a proxy server.
Regular commentary on Chinese media, social issues and economics by Fons Tuinstra, a Dutch Internet entrepreneur and former foreign correspondent who has lived in Shanghai for many years. Cynical about China but enthusiastic about new media, Tuinstra doesn't really want to speak to you if you don't know what RSS is. He reliably links to anything that is buzzing in the Chinese blog world, and writes also follows business news.
Aside from the above-mentioned China Herald, Simon World is another blog that tracks other China-related blogs closely, but extends that coverage to the whole of Asia, particularly East Asia. Simon, the blogger, is an Australian investment banker living in Hong Kong with his family. A combination of his free-trade views and loving way with the links has endeared him to Instapundit, which is good for drawing American eyeballs to the world of China blogs.
Simon World has loads of links to East Asia related stuff, and commentary on Hong Kong and China current affairs. There are sometimes guest bloggers.
A member of the Gothamist network, this blog about Shanghai is edited by Dan Washburn, whose personal site, Shanghai Diaries, is well worth a visit.
One of the longest-running China blogs on this list, Peking Duck includes China news, communist malfeasance and liberal American rants from a PR executive in Taipei. Regular guest bloggers.
Beijing or Bust
Long essays by a returnee Beijinger who makes documentary films. His first film is 'Beijing or Bust' which looks at the lives of American Chinese who have moved to Beijing to live. One of his best posts is Easy Money, in which he describes a job interview for work as a gigolo.
Written by a linguistics grad student in Shanghai, Sinosplice is an apolitical blog about life in China, with an active comments section and plenty of interesting observations about what goes on in China and how foreigners deal with it. The blogger John Pasden has for a long time helped other people start blogs, and also maintains the comprehensive China Blog List.
Talk Talk China
Funny stuff from people who say this: "Having a bad "China day"? If so then you've come to the right place. Dan, DD, and Dawanr are 3 laowai that have been here for way too long (collectively over 45 years!!) and this is where we come to just let all out." The comments section is active and also worth reading. Wilting flowers who can't handle foreigners complaining about spitting and David Wu are not advised to visit.
Self-described as "A daily look at Chinese characters, as seen by one man and a poorly-treated camera".
Frog in a Well
Group blog about Chinese history. Serious, academic contributors.
Veteran of the American 60s rock scene, poet and writer Ellen Sander's blog is a miscellany of commentary on China and the U.S.
Wrtitten by Joseph Bosco, husband of the above, the blog covers China and US politics and personal events. Bosco is currently a professor at the Journalism Department of Beijing Foreign Studies University. His students have a blog called We Observe the World.
Observations of Xiamen from a Singapore girl. She also produces What's On Xiamen, an entertainment guide to one of China's nicest cities.
Internet entrepreneur newly arrived in Shanghai chasing a China dream (oh dear...)
Musing Under the Tenement Palm
Xinjiang commentary from an American who used to live there.
Running Dog is a foreign correspondent who knows China very well. He occasionally published essays and articles about China and the experience of being a reporter here. Articulate and intelligent, Running Dog sees through the hype. He occasionally contributes to Danwei. His website is blocked in China, one of the few blogs or personal websites that seems to have been singled out by the Nanny.
Stories from the trenches by American journalist in Hong Kong; a mix of personal stories and commentary on Hong Kong and Chinese media.
An annoyed student of Chinese from England writes about life in Beijing.
If you know of a blog that should be here, please send email (jeremy at danwei dot org).