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Richard Burger on being a foreign editor at the Global Times

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Richard Burger

Richard Burger is author of the China blog The Peking Duck, which has been publishing since 2002. The Peking Duck's posts on hot-button issues generate energetic comment threads from all sides of the political spectrum, and the site used to be a target of nationalist Chinese blogger trolls who criticized Burger for his views on China, which were often critical of the government. Burger recently became an editor at the newly launched English edition of the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper that has a reputation for leftist, nationalist content.

The government recently announced that it was going to put in millions of yuan to give Chinese media an "English voice"; the English Global Times has been just one example of this drive.

Below Burger answers questions about the foreign editor's role, what his daily routine is, the openness of the Global Times and their latest center spread. See also Danwei's earlier posts, Promoting the English-language Global Times, Journalism at the Global Times and Ai Weiwei stays in the news.


Danwei: When did you start your job as editor at the Global Times, and what spurred you to take the job?
Richard Burger: I joined Global Times in late March, as they were preparing for their premier issue on April 20. It was a matter of being at the right place at the right time. I had just decided to look for a new job after six months of freelancing, study and travel. I was checking Twitter and saw a tweet from Jeremy Goldkorn, and he was announcing a job opening at a new newspaper. I followed his link to the employment ad on Danwei and sent in my resume and cover letter 20 minutes later. Just a few minutes after that they called me and said they wanted to meet for an interview.

When I said I was about to go on a trip to Guangzhou, they asked me to put down the phone and come right away for the interview. I did, and the rest is history. I liked the people, I liked the work they were offering me and I thought it would be a new adventure so here I am. I sent Jeremy an SMS that afternoon saying, "Your tweet changed my life." Which is true.

Danwei: The latest issue has a center spread on Ai Weiwei's collection of numbers of earthquake victims. Is this a sign that the Global Times wants to present an "edgier" version of Chinese domestic news to English-speaking audiences? If yes, do you think that this will be effective?
RB: Since I'm not representing Global Times, I can't speak for what the newspaper does or does not want to do. I can just tell you my own observations and thoughts, which are all personal.

I saw the article you refer to and several others that push the envelope. My own conclusion is that they sincerely want to present the foreigners and English-speaking Chinese here and abroad with a different type of newspaper experience. Sure, they toe the party line on certain topics, but even on the most sensitive of these, they seem willing to present alternative viewpoints, even if they are directly and outspokenly critical of the government.

I think this will be their signature, a panoramic view of the news with lots of analysis and discussion. As I said, it does tow the party line, but they seem genuine about allowing
serious dissent and disagreement. I think Global Times is striving for something better. One thing is for sure: they are determined to not be a clone of any other English-language Chinese newspaper, and they want to leave a mark. At the very beginning I wasn't sure they'd be given the space to truly differentiate themselves. Now I'm convinced they will.

Danwei: Could you give us a run-down of your daily routine? Are there meetings and editorial meetings? How do these work?
RB: I work for the Opinion section of the paper, what we would call Op-Ed in America. There are meetings to decide what topics might merit a column, and my role is advisory, letting them know the hot topics I think foreigners are talking about on any given day, suggesting ideas for China-related columns and letting them know what I think of their own ideas. These meetings can be quite interesting, as I realize I am often tuned in to very different types of stories than my Chinese counterparts.

Most of my day, by far, is spent editing copy and, on occasion, writing my own columns. A lot of the opinion pieces come from Chinese university professors and other authorities, and since they are translated into English they need a degree of polishing. I come from a writing and editing background so this is a natural thing for me. It can be hard work, but it's always interesting and even enjoyable. At least usually; deadline times can be hectic.

Another role I have is soliciting columns from foreigners, and I've been amazed at how successful this has been. These columns appear on the Viewpoint page, and they are mostly by foreigners from all walks of life, from local university professors to business consultants to bloggers. So a good part of my day is spent interacting with them, getting their stories approved and sometimes twisting arms a bit to meet deadlines. It's a well-balanced day.

One other observation about my daily life: I was quickly struck by how different a Chinese newsroom is from an American one. In America there can be a lot of hustle and bustle. Our newsroom is relatively quiet despite the large staff. Most people communicate via MSN, even if you're within arm's reach of them. It's taking me a while to get used to this and is one of the few instances of new culture shock for me.

Danwei: What are the "foreign experts" like at the paper? From what kinds of backgrounds do they hail?
RB: Most of the foreigners at the paper have journalism or editing backgrounds. A few have worked for China Daily and other newspapers in China and overseas. Most have been in China a while already and are accustomed to how things work over here. They're an interesting mix of Australians, Americans, Canadians and others, and we've had some spirited conversations about grammar, spelling and punctuation since we all have different rules in our respective motherlands. Luckily we're using something close to AP style, so I don't have to readjust my thinking too drastically. These people have one thing in common, and that's intelligence. I can't imagine a single office in all of Beijing with so many bright expatriates working together.

Danwei: Do you think that the Global Times offers a unique window into China for the rest of the world - if yes, then in which ways?
RB: It definitely does. They take stories that may have got some pick-up in the Western media, and then they'll expound on it, get lots of different opinion, and give foreigners a multi-sided look at the issue. For instance, a story this week that was hot was the county in Hubei province that ordered everyone in government to smoke and distribute local cigarettes. There were three separate excerpts from three different Chinese newspapers about this, offering a surprisingly diverse range of opinions.

One, for example, said the country officials were to be congratulated for their bravery, since this is what all local governments do every day, only most don't have the nerve to say so on paper. Material like this tells me there is a lot for people to learn about China in these pages, and readers will see pretty quickly that what they assumed would be a monolithic point of view is anything but. That's not to say there isn't a lot of the typical government talking points, and I'm sure there are plenty of taboo topics. But there's also some surprisingly interesting ideas being discussed.

Danwei: In what ways do you think domestic (English and Chinese-language) media will be reformed in the next five years in China?
RB: I think we're going to move further and further away from taboos and restrictions. Already I'm seeing in Chinese media stuff that even five years ago would have been unthinkable. I think this will be especially true as the leaders who held a lot of power in 1989 like Li Peng and Jiang Zemin fade away. Then we might see some more serious "opening up" even of the topics that have been under iron-clad taboo for generations. Needless to say, there is still a very long way to go.

The next big step, in my mind, is training the Chinese journalists about what it takes to do investigative reporting, to challenge your sources and do serious research. They are getting there, and I know for sure they can do all these things - I've seen them do it when they report on Western companies. I think most understand this has to be part of their routine when reporting on their own government, but there is still a sense that you can only go so far. Let's keep pushing the envelope.

Danwei: Any other thoughts?
RB: I'm enjoying Global Times more than I expected. Some friends warned me they were nationalistic and the favorite of the fenqing crowd. My attitude was that this would be a learning experience for me, a chance to practice journalism for the first time in many years, and maybe even a chance to enter my own arguments into the common thinking here and get some people to look at things from a slightly different perspective.

The very first thing I told the people in charge when I met them on the first interview was that I write a controversial blog that has a long history of being critical of the Chinese Communist Party. I also told them that in recent years I had tried to see the government from a broader perspective, not as a black and white, good or bad entity, but as a vast group of individuals, most of whom are trying to do what they believe is best for their country. But I was clear, I am critical of the CCP, I believe some of its factions are atrocious, I have issues with them, and I am not afraid to say so. And when I asked them if that was acceptable, if I wasn't too controversial for them, they said it was their honor to have a well-read blogger working with them.

The first day I came to work 10 days later, half the people in my department had the Peking Duck up on their monitors. There's nothing on those pages that I wouldn't say directly to the people I work with, and the fact that they still welcomed me on board says something.

There are currently 59 Comments for Richard Burger on being a foreign editor at the Global Times.

Comments on Richard Burger on being a foreign editor at the Global Times

The author of the China blog The Peking Duck becomes an editor of the Global Times! Big surprise.

Among those "spirited conversations about grammar, spelling and punctuation" try to get the verb in "tow the line" correct.It's "toe the line", it's not a hawser.

Perhaps The Global Times will reflect Richard Burger's own opinionated pronouncements on just about everything, or perhaps Richard Burger will remain the opinionated, self-indulgent blogger that he is, busily reaffirming the viewpoints of his fellow expats.

well, maybe Richard could also try to advise them about not letting headlines like "Exudos from Sri Lanka'' appear, writ large.
That might lead to an exodus of readers, for those who value Queen's English. Don't mean to be picky, but it's also "toe'' the line, not "tow'' in this post. Thanks.

Nice interview.

The Peking Duck takes enough flak from other English-language China blogs that it's kind of hard to read its proprietor as "busily reaffirming the viewpoints of his fellow expats." Besides, there's no lack of opinionated, self-indulgent commentary on many other blogs too, Scott Loar.

on the very few occassions I have dipped my toe into peking duck, richard has always seemed to be a decent character. however, some of his assertions in this interview are verging on silly. "I can't imagine a single office in all of Beijing with so many bright expatriates working together." - sure you can't Richard, sure you can't.

Oh, snap!

I don't think any other expat blog comes close to taking as much shit as pkdk does.

Well, I for one welcome this news as a step in the right direction.

"I think we're going to move further and further away from taboos and restrictions."

Let's hope it really does signal the beginning of a much needed overhaul in the Chinese media. Fingers crossed.

"I think this will be especially true as the leaders who held a lot of power in 1989 like Li Peng and Jiang Zemin fade away."

Fade away? Dead and buried with their hair dye is what you mean, I think.

"The next big step, in my mind, is training the Chinese journalists about what it takes to do investigative reporting, to challenge your sources and do serious research."

Agreed. In China, though, that will require a stronger rule of law, because they're ging to need some protection.

"Let's keep pushing the envelope."

How about shoving a great big one down their throats next month? ;)

I have followed Richard's blog for many years and have a lot of respect for him, even though he does write a lot of twaddle sometimes.

I'm quite surprised to hear he he's joined the Global Times. After the honeymoon period I think he will experience a literal 'moment of truth'. He will be presented with a situation where he either has to compromise his integrity or 'go with the flow' and mark it up as a 'learning experience', however you want to call it.

In my case I was a faceless foreign editor, so it didn't really affect my (non-existent) reputation. Richard might find that his cred built up over the years at Peking Duck is dissipated by his affiliation with the highly dubious Global Times version of the truth.

Your defense would be laudatory, Joel Martinsen, were it not that most blogs written by expats in China play to each other, feed off each other, and are remarkably similar in opinion and readership. Richard on The Peking Duck has a particular case of the ass whenever he's obliged to recall past comments that are proven wrong. Et tu?

Now, am I to take your comment as a sign that you'd rather I be elsewhere?

You are welcome to stay, but I'd ask you to keep your grudges out of our comment threads.

The Peking Duck comes under fire from more than just "nationalist" Chinese for a perceived anti-China viewpoint. I guess calling his critics "nationalists" that's an easy and blunt tool to use, especially if you don't want to be bothered to back it up. Some of the founders and frequent contributors to Blogging for China made resonable posts on his blog but got yelled down and dismissed with racial overtones. Guess whose posts often got deleted or banned?

I am not Chinese, not hypenated-Chinese, am a frequent critic of China. Yet I found Richard to be rather knee-jerk and shallow at times, and, much worse, his (former?) frequent blogfellow Raj to be an ignorant bigot who knew little about China. So, does that make me a nationalist apologist?

pkdk seems to be well-know and popular, even though it doesn't really attract me.

nevertheless, i do think it is interesting that the blogger is now with global times english. in my book, this is a danwei scoop. well done.

this interview interview itself was pretty interesting too.

jia you, richard.

somebody is talking and discussing ---that can't be a bad thing\\

that's what i think

as for the GT English version, they can really pay and you can't argue with that--at least i'm hoping to learn some english from that paper as well besides chinadaily

So when will Richard Berger and a team of Shao Lin Kung Fu monks (wearing Danwei T-shirts) go to Sichuan's Mianzhu and follow up on the earthquake victim parents petition story that the Financial Times reporter was unable to complete?

Scott Loar and momo:

"Tow" the line was a Danwei proofreading failure: we are at fault, not Richard.

A note to certain other commenters
We do not publish ad hominem attacks. If you are are envious of Peking Duck, start your own blog.

"somebody is talking and discussing ---that can't be a bad thing\\"

And sometimes it's only noise, only noise.

Richard, you've my full support in your newest act. Keep on pushing the envelope; don't cede. Change isn't something that these guys really hold. It's coming, like it or not.

I wouldn't read too much into the Ai Weiwei example - even China Daily has covered this. Seems to me that English language media is being allowed a little more freedom, but only a little. The real test of GT will be when a divisive piece of international news emerges. For example, what would its editorial line have been on the Tibet incidents and would Burger have found toeing the party line a morally and professionally acceptable position to hold?

I agree with the earlier poster. This is the honeymoon period. the test has yet to come.

On another issue, as this interview doesn't make clear, is Burger the foreign editor or a foreign editor. The suggestion is the former. If so, I would be interested to know his journalistic background, especially as he appears to see himself as qualified to 'train' Chinese journalists. I am not trying to put him down; juts that this interview appears to suggest that his credentials as a blogger were what qualified him for the job, which would be surprising (or not, as this is Global Times after all. Sorry, but I am still chuckling at Burger's assertion that the best minds of our generation - well, those expats in beijing at least - have found themselves coming together polishing bad chinglish, and not to a very high standard it would appear, at a state-run newspaper. I guess we all have the prettiest wife at home!)

Dear mike: I believe Richard Burger is "a foreign editor": as you can see from his answer to the question about his routine, it's about suggesting stories to the Chinese journalists based on his knowledge and reading of the news, writing columns himself, and polishing. I didn't mean to suggest in the introduction that his credentials as blogger is enough for his position now; that wasn't the point.

I wonder what his monthly pay is?

Danwei - You should interview Richard again in six or 12 months time.

Having done the whole state media thang myself - in almost all cases foreign staff start off enthusiastic about how they feel they can influence the newspaper and the newspaper's potential, but then, all of a sudden, reality bites.

People react differently - frustration, bitterness, anger, disinterest, resignation - but very rarely is it positive.

I'm certainly not in the camp that thinks Global Times is a significant departure from other state media, so it would be interesting to follow Richard's experiences as events unfold.

mike: Are you referring to the China Daily's report on the release of government statistics, which included several paragraphs on Ai Weiwei's project? Or was there an earlier piece published when the government was still keeping silent about the numbers?

Without knowing the background behind the GT article's publication, there are a number of possible interpretations one could come up with apart from calling it daring journalism, but to simply equate it to the CD piece that came out several days later following an official pronouncement doesn't seem justified.

I agree with James G. I hope that you get used to working for a blogging site where you are not in the driver's wheel, but as a backseat driver. There are people who do not agree with you and you have to tolerate their opinions.

Thanks a lot for printing this, Alice.

Just a quick note on my journalist and editing background, which perhaps I should have included in the answers: Master's of Journalism, NYU, three years with a major metropolitan US newspaper, two years with a local state newspaper, two years with a business news syndicate in Washington, DC, stringer for another major metropolitan daily, four years as textbook editor. This was followed by several years in PR, during which time all of my work was media-related.

I don't think Global Times has moved earth and heaven and I certainly have issues with the "talking points," as I tried to explain. But they are trying to give multiple sides to their coverage, and I was surprised at how willing they were to run certain opinion pieces that definitely wouldn't have been publishable a few years ago, such as one calling for China to stop its restrictions of native Chinese journalists who want to work with foreign media in China as reporters. At least twice already, two stories I'd edited were flagged, and I was told they would probably not run because they touched on sensitive issues. To my surprise, the pieces were finally approved, with no edits. Which is not to say they'll approve anything; they can't and they won't. But I see room for optimism.

I'm sure Richard's going to face plenty of challenges over at Global Times, and if he can overcome them and achieve what he says he'd like to achieve, then all power to him. As for PKD, I really don't get why people bitch about blogs being unfair to commenters - Richard pays to keep that blog online, it's his damned site and he can do anything he likes with it.

That said, I would never, could never, work for the mouthpiece of a dictatorship - and let's face it, that's what Global Times is. Anyone who does not recognise that this will involve a high level of moral compromise needs their head examining.

Does "move further and further away from taboos and restrictions." means "staying in the safet zone as much as possible" ? That's where People's Daily is. Why do we need another ?

FOARP, thanks for the comment. I actually disagree because they say they are trying to write about topics that other papers will not and consider viewpoints that would have been considered untouchable before. I see signs of this. If I ever do feel I am being used as you suggest I will promptly leave.

Bill, no, that's not what it means. I believe they are trying to push out of the safety zone. Actually, I know they are trying. Whether they succeed, it's too early for me to say. Time will tell.

I have to agree with James G, unfortunately. I hope they put a good non-disparagement clause in PKD's employment agreement...cuz in 6 months time he will have quit in disgust, possibly because his gag reflex is finally triggered when some int'l incident causes the censors to force larger piles of shit down his throat than normal. Say ahhhhhh.

FOARP raises an interesting point. I wouldn't say "mouth of a dictatorship", only because many journalists try to see themselves as being the one who will make a difference; usually the difference that previous journalists didn't or couldn't make. And no matter what the country, big news rarely acts as anything more than a balm, or at most a slight irritant and distraction.

If a "daring" English language writer at a state-owned and tightly run ship can really make a difference, then would that mean that the many, many articulate, thoughtful, thorough and well-respected Chinese (mainland and "off-shore") journalists writing about various political topics had simply been writing in the wrong language?

He might have been better off sticking to the Peking Duck, as far as credibility. The English language papers in China are ignored by anyone who wants real, solid reporting, especially among Chinese. They are simply warm milk and cookies, and I have trouble seeing that changing.

Sounds cynical, but if you aren't cynical about where and how you get your news, you haven't been paying attention. At all.

BTW, it's often happened in the past that the biggest critics of governments end up on the govt. payroll themselves, cushy and mollified. I guess that is what many are hoping won't happen here.

@ScottLoar

i wouldn't call GT noise, but if you have a shortwave radio and happen to live in China, you can search the available short bands---somewheres you'll hear what your radio tends to pick up some nice and innocent tradional chinese instrumental music more clearly than the other voice---only they'll go on and on, for years

that's what i may call noise

@Richard - I hope you don't feel that I was trying to run you down. I'm sure that just like me you know people who have worked for government-owned organisation like CRI, CCTV, and the China Daily, and do not need me to tell you how those organisations operate.

Not to poke your ambition but if you think you could influence Global Times, you are deadly wrong, however, they can't influence you either, so the worst scenario is you go back to blogging your own stuff.

Safe journey.

Safarinew,

"somebody is talking and discussing ---that can't be a bad thing\\"

Sometimes it's only noise.

問問自己﹐是公眾自由討論研究的點評﹖或者是群眾無奈發牢騷沸沸揚揚﹖在大陸那一種方式最普及﹖

Richard, needless to say, I am really interested to hear about your experiences at GT. As for the "mouthpiece" issue, my feeling is, it's generally better to get a look from inside before judging overmuch. There are exceptions to this, of course - some places I know I wouldn't want to go - but if there's a possibility that GT represents a more "fair and balanced" (heh!) Chinese journalism, it's worth encouraging, I think.

I agree with Peteryang even though i do hope some changes happen.

Good luck Richard.

As a coworker who was hired before he came, I'd say Richard's overall take is fair and I commend him for sticking his neck out here.

I also thank him for the thought, but, yeah, it's a slight overstatement to we're the brightest bunch of expats assembled in Beijing (that would be Joel Martinson solo) but given that the only other foreigners in our office complex are some Shaklee shills from the States, I'd say we're definitely the brightest bunch in the building.

When you say that "Global Times" is a government "mouth piece", are you saying that it is like a giant nipple?

I wouldn't mind devoting my life to a giant nipple.

公眾自由討論研究的點評﹖或者是群眾無奈發牢騷沸沸揚揚﹖

估计是后者?我觉得更多是评论人不痛不痒假装厚德载物,任重道远般的点评,牢骚也的确很多(想想共党政府控制舆论的手腕已经很多很高级了,这点其实很令人惊奇,或许这也是目的之一?)加上信息又多,看来环球时报的确是个噪音?我反正几乎没直接看过,不过关于中国的英文信息总体来说还少,就算多了个垃圾站也无所谓,我就想知道它的钱是哪来的?凭什么就它有钱请pkdk帮他说话? TNND

when i say waht i may call noise, i mean the whole yulun-control thing from CCP is more than genuin noise, massive mouthpiece emmitting counts, edgy-itchy befriending counts, GFW counts, GFW counts yet again, and this GT offensive counts. aren't we lucky to be born into this info shit sea. i've already visioned sometimes GT's got a point.

what do you think?

Richard, had there not been an article on Danwei would you have mentioned it on your blog?

Good luck with it all the same!

I am not Chinese, not hypenated-Chinese, am a frequent critic of China.

"James G", yes, I'm sure you are. I'm also sure you regard yourself as being reasonable and balanced in your views on China.

By the way, I don't remember a "James G" posting on PD. Are you one of the banned trolls trying to hide behind a new identity?

Hi Joel. yes that is the article I am referring to. I don't think that the fact GT got there before the official anouncement makes it especially daring. Do you not think the article was pre-approved at the appropriate level, or do you really think GT went all maverick and decided to fight the law in its first month of existence?

My point is that Chinese media - in english at least - have been given the green light to cover some supposedly controversial issues. CD has printed some quite surprising material recently. Not daring, just surprising. GT is no trailblazer in this respect. The Ai Weiwei story was an interesting editorial decision based on a pre-agreed remit. Maybe GT just has better editors than CD?


Richard seems a nice person, but I have seen half a dozen nice people (including myself!) say how they see change on the horizon, only to end up disillusioned.

"Do you not think the article was pre-approved at the appropriate level, or do you really think GT went all maverick and decided to fight the law in its first month of existence?"

Mike, I can answer that.
The article was the reporter's (I recruited her from Shenzhen, btw) idea.

It was originally written about a month or so before it hit print. During that time it was kicked back and forth both in-house and also between the GT editor and People's Daily overlords.

I had lunch with the reporter about 10 days before it ran and at that time she wasn't optimistic about it, however she and those who were pushing for it were pleasantly surprised when it appeared in more or less its original form complete with some updating.

Raj, in 7 years I've never stated on my blog the company I work for, though it's certainly no secret. I have announced it on Facebook and to my twitter friends, and may blog about it, though I prefer to keep my working life separate from my blogging life. And I think you're right about James G.

Justin, I have had similar "pleasant surprises," and at least one of them came as a true bombshell. I also had a big disappointment, but I simply presumed in advance that would be standard. I was unprepared for the pleasant surprises. Let's hope they continue.

Perhaps the Chinese media is becoming more like the western media. Many of Rupert Murdoch's papers take a very conservative/reactionary editorial line but employ a token liberal columnist so they can say - 'see, we're balanced'.
One swallow doesn't make a summer and one Peking Duck doesn't make Global Times an Al Jazeera.

Regardless of the right or wrong of working for the GT (although for the record, I have to wonder if any self-respecting foreigner who reads the Chinese GT and especially the vile comments that their readership routinely produces posts), I don't see how making Richard's new job public can fail to either make things difficult for him at work, make a lot of people suspect that he'll be holding back on his blog to protect his rice-bowl, or, most likely, both. Well, I guess in the end a blog is just a blog, and he doesn't really have to worry about what people think.

Mac, please see my latest post. In the body and comments I refer to the government reaction to H1N1 as "gob-smackingly stupid" and worse. I also wrote:

"The response to SARS by the CCP cannot simply be described as 'evasive and tardy,' although it was each of those things. More importantly, however, is that it was criminal, it was consciously and inexcusably irresponsible, it led to unnecessary deaths and hysteria, it was a shining example of the party holding the idiotic spectacle of its annual rubber-stamp National Party Congress above the health and well being of its citizens."

So I won't tone down my criticisms. And it's not like I'm desperate for a job and need to cling to my iron rice bowl; if this doesn't work out I move on.

The only difference on my site lately is that I am not posting as much as I used to, though that's always come in waves. After dealing with one article after another all day, I don't have the burning desire to blog, at least not every day. Hopefully that'll change over time and I'll get back into it. And you're totally right, "a blog is just a blog," a hobby and a personal project. It's a fascinating thing, how passionate people can get about a blog (especially one they claim not to read).

Richard- I'm not saying that you have compromised, just that suspicions are probably inevitable. Since you haven't compromised, I wouldn't be surprised if you end up dealing with the word that "Richard is a fanhua fenzi" going around the office when people read your blog.

net nanny in action again? I thought stinky made some very fair points

Is this the I heart richard fan page?

He is f.a.m.o.u.s

One thing that strikes me regarding the high flying pronouncements by some playing the righteous-hipper-expat-than-thou game, especially folks such as "Stinky," "MAC," and "FOARP," is that unlike Richard (or me) they're happy to judge and opine but apparently only if they're hiding behind psueds.

'Nuff said.

We have no problem with commenters who wish to remain anonymous, so long as they maintain a consistent identity. I spent my first few blog-years commenting as "zhwj" for reasons that now seem ridiculous but which were important to me at the time. It's the sock-puppet swapping that gets tedious.

I made the decision to unpublish Stinky's comment and my own response because I felt the thread was getting too personal. Apologies if the memory-holing made anyone question their sanity.

Justin - who are you again? Real name/pseud would make no difference in you or my case. Both of us would still be anonymous.

@Raj specifically, and also Richard.

Your suspicions about my nationality/ethnicity are unfounded, sorry. I am not sure why any strong dissent must indicate my being Chinese. Furthermore, what does my nationality have to do with it? Would being Chinese void or negatively color my opinion? That seems to be the thinking beyond your posting.

As far as seeing myself as "fair and balanced", gee, who doesn't? And who would cop to being "unfair and biased"?

And no, I wasn't a frequent commenter to PKD. Not everyone who reads, comments.

Someone noted "(T)he first rule of blogging is that the blogger is always right." Maybe so, but some of us obviously expect intellectual integrity - that includes freely admitting wrong and respecting a good argument even when disagreeing - even from China bloggers.

The blog stats show most China blogs are read by the same several hundred expats most of whom are in Beijing, but an English language news publication should be expected to have a wider, more varied audience. I do agree that to have an appreciable effect on the Chinese the message must be in Chinese to a Chinese readership. Nevertheless, I'm sure Richard Burger is adequate for the present position if not the mission.

Im American been working in China 15 years. Last time I read China Daily was 10 years ago.. And I wont start reading GT either. Just more BS to convince gullible English speaking public China is "progressing".

I wonder myself, Mike.

@Justin Mitchell - There's enough people out there who know my real name - including Richard. If you really want to know who I am it is simple enough to get in touch so I can tell you - my email address is fearofaredplanet@yahoo.co.uk .

Of course, I could ask just how exactly you think you are being 'out in the open' by identifying yourself as 'Justin Mitchell'? A search on Facebook reveals more than 1000 different 'Justin Mitchells' including an actor, a model, a singer, a journalist and an athlete.

'nuff said.

Oh, and Justin - yes, you most definitely are working for the mouthpiece of a dictatorship.

I've had a lot of crap jobs and I've even been on the Chinese government payroll (as an English teacher at a major Beijing university many, many years ago) but I'd rather starve than work for the CCP propaganda machine. Shame on the 'duck

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From 2008
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.
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