Danwei TV: Hong Huang - Media Mogul and Blogger
Danwei TV

Danwei TV: Hong Huang - Media Mogul and Blogger

Hong Huang's (洪晃) mother was Mao Zedong's English teacher. She was sent to the U.S. for education as a teenager, and has returned to become one of the most influential entrepreneurs in Chinese print media.

Now she has discovered the power of the blog.

This show is the first half of a two part profile of Hong, who also writes her surname 'Hung'.

- Shot and edited by Anna Sophie Loewenberg, presented by Jeremy Goldkorn, music by Fernando Fidanza

- Hong Huang's blog is on Sina: Hong Huang looking for fun.

- There's more about Hong on Danwei here: Hung Huang, Chen Kaige and the Steamed Bun

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There are currently 29 Comments for Danwei TV: Hong Huang - Media Mogul and Blogger.

Comments on Danwei TV: Hong Huang - Media Mogul and Blogger

Such a weird coincidence.Talking about her last night. She's profiled in Time Out this week as one of the top 8 movers and shakersin Beijing - rather sycophantic since she is the Chinese partner in the venture. Her father headed up the foreign office after Zhou Elai it seems.

i think time out's list was a gathering of the only 10 people they could either get access to or had heard of. very underwhelming, which is not a surprise.

Really interesting interview.


Mike, who would be in your top ten?


Off the top of my head I don't know. I haven't thought about it (neither, it would appear, did TO). My point is that it was just a bit disappointing to see the same old faces (including, in Henry Li, one very old face - exactly when did vogue close down?)

I was hoping for a bit of insight into the people who are making Beijing tick and instead got Pan Shiyi (again), Handel Lee (fair enough)the TO boss (who has been in a movie you know), and some woman who works for a charity.

Like I said, underwhelming.

With you on the do-gooder. I'm also fed up of seeing Pan Shiyi's little moon face everywhere, but who else is bigger in property circles?

Notice Henry Lee was also in TBJ this month - getting fed up of his grinning mug too.

Don't know a lot about their boss lady but Jeremy rates her in his speil above.

Henry Li about to open some big club which sounds a cut above the rest. I would have liked to have seen someone from design and less stuffed suits.

For me, the sheer ubiquity of Hung Huang is reassuring.

I like to think of her, Pan Shiyi&Zhang; Xin and Ai Weiwei as the Ubiquity-In-Action Team. The U-Team, perhaps.

Instead of seeing a real diversity of media icons, I prefer that we keep it simple and repetitive -- like the menus at McDonald's. I mean, who needs new media icons, when you can just have the same re-assuring set appear everywhere over and over again?

I'm not really sure how they do it: RSS-powered holographic avatars? I mean, these people are everywhere! With Beijing traffic the thing of Pollockian beauty that it is, I'm really curious how they syndicate themselves so broadly: Pneumatic tubes? 'copters? Underground U-Team Railroad?

Dunno how they do it, but it really does make me feel better. Safer. Like, everyone's exactly as it should be. This is the best world possible. That kind of thing.

Case in point: Time-Out's Ten Most [Whatever] People in Beijing this month features the Ubiquity Team quite prominently. Which is cool, because it makes is far easier on the reader. Should they be really digging into the stunningly insightful Time-Out reporting on these [Whatevers] and suddenly think, "Hey, I wonder who the publisher of this mag is?" Well, heck, think no more: The publisher is the subject of the article! It's more economical this way. Save those braincells for more important things...

...like trying to figure out why the hell Time-Out is recycling nasty no-brainer gossip and photos of rock legend Douwei's recent troubles, while simultaneously singing shameless paeans to the Ten Most [Whatever] People in Beijing.

["Time-Out: Beijing, the Mogul Magazine!" Time-Out: Take a Time-Out from Real Culture and Learn More ABout Your Favorite CEOs!"]

But back to the subject at hand: All I know about Hong Huang is that she is always the subject of these reports about how huge a media mogul she is.
It's almost like a Jedi mindtrick.

[Jedi: "I'm a a Mogul..." Me: "You are a Mogul..."]
At which point, I tip my Stormtrooper helmet to her, and wave her on by the imperial checkpoint.]

I better be signing off now: Pan & Zhang, Ai and Hung Huang are knocking at my door right now. I think they're yelling something like, "We just want you to know we're still here!" or maybe they're saying, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

Anyhow, I promised my ayi I would try to keep them out of the house while she's working, but they just keep showing up at these odd hours, full of energy and books to sell.

Oh, shit: There's a scratching sound on my door right now. I think the U-Team might be "blogging" on my door again. I told them the neighbors think keep mistaking it for graffiti. Perhaps I can pretend I simply don't hear them. Maybe they'll just go away. (What would be really cool would be if Sina.com's Blog could buy a city somewhere and just invite everyone who blogs there to MOVE physically to that new Blog City. This would possibly create new space for new icons to appear. I dunno. Just an idea.)

I hate to break it to you but Hung Huang knows next to nothing about publishing, having met her and knowing how she started out in publishing. She lucked out by getting a publishing license from the Chinese government before they put a complete lockdown on media thus forcing anyone wishing to enter the Chinese media market, local or foreign to go through those few who just lucked out and got the numbers. I really don't see what the hoopla about her is. She has a biased, unfair, and in any other country, what would be considered an illegal and corrupt method of publishing. It's quite obvious that she is only able to survive due to this government sanctioned "no bid, no- competition" status for these lucky few. The fact that she would call Time Out her own is not only insulting to the actual people who own Time Out, but also to real publishers everywhere. It's like being the only restaurant/bar in a 500 mile radius and bragging about how you're the most popular restaurant in the area, knowing full well people don't have any other choice. This Hung Huang does not deserve any recognition and is a complete and utter joke. They only icked her because she was the only one available. If and when the media and publishing market in China becomes fair and unbiased, we'll see just how long she lasts. I doubt she would last more than 3 months.

Spot on comment by GW. But in a way irrelevant, surely? That's what China's all about.It's a separate universe, ruled by men not law, as the cliche goes.

And in this case, women :(

A lot of bitching here from uptight laowai! Hung's magazines, even if you hate them, are still surviving and obviously making some money, and they are independently run. Thats significant.

GW: "I hate to break it to you but Hung Huang knows next to nothing about publishing ... She lucked out by getting a publishing license from the Chinese government before they put a complete lockdown on media thus forcing anyone wishing to enter the Chinese media market, local or foreign to go through those few who just lucked out and got the numbers."

I hate to break it to you GW, but:

1. If you are going to make personal attacks on someone, have the decency to use your whole name. Posting anonymous personal attacks is cowardly.

2. Nobody knows anything about commercial publishing in China: it's in its infancy, and as you point out, is corrupt and unfair. But that's the way it is. Surviving in this environment is what's interesting.

3. There is no new lockdown on publishing numbers: the system still works in the same way it has worked since Elle became the first joint venture / foreign invested magazine in 1988. If you want to publish in China, you need to make a deal with a local, usually state-owned publisher. That's the way it is for everyone, and nothing has changed since Hung started her magazines.

4. There are new magazines launching in China almost every week. The market is not open nor fair, but neither is it a closed shop. It is extremely competitive.

fair points gerry

and the fact that I cannot think of who should be the top ten M$S's in Beijing shows the need for an in depth story letting us uptight laowais (!) know who the top ten are. This was the top ten media faces. sure. and no doubt some of them have a lot of influence. but, i would rather see a real piece of journalism (getting carried away here, this was TO Beijing after all) that can unveil the real people who make BJ tick - the real media moguls, entertainment entrepreneurs, etc.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall at TO's 10 minute editorial meeting. "hey, quick, name 10 well-known, expat-fiendly Chinese in Beijing and turn them into a top 10 listing. Voila - cover story done, now back to lifting ideas off ESWN and Danwei."

Listen up, first of all, I am Chinese, born and bred in Hsinchu, Taiwan and have been educated in the US. I served in the United States Marine Corps for 6 years as a Basic Demolitions Specialist and have survived two firefights and been on numerous deployments so the fact that you would call someone a coward without knowing anything about them is idiotic. And Hung Huang has a publishing number from the Chinese government and does not need to go through a partner like everyone else in the rest of the world. Thus the independently owned label of her "publishing house." The fact that she called Time Out her own is not only wrong but in most countries illegal. To call someone's else's publication yours when they are literally forced to go through you is truly sad. So this is the challenge for the mainlanders. Make the media and publishing environment free and fair so they anyone wishing to get into that market without being forced to go through some corrupt chinese partner who usually demands an outrageous percentage for doing next to nothing and then another ridiculous upfront fee on top of that. If you're going to be a lapdog for the grossly unfair and ridiculous media environment in China, at least try to back up your idiotic rants with something tangible. Otherwise, shut the hell up and go home.

Dear Hong Huang, I saw you on CCTV 9's UP CLOSE a few weeks ago and meant to write you since you mentioned something that struck me. You mentioned that culture is very important for understanding peoples of other countries. I agree and actually work on that field here in China since 1997. You may visit my website at:


By the way, you encouraged me to start my own blog and I will soon....I need to give me extra free time to do so! :)

Warm regards from Hangzhou!Victor

Thanks for your comments Gordon. Time Out has over 18 licensee agreements in countries all over the world including cities such as Moscow, Dubai, Almaty and Beirut. There are challenges working and publishing in many of these cities and Beijing can also be challenging at times. However Time Out, the group, has a choice (as do all international magazines) as to whom they partner with. The agreement benefits both London head office and the local license holder for the contracted period. If one or the other partners are not happy with the way it is going they have the choice not to renew the contract.
Yes non-Chinese publishing groups cannot publish in China without a mainland partner, but I would argue it would be almost impossible to succeed without local knowledge and assistance from a Chinese partner in a market that has over 9,000 magazines on offer. In short international publishing groups would be crazy not to work with a local partner and they are certainly not forced to do anything. The Chinese partner pays the foreign company to become a license holder and often puts in all the money for the magazine - not the other way round. As the license holder of Time Out in China, Time Out Huang certainly does have ownership of the title in China.

Now just for the record ladies and gentlemen, thanks for the comments above. Firstly, do you think we are actually organised enough to spend ten minutes on an editorial meeting? We just write the first thing that comes into our head after drinking vast amounts of wine.

Secondly our top ten (well eleven and a half if you include Zhang Xin and Ai Weiwei’s belly) was interestingly not as easy to come up with as you may have thought. We decided to keep fairly distant from politics and it wasn’t a rich list either. The plan was to try and find the most important person that can correlate with sections from our magazine. Therefore, art, theatre and architecture was included and relatively few CEOs.
Mike, Yang Yang has a PR company, she doesn’t work for some charity, she directly and indirectly makes more money for charity than probably anyone else in the country. All of these people in someway do and have shaped the way many people live in Beijing. Our lifestyles in some small way are changed by these people, like Huang (yes… my boss) calling to give me shit at two in the morning – luckily we were in an editorial meeting at Red Ball at the time – they all effect the way we live.
So come on then, lets give Jeremy a new list, who can top our top ten? Here are the sections, see what you can do.

Food and drink

ps, thanks for the tip Mike, I wasnt too aware of ESWN before, I will start lifting immediately.

What's all this talk about licenses? Time Out Beijing (the English version) has no publishing license whatsoever (look for a staff box in the mag -- they conveniently leave it out just in case someone calls them to task). The mag would have been shut down long ago if it weren't for the fact that HH's guanxi makes her an untouchable ... and the fact that she can get away with it gives me reason to put her in that magical Top 10!

I can understand your defense of Hung Huang since she is your Boss. Loyalty is hard to find these days and I commend you for doing so. However, you said foreign publishers are not "forced" to partner with a local company. Which in reality, they are. They may have choices among different publishing houses but the fact remains that they MUST go through a Chinese partner, and often a very corrupt one that demands ridiculous fees and ownership percentages far beyond their worth (Remember Mark Kitto), and is heavily regulated by the Chinese government. Yes, I agree with you on the point that one would be crazy not to consult a chinese firm about the market dynamics and culture of China before venturing into that land. However, forcing any foreign entity to partner with someone instead of allowing them to contract out a firm or hire a ground team on a contract basis is wrong and illegal in any civilized country with true rule of law. I stand fast in my opinion that these publishing houses, including Huang's, are enjoying the unfair and often ridiculous advantages they are given by the government, due to their nationality and other often ludicrous criteria. When it boils down to it, it comes down to greed, extreme market manipulation, and a corrupt and highly unfair media environment. Now, I challenge the mainlanders again, Make the market fair and unbiased. Then, we'll see how strong these local publishing houses are and how they hold up against true publishing professionals and real competition from all around the world. But for now, they can enjoy the favor of the communist government there. However I would really be interested to see how long these "locals" will last under a TRULY fair, free , and unbiased media environment.

Er...the bloke up here, this Mr. WU, is really, really funny...
Well, tell me something, my pengyou ex-marine, but where the F*** on earth will you find a "a TRULY fair, free , and unbiased media environment". Where do you live! We wanna know! You are talking about MEDIA, remember? You reason just like every other foreign investor that believes that wherever the rules of any given 'local market' are not like those back home (US? Taiwan?), that very local market is 'retarded', unfair, going against the principle of freedom. Oh poo-leeeze! Give us a break! Here's the catch, Mr. Gordon Wu. To whoever is experienced and informed enough about this country and this media environment, the market rules are clear. Super-CLEAR! Do you salivate after millions of readers in China? Or TV spectators? You wanna get into the pit of MEGAFIERCE competition, gang managed distribution, erratic and highly varied public tastes? Welcome to China! Do you wanna play? Then you gotta play by the local rules, the written and the unwritten ones. So, do you wanna play (because you're still salivating, inn'it)? Then come and play. You don't wanna play? Stay home, then. But don't freakin' complain about FAIR rules, UNBIASED environment. 'cause the market here is already full of players competing in the pit.
These rules, for how annoying they are, are here to stay for a while.
The difference between people like you with your western media fellows that complain about media regulations in China, and people like Hung Huang, Mark Kitto, and whoever else has been venturing in this market, is that these people had at least the balls to get into the pit and fight, and fight hard, forchrissake, playing by the local rules. And you'd be totally wrong if you think that this people got it easy in any way...Sometime they win and sometime they lose, here in China like in every other market in the world.
Get over it, Mr. Wu, and...yes, please don't forget to answer my question about indicating where the country with 'TRULY fair, free, unbiased media environment' is located, and under which name it goes in the world atlas of your dreams...

spirited defence, but don't kid us that making a top ten list like that took any more that 10 minutes max. like I said, it was 6 of the most expat friendly media hogs with a few red herrings thrown in. I asked a few of my friends about the theatre chap. nobody knew him. he really must be moving and shaking beijing.and yang yang has a pr company? well that changes everything. are you sure she isn't merely some friend of your bosss, some one you had easy access to from your database?

this was a cheap article that promised on the cover and failed to deliver inside. felt it was written in a spare 5 minutes on a subway journey. but of course you'll make a little joke of that and everything will be okay. seems that TO is turning more into smart arse that's every month. you ask danwei to produce a list - but isn't that what you get paid for??

as for changing how we live in beijing? come on? i would love to know how henrry lee has changed how i live. i went to vogue once. it was shot. my life changed. might as well got the people behind the gongtin xi lu strip in there as they have really changed my life as well, and in exactly the same way.

I would be more interested in the shadowy people who are really making the moves in this city, the kind of moves that will really impact the future, not the ones who are exposed the most via the syncophantic media. I understand that would be a difficult feature to pull off, but is that not the point of the media (ok, i am getting carried away again, need to remind me that this is just TO beijing, but still)

anyway, good luck. to is better than the alternatives but please: start writing some proper headings picture captions. headings and captions in a magazine are like the state of a persons shoes. say a lot about how much effort is being made. and to is wearing some pretty scuffed shoes these days.

Well, Let's see, the US, Taiwan. Great Britain. Places where they don't censor anything and everything that may undermine the government's authority or simply the perception that it may do so. These countries don't discriminate based on ethnicity when it comes to issuing publishing licenses to those wishing to publish a magazine or books. Do I even need to go on. In the future, gunslinger, if you wish to respond to a blog on here, please put together coherent sentences and a rational response. I couldn't understand half of your ridiculous emotionally charged rant. Perhaps you should try taking some english grammar lessons and getting half a brain.

Thanks for listing the nations where media roam freely, Mr Gordon Wu, and where ethnicity has never been and never will be reason for any kind of discrimination. I'm grateful for opening up a whole new perspective on the world for me. You rock, Gordon Wu, paladin of the Free Media of the Free World! By the way, did you get anything demolished today? A Lego compound? A Barbie house? Because you live in a fairy world of toys, wizards and dreams, isn't it? Take it easy, man. Keep on dreaming.

Why don't you try reading my post again. In which of these countries do they censor material simply due to the fact a few power elite in government don't like the content? Yes, there are a few exceptions in history, but they have almost always gone to court, often the supreme court, to decide whether the ban or censorship is legitimate. No system or country is perfect but the media environment in these countries have advanced to a level that is unseen in many other countries such as China. What do you think would happen if a magazine or book publisher challenged the communist government there? I think you know the answer to this question. So, again I ask you to not read one sentence and post an idiotic rant, try to get the entire gist of the post before you spew more idiotic crap.

mike said: "I asked a few of my friends about the theatre chap. nobody knew him."

actually, Meng Jinghui (the theatre chap) has been hugely influential in beijing. over the past 10 years he has made theatre hip again among the young. a decade ago, the theatre was barely attended by a hardcore following of the elderly and drama school students. Meng's plays, which combine elements of pop musical with "serious" theatre took the stage play from dying institution to a vibrant venue for social and cultural commentary. he sold out not just weeks, but MONTHS of performances.
one of his recent productions was in the workers gymnasium which has a few thousand seats, each of which was filled each day for a month-long run.

his productions cultivated an number of actresses who went on to big film careers. he is one of the very few local artists of any relevance who has taken his productions to hong kong or taiwan. and his mix of pop musical and absurdist dialogue has directly influenced a number of young film directors...


fair enough, although I still feel his name was pulled out of a hat (or more accurately hong huang's name card holder)

and, going by the recent output of Chinese film directors, his influence has perhaps not entirely been for the good.

still, I bow down to your knowledge in this area. thanks

yes. good point about the recent output of chinese film!

Meng was big in the expat media years back so he was an obvious and easy pick for Time Out....

two quick alternative picks for people who had real mass-culture impact/influence?

whomever started up that first ski area a few years back. winter sport has gone from non-existent to the ultra yuppie pastime. check the growth stats and sales figures, this skiing fad has had a much greater impact on beijing urban leisure culture than any recent film or filmmaker.

2. those night-owl businessmen who started up the first late-night (and then 24-hour) eateries on dongzhimen. perhaps pick Jin Ding as an example. 24-hour food fuels the culture industry here. sure, everyone used to go to Vogue. but come 5am, where did they go? gui jie, or that 24-hour doujiang place across the street.

the real failure of the Time Out list is it does not live up to its own criteria: " the following ten figures have changed our city for the better, making it a more entertaining, more comfortable and increasingly modern city..."

sorry, but pan shiyi, lu yan, wang zhonglei, handel lee, ai weiwei, zhang yonghe and yang yang have not made my life better in any way. and probably not yours either.

but damn, without jin ding or the 24-hour cantonese places, most everyone i know would starve...

saw you in the upclose recently and actually finds you quite interesting and joyial on screen. can i have a photo of you? people are saying something about your looks but i do see beauty is not external but internally.if you think what you are, you are!

Absolutely fascinatng discussion. I commend you all.

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