I’ve just been updating the links page of our website. Every time I do that, or try to look at a few blogs about China, I realise how much is there. There’s at least a dozen very high quality news sources covering social trends, environmental issues, economics, law, and the Chinese digital world. In spite of censorship and the language barrier, there is reliable, quality information available about the state of China for those willing to learn.
But most of these sources are written by Westerners, analysing the situation in English, and using intellectual tools and structures learnt in a Western context. That is good, because ultimately, their audience is Western, and adapting the analysis to the audience will help in making China more understood. But something’s missing from the web: what’s missing, and what we’re looking to provide, is the voices of Chinese intellectuals and writers directly translated – not those frontally dissenting and leaving the country, but those who toe the line, and analyse the current situation of China from within. What’s missing is direct access to the rhetorical structures of contemporary Chinese discourse, its emphases and ellipses, its metaphors and repetitions, what it focuses on, and what it lefts in the shadow. That is what we’re trying to provide – not to replace what already exists, but to fill in this gap.