Longtime readers of the site may recall that way back in October — on Halloween, actually — we announced were looking for a way to get a Chinese version of ChinaGeeks started. It may have taken longer than we’d hoped, but we never forgot about it, and now, we’re extremely proud to announce that it is here!
What is it?
In essence, it is a sister site to ChinaGeeks, covering many of the same topics and issues, but targeted at Chinese audience. Where ChinaGeeks translates social commentary from Chinese blogs, ChinaGeeks Chinese will translate China commentary from the English-language blogosphere, giving Chinese readers a view into the Western discourse on China and a way to get involved in that discourse.
Currently, the only ChinaGeeks Chinese contributor is its editor, 三水 ((Unlike the English version, ChinaGeeks Chinese contributors will not be asked to use their real names. You can probably guess why.)) , but we hope that after the site is launched she will be able to build up a team of creative, skilled translators and hopefully someday start adding original commentary into the mix. For the moment, expect several updates from ChinaGeeks Chinese per week.
A number of reasons. First, there’s plenty of interesting stuff being said about China in English, and while many Chinese people can read English, the vast majority — even those who might be interested in the issues — aren’t going to bother trying to read a long essay in English.
If we want to take the whole “bridge blogging” thing seriously, I think it needs to be a two way street. Both blogs will remain firmly focused on China and Chinese issues, but the possibilities for cross-pollination are endless. For example, Chinese commenters can now read and comment on this post from China Beat in their own language. If their comments are interesting, we might translate some of them here for our English readers to enjoy. And when we write an opinion piece we think is worthwhile, ChinaGeeks Chinese might translate it. So China bloggers and ChinaGeeks commenters beware, because your next post might end up translated into Chinese (actually, this is a good thing!)
Furthermore, it’s going to improve the quality of the translations you see here and on ChinaGeeks Chinese. Having a core group of writers who are all bilingual and able to trade translation tips has already helped us improve. Adding another group to that, one that consists solely of native Chinese speakers with good English skills is going to help us — and them — ensure that our translations read more smoothly and more accurately.
Also, as far as I know, no one else has done anything quite like it. Perhaps that’s because it’s completely mad, or because someone has tried before and it failed miserably, but we’re going to give it a go in the hopes that it can start building a real bridge. Not the one-way street that ChinaGeeks is now, but a two-way street where both Chinese and English speakers can exchange views on important Chinese issues via our team of translators.
But what about censorship?
Yes, having a Chinese-language site is probably going to bring down the banhammer sooner or later. For obvious reasons, there are some issues ChinaGeeks Chinese won’t be writing about (think illegal cults), and we will do our best to walk the line, but this may well get our site blocked in China. Our Chinese editor 三水 and I are going to do our best to provide compelling and provocative content, but nothing that’s obviously going to get us blocked. Still, we hope by now that you all have VPNs. If you don’t, now’s as good a time as any to invest.
Well, if you’re a reader of Chinese, you might check out the site’s first two posts:
- 亲爱的《纽约时报》：你在胡说八道什么？(a translation of a piece I wrote several weeks ago)
- 回顾：中国梦 (a translation of a recent China Beat book review with some interesting insights)
More than likely if you’ve read this far, though, you’ve already read those posts, or would prefer to read them in English, so what we would really appreciate from you is some help in spreading the word. Everyone who reads this blog has Chinese friends (yes, you do), so pass the link along. If you have a twitter account or a blog and feel like doing us a favor, spread the link around that way, too. We hope we can build up enough of a readership to start generating interesting comments fairly soon.
We’re setting off on the road towards what we hope is a real “bridge blog”. It might also be a ditch, or a tree, or a large cliff, but our foot’s already on the gas pedal now, so if you aren’t willing to help in any other way, we hope you’ll at least wish us luck as we embark on what we desperately hope will be a long, crazy adventure.