A Christmas Message
Best wishes for you as fellow human beings, from Zichen Wang and Yang Liu
By now, we hope we have convinced you Pekingnology is a good-faith, serious newsletter that strives to provide added value on China - to even the best China specialists.
We know we are writing for an incredible - and a growing number of - subscribers: professors, diplomats, think-tankers, economists, analysts, government officials, China correspondents, and others from the influential policy, research, business, and journalism circles on China. And that’s what keeps us awake at night.
In the twenty pieces we have sent out, mostly since late November, Pekingnology provided the earliest full translation of China’s foreign investment security review rules with detailed background and notes, picked the signal against Chinese Big Tech out of one sentence in a Politburo meeting readout, explained in great detail Beijing’s latest modifications to the social credit system, highlighted the once-in-a-generation change to the People’s Liberation Army’s guidelines, and comprehensively covered the Politburo’s group study sessions.
We also pointed to the housing demolitions in the far corners of Beijing amid harsh winter, touched on the controversy over China’s tightening of divorce rules, and recounted the People’s Daily’s takedown of a controversial Internet celebrity, sometimes in the most lively language that we could master.
For a number of reasons, including the way public discourse is conducted here and the language barrier, we believe there remains much to be unpacked from Beijing, despite the numerous English-language sources of information on China.
Against what Beijing calls 百年未有之大变局 changes unseen in a century, with the coronavirus pandemic and the seismic changes to Sino-U.S. relations, we believe it is now more urgent than ever to shine more light on conference communiques, meeting readouts, official speeches, media reports, and social media dynamics from China. The near halt to people-to-people exchanges and the decrease in the number of correspondents only adds to the urgency.
We have, respectively, spent some professional time in the European Union and the United States, but our lives are rooted in the People’s Republic. Based on our knowledge and experience, we believe we possess unique capabilities in reading and explaining the messages from Beijing - in accessible, clear English while putting them in a proper context, while fully aware of the circumstances and our very limitations.
It’s not an easy job, as the sleepless nights have repeatedly proved, to pick the real news out, add appropriate background with verifiable Internet links, and write them neatly and speedily in a foreign language.
We love our country deeply, and we also love the world. We believe it is in everyone’s interest, including and particularly China’s, to have English speakers feel its pulse. With unprecedented tensions between China and the U.S., the chance for strategic miscalculation originated from misunderstanding can not be ruled out. What we do here is extremely limited, but at least we could one day look back and say we did something, personally.
We are not here picking quarrels and provoking trouble, or teach somebody a lesson. We sincerely hope Pekingnology contributes to a more nuanced understanding of China - or, in the more official language, help shape 一个真实、立体、全面的中国 a true, multi-dimensional, and panoramic view of China.
Along the way, more than six hundred of you have joined the journey, and have been generous in sharing your insights, advice, and encouragement both in private and in public. We are truly grateful.
We would also like to use this opportunity to refresh our invitation for your feedback. Your comment on the newsletter, opinion on a certain matter, recommendation on subjects we should cover are all welcomed. Please feel free to write to firstname.lastname@example.org , the newsletter’s email, at any time.
With your attention and support, we are ever more committed to continuing this endeavor. In case you find the newsletter useful, we humbly ask you to share it with your colleagues, friends, and students so that more people can join us.
This has been an extraordinarily difficult year. As we approach the most important holiday in the English-speaking world and a New Year, please accept our most sincere and best wishes for all of you as fellow human beings.
Zichen Wang and Yang Liu