Thanks to my friend JR, I had my first ever media interview. Over at the Just Recently Blog, I talked, for the first time, openly and frankly about who I am and why I blog. The following is just an example of the kind of tough questions I have to tackle. So if you have a chance, grab a drink and hop over to join us for a chat.
Q: Being a bilingual blogger, you seem to follow both Chinese- and English-language blogs, and blog posts from Chinese and from foreigners alike. Do you see anything they would have in common? And what makes them different from each other?
A: They are very different. The difference is not just confined to the topics they picked. Let us take the Wenzhou train crash as an example. Most English-language bloggers wrote about how the news was censored. There were some discussions on possible implications for the Chinese government, but they are not in great details. Many Chinese bloggers who wrote about this incident, however, seemed to be more interested in the way the rescue was handled. They were also eager to ascertain whether there were signs of a cover-up.
Ultimately it comes down to a different reason for blogging. English-language bloggers who write about China are doing so mostly as observers. Most of them want to use their blogs as a forum to provoke discussions. For many Chinese bloggers, particularly those who are living in China, the blogosphere is a virtual space for them to gather, to exchange information, to gossip, to monitor the authorities and to plot the kind of actions that they cannot otherwise have contemplated in the real world.
The good news is: the difference between the two groups of bloggers can be bridged. From what I can see, social media, such as Twitter and Google +, or even the Weibo, have provided a common virtual space for the two bloggers’ groups to converge. The exchange of minds is made possible by bilingual bloggers (or “bridges”, as my friend Isaac Mao calls them). With the number of bilingual bloggers and online projects growing, I am confident that the gap will be gradually narrowed.