China Beat Archive



Angilee Shah

Date of this Version


Document Type



April 9, 2009 in the China Beat


Copyright April 9, 2009 Angilee Shah. Used by permission.


In the land of news-meets-the-Internet, China has been fertile soil for very interesting blogs by journalists. There’s Evan Osnos’ Letters from China at theNew Yorker, the China Journal at the Wall Street Journal, Pomfret’s China (John Pomfret, that is) from the Washington Post, James Fallows‘ often-China blog onThe Atlantic, Peter Foster and Richard Spencer at the Telegraph, The New York Times reporter Howard French’s non-New York Times’ blog, and last but not least, Tim Johnson’s long-standing China Rises for McClatchy Newspapers. Though this list is long, it is not exhaustive.

Perhaps what is most interesting about these blogs is the opportunity to get a greater picture of reporters’ perspectives as foreigners living in a new country. But if the recession — and the seating arrangements at a G-20 summit dinner — tells us anything, it is that the West’s perception of the East is not all that counts. How emerging powerhouse economies see each other is of great importance, and lucky for us is incredibly interesting. An excellent entrée into Asian takes on Asia is aHindustan Times blog, Middle Order, written by the newspaper’s first China correspondent, Reshma Patil.

Just a few months and 13 posts old, Middle Order brings to the table a fresh take on the “foreigner in China” story. The introduction to Patil’s musings is tempting: “Find out why this vegetarian is still staying on, a few floors above a restaurant that serves bullfrog, and in an apartment where the DVD remote control to the fax machine has Chinese instructions that she cannot read.” Patil’s posts about her life in China are engaging and interesting, as varied as her ten-year career. She was a special correspondent for the Indian Express until 2006, when she joined theHindustan Times as an Assistant Editor. As she explains it, she was working on stories that “could be anything from politics to floods in Gujarat to spending a night at a morgue after terror attacks in Mumbai.” It was that hectic variety, she explains, that prepared her the most for becoming a one-woman show in Beijing. It also helped that she had been studying Mandarin in weekend classes for six months when the Hindustan Times approached her about a job in China. “But I had never planned to relocate to China. It just happened,” she writes in email. “I was told I had the job one hour after the interview in Delhi, and I said yes immediately. If I hadn’t come to China, I would probably be covering the Indian elections right now.”