China Beat Archive


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With much gratitude, the China Beat editors say goodbye.

What a difference four years can make—for a blog, a country, and a planet. (“Blog, country, planet” might have made a nice coat of arms if we’d thought of it…) When China Beat launched early in 2008, blogs seemed like relatively new kids on the block, at least to academics. Four years later, the genre is old hat, sharing a landscape with newcomers like Tumblr, Twitter, and other microblogging platforms, and we’re increasingly catching up on China news not on computers but on devices that fit in our palms.

The blog itself developed in ways that we never could have foreseen back in January 2008. We began China Beat with a small core group of contributors, imagining that each would write for the site once or twice a month, with an occasional guest post thrown in every now and then if someone outside the group wanted to post. That setup changed quickly, as more people than we ever imagined expressed an interest in becoming China Beatniks, and the distinction between “regular contributors” and “guest contributors” became irrelevant.

Even we aren’t sure exactly how many China Beatniks are out there, but over the past 999 posts, we’ve featured the writing and photography of an incredibly wide range of people. They include undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, journalists, photographers, and freelance writers from around the world. A number of them have pieces in China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance, the book that grew out of the blog’s first year—another development that we didn’t have in mind when we began the site. In the meantime, a group that started over lunch around a little table outside Murray L. Krieger Hall on the sunny, eucalyptus-laced campus of the University of California, Irvine, has now scattered far from California.