Seven Great China Newsletters

When we started this blog way back in 2006, readers would constantly ask us what they should be reading “to stay current on China.” Becuase mainstream media coverage of China has greatly improved since then, we are asked this way less often now, but this morning I got an email asking what to read “for really good China analysis.”

I wrote back and suggested the following three newsletters, all of which are excellent. Full Disclosure: I have known and liked and respected all three of these writers for a long time, but none of them knew that I would be writing about their newsletters. I have chosen these newsletters based strictly on their quality. If I have left out any other great China newsletters, please let us know with a comment below.

1. Bill Bishop’s Sinocism

Bill has been covering China since the 1990s and Sinocism is probably the most quoted China newsletter on the planet. Bill describes Sinocism as follows:

Nearly 100,000 investors, policymakers, executives, analysts, diplomats, journalists, scholars and others read Bill Bishop’s newsletters for valuable insights into China.

The newsletter provides analysis, commentary and curated links to the important English and Chinese news of the day.

2. Dexter Roberts’ Trade War

Dexter was Bloomberg Businessweek’s Beijing bureau chief for many years and he spent more than two decades living in and reporting from China. He also wrote a great book on China, entitled, The Myth of Chinese Capitalism. Trade War provides mostly policy and economics analysis. Dexter describes Trade War as follows:

Trade War is a weekly publication that focuses on the Chinese economy and China’s business and political relationship with the world.

Dexter Tiff Roberts previously worked as journalist based in Beijing for more than two decades and is the author of The Myth of Chinese Capitalism, chosen by The Economist as one of the best books of the year for 2020.

3. Shannon Brandao’s China Boss

Shannon is an American attorney who helps companies with China risk analysis and deep-dive due diligence. China Boss comes out at least weekly and it focuses on the China events that increase or (far less often) ameliorate China risks for companies and indviduals. Shannon describes China Boss as follows:

Welcome to China Boss News where I sum up the week’s most important news from my LinkedIn feed of over 80 weekly posts – that’s over 4000 news articles a year! – with China-related news stories in business, law, and geopolitics.

I’m an American attorney living near Brussels, Belgium, with my wonderful husband and a feisty West Highland terrier. I’m also a long-time China watcher, having studied Chinese language, politics and economics for over two decades. My LinkedIn posts are a collection of my research on COVID-19 recovery, China-related business and geopolitical trends, as well as new ways of understanding China.

I created China Boss News to keep track of the larger trends that can be used to draw conclusions about where things may be headed next.

4. All Three China Newsletters are Great

What makes all three of these newsletters so valuable is their in-depth China analysis. The news behind the news, if you will. Almost without fail, one or more of the articles from these newsletters will influence my views on China or become a topic of discussion with a client or with another of the international lawyers in my law firm.

I am going to preempt the question as to which newsletter I would choose if I had to choose just one, by encouraging all of you to read the free writings of all three of these newsletters for a few weeks and then decide which of them (all three maybe!) make the most sense for you.


Update: Thanks to Twitter, I’ve been tipped off to a fourth newsletter that I am going to start following: Watching China in Europe, by Noah Barkin from the German Marshall Fund and from Rhodium Group (both of which I know very well and very much respect). The Twitter recommendation rightly touted it for providing excellent updates on Europe-China relations.

Watching China in Europe describes itself as follow:

Watching China in Europe, a must-read monthly update from GMF’s Asia Program, lifts the curtain on what policymakers in Europe think about the relationship with China. At a time when China has emerged as the top foreign policy priority of the United States, transatlantic cooperation is essential to address the wide range of political and economic challenges presented by Beijing. This makes an understanding of Europe’s evolving stance all the more important. In this monthly newsletter, Noah Barkin – a senior visiting fellow at GMF and managing editor at Rhodium Group – provides observations and analysis on China-related development across Europe, based on conversations with top decision-makers in Berlin, Brussels, and beyond.

Update: Thanks to my friend David Dayton and Linkedin, I’ve been tipped off to two more excellent newsletters. The first is China Brief by James Palmer, Deputy Editor at Foreign Policy magazine. I love this newsletter and I’m embarrased that I didn’t initially mention it, because I both know and think the world of James and I regularly read his China Brief.

China Brief succinctly and accurately describes itself as follows:

A weekly digest of the stories you should be following in China, plus exclusive analysis. Delivered Wednesday.

You do not want to miss it.

David Dayton also recommended Politico’s China Watcher, led by Phelim Kine, who “has more than two decades of experience reporting in and on China in roles ranging from Beijing-based foreign correspondent at Dow Jones Newswires in Beijing and Hong Kong-based human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch to environmental campaigner at the D.C.-based nonprofit Mighty Earth.” I regularly read and like China Watcher, but until now I never realized it’s a newsletter.

A friend of mine also e-mailed me to vociferously complain about my failure to include The Wire China. My excuse to my friend and to you-readers is that I left it out because so much of it is behind a paywall and because its coverage of China is so in-depth, and it has so many writers, that I don’t even think of it as a newsletter — it’s more like a magazine. But it is truly an amazing publication that often breaks critical stories and always provides terrific and in-depth coverage of China and so I should have mentioned it.

The Wire China describes itself as follows:

The Wire is a digital news magazine dedicated to understanding and explaining one of the biggest stories of our time: China’s economic rise, and its influence on global business, finance, trade, labor and the environment.

The weekly publication — founded by David Barboza, who earned two Pulitzer Prizes while serving as the Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times — relies on a diverse group of editors, writers and columnists stationed around the globe. Many of them have years of experience covering China and its evolving relationship with the rest of the world. In 2021, two features from The Wire were named finalists for the prestigious SOPA awards organized by the Society of Publishers in Asia.

Our mission is to provide accurate, balanced, and thoughtful reporting, in the pursuit of truth, “without fear or favor.” We are also dedicated to bringing you diverse viewpoints and ideas, with our columns, book recommendations and Q&A interviews. In doing so, we hope to demonstrate that we are worthy of your time and interest.

I know and think the world of David Barboza who heads up The China Wire and I’ve been avidly following his China writings since his days at the New York Times.

Anyone have any more to add to the above?

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