When I first started blogging about China, Roland Soong’s EastSouthWestNorth was an essential destination for any China watchers at the time. This was back in 2005. A former media analyst, and now heir to some formidable Chinese-literary estates, Soong would translate page-long excerpts from multiple newspapers and magazines about the same “suddenly breaking incident.” Then he would throw in a few terse words of his own, cryptic and/or analytical. The truth was usually between the lines somewhere. In my mind, Soong is the one who popularized terms like “human flesh search engine.”
But he’s been on an extended hiatus for the past few years. Other projects came up (related to the aforementioned literary estates), but also:
The other major reason why I stopped updating this site has to do with the state of the Chinese Internet over the past couple of years. When I first started this website, I thought that it was an exciting moment in history when all sorts of good things will come out of the Internet. Many of my initial entries were about how the Internet gave ordinary Chinese people the platform to tell the truth and gave justice a chance. But in time, the process has been perverted as unscrupulous people exploited the platform for their own purposes. Thus, many of my recent entries were of the rumor-busting variety. Every time I read the news, it was just more nonsense that can be dispelled with elementary fact-checking. Eventually, this wore me out. Why should I spend my life busting one rumor after another? I didn’t even want to read any news. It was time to quit.
More recently, things have taken another turn. Perhaps this is story of Hegel’s dialectic:
The thesis, then, might be an idea or a historical movement. Such an idea or movement contains within itself incompleteness that gives rise to opposition, or an antithesis, a conflicting idea or movement. As a result of the conflict a third point of view arises, a synthesis, which overcomes the conflict by reconciling at a higher level the truth contained in both the thesis and antithesis. (Reference- Encarta Encyclopedia)
My sense is that people are sick of the rumor mongering now. They are more aware of manipulative efforts. So this is perhaps the right moment to come back.