While taking a break from my usual browsing of lolcats and youtube videos, I stumbled across this post by Shaun Rein entitled How to Deal with Piracy in China. I’m not especially familiar with Rein*, but once I ascertained that he was a businessman in China for the long haul, I felt that I could pretty accurately predict where his article was going.

This notion of predictability got me to thinking about something I had read from Paul Denlinger a few days back:


Jeremy Goldkorn seems to agree:


When we think of media bias about China, we typically think about how Western media often takes advantage of American’s love of hating China (for example, see Rein on the NYT). Many of us reading China news tend to be far more trusting of “old China hands” instead.

But I guess just as we have to question our media sources and look for possible factors that compromise their voices, we should also question our Laowai thought leaders in much the same way.

Do you think that the opinions of  “China thought leaders” are very heavily influenced by their business ties?  And if so, should they be stepping into the media spotlight at all?

*Note: My knowledge of Rein is pretty superficial, and I don’t want to make any conclusions about him from reading this one article. I’ll keep reading his columns in the future, and will make my own conclusions later on.


  1. “we should also question our Laowai thought leaders in much the same way.”

    but… Rick is one of those I thought. and he’s telling me I can’t trust him, and since it’s from him I know I can trust it, but… ahhh shit. Screw it. I’m going back to America.

  2. I love the phrase “Laowai thought leaders.” It makes me think of a CIA report from 1960 which I had declassified and was reading recently about Radio Peking’s English-language broadcasting where they didn’t know if Sidney Rittenberg, who ran the show there for the CCP’s Anglophone act, was Caucasian or not.

    In other words, Laowai have always had “thought leaders” in Beijing…

    Today it’s interesting especially to think about how we cluster around certain sites or bloggers as if huddling around a campfire. So there is nothing wrong with having “thought leaders” so long as they are brilliant, resourceful, willing to share good information, and open to new ideas. And have great business connections so we can all make tons of money without incurring the wrath of Zhongyang.

  3. I would suggest that having his site blocked from view in China isn’t actually a great statement as Jeremy Goldkorn or Danwei either as “trusted voice” as you put it, nor a partucuarly good example of a successful China focused media businessman. There are far better examples out there: China Briefing for one springs to mind, Silicon Hutong is another. The problem with blogs is that very few are actually run by proven businessmen.

  4. Of course we should question Shaun’s bias and my bias and Denlinger’s bias and Goldkorn’s bias. Everyone has a bias and that is why it is critical to read what the smart thinkers from all perspectives have to say.

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