We first published our Twitter 100 list in May. Naturally, we were immediately lambasted on Twitter, for a variety of sins. The one criticism that stung — because it was true — is that we had failed to represent the diversity of voices on the platform.
We hear our critics, and want to present a greater variety of world views, even out the gender balance, and where possible add voices from and cultural, sexual, and ethnic minorities. So we asked for suggestions of Twitter users to add to our list.
A bunch of new names are now on the list. All of them were suggested by readers. Most of them were already on our shortlist before we published, so we’re delighted to have them on our updated list.
We’ve also re-arranged the list by theme, rather than follower count, which is not a good measure of anything.
Do let us know what you think — write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 26, 2019
SupChina’s guide to the best of China Twitter in English.
Twitter, at its worst, is messy and toxic, a place of snark, mistruth, vitriol, half-formed punditry, and hair-trigger replies to @RealDonaldTrump. But it’s not all garbage: The community of people on Twitter who discuss China make up one of the more constructive and informed groups on the platform, with journalists willing to break news, academics and researchers who overcome character limits to provide nuance, and activists who believe in the power of amplifying stories.
But don’t just take our word for it. See for yourself:
We’ve selected 100+ of the top China-focused accounts on Twitter.
These accounts — numbering 148 in total — are all run by individual people and meet these four criteria:
- They are active on Twitter, and their tweets often focus on China news.
- They have spent lots of time in China, either working, reporting, studying, or just living. Many are currently based there.
- They have a unique voice on Twitter, and use their account to promote timely and useful information about Chinese politics, business, or culture, or write original commentary on these subjects in a way that facilitates a nuanced understanding of the country.
- They tweet primarily in English.
What about Chinese-language Twitter?
This top-100-plus list is limited to only English-language tweeters, though a quick guide to Chinese-language Twitter can be found at the bottom of this article.
The China 100+ list
The list is not meant to be comprehensive, but it is meant to be high-quality. Think of it as a selection of Twitter users that we think, when taken together, gives a balanced and smart view of many different facets of China and the world today.
We have divided the list into ten sub-sections, indicating, roughly, what they tweet about more than other people on the list, or why you should follow them. The sections are organized in alphabetical order throughout:
- Chinese perspectives
- Chinese politics, social issues, and media
- Economics, business, and law
- Feminism and gender issues
- Geopolitics, international relations, and military
- Hong Kong
- Religious and ethnic minority issues
- Technology and tech policy
For a small number of the recommended accounts per section, we have embedded a sample tweet. Each account’s follower count as of June 2019, rounded down to the nearest 1000, is included next to each entry.
Disclosure: Six of the people on the list either work at SupChina or produce content in partnership with SupChina. These include @goldkorn, the account of our editor-in-chief, Jeremy Goldkorn; @kaiserkuo, the account of Sinica Podcast co-host Kaiser Kuo; and @anthonytao, the account of our managing editor, Anthony Tao. Three more people on the list produce content on our Sinica Podcast Network: Rui Ma at Pandaily (@ruima), Joanna Chiu at NüVoices (@joannachiu), and Tanner Brown at Caixin (@luoshanji).
A dozen others on the list have either written articles for SupChina or are contributing columnists: Darren Byler (@dtbyler), Yangyang Cheng (@yangyang_cheng), Mark Dreyer (@DreyerChina), Tianyu Fang (@tianyuf), Eric Fish (@ericfish85), Chris Horton (@heguisen), Frankie Huang (@ourobororoboruo), Shen Lu (@shenlulushen), Paul Triolo (@pstAsiatech), Graham Webster (@gwbstr), Sophia Yan (@sophia_yan), and Elliott Zaagman (@ElliottZaagman).
People born in mainland China who are active on Twitter (and aren’t in one of the other sections below).
I write @ChinaFile on how I learned about #Tiananmen, born after the crackdown & growing up in China where the subject is forbidden. It's a journey across oceans and rivers of time. It's a story about death&taboos, fear, grief, & remembrance as resistance.https://t.co/P4JDJKCCC7
— Yangyang Cheng (@yangyang_cheng) May 30, 2019
Wei Du | 7K | @WeiDuCNA
A Northeast Asia correspondent based in Hong Kong for Channel NewsAsia.
Zhaoyin Feng | 1k | @ZhaoyinFeng
BBC journalist based in Washington, D.C.
Karoline Kan | 2K | @KarolineCQKan
Editor at Chinadialogue, and author of the memoir Under Red Skies.
I wrote about the huge gap between the CSSA that Chinese students know/think of and the CSSA that Mike Pence & others describe as if it's a Trojan horse poised to spill infiltrators upon American soil for @nytimes. https://t.co/VTe6FXBhr5
— Shen Lu 沈璐 (@shenlulushen) June 20, 2019
Ma Tianjie | 1K | @TJMa_beijing
Founded two blogs: Chublic Opinion, about public opinion in China, and Panda Paw Dragon Claw, about the Belt and Road initiative.
Wang Feng | 7K | @ulywang
The editor-in-chief of FTChinese.
Shawn Zhang | 20K | @shawnwzhang
A law student at the University of British Columbia, who undertook a remarkable project to identify and document dozens of re-education camps in Xinjiang.
Chinese politics, social issues, and media
Journalists and generalists, for the most part; some of the most well-known China-watchers are here.
Air-Moving Device | 4k | @AirMovingDevice
An anonymous, brilliant account based in China publishing innovative data science research on Chinese politics and society. Was briefly silenced by Chinese police and deleted all tweets earlier this year, but is now publishing again.
Bill Birtles | 9K | @billbirtles
A China correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Chris Buckley | 121K | @ChuBailiang
The New York Times’ star correspondent in Beijing, whose Twitter game is widely acknowledged as nonpareil. Owner of Tiny, the original Twitter-famous China-watcher dog.
“I don’t know what they’ll do next,” says a Chinese law professor under investigation for criticizing the government. “I’ve been mentally preparing for this for a long time. At the worst, I could end up in prison.” https://t.co/Sl7ESmSXav
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) March 26, 2019
Josh Chin | 80K | @joshchin
A Wall Street Journal reporter based in China.
Joanna Chiu | 41K | @joannachiu
The bureau chief at the Star Vancouver, formerly with AFP in Beijing. Also the chair of NüVoices, which partners with SupChina to publish the NüVoices Podcast.
Eileen Chengyin Chow | 8k | @chowleen
Professor at Duke University.
Sam Crane | 8k | @UselessTree
Professor at Williams College, who teaches ancient Chinese philosophy.
Maura Cunningham | 13k | @mauracunningham
Writer and historian based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Eva Dou | 13K | @evadou
A China politics reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
Emily Feng | 12K | @EmilyZFeng
An NPR Beijing correspondent. Formerly at the Financial Times.
My story for @NPR Us/China series on Chinese students in the US, caught in the middle of tense relationship: Do they stay in a US that doesn’t seem to went them or go back to an authoritarian China? https://t.co/qanxcOAz80
— Emily Feng (@EmilyZFeng) June 4, 2019
Anna Fifield | 121K | @annafifield
The Beijing bureau chief for the Washington Post, previously based in Seoul.
Isaac Stone Fish | 24K | @isaacstonefish
A Senior Fellow at the Asia Society in New York.
Mei Fong | 6k | @meifongwriter
Director of Communications & Strategy at Center for Public Integrity, and author of One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment. Discussed her book on the Sinica Podcast.
Mike Forsythe | 161K | @PekingMike
A New York Times reporter, now in New York after many years in Beijing, who has broken some of the biggest stories about wealth and power in China.
Yiqin Fu | 3k | @yiqinfu
PhD candidate in political science at Stanford University.
Nectar Gan | 4K | @Nectar_Gan
South China Morning Post reporter focused on Chinese politics.
John Garnaut | 9K | @jgarnaut
An Australian government adviser and journalist focused on Chinese elite politics.
Jeremy Goldkorn | 180K | @goldkorn
SupChina editor-in-chief. Bearded agitator.
Tom Hancock | 22K | @hancocktom
Witty Financial Times reporter based in Shanghai.
Susan Jakes | 4k | @susanjakes
Editor at ChinaFile and the Asia Society.
Jeremiah Jenne | 16K | @JeremiahJenne
A historian and writer based in Beijing.
Sijia Jiang | 2k | @SijiaJ
Hong Kong-based Reuters journalist.
Manya Koetse | 9K | @manyapan
The editor-in-chief of What’s on Weibo, a site explaining Chinese social media and internet trends.
Kaiser Kuo | 81K | @KaiserKuo
Polymath. Truth seeker. Confabulator. Probable Satanist. Host of the Sinica Podcast and overseer of the Sinica Podcast Network.
Lily Kuo | 12K | @lilkuo
The Beijing bureau chief for The Guardian, formerly based in Nairobi for Quartz.
Louisa Lim | 53K | @limlouisa
The author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia and a journalist, formerly with NPR and the BBC in China.
Peter Martin | 12K | @PeterMartin_PCM
A political reporter for Bloomberg, based in Beijing.
Kathleen McLaughlin | 29k | @kemc
Journalist in Asia and Montana.
Lynette Ong | 3k | @onglynette
Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto.
James Palmer | 20K | @BeijingPalmer
The Asia Editor of Foreign Policy and the author of Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes. Recently left Beijing after a long stint there. Has experience working as a copy editor for Chinese state media.
The truth is that a lot of China watchers should have caught up to the nature of Xi-ism years ago – and CCP goals even before that. But the end of term limits, the Xinjiang concentration camps, and the Kovrig kidnapping have pulled a lot of folk to where they should be.
— James Palmer (@BeijingPalmer) January 22, 2019
David Paulk | 4K | @davidpaulk
Head of news at Sixth Tone.
Amy Qin | 15K | @amyyqin
A China correspondent for the New York Times, focused on culture and society.
Megha Rajagopalan | 24K | @meghara
An international correspondent for BuzzFeed News. Was based in Beijing and broke several important stories about the crisis in Xinjiang, until her visa was rejected in August 2018. She continues to report on Xinjiang and Chinese surveillance from abroad.
Emily Rauhala | 36K | @emilyrauhala
A foreign affairs correspondent for the Washington Post, now in D.C. after years in Beijing.
Lotus Ruan | 2k | @lotus_ruan
Researcher at CitizenLab.
David Rennie | 17K | @DSORennie
The Beijing bureau chief for The Economist.
Dexter Roberts | 9K | @dtiffroberts
A journalist who recently returned to the U.S. after spending 20 years in China, formerly writing for Bloomberg Businessweek.
Ilaria Maria Sala | 4k | @IlariaMariaSala
Freelance journalist and writer.
Isabella Steger | 11k | @stegersaurus
Reporter at Quartz.
Rob Schmitz | 14K | @rob_schmitz
An NPR Shanghai correspondent.
Christian Shepherd | 5K | @cdcshepherd
Beijing correspondent for the Financial Times, previously with Reuters.
Gerry Shih | 15K | @gerryshih
A China correspondent for the Washington Post. Previously at the Associated Press, where he contributed to an award-winning series of reports on Xinjiang and Uyghurs. He talked about that reporting here on the Sinica Podcast.
Victor Shih | 24k | @vshih2
Professor at UC San Diego focusing on China’s political economy.
Alice Su | 4k | @aliceysu
China correspondent at the Los Angeles Times.
Jonathan Sullivan | 12K | @jonlsullivan
The director of China Programs at the University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute.
Gina Anne Tam | 2k | @DGTam86
Professor of History at Trinity University.
Nathan VanderKlippe | 11K | @nvanderklippe
A Beijing correspondent for Canada’s Globe and Mail.
Maya Wang | 13k | @wang_maya
Senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Yanan Wang | 3k | @yananw
China correspondent at AP.
Jeff Wasserstrom | 29K | @jwassers
A history professor at UC Irvine, the co-author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, and an editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel.
Sui-Lee Wee | 61K | @suilee
A New York Times reporter based in Beijing, with excellent coverage of healthcare in China.
Clarissa Wei | 6k | @dearclarissa
Reporter at Goldthread.
Wei Ting | 1k | @intewig
Writer, formerly a journalist with TIME and the Economist.
Jessica Chen Weiss | 7k | @jessicacweiss
Political science professor at Cornell University.
Gabriel Wildau | 8K | @gabewildau
A former Shanghai correspondent for the Financial Times, now a China analyst at Teneo.
Gillian Wong | 68k | @gillianwong
New York Times editor focused on China; formerly China news director for the Associated Press.
Sue-Lin Wong | 6k | @suelinwong
South China correspondent at the Financial Times.
“One minute felt like one year” – life inside #China’s #Xinjiang internment camps. Spoke w 8 former detainees – many released late last yr and fled to #Kazakhstan in Jan – giving us most updated picture of conditions and treatment inside https://t.co/tG017BTL0g @TelegraphWorld
— Sophia Yan (@sophia_yan) March 27, 2019
Rui Zhong | 3k | @rzhongnote
Researcher at The Wilson Center.
Economics, business, and law
Keith Bradsher | 25K | @KeithBradsher
The Shanghai bureau chief for the New York Times, focusing on China’s economy.
China Law Translate | 6K | @ChinaLawTransl8
Though this is ostensibly the Twitter handle for the excellent chinalawtranslate.com, it functions as the personal account for the site’s proprietor, Jeremy Daum. It’s often seen calling out inaccurate reporting on China’s social credit system. Along with China Law Blog, China Law Translate is an invaluable resource for those trying to decode the implications of Beijing’s latest laws and regulations.
Patrick Chovanec | 44K | @prchovanec
The managing director of Silvercrest Asset Management, a former business professor at Tsinghua University, and a longtime China-watcher.
Susan Finder | 2k | @SPCmonitor
Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the School of Transnational Law of Peking University, and proprietor of the Supreme People’s Court Monitor blog. If you’re following legal developments in China, also be sure to check out the National People’s Congress observer and its Twitter handle @NPC_Observer.
Damien Ma | 14K | @damienics
The director of the Paulson Institute and the co-creator of MacroPolo.
Much focus has been on the slowing Chinese economy and turbulent politics. What has flown under the radar is progress on the energy front under Xi. I think “peak coal” will basically endure in China: https://t.co/Qwjl1RmiS4 @MacroPoloChina pic.twitter.com/SovmWrBigj
— Damien Ma (@damienics) June 24, 2019
James McGregor | 9K | @jamesLmcgregor
A veteran businessman in China and the author of One Billion Customers and No Ancient Wisdom, No Followers. Not Richard McGregor.
Simon Rabinovitch | 26K | @S_Rabinovitch
A Shanghai-based journalist at The Economist, focusing on China’s economy.
Today marks the 16th straight day of People's Daily 钟声 (loosely, "Voice of China") commentaries on the trade war. We're into the US-failure-is-inevitable phase, on the heels of the your-China-theory-is-wrong phase. Here's my breakdown of the flow: pic.twitter.com/fg2u8L3egN
— Simon Rabinovitch (@S_Rabinovitch) May 29, 2019
Haidi Lun Stroud-Watts | 19K | @HaidiLun
A Bloomberg TV anchor based in Australia, and previously in Hong Kong. Queen of panda GIFs.
Eunice Yoon | 19K | @onlyyoontv
The Beijing bureau chief at CNBC.
Tom Baxter | 1k | @TomBaxter17
Tracks China environmental news, now at Chinadialogue, and formerly as a communications officer at Greenpeace East Asia.
Isabel Hilton | 5k | @isabelhilton
CEO at China Dialogue.
Lauri Myllyvirta | 5K | @laurimyllyvirta
A Senior Global Campaigner, Greenpeace, tracking carbon emissions in China.
Lobbying for new coal (& gas) power plants continues in China. This is the make or break question for global climate efforts. Luckily the regulator seems to be defending sanity, at least on the short term outlook. THREAD 👇 https://t.co/eCTPSxZ9Dw
— Lauri Myllyvirta (@laurimyllyvirta) June 22, 2019
Feminism and gender issues
Leta Hong Fincher | 28K | @LetaHong
The author of Leftover Women and Betraying Big Brother, focusing on feminist activism in China.
Lü Pin | 3K | @pinerpiner
A leading Chinese feminist activist, and one of the only ones to be active on Twitter writing in English.
It appears 3/4 of the 4,000 signatures so far in support of Liu Jingyao, a fighting survivor alleging been raped by a billionaire Liu Qiangdong, come from outside the Great Fire Wall. The activism of international Chinese students has extended the boundary of #MeTooinChina. pic.twitter.com/q92yJpSN3l
— 吕频Lü Pin (@pinerpiner) April 21, 2019
Geopolitics, international relations, and military
Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian | 18K | @BethanyAllenEbr
A journalist focused on Beijing’s overseas influence operations.
Yuen Yuen Ang | 3k | @yuenyuenang
A professor of political science at the University of Michigan, focusing on global development.
— Yuen Yuen Ang (@yuenyuenang) May 22, 2019
Lina Benabdallah | 2k | @LBenabdallah
An assistant professor of political science at Wake Forest University, with a specialty in South-South cooperation. Discussed Africa-China relations on the Sinica Podcast.
Andrew Chubb | 5K | @zhubochubo
An expert on the South China Sea and a postdoctoral fellow in the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program.
Elizabeth Economy | 16K | @LizEconomy
The director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future and The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State.
Theresa Fallon | 18k | @TheresaAFallon
Director, Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies (CREAS) in Brussels.
Evan Feigenbaum | 8K | @EvanFeigenbaum
An experienced former American diplomat and Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment.
M. Taylor Fravel | 21K | @fravel
An international relations professor at MIT, and the author of the new book Active Defense: China’s Military Strategy since 1949.
Howard French | 22k | @hofrench
Longtime foreign correspondent for the New York Times, and currently a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Author of multiple China-related books, including China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa (2014) and Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power (2017).
The most important lessons of Hong Kong far exceed the bounds of that city. My new column. https://t.co/4gpr4fvQ2j
— Howard French (@hofrench) June 19, 2019
Alexander Gabuev | 8K | @AlexGabuev
A Senior Fellow and chair of the Russia in Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
Jorge Guajardo | 24K | @jorge_guajardo
A former Mexican Ambassador to China.
Ryan Hass | 3K | @ryanl_hass
Career American diplomat now based at Brookings. Formerly director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia at the National Security Council during the Obama administration.
Elsa B. Kania | 9K | @EBKania
A researcher at the Center for a New American Security focused on Chinese military innovation in emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence.
Scott Kennedy | 7K | @KennedyCSIS
A Senior Adviser and the Freeman Chair in China Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Ananth Krishnan | 30K | @ananthkrishnan
A former China correspondent for India Today and The Hindu, and one of the best people to follow to learn about India-China relations.
Natalia Cote Muñoz | 2k | @ncotemunoz
Researcher on Latin America-China relations at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Eric Olander | 8K | @eolander
The managing editor of the China Africa Project, and host of the China in Africa podcast.
Lucrezia Poggetti | 1k | @lucrepogge
Research associate at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin.
Susan Shirk | 3k | @SusanShirk1
Chair, 21st Century China Program at UC San Diego. Formerly deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia during the Clinton administration, and author of the book China: Fragile Superpower.
Yuen Chan | 12k | @xinwenxiaojie
Journalism professor, currently teaching at the City University of London, and formerly at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Natasha Khan | 12k | @natashakhanhk
Hong Kong-based reporter at the Wall Street Journal.
The energy at the march in #HongKong today feels triumphant and defiant. Protestors are unified in their calls. They're demanding Carrie Lam step down, that she withdraws the extradition bill and that police "stop using violence against students." #LockhartRoad pic.twitter.com/vI1RWZK1h6
— Natasha Khan (@natashakhanhk) June 16, 2019
Jeffie Lam | 7k | @jeffielam
SCMP journalist based in Hong Kong.
Austin Ramzy | 83K | @austinramzy
A New York Times reporter based in Hong Kong.
Keith Richburg | 6k | @keithrichburg
Professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of The University of Hong Kong.
Alan Wong | 23K | @alanwongw
The deputy editor of Inkstone News, based in Hong Kong.
Religious and ethnic minority issues
Ian Johnson | 37K | @iandenisjohnson
A scholar of religion in China (his most recent book is The Souls of China) and a writer focused on civil society. Also a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist whose stories appear in the New York Review of Books and the New York Times.
Rian Thum | 7K | @RianThum
A historian of Islam in China and the author of The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History.
China’s propaganda push on its mass internment program for Uyghurs and other minorities has been remarkably successful. Thread 1/x
— Rian Thum (@RianThum) January 21, 2019
Nury Turkel | 3k | @nuryturkel
Chairman and founder of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
Adrian Zenz | 5K | @adrianzenz
A researcher at the European School of Culture and Theology in Korntal, Germany. Has played a pivotal role in documenting the massive expansion of detention facilities in Xinjiang, and in March estimated that 1.5 million Muslims have been detained in the camp system.
US defense department says that China runs 'concentration camps' in Xinjiang that may contain up to 3 million! To be honest, without citing specific new evidence, I find such statements to be overly sensationalist and speculative. https://t.co/1BZtcbb48S
— Adrian Zenz (@adrianzenz) May 4, 2019
Bonnie Glaser | 31K | @BonnieGlaser
An expert on military issues in the Asia-Pacific, based at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
Maggie Lewis | 3k | @MargaretKLewis
Professor at the Seton Hall University School of Law, focusing on law in China and Taiwan.
William Yang | 6K | @WilliamYang120
East Asia Correspondent for Deutsche Welle, based in Taipei.
Thread- 700 days ago, thousands of gay marriage supporters cheered when the Supreme Court ruled that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutiinal in #Taiwan. In 30 minutes, hundreds of same-sex couples will be legally married across the island. It’s going to be a good day. pic.twitter.com/hdtcihZ9C7
— William Yang (@WilliamYang120) May 23, 2019
Technology and tech policy
Lulu Yilun Chen | 18K | @luluyilun
A tech reporter at Bloomberg, based in Hong Kong.
Rui Ma | 11K | @ruima
A tech investor and the co-host of the TechBuzz China podcast, part of the Sinica Podcast Network.
I still think the greatest misconception ppl have re: China tech & Chinese govt is that the CEOs are mouthpieces for the govt when it’s more of a parent-child relationship. The kid is always messing around & pushing boundaries, the parent steps in when things get out of hand.
— Rui Ma (@ruima) April 16, 2019
Paul Mozur | 24K | @paulmozur
A tech reporter for the New York Times, based in Shanghai.
Shai Oster | 9K | @beijingscribe
The Asia bureau chief for The Information.
Samm Sacks | 3K | @SammSacks
Cybersecurity Policy and China Digital Economy Fellow, New America. Has appeared on Sinica twice this year, once with Paul Triolo to talk about Huawei, and again to discuss U.S.-China technology integration and competition.
Adam Segal | 9K | @adschina
An expert on Chinese cyberspace at the Council on Foreign Relations. Has appeared on the Sinica Podcast twice, once to discuss his book, The Hacked World Order, and again to talk about the implications of China’s 2017 Cybersecurity Law.
Graham Webster | 6K | @gwbstr
The coordinating editor of the DigiChina project at New America. Wrote an article for SupChina on how to interpret Chinese state media and the Global Times in particular.
Yuan Yang | 20K | @YuanfenYang
A tech correspondent for the Financial Times, based in Beijing. Has published multiple exclusive stories on Huawei in recent months.
Li Yuan | 18K | @LiYuan6
An Asia tech columnist at the New York Times.
Huawei has been deeply influenced by its western competitors.Yet from its organizational structure to the way it builds employee loyalty, the company closely resembles the Chinese Communist Party itself. https://t.co/LYJ2Uoeciz The origin of Huawei's identity crisis, from me
— Li Yuan (@LiYuan6) May 1, 2019
A quick guide to Chinese-language Twitter
If you read Chinese, there is a large but disparate community of Chinese-language tweeters that you can follow.
The most prominent Chinese-language accounts on Twitter are generally based outside of China, and include many dissident lawyers and activists as well as diaspora Chinese.
Unfortunately, there are extremely few prominent Chinese people living in China who are currently active on Twitter, after a mass campaign of harassment and interrogation of hundreds, possibly thousands of account holders was initiated by the government last year. This campaign is ongoing, and has even included punishing China-based accounts that “like” content that is critical of the Communist Party, or even for “having an account” at all.
Beijing’s ban on Chinese citizens owning politically active Twitter accounts does not extend to state media propaganda workers. Xinhua, the People’s Daily, China Daily, CGTN, and the Global Times all maintain active accounts. The China Daily’s Chen Weihua (@chenweihua) can be found defending China in most reply sections of many popular tweets criticizing China. Hú Xījìn 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT), the editor of nationalist rag Global Times, joined in the fun and has kept up a steady stream of impressively trollish commentary since January 2018. (Hu can be an interesting person to follow, as he is a savvy interpreter of the nationalistic side of Chinese elite opinion, but he should not be regarded as an authoritative messenger of the Chinese government.)
Meanwhile, across the Taiwan Strait, politicians on the self-governing island of Taiwan freely use Twitter. For example, both President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) (@iingwen) and the mayor of Taipei, Ko Wen-Je (柯文哲 Kē Wénzhé) (@KP_Taipei), have very active and popular multilingual accounts. At least for now, Hong Kong also has unhindered access to Twitter, and anti-Beijing activists such as Joshua Wong (黃之鋒 Huáng Zhīfēng) maintain active accounts (@joshuawongcf).
Notable Chinese-language Twitter accounts
Ex-Chinese internet activist Wen Yunchao (@wenyunchao) has a list of about 200 Chinese-language accounts, and Bill Bishop has a Twitter list of 26 “opinionated Chinese” also worth checking out. For Chinese-language commentary on news, we would like to highlight, in no particular order, the following accounts:
- Zhāng Lìfán 章立凡, a respected Beijing-based historian and commentator. (@zhanglifan)
- Dèng Yùwén 邓聿文, a former deputy editor of the Central Party School’s journal, Study Times. (@dyw1968316)
- Michael Anti (安替 Ān Tì), founder of Caixin Globus and a longtime bilingual journalist and internet blogger. (@mranti)
- Ho Pin (何频 Hé Pín), editor of overseas Chinese website Mingjing and writer of a bilingual political commentary newsletter. (@MJTVHoPin)
- Fāng Kěchéng 方可成, veteran political journalist and a Ph.D. candidate at UPenn. (@fangkc)
- Qiáo Mù 乔木, a former professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, now based in the U.S. and an advocate for human rights. (@QiaoMoo)
- Téng Biāo 滕彪, an exiled human rights lawyer now based at Princeton University. (@tengbiao)
- Ài Wèiwèi 艾未未, the famous artist and political activist. (@aiww)
- Fāng Zhōuzǐ 方舟子, the pen name of Fāng Shìmín 方是民, a science writer based in Beijing. (@fangshimin)
- KurikuC, a grad student at MIT. (@kuriko_c)
- Wáng Dān 王丹, one of the leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, now exiled overseas. (@wangdan1989)
- Wú’ěr Kāixī 吾尔开希, another leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, now exiled in Taiwan. (@wuerkaixi)
- Lǐ Tíngtíng 李婷婷 (also known as Lǐ Màizi 李麦子), a queer feminist activist. (@LiMaizi)
- Hú Jiā 胡佳, a Chinese civil rights activist. (@hu_jia)