chinaSMACK provides people who can’t read Chinese a glimpse into modern China and Chinese society by translating popular, trending Chinese internet content and netizen discussions from China’s largest and most influential websites, discussion forums, and social networks into English.
chinaSMACK is a mix of three things, Chinese Netizens, Translations, and You:
First and foremost, chinaSMACK is about Chinese internet users, about what they’re looking at, and what they’re discussing online. chinaSMACK is about Chinese internet culture and society. We’re here to share what they’re paying attention to, and what they think.
To do this, we look at what’s “trending” or what’s “popular” on the Chinese-language internet, because that often represents what they are interested in and reveals what they care about. We don’t judge, and it’s not about what we as observers are personally interested in. Chinese netizens decide what material we cover, through what they’re buzzing about.
Second, the majority of chinaSMACK articles are translations of Chinese internet content. Usually, there is a story and then there are the reactions.
The stories could be online news articles, images, or videos. They could also be Chinese netizen posts on a discussion forum or a microblog. The reactions are the comments left by Chinese netizens after reading that article, seeing the picture, or watching the video. They can also be comments reacting to other comments, sometimes in agreement and sometimes in disagreement.
All of this was originally in Chinese, and what we’ve done is translate it all into English as faithfully as we can, not only in detail but also in tone. Instead of “reporting” and telling you what is “important”, we aim to show you exactly what Chinese netizens saw themselves, including how it was written and presented, as much as we reasonably can.
Sometimes, what’s interesting or significant isn’t necessarily the story itself but how Chinese netizens are reacting to it. It could be their outrage, their humor, their silliness or their sincerity. What are they saying? How are they saying it? Why?
Often, reading the reactions can help you understand the story as much as reading the story can help you understand the reactions.
We always cite and link directly to the original Chinese internet source, and if you hover your mouse over our English translations, you can easily see the original Chinese text. Maybe you can even check our work!
Third and finally, there is you, the reader and our fellow observer. The stories and reactions that we translate are ultimately only bits and pieces of a very large, complex, and diverse Chinese internet ecosystem. We can’t cover, translate, or explain everything. In fact, we don’t want to “tell” you what to think. What we want to do is show you, and then leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions.
Maybe you’ll learn something about China that you didn’t know before, whether it be what life is like or what people think. It could even be a Chinese word, or what its English translation is. Perhaps you’ll see something in a new and different way. Will you laugh along with the Chinese netizens, sigh, or cry? You might even be disappointed and disheartened. Or you might be surprised and reassured, maybe even inspired.
Whether you’re here for “news” or “entertainment”, diversion or insight, it’s up to you to determine what value you will derive from our work. If there’s anything we hope for, it’s that you will gradually develop a sophisticated understanding of the idiosyncrasies of Chinese internet media, as well as a deeper appreciation for the nuances of modern Chinese society.
For many of our fans, part of the fun is that moment when you read a Chinese netizen’s subtle joke, and realize you know what they’re alluding to. Or maybe it’s when a Chinese friend talks about something they saw online, and you know exactly–or perhaps even more–than they do!
chinaSMACK is about Chinese netizens, translated, for you.
chinaSMACK began in July 2008 as a personal project for Fauna, a (then) young Shanghainese girl who wanted to improve her English language skills by translating the Chinese internet stories, pictures, and videos that were popular online. Although English is taught to nearly every schoolchild in China, she knew her English wouldn’t be actually functional unless she practiced daily.
She hopes you’ll never go back and judge her earliest translations too harshly.
Over the years, chinaSMACK has grown into one of the most popular, trafficked, and regularly cited English-language group blogs covering a nation undergoing unprecedented development and change boasting the world’s largest number of internet users.
Remaining true to its roots, chinaSMACK focuses on sharing through the translation of news and topics that mainstream Chinese netizens are actually talking about. This has–for better or worse–earned chinaSMACK a reputation for being edgy, sensational, and controversial.
In addition to popularizing coverage of Chinese internet culture and trends, chinaSMACK is also famous for featuring a selection of translated Chinese internet user comments and reactions along with each article, allowing chinaSMACK readers to get an idea of what some Chinese netizens think or feel.
chinaSMACK’s editorial mission therefore is to make the Chinese internet more accessible to anyone interested who cannot read Chinese, through a naturally engaging and unapologetically raw format, with a minimum amount of editorializing to allow readers to draw their own conclusions.
Today, chinaSMACK’s staff and contributors include both Chinese and non-Chinese individuals of different backgrounds, both in and outside of mainland China, who share a common passion for what Chinese internet culture can reveal about Chinese society today, and the belief that what is revealed ultimately shows that Chinese people and “foreigners” are not so different after all.
chinaSMACK has been featured and referenced by many media publications and personalities, including:
- NPR (npr.org)
- CNN (cnn.com)
- MSN (msn.com)
- The Next Web (thenextweb.com)
- The Colbert Report (screenshot – clip)
- The Korea Times (koreatimes.co.kr)
- Dashan aka Mark Rowswell (weibo.com)
- Daily Mail (dailymail.co.uk)
- CBS News (cbsnews.com)
- The Straits Times (straitstimes.com)
- The Washington Post (washingtonpost.com)
- The Times Of India (indiatimes.com)
- MSNBC (msnbc.com)
- The Economist (economist.com)
- Global Times (globaltimes.cn)
- AsiaOne (asiaone.com)
- The New Yorker (newyorker.com)
- Agencia EFE (efe.com)
- Gizmodo (gizmodo.com)
- The Independent (independent.co.uk)
- International Herald Tribune (nytimes.com)
- AFP (afp.com)
- BBC News (news.bbc.co.uk)
- New York Times (nytimes.com)
- CNN (cnn.com)
- Liberation (liberation.fr)
- Slate (slate.com)
- Advertising Age (adage.com)
- Harper’s Magazine (harpers.org)
- China Daily (chinadaily.com.cn)
- CNNGo (cnngo.com)
- The Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)
- La Voz de Galicia (lavozdegalicia.es)
- El Universal (eluniversal.com.mx)
- Le Monde (lemonde.fr)
- The Atlantic (jamesfallows.theatlantic.com)
- CNET Asia (asia.cnet.com)
- Youku Buzz (buzz.youku.com)
- The Times (timesonline.co.uk)
- The Telegraph (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- People’s Daily (people.com.cn)
- City Weekend (cityweekend.com.cn)
- The Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com)
- That’s Shanghai (shanghai.urbanatomy.com)
- France 24 (observers.france24.com)
- The Sydney Morning Herald (smh.com.au)
- The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)
- The Australian (news.com.au)
- Time (china.blogs.time.com)
- Danwei.org (danwei.org)
- Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org)
- The Wall Street Journal (blogs.wsj.com/chinajournal)
If you’ve seen chinaSMACK somewhere not listed above, please let us know!