To China

TO get involved with …

“The Chopsticks Club is the largest, independent China-UK professionals’ membership network – a unique and trusted platform for business, educational and cultural services”

“China Unbound make learning Chinese language and culture easier and quicker for companies and professionals”

“YCW is a dynamic group of China-focused young professionals. Through regular roundtables and talks with senior figures in the China academic, policy and business communities, it provides a chance for engaged individuals to interact and discuss the most pressing issues emerging from China today”

“The CBBC helps British and Chinese businesses and organisations work together in China, the UK and third markets around the world. With 60 years of experience and experts, we work in a strategic partnership with the British Chamber of Commerce in China to deliver streamlined services to our joint members”


TO read …


“Through fresh takes on trending topics, in-depth features, and illuminating contributions, Sixth Tone covers issues from the perspectives of those most intimately involved to highlight the nuances and complexities of today’s China” Including: Rising Tones (timely reports on issues and events from across China), Deep Tones (features that cut to the core of contemporary China) and Broad Tones (contributions from individuals with unique perspectives to share)

“RADII (rā’dē-ī’) is an independent media platform that provides a unique lens on today’s China and its next generation. We cut through the noise to uncover dynamic stories from the inside, spanning culture, creativity, tech and a lot more in between”

“Week in China is an independent, Hong Kong-based publication. Now in their 9th year they give context and commentary on the key business trends emerging from China from a combination of Chinese and English language sources in the press and on the internet” To subscribe to their weekly report (for free) visit:



“The China Road is a blog that publishes interviews, book reviews, stories, articles, and a weekly “highlights” of China-related coverage. The Belt and Road Initiative is our principle, but not exclusive focus”

Also from The China Road: “Our continent is being rebuilt, and we want a front row seat to that process. That’s why we’re making a 60,000 km journey, from London to Jakarta and back again, by road, rail, and cargo ship”

“Two Chinese girls’ journey to understand China” – Elephant room is a phenomenally well-written blog covering in depth social media analysis from homosexuality to vaccine scandals to peppa pig. You can also sign up to their weekly newsletter, Elephant digest.



Science and Civ J Needham REVIEWS
Science and Civilisation in China, Joseph Needham (Book review by Mike Halsall 09/2018)

Onomatopoeia is my favourite word; it means the formation of a word or name from a sound, e.g. bang, or cuckoo. Onomatopoeia contains six syllables, and has more vowels, eight, than consonants, four. Sadly the word doesn’t get out often enough. In simplified Chinese, the pinyin translation is xiàng sheng cí, examples include ‘hu hu’, the sound of the wind, and ‘hua hua’, the sound of flowing water.

Given the differences between English and Chinese, arguably the two most dominant languages on earth at the moment, how can the native speakers of these languages truly understand not only their counterparts, but also their respective origins?

Well from the Western perspective, oddly the best explanation of China’s history must be Joseph Needham’s seminal work, continuing long after his demise in 1995 at the age of 95, Science and Civilisation in China. This is no ordinary book. In fact it is several books and Needham’s work is ongoing through the auspices of contemporary authors. Volumes range from gunpowder to textiles, ceramics to medicine, and everything in between, written with the fortitude required for such breath-taking but readable research. If it happened in China, was made in China or invented in China, Needham and co. have it covered.

Why oddly you may ask, well Needham was British. He was a Cambridge educated scientist and researcher. During WW2, under malicious attack by the short-lived emerging Japanese empire, the Chinese Govt withdrew to Chongqing and sought help from the British. No soldiers were sent as the British Empire’s eastern armies had been soundly defeated by the Japanese, but to his credit Churchill sent Needham, whose role was to help re-locate Chinese academics and their work to a safe distance from their merciless attackers.

Needham realised that through wars and civil strife, China had lost much of its own history and he set about documenting it, partly in China, and after the war in Cambridge where he founded the Needham Institute which remains extant.  In what must surely be one of literary history’s greatest ironies, a foreign scientist re-discovered the history of Chinese inventiveness back to its people.

Needham then raised the difficult question, why did Chinese inventiveness almost stop at around the Ming Dynasty? The so called Needham Question remains unanswered, and for some the question doesn’t hold as relevant, i.e. it did not. Either way, climb Everest or read Needham, it’s the same effort but equally worthwhile. So does China, in an onomatopoeiaic sense, suitably represent the Middle Kingdom? Far from it, for that we must surely defer to China’s proper name, Zhongguo!


TO listen to …


“NüVoices is an international editorial collective gathering veteran and emerging writers, journalists, translators and artists to celebrate and support the diverse creative work of self-identified women working on the subject of China (broadly defined)” Listen to their podcast here:

Backed by RADII, the Wo Men Podcast was set up by Yajun Zhang (the producer and hostess) and Jingjing Zhang, serving as a platform for telling China’s story and glimpses of this Chinese life. Previous podcasts have covered the take-off of #MeToo in China, Feminism, Prostitution and Being Mulan


TO watch …

(TV series)


活着 Film review.jpg
To live 活着 by Zhang Yimou (Film review by Sydney Farmer 10/2018)

“To live” 活着, directed by Zhang Yimou, is a Chinese movie based on Yan Hua’s novel of the same name. Although it could not be shown in China until the director won favor with the party by directing the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, it became an international success when released in 1994. Starring the classic beauty Gong Li, the film follows a family through many decades in the second half of the 20th century – a tumultuous time for those living in China. The film’s focus on individual characters and their hardships reveals the struggle of those who suffered under policies meant for the benefit of the country at the expense of its citizens. Touching on the Communist Party’s major campaigns such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, the film brings to light the unfortunate consequences for those who lived in mainland China at the time, while still being a work of fiction. Running a total of 132 minutes, “To Live” captures the audience’s attention the entire way through with its realist style and depictions of raw emotion. “You owe us a life”, the main refrain of the film, opens the viewer’s eyes to the deep societal scars left by the Communist Party’s campaigns in the latter half of the 20th century, and the triumph of those who lived through this era.


TO learn …

ABOUT: “ChinesePod creates Mandarin Chinese lessons with real language that native speakers use, not stiff, unnatural textbook phrases that won’t do you any good in the real world. We provide over 4000 entertaining and practical audio & video lessons that make learning the Mandarin language fun. Simply download a lesson and study it anywhere, at anytime, on any device. Each lesson also comes with downloadable dialogues, vocabulary, grammar and practical exercises” Check out their Youtube blog


  • FREE 1 month trial
  • $124 (£95) / year for a Basic plan including HD lessons and notes
  • $249 (£192) / year for Premium plan including HD lessons and notes, audio review, grammar and sentence breakdown, custom vocab lists, their APP, and a “Say it right” video course

WORTH IT? Pretty convenient if you want short, concise and interesting lessons. They have 4000+ different lessons on their system so you have more than enough choice and can study anywhere by downloading their material. The levels range from beginner to advanced and weave cultural elements into lessons making it a rather lot more fun (and arguably useful for everyday life) than HSK.