Finding truthful information about China is a challenging experience. I’m doing doctoral level work at a large private university about the Chinese political system and believe me when I tell you it is a nightmarish experience. Trusting official Chinese sources on anything is an exercise in futility. Totalitarian governments tend to deal in lies and distortions, and the Chinese government has turned falsehood into an art form. To make matters worse, the censorship of non-government sites in China is heavy-handed and quick. A bit of information goes up that the government officials don’t like and almost immediately all of the sites go down or are blocked with a warning sign. It’s maddening when I’m trying to get solid information to earn my degree. What all of this means is that I must use a little intelligence and some tenacity when looking for the information I need to do my work.
It’s quite fortunate that the Internet works to find pathways around even the most onerous censorship. As soon as the Chinese government blocks a site, two more pop up with the censored information. Oftentimes, you’ll get good commentary on what is actually going on. I’ve found one site with the latest news in Chinese politics that has given me more good information with which to work than one could possibly expect. Anytime I get an inkling that something big behind the scenes is unfolding, I head to the site and start monitoring information. I’ve run into my share of speculation and erroneous conclusions, but more often than not I’ve been able to piece the likely truth together based on the articles I’ve discovered on the site. It’s such a good source for information that I’ve passed on the site to other scholars of Chinese politics and they like it as much as I do!