John X

Frank Yu has been blogging about China as long as anyone I know of. He recently wrote an article titled “A Day in the Life of a China Blogger” for ChinaTechNews, using the life of a “John X” as an example.

There are a few things about this fictional “John X” character which seem vaguely familiar…

Article link via Brainysmurf‘s “The Burbs.”


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. It must be a different John, doesn’t sound anything like you.

    I caught a pretty negative tone in that article, as if we as bloggers can be similarly defined and, furthermore, disregarded because complaining about that bathroom I hit up on my way to Shanghai has no literary value. The author studied at Harvard and now works at Microsoft (at the Advanced Technology Center!). I can’t imagine why Microsoft is not known as an innovator; with employees as creative as this you would think they’d be on the cutting edge of technology (as opposed to using their huge war chest to purchase the cutting edge of technology).

    I’m pretty disappointed by this article. It’s obvious that he’s somewhat familiar with the China blog scene, but he seemed to just pass it off as the new hip thing — like New Coke or Britney Spears. Besides, I for one have never linked to a “Peking Duck” entry, although I do enjoy eating Peking Duck (maybe I’m this anonymous “John X” character).

    In my opinion, if he’s going to write a “fictional” account about a blogger who may or may not exist, maybe he should actually contact this person and try to get the real scoop (as opposed to statements such as “A week later, only the loyal 10-15 people who are friends of John X continue to read him on a daily basis”).

  2. I have an alternative viewpoint. I think the fact that the author is writing about the Sinosplice established network suggests that he does indeed follow the shinanigans and quite frankly, JOCKS it. That said, when people stop talking about you, that’s when you start to worry. The more ruckus, the better.

  3. I get jocked at all the time. I must be doing something right.

    But, just for the record, very little sounded familiar. I don’t think he was really striving for realism though.

  4. I didn’t mean he was writing about me and me alone, but I think he may have been inspired by a few elements from my July blog entries. Namely, a post about pop music (The Jolin Enigma) and the being censored issue (Network Update). I did link to Peking Duck recently (Being a Good Citizen Online), but the similarities stop there. (Thankfully, I have a bit more than 10-15 readers per day).

    Hence “vaguely familiar.”

    I don’t think the article is a very favorable portrayal either, but then I can’t say it’s terribly off the mark either, for the most part.

  5. Thought the article actually made you sound like an extremely powerful individual… keep on rockin in the free world.

  6. Wrote a short satire of the article.

  7. John and I go way back so I do remember when he was teaching English. I also remember the first bloggers back in Singapore and Hong back in 1997 and 1998 and my brief sojurn as a blog celebrity. Put my name Frank Yu and CNN and you’ll see what I mean. I only have respect and awe for all of the China bloggers out there and what it takes to update daily and spill your hearts out to complete strangers.

    It was back in 2001 I think that I suggested that all the China bloggers support each other and post restricted content on overseas servers so that local bloggers don’t get in trouble. John has done a great job of creating at least a a semblence of a community and keeping the history alive. So no, John X is not just John Pasden, its also John, Adam, Brendan, kaiser, Frank, Andrea, Phil, Kwan, Ben Randall, Richard, Mike and the other Asia bloggers that I known and read over the years.

    I really don’t have a blog anymore, I just post on Mike Friedman’s and write for SCMP and Chinatechnews whenever I feel like it. I work for a big N. American software company that takes up too much of my time to be a regular blogger.


    Frank (

  8. actually, if you were to put a gun to my head and ask me who would be the most complete composite of John X? It would be John Pasden first and perhaps Mike Friedman second. Based on Mike’s Kos Phenomena a few months back. But the original Peking Duck idea was a link that I read from Adam’s blog. Just for the record.

  9. hey frank,
    you’ve definitely got the credentials to write up the blog scene, no question. I just didn’t think the article described the vast majority of us. Your Peking Duck example hit the mark when it comes to a few of the big blogs, but missed when it came to the vast majority of us posting when we’ve got the extra minute (I seem to have a lot of these recently) to mouth off on random tidbits from our life overseas.

    I rarely trackback to others or continue something started by someone else because I see my blog as an outlet for MY voice and creativity. And in most of the blogs I read I see the same.

    Sorry to put you on the defensive, just felt that the article narrowed in and didn’t catch the whole story. Good stuff anyway.

  10. I’m not sure if any post can truly describe the diversity of blogs in China now. You’re right, the article does not really represent everyone or even the majority of bloggers, just A Blogger. There is a lot of myself in that article as well.

    What really pissed me off was the China Daily writer who attacked Richard at Peking Duck, so in a way I wrote the article to let off some steam.

    Well, as you know now I’m actually pro-blogs. Because we’re in a country where information is restricted and our foreign status gives us a bit of protection that ordinary citizens do not, i guess we have a higher calling to in some way let people outside China see what Chinese media and even our own Western Media ignores or overlooks.

    Other countries don’t block their bloggers, China does and that puts you and I and anoyone who post online on a very special status.

    As I mentioned in my article, We choose which of our daily battles to fight, otherwise we just sit in quiet compliance. But when we do choose to write or speak out, its because we feel that we need to.

    thanks Matt and take care,


  11. Anonymous Says: July 21, 2004 at 10:18 am

    As I trawl the web, I notice that my article seems to appear as if I’m attacking bloggers who are here teaching English and particulary John specifically.

    That wasn’t my intention. I apologize to all who felt slighted since as I mentioned, I wrote the article actually as an acknowledgement of the thrills and spills of blogging. Sorry John if it was taken the wrong way. As far as I’m concerned, some of the best writers I have read have been English Teachers turned Blogger. My personal favorite is which I consider on par with reading Charles Bukowski.



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