Jeffrey Wasserstrom: The Most Famous Chinese Blogger and Racecar Driver You've Never Heard OfRoundup: Historians' Take
Jeffrey Wasserstrom, a professor of Chinese history at UC Irvine, is the author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know and co-editor of the forthcoming Chinese Characters: Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land.
Americans today seem to know a lot more about China than they used to, as evidenced by their familiarity with more Chinese names than just Mao Zedong and Jackie Chan. Americans who have only a passing interest in China will often ask me, "What do you think of Liu Xiaobo and Ai Weiwei?" Some who have trouble with Chinese names might just ask about "that political prisoner who won the Nobel Peace Prize," "that outspoken artist the Chinese authorities keep hassling," or, now that Chen Guangcheng has spent some time in the news, "that blind lawyer who escaped from house arrest."
But here's what I keep waiting for them to ask: "How do you feel about Han Han?"
A can't-remember-the-Chinese-name variant of that question might go, "What's your take on that good-looking literary bad boy, high school drop-out, bestselling novelist, race car driver who is featured on the cover of Chinese fashion magazines and writes blog posts that often get censored by the Internet police but sometimes annoy dissidents?"
Or they might simply ask, "What do you think of theworld's most widely read blogger?." Though across-the-web comparisons are probably impossible, the 29-year-old Han Han's blog attracts about a million views per post and half a billion visitors so far, leading media outlets to occasionally refer to him as the world's most popular blogger....
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