Thursday, January 27, 2011

Good news for 2011: Starting up China Development Brief (English)

January 27, 2011

I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be starting up China Development Brief (English) this year.  The mission of CDB (English) is to improve understanding and cooperation between the international community and China’s growing nonprofit and philanthropic community by providing authoritative and timely English-language coverage of China’s civil society sector.
To achieve this goal, CDB (English) is partnering with the Beijing Civil Society Development Research Centre which publishes the Chinese-language CDB and maintains a website,   The content for CDB (English) will come from translated reports from CDB, the Chinese media, and Chinese academics, as well as translations of government laws and regulations governing the civil society sector.
After that rather long-winded announcement, a bit of explanation is in order here.  In my first post for this blog, written in October of 2009,  I mentioned that I'd been thinking of starting up the English-language China Development Brief (CDB) that was closed down in 2007, but found the environment was not quite right and decided to start writing this blog instead.  For those who are not familiar with CDB, it had been providing some of the most authoritative and timely English-language coverage of development and civil society issues in China over the previous decade.  Since its closure in 2007, the civil society sector in China has been undergoing substantial and complex changes, some of which I've discussed in this blog, yet there has been little English-language coverage aside from occasional media reports, and certainly no informed and sustained coverage.  The Chinese-language CDB, which is a spin-off of the English-language CDB, has however continued to operate and provide quality, detailed coverage on the civil society sector in China.
A few months ago, I decided to give it another go by approaching the Chinese-language CDB about starting up an English-language service.  Not knowing what to expect, I was a bit surprised to find my proposal welcomed enthusiastically by the CDB staff. 
In the coming months, we will be applying for funding and working on developing a website, a pilot newsletter and a special issue on New Trends in Philanthropy and Civil Society in China.  I’m looking to use a “crowd-sourcing” model that relies on communities of volunteer translators to translate the content for the website, newsletter and special issue.  More on that later. 
I’m excited about working with CDB on this project and hope it lays the foundation for high-quality, timely, authoritative yet accessible coverage of China’s civil society sector.  I’m convinced that the time is now ripe to start this project.  Civil society in China has encountered some setbacks, but most informed observers that I know, myself included, have been impressed by the gains made by civil society organizations over the past two years, and we are hoping that those gains build momentum over the next few years.  Whatever the trends maybe, CDB (English) plans to be around to cover them.
With wishes for a Happy Year of the Rabbit,
Shawn Shieh, Founding Editor, China Development Brief (English)

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