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About Li Datong

Li Datong is a Chinese journalist and former editor of Bingdian (Freezing Point), a weekly supplement of the China Youth Daily newspaper. In 2006 he was the recipient of a Lettre Ulysses award for reportage on his experience at Bingdian:

“As a professional journalist, I am completely incapable of understanding or accepting the suspension of ‘Freezing Point’ … To those who made this decision, what do the readers count for? What does the prestige of a large mainstream newspaper count for? What do the laws of the country and the party constitution count for? What does the reform and the opening up of China count for? They see this public instrument as their own property, thinking they can dispose of it as they please.”


Articles by Li Datong

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

China: Xi Jinping's new generation

The imminent transition of power in Beijing will see a new ruling group arrive in power. But does its background and formation prepare it for the scale of China's political and economic challenge, asks Li Datong.

Wen Jiabao: the verdict of history

China’s elite is preparing for the succession of power in 2012. But there is still time for the current generation to shape its legacy. In particular, says Li Datong, prime minister Wen Jiabao is an increasingly bold and outspoken figure in China’s political establishment.

China: a tide of workers’ protest

The growing militancy and confidence of China’s industrial workers are rooted in the epic social experience of the reform decades, says Li Datong. 

China’s unstable stability

The Beijing leadership’s obsession with order and control in face of citizens' search for justice highlights the dysfunctional nature of China’s political system, says Li Datong.

Beijing’s credibility crisis

The anniversary party of the People's Republic of China is being prepared amid an atmosphere of fear and foreboding, says Li Datong.

China's civil society: breaching the Green Dam

The campaign by China's netizens against the government’s ambitious attempt to control and monitor internet usage is a signal of their emerging political power, says Li Datong.

Tiananmen: the legacy of 1989

The violent suppression of dissent in Beijing on 4 June 1989 had deep roots and still casts a long shadow, says Li Datong.

China and the earthquake

The response to the Sichuan disaster among China's media, people, and government is a sign of deeper shifts in the country's public culture, says Li Datong.

(This article was first published on 2 June 2008)

China's Tibet: question with no answer

Beijing's official doctrine and the political system built around it conspire to freeze progress on the Tibet issue, says Li Datong.

(This article was first published on 16 April 2009)

China: democracy in action

The annual congresses of China's "people's representatives" reveal how China's system of power works - and why it will fail, says Li Datong.

The CCTV fire: a voice without restraint

The official response to the burning of a Beijing media-political landmark was silence. The free individual of the "post-80s" generation who broke it embodies the spirit the new China needs, says Li Datong.

China's stalled transition

After thirty years of economic reform in China the questions over the country's future are multiplying, says Li Datong.

China’s power, China’s people: towards accountability

China is locked in the contradiction between spectacular achievement and catastrophic failure. The key to overcoming it is public accountability, says Li Datong.

Death in Shanghai, law in China

The case of a disturbed and angry citizen whose experiences led him to a murderous attack on police officers has wider lessons for China's legal system, says Li Datong.

The Beijing Olympics: the last award

The Chinese government can be relieved that the Beijing games were a great success. But the revelation was the performance of China's people, says Li Datong.

The Olympics: was China ready?

The global spectacle in Beijing is also a test for the next generation of China's leaders, says Li Datong.

The Weng'an model: China’s fix-it governance

The Beijing government's response to an eruption of local fury in Guizhou province signals a vital change in its operating mode, says Li Datong

China’s digital nationalism: Kung Fu Panda under fire

The latest cyber-assault on a western target suggests that the super-patriotism of China's "angry youth" may be less substantial or enduring than it can appear, says Li Datong.

(This article was first published on 16 July 2008)

China's leaders, the media and the internet

An effective government needs accurate information. But what if its own policy of media censorship makes that impossible? Li Datong explores a paradox of China's governance.

(This article was first published on 4 July 2008)

China: after the quake, the debate

A teacher who fled from the Sichuan earthquake ahead of his students has ignited ferocious public argument - with surprising results that reveal much about how China is changing, says Li Datong

(This article was first published on 17 June 2008)

China's soft-power failure

Beijing's triumphal Olympics year is turning tense, with the Tibetan and torch-relay protests now followed by the Sichuan earthquake. The Chinese government's response betrays a deficit in the way the country is ruled, says Li Datong.

(This article was first published on 16 May 2008)

Xiamen: the triumph of public will?

A rare victory for Chinese citizens highlights the need to create reform through a political process, says Li Datong.


Taipei and Beijing: attitudes to historical truth

A comparison between Taiwan and mainland China shows that the chinese Communist Party is still incapable of confronting and discussing the truth of its past, says Li Datong.

China’s modernisation: a unique path?

The outside world's influence on China remains fundamental to the chances of political reform inside the country, says Li Datong.

China’s age of expression

An open letter to China's top leaders circulating on the internet is the harbinger of a new era of truth and accountability, says Li Datong.

China’s Youth League faction: incubus of power?

There are other routes to membership of China's political elite than being born a "princeling", reports Li Datong.

China’s communist princelings

The distinctive experience of China's rising political generation may turn dynastic succession into real political reform, says Li Datong.

China’s leadership: the next generation

The logic of its own history is forcing change in the internal politics of the Chinese Communist Party, says Li Datong.

Shanghai: new history, old politics

The stifling embrace of communist orthodoxy resists efforts to open China's school textbooks to fresh perspectives, reports Li Datong.

China’s media change: talking with Angela Merkel

A dialogue with Germany's leader is an opportunity for Li Datong to share his assessment and hopes about the future of media in China.

Beijing’s Olympics, China’s politics

The linkage by campaigners of China's hosting of the Olympics with the country's human-rights record will prove premature, says Li Datong.

The next land revolution?

The outcome of the key contest over rural property rights will transform China yet again, says Li Datong.

Beijing baozi and public trust

A story of media fakery has lessons for China's people and political elite alike, says Li Datong.

Hong Kong's one-legged return

The Chinese government's anniversary celebrations over the return of Hong Kong reveal both its fear of democracy and loss of confidence, says Li Datong.

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