Announcing Magpie Digest

Magpie Kingdom
Magpie Digest
Published in
3 min readNov 16, 2017

China’s online conversations are hard to follow from abroad, even for people who are familiar with and frequently spend time in the country. Massive changes in regulations, behaviors, sentiments, and technology happen on the order of months, if not days. In recent years, online conversations have increasingly retreated from open, public forums to private groups and friends-only feeds, making them even harder to track. Even for those who manage to keep their finger on the pulse, the time difference means missing conversations that unfold in real time and scrambling to reconstruct what happened afterwards.

The quantity and quality of English-language news about China has improved dramatically in the past few years, and we are lucky to now have consistent coverage on everything from business to culture from outlets like Radii China, Sinica, Tech in Asia, Sixth Tone, and Sinocism. However, as researchers interested in the social context around technology and culture in China, we still find ourselves craving steady access to an eye-level view of the everyday conversations that help us understand and explain contemporary Chinese society.

This is why we — Christina Xu, Pheona Chen, and Tricia Wang — are starting Magpie Digest, a weekly newsletter unpacking trending conversations in China that reveal insights about everyday life. Each Thursday, we are sharing one story about what young Chinese people (born in the ‘85-’00s) are talking about online, then analyzing how and why they are talking about it through the lens of our collective research experience about social behavior in China.

You can read all of the missives published so far right here.

Where relevant, we will have GIFs.

Our goal is to create something that complements the existing coverage with a first-hand, human perspective of everyday life on the Chinese internet. We want to take the time to analyze interesting conversations before the internet moves on to the next thing, keeping track of what changes or repeats over time. In other words, this is the resource we needed ourselves, and we are sharing it with the hope that it can be a useful weekly resource for you as well.

We are in beta, so the first phase of the Digest will run from now until the end of January, at which point we will launch a second product, Magpie Guidebook, a more deeply-researched report aimed specifically at giving businesses the context they need to grow strategically in China. Pheona is a VC at a youth-focused entertainment investment firm in Beijing, and Tricia and Christina have both done insight work for Fortune 500 companies; we’re united in our belief that successful businesses in China need a deep understanding of the social and cultural context around their products and services.

Sign up for Magpie Digest here, and follow @MagpieKingdom on Twitter for updates on both projects and more. This is an experiment for us, so we would love to hear what you like and what we could improve: please drop us a line at!

Thanks for accompanying us on our maiden voyage,
Christina Xu, Tricia Wang, and Pheona Chen