600 and out

Week in China will shut down at the end of the year


Sadly this 600th issue is not a celebration. I regret to announce that after 14 years Week in China will publish its final issue in December.

For our loyal readers – many of whom have subscribed to the magazine for the bulk of that timeframe and often offered welcome feedback – this may come as both a surprise and a disappointment. I hope you have valued our neutral, non-polemical voice: our intent was always to fuel intelligent conversations about China and its changing role in the world for a readership of decisionmakers.

I have always felt China is an infinitely complex place, so dynamic that at any one time any number of things can be true, even when they sound contradictory. Our mission was to try and make China better understood, although given the complexity I have described, that was always a tall order.

All I can say is we strove to be intellectually honest and to treat each weekly edition as a new chapter in a never-ending book: the story of China.

We exit the field, leaving other China-focused publications in an increasingly polarised market. Perhaps the space we sought to occupy – neither pro-Chinese nor anti-Chinese – is disappearing as the geopolitical mood becomes so much more fractious. If that is the case I view it as a terrible pity. It may even lead to tragic consequences.

From the outset our work has been made possible by the generous sponsorship of HSBC, a bank that was founded in China in 1865. That longstanding relationship allowed us to focus our energies on editorial quality – producing what I believe to be good writing on a diverse array of topics spanning business, society and culture. However, in recent years HSBC has had to cut back its sponsorship level and it has reached a point where it is not viable for Week in China to continue. A number of alternative options were pursued that might have secured our future but none of them has panned out, for a variety of reasons. Frankly it was a conundrum, one that was beyond my business acumen to resolve in spite of a major effort and significant stress.

I have given more of my career to Week in China than any other project and there has been remarkably little turnover among my colleagues. We have all believed in what we do and it is a profound regret that those colleagues will no longer have a vehicle to produce the sort of writing and insight that they have proven so gifted at turning out for 600 issues.

I take some consolation that sometimes the market does not always support things that on their own merits are high quality. I look to the example of Brora, one of the greatest single malt whiskies ever distilled but which due to grim economic conditions and changes in taste in the 1970s was shuttered. Nowadays rare examples of the very finest bottlings of Brora (there are only a few left) fetch extremely high prices when they surface at auction.

On that note I will leave you with a Chinese idiom that sums this feeling up: 天下没有不散的宴席 (There is no banquet that lasts forever).

If any of you, our readers, would like to get in touch, please send me an email at [email protected]. I’d welcome hearing from you.

Steven Irvine


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