As the hourglass runs out on 2020—and good riddance to it—TechNode is celebrating as we always do. We’ve picked our 10 favorite articles of the year and compiled them into an attractive PDF. You’ll find the introduction and links to the articles below. We’re also running our annual membership sale now until Jan. 10—so if you aren’t a subscriber already, sign up now for 20% off.

A note from the editor in chief

Here’s a tough one: what’s the biggest thing that happened to China tech in 2020?

In January 2020, when we were all about five years younger, we were looking at a wave of Hong Kong IPOs and asking ourselves if “capital winter” was finally over.

The year quickly changed directions. By the Chinese New Year, we were focused on what was then, quaintly, merely a national epidemic. Our reporters took on the challenge and brought in innovative coverage. They pieced together how tech-based quarantine systems like the “Health Code” worked, asked how tech companies were responding to the challenge and documented life under lockdown in work like Shi Jiayi’s series of video shorts and Lavender Au’s on-the-ground bulletins from Shiyan, Hubei. Nearly a year into Covid-19, we’re still missing staff who got stuck overseas. Chris Udemans and Carolyn Surh are still working strange hours in distant time zones. Other friends and colleagues left the company during this difficult year.

But China’s already highly digital society adapted quickly to lockdown conditions. The country’s truck and delivery drivers, in particular, took risks outdoors to make it possible for people to stay indoors for weeks on end, allowing China to adopt an extreme, but short-lived lockdown policy that led to controlled re-opening within weeks.

That’s not to say there haven’t been big changes. E-commerce livestreaming has made a 28-year-old man in lipstick as identifiable a symbol of consumerism as Santa Claus. Growth-at-all-costs businesses like Luckin Coffee and Danke Apartment have come apart at the seams. Skepticism of the power of big tech has also taken hold among both the public and regulators—as Ant Group, most dramatically, has learned. And #techwar continued to escalate, battering telecoms giant Huawei and driving a renewed push for semiconductor manufacturing in China.

We hope the attached articles—our favorites from the last year of our coverage—will help shed some light on this remarkable year.

Here at TechNode, we’ll be doing all we can to explain China tech, and to find the markets that are emerging in China’s always dynamic tech sector. We’re looking forward to exploring emerging fields like cleantech, SaaS, and health and med tech. As ever, we thank you. Your enthusiasm, feedback, and tips are invaluable to our reporting. And to our members: Your support makes it possible for us to do sustainable journalism. Thanks for sticking with us. To all our readers, here’s to a happier, healthier new year!

Best regards,

David Cohen
Acting Editor-in-Chief

Top 10 best of 2020

  1. CHINA VOICES | ‘Bilibili is becoming Chinese Youtube’
  2. How China is using QR code apps to contain Covid-19 
  3. Tesla’s apprentice: Is Tesla bullying its own biggest fan? 
  4. INSIGHTS | Who owns ‘internet literature’?
  5. INSIGHTS | ‘Second landlord’ platforms get tenants in debt to fund growth
  6. 996 in your living room
  7. HSMC promised China’s first 7 nm chips. It didn’t go well. 
  8. Nio, Xpeng, Li Auto: your cheat sheet to China’s listed Tesla rivals 
  9. CHINA VOICES | The unsigned op-eds that foreshadowed Ant Group IPO suspension
  10. How Huawei hooked Greek telcos

TechNode blind tasting: plant-based meat

Download a PDF version of the top 10, with the full text of all articles, here.

And if you aren’t a member yet, don’t forget to sign up for a nice discount.

David Cohen is a former acting editor in chief at TechNode. Since 2010, he has covered China as a writer and editor at outlets including the Diplomat, the Jamestown Foundation, and China Policy. He’s...