How a New Wave of Podcasts is Shaking Up Chinese-Language Media

By Shen Lu


On June 21, a new podcast appeared on several Chinese and American podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts. Called In-Betweenness, it was recorded by four academics scattered around the world.

The podcast is in Mandarin, and the target audience is Chinese people, but the topic was race in America and across the world—specifically, what’s happening to race relations in the wake of the George Floyd protests. The hosts, based in the United States, Asia and Europe, didn’t shy away from difficult issues. They started the conversation with how Chinese people were characterized as “yellow” in a world order that still favors white Europeans, and ended it with a look at anti-Black racism in China.

Some listeners complained that the first episode was “too theoretical and abstract”—the discussion touched on the French philosopher Frantz Fanon’s criticism of Hegel’s master-slave dialectic—but that didn’t prevent people from tuning in. Since it launched, the podcast has racked up 17,000 downloads in eight countries plus Taiwan and Hong Kong. That might seem a drop in the bucket relative to the 1 billion Mandarin speakers worldwide, but the podcast’s goal isn’t to go mainstream. Instead, it aims to open up space for progressive conversation and build community among a select group of Chinese-speaking people, highly educated and many of them young, who might go on to have influence over politics and policy. Over 60 percent of the audience is in China.

“I wasn’t surprised by the geographical distribution of our audience,” says Chenchen Zhang, a co-host of In-Betweenness who teaches politics and international relations at Queen’s University Belfast. “But I was a bit surprised by the number of downloads.”

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Picture: King of Hearts / CC BY-SA (

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