William Langley


Location icon United Kingdom

English writer and translator based in Guangzhou, China. Studied Chinese at Oxford University. Working as a researcher/fieldworker at My China Roots.



Sixth Tone
The Guangdong Opera Troupe Fighting to Keep a Local Art Alive

Penned between the South China Sea and a range of three imposing mountains lies Hailufeng, a rough-and-tumble region of southern China with a long and proud tradition of rebellion and self-reliance. In the words of a local expression: "In the heavens, there is the Lord of Thunder; on Earth, there are the people of Hailufeng."

Wu Guanzhong at 100: Looking back on the life of China's master painter

Wú Guānzhōng 吴冠中 was born 100 years ago in Zhakou township in Jiangsu Province. The son of a schoolteacher from the rural wetlands, he trained to paint in the hallowed art colleges of Paris and Hangzhou before being re-educated in the remote reaches of the Chinese countryside.

A testament to failed compromise: The KMT museums of Guangzhou

The district of Yuexiu in Guangzhou is a diorama of the early history of the CCP and the KMT. It is a blood-stained landscape in miniature, however, and one that looks capable of repeating itself. Xi Jinping's repeated emphasis on the inevitability of reunification, this time with Taiwan, reeks of repeating unnecessary historical folly.

New Bloom Magazine
One Country, No Consensus: What the UK Can Learn From Taiwan

For decades, political debate in Taiwan has been defined by the clash between those advocating further integration with the mainland and those demanding independence-bearing striking resemblance to the UK's Brexit saga. But where Taiwan is clear on its goals and uncertain of its options, the UK remains bitterly divided in the face of a bleak but...

How much does your Ofo bike cost? Your privacy?

Students returning to Oxford last year may have noticed an unfamiliar sight on the city streets: countless new, dock-less bikes. They came in three varieties: yellow, silver and blue, representing the three major bike sharing firms operating in the city (Ofo, Mobike and Pony Bike).

Five expert tips to help you find your Chinese ancestors

At My China Roots, we often receive requests from the descendants of Chinese migrants who only remember vague details about their ancestor: that his surname was Fung, that he arrived on a boat from South China, and that he came to work on the railroads of North America, in the tin mines of Malaysia, the guano caves of Peru, or the sugar plantations of Cuba.

FamilySearch Blog
Chinese Last Names: A History of Culture and Family * FamilySearch

Chinese last names have a history dating back more than 4,000 years. In many ways, Chinese surnames hold the key to understanding Chinese family history. By learning about your Chinese last name, you can uncover your family's history and heritage. In the Western world, identity-related documentation has usually been maintained by central, church, or state authorities.

The Hippo Collective
The Changeable Fortunes of Beijing Hip-Hop: a snapshot

Considering the popularity of the glossy hit TV show 'Rappers of China' - which seeks to prove the existence of a Chinese rap scene through an X-factor-style big money talent competition - I went in search of the other side of Chinese hip hop -underground in Beijing.

The Hippo Collective Magazine
Can we start taking journalism on China more seriously

No one was stuck in traffic for five days... Last Wednesday (the 8th of October), on the last day of the Golden Week holiday in China, I was in the back of a taxi on my way to explore the Caochangdi ...


Sixth Tone
China's Facing a Fall Armyworm Invasion. It Needs New Weapons to Win

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the world, some 10 nations - including major agricultural producers like India, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Vietnam - either considered or implemented varying degrees of grain export bans. Although some countries, including Vietnam, are already lifting their restrictions, fears of a pandemic-triggered global food crisis linger.

Sixth Tone
Low Tide: My Time Spent Chronicling the Lives of Chinese Fishers

More than 15 years ago, in July 2003, I hired two fishers to take me out onto the choppy waters of the Xiaolangdi Reservoir in the central province of Henan. Six hours later, we finally spotted my destination: a cluster of some 10 or so fishing vessels - a sort of floating village.

Sixth Tone
How 'Wangban' Can Shrink China's Education Gap

This article is the first in a two-part series on 'wangban,' a controversial academic livestreaming model aimed at reducing educational inequality. Last week, a China Youth Daily report heralding the growing popularity of so-called wangban classes in the country's secondary schools sparked a nationwide debate.

Sixth Tone
Pocket Monsters: How 'Pocket Crimes' Warp China's Legal System

Last September, a 20-year-old graffiti artist was detained by police in southern Guangdong province's Zhaoqing City and charged with "intentional destruction of property" - defined as an intentional act of vandalism that causes more than 5,000 yuan ($730) in damages.

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