Best-selling novelist, champion race-car driver, wasp-tongued enfant terrible of China's literary world Han Han has been all these things. But the Shanghai native, 27, has vaulted into a unique new role in the past year. In mid-2009, Han became China's most popular blogger. He doesn't focus on the mundane details of his daily life or celebrity gossip. Instead, he zeroes in on the ills of contemporary Chinese society, his barbed posts targeting topics from official venality to the failings of a state-produced movie about Confucius.
So far, Han has been adept at negotiating the authorities' unspoken boundaries on permissible criticism. He is aware of the responsibility that comes with his new prominence. "All of us standing on this stage...should strive to slowly remove those high walls," he wrote in a recent post in which he discussed government restrictions on the Internet. "Then, when the sun shines in, it will be such a light that no one will ever be able to extinguish it again."