Rachel Lu is the co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation, an English-language online magazine that synthesizes and analyzes Chinese social media. Tea Leaf Nation is a partner site with The Atlantic and has dozens of volunteer contributors.

Lu was born in China. She is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.

Last Updated: May 2, 2014

Conversation

04.29.15

Is China Building Up Soft Power by Aiding Nepal?

Ashok Gurung, Zha Daojiong & more
A devastating earthquake has struck one of China’s smallest neighbors, the mountainous former kingdom known, since 2008, as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Surrounded on three sides by India—known in Nepali as a “friendly nation”—Nepal...

Media

03.25.15

Was Lee Kuan Yew an Inspiration or a Race Traitor? Chinese Can’t Agree

Rachel Lu
When Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, passed away at the ripe age of 91 on March 23, the elderly statesman was as controversial in death as in life—and nowhere was the debate more vigorous than in China. While state media was full of...

Media

03.09.15

China’s Real Inconvenient Truth: Its Class Divide

Rachel Lu
China is talking about its pollution problem, but its equally serious class problem remains obscured behind the haze. Smog leapt to the forefront of Chinese national discourse after the February 28 release of "Under the Dome," a 103-minute...

Media

02.19.15

Why 700 Million People Keep Watching the Chinese New Year Gala, Even Though It’s Terrible

Rachel Lu
The Chinese New Year Gala, which aired live on February 18 on Chinese Central Television (CCTV), is a four-and-half hour variety show with song and dance, comedic skits, magic tricks, acrobatic acts, and celebrity cameos. The show celebrates the...

Media

02.10.15

Chinese Corruption, Now Officially Hilarious

Rachel Lu
Corruption is finally funny—at least, according to the Chinese Communist Party. That’s because comedic performances in the upcoming February 18 performance of China’s annual New Year Gala, a variety show on China Central Television (CCTV) expected...

Media

02.05.15

Why Chinese Promote Confining New Mothers for a Month

Rachel Lu
HONG KONG—Giving birth is never easy, but for new Chinese mothers the month following a baby’s arrival is particularly fraught. Immediately after I became pregnant for the first time, I started to hear about zuoyuezi, or “sitting the month.” It’s a...

Media

01.13.15

‘Where’s Our Unity March?’ China Wants to Know

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian & Rachel Lu
The January 7 terrorist attack on satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead has mostly inspired unity in the West, but the massive march held in its aftermath is spurring controversy, and even some disdain, in China. While the...

Media

10.01.14

Media Portrays Hong Kong Protests as Either Inspiring or Dangerous

Rachel Lu
The second and third days of mass protests to demand broader democracy in Hong Kong ended with none of the violence and confrontation seen on September 28. Thousands of protesters continued to gather on the streets of the city’s busiest shopping and...

Media

09.12.14

A New Definition of Chinese Patriotism

Rachel Lu
China’s ruling Communist Party has a message for Chinese citizens: You are for us, or you are against us.That’s the takeaway from a widely discussed September 10 opinion piece in pro-party tabloid Global Times, in which Chen Xiankui, a professor at...

Media

07.30.14

Paper Tiger

Isaac Stone Fish & Rachel Lu
For 10 months, the fate of Zhou Yongkang existed in a space of plausible deniability. Respected Western media outlets had reported that the 71-year-old Zhou, a retired official who served as China's much-feared domestic security czar from 2007...

Sinica Podcast

09.20.13

Chinese Twitter and the Big-V Takedown

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Joining Kaiser and Jeremy this week are David Wertime and Rachel Lu from Tea Leaf Nation, along with Paul Mozur from The Wall Street Journal. And our topic? None other than the firestorm that has engulfed Sina Weibo following China’s effective...

Conversation

05.07.13

Why Is a 1995 Poisoning Case the Top Topic on Chinese Social Media?

Rachel Lu, Andrew J. Nathan & more
With a population base of 1.3 billion people, China has no shortage of strange and gruesome crimes, but the attempted murder of Zhu Ling by thallium poisoning in 1995 is burning up China’s social media long after the trails have gone cold. Zhu, a...

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10.16.12

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Tea Leaf Nation
09.11.12

It’s a cat and mouse game for netizens who are interested in Mr. Xi’s coming and goings. Certain code words for Mr. Xi, such as “Crown Prince (太子)” or XJP, are blocked search terms on Sina Weibo. However, netizens have invented others, such as heir apparent (王储) and second in command (二当家). A search for the phrase “Where is She,” a play on the...

Topics: Media, Politics