Cenci Journalism Project

A Chinese-language news website providing translated articles from all over the world concerning socio-political affairs.

Cenci's English editor Hu Shuting (胡舒婷) Interview by Zoe Mengyang Zhao

What is it?

Cenci is a website offering Chinese-language translations of news reports, opinion pieces and interviews from various international media in nearly 30 languages. It centers primarily on global politics, humanities and social sciences. A team of 400 volunteers review and translate the content. 

Volunteers of Cenci

Founded in August 2011 by a group of students at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), Cenci Journalism Project was initially a blog hosted on Sina.com that provided a selection of translated articles from various media outlets located all over the world.

In December 2011, it became an independent website providing original content on global politics, humanities and social sciences for Chinese audiences. Cenci’s popularity is rooted in the multilingual capacities of its volunteers, meaning that it goes beyond the reporting of mainstream Chinese or Western news organizations.

​Any Language, Any Perspective, Anything Cenci

In Chinese, the word Cenci (参差) implies difference, variety, diversity, highlighting the project’s wide scope in covering a range of social issues, in China and abroad, relating to the major themes of our time. Most foreign-to-Chinese online translation communities focus exclusively on English language media.

Cenci stands out by including news reports and commentaries from many non-English language sources, hence its slogan: “Any Language, Any Perspective, Anything Cenci.”

On July 15, 2014, Cenci was blocked in mainland China by the authorities unexpectedly. Most of the content in its archives was deleted.

Logo of the project

How does it work?

The idea of Cenci originated from a critical moment in Chinese journalism: the crash of a high speed train in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, on July 23, 2011 that killed 40 people. Global news media reported on various aspects of the tragedy.

Cenci activity in the university campus

Cenci’s founder, Kangxia, felt compelled to collect and present voices from around the globe to comprehend how the rest of the world perceives social affairs in China in a way that would be more inclusive, diverse, and systematic than through mainstream media. With Beijing Foreign Studies University offering training in dozens of non-English foreign languages, Cenci quickly recruited enough participants to undertake the translation tasks.

By November 2012, Cenci had been RSSed by over 70,000 readers and the number keeps growing. Its total number of contributors has reached 400. The team has translated and distributed over 2,000 articles in English, Arabic, German, French, Russian, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Korean, and twenty other languages including Polish, Icelandic, Serbo-Croat, and Albanian. Every day, the website attracts approximately 5.000 visitors.

Cenci member presenting her ideas

Despite its achievements, Cenci, like similar platforms, may face copyright challenges once it grows in popularity. A number of its translated contents are unauthorized, pushing Cenci to solve this problem if it is to continue to be an important news and opinion source for Chinese netizens eager to hear global voices.

Why did we select it?

Cenci plays a special role in diversifying the Chinese online news ecology, adding unique voices from around the world. In addition to English language articles, it translates content from dozens of languages, including less common languages, from around the world. Thanks to the rapidly growing number of overseas Chinese students and those studying a second language in China, Cenci has succeeded in providing a constant flow of fresh ideas about global issues and diverse perspectives on political news in the country.

iCenci's logo

Unlike most news portals, Cenci is a volunteer-based youth organization. It is growing quickly, reflecting a global trend of youth activism, manifested in a concrete example of transnational network journalism.

Cenci has also transcended the conventional modes of online translation communities in China. It has established itself as a comprehensive project featuring not only second-hand articles but also original content including columns, special reports and interviews.