> The traditional blogosphere has always been an outlet for a sort of amateur public intellectual that simply isn't that common in China
It may not be common, but China makes up for it with a large population, so there are a lot of amateur public intellectuals in terms of absolute numbers.
And they blog. On Weibo, WeChat, Zhihu, Jianshu, ... Most readers probably come across an article by being subscribers or having someone they know send it to them or because the platform pushed it.
So pretty similar to Western social media. What's missing for the classic blogosphere feel is probably really just the discoverability across platforms.
Every platform wants to trap as many eyeballs and as much content as possible, so in the end they're all siloed off from each other. Responding across silo boundaries does happen, but tends to involve embedded screenshots instead of links, which makes it a bit harder to discover other people writing on the same topic, so each writer ends up as a bit of a silo as well.