Showing posts from March, 2013

China and why we stay

China is addictive.   This is why some of us stay. We are all the same.  I’m talking about the long term folks.  We can have a better life in our native country.  Cleaner air, safer traffic, and less stress.   Short term visitors….the students, the teachers, the wanderers….well good for you.  You can come, walk around, take pix, have a fling, in general observe how things are in a “Communist” country, feel better for it, and then go home.  But somehow, there is a portion of us that come, some nowadays with a PLAN, others with the “I didn’t think it would be this way” explanation.   We are the longterm expats.  Maybe you think you’ve been here for 5 years now and that qualifies you as “long term”.  Maybe even seven years.  Fine.  Let’s not make this into a pissing contest.   In my view, though, there is a dividing line.  Pre Tiananmen, and Post Tiananmen.   Pre McDonald’s and Post Mc D’s.   Pre black market money exchange and post black mkt. Pre Starbucks and Post… get th

Being a Chinese Man sucks

Nothing is more tragic than being a Chinese Man today.   Being a Chinese Man just sucks.  No, I’m not talking about the price for a decent pair of shoes!  The Chinese Man today has to put up with demanding parents, bitchy women, and high prices.   It’s a terrible luck of the draw.   The demographics of being a Chinese Male, along with the cultural and societal trends HE is imprisoned within are nothing worse than a Perfect Storm.  Just consider the conditions: ·          Part of a culture that values Boys over Girls.  Males over Females.  ·          Demands of the other sex. ·          Overall societal pressures As the Chinese Male comes of age, he can no longer rely on his parents, his maternal grandparents, or his paternal grandparents to shield him from what lies beyond the nest.    He has expectations to meet.  Those expectations are usually high.  ( Yes, we realize this is normal.  Who doesn’t have high demands upon their child to succeed to the best of their

It’s too late for freedom of the press in China

Below is another quick observation I've made on Chinese society, and how freedoms we take for granted could adversely effect it's transition.   It’s too late for freedom of the press in China. Quite often I think to myself, the best, most efficient way for China to reform itself is simply to give the papers free reign.  Shame and the constant revelation of law breaking activity would quickly act as an incentive towards reining in a freewheeling society such as this.  However, as the Cultural Revolution was quite often nothing more than an opportunity for ordinary folk to “get even” and settle long held grudges, with trumped up charges and accusations, one suspects the same would happen with freedom of the press as well. One is reminded again that China doesn’t have the Western ethic to“forgive and forget”.   Nope, this place remembers perceived slights forever. Anything that creates chaos in Chinese society is bad for China.  The sudden ability of report

Musings on China and it's eternal suitor

When the mood hits me, as it does now, I will try and write the occasional short piece on what I think of China today.  This is the first in what I hope will eventually be a series.   It was 1999, and I was in Beijing.  A friend of mine new to China was set to embark on a summer study program.  We were both at the Square, across the street from the famous Mao portrait.  My friend, totally new to China, and ignorant of its society and culture, wandered about for 30 minutes before turning around to blurt out…..”China needs the Communist Party”. Make no mistake, my friend was and very much still is an unavowed Capitalist.  But this  takeaway after a mere 30 minutes was that only order could save China, and that sure as hell wasn’t going to come from Democracy.  You see China can never be wooed by a Democratic Suitor.  The philosophy we read in University was written by people who had never been to China.   The ideals we embraced were propagated by philosophers igno

Do we really need our Mandarin in the workplace?

Is Chinese really useful in work?  Is it helpful to one’s career?  I mean, why else, at the end of the day, do we take the time to master the language?  I’ll spill the beans now:  in my view, one gets more value out of his/her Mandarin if they work for themselves.   Not if they work for a company.   But most of us are unfortunately pushed towards that direction.  It’s not something we desired.  Read on. I’ve spent my entire adult life working in China, or studying here.  To me, learning Chinese was not just a cultural pursuit, or something I did out of curiosity, but something I fully intended to use.  The problem was after completing my initial studies, I really didn’t know how I wanted to leverage my new found abilities.  My first desire was to be an international lawyer.  Luckily, I came to my senses.   During graduate school, I interned in China with a very large American company.   I was expecting an offer.   Didn’t get one.  I was rather surprised.   They did offe

Ambition and why it's important.

A country is only as great as the ambition of it's individual citizens. This is the story of one who lacks the above, and why it matters. My wife knows a 24 year old boy.  His English is ok, but my expectations are low.  This boy was accepted into a rather prestigious Engineering program in the USA.  I use the term “boy” in a most condescending manner.  Through a friend of ours, we were asked to take care of this kid.  That is to pick him up at the airport, and take him to his new digs, etc.  I told my wife to ensure that if he had any needs, or what have you, to just ask.  He’d be welcome in our home for weekends, dinner, etc. Well a semester passed and I finally had the chance to meet this dimwit.  Yuanxiao was here and we invited him to hang out with us for dinner.  We went to friend of ours house, which was a nice big house, perhaps even bigger than mine.  We have 5000 sq. feet (approx. 500 sq. meters.  Never mind we have a pool and he doesn’t), but the fellow in re

The 10 things your Chinese friends didn’t tell you about China before you got here.

The 10 things your Chinese friends didn’t tell you about China before you got here. 1.        Everyone will assume you don’t speak Mandarin. I’d like to try and be fair abt this, as the honest truth is most of us here do not speak the language.  And if we did, we wouldn’t speak it very well.  Still, pls give some of us credit.  A few of us can not only only speak the language, but we speak it better than you do.  2.        Everyone will assume you are a teacher. Yep….the abundance of English schools in China for sure is overflowing.  Just because I don’t wear a pinstriped suit with leather shoes and a black briefcase doesn’t mean I’m a teacher.  Some of us actually have other jobs that have nothing to do with our ability to speak English. 3.        Everyone will assume you don’t know a damn thing about China.  I was very embarrassed when some of my colleagues from a former life didn’t know who Mao was, let alone who the guy on the huge Deng Xiaoping billboard was.