Wumao Laowai...

(The previous post I wrote seems to have struck a nerve within some of the laowai community in China.  Probably the last two posts, actually.   As such, I wrote this post the day after I wrote the previous one....but I felt my mind wasn't write so I simply put in queue for a later date.  In hindsight I think I should've simply released it right away....here it is.)

"I think you have too much time on your hands, and too many worries.  surprised you spend so much time angry and ranting about things, trying to sound like an expert. The only experts on China are the Chinese. Sorry I ready your blog, maybe one of the few that have."

There seem to be a very small coterie of laowai within China that seem to think they’ve communed with the Chinese, and are of ONE with the 汉人。  Fine by me.  Knock yourself out.   If you think China is your soul mate, well then please do commence with your kumbaya moment. 

You see them every day posting all the cheery and positive news about China that is fit for print.  That’s ok too.  Most of it is true.    And upon occasion you will see a heart wrenching, soul searching post.  A commentary on what is "wrong" with Chinese society.  But it is rarely original thought and is something  the Chinese themselves agree with.  That is, it is a noncontroversial safe post.   Such as that poor lady that recently got run over, twice, by vehicles when she fell down on a highway.(I’d rather not post a link to that one, it’s sad enough.)

So what’s my beef?

As I’ve intimated in the past, some posts are so far out of proper context SOMETHING must be said.

For instance there was a post on LinkedIn that extolled without context the glories of China’s High Speed Rail Network.   And well, as you all know, I really, really did not like the part the poster left out, which is:

“Hey everybody, we’re a trillion dollars in debt, and we just don’t know what the fuck we’re gonna do!!!”

I saw they were both called out on it, and they got pissed.  Both posts about the well deserved glories of China's HSR.  But come on dude, how can a trillion dollar debt be good for the Chinese people 

The below is the paraphrased response of one of them:

“You spend too much time attacking China.  Find something to do with your life, and your blog sucks.  No one reads it anyway.  Oh, and by the way, you are not a China expert!

Then he deleted the LinkedIn connection of the fellow that showed him the post!  A clear sign he has been in China "too long". 

Upon hearing this and reading what he wrote, I couldn’t help myself but have the following takeaways:

“No one is allowed to criticize China unless they are a China Expert.” (Which you all know does not exist.  See the above links. But here is a more neutral post. )

“When somebody has the gall to write something that violates my world view I will simply resort to personal attacks”.    (ie  the blogger(me) must live a lonely, miserable, life, because I have time to write a blog, and oh yeah in case you forgot, no one reads it!  )

( Another post edit after having written this post: My views are up and down.  It is a very simple formula really.  When I post often, views are up and when I don't they drop.  When I write about relationships the view count increases and when I write about this stuff, it drops.  You see though this is my third post in a row writing about this so I obviously don't care about my view counts now do I?  

If I wanted high view counts it is an easy formula:  write frequently about laowai's frequent conquests.  Easy.   View count up.  Ironically enough I kinda sorta do have one of those in line and will be either the next post or the one after.  Depends upon how I feel and I do have a few of these that I do plan on someday writing about.) 

Still, despite the fact my life is “so lonely and miserable”, with “nothing but time on my hands”, I’m sure you’ve all still noticed my posts have become less frequent all the same.


I do apologize greatly for that, but can you cut a guy in middle age a break?  I do have a job with a crazy teenager at home and well quite frankly, my posts are simply becoming more difficult to write.  

And that would be because I find myself taking on more difficult topics.   It’s bad enough I’ve got 4 posts in queue and no damn time to write them.    So I guess what I’m saying is I don’t have time to add posts to my blog like I used to(but boy am I going out of my way to make an exception today!)
But when I do, my posts end up much longer then they have been in the past.  My last two posts I think we’re 3000 and 4000 words each.   Do my views drop when I don’t post as frequently as I used to?  Of course!  Do I care?  Nope.  Not one damn bit.

Still, it annoys me so when someone dares to have the gall to insist only a China Expert can challenge the narrative China presents to the world. (That reminds me of the Chinese government official that told a reporter once that only a member of the Party can ask questions to a Party member)

But more so when this shit comes from a laowai.

A fucking wumao laowai at that.

We’ll be tolerant of a 愤青.  That is to be expected.  Every country has them.  I was one once, too, I’m sure.  But when a laowai acts that way……

And now I find I’m coming across them more frequently than before.   The Battle to Control the Great Narrative of China is on, folks.  

So allow me to speak to you in the first person for a moment, Mr. Wumao Laowai:

China is my life.  Just as much as it is yours, and yeah probably a bit more.  My context on life in China is born of personal experience.  I’ve been cheated and spit on.  I’ve been hacked.  I’ve been spied on.   And yet I’ve seen such kindness on a personal level that at the end of the day, everything still manages to balance out for me.  

Most of us understand that China must be seen through context more so than any other country today.  That is, we really need to view the road China has traveled in order to form a proper opinion. Right now the intellectual fashion is to compare China at the expense of  America, everybody’s well deserved whipping boy of the moment. And you know what?  That's fine by me.

Because I'm old enough to remember when everything being said about China today was said about Japan in the 80's.  And Brazil.  And Korea.  On and on and on. 

Not that you don’t have any, but the odds are quite high in my favor that my personal experience in China is as 丰富 (as modestly as I can put it), as yours. (That was too modest actually)

Just because I don’t live there anymore (nor will you when you come to your senses and realize you cannot actually raise your kids in China, should you have any, and if you think you can, then this entire post might be for naught as my assumption is you and I share a common thread of understanding here.) does not for a moment take away from my ability to comment on the China Scene. 

I can challenge anything I read about China that I damn well please, and I will continue to do so. Maybe not on linkedin or Quora, perhaps.  Not the proper forum for that.   But I’m fair.   I’ve invested as much of my life, sweat and money in China as anyone else.  As such forgive me if I oversleep and forget my place in the "rah rah line".    

And I’ve never, ever deleted a comment from this blog, that wasn’t junk mail.   Once we leave the story of China to the laowai wumao that are out there, we are finished.   We are all blessed to be living in an age where we can witness the Rise of China from the heap of ashes dating back nearly 200 years.   But that doesn’t mean there aren’t bumps along the way.   We all love the HSR.  Love it!!  But giving warning to China to “watch out” doesn’t make the rest of us “Anti China”.     So please don’t lecture us and insinuate that we are. 

If my comments cannot get through to you then we will be forced to wait until the self imposed aura of hubris you wake up with everyday that sits over your head like a halo dissipates.  And as long as you are living in China and feeling good about yourself because you  have the stamp of approval from your local Chinese friends that may be a while. 

Let me take a stab at where you are coming from.  You’ve received acceptance from the local Chinese Community as a “good laowai”.   And yes, I will without hesitation agree that most of you probably are.  But a good laowai dishes out constructive criticism and guess what?  I ain't seeing it.  

You have received no compliment, no nod of approval from the locals that I myself and many others have not received many times over.   The key is to not let it go to your head.   I see that has failed.   

I shake my head in disgust at the sad attitude of many laowai with the China Wife and young family in China, years and years in country.  (They even own an apartment!)  But still they complain and regurgitate all that is wrong with the Heavenly Kingdom.  And still they stay!  They stay!   Mr. Laowai is unhappy.  He lets everyone know it.   I knew one well off individual that had a nervous breakdown.  He simply couldn’t hack it anymore. Yet returning to their native country simply does not occur to them as the proper thing to do.     In hindsight they do nothing but shit in their own nest.  
Well I can see your ilk does not do that, and that is to be commended.  But when you get addicted to the koolaid (and you are addicted to the koolaid, any flavor will do), then you come off as sad.   And you come off as a Wumao.   Which you are. 

Still another fellow just today forwarded an article(they never write original posts these guys, it’s easier to simply forward an article and then maybe write a line or two emphasizing the wisdom of the author’s observation), talking about how anothe High Speed Line was to open.

WTF?  Another damn line is opening?  The article stated how it has taken many years for this line to be built. (And I myself can’t wait to ride it!!!!)

When he was challenged on cost, the writer replied “investment”.   Fine. 

A little while later the reply to the above went something like, “it’s a trillion dollars dude, how does that qualify as investment??”  His reply?  He knew nothing of the debt.  Not his cup of tea you see.  

A moment later this same fellow posted another link about how the West is in decline and China is full speed ahead.

You want to be a promoter of China.  Go for it.  Knock yourself out.  I have no problem with that.  
The more laowai promoters of China that exist the better.   China is eagerly looking for people like you.      But understand there are thorns in that bed of roses.  Keep in mind none of us want China to fail.  If China fails we are all in big fucking trouble.   You and I both lose.  But you look bad when you only shine the light on what you want others to see.  Then when challenged simply hurl ridiculous insults at those whom hold a world view somewhat different from yours.    Be a proper grownup won’t you?  Realize the narrative in the digital age is not yours to control.    


  1. I gave up trying expressing my real views to Chinese friends and colleagues a long time ago- plenty of far more pleasant things to chat about than politics or what's wrong with China. But to your point, when I would use my go to dismissal line of "Foreigners shouldn't comment on Chinese matters", Chinese people LOVED it. They ate it up and would universally praise my unusually deep understanding of China. Oh the irony, the less I had to say, the more they admired my understanding. And as you say here, I suspect that a more finely tuned set of non-incisive comments about China could propel somebody to becoming an in-demand China expert.


  2. I've found that my friends all want to talk about politics. It crosses the economic strata, and is always Male. Never Female. The successful businessman, the CEO, the project manager, all wish to talk politics with me. Always during a meal. I found out long ago however, they take my comments personally. Still I find it important to get my point across while not losing their friendship or business relationship. It is an art well practiced over many a drink.

    Alas, what you say makes alot of sense. Self censorship of the laowai in China is the road easiest taken for many. It is the road that leads to a greater sense of self worth and accomplishment. With it comes inclusion and acceptance. It is a merry seduction that many laowai subconsciously embrace. Lost in the wave of conformity is one's soul.
    which happily goes unnoticed even when one returns to the West.

    A downward spiral ensues. The realization they are "just like everyone else" takes a long time to accept. The flattery stops. The nods of approval disappear. The knowing glances from others "that you are special" evaporate. Sometimes the soul is refound. Those that only find bitterness in being just like the rest of us simply return to China, soul be damned.


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