10 TYPES OF CHINA EXPATS
Written by David A. Dayton
Monday, 02 November 2009 14:50
Found on the site 'New Dynasty'
As a foreigner here in China, today I’ve decided to (over)generalize my experiences with other foreigners and have a little fun with those of us that are of the paler persuasion.
When I first arrived in China my wife and I walked down the Bund in Shanghai and there were almost no other foreigners there! We were mobbed by Chinese people dying to speak English and touch my hairy arms and my wife’s blond hair. Everyone wanted to take pictures with us (of course they didn’t have any cameras, they wanted to use mine—don’t ask me how I was going to get the photos to them). We couldn’t find any shops selling bottled water or Cokes and the domestic flight was a prop-plane with seats that weren’t bolted down. That was my first day in China. Wow! Talk about overwhelming.
Since then I’ve had the opportunity to work all over China and meets hundreds of foreigners of various abilities, education and attitudes. Generally, the people I meet are good ambassadors for their home countries—kind (if not a little impatient), generous (if not a little condescending), and typically good salt-of-the-earth kind of folks. I will admit, though, I have often been shocked at how little they know about China or how few speak Chinese. It’s always impressive to me to see someone who is both good at what s/he does and fluent in Chinese. And even more impressive to find a foreign spouse and kids that can speak Chinese too.
Now, before you send me hate email and call me a racist pig, you need to know that I readily admit that at least 7 of these are/were me at some point in time in the last 10 years. People learn and life changes us all. Just because someone is a Pollyanna today doesn’t mean they won’t be a McCarthy Holdover next month.
So here it is. My totally biased analysis of foreigners in China. Feel free to add to the list.
1. The Clintonite
Don’t ask, don’t tell. This guy has typically been here a couple years but doesn’t speak any Chinese. He visits factories twice a year and willingly believes it’s this clean all the time. Reads the social compliance reports and accepts that all is well. It’s much easier to not question the other 364 days of the year or talk with all the subcontractors that supply the one factory that submits to the social compliance inspection. Typically he knows that he’ll get what he asks for and so just doesn’t ask. AKA The Floydian—Comfortably Numb, if he’s Republican.
2. The McCarthy Holdover
Red Scared. Still sees anything “red” as a threat. Can’t get over the army’s involvement in the Chinese Govt. See’s the economy as feeding the military for it’s eminent take over of Taiwan (and then Korea, Japan, Hawaii, etc..). Still talks incessantly about the Cultural Revolution, Mao, Chicoms, Tiananmen ’89 and Tommy Huang. Typically can’t distinguish between Chinese and any other Asian. Could be a guest on King of the Hill (“Are you Chinese or Japanese?”).
3. The Pollyanna
Don’t you just love China!? “Look at the growth! Look at the opportunities! Just step over that body laying there, no problem. Look at the development. The Chinese will be the biggest (insert any industry here) in the world in just 10 years!” If he lives in China he’s a Taoist “convert” who practices fengshui learned from Wikipedia. Responds to anyone that says anything bad about China with: “Oh, yeah! And your government doesn’t do that too?!” Has never been outside of the big cities on the East Coast. Most books written about China in the last 10 years fit into this category. If he’s a frequent business traveler he buys the pro-China books in the Hong Kong Airport and purports to have great guanxi.
4. The English Teacher
Unteachable; great photo album. Thinks he’s The Pro because he’s taught in three cities in his one year in China. Can obviousl