Expats in China:love it or leave it

In the spirit of the Global Times’ recent “Seven Deadly Sins of Foreigners”, we opted to give foreigners a chance to publicly whinge about their lives, fully cognizant of the oft-stated response to such complaints: If you don’t like it here, why don’t you go home?

There’s never an easy answer. Some people are fugitives (literally) from their home countries. Some are dodging the tax man. Some are just too socially awkward to survive in the West. Regardless, no one lives here without formulating an opinion. Here’s a smattering of your fellow expatriates’ deepest thoughts.

What is your opinion of the average Chinese person?

“There is no average Chinese person,” and “Average people, Chinese or not, are nothing but average,” were

but two responses we received waxing philosophical on averageness and what, in retrospect, could have been a betterphrased question.

“The thing I really can’t bear about the average Chinese person is the lack of creativity,” Celia, 22, from France told us. “The girls are sweet, the guys can be annoying,” an anonymous respondent offered, reminding us that we foreigners aren’t always so creative in our assessments either.

Bridget, 36, from the US, o¡ ered a more in-depth analysis of a relatively superficial query. “I think there’s a gap between the people who are older and who lived through the Cultural Revolution and the younger generation,” she said. “They older folk tend to be more cautious and a little stuck in old ways of thought. The youth push ahead—they could do amazing things if and when they figure out how to channel the energy they are generating.”

What do you find most irritating about life in China?

Let us guess. Spitting?

“I came to China in a container, I really don’t remember when. But I could live without the spitting on the subway and buses.” Yes, Austin, 22, from Norway, who appears to be implying that he came here as a stowaway, would appreciate it if you would swallow that hot loogie you just hornked up from the depths of your infected lungs.

Hampus, 25, from Sweden, stated simply that China is “too crowded.” Well, it’s only the most populous nation in the world, and the only nation that controls how many children you’re allowed to have. They’re doing their best, Hampus. Take a deep breath.

“My Chinese friends told me if I dislike anything in China I should go home,” one anonymous contributor said. “Unfortunately, I can’t afford a ticket as my Chinese boss hasn’t paidn me in six months. I am tempted to confront him but fear deportation.” Wow, buddy, sounds like you have everything to lose except the cajones necessary to stand up to your boss. Those appear to be long gone.

“Failure to move away from top of escalators in a timely fashion,” was yet another complaint we received. True. People have been killed in escalatorrelated accidents for just this reason. Thanks for bringing it up in what was supposed to be a light-hearted survey.

“I’ll always be a foreigner no matter what I do,” Jeffrey, 29, from the US fretted. Short of extensive plastic surgery and a residency permit, this is true. Meanwhile, Carlos, 28, from the UK, finds other foreigners the most irritating thing about China, saying that “expats who strut about with a sense of entitlement and who are basically considered losers in their own countries” are what really gets under his skin. Of course, this does not apply to him.

If you had the power to change China, what would you change fi rst?

“I would make it bigger and provide more space for renewable agriculture. Also I would ban rice and force everyone to eat potatoes as they need less water to grow.” Ah, the dangers inherent in asking someone if they could change the world. Give a man an inch and he’ll force you to eat potatoes forever. Not encourage, force.

And he’s not the only one who suggested enlarging the country, which makes us wonder if some sort of landfill lobbyists didn’t skew the results of this highly scientific survey.

Get rid of “asshole racist morons,” one respondent suggested, “but I’d change that everywhere.” We can hardly argue with that, but is it realistic? It may be more feasible to fi rst tackle smaller nuisances, as suggested by yet another anonymous source: “I would ban the playing of noisy music inside and outside stores. Those who played me the theme from Titanic, Kenny G, etc. would be imprisoned with hard labor.”

We’d agree, because nothing turns our stomachs like a little Kenny G, but that attitude directly butts heads with Tony Dice’s reminder that “If you don’t let your critics speak, you end up looking sad and weak.” We’d say more, but we can’t. Really. We tried.

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