Saturday, 10 May 2008

Being foreign in China

The consistently good "Silk Road International Blog" has an excellent post on what it means to be foreign in China recently.

From a purely economic standpoint China needs to be careful - whilst they may be big enough to go it alone now a mass exodus of foreigners at this potentially pivotal period of development would be unwise.

The full article should be read to get the full story.

Foreigners not Welcome [Silk Road]

So yesterday afternoon I took my two boys, ages 1.5 and 3, to see the relay as it was passing just a few blocks from our home here. We lined up along the main street along with everyone else. As it drew near I was very distinctly told (in Chinese): “Effing foreigner. Go home. This 0lympics is ours.”


I can honestly say that I have rarely if ever been mistreated in China. I don’t count the arguments over quality or the multiple times I’ve been the target of random theft. I mean, I’ve hardly ever been treated badly by my Chinese hosts in terms of politeness and acceptance.

But that changed this last week. Three separate experiences have really damaged my opinion of the depth of Chinese hospitality. First is the excoriating, racist and downright scary language that is being thrown around in China right now towards foreigners in general and the US and France in particular. From actual riots to virtual (internet) lynchings, from racial comments vocalized without knowing I can speak Chinese to outright bullying and intimidation of foreigners shopping at Carefoure. China is moving farther from its goal of “one world” than it has in more than a couple of decades.

Silk Road give it both barrels in this post:

Secondly, recently, being a foreigner has been, to be honest, at bit scary. Crime against foreigners is high. Anti foreign sentiment is rising fast. Now in China I’m not even a “normal” person (of course not special), now I’m “bad” and I’m “them” and sometimes I even get called “French.” Yuck. Why is this scary? The crime isn’t much worse than a year ago. The race riots are, unfortunately, now becoming almost annual. So why scary now? Because the government may not be able to or willing to control it as the hype for the 0lympics draws near—how do you shut down nationalism in the next 100 days as the 8 year hype of the 0lympics finally crescendos? And instead of shutting it down (and some chats are closed, I realize) they are instead telling Chinese to just not talk with or share “sensitive” information with foreigners—yes, the new official line is to “exclude” anyone that is not Chinese from conversations about real issues. Or just don’t giv them visa’s any more. Welcome (some of you) to China, please shut up, spend your money and then go home as quickly as possible. Nice.

I recommend reading all of this long post.



Anonymous said...

I am glad that the true China is revealed in this Olympic Games.

Let the Games begin.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to Silk Road, living in Hong Kong as an expatriate I found it most interesting and have added the blog to my favourites.

Anonymous said...

I do want to share some thoughts on this and see my blog entry here:

Anonymous said...

It's very interesting to read the above blog entry by the "anonymous".