May 11

How To Survive in China as a Foreigner

Written by Steve on Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 at 6:45 pm
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I ran across this recent blog entry posted by Chris Biddle, an American student living in China. It’s short, sweet and to the point.

Bring your own deodorant.  Bring your own coffee.  Get used to the smell of urine.  Smile, a lot.  Learn how to say where your from.  Understand that it’s not rude if someone asks how much money you make.  Listen to music.  Read.  Be patient.  Don’t drink tap water. Try everything at least once, especially the stuff that grosses you out, it will make for a better story.  Get out there and do stuff, try not to use the train of thought “Well, I deserve this,” too often.  If you’re a man, carry a pack of cigarettes with you and offer them to any man you meet.  They will most likely not take one, even if they do smoke, but they will appreciate the sentiment.

Try not to think in terms of right or wrong, rude or polite, dirty or clean.  Ask as many questions as you can.   Don’t talk about politics.  Eat lots of noodles.  Eat lots of fruit, but always clean them before hand.  Don’t be shy.  Go to karaoke.  Don’t talk about Japan.   If you like basketball play a pick up game with some strangers.  Despite the fact that they don’t, look both ways before crossing the street.  Bring your own ear plugs.  Bring your own dental floss.  Never pay full price.  Don’t expect to get laid.  Don’t do anything that could land you in jail.  Find out what can and can’t land you in jail, you’ll be surprised.

Don’t freak out when someone invades your personal space.  Try not to eat Western food, it’s expensive and often times unsatisfying.  Visit the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Warriors, the Summer Palace, but don’t linger.  Get off the beaten path.  Get lost.  Take your time.  Man zou.  Walk  slowly.  Learn how to use chopsticks.  Buy or rent a bike.  Weaving in and out of traffic, dodging taxis and donkey pulled carts, and ringing your bell at pedestrians in your way will make you feel like you’re one of them.  Don’t go in the water.  Get used to sleeping on a rock hard bed.

Try not to reserve “thank you” for times when people really do help you, and try to reserve “I’m sorry,” for times when you’ve truly inconvenienced someone.  It will only make them laugh if you over use it.  If you learn to read any characters, learn foods first.  Don’t worry about table manors.  Talk with your mouth full of food.  Burp.  Slurp your tea as loud as you can.  Go to a teahouse and try as many different kinds as you want.

You’ll want to buy a lot of crap, but by the end of your journey you’ll realize that most of it just that, crap.  Reserve days for doing nothing.  Make lots of jokes.  Don’t sleep in too often, Chinese people are early risers and you might miss a lot of the action. Don’t go to many temples.  You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

Keep your eyes open.  Don’t get discouraged.  It will be hard, but try not to think about home.  Remind yourself that every day you’ve somehow ended up on the other side of the world, in the oldest civilization in the world.  Ask yourself unanswerable questions and find satisfaction in this.  Go fly a kite.  It’s not just for kids.

I can’t say I agree with all of these but the vast majority of them hit the mark pretty accurately, at least in my experience. Would anyone who’s been an expat in China like to comment or add your own to the list?

There are currently 5 comments highlighted: 67925, 67934, 67956, 67993, 68010.

58 Responses to “How To Survive in China as a Foreigner”

  1. michelle Says:

    This post comes from a person who feels he/she is superior than the place/people he is visiting – china in this case. Everything that is different…to him, appears to be inconvinient. These rather practical tactics to deal with these “inconviniences “have a huge dose of judgement and a deep lack of curiosity and sincerity,

    Another item to add to this list is: open your heart a little bit more…and maybe learn a little bit about Chinese philosophy and observe how people are integrating that into their daily lives, into food, into simple interactions….This will take you a long way, a lot further than offering a cigerrette.

  2. James Says:

    Also, just because some people don’t have table manners doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. A lot of people (in China even) have come to care more and more about table manners. No need to act like you don’t know better.

    I completely agree with Michelle. I love how some people visit other countries with a superiority complex and then claim people didn’t like them or something.

    The cigarettes is a good idea though. But only if you’re going to take a smoke as well. They don’t really need free looseys.

  3. Crystal Tao Says:

    Ah, I didn’t feel offended. I think his notes are funny and it’s interesting to see yourself through stranger’s eyes.

  4. r v Says:

    Speaking of table manners, maybe it’s the countryside Chinese in me, but I sometimes find table manners too stifling.

    In Chinese history, there were emperors and kings who had habits of swearing, belching, slurping, etc. Some considered them uncivilized.

    But some of us find such informalities rather warm and endearing.

    I personally think that some people are informal when they are with friends and family. And it is a sign of comfort.

    One of my favorite American movies from the 1980’s featured a main character from an Italian American family, where the father and the son mumbles when eating. I find the portrayal showing a family of warmth in such informalities.

    Similarly, I personally practice occasional informalities in the company of good friends. (when appropriate).

    As for people slurping noodles, doing it with friends at street vendors, not an issue. Doing it with the boss at some 5 star restaurant, not appropriate.

  5. No99 Says:

    Just a little advice but don’t think too hard about these commentaries about life abroad. The only opinion that matters is yourself and your experiences are for yourself. I’ve been that route before, reading a lot from travel books, listening from tourists, missionaries, expats, etc. When I actually went to the place, frankly speaking, it’s really not the entirely the same.

    Sometimes hearing from what others have to say is worth considering, but you all have to look hard enough at how credible and “over-board” subjective the person who is giving you tips is. Listening to what others have to say is wise, but maybe it’s just me, I’ve been more frustrated and disappointed doing that than trusting my own instinct and experiencing the place I’m visiting.

  6. Steve Says:

    I originally received this from a Chinese expat student temporarily living in Canada. He didn’t seem to have a problem with it though we both disagreed with a few of them, mostly the same ones. Like Crystal, I didn’t get the impression that he was putting down the locals. In fact, I felt he was putting down his fellow expats if anyone. So let’s see…

    I didn’t bring my own deodorant, he’s right about the coffee (unless you want to spend a fortune at Starbucks), I didn’t notice much urine smell but I also wasn’t a student. I can’t say I carried cigarettes around with me and at least in the world I lived in (semiconductor manufacturing) that wasn’t much of an issue since most of those engineers don’t smoke.

    I was asked about and discussed politics all the time without ever having it become a problem, though I did it tactfully. I was also asked about and discussed Japan on a regular basis, along with the One China policy and Falun Gong. I let them bring up the subjects they wanted to discuss and then I just discussed those with them. I can’t recall ever having a heated discussion about anything.

    But most of the time, we just talked about normal, everyday stuff, a LOT of philosophy and kidded around with each other. I didn’t find crossing a street over there any different from crossing a street in NYC. I never found the beds uncomfortable but then again, I prefer a firmer bed.

    I’d steer clear of the jokes until you understand the style of humor there. It’s different from ours but once you get the hang of it, then definitely go ahead. I had an advantage here since my wife is a very witty Chinese woman so I already knew how to handle it before I arrived.

    However, I do agree with the first two comments that many expats in China have a superior, know-it-all attitude that’s disgusting. I just figure they’re losers, not just in China but anywhere they choose to live.

    The rest of the remarks seemed pretty reasonable to me. If you don’t agree, then what advice would YOU give to someone just arriving in the country?? Two I can think of are to always remember you are a guest in their country so behave like one, and don’t compare cultures but just accept the culture for what it is. The most miserable people in any foreign country are always the ones that like to sit in Irish pubs with their fellow miserable friends and bitch about the locals. Similar to what No99 recommends, just look around, listen and learn… and don’t hang around other expats. 😉

  7. Rhan Says:

    I find Chinese love quarrel (my judgment could be wrong, maybe they speak louder than most of us), along the street and road, inside the airport, shop, bus, hotel lobby, anywhere and everywhere, between couple, between young chap and middle age ladies, between buyer and seller, between police and common folk, between government officer and general public. I think to myself, this people really know their rights though living under a Communist regime, unlike us.

    I asked my Dalian colleague how he feel working under a Japan corporation, we need a job, he says, but if war do break out, I will be the first to punch my boss, we all laugh, of course he is joking.

  8. Steve Says:

    @ Rhan~ He’s not joking. 😉

  9. ChinkTalk Says:

    The salient point to me is that this blogger Biddle is trying to understand China, like SuFei (Anna Sophie Loewenberg), he is presenting his observations in a very objective manner. I don’t think anyone can be totally unbiased when it comes to critiques on cultural mores.

    One interesting blog I stumbled upon was : http://foreignerinthefamily.blogspot.com/

    The blogger is a white woman married to a Chinese man. A British white woman at that. Personnally, I have yet to meet a Brtiish person who’d treat a Chinese person as an equal. They always give me the impression that they think they are still the colonial masters. This is a revelation for me that there is and could be actually true love from a white woman for a Chinese man. A British white woman at that.

    Instead of projecting and assuming superiority like many foreigners do, by being true to herself and others, this woman has demonstrated what a superior human being she is.

  10. r v Says:


    I agree with Steve, your colleague is not joking. (not 100% anyway). But then again, quite a few of us would like to punch out our bosses, for many different reasons, not all related to wars between nations.

    *On Chinese quarreling, I would agree to some extent that it is frequent occurrence, but I don’t know about “love” quarreling.

    I think it is more a social habit, born out of necessity.

    Traditionally, Chinese court systems are very difficult for ordinary people to seek help from. Justices are often meted out within family, clans, villages, etc.

    Thus, ordinary people quarrel openly and loudly, hoping to settle any disputes on the streets, hopefully without physical violence.

    I call this, the “Street mediation” process.

    However, modern Chinese legal system is improving quite a bit. Ordinary Chinese people, now more educated than ever, are more inclined to use the court systems, but only for larger grievances.

    Small matters like minor car accidents, people still prefer the “Street Mediation” process, which is much faster than going through the courts.

    There are even insurance companies that facilitate the “Street Mediation” process in China.

  11. ChinkTalk Says:

    In Vancovuer, it takes $60,000 to rent a court, and $4,000 in Toronto and Montreal.

    The high cost of litigation is forcing many here in Canada to perhaps experiment with “street mediation”.

    Only in China, you say.

  12. Buru Says:

    I dont think Chris Biddle is trying to be racist or superior– he is just putting forward his own perception in a brutally straightforward way.He prob would write about his own country in similar language. But the phrase I like best is “Don’t expect to get laid” thats as honest as u can get LOL!

    is there a thread on Kindergarten stabbing incidents in China here? http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gbb3SvwJW0F1Te35LxNwJDk2UBnQD9FLM9NG0

    it seems a uniquely Chinese phenomenon at present; and about as depraved as you can get..

  13. Wukailong Says:

    I visited Beijing for the first time in 1997, and it was a completely different city back then than it is today. Construction sites were everywhere but very little was finished. Actually, that was my major impression – the pace of change, the feeling that whatever you learn today will be gone tomorrow. The only thing I really lacked at the time was good cafés. A lot of the politeness rules at home are relaxed, which gives the society as a whole a different feeling. It took me quite some time to realize and finally get into the many unwritten Chinese rules as well, so to say that “Chinese are impolite” is only correct if one takes one’s own culture as an absolute yardstick.

    Expats are an uneven group and there are some of them who just never adapt. You usually recognize them by their constant complaints and comments about how stupid the locals are (or very strong political viewpoints against the CCP). It’s not unique for Westerners, though – after I got to know some Chinese students abroad, it turned out some of them had very similar complaints about the countries they were living in, only ate Chinese food etc.

    Political discussions are generally fine as long as you don’t aggressively make the point that China should get democracy tomorrow… or else! 🙂 Like any other place, it has its political correctness and as long as you don’t call Taiwan a country, you should be fine (it’s almost identical to the rule that you should write (s)he or he/she in the West). You probably shouldn’t express admiration for Japan, unless it’s for the most popular anime movies. It also helps to know that in China, Dalai Lama isn’t some sort of self-help Jesus, but rather a raving madman who eats children for breakfast.

  14. Steve Says:

    CT, thanks for that blog link. It’s a really unique perspective and well written.

    Rhan, your comment made me laugh because one time in my Shanghai office, I was having a discussion with our China sales manager. The Asian General Manager (who was Singaporean and visiting the office that week) asked me later what we had been arguing about. I said, “Kenneth, we weren’t arguing, we were just discussing things ‘Shanghai style’!” I had picked it up while living there until I didn’t even notice it anymore. It reminded me a lot of my NY/NJ roots. 😛

    A Thai friend of mine once told me that in Thailand, they sometimes refer to China as the “Angry Country”. To the soft spoken (but it seems very violent at times) Thais, it was incomprehensible that people would talk in that manner.

    WKL, my Shanghai office was right on Huai Hai Lu on the 35th floor of the Hong Kong Plaza. The views from our windows were spectacular (unless the pollution was especially bad) but I vividly remember that every month it seemed another bunch of buildings had been knocked down in order to build yet another skyscraper. The rapidity at which change took place was amazing! I also remember that the first time I flew there, I had landed at Hongxiao Airport (PVG wasn’t yet finished) and after exiting the terminal, I could literally FEEL qi in the air. I had never felt that in a city before and anytime I returned to Shanghai from traveling, I felt it right away. I also never felt it in any other city in China. I asked local friends about it and they agreed, saying it didn’t exist ten years before but they could also feel it now. The only other city where I had the same feeling (but nowhere near as strong) was in NYC.

    I completely agree with you about what constitutes rules of politeness. In many ways they are arbitrary rules and I took pains to try and fit in. What annoyed me was when expats broke those rules, even though they knew about them. Their feeling was that they were stupid rules and that where that sense of cultural superiority raised its ugly head. The irony of it was that these same people would not have been considered very polite in their own countries. I guess that’s the “uneven group” you speak of. And I’ve also seen the same phenomenon with students from other countries coming to the States to study or work, an unwillingness to adapt to their host country. I guess it’s human nature for many people to cling to their upbringing, rules and lifestyles with the idea that it simply MUST be superior to any other.

    I agree, Hayao Miyazaki is sure popular over there!

    Hi Buru~ I’ve thought about writing up a post on the school murders in China but I’m not exactly sure what I can say about it except that it seems to me to be a copycat thing. In the latest one, the guy had a beef with the school owner about when to vacate his building. That’s understandable, but his reaction was horrible and beyond belief.

    I’ve read a lot of opinion about the causes, but I really don’t buy any of them. How does frustration with the government/corruption/the economy/divide between rich and poor, etc. justify in any way the murder of innocent children? I think all those reasons are nonsense. I believe these are just evil, selfish murderers who are copying what they read on the news last week. I don’t want to give them any further publicity, even though most who read this blog are a long way from China.

  15. r v Says:

    Few years back, it used to be the wave of crazies who would blow up buildings with homemade explosives.

    Social stresses are high in China, with so much change going on. That’s not unusual.

  16. justkeeper Says:

    I think this guy may be exaggerating a little bit somewhere. As far as I am concerned, unless you go to great lengths to test the government’s bottomline, the chance that you get landed in jail is extremely small no?

  17. Wukailong Says:

    The jail part is probably just an exaggerated way of saying that you should follow the rules. The Chinese number of prisoners is normal compared to the rest of the world (I read the statistics last year but won’t bother with the link now 😉 ), somewhere in the middle, so jail is probably a last resort.

    I’ve never been in trouble with the police (I was once asked in a village to register my whereabouts, and a police officer talked to me for 10 minutes, but that’s all). Given the nature of Chinese law abiding, law enforcement just won’t bother with petty offenses like jay walking or breaking traffic rules.

  18. Rhan Says:

    Hi Steve / rv

    I know he is not joking, I am a Chinese too albeit an overseas one. 😉

    I remember watching Phoenix 锵锵三人行 many years back, 文涛 use the term 鬼子 and his guest corrected him saying that we shouldn’t use that term in public occasion and since that day onward, I find myself tend to become a little sensitive though I know most Chinese like to take every opportunity to demonstrate our hatred toward Japanese, including me. I am merely trying to be more PC. 此地无银三百两 i think.

    I hear many times the saying that we often thought the Shanghai women are arguing while in fact they are chatting, while Taiwan women are chatting while in fact they are quarreling, Is that true? Steve can help clarify. Haha.

    Actually I see the “quarreling” in a positive manner, I wish to see Chinese become more assertive and willing to fight for our rights, regardless where we stay.

  19. r v Says:

    There are few things that will put a person in jail that most Westerners would not consider jailable offenses:

    (1) defaulting loans, financial guarantees. This is similar to the old European concept of “debtors’ prison”.

    In China, if one takes a loan or “guarantees” a loan of another, and the loan is defaulted (meaning loan payment cannot be made), the lending party has the option of requesting the police to detain the borrower and/or guarantor, to prevent “skipping out of town.”

    This is actually used quite often, more often for larger sums of money, in modern China.

    (So warning for even foreigners traveling in China, don’t borrow large sums of money, unless you can pay back. And ESPECIALLY do not sign as guarantor of any one else’s loans/contracts! I personally knew of one person who was put in jail in China because he guaranteed a guy who skipped on payments!)

    While Chinese police are generally nicer to foreigners than local people, for fear of causing international incidents, if foreigners default on loans, or guarantees bad loans, there is almost no hesitation about putting them in debtor jails.

    (There is always some small thing that the local police don’t like foreigners doing. Not paying debts is the thing in mainland. In HK, it’s the expats causing trouble in the bars. HK police are known to make massive sweeps in the expat hangouts on Friday nights around certain hours.)

    As someone who has actually seen the inside of prisons and jails (as a visiting law student!), I would highly recommend that (if you must get sent to a prison or jail), HK prisons are very lovely. (pros: minimal security even in maximum security, very little fighting between inmates. cons: no air conditioning, but very few prison does.)

  20. r v Says:


    I think you got the Shanghai women/Taiwan women saying backwards.

    Shanghai women (at least traditionally) were known to be soft spoken, especially with the proper Old Shanghai manners, are supposed to conduct quarreling with sarcasm and sharp wit.

    (Old Shanghainese do not raise voice.)

    I recall a Chinese comedian once compare Shanghai women quarreling to girls gossiping about their husbands.

    Personally, I’m from Shanghai and I married a girl from Shanghai. Believe me, my wife’s voice doesn’t turn nasty when she’s angry.

  21. Rhan Says:


    I think you are right from a historical perspective, I read Aileen Chang and appreciate 吴侬软语. However, I was also told that both ladies from Shanghai and Hong Kong are very “strong”. Maybe what they mean here is character and not tone of voice.

  22. kui Says:

    Talking about table manner I thnik Mr Biddle presented the view of most westerners. They believe Chinese have no table manners. Someone asked me such a question years ago that I still remember. “Why everyone eat from the same plate?” I thought what he really wanted to say was like this “Chopsticks bring saliva into the food and everyone is eating everyone’s saliva.” I remember I answered like this “We Chinese think the upper ends are clean.” and I was polite enough not to say “We Chinese think the lower ends are not clean therefore we do not share toiletseats with complete strangers, traditionally we use squatting toilet.”

    I come from an ordinary family from north China. From where I come from there is a list of rules or manners we have to stick to. For example, not to sit down at dinning table until the older family members have sat. Not to start eating until the older family members have started it (very young Children except). Never stretch your arm to reach the plate of food that is too far from you. Ask for assistance. Never serve food with chopstick sticking into food to anyone( that is to serve the dead in a graveyard). Never knocking chopstick against a plate or bowl (that means you are unhappy with the person who cook the food). Sucking fingers during a meal is seen as a shame( This seems to be acceptable by western standard?). Not to lick or suck chopsticks. Smacking lips is seen as a rural culture to express appreciation to the cook and the food(Donot do it in a business situation)……

    I believe different culture have different table manners. I was told a story by our history teacher when I was in high school. A Han person was relocated to work in a tribal village in Inner Mongolia. The hostess served him with a large serve of food. To express his appreciation to the hostess he politely finished all the food (It is a Han tablemanner to clear the bowl when eating a meal as a guest). However the local culture is as such that the guest must leave some leftovers to show to the hostess that he is satisfied by the food and he is full. The Han person was then served with another large serve of food. Unaware of the local culture and unable to explain because of the language barrier, the Han person politely force more food down until he vomitted……

    It is always interesting to learn different table manners from different cultures. I recently noticed a Cantonese friend knocked the table with her knuckles when I poured tea for her at a teahouse. Guess what that mean? It means “Thank you.”

    Some table manners from different culture can be out of one’s imagination. It is ok to be not aware of it but it is not ok to conclude that people from the other cultures have no table manners. It is very rude. At least some well educated western persons believe a people with 5000 years civilisation having no table manner. There is a system in place to make them believe so.

  23. Wukailong Says:

    @kui: Indeed, Chinese table manners are complex, especially the seniority rules and how to make sure the elders are content. Another thing that many might not think of as a rule is to be very attentive to how and what others eat. It’s second nature to most people here. I also pay much more attention to these things than I did before. I tend to be very careful with what I eat the first time I meet somebody so as not to give the impression that I specifically like chicken, tofu or whatever, because if that person invites me the next time it’s likely he/she will only want to order these things.

    One interesting situation I had was when my parents met my in-laws (my parents are from Sweden, in-laws from China) the first time. Both me and my wife assisted in describing to either side what they should and should not pay attention to. 😉

    “It is ok to be not aware of it but it is not ok to conclude that people from the other cultures have no table manners. It is very rude. At least some well educated western persons believe a people with 5000 years civilisation having no table manner. There is a system in place to make them believe so.”

    I never thought Chinese lacked table manners when I grew up in Sweden, so I’m not aware of that system you’re describing. I’ve heard the most incredible prejudice from both sides so I attribute it more to ignorance. Also, in terms of culture I don’t think age of a civilization really says something – China isn’t “better” because it is thought of as 5000 years old, neither is it worse. It’s just different.

  24. Chris Biddle Says:

    Hey guys, Blogger Biddle here…if you enjoyed this post please check out my follow up at http://othersidechina.wordpress.com

  25. Wukailong Says:

    Btw, whenever people discuss cultural differences, or even come up with the standard “our cultures are totally different,” I can’t help but think of something that happened to me back in the year 2000.

    I got to know a Swedish girl studying Chinese in Beijing, and once went over to her room to have a cup of coffee. Before making the coffee she opened the window to let out some stale air, and asked me:
    – Do Chinese do this, like, open the window to ventilate?
    I said I was sure they did. Only half a year later, as I was staying with a Chinese friend, he did exactly the same thing. He opened the window and said:
    – Do foreigners open the window to 透气 (ventilate)?

    These were both bright people with university educations. I attribute their questions to the habit of thinking that other cultures are fundamentally different, rather than looking at the similarities.

  26. r v Says:


    Yes, you are correct. Shanghai women and HK women are thought to be strong in character.

    Shanghai and HK girls are very modern and cosmopolitan, because they are in big cities where historically girls started working earlier than most other Chinese cities.

    Because of this history, Shanghai and HK girls are very career minded, and tend to know what they want and are very tenacious about getting what they want, and they like to be “in-charge” in the family, ie. manage money, sign legal papers, etc.

  27. Steve Says:

    Thanks, Chris! Rather than just post the link, here is his blog entry for that day:

    One of my previous posts, How To Survive As a Foreigner in China, has taken on a life of its own, popping up on several other China blogs and garnering The Otherside a slew of new readers, and while I’m flattered and excited to get the exposure, it hasn’t come without a few drawbacks A lot of expats have taken what I wrote the wrong way, citing it as ethnocentric and a bit lazy of me. I want to remind my readers that the title of the piece was How to Survive…, not how to make the most of one’s experience. I also want to point out the main intention of my post was to poke fun at many of the typical complaints that foreigners have while living in China, the lack of good coffee, the general unseemliness of public bathrooms, the constant blaring car horns, etc., while at the same time encouraging a different outlook on right and wrong, rude and polite, clean and dirty. I was admittedly in a pretty crummy mood when I wrote this post, and as a result I suppose that I tended to be a bit heavy on the more negative stuff, which is why I’ve posted this follow-up, How to Make the Most of Your Time in China.

    Drink lots of tea. Bring a good pair of shoes. Bring a pair of quick dry underwear, drying machines are few and far between and a clean set of underwear is always a good thing to have. Read Confucius. Read Mao Zedong. Read the Economist. Visit the Mao-zelium and try to guess whether it’s really him or just a wax doll. Learn to play badminton. Do your best to drink baiju, and if you can’t drink it straight, mix it with your beer like the locals do. Do your best to fight the urge to eat something sweet after every meal, that’s the MSG talking.

    Carry your own tissue paper with you wherever you go. Carry a notebook. Carry Imodium; it may come in handy. Eat everything in sight; your stomach will get used to it eventually. Play basketball. Don’t call home every day. Call home once a month. Avoid other foreigners, the conversation will most likely turn to the inconveniences of life in China. Remind yourself every day that the culture you are submersed in is more than twice as old as Christ himself. Avoid stray dogs at all costs. They are not friendly.

    Do your best to learn a little Chinese; it’s easier than you think. Ask your friends for a cool Chinese name. Something involving tiger, dragon, or yellow-hair is preferred. Don’t wear a watch. Don’t worry about missing out on Facebook, your friends will be twice as happy to hear from you when you get back home. Ask questions. Ask lots of questions. Practice using chopsticks, this will impress the locals. Talk to the old people. They have seen more than you can imagine. Talk to the young people. They will see more than you can imagine. Get used to eating noodles for breakfast and eggs for dinner.

    Buy a pair of knockoff Nikes, but inspect the quality with a keen eye beforehand. Bargain your ass off. It’s a good deal of fun for both parties involved, as well as a good way to practice your Chinese. Keep a journal. Get sleep when you can because there will be plenty of sleepless nights, especially when you travel. Don’t use your own cultural beliefs as a yardstick. Question the values you were brought up with and do your best to come down on one side or another, knowing that it may be impossible. Do your best to look past the pollution, the human rights violations, the mistreatment of animals, and try to find the root of these issues instead of simply assuming it’s because Chinese people don’t know any better. Meditate. Go into a pharmacy and try a traditional remedy for that nasty rash. Go fly a kite.

    Get up early one day and visit the park. Learn a little Tai Chi. Make a list of every thing you want to buy and wait until the last week to buy it all. Get on a bus to nowhere and get off when you get there. Don’t be offended by people telling you you’re fat. Wrap your arms around a friend of the same-sex and find comfort when they do the same to you. Get a massage, as often as you would like. Avoid massage parlors with a red light out in front. When you’re feeling lonely, go and find a massage parlor with a red light out in front.

    Learn how to cook traditional Chinese food. Buy a bike (most important.) Keep a list of all the weird foods you’ve eaten; it makes for amazing dinner conversation. Sit in one public place for at least three hours and write down everything you see. Try and set up a homestay, your hosts will be more generous than you can imagine. Fight, literally, over paying for the bill at a restaurant.

    Reserve one day a week for doing nothing. Reserve one day for waking up, hopping on your bike, and riding off into the distance with no particular plan or destination. Drink plenty of water, but not from the tap. Don’t be afraid to accept any and all dinner invitations. Have a list of go-to excuses to get out of situations that make you uncomfortable. Try not to use them. Make mistakes and learn from them. Get dirty. Get lost. Get confused, angry, homesick, broken-hearted, brave. Push yourself to the very limit and then beyond it. Remember that in China, tomorrow is never the same as today. Eat dog meat; you’ll be all the wiser and more experienced for it.

  28. No99 Says:

    Don’t worry about it Chris,

    Everyone goes through those moods whenever they travel or live in another place outside their home for awhile, even in their own countries.

    Which is why I commented saying everyone’s experiences is their own, there’s only so much they can see and understand just by listening to what others say.

  29. justkeeper Says:

    @Wukailong: Mind to tell me as a Swedish do you find the non-existence of cheese in China annoying? 😉

  30. Steve Says:

    @ Rhan #18: Based on my own perceptions and experience, I’d say half that saying is partly true. How is that for being evasive?? 😉

    To put it another way, Shanghainese can sound like they’re arguing when they are discussing, not that they’re shouting but it’s a more animated conversation than in other areas of China. That’s the part I agree with, though this doesn’t apply to all Shanghainese women. (there are always exceptions) However, every Shanghai woman I’ve ever met has a temper that can occasional manifest itself. Having said that, I really like Shanghainese women! I found them in general to be very intelligent, dependable, hard working and quick studies. I also like the Shanghainese sense of humor. When you used the word “assertive”, I think that described Shanghai women if you take it in a positive sense. I’d describe them as “go getters”.

    I would not agree with the Taiwan part of the equation. Taiwan women tend to have “sweeter” mannerisms when they talk, more in the Japanese vein if you’re familiar with their culture. The further south you go in Taiwan, the more you run into this. However, when a Taiwanese women quarrels, she’s just as noisy as any other part of Chinese culture and certainly not soft spoken. Taiwanese women also seem to have a thing for throwing acid on people so watch you step! 😛

    @ kui #22: I didn’t get the same sense as you did of Chris’ description of table manners in China. I don’t think he was saying Chinese have no table manners, I think he was saying that Chinese have DIFFERENT table manners, neither better nor worse, just different. I agree with that. To me, bad table manners are when you do things that are unacceptable in that particular culture. I might be more adaptable than most but I was never grossed out by anything. To be honest, I think differences between cultures are fascinating! I’m also a big believer of “When in Rome…”. As long as you don’t compare cultures in a judgmental way (the #1 mortal sin in my book) you can’t go wrong.

    Chopsticks are great! I eat just about everything except soup with chopsticks, including non-Chinese food, and have for years and years. In fact, I hate eating a salad with a fork. Chopsticks are far more logical and easier to use. I recently switched from wood to Stainless Steel chopsticks like the Koreans use (I found some long ones in Koreatown, LA) because they wash up better.

    I’ve also run into the “leave a little food at the bottom of your bowl if you’re full” while traveling in Asia. I just got into the habit of leaving something in there at the end of a meal, normally a bit of rice. I’ve never been able to figure where it applies and where it does not, so I just stay consistent with that method.

    The Cantonese friend that knocked knuckles on the table for “thank you” most likely tapped the tips of their fingers on the table. That is extremely common in Taiwan and I’ve run across it in other places in China. It’s actually a mini “kowtow” to the server and though I’ve heard a couple of stories to explain it, this is the one Iike best.

    A China emperor (I believe it was the Kangxi emperor) was traveling incognito through China to survey his kingdom without being coddled so he could form a more accurate appraisal. He stopped one night at a certain inn and joined a party of men, one of whom was a famous writer. This writer (can’t remember the name) recognized the emperor but realized he was traveling in disguise so he could not acknowledge him. When the emperor poured him tea, instead of kowtowing to him, he tapped the tips of his fingers to simulate a kowtow. The emperor recognized what he was trying to do and appreciated his loyalty and good manners. He told the story when back in court which was then repeated until it became a custom in certain parts.

    I don’t know if this story is true, but I like it!

    One time in Shanghai, I was out to lunch with some colleagues and was pouring tea for everyone. After I put down the teapot, the new purchasing agent told me that I should never point the tea spout at anyone because it was considered bad luck. I thanked her for informing me since I like to observe the customs but later in the office, another colleague told me that she had never never heard of that one and this woman must have picked it up from another part of China. Now that was confusing! I did the same as the rice in the bowl, just did it out of habit afterward, in case one of the people at the table happened to observe that superstition.

    @ justkeeper #29: My wife still thinks cheese is a poison and cringes every time I eat it.

  31. TheGhostofMaitreya Says:

    (deleted for profanity)

  32. S. K. Cheung Says:

    Hey Steve,

    I didn’t realize tapping fingertips on the table was a Cantonese thing. I’ve always done it…but then I’m Cantonese. The way my dad explained it to me way back when, was that it signified “bowing audibly”. It was to represent kowtowing to the point of the head hitting the table and making a sound, as a display of the extent of gratitude you wanted to convey. Funny story one time at dimsum, a friend of mine poured me some tea and I did my tapping. But I kept tapping as he kept pouring, until finally he said: dude, your cup’s full, how much more tea do you want? I was “kowtowing”, and he thought I was playing blackjack. These days, with hold’em being much more popular, if I did my tapping I might not get any tea at all.

  33. HKer Says:

    Truth is, 江山易改本性难移 . It’s been long observed that people don’t change as easily as situations do. Take the power switcharoos in modern world history over a mere few centuries. European and American cities then were without question inferior in almost every aspect of civil, military, scientific and literary standards of dynastic China. A much impressed Marco Polo wrote in the early 14th century: “the Chinese of the Sung. The “Middle Kingdom” was the most splendid civilization of its time, outshining even Persia and the Ottoman Empire, and certainly outdistancing poor, divided Europe. Kubilai had moved his capital from the ancient tribal headquarters of Karakorum in the Gobi Desert to the Chinese city of Peking, “The City of the Emperor.” This change signified the increasing Chinese influence over the khan, for by this time Kubilai regarded himself not as a nomadic barbarian but as a civilized, elegant Chinese gentleman. True, he still had a hunting tent like Genghis Khan’s made of leopard skin, but its inside was trimmed with ermine and sable. Like Genghis he had a pleasure house which was also a tent, but its roof was made of gilded bamboo and its tent poles were painted with Chinese dragons. And his palace was magnificent, as Marco Polo described. The Chinese were famous for their ability to absorb their conquerors who tried, in ancient times, to emulate Chinese culture. Kubilai Khan was one example of this.”

    Today, 60 years after kicking out the foreign devils, the dragon-reincarnate is finally feeling strong and confident again. Even so, many feel that its former glory is far from being fully restored (whatever that means). In fact, there are far worst obstacles nowadays than Jesuit spies and opium trading barbarians. There are great environmental issues, overpopulation, widening class divide etc, and then there are image problems to resolve. Despite the vigorous high profile civic campaigns, the lack of social graces shall for a few more years continue to be a nettlesome thorn in the side of this son of the mighty Dragon of etiquette. But this too shall pass.

    Good one WKL #13 “so to say that “Chinese are impolite” is only correct if one takes one’s own culture as an absolute yardstick.”…….” Expats are an uneven group and there are some of them who just never adapt. You usually recognize them by their constant complaints and comments about how stupid the locals are (or very strong political viewpoints against the CCP). It’s not unique for Westerners, though…”

    Again, 江山易改本性难移. Indeed, the landscape of China is undergoing great and swift changes. Like all people, the Descendants of Yan & Yellow Emperors ( 炎黃子孫) will adapt and adopt, but this does not mean China will ever be Westernized. Foreign imported wrappings and trappings may have changed some of the outward appearances, diet and mores, but the intrinsic characteristics shall remain steadfast.

  34. rolf Says:

    Posted in CnReviews by Baoru

    When South Korean President Lee Myung- bak visited the Shanghai World Expo during the opening ceremony, a reported asked him what he saw. He nonchalantly replied: “The Chinese people are lining up.” That day was 30 degrees Celsius, and the people were enduring the 3-to-4-hour wait just to enter the China Pavilion.

    President Lee said he was “a little shocked”, because he had a different impression of the Chinese people. He has seen the Chinese who do not like to line up and with no sense of order at all. Observing the shopping malls, cinemas, and basically the chaos in the streets, he said, “China still has a long way to go.” But the World Expo shattered his notions.

    Being able to line up in an orderly fashion is like the yardstick of how a country’s people follow its rules and regulations. At this point, the Chinese people lining up really emphasizes the influence of the World Expo. China’s hard power is known all over the world. Also, China has the world’s largest foreign reserves. Their military capacity is even bordering on the excessive. However there are sides that believe China is still a weakling with regards to the spiritual and cultural aspects. And especially in the area of orderliness–China is really one big failure. The Chinese government plans to correct this imbalance through the World Expo.

  35. ChinkTalk Says:

    Historically, China foreign traders have always done well in Chna. From colonial J.P.Morgan to the General Motors of today, they have gained huge advantages because of their ability to immerse into the Chinese culture. Our famous Canadian family, the Eatons, was a China trader. From the founder Timothy Eaton’s pure Scottish blood, now the Eatons have several generations of Chinese blood in them.

    I think Chris Biddle is going the right direction.

    Chris, the next time you are ill at ease with the Chinese ways, perhaps you can reflect on this story.

    I grew up in a small logging community up in Northern BC, there were logger camps, surrounding Native reservations, and one small Chinese restaurant. (As you go to any remote area in North America, you will always find a small Chinese restaurant at the end of the road.)

    There was a dishwasher/gopher/do-it-all Chinese man whom we called Uncle Bong working there. As in all small communities, everybody knows eveybody. One day, a little girl of a customer came into the kitchen and was watching the cooks work. The little girl had flowing blond hair and a cast on her arm. Uncle Bong took a look at the girl’s arm and then her face. He asked the owner of the restaurant to talk to the little girl’s parents who were eating at the front. The mother said the girl broke her arm falling and it had been several weeks and she was getting worse. And the girl had been real sick. Uncle Bong said that the cast was not set properly and that some bad blood were invading her as shown in her eyes. Uncle Bong told the parents that with their permission he can fix it. In desparation, the parents agreed. With herbal Chinese medicine, Uncle Bong removed the cast and reset the girl’s arm. After a few months, the girl was completely cured and the parents were very grateful. As it turned out, Uncle Bong was a Kung Fu master in China and he was an expert with broken bones, which was the common practice in those days when you learn Kung Fu, you would also had to learn how to fix broken bones.

    Everything was fine until the ever gracious parents wrote a thankful note in the local newspaper thanking the efforts of Uncle Bong. The authorities came in and arrested Uncle Bong for practicing medicine without a license.

    Chris, you will find some of the same situations in China, the Chinese will do things for expediency and forego formalities. Like r v was saying about “street mediation”, the Chinese give a whole new meaning to “street mediation”.

    And you will notice that many of the annoying habits of the Chinese today are due to “street mediation”.

    I don’t thnk the Chinese are totally bad but there are some bad ones out there and I don’t think white people are totally good but there are some good ones out there.

  36. r v Says:


    I would further comment that some would argue that “street mediation” is a form of self-help and independence in the Chinese people.

    Historically, the Chinese people learned to be self-reliant and to have the “can do” attitude.

    We have Kings and Emperors who were beggars, merchants, fisherman, philosophers, herders, etc.

    We say, every Chinese can be a “dragon” in his/her destiny.

    *Some would criticize China for its form of government.

    I would argue that the Chinese people are independent enough to not rely on its own government that much.

    We had dynasties and kingdoms that came and went in over 4000 years of history, but the Chinese people persevere.

    If one Chinese government falls, we Chinese will just form another. Life goes on.

    *I fear too many people in the world are too dependent upon their governments, and thus place too much faith in their governments.

    One Chinese interviewed by Ted Koppel expressed a sentiment which I find very enlightening: “I do not love my government, I trust my government.”

    The closest explanation I can give for that comment is that to the average Chinese person, there is always a little hate/fear/suspicion of the government/officials (regardless of what type of government), but there is a trust or knowledge that the government/officials know their own best interest is to govern properly, because there can always be another government in Chinese history, according to the divine mandate to rule.

  37. HKer Says:

    # 34


    “President Lee said he was “a little shocked”, because he had a different impression of the Chinese people. He has seen the Chinese who do not like to line up and with no sense of order at all.”

    Hong Kong was the same up until the mid-seventies that these annoying public display of selfishness of car honking, line jumping, spitting and littering started to go away. It is believed that the Japanese learned the best of old Chinese etiquettes, and even to these days outshine us in public and social graces many times over, and hence for years are ranked # 1 or among the top few most liked tourists in the world. So, like I said in # 33, “then there are image problems to resolve. Despite the vigorous high profile civic campaigns, the lack of social graces shall for a few more years continue to be a nettlesome thorn in the side of this son of the mighty Dragon of etiquette. But this too shall pass.”

    # 36

    r v ,

    Your description of the Chinese, i.e.self reliance, distrust in the powers that be and can-do spirit sounds much like what Americans think of themselves.

  38. r v Says:


    Chinese see a lot of themselves in Americans, except America is young and unproven of its own history. Only time will tell, will Chinese lose these qualities, or will Americans. I only have to say, we Chinese survived over 4000 years with our spirit intact and perhaps even stronger, and we have seen a lot of other strong spirited people come and go in history.

    The better question for us is, what adversities break the spirit of people. Is it the lost of their cherished institutions, their temples, their livelihood? Or something else? Perhaps the lost of hope, or sense of order in the universe?

    Or perhaps it is merely that we Chinese are over confident of ourselves because of our long history? Maybe, I concede, the long history of my forefathers gives me powerful inner strength.

  39. Wukailong Says:

    @justkeeper (#29): Back in the late 1990s, when I was here the first time, I really didn’t feel much longing for bread and cheese. Coffee was important but I could get that from a student café in the area (and my parents sent me coffee packets every once in a while). The last couple of years, though, my tastes have shifted a little bit:

    * I try to get more “healthy” food – not as much deep-fried or spicy as before. Northern cooking suits me better than it used to, despite the occasional Sichuanese I enjoy every now and then.

    * It used to be impossible to find decent bread (and no, I don’t consider Holiland decent) but these days you can find quite a few shops that offers good bread and cheese. Because of the prices, I consider that as luxury consumption…

    * I eat more Japanese than before.

    In total, I would say I eat 70% Chinese, 15% “Western” and 15% Japanese.

  40. r v Says:

    “* I eat more Japanese than before. In total, I would say I eat 70% Chinese, 15% “Western” and 15% Japanese.”

    Sounds very cannibalistic. LOL!

  41. Wukailong Says:

    @r v: 😀 That’s the problem with using metaphors… Now that you say it, it looks sort of perverted.

  42. kui Says:


    For some reasons I thought you were just another oversea Chinese. I think I saw your previous post with some Chinese characters in it. I can not even dream to master three languages. I am still struggling with my second language.

    I agree with you that the last part of my post sounds bit extreme.:D

  43. HKer Says:

    kui # 42

    I believe WKL is Scandinavian. In the mid 1980s, I had a friend from Norway who picked up Cantonese within months of living in HK – I was truly impressed with the then young lad. He was also a Kung Fu enthusiast, and prefered then to hangout with the grassroot streetwise folks of HK. Then in around year 2000, I again met a European lady from that part of the world who was at the time making a decent living in HK as a Cantonese teacher. Almost all of her students are Europeans.So as not to sound bias, one of my very best friends from Vancouver, Canada too picked up Cantonese within months of arriving in HK. Another good friend from the States, after years of struggling with Mandarin, concluded that beside dedicated hard work, as an adult language learner, one needs also to be talented to go far.


    “And he believes that there is a critical age for learningn a language as is true for the overall development of the human body.” Noam Chomsky

  44. wei Says:

    The post is hilarious. Just don’t learn the habit of offering cigarettes, it’s no good to either. Chinese gov should consider the same regulations in the West for public smoking if it is serious to reform the health care system.

  45. Wo Lei Says:

    No need to say anymore than this blog forgot to mention take your own tissues with you everywhere, and if you want to know what Chinese think of society and living in general, then go to a public toilet – then you know why they take their shoes off at the door.

  46. biddle Says:

    Wo Lei, good call on the tissues, but I’m wondering if you could elaborate on what you mean by public toilets being a good way to know about “society and living in gereral.”

  47. HKer Says:

    “Chinese gov should consider public smoking ”

    As a matter of fact, they have considered and are at it….


    China’s Health Ministry on Monday vowed to ban smoking in all its offices in four months, part of an arduous campaign to curb public smoking around the country.

    Yang Qing, director with the ministry’s community health department, told reporters that hospitals, clinics and other medical institutes nationwide should follow suit to impose strict smoking ban by 2011.

    “No Smoking” signs will be placed in the ministry’s conference rooms, lavatories, car parks and stairways while a designated smoking area will be set up outside the office building, the official said.

    He said the ministry also bans its employees from giving tobacco as gifts — a rooted tradition in China’s office culture. Employees who break the ban will be punished, while those who pui

  48. Rifat Karlova Says:

    Hi, my name is Rıfat Karlova from Turkey. However, I am living and working in Taiwan as a TV and stage entertainer. I am currently performing world’s only Chinese stand up comedy by a foreign performer. Besides acting in TV dramas, TV commercials (İncluding 3M, NISSAN, OCEANSPRAY, FUBON BANK) and other TV shows. I want to introduce myself and meet you to make my shows more broad for people all over the world. In these days i am in Turkey and meeting with many media people. Introducing Chinese culture to my country and world. I am happy to be among Chinese and wishing more Chinese people know my life and dreams. Hope you enjoy my shows too. You can visit my website and see more shows and my informations.

    Hope we can have more contact and you can see me one of the most famous foreigners in China.

    Best wishes

    Rıfat Karlova


    My Chinese name is WU FENG…

  49. No99 Says:

    Hi Wu Feng,

    Oh, I’ve seen you on some of these Taiwanese shows. Your are a funny man.

  50. HKer Says:

    I suspect that for every 1,000,000 non-Chinese who’d lived in PRC, perhaps 999,000 of them complain incessantly, but enjoy the attention too much (which they can’t stop complaining about either) to wish to return to their own countries yet. Those who complain normally or very little are the ones who almost all speak the local language because they have more good local friends than other complaining non Chinese friends.The remaining rare individuals who never picked up the local language and yet enjoy their time in China are probably the same non Chinese who enjoy their life in 80% of wherever they find themselves anywhere in the world. The above off the top of my head statistic on non Chinese attitude visiting and living in South East Asia is probably somewhat true with Chinese people who go to study and to live outside of China.

    # 48
    “world’s only Chinese stand up comedy by a foreign performer.”

    Oh no, no, no, no …..

    Vivek Ashok is a Cantonese speaking stand up comedian in HK: ” I owe everything to Hong Kong a 我之所以有今天全因为香港. ”


    Nabil Huening is a popular white American artist, not to mention Da Shan and many others including African performing art artists in China


  51. Steve Says:

    HKer, I’m with you completely on your first paragraph. My observations while traveling and living abroad are exactly the same as yours.

  52. HKer Says:

    OPEN QUIZ: Which Walking Stereotype Are You?

    1. So … what brings you to China?
    a. My boss said “Go to China,” so here I am in this craaaaazy country!
    b. Oh, you know, I just wanted to experience another culture
    c. I’ve always been fascinated with China. Plus, I have a degree in Chinese, so it just made sense.
    d. One-point-four billion customers!? You can’t go wrong!
    e. I’m studying Chinese at the university.
    f. I am here exploring my ancestral roots, thank you.

    HKer’s Answer: NONE of the above

    2. Which of the following best illustrates the extent of your Chinese-language skills?
    a. Wo hui shuo yidiandian.
    b. Ting bu dong.
    c. Uh, shifu, dao sanyecao jiuba.
    d. 我的中文其实说挺不错的!
    e. 你好,我叫杰克。我是美国人。我喜欢中国。我能吃辣的。
    f. Zhege gongzuo hui fu gei wo duoshao qian?

    HKer’s Answer: NONE of the above

    3. How do you support yourself?
    a. I teach English, but that’s just until I can become a full-time translator.
    b. My double-salary-plus-expenses paycheck gets directly deposited into my account back home every month.

    c. I go to the DOS’s office every month with a plastic bag to collect my big, fat stack of red notes.
    d. My European country’s super-rich government gives me a scholarship … but I have to live on campus and can only eat Western food once a week! Woe is me!
    e. Well, you know, I’m just trying to live frugally until we make a profit….
    f. Whatever comes along, none of which I’d be hired to do in my home country … acting, modeling, DJing, singing, dancing, taking photos, “proofreading” …

    HKer’s Answer: * SIGH *MOST UNFORTUNATELY, NONE of the above ..

    4. What are your usual hangouts?
    a. Home, but for a big night out it’s either the Bookworm or Shamrock
    b. Sichuan University, Café Panam(e), Taiping Nan Jie and Waishuangnan
    c. Wherever I can get free inebriants!
    d. At home, watching Chinese movies with my Chinese significant other or eating hotpot with my Chinese friends.
    e. Just bring me to the closest bar with English-speaking staff as fast as possible
    f. Oh, you know, between the EUCC events, AmCham events, and BritCham events, how would I have time to party? OK, sometimes I step into Café Panam(e) for a look …

    HKer’s Answer: NONE of the above

    5. Among Chengdu’s vast and varied selection of international restaurants, your favorite is…
    a. Peter’s Tex Mex
    b. Oh, please.

    HKer’s Answer: Ha ha, this is true when I was there ! Oh, and HOOTERS !

    6. Your usual social circle consists of …
    a. Locals only. I do not associate with other foreigners.
    b. My family and sometimes other foreign families. Our ayi is always around but doesn’t live with us.
    c. Other uni students and my language partner.
    d. The other teachers at my school and my love interest of the week.
    e. I hate everyone.

    Hker’s Answer: NONE of the above

    7. Are you new here?
    a. Yeah, I’ve only been here a week.
    b. What are you trying to say?

    Hker’s Answer: NONE of the above

    8. How long are you planning to stay?
    a. I don’t know, however long I feel like.
    b. Our contract is up in two years, so then we’ll go back home.
    c. Forever! I’m already working on applying for citizenship.
    d. Just ’til the end of the semester.

    Hker’s Answer: NONE of the above

    Results: Hell if we know. Tally up your answers and figure it out yourself.

    HKer’s response: What ? No labels ? Most unAmerican ! …Yeah !!!

  53. HKer Says:


    Chinese schools have to get their students to be creative and think for themselves, Premier Wen Jiabao told officials

  54. HKer Says:

    Mark MacKinnon
    Shenzhen, China — From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

    Last updated on Tuesday, Jul. 27, 2010 1:31AM EDT

    Yu Pengnian’s journey from poor street hawker to Hong Kong real-estate magnate was already a remarkable one. Then the 88-year-old did something even rarer that shocked many in increasingly materialistic China: He gave it all away.
    Saying he hoped to set an example for other wealthy Chinese, Mr. Yu called a press conference in April to announce he was donating his last 3.2 billion yuan (about $500-million) to a foundation he established five years earlier to aid his pet causes – student scholarships, reconstruction after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and paying for operations for those like him who suffer from cataracts.


  55. UFQ Says:

    Coming to China was not Carter’s idea. Her husband, who had been fascinated by Chinese culture and kung fu movies for years, decided to make the move when Anna was unable to find work in Italy. Neither of them spoke a word of Chinese.


  56. UFQ Says:


    In South Korea activists have gone as far as to stalk foreign English teachers in an effort to expose unsavory behavior …

  57. UFQ Says:

    How to survive USA/UK as a non English speaking Chinese, anyone?

  58. Ben Franklin Says:

    I like Chinese people, and I am a student of traditional Chinese culture, philosophy, religion, and art. I do not like the Chinese government. Americans will never respect the Chinese government until it is gives its people civil liberties, and shows respect for the Dali Lama and religions and religious figures.

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