I've often been criticised on these boards for offering commentary that is too negative. Some people suggest that I should stop voicing my frustration and just leave the country altogether. My short response is that I can't because I can't emigrate with my Chinese wife and newborn son easily.
Although I do plan to ensure my son gets an education outside China in the future, it doesn't mean that I'm in the process of turning my back on China. Quite the contrary. My son is half-Chinese, and this is a commitment I will never step away from.
I have chosen to marry a Chinese and have a family in China. This should be an indication that I care deeply about the welfare of China, its people, its role in the world, and its ability to participate.
My definition of China is wildly different from that of a Chinese nationalist/patriot. No doubt about that. But I care about this country in my own way, and I want to see it achieve successes I would consider to be REAL improvements. Once real progress is achieved, Chinese will more easily let go of their delusions of grandeur.
So, why do I voice so many criticisms of Chinese government, philosophy & thought, habits, society and even food? First of all, I also have good things to say about all aspects of China, though I often feel less of a need to discuss these things online: Chinese will happily receive compliments, though they percieve it as gratification rather than information worth considering. Chinese are unwilling to discuss socially relevant topics themselves, because of recent bloody history, and because it clashes with their perfect self-perception. In Chinese opinions, being a foreigner doesn't give me an unbiased perspective, but rather it gives me less right to discuss topics which are personal to Chinese nationals.
What are the good aspects of China that I fail to discuss in most of my comments?
In governemnt: Chinese government is well-intentioned towards its people, aiming to improve the lives of the working class, rather than how western countries focus on the wants of the upper middle class. If it could get rid of corruption by local officials, the Chinese government's intentions would be felt more effectively. The government has been the driving force behind China's modernization and improvement in so many aspects. It turned China from the 2nd largest polluter worldwide into the #1 country focusing on renewable energy in the scope of just 3 years, which is a feat that democratic governments are simply incapable of.
In education: Chinese education instills a drive to work hard and meet people's demands that western children could learn from. It also trains short-term memory very well, which in reduced form might benefit western education.
In philosophy: -can't think of anything right now-
Health and environment: No toilet seats means better hygiene for those who are skilled at crouching. Electric water heaters for showers and airconditioning is far better than western habits of using 24/7 boilers and central heating. And thermal underwear is something China should be exporting straight away. Cold washing machines wash just as well as heated machines, but use only a fraction of the electricity.
In society: The streets are safe at night here. Safer than many western countries at least. It may be due to a conformist monoculture and repressive government, so I'm not sure if there's anything western society could learn from this. People are less confrontational here most of the time.
In food: Chinese appreciate the nutritional benefits of skin and other parts of animal meat that western cooking will often discard. Chinese girls love eating skin, and it makes sense that this is healthy for their skin. Chinese people don't like to waste food, and have many great recipes for meal preparation which have been passed down for generations.
I plan to edit and expand this blog many times in the future. Constructive comments are welcome.
Tags:General Health & Environment Teaching & Learning Business & Jobs Language & Culture Expat Rants & Advice
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I really like what you have written... not just your 'base story' but also your considerate replies. Mostly my sentiments as well. There is nothing wrong with voicing an opinion or criticism about one's country of birth or country of choice; we all do this.
Feb 16, 2014 07:40 Report Abuse
Thanks. China is going through an "angry teenager" phase, and we just have to accept the stubbornness and hostility. A loving person will not give up on China just because it's going through a phase. But some annoyance it warranted, and helps with the education.
Feb 16, 2014 12:01 Report Abuse
You read me true, my friend. I love humanity, and as much as Chinese like to think of themselves as separate and different from the rest of the world, they are not. Idealists have been out of style for decades, but I can't help being one. I believe there are lots of native idealists in China too, but the social climate makes their opinions unacceptable. It's an unfortunate side-effect of a government that wants to completely control how people think. That's also why you'll get a headache if you try to understand the logical reasoning of the average local.
Feb 12, 2014 10:52 Report Abuse
On the contrary I have not met so many people who are "overly negative" about this country. Anybody who thinks so probalby hasn't had much contact with international students visiting the U.S. for an extended period of time. The things they complain about are completely different - not health or hygeine or manner related, more so related to lack of excitement and things to do, along with transportation. (The U.S. doesn't have many of these mega cities like China does.) I really like China and find myself complaining about it from time to time. I think the people who think it is wrong are simply in that "puppy love" stage of travel, meaning they have not been traveling long enough (at least a year) for reality to set in. Give 'em time, they're a bit wet behind the ears but the pollution will set in soon enough.
Feb 05, 2014 21:22 Report Abuse
Oh, I hacked up some grayish-yellow gunk from my throat today. And I don't even live in a big city. Perhaps that's too much detail... Anyhow, that serves to illustrate why hospitals are completely absent from Health&Environment in my blog. Government moneymaking scam that holds people's lives hostage for their last pennies, and the incompetent, uncaring doctors will often let people die too, if they didn't have enough guanxi. As long as wikipedia is not blocked by the Great Firewall, I'm the best physician I can hope for in my immediate area. Symptoms: Awful gunk. Diagnosis: Not life-threatening. Hospital visit? Not recommended!
Feb 06, 2014 19:09 Report Abuse
I found many Chinese people don't have much knowledge about other countries mainly i think because of their censored news and media and their limited English knowledge,they have wrong or fixed opinions about other countries.and When you try to correct them they does not like it, I am living here since 2006,In beginning you love this country but after being here for few years you see many negative sides of China,Every country have some negative and some positive issues but the difference is that in other countries people will not hate you for giving your honest opinion.
Feb 04, 2014 02:05 Report Abuse
I might on occasion complain about things in China, but i also complain even more about my home country. I can not be blind about what is wrong about a place and not want to do something about it. I agree there are positive things about China and i am happy to talk about them, but also negative things. It is pointless ignoring the negative with a head-in-the sand attitude, especially when it comes to helping people who have just arrived, and make their life easier. Many Chinese people i have met are happy to give their opinion on foreign countries, based purely on TV, the internet, and CCTV news, not on personal experience. Should i keep my mouth shut and not correct them as they are happy enough to correct me ??
Jan 27, 2014 02:25 Report Abuse
No you shouldn't. But always keep an eye on your safety. Many Chinese are black-white thinkers, win-lose, no gray area, and so on. If you win a discussion with the wrong person here, revenge will be imminent. I choose to rant on the internet instead of ending up divorced, homeless and deported just because I talked too much. We are not equals to Chinese in their eyes, so they will not learn from our behaviour. The best thing is to just be nurturing and helpful, while they improve their own culture by themselves.
Jan 28, 2014 12:31 Report Abuse
Love is different from Like. In my opinion, it's a commitment to care about a person/thing's wellbeing, not a strong statement of really liking them. I love my family forever, but every now and then I dislike my wife. The dislike is based on cultural behaviour, so I dislike China for exactly the same reasons. But I don't hate China.
Jan 19, 2014 11:47 Report Abuse
Chinese are quick to complain about other people's non-adherence to established social norms. And it's easy to break etiquette if you don't know the rules, never mind if you understand their importance or agree with the norm. So, complaining is common in China to, but Chinese understand the guidelines that must be followed: Complain about people, but never question the guidelines. We expats try to adapt to the culture in our own way, but it is often not acknowledged as a real effort. Personally, I simply can't ASSIMILATE into Chinese culture, because I'd have to un-learn a lot of things which I believe are advantages I possess. The best I can do is APPEAR to conform, which is what the smart Chinese do as well.
Jan 16, 2014 09:39 Report Abuse
As expats we can all get overly negative, especially in a country that has such a drastically different culture. However, it doesn’t mean we hate the country. I find most of my negativity comes from the frustration of trying to assimilate, which if I hated China I wouldn’t even bother trying.
Jan 16, 2014 08:52 Report Abuse