Asian Lives Matter Too Part 2 China’s Culture

A beggar playing urhur on a shanghai subway

I lived out of the country for fifteen years. Ten of those fifteen years I spent in various cities in China. These cities included Shanghai, Beijing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, and Harbin. Originally, I went to China for a job as a sales director in a Dalian office. Honestly, what they needed was a white person to stand in front of their Chinese clients and give podiums. This gave the company credibility.  What they didn’t count on was the fact that I’m an amazing closer. During the first month, I outsold every manager/TO in the company. Of course, the company paid for a translator as I don’t speak Chinese, making the accomplishment even more impressive.

When word got out about my accomplishments, I found myself being moved from company to company. I set up salesrooms, trained sales reps, and wrote and created new iPad presentations. I helped with marketing, gave podiums, and closed tables. In every company I worked for, revenue doubled in the first month, and we never looked back. The first month they thought I was lucky. By the third month, they started to believe. After the first year of maintaining those numbers, they thought they could do it without me. A year later, they would tell me I was the most expensive person on the team and would be let go. I was okay with this until I had worked for 4 or 5 companies. Eventually, I ran out of companies to “fix”.

After six months of working with the last company, I was still looking for another opportunity. My savings were dwindling and the only way to stay was if by living with my wife’s parents.  I had married a Chinese lady and we had a five-year-old girl. I thought it was important for her to spend as much time with her grandparents and great grandparents as she could. So I agreed to this arrangement.

I was offered a position teaching English during this time. My students were 16-22 year old kids. My job was to help them pass an English literacy test. Probably one of the most educational things I’ve ever done. After a few months, it was time to return home.  Don’t get me wrong, My wives parents are some of the finest people I have met.  Truly salt of the earth.  We didn’t speak the same language and I spent many nights drinking beer and trying to communicate with her father.

Upon returning home, I am finding it almost impossible to find work in the timeshare industry.  If you read my post about Thailand’s culture, you know I quit smoking, gained more than 50 pounds, and had pretty low self-esteem. The first job I interviewed for ridiculed me for living in Thailand. The next one humiliated and ridiculed me for living in China. COVID hadn’t yet made it to America but it was rampant in China.  I think the hope was that the “China Virus” wouldn’t make it to the states.

I should have known what was going to happen when I explained to the recruiter I had lived in China for 10 years. “Did the Chinese Government pay you to bring back COVID-19?” Was her response.  

I had trained a sales team in Wuhan for about a week. That was at least 9 months before COVID had hit China. The interview, if you can call it that, didn’t go much better than the recruiter’s comment. I say if you can call it that because it wasn’t an interview, it was an ambush. When I arrived, the receptionist asked me to wait. Not a big deal as all interviews start this way.

As I walked through the door, three men sat in an office with a fourth attending by his computer.  I will refer to him as the man behind the curtain.

“So China” said one.

“Thats a communist country”, said another

“They’re destroying our country, exclaimed the third

“You a Commie?” Said the man behind the curtain.

“How would someone like you get the jobs you’re describing here?” Asked the third?

“Where’d you go to college?”

This went on for at least 45 minutes without me being able to answer a question. Their need to humiliate me and call me a liar was astonishing. Their insecurities were incomprehensible.

“The rooms you ran in China were only small rooms”. The man behind the curtain exclaimed in victory, as my head swam from the barrage of questions I had endured.

“My wife is Chinese and I have a beautiful half Chinese daughter.” I finally said.

At this the interview was over.

Again, I’m not complaining about the treatment I received. I believe racism is nothing more than ignorance. I also believe Ignorance can be treated with education and travel.

Let me try to educate you. This is what China is according to a foreigner that lived there for 10 years of his life:

  1. As you know, America is a republic, not a democracy. If you look at our government it’s also a capitalist society. The definition of capitalism, according to the Oxford language dictionary is: “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state”. According to that definition, America is a capitalistic country with overtones of democracy. 

    In a Rubert Neate article published in the Guardian on October 21st, 2019, he states: “The number of wealthy Chinese people has overtaken the number of rich Americans for the first time, according to a report by Credit Suisse”

    This is no longer a Marxist Communism.  It is a communist government with capitalistic overtones. Mao Tse Tung doesn’t run China anymore. It’s now a country with opportunity for its citizens to become wealthy.  Of course, government ties don’t hurt.
  2. In 1980 China’s one-child law went into effect. America reported people were killing female born children in an effort to have a male child. This could be one of the biggest lies America has ever told. In the ten years I lived there, I met hundreds of men who had female children. They loved their daughters just as much as any person on the planet loves their daughters. In fact, one of the customs in China is for the groom’s parents to purchase his new wife a house. The average cost of a flat in Shanghai over a million dollars. Parents are relieved to be released from this burden.

    I’m sure you’re thinking, “Sure but that’s in the major cities.  What about the farmers that rely on large families to work in the fields? Surely they were killing the female children so they could have males.  Do your homework. Families were allowed more than one child in agricultural communities.  In fact, anyone could have more than one child if they were willing to pay the government for that privilege. I personally met a few, very few, couples that had up to three children. 

    The one-child law had many positive results.  The girls had many wonderful breakthroughs. 
    Because there were no brothers, to compete with, it was the girls that went to college. It was the girls that traveled the world. And it was the girls that had the many benefits of a family’s wealth and standing. Now, let’s face it, our world now holds over 7 billion people.  How many more can it hold before it reaches a breaking point? Won’t all countries institute a one-child policy when this happens? How else can you control the rapid growth of people on our planet?

    90% of Chinese citizens are only children. My father was an only child so I was very familiar with only child traits before I arrived. In China, they call it the little prince syndrome. Only children are are the center of a family’s universe. They have limited social skills. They are usually selfish. And they believe they have an entitlement. It’s why you see people going off on each other. I think they’re afraid to come to blows, but they do like to yell.
  3. In 1937 Japan declared war on China. They committed some of the most horrible atrocities seen during world war II.  A concentration camp built outside of Harbin, China was equally as horrifying as Auschwitz. Its name was Unit 731. For 10 years this served as Japan’s biological war unit. In this camp, the Japanese conducted horrendous biological tests on countless Chinese people. Is it any wonder the Chinese hate the Japanese to this day?

    The Chinese people believe it was Chairman Mao that defeated the Japanese during world war 2. He is a national hero.  When I asked friends about the millions of people Chairman Mao killed, they answered that they were enemies of the state and deserved to die.

    The reality of World War II is that it was the Chinese long-standing war with China, as well as the Russians defeating the germans, in Russia, that won the war.  The two atomic bombs America dropped on Japan were basically overkill, and the straw that broke the camels back. The Japanese probably would have surrendered without the devastation of the bombs.

    Chairman Mao said, “America is nothing more than a paper tiger.” Because of this statement, the Chinese people believe if a war were to break out with America they would be victorious. However, there is another saying in china; “Wait until you’re ready and the opportunity arises. So to answer the question I’ve been asked about China wanting to rule the world. I have no idea.  I never knew anyone in the Chinese government.  If that’s their plan it could be a long time before they believe they’re ready and the opportunity arises.  Depending, of course, on America. If America continues to support them as they have been, it’s very possible they will bite the hand that feeds.
  4. China has one of the longest histories of anywhere in the world. Some of their historic sites are mind-boggling as well as breathtaking.  I had the unique opportunity to visit a non-tourist area of the great wall. This section had remained untouched since it was built. It was amazing to realize the hardships the soldiers must have endured while building this wall. The terra cotta warriors were probably my favorite historical site. It was the first place I visited where I saw a sign on the stairs asking people not to push each other.

    According to the Chinese I spoke to, they’ve been cheating each other their entire history. For this reason, there is very little trust in China when it comes to purchasing anything. It’s also common to watch someone go off if they feel mistreated, or if they feel cheated.

    I was locked in my office once when approximately15 Chinese couples came in demanding their money back.  When we called the police, they informed the mob they had to let us leave. They also informed us that we had to let them stay in the office as long as they wanted.  This included not locking the doors. We had to allow them to get out to eat and use the restroom. We also had to accommodate a sleeping area for them. If they destroy something, such as a computer, then, and only then, will the police get involved.
    I also saw a family, wanting their money back, hit one of our managers in the head with a hammer. This time the police got involved because a weapon was involved.
  5. The Chinese people still hold Americans in high regard. Laowai is the Chinese word for foreigners.  It doesn’t matter where you are for in the world, you are a Laowai.  I had many conversations with friends and translators about whether Laowai is a derogatory or respectful term. It literally translates to old foreigner. Since Lao (Old) is used for many terms including boss, husband, and wife, I don’t think it’s derogatory.  Whether or not it is respectful I don’t know.
  6. The average wage in China is approximately $500.00 per month, and the older generation has more money in the bank than the average American. They will not buy anything on credit. If they can’t afford it, they don’t buy it. The younger generation is changing and as China becomes westernized credit is becoming more common.  Because of low wages, most things the average person needs is inexpensive.  My phone bill was about $15.00 a month.  Internet ran about $100.00 a year.

    If you eat nothing but Chinese food, it’s less expensive to eat out than to cook at home.  But beware, Chinese food is not what they serve in America. I found sweet and sour pork once or twice in the ten years I I lived there. There is no such thing as shrimp in lobster sauce. One of my favorite meals was malatong. It’s a soup where you pick the meat or vegetables you want in it.  Hot Pot is popular and is where you cook your own food, in a soup at the table. 

    When ordering crab, don’t expect drawn butter. Expect soy sauce and wasabi when ordering raw oysters. Cocktail sauce is an unknown substance for shrimp.  Some delicacies include Chicken feet, pigs’ feet, and on one occasion I did eat chicken heads.  Not bad actually but you do need to remove the beak before you eat it. A Chinese saying is: “Be the first to eat the crab.” Think about this. Who was the first person to eat a crab? Do you think the first bite was scary? So when in China, don’t be afraid to be the first to eat the crab.

    Eating habits were fascinating to me. In America, when you go into a break room, you can find people drinking soda and snacking on chips or other junk food. In China, they eat fruit and drink warm water. No cold water dispensers in China. It’s why Asians stay so thin. When I sat down with a bag of Lays and a cold coke, I was told I must be a child as only children would eat snack foods.

    Because of the lack of food people experienced during Mao Tse Tung’s rule, asking someone if they ate is considered polite and kind. Most companies give food to their employees during major festivals (Holidays in America). These companies thought of as kind and generous. When I would visit phone rooms, I would always show up with ice cream.  When I was running phone rooms I would set up SPIFS with America candy and snacks I brought back from America. Honestly, they would have rather had an apple or an orange. They did, however, love burger king. When I added a whopper to the SPIF board, they would split it up between them, and enjoy it together.
  7. I have to be honest.  The first three months I lived in China I hated it. The reason is the lack of Personal space. In America, if I stand next to you, you will move. I will too. We all have about three feet of personal space we don’t want it invaded. So if we’re shopping at the same table I could literally chase you around it by moving closer to you when you move.  This is not the case in China.  It is common to be standing in line with a man or woman’s chest against your back.  They don’t mean anything by it. It’s just with that many people, personal space and being on top of one another is common. 

    Interestingly enough, there is a lot of open space in China. I would ride the fast trains from one city to another. These mag-lev trains are simply amazing and can travel up to 300km per hour.  After we got outside the cities, the countryside was vast and beautiful.  There are also large parks in all of the major cities with free things to do. There are small areas to work out. Musicians play music in pavillions. Ladies dance in groups. Men practice Tai Chi in open spaces. Others play Mah Jong and cards.  It was absolutely candy to the sense. I was welcomed to dance with the ladies, or if I brought a guitar, to play with the musicians. I really loved this part of China!
  8. What you see above the ground in China is not all there is. There is equally as much going on underground. Underground malls that go five or six stories below the surface of the earth are common. These “underground malls” are known by the locals. Many will have the counterfeit goods you hear so much about. It’s not that these companies intentionally try to cheat these companies, but owning name brand and fashion products show great standing in the eyes of others. With wages low, these fake products allow the average Chinese citizen to have that air of wealth and to be looked up to instead of looked down on. Honestly, some of the knock offs are of better quality than the real thing.
  9. While on this subject I would like to talk about the beggars on the street. If you’ver ever seen the movie “slumdog millionaire”, you know how the movie portrays the beggars. China is no different. the children begging on the subway was heartbreaking to me. Some of these children were as young as 8 or 9. As they made their way through the subway cars, they would get on their knees, bow before the person in front of them, and prostrate themselves on the ground. When I asked some of my coworkers about the children, I was told not to worry about them and that they have more money than “any of us.”

    I have seen old ladies kneeling on frozen streets with a bowl in front of them afraid to look at the people passing them. I once saw a very large man laying on the stairs going to the subway. A long scar flowed down the middle of his back. It looked like someone had cut out part of his spine. I tried to befriend a man with one leg that played guitar while begging on the subway, only to be told, by him, that it insulted him when I would give him money every time I saw him.

    I saw a man kneeling on a street in the middle of winter in Harbin. Harbin is about 300 kilometers from the Russian border to give you an idea of how cold it is. This man knelt in a pair of pants and no shirt for at least 3 or 4 hours. How he didn’t suffer from hypothermia I will never know.

    In other instances, there would be news reports of fake beggars on the streets. They would take turns acting like they were sick or paralyzed and lay on the street while their partners collected money. The beggars broke my heart, amazed me, and confused me all at the same time.
  10. I was stunned that most parents wanted to talk to their children before purchasing. The Chinese put a lot of trust into their next generation. This includes them being the ones that make the financial decisions of the house. Now of course not all Chinese people believe this way but it’s stunning how many do. 

    Chinese are fascinated with Americans’ desire to move out of their parents home at the age of eighteen. This is inconceivable in Chinese culture and most Chinese will stay with their parents far beyond the age of 18. Independence is not celebrated or yearned for in China as it is in America. Most are horrified by the idea. Of Course, in their culture Americans moving out at eighteen is heavily exaggerated. They believe ALL Americans move out and it’s the end of the parent-child relationship. Prejudice is a door that swings both ways.
  11. While we’re on the subject of children, I was simply flabbergasted about how opposite our beliefs and culture actually are. I had a friend that owned an English school. He asked if I would help the kids with what is called an IELTS test. It’s a test for English literacy and comprehension. I explained to him that I’m not an English teacher and the thought of teaching nouns and verbs didn’t interest me.

    Not what I want he said, I just need someone to talk to them and help with their pronunciation. So three days a week for a couple of hours a day I would go to the school and talk to a group of kids between the ages of 16 and 22. I asked them about their family, their life, school, etc. This was probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. In America, it’s the “bad boy”, or the athlete that’s always the most popular kid in school.  In China, it is the smartest kid in school that’s the most popular.

    Children in China are not allowed friends, sleepovers, or to hang out.  They spend their time studying. The importance is placed on getting into the best university. Kids go to school most of the day and then come home with 3 or 4 hours of homework. Studying consumes these kids for 10-12 hours a day.  If there is a major festival or holiday, where they get out of school for an extended period, they’re in English school learning how to speak English.

    At the end of the year during final exams, many kids literally jump off a building and commit suicide. The stress of getting high grades and honoring your family is high. This particular building is now closed during finals week. All of the kids I spoke to resented this to a point. they believed they should have more time to be a child and less to sit at home and study.
  12. When I first arrived in China, I was expecting to meet some of the smartest people in the world.  The only comment I will make on this subject is book smarts and street smarts are two different things. As one of my best friends would say. Common sense isn’t so common after all.
  13. With China being a communist country, the homes and land are owned by the government. This does not stop homes from being bought and sold. And with home prices in Shanghai topping a million dollars for a modest condo, it’s very profitable.  Here’s the catch. The government sells homes on a 70-year lease and no one knows what’s going to happen at the end of the 70 years. The government could extend the leases or they could take all of it back. Most of the time, the government wants to tear down the high rises before the 70 years are up. They pay the residents and owners a hefty profit or give them a home in the new building.

    I worked for an English gentleman who owned a resort in Africa.  We did an off-site office in China and sold his property to the Chinese. He believed if we sold in perpetuity, as we do in America, we could increase sales.  Nothing could have been further from the truth. When presenting this concept, you could see looks of confusion on their faces. It seemed to be incomprehensible to them. The ones that could understand it would ask “why would we want it forever?”  We quickly went back to our 5,10,15 and 30-year programs.
  14. Most things in China are inexpensive and the average person can afford them.  Cars are not. Cars have a 100% tariff on them. If you pay $20,000 for a car in America, a person from china will pay $40,000 for the same car. Old cars are not allowed on the roads so the used market is very small. This doesn’t stop anyone from buying and I was shocked to see how many BMW’s, Mercedes, and Audis there were on the road. Driving has only been popular during the past 20 years. The cities aren’t designed for cars and parking is hard to find. None of this is a deterrent and the car sales seem to be going strong.

    I never drove in China. Public transportation is far easier and cheaper than owning a car. Taxi rides were always an adventure and with my limited Chinese they became fun for me and the taxi drivers.  Honestly, I was scared to drive as it looks like total mayhem. I saw very few accidents while I was there and no fatal accidents. There was a method to the madness.

    Here’s an important tip you if you ever decide to visit.  If you visit a city where it snows and the roads ice up, it’s almost impossible to find a taxi during inclement weather. With cars being so expensive, everyone would rather take a taxi than take a chance of crashing during the storms. So bring extra-warm clothes, bundle up and try to keep calm. Believe me, I know how aggravating it can be when a taxi driver pulls up and then waves you off because he doesn’t like your destination.
  15. The great firewall blocks YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.  I thought they did this because the Chinese government didn’t want its citizens reading about events in their history they wanted to hide. These would include what happened in Tiananmen Square, WW II, etc.  What I found was most of the older generation know about these events. They just don’t believe they are newsworthy enough to tell the younger generation. I don’t believe the government has said not to talk about them, I just think its something that happened, and they have better things to concern themselves with.

    The great firewall blocks these sites because of money. They have their own Facebook called WeChat. They have their own YouTube called Youku. And, Weibo is similar to twitter. Although WeChat has an option similar to twitter as well. With 1.4 billion people living there, it’s better to keep money in the country than it is to let it go to western companies.

    I believe the great firewall is more about protecting its people. Porn is not easily accessible in China as it is in America. Television has very little violence, and most TV shows resemble the Carol Burnett show of the 1960s. I’m not a commie, but I do believe America’s laws are too lax when it comes to the internet. It’s too easy for children to access porn at young ages. And the violent video games are over the top. We allow young children to be inundated with sex and gore in our society. Then we sit around and say “I just don’t understand why kids are bringing guns to school and killing each other.” What happened to our world? People are rioting, tearing down statues, and killing each other. Do you think it might have something to do with the sex and violence that are so easy to access?
  16. When I first arrived in China, I had an office on the top floor of a hotel.  I think it was on the 21st floor.  From my window, I could see a government building.  At some point, they were going to allow a business to move into the city that the locals did not agree with. People started to show up at this building. It started looking like an American protest. After a few minutes, I could see SWAT vehicles driving to the scene. Actual SWAT Vehicles with SWAT painted on the sides of them.  Seeing these trucks, the people disappeared. I didn’t see them the rest of the day. No shots were fired and no violence erupted in the streets.

    A protest was rumored to occur in Tiananmen square, in another instance. When the government heard this news, they dispatched something like 300 police officers to the square. For the next few days, the police stood on the street instructing people to keep moving and not to stop.  Hard to protest if you can’t gather in a group.  Again, no shots were fired and there was no violence in the streets.

    We all know what America’s stance is on protests.  Let them get out of control and then send in the government to use violent tactics to solve it. You can judge by your self which you think is the better way to go.
  17. As a child, I was taught without religion there would be anarchy in the streets. Religion and the Bible, they said, hold the fabric of society together. In China, there is no religion. There are pockets of Buddhists and there are some Christian churches in certain cities, but most people are atheists. We went to attend a church one Sunday and brought our daughter. She was probably 4 or 5 at the time.  They informed us that it’s illegal to enter a church with a child her age, and didn’t allow us to enter. I asked friends about this incident, and there is a law prohibiting the teaching of religion to children.

    Interestingly enough, I never felt threatened. Even walking home at 4:00 in the morning drunk and out of my head, I never felt threatened. Even if it was 4:00 in the morning.  I saw one time where a police officer was using force, and that was when I was in a Taxi. I never knew the story of what happened.  People do yell at each other, but I never witnessed nor was the victim of violence while living there.

As you can tell, I have thousands of stories I would like to share with you about this incredible country and culture.  Unfortunately, I would have to write a book to get it all out and I doubt anyone would read it. I will say this though. I loved the people of china, I loved the culture of China, and I loved the history of China. Unfortunately, it’s getting more westernized by the day and it’s only a matter of time before it slips away.  If you’ve ever wanted to visit this country, go now. It changed substantially during the 10 years I was there. I’m sure it is changing faster now.

Last but not least. Chinese people are not our enemy. They are kind loving people that are just like you and me.  We all want to have better things in our lives.  We all would like to live in a nicer home and drive a nicer car, and we all want our children to grow up and be better and happier than we are.  If you cut us we all bleed red.  I don’t always agree with our government and they don’t always agree with theirs. We have the opportunity to speak out about our government. They don’t. Severe punishment can await them if they do. In their society, you learn to keep your mouth shut about such things. The Chinese have perfected keeping their mouths shut.

Please stop the hate! I’m a trump supporter as well. I think he’s an idiot, most of the time. He’s full of himself and says some really stupid things. But, I believe he really loves America and wants what’s best for it. I agree with the hard stance he’s taking with China. They are wealthy enough now and can start pulling their own weight. I don’t agree with him demonizing a country so it’s easier to justify a war and kill the monsters of that country. No country in the world is full of monsters. And, most people in the world don’t agree with what their government is doing. Do you?

President Johnson started all of this nonsense at the end of world war II. He did it because he knew the economy got stronger during the war. A war economy is what he thought would keep America strong. A war economy is what he made in America. I believe JFK’s assassination was due to him trying to change this. Isn’t it time we change it now?

Everyone you ever meet is going through their own turmoil and crises. You just don’t know what it is. Isn’t it time we learn kindness and start seeing each other as the same instead of separate and enemies?

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