Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

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Posts Tagged ‘Advice’

How to write a China Article

Posted by MyLaowai on Thursday, October 1, 2015

From the Vault
Sinocidal Banner

How to write a China article.
By ChouChou

You’ve just arrived in your 5-Star room at the Shanghai Hilton and unpacked your fancy new Apple laptop. As you pull the top off the mini bottle of Hennessey XO, you finally turn to your instructions from the editor back home. 2000 words by Monday about the important issues facing China today. Easy.

But two days have passed and you are still staring at a blank screen. You’re experiencing a stretch of writer’s block as long as the Great Wall of China and the deadline is hanging over your head like the proverbial Sword of Damocles. It seems that more research than flicking through a copy of Wild Swans in the airport is needed after all.

Sound familiar? Then you, my journalist friend, need the Sinocidal fully patented guide on how to write that Pulitzer Prize winning China article. Simply follow the steps below, and you’ll have your name splashed across the front page of every newspaper in Britain faster than a convicted child molester.

Each and every good China article begins with a carefully considered and well thought-out title. “Cor, what a scorcher” may be good enough for a tabloid article about heatwaves in April, but if you’re going to impress your fellow tofu-eating, goatee bearded colleagues at the Grauniad office (not to mention that hot feminist who writes angry columns about women’s issues), then you’re going to need to think up a snappy headline. Thankfully, titles for China articles follow a strict guideline, and a catchy media soundbite can be created in seconds thanks to the Sinocidal (TM) China-headline-o’matic. Just choose one of the words from column A, and match it with a random word from column B.

The Dragon
The East
1.3 Billion People
Red Star

Does Dallas

The only exception to this rule is when writing an article about the clash of western commercialism against old-style Communist practices, in which case the title “Mickey Maos” must be used.

Interview a taxi driver
You may well be isolated from the unwashed masses of China in your luxury Shanghai hotel room, but for God’s sake, you don’t want the brainless idiots who read your newspaper to know that. A good journalist never loses his common touch: after all, the whole point of your article is to pretend that you care about “the Chinese people themselves” and how unfairly the system treats them. Bob Geldof has made a career about appearing to care for African people, and hopefully you can do the same for Chinese people, earn loads of money, and buy a big fuck-off house in the south of France. There’s no way you actually want to meet any of the Chinese people though. It’s OK to let some of them clean your hotel room, but any more contact than that and you risk catching tuberculosis. So you might as well make use of the only Chinese person you ever come into contact with – the taxi driver – and pass off his opinions as your own.

– Interest rate predictions for the coming quarter? Ask a taxi driver.
– Improving Sino-Japanese relations in the post-Koizumi era? Ask a taxi driver.
– Financial aid to developing African economies? Ask a taxi driver, but leave out his politically incorrect opinions regarding “those dark folk”. The students in the SOAS reading room don’t like reading about that kind of thing.

If you can’t find a taxi driver whose political views match those of your readers, then just make one up. Call him Mr. Wang, inform your public that he only earns a hundred dollars a month, and they’ll believe any old crap you write. “I’ve been following the latest series of Big Brother with interest,” says Beijing cab driver Mr. Wang (43), “though Jade Goody’s recent behaviour has been quite reprimandable. Still, it’s hard to follow all this celebrity gossip when I only earn five yuan a year.”

Nobody really understands China. Especially you, because you hadn’t even heard of the country until last week when you failed to be chosen as a New York correspondent. So get around the whole problem of writing difficult conclusions by just presenting a series of contrasting images. Here are some easy ones to start you off:

• A statue of Mao with an advert for Coca-Cola in the background.
• An elderly Chinese man, with a long wispy beard, sat on a bench next to a fibreglass model of Ronald McDonald.
• A sign saying “Promote Environmental Awareness” stuck in a field full of nuclear waste and dead babies.
• A girl with a mobile phone walking past a tramp.
• A description of a fashionable Shanghai socialite who hangs out at Starbucks and likes KFC, quickly followed in the next paragraph by a description of a former prostitute who works 5 million hours a day in a condom factory for just two grains of rice a year.

Vague Conclusion
When you’ve finished writing your pointless and vague summary of obvious contrasts, follow it up with an equally pointless and vague conclusion. Write how some things point to x, whilst some other things point to y. “The future, it seems, is still uncertain for China” is always a good one to sign off with, especially because other countries are all governed by psychic fortune tellers who know everything that will happen for the next 200 years.

If, for whatever reason, you want to try something different (perhaps this is not your first time to write a China article. It might be your second, say), highlight the enormous population of China, and then focus on a single individual. That way you’ve covered all the bases and it looks like you care. You could even try and combine both conclusion styles if you’re feeling cocky. For example:
“It seems that the future is looking bright for the 1.3 billion people who make up the world’s most populous nation. But for Li Hui – who is still working at the condom factory for just two grains of rice a year – that future is still unclear.”

Follow the above guidelines and you can’t go wrong. Before long, you’ll be printing the words “CHINA EXPERT” on your business card and you’ll have your own book about the Chinese political landscape listed under the Lonely Planet Guide to China’s list of recommended reads.

Perhaps you could even call the book “China Awakes”.

Posted in Guest Post | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Fashionista’s – A MyLaowai Exclusive

Posted by MyLaowai on Saturday, September 19, 2015


If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you will be only too aware that we here at MLHQ stand squarely and solidly behind the position on the field of play, that is referred to as ‘reasonableness’. Oh yes indeed, we have dedicated ourselves to being reasonable and moderate in all things. And so it continues to this day.

With that in mind, let us turn our gaze to the very unreasonable state of fashion in what is laughably referred to as The Celestial Empire. Now, I am not one to tell others how to live, as long as they do so in a civilised manner. Yet there is unquestionably and certainly a need in this modern world for someone to play the role of a fashion inspector of sorts – a Fashion Policeman, if you will. I am sure I am not the first person who thought so.

And we here at MLHQ know a thing or to about what looks good. We know, for instance, that Adolf Hitler was the only man ever to look good in the back of a convertible. If you are in the back of a convertible and you are a man, but you are not Adolf Hitler, then kindly step out, at once.

A Fashion Policeman – Fashionista? – should have powers that are clearly and sharply defined. We would not, for instance, want to have folks fined merely for wearing last years’ Calvin Klein jeans, would we? Not when the real crime being committed was the wearing of Calvin Klein jeans, of any year. Obviously, there was a time when an empty brassiere was considered acceptable – though in the modern era it really ought to be a capital offense: It’s false advertising, at the very least.

The wearing of glasses without lenses is wrong, clearly, but it needn’t warrant more than a small fine, nor would taking a selfie, though in combination the dual crimes of wearing glasses without lenses whilst taking a selfie really ought to be punishable by being shot in front of your own children. And when I say “ought to be”, I mean “on my land you will be”.

As I say, reasonableness in all things. If you want to be dressed like a street whore, that’s fine – as long as you actually are a street whore. And in my street, that really is practically everybody. So that’s all good. Want to dress like a Middle Kingdom version of Princess Leia (with the brass bra and Heidi von Glockenstrudle hairstyle, obviously)? Not a problem, as long as you actually are either a/ Princess Leia; b/ actually are Carrie Fisher; or c/ attending one of those events where you dress up in weird clothes and call it ‘cosplay’ because ‘German hardcore porn’ would freak your mother out.

And, if you want to have a shoe covered in rabbit fur, at least have the decency to ensure the rabbit is dead before you slide your boot up it’s arse.

Thank you for your attention.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai, China | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Trade Fairs

Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, December 9, 2007

China, as many of you may be aware, is home to an increasingly large number of Trade Fairs. A few of them are even worth going to. Some of them, of course, are merely put on to allow the local Party boys to claim expenses, and a large number are attended only by a handful of local companies who have been instructed to attend by the local Party bosses, in order to make them look good, but there are nevertheless a few that actually are important. Some, such as the Import and Export Fair in Canton, are quite useful.

China likes to think of Shanghai as being it’s premier business city. Never mind my personal views on that for now, let’s just go along with it. Shanghai, in turn, likes to think that the New International Expo Centre is it’s numero uno exhibition venue. And I will admit, it isn’t a bad place – apart from the obvious issues with poor access, hopeless organisation, and all the usual gripes, the place itself is large enough and modern enough to cope with most demands, and in fact there are events there almost every week.

Now, every time I go to a trade fair in China, I see the thieves at work – not the commercial thieves who are there just to steal your product ideas, but the petty thieves who steal whatever isn’t bolted down and then sell it in the street outside. Shanghai’s New International Expo Centre is a favourite haunt for these guys, and their number one target is not, as you might expect, the buyers. Oh no, it is in fact the exhibitors themselves. In particular, the notebook computers that the sales guys use.

If you are exhibiting at a trade fair in China, and your notebook computer goes missing, simply walk outside, and buy it back. It’s that easy. If you are exhibiting at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, then you will need to walk a couple of blocks to the Long Yang Lu subway station.

Every year it is the same. Waves of petty crime and theft. Until this year. This year, the police had finally had enough of this petty crime, and took steps to bring it under control…

They took over the theft themselves.

Now, when you exhibitors lose your notebook computers, and you go outside to buy it back (Long Yang Lu subway station when at Shanghai’s New International Expo Centre), look for the nearest uniformed police officer. He is providing protection for the guy who stole your property, and he will make sure that the thief gets a fair price (how else will he be able to afford the protection fee?).

Welcome to China, enjoy your stay.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai, Corruption, Rules of the Road | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Build A Civilised Nation

Posted by MyLaowai on Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Howard French, in a recent article, wrote:

Chinese people are being urged to be “civilized,” that being a word plucked directly from many of the slogans and banners. China’s nanny state implores them to stop spitting, to form lines, to respect traffic signals when crossing the street, and on and on.

Fine ideas, but there is something touching about the sudden rush to drum these messages home in time for the massive arrival of foreigners: It leaves one with the feeling that face and image matter more than substance in such things. After all, rampant grubby behavior had been just fine up until now.

If making the right impression is paramount, however, I would like to contribute another suggestion that could go a long way. Living in Shanghai, China’s most cosmopolitan city, for the last four years I have been continually struck by the vast gulf that seems to exist in people’s minds between Chinese and foreigners.

I first discovered this through my hobby, photography, which led me to wander through the city’s working class neighborhoods, where at every turn I hear cries of “lao wai.”

The words constitute a slightly uncouth slang for foreigner. Literally, they mean “old outsider.”

Quite often, these murmurings are accompanied by a mocking, sing-song uttering of the English greeting “hello.” The tone is unmistakable, and it is not friendly.

Now, many accuse Mr. French of being lazy when it comes to his reporting. For my part, I’d have to go along with that on occasion, but he does at least possess the uncommon virtue of actually knowing what the hell he is talking about, when it comes to China. Few reporters or journalists understand what is really going on, what things really mean, and then have the balls to go ahead and write about it – but for this Mr. French gets my support and a voucher for a free martini any time he decides to pay me a visit.

But does he go far enough? It’s one thing to simply say that the Chinese are not civilised, but should one not also offer suggestions and advice to the savages on how to be civilised? As more civilised peoples, do we not have an obligation to those living in the darkness, to bestow upon them the light of reason?

Of course we do.

Personally, I think it’s wonderful that the Chinese Communist Party is telling people not to spit everywhere, to learn to queue, and to cross the road only when the light is green. And of course, Mr. French is correct when he says that abusing foreigners in the street is not the hallmark of a civilised society. I’ve got a few more small points I’d like to add…

1. There’s this wonderful new device, which the Chinese themselves claim to have invented in 1498, just fifteen centuries after the Romans stole the idea from them. It’s called a ‘toothbrush’. I’m not entirely convinced that the Chinese invented it (after all these are the people who claim to have invented oxygen, the Olympics, and grass), but it is a safe bet that 99% of the worlds’ toothbrushes are manufactured here. Which is odd, because I’ve yet to meet a single Chinese who understands the concept of brushing ones teeth. Ever. C’mon chaps and chappettes, give it a go – surely life would be more civilised if you didn’t have a mushroom farm growing in your mouth? It would certainly make you nicer to sit next to on the bus, if you didn’t smell like a rotting goat carcass every time you opened your mouth. Remember: nice breath = civilised breath.

2. Washing – yes, that’s right. Modern science has shown that washing is actually not going to attract devils and demons, despite what your so-called culture claims. Furthermore, it might actually improve your heath and reduce the number of diseases you carry, contrary to what your witchdoctors have claimed. It’s not hard to do, either – simply use water to remove the dirt from your body (drinking a cup of piss tea does not count, sorry). Learn about a mystical substance known as soap. Civilised people have used it for thousands of years.

3. A word on using the toilet: Just Do It. The process is really rather simple – first, find a toilet (note: gardens, walls, roads, holes in the ground, and the hand-basins in KFC are NOT toilets). Raise the oval-shaped lid to the upright position. Leave the ring-shaped lid where it is (Chinese girls will want to use it, and so should Chinese ‘men’). Sit down (don’t squat on the seat), after first removing your pants. Excrete away. Use paper to wipe your arse if you have done a poo-poo, or shake your Tiny Tim free of droplets if you have done a pee-pee. Under no circumstances wipe your arse with your hands, your trousers, or your shirt. Stand up, pull up your trousers, and flush the toilet. Examine the bowl – is it free of waste? If not, flush again. Lower the oval-shaped lid to the horizontal position. Wash your hands (refer point 2). You have just committed a civilised act. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

4. The word ‘litter’ refers not only to your offspring, but also to the crap you are forever and endlessly dumping on the ground without regard to society, sanitation, or Mother Nature. Actually, the meaning is identical either way. Look around – see if you can spot something called a ‘litter bin’. It’s a large container (usually green or yellow or blue), with a hole in the top. Place your refuse inside this container. Please be aware that you are not supposed to then empty the contents of the litter bin all over the footpath in a search for old bottles. This is not considered civilised behavior.

5. Your mobile phone is an amazing piece of technology – it contains a small radio transceiver that allows you to communicate, via a series of other radio transceivers, with another person using another mobile phone, at great distances. Even though the other person is far away, they can hear you perfectly well, thanks to this miracle of modern technology. You don’t actually have to shout in order for them to hear you – that isn’t civilised.

6. Try listening to other people for a change. Listening is the process of closing your yip-yapping fucking mouth for long enough that someone else can get a word in edge-ways, and then allowing what they are saying to penetrate your tiny little mind. Hold on to that for a moment or two. Allow the words time to sink in. Don’t open your mouth yet – consider the possibility that the other person might actually have said something that you could learn from. When you do open your mouth again to speak, don’t simply ignore what you just heard and start yip-yapping again. That wouldn’t be civilised.

7. Contrary to 5,000 years of experience, domestic violence is not a good thing. Beating your kids to a bloody pulp is not a good thing to do, and giving your wife a jolly good thrashing is not a long-term solution to anything (even though she probably deserves it, especially if she is a Shanghainese aged 35-50 with her hair tied up in a bun). Wives, the same applies to you (even if he is a useless twat with erectile dysfunction and a gambling habit). Using the excuse that “this is China” will not carry any weight here, folks – domestic violence is not civilised.

8. Here’s a thought: try not telling your kids that all foreigners are called ‘Uncle Big Nose’, or any of the other delightful names you have for us. In particular, I address this point to my neighbour, whose kid is now very close to getting my M-11 tactical knife through his cheeks. Frankly, we’re all a bit tired of constantly hearing your racist expressions, and don’t consider them either funny or civilised.

9. How is it that you can believe your so-called culture is so superior to that of us barbarians, despite all the evidence to the contrary? Check out the map – China actually isn’t the only place on it. In fact, make a point of looking at the map very closely. There are in fact large chunks of land and sea that you think of as China, but which have belonged to other people “…since ancient times”. I refer, of course, to Tibet, East Turkestan, Mongolia, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Burma, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and pretty much everywhere else you tell your schoolchildren is theirs by right. This isn’t one of the hallmarks of a civilised society.

10. Finally, a short comment regarding standing up. When your ancestors came down from the bamboo stalks two generations ago, they realised that they could squat on the ground like baboons, and perch on seats like pigeons. This isn’t the way it happened in civilised places – everybody else straightened their legs and stood up. Standing upright is something that you are capable of, trust me on this.

In humans, the thigh bone slopes inward from the hip to the knee, placing our feet under our center of gravity. We also have muscles on the side of our hips that contract to prevent our bodies toppling to one side when all our weight is on one foot in mid-stride. We have a number of other adaptations to walking upright, as well. Our foot is specialized as a weight-bearing platform, with an arch that acts as a shock absorber. Our spines have a characteristic double curve, which brings our head and torso into a vertical line above our feet. The surfaces of the joints in our legs and between our vertebrae are enlarged, which is an advantage for bearing weight. And the hole through which the spinal cord enters the skull, called the foramen magnum, is near the centre of the cranium in humans, allowing our heads to balance easily atop our spines rather than toward the back of the cranium as in chimps.

So, there you have it. Give it a go, and with luck you too can join the Community of Civilised Nations in as little as 5,000 years.

Posted in Ask MyLaowai, Media | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

A Word About Tax

Posted by MyLaowai on Friday, November 9, 2007

Basically, China’s individual income tax is famous for its complication and rooms [sic] for different interpretation.

But don’t just take my word for it – that was an exact quote from Shanghai’s Government website. According to official statistics from the State Administration of Taxation (which I trust about as far as I trust the lowlife scum who run the Party), China took in 3.7636 trillion yuan (about 470.5 billion US dollars) in taxation alone during 2006. The figure does not include income from tariffs, tax on arable land use and that paid by real estate buyers, the administration said on its website. And it looks even better for 2007, with the aggregate tax revenue in the first nine months this year approaching the total generated in 2006, said Shu Qiming, Director of the State Administration of Taxation Department – that’s a whopping 3.72 trillion yuan (495.5 billion USD) in the first three quarters alone. Even stamp tax from securities trading sky-rocketed to 143.6 billion yuan (19.1 billion USD) for the same period. I’m not kidding – these figures were taken directly from the official website.

And yet, I’m constantly being told by the locals that “…China is a poor country, so other countries should help us”. And yes, it is true that there are, indeed, a great many very poor people living here. So, what on Earth do they spend it all on? Here are a couple of things they could reduce expenditure on:

Let’s be reasonable, shall we? The Communist Party claim that they are spending a paltry USD$45 billion this year on the military (an 18% increase over 2006) – enough to buy a copy of Guns & Ammo for every soldier, but not much more than that. Yeah, sure. China’s published defence budget does not include large categories of expenditure, including expenses for strategic forces, foreign acquisitions, military-related research and development, and China’s paramilitary forces. And even with that in mind, a more credible figure is USD$85-130 billion. And why should this be surprising? After, the December 2006 Defence White Paper stated all-too-clearly that the goal was:

“…a three-step development strategy in modernizing its (China’s) national defence and armed forces, in accordance with the state’s overall plan to realize modernization. The first step is to lay a solid foundation by 2010, the second is to make major progress around 2020, and the third is to basically reach the strategic goal of building informationized armed forces and being capable of winning informationized wars by the mid-21st century.”

And it isn’t all about Taiwan, either, although with almost 1000 ballistic missiles currently aimed at Taiwan, and with that number growing by 100+ each year, China probably proposes to resolve that issue in its favour through non-peaceful means. The Japanese are justifiably concerned, and have expressed fears that with a consistently expansive military budget, Japan could one day even become a Chinese province. Don’t laugh – Chinese schools have recently begun telling schoolchildren that this will happen by 2020.

In any event, a sizeable chunk of my tax yuan are being spent on armaments, with China now having the second largest military budget in the world, larger even than Russia.

Space Program.
The Chinese claim to have spent a grand total of less than 19 billion yuan (2.4 billion U.S. dollars) on the first five Shenzhou spacecraft, and that their lunar probe project (part of the three-stage Chang’e Program which aims to place an unmanned vehicle on the moon by 2010) has a budget of 1.4 billion yuan (170 million U.S. dollars).


The real figure is hard to state with certainty, due to both the opacity of the budgetary system, and the fact that the Chinese space program is highly integrated with the military. Nevertheless, most reliable estimates put the annual expenditure at between USD$1.3 and USD$3 Billion, with several tens of billions more invested in military-space programs. This places China in third place, spending more than anyone else except NASA and the European Space Agency. Not bad for a ‘developing country’.

By comparison…

Social Spending.
According to UNICEF:

– Relative to the size of China’s economy and the overall government budget, expenditure on the social sectors remains low by international standards.
– The structure of government expenditure in these sectors is tilted towards higher level institutions (higher education and hospitals at county level and above) at the expense of the institutions providing essential services at county, township and village levels.
– Expenditure is inequitably distributed both regionally and between urban and rural areas, due to the high degree of decentralization in the financing of education, health and other social services and the large differences in local levels of economic development and tax revenue, which are insufficiently offset by inter-governmental transfer payments.
– Government resources account for a relatively low share of total social sector expenditure, leaving individual households to assume much of the responsibility for paying for services, through fees and user charges, which has placed a heavy burden on the poor, particularly in the rural areas and among migrants in the cities.

Education got just 2.8% of GDP in 2004, Health spending accounted for 0.8% of GDP for the same period (although that said, Education is apparently getting 4% of GDP now. Big whoops). According to State Media, rural schools owe their teachers more than 10 billion yuan in back pay and failure to pay teachers’ salaries has contributed to the severe shortage of qualified teachers in the countryside. Annual revenue in one county in the poor, north-western province of Gansu was enough to cover only one month’s salary for its permanent teachers and public servants.

I guess it makes sense, though. After all, why help your poor, when you can simply buy a lot of weapons and high-prestige items. It worked for the National Socialists back in the 1930’s and it’s showing every sign of working just fine now for the Chinese Communists. Hell, they got their Olympics, too…


Back to the Government website. I’m going to leave you with some useful information, helpfully provided by the CCP. Just in case you wanted to live here, or anything.

Under some circumstances, foreigners in the city must pay taxes. Income tax is probably the most important and also the most unavoidable.

Basically, China’s individual income tax is famous for its complication and rooms for different interpretation. Sometimes, even overseas tax consultants feel puzzled when they deal businesses relate to China for clients.

If you worked in a local company (domestic or foreign invested) or the local office of a foreign company, you may have your income tax handled by your company, otherwise, you’d better ask for help from experts, such as consultants from accounting firms (local or international) or officials who work for local taxation, finance administrations. Normally, you won’t have a direct contact with local tax officials, unless you do business for your own.

Contact the local tax and finance administrations: Click here to access there official Website. English version is not available.

Bringing your pets (only cats or dogs are allowed) to the city is possible, but the quarantine procedure is as complicated as you can imagine. With a whole set of original certificates, including a health certificate and a rabies vaccination certificate, your pet will go through a 30-day compulsory quarantine by the entry-exit inspection and quarantine authorities.

With one passport, you can bring only one pet. The quarantine service will cost you at least 2,000 yuan (US$250) and, after your pet has passed quarantine, you should register it at the local police department under the name of a local Chinese resident. You may need to seek help from a local Chinese you trust to accomplish the mission.

Buy or adopt.
You may also buy or adopt animals here. If you want to buy one, many are available at local pet markets. You should choose only licensed and vaccinated animals. Otherwise you may see the one you picked up die in a few days, because it has been kept alive by injected drugs.

Phone Numbers
Police: 110
Telephone Repair: 112

Money Transfer
To transfer money gained here to your home country is a technical job. You should seek help from law firms or accounting firms. First of all, you should obey Chinese laws. In some conditions, a foreigner needs to pay tax and some service charges. It’s better for you to make a plan with help from a lawyer or accountant on your money transfer project.

Don’t be frightened by its crude facade. Most Internet cafes in Shanghai don’t have pleasant conditions, but they charge very low. Remember the Chinese characters for Internet cafe.

Posted in Rules of the Road | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Wo Shi Laowai?

Posted by MyLaowai on Saturday, September 29, 2007

When it comes to foreigners in the Celestial Kingdom, there are a few categories that most seem to fall neatly into. There are the tourists, naturally. They have a fantastic time, and generally leave saying things like “Oh, weren’t the Chinese friendly, they were all so curious and said ‘Hello!’ to Mildred and I everywhere we went” and what-have-you. They also tend to witter on ad infinitum about all the ancient 5,000-year old temples [that didn’t exist ten years ago because they’d all been knocked down during the Cultural Revolution, with the monks still inside at the time, but never mind that small detail]. Oh yeah, tourists have a great time.

Then there are the transients – temporary teachers, short-term students, ‘travellers’. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to include them with the tourists.

Then there are the ‘seagulls’, company bigwigs who fly in from Europe and the U.S., make a lot of noise, crap all over everything, and fly back out again. They also have a wonderful time, eating expensive dinners, shagging themselves silly with KTV hostesses and barbershop quartets, staying in the best hotels, and all the rest of it. They believe everything their dick tells them, and leave saying things like “I just don’t understand why Jenkins complains so much. These people promised me everything I asked for, and were so very polite at all times, I’m sure we will have a great future with these people”. There aren’t many of these types, but what they lack in numbers, they make up for in stupidity. Pretty much every Western politician falls into this category.

Of course, there are the company types who actually live here, too. They tend to come in two different flavours – the ones who have been sent here unwillingly, and the ones who applied to come (local hires fit into the second category). There is a bit of overlap here, so if you are in the first category, but live the life of the other, then no offence is intended. The ones who have been sent here against their will are frequently sent here in the same way that people used to be sent to Australia, before England ran out of convicts and the Irish. They simply are so inept that they cannot be allowed to work anywhere where they can cause any harm, but their golden parachutes make firing them too expensive. I’ve met a few who were brilliant at their jobs, though, and they have more in common with the local hires. The convict-types usually live in serviced homes, with local help on call 24/7 to cook, clean, suck dick when the wife’s out, and all the rest of it. They have company cars with drivers, work in air-conditioned offices, shop in ‘foreign-goods’ supermarkets, and generally have a ball. They let their local staff get away with anything and everything, they spend money like water, and they think they actually make a difference. They don’t say anything when they leave, because they can’t leave. Local hires, for the most part, are the opposite, and are in the majority, too.

Most of the good that happens in this benighted Land, happens because foreigners do it. Charities that actually deliver the goods? Development assistance? Technological advances? Management that works? The concept of honesty? Foreign direct investment? Medical aid? It’s a long list, and I’m bored already, but rest assured it comes from foreigners, not the Chinese People. Without foreigners, foreign money and foreign technology, China would slip back into the Stone Age within a year. Ok, perhaps 18 months. China really does have a lot to be thankful for.

But all of us are ‘Laowai’: evil foreign scum who are only here to oppress the good, honest, diligent, hardworking Chinese People. We personally are responsible for keeping China down, for stealing world hegemony from the glorious motherland, and for eating babies. Every bad thing that ever happened here, is our fault – and they never, ever forget it.

Let’s go back to Mildred and her travelmate. Remember how they said that all Chinese are so friendly? Saying “Hello!” to tourists all day long? Well, I’m sorry to have to burst your bubble, but in the words of the legendary Inigo Montoya: I do not think it means, what you think it means. As it happens, “Hello!” in the mouths of the Chinese People has more in common with the words “Jew!” [think 1936, central Europe], or “Boy!” [1903, the deep South]. It isn’t friendly, and it isn’t a greeting.

Now as it happens folks, there are three main holidays in China every year, each one about a week in length (though being a Communist holiday, one is required to work the weekends either side, in order to make up for lost national production). These holidays are not only national events, they are also Nationalist events, and are always preceded by a rise in the level of extreme nationalism one can experience when out in ‘the sticks’. This may come as a surprise to the foreign folk who don’t get out of their ivory towers much, but believe me when I say it’s not only bad, it’s getting worse. It used to be just “Hello!”, but in recent years the locals have become braver, and I know of many, many incidents involving violence. I have been lucky thus far, though I have had a few close encounters of the Sino kind.

Anyway, back to “Hello!”. The reason the yokels say this, is because they don’t know any other English. Of course, some of the brighter lights have learned such gems as “Laowai Fucka You!” (and one particularly hostile lass was shouting “I Love You!” at me in a restaurant once, which brings me back to Inigo Montoya again). I used to get quite angry about this, as I would never accept this behaviour from anyone in my home country, regardless of who they are or who it was directed at, but this year I have changed my tactics. I have prepared a few stock phrases that can be easily shot back, and which will be easily understood. I field-tested them today, as follows:

Local: “Hello! Laowai!” – group of ‘workers’ in the street.
Me: “Tu Baozi!” [lit. dirt dumpling, a scummy peasant]

Local: “Laowai! Fucka!” – group of high school students in the street at lunchtime.
Me: “Wai Di Ren!” [lit. not local person, a country bumpkin]

Local: “Want buy?” – local perched a fence rail, selling stolen cellphones.
Me: “Dui Bu Qi” [an apology] [spoken as I pushed him backwards into the bushes]

In every case, the result was a resounding success. Complete shock, confusion, and inability to comprehend quite how the Laowai was able to speak the complex Chinese language. And by the time the folk in question had sorted themselves out, I was gone.

So, friends and neighbours, if you are going to be here and in contact with The Man In The Street, learn a few words of the local lingo – it really does pay off.

Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui?

Posted in Ask MyLaowai, Rules of the Road | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

A Matter of Face.

Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, September 16, 2007

Now Arrived in Stock! The post they said couldn’t be made!

Sex! Drugs! Action! Violence! Face! And More Hey Nonny Nonny Than You Can Shake A Large , Pointy Stick At!

A Matter Of Face…
Or, All Face And No Shame

The Story So Far: Saturday afternoon, around 1630. I had just finished up with a client across town, and was in a taxi heading back home. There was a lot of traffic on the road, more than usual for that time on a Saturday, but not as much as a normal gridlock rush hour. The hairless chimpanzee driving the taxi was no better and no worse than any other taxi driver in the city, there were no confusing directions (like ‘left’ or ‘right’) for him to deal with, and I thought of the martini that was looming large in my immediate future. How wrong I was.

Act I, The Main Event: Monkeyboy pulled the usual stunt, getting into a turning lane in order to get ahead of other cars waiting at a set of traffic lights, and then attempting to force his way back into the correct lane at the head of the line. Unfortunately for him, the black Santana he tried to get in front of wasn’t having any of it, and pulled out of lane slightly to block the taxi driver (whom I will henceforth be referring to as Driver X, even though his real name is Fa Kin Kok). The rather predictable result of this, was that Driver X was out of lane when the lights went green, and fell back some ten cars or so. He also Lost His Face. He therefore set about breaking all kinds of Laws (and I don’t only refer to the Laws of the Road, I include the Laws of Physics, too) in order to get in front of Mr Black Santana, so that he could regain his Face by forcing him to slow down.

Act II, The Fun Starts In Earnest: Driver X, in the best traditions of Chinese Driving, accelerated wildly towards Mr Black Santana, aiming for the left side of his car. The only problem, was that there was another car already there, and that car had nowhere else to go. This problem was obvious to me, of course, but to Driver X it was not a factor in his own personal universe. That is, it wasn’t a factor until about 1 second after it was too late. Driver X hit the skids. The car he was heading for hit the skids. Cars all around us hit the skids. It was like a scene out of CHiPs, and there was so much blue tire smoke in the air that it actually blotted out the view for a moment*. The only car that didn’t hit the skids was Mr Black Santana, who saw the whole thing in his rear view mirror, and who proceeded to come to a gentle stop not a hundred metres later. Mr Black Santana got out of his car, looked back at Driver X, and gave him the Smile. Now, for those of you who are blessed with never having been here, the Smile has about the same effect on interpersonal relations as a declaration of Defcon One has on international relations. It says in no uncertain terms that the Smiler has completely and utterly wiped the Smilee’s ‘face’ away, and that the Smiler fully intends to revel in the fact.

  • Note that, incredibly, not one car actually traded any paint with any other car. Not one. It was the freakiest display of luck I’ve ever seen, because not one of those fifteen-odd cars was in any kind of control, whatsoever.

Act III, Revenge: Driver X has now really lost his face. He’s failed in an aggressive manoeuvre in front of every car on the road, and we’re talking about one of the busiest roads in Shanghai. And now people are getting out of their cars and shouting at him, well, let’s just say that his meaningless existence has just been brought home to him. And then he sees Mr Black Santana, just up the road, giving him the Smile. And he’s off after him (well, actually, it did take him a good three minutes to get his car pointing the right way again, after all that sliding around the road). Mr Black Santana, of course, is well away by this time, has made an illegal U-turn, and is heading back the opposite direction. Driver X, having lost all his face, now has nothing left to live for. He throws his taxi around and heads back down the road, actually managing to catch up with Mr Black Santana, and starts trying to force him into the central barrier. His driving skills may have been on a par with my grandmothers, but the excitement level was higher than anything the Duke Boys ever managed in the General Lee. Yours truly was bounced around the interior like a rag doll, head hitting the seat in front (twice), the door frame to the left (once) and the door frame to the right (twice). It was not fun at all. Of course, I suggested that he might want to stop the car, to which he gave the traditional “Wait a moment” reply. And then I made some suggestions about his mother and some anatomically difficult positions he could attempt, but all to no avail. And then both he and Mr Black Santana spun out of control and came to a halt. I wasn’t waiting around for the Police to arrive and arrest me for being a foreigner (and yes, certainly it would have been my exclusive fault. Honestly), so I leaped out of the taxi and headed for the side of the road, not stopping until I got there. I looked back to see Driver X getting out of the car to come after me (for non-payment of the fare!), and decided he was going to get his eyeballs punched out the back of his skull, when Mr Black Santana took off again. Driver X, horribly torn between getting money and getting face, paused a moment, before jumping back in his taxi and roaring off after him.

Act IV, The Aftermath: This all took place on Saturday afternoon. I write this blog entry late Monday evening. My neck is still a little stiff, but the headache has almost gone away now (note to self: fix another martini). There’s very little for me to learn from the experience, because none of it comes as any kind of surprise. When ones lives amongst such ‘people’, one comes to understand the concept of All Face, No Shame all too well. The sorry fact is, that the colossal arrogance of these peeps is matched only by their world-spanning vengefulness and vastly inflated sense of spite. And whilst this isn’t new news to me, perhaps there’s something in that for my readers who think that China is a country where Kung Fu masters meditate on the tops of mountains and everyone is harmonious.

The End.

Posted in Rules of the Road | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Psych. 101

Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pychological Test for Potential Employees

To be given to all job applicants. Analysis provided below answer.

1. Imagine you have just walked into a Chinese bus, and are shooting all the passengers.
What do you feel?

a/ Terrible sense of remorse / injustice / self-hate.
—> [Ask candidate to remove his/her rose-tinted glasses.]

b/ Sense of righteous justification.
—> [Candidate has probably been here too long. Give him/her a fly to de-wing.]

c/ A slight recoil.
—> [Correct. Remind candidate to allow for this when firing follow-up rounds.]

2. You are facing a Chinese beggar, and a deadly cobra. You have in your possession a large-calibre handgun with just two rounds.
What do you do, and in what order?

a/ Shoot the snake, then the Chinese.
—> [Poor situational awareness. Failure to prioritise.]

b/ Shoot the Chinese, then the snake.
—> [Poor judgement of reality.]

c/ Shoot the Chinese. Then shoot it again.
—> [Correct. Assess candidate for management. And accuracy at close ranges.]

3. Your Chinese supplier has just told you that you can trust him/her, because he/she is honest.
What is your reaction?

a/ Say how glad you are to hear it, take him/her at his/her word.
—> [Reject application out of hand.]

b/ Laugh out loud.
—> [Whilst fair enough, could be mistaken for agreement. Re-educate.]

c/ Take a photo, to put in the frame entitled ‘The Honest Supplier’, that’s been empty for the last 5,000 years.
—> [Correct. Assess candidate for Purchasing Department.]

Assessment to be submitted with Resume / C.V.

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Ask MyLaowai

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, August 13, 2007

Free relationship advice from famous author MyLaowai

Dear MyLaowai:

I hope you can help me here. The other day I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn’t gone more than a few hundred yards down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband’s help. When I got home I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was parading in front of the wardrobe mirror dressed in my underwear and high-heel shoes, and he was wearing my make up.

I am 32, my husband is 38 and we have been married for twelve years. When I confronted him, he tried to make out that he had dressed in my lingerie because he couldn’t find his own underwear. But when I asked him about the make up, he broke down and admitted that he’d been wearing my clothes for six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him.

He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. I don’t feel I can get through to him anymore. Can you please help?


Mrs Wang Xiaojie.

Dear Wang Xiaojie:

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the jubilee clips (hose clamps) holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburettor float chamber. I hope this helps.


Posted in Ask MyLaowai | Tagged: | 5 Comments »