Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why come here if it is 'so bad?'

One thing I don’t really understand –why do some westerners come to China if they ’hate it’ so much?

Some months ago I met a really nice, South American girl. She lives here with her husband, a western guy. We all went out for dinner one night. Dinner was followed by drinks in a bar, some dancing in a nightclub and then eventually more drinks at another bar. I don’t know if it was the alcohol, but once this guy got a bit tipsy, he started pouring hate over China.

He had come here to set up a factory for the company he used to work for in his home country, and now he was angry because nothing here worked like ‘back home’. He was angry because his staff often misunderstood him, he was angry because the production lacked in terms of quality, and he was angry because ‘China is so shit and people should understand that there is no point setting up factories here. The air is too polluted, the language and culture is too different and the lack of quality is too evident. Once people understand that they will start to move their production to some other place! Some better place! Like my home country.’

Well, for starters. When shit loads of factories are moved into one country/area, is it then a mystery why the air is so polluted?

Secondly –when labour and material are so cheap, what are you then expecting in terms of quality?

Not understanding the culture or the language –well, have u tried even to learn the language? Or how about getting some Chinese friends (no, he didn’t have any. He claimed they were ‘too different to him and that he had nothing in common with Chinese people.’)

Geeez, I had to bite my tongue while we were talking. I have sugar coated a lot of the nasty things he said because he was just so damn offensive and negative?! It was like listening to a kid go on about why he cannot eat candy every day of the week? Pathetic!

And, when I asked him:

-Well, if it is so damn bad, why don’t you just go back home then?

He didn’t even bother to answer. I am guessing he didn't even know what to say.

Fine. I haven’t loved every country where I have lived (Finland got on my nerves, especially during the nasty winters), but I have always at least given it a try, and tried to make the most of it?

Well, I suppose living abroad is not suitable to everyone.


Vampire Rabbit said...

Amen sister!

Anonymous said...

I think China operates in its own dimension. Defying all physical laws, it manages to be both one of the most difficult and one of the easiest places to live on the planet.

I've definitely softened (in all ways one can) over the time I've lived in China and am not nearly as critical of the place as I was around my 6 month mark

More often than not I find myself defending aspects of China - particularly when I'm at home with folks who've never been, or out with foreigners here that are at their 6 month mark (not sure why 6 months seems to be the point where people get over the glitter and get stuck in the grudge).

That said, no matter how much time I spend in China, there will always been things I'll complain about. Some of them are cultural, some of them are environmental, and some of them are circumstantial - but generally, they all deserve to be complained about - whether you're a foreigner, a Chinese or somewhere in between.

Jonna Wibelius said...

There's always things to complain about in China. I do that too (this blog being the most obvious platform for me whining). I don't, however, pour hate over a country which I myself picked as a place where I could live for a while. I don't understand how people can waste time on living somewhere that they dislike so much? Especially not when it was their own choice to come here. Oh well, I guess we are all different. This guy has been here for 1.5 years though. U'd think he'd gotten 'used' to it by now.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, I agree with you. It reminds me that some friends of mine they often complained the quality of the products in IKEA. At he same time, they still go to IKEA and buy the products there. I do not understand when they complain sth and at the same time, they still use it. I like IKEA, although the quality is not perfect, but it is reasonable with the low price. The same as some Chinese products, how could require more and when you pay les. And obviously if you need best quality of the products, you have to pay more. In China, there are many places that you can find such products. The only thing left is that the money whether he can afford it.

For the pollution, many european companies they move their factories to China. This is one of the reasons why the westerns people they can enjoy the low price products.

The problem of misunderstanding or even prejudice is often caused by lack of the knowledge and information. No matter where they are, the point is whether they want to know the truth or the reasons.

During my duration of other countries, I would like to know the various cultures of those countries, since each country has its own pros and cons. For me, I want to learn the new thoughts and technologies and even some problems that could help improve sth and avoid the same probelms in China.

Many persons they admire the good welfare systems in western countries especially in Scandinavia, but they ignore the truth is such welfare is supported by the high tax. There are more issues could be debated as well. If you are interested, maybe we can do some comparative studying and case study:)

Anonymous said...

Lots of bitching and whining on forums but that I can live with. What sets me off is when I see these "expats" completely ridicule the locals over and over again. The Chinese are no angels and perhaps a little lacking socially.. but they're not all bad. One can quit and leave if he can't take the heat. :-)

Matthew said...

Certainly factory owners have the biggest grips with China--but it's their own fault for choosing a country with cheap, abundant labor. I doubt it's really so much better in other nearby countries.

If you really want to get pissed off about grumpy foreigners, go to Sea World in Shenzhen. I'd say close to 90% of the foreign population in the area is like this (and I happen to be friendly with the other 10%).

Bosco's Digital LifeStyle said...

I need read it once again.

Anonymous said...

Not all foriegners are here purely by choice. Those of use who are all need a good bitch sometimes especially when uncontrollable or indefensibly stuipid occurances unravel.

The important thing is to shake the "angry expat syndrome" before it consumes you or get out.. life's too short. Believe it or not overseas Chinese often fall into the same rut.

I'm also bothered by expats who go to the other extreme and defend "China" unconditionally on all fronts.. there is still a lot here worthy of constructive criticism, though it doesn't mean lfe here can't be enjoyable, it's just that it's not all China bashing.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Obviously it's ok not to love every single little bit about a country like China (where there is, like Nick pointed out, a lot of things worth criticism), however, when u are here out of free will (like the guy I wrote about) I simply cannot understand how you can choose to live your life just bitchin about everything.

Being forced to be here is another story, I am simply talking about those who choose to come here and still just go on complaining about everything. I have actually never met a foreigner who's given me the big 'defend china speach'... but I bet that can b quite annoying too.

Until that day, though, I will still hold on to my belief that if you come here on your own will, and find yourself complaining about every single little thing...or even hating living here... u might want to consider -going back home?!

Anonymous said...

Personally, i think that gentleman you were with was simply xenophobic. I don't think he was happy that China was excelling economically (because he said that companies should move to his home country) and he said that chinese people were too different to become friends with.

My view is, everyone is basically the same. Even cultural differences, when studied objectively, often reveal more similarities than not.

I think he's just mad that the chinese population isn't bending over backwards to serve his egotistical self. Frankly, my guess is that his chinese coworkers are desperately hoping he'll get out of their country.

There are quite a few of china-hating expats stinking up the web actually. I've always thought it was weird that they hate everything chinese with a xenophobic anger and yet refuse to leave the country. I remember hearing this exceptionally vitriolic diatribe by an aussie guy on some podcast and I just thought it was really quite sad for him that he was making himself look like such a moron. Of course sadly, there are plenty of morons who'd agree with his rant. *SHRUGS*