Chinese Women, Asian Women, Online Dating & Things Chinese and Asian
Justin Mitchell is a cranky, aging American journalist from the People’s Republic of Boulder, Colorado and editor for The Global Times an English language newspaper in Beijing. He has previously done “PR for the PRC” at China Daily in Beijing and Shenzhen Daily and worked for the free press in Hong Kong, including The Standard and Voice of America. He’s been in China about 6 years His personal blogs, Shenzhen Zen and Son of Shenzhen Zen focus on his admittedly increased navel gazing and ignorance of what goes on in China, particularly among Chinese women and clueless expats like himself. “The usual hijinks, cultural misunderstandings, hilarity and mishaps ensue..." so expect a little irreverence for CLM Magazine.
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For the People    

By Justin Mitchell
5748 Views | 10 Comments | 12/27/2013 7:02:18 PM

It's Chinese people that make expats love living there.

I am not the first or last expat to leave China after a long stretch. Mine lasted about 10 years and while I can claim no special linguistic or unique experience beyond doing PR for the PRC — as I often describe my time working at the likes of China Daily, Global Times, China Radio International and Shenzhen Daily — I find myself often homesick and occasionally heartsick.

Recently there have been a spate of predictable stories in the US and UK about increasing censorship and information control in China, and some friends and former colleagues have encouraged me to chime in about my time working for State owned media, But I just can’t bring myself to write the same sort of sensational “working in the belly of the beast” and "defying censorship" exposes as other expats of my ilk seem to do, though I often readily identify with what they say. 

I had my issues with censors and occasionally almost came to blows, though we were often the same creaky age and could have done nothing more than bluster and fake a few punches like a couple of bad kung fu stunt doubles.

The best was an innocuous short story I edited at Global Times about some exuberant Chinese male college students celebrating graduation by streaking. The censor, a rather taciturn, gruff fellow who was almost exactly my age at the time, about 55, told me it could not run because the students’ behavior was “disgraceful.”

“You and I were virtually the same age in 1971,” I replied. “I streaked that year and it was nothing but a good time. What did you do in 1971? It was your Cultural Revolution. You were probably sent down to the countryside to feed pigs while I smoked marijuana, streaked, protested the Vietnam War and listened to rock music in another kind of revolution.

"And now you and I are working at the same place. How ironic is that? Let the story run, it’s harmless, just like these kids and the kids you and I used to be.”

To his credit, he thought for a minute, smiled slightly and the story ran. He retired a fairly short time later and before he left we talked a little.

"We are not so different," he said. "If I may be candid..." He paused for a minute. "How to say? I did not particularly enjoy stopping or changing stories. But it was my duty. I was  a filter to try to make the paper pure. You are a filter to make it better from your point of view. But sometimes even a filter becomes blocked from too much use. Mine has become blocked and I need to enjoy a new pure life without it."

But it leads me to another truth. One thing that drove me outta China besides Beijing's bad air and my declining health was a declining sense of joy and discovery that led me there to begin with. Though even until the end there were the people, like my censor, expats from all over the world, and most especially the close Chinese friends with whom I discovered much more in common than any differences.

It's that sense of common humanity that I celebrate whenever anyone here in the US asks me what I like best about China. "The people," I always reply."It's the people."


A couple of blogs posted recently are interrelated, so if you enjoy one you might wish to visit the other two here:


Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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#2013-12-27 21:09:33 by anonymous8534 @anonymous8534

Are you sure it's not "the women". (rofl)

#2013-12-27 21:29:12 by panda2009 @panda2009

I can understand Justin. As a writer, journalist, who is endlessly interested in people and their growth.

"We are not so different,"...Though even until the end there were the people, like my censor, expats from all over the world, and most especially the close Chinese friends with whom I discovered much more in common than any differences...It's that sense of common humanity...

As a writer, his interest of people leads him continually to widen his knowledge of people, and this in turn compels him to believe that the normal human heart is born good.

But it leads me to another truth. One thing that drove me outta China besides Beijing's bad air and my declining health was a declining sense of joy and discovery that led me there to begin with.

As a humanbeing, it is born sensitive and feeling, eager to be approved and to approve, hungry for simple happiness and chance to live. Mankind must shape the environment in which the human being can grow with freedom. This environment is based upon the necessity for security and friendship.

#2013-12-28 13:06:06 by SunnyME @SunnyME

Hello Justin, thank you for sharing the wonderful article, I really enjoy thoughts of your blogs. Definitely,you are a great writer I think. Here I only want to greet you and hope you take good care of yourself, and wish you all the best in the coming new year!

#2013-12-28 13:56:16 by zhshwu @zhshwu

Conforming to the style and the moral society, and under the premise of not violating the constitution, should enjoy a wide range of individual freedom.

#2013-12-28 16:01:17 by Lumona @Lumona

I really enjoyed reading this story. As I prepare to travel or maybe move to China very soon, I have so much anxiety about what to expect and what will happen especially when I cannot even speak Chinese. But the more I read expats stories, the more I come to the truth expressed in this blog. I find it very confidence inspiring.

#2013-12-28 18:40:55 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@justpmitch - another damned fine Christmas gift for CLM members. The oldtimers will all remember your great posts that really gave us such colourful (yes, that's the Canadian spelling) insights into the daily lives of Chinese people and of the Expats here in China trying to understand everything happening around them. Good to see your great prose adorning these pages again.

#2013-12-29 07:14:28 by justpmitch @justpmitch

@panda2009 Thank you for your kind, understanding words Panda. It is always good to hear from you and I apologize for not staying in touch more often. I hope the best for you and your son in the New Year and thank you for giving me the inspiration to contribute to CLM again!

#2013-12-29 07:24:09 by justpmitch @justpmitch

@SunnyMe Hi Sunny, it was a pleasure to read your kind and gracious comments. I appreciated them very much and hope to write more often in the future. I wish we had been able to meet while I was in China. But if I return, perhaps it would be possible.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

#2013-12-29 07:31:20 by justpmitch @justpmitch

@Lumona Thanks for your comments. I fully understand your anxiety about traveling to a place that you know virtually nothing about and don't speak the language. To my eternal shame, I was never able to learn any Chinese beyond some very simple, child-like phrases but it did not stop me from discovering so much that I never dreamed of before. Surround yourself with English speaking Chinese and fluent expats and they will all help make your journey more comfortable. And do take some lessons .... there are so many Chinese eager to teach foreign friends, especially in return for what you can teach them. Bon voyage!

#2013-12-29 13:22:35 by Barry1 @Barry1


"One thing that drove me outta China besides Beijing's bad air and my declining health was a declining sense of joy and discovery that led me there to begin with."

Some insightful comments here, thanks Justin.

I wonder though why there was a declining sense of joy and discovery of living in China?

This vaguely troubling thought I can only assume was caused by familiarity. What once was new and exciting, over a period of time became routine or dare I say it, mundane? Akin to marrying a new partner - the first period is always exciting, but after a while, what once was interesting becomes sadly blase or boring?

If so, is this the dour fate of all expats who choose to live there, sooner or later?

Or is it more a case of you make your own luck; you create your own happiness; as one area or line of activity is conquered or mastered, then you know its time to move onto another area, another field of endeavour or environment? Thus ensuring continual new challenges are met; fresh contests are encountered; provocative new tests are trialled?

Can a country as diverse and multi-facetted as China ever become routine? I think the answer is yes, sooner or later - unless one deliberately adopts strategies to prevent this. But then again, this is assuming one has both the desire and the means to do this, such as not being tied down to the one job or the one place. Plus having a partner willing to strive through the battlefields and mine-laden terrain of fresh environments and new activities to help support, sustain and encourage you.

I sincerely wish you well, Justin. You sound like a great bloke to know. I wish I could hear some of the fascinating stories no doubt ceaselessly rattling around in that head of yours.

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