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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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Perils of China: The Rumour Mill    

By Garreth Humphris
2164 Views | 1 Comments | 9/10/2013 3:08:09 PM

One thing that can happen in China is your ability to collect, collate and cross-reference news and information is quite difficult.

There is, to all intents and purposes, a pretty effective media fogging in China - most articles on the news and Internet are pretty cerebrally bereft! Either being propaganda-laced parables of Chinese progress, syrupy sweet segues of sycophantic public servants, risqué riots of sex scandals or corruption, parading prostitutes as pariahs, bloody bouts of bad-guys playing with knives or feeble feel good attempts to fawn to the unfolded population (usually involving ’angel police', hero army personnel or regular people catching babies falling from windows)...all much like Western media! The main difference being each is an isolated incident, a vox-pop with no logical end!

In the story, we have the injured innocent, the weeping family, the stoic police enquiry, the shrill editorial from the hyped newsreader but then nothing! Did he/she recover, was justice meted out to the perpetrators, did they find the ’temporary worker' responsible for all ailments? Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame condensed into one minute! There is no conclusion and no feedback! And it suits people just fine!

Invariably the articles are always presented to rely on the reptilian brain response - find fault in others, a minor society soul-search as to how can others be so stupid/inhuman/uneducated/unlucky, complain that something should be done by the Government, identify that it couldn't happen to me because I am too smart/a good person/more educated/have more luck than that other guy and then, Keep Calm and China On!

For expats, the isolation is enhanced by the vagueness of information and the inability to translate the mixed messages - added effect is that many things seem to be fairly illogical - and the exact information is not always undisclosed - it invariably builds a wave of panic in people - the expat population included. If the government announces modifications to a law affecting foreigners there is never enough information - the worst case scenario is highlighted and extended to all and the permutations modified and amplified to bring all manner of fire and brimstone into effect - even before the government officers have any idea how they will administer and document the change! So the new law, coming next month will decimate all the expats, it will be longer, harder and more difficult to do anything! And after the event...barely a whimper! Nothing much changed, nobody died and few got kicked out of China! Next week it is the same chant! “Just wait until the next change!”, They say, “that is sure to be a major PITA!” - and the cycle happens again!

So, if you are taking in China for a while and you are craving ’expat company' realise that a fair amount of the talk that goes on is this! Like fishermen talking about ’the one that got away’ it is almost a rite of passage that you will need to accumulate enough stories in the vein of ’my China experience is weirder than yours!’ to compete!

But realise that the weirdness of the experience is usually to do with the weirdness of the person it happens to! Being inflexible or insisting on ’my way or the highway’ has no real meaning in China - there is little 'common sense’ in China, only ’common sense with Chinese characteristics’. There is a polymorphic idea of right and wrong based on what your 'connections' might be and your community status, and as a result, many people are looking after number 1. And so are the skittish foreigners!

So, if you are visiting China to meet a potential new love and you are looking to also get the ’expat’ lay of the land...take most things they say with slightly less gusto than they are delivered to you!

Mine as well, for that matter!

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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#2013-09-12 22:25:52 by panda2009 @panda2009

Confuse!
Gareth, do you have some trouble to stay in China?

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