Expats living in China can have unrealistic expectations of what life here should be like, often based on rather warped memories of their home countries. (Whenever I’m frustrated by bureaucracy I think back to the American Department of Motor Vehicles and feel grateful that there’s no place like home.) We can also forget that living as an expat in other countries can be equally, if not more, challenging. Of course, that doesn’t mean that people living in China – locals or foreigners – can’t have legitimate complaints or peeves about living here; nor do a few complaints about crowded subways or lack of orderly queues make you an enemy of the state. Sometimes it helps to get things out – a little complaining among friends can potentially stave off an outburst against strangers later – so we asked you…
Perspectives seek to promote dialogue and cross-cultural understanding by featuring Chinese and foreign responses to a single question. Email us to be added to our weekly question mailing list or to suggest questions of your own and feel free to add your perspective in the comments section below:
Definitely the pollution. And Chinese people refusing to acknowledge it even though there’s no way “fog” could cause drivers to turn their lights on in the afternoon. What’s up with that?! I also don’t like the government releasing air warnings that are essentially meaningless and which deceive the public. When you can taste the burning in the air it is most assuredly not a blue sky day!
H / UK
It sounds silly but opening up the internet would make a big difference. Sure, it’s not a life or death matter, but it makes it so much harder to stay in touch with family and friends back home and just seems so meaningless. Without Facebook, I’m much more isolated from the people I love.
Mine would be people on the subway, people’s bad breath on the subway and buses and people coughing on me on public transport. And people skipping the queue like the b*tch who tried to snatch my Hidan bing this morning after I waited in the cold for 5 minutes.
T / Italy
People spitting inside elevators and blowing their nose on the street.
Finding jobs is too hard. The news reports say almost all graduates find jobs but it’s not true and many of these jobs are part-time, not real jobs. They are tricking people. GDP is always going up but people’s lives don’t get better.
W / China
The Chinese, for the most part, lack the social graces as are demonstrated in the west. There are many differences but I shan’t be able to name them all in this short space. I believe that these “graces” perhaps are a part of western culture and therefore I am not criticizing – just commenting. Chinese parents have no hesitancy to allow their small children to urinate or defecate in public view – anytime or anywhere – on the sidewalk to the subway floor. Most babies do not wear diapers or any kind of protection and their bare bottoms and privates are displayed for the world to see. Another prime example is the behavior of most public transportation riders upon boarding and disembarking. Push, shove, elbow and kick are the usual norms. It certainly will be interesting to note the reaction of the millions of foreign visitors who will visit Shanghai during the Expo period.
Whiny expats complaining about how much they hate China while they enjoy extremely privileged lifestyles and usually the much better quality of life than they would back home.
R / UK
I do not like foreigners have higher status and higher salaries than local Chinese.
T / China
Having to tiptoe around certain issues drives me nuts. So does the idea that you can’t say anything critical without being accused of being anti-China by Chinese. Or that you can’t say anything positive about China without being accused of being pro-China by Westerners. I hate that the Chinese media is always so blandly positive and the Western media is always freaking out about China, often getting things wrong. I hope that this year we will see more progress in reasonable communication between both sides.
E / Australia