Earlier this week, a good friend of mine, who has lived in Taiwan for many years sent me this article on why a guy who has lived in China for 16 years has now decided to leave.
If you’re at all interested in Chinese history, politics, economics, education, community or social situation, I highly recommend you take the time to read it. Click here to read, “You’ll never be Chinese: Why I’m leaving the country I loved”.
A lot of the content talks of things that I’ve already experienced in my short 8 months in China, but I hadn’t yet gained the perspective to process and turn into meaningful sentences. Mark has done a great job of explaining what I’ve been seeing / hearing / feeling everyday.
The ambivalence, corruption, dishonesty, uncaring, and single mindedness toward money that is Chinese people completely does my head in.
Back in October 2011, a child was run over by a car outside a market, but was ignored by those around her. At the time this caused an uproar but it seems like not a week goes by that I don’t hear of similar, albeit less horrific stories of people simply not giving a shit about each other.
Whether it’s cutting the throat of a premature baby girl and then dumping her in a trashcan or a kindergarten teacher commanding the class to take turns hitting a girl you only need to browse ChinaSMACK for 10 minutes to see this is a country with big social problems.
Mark’s article is the first time that I’ve seen someone who know’s what they’re talking about explore this from the inside. And if I was a parent with young children I hope I’d have the courage to reach the same conclusion that he has.
What about the good things?
Kindness certainly exists here. But it seems like you have to go looking for it. And I’ve certainly met many Chinese people, and made many friends who I believe are kind, caring, sensible people. Ironically, pretty much all of them are acutely aware of the problems facing this country, but by and large they don’t really seem to know where to start. It’s someone else’s problem. If I was in their position I’d probably think the same.
But at the moment, it seems that the bad outweighs the good, or at least gets more media airtime. Right now I’m leaving the bubbles that are my home or office everyday and re-entering the world of Beijing with a sigh.
So why am I staying?
My original intention was to learn the language and explore some business opportunities. The the back of my mind, I was thinking this was atleast a 6 month project, but would probably turn into 12. Right now I’ve been here a little over 8 months and I’m probably going to be here for 2 or 3 more years at a guess.
The main reason for staying is that opportunities here are so much bigger than what’s in Brisbane, and potentially Australia. There’s a saying something like “sometimes you can’t see the box you’re in” – and this is certainly true for the last few years of my life in Brisbane.
In the last few weeks here in Beijing I’ve been hanging out with people from Groupon, Nokia, Microsoft, Baidu, Glu, Zynga, GE and Siemens. These companies simply don’t exist in Brisbane, and most have only a token presence in Australia.
A key thing I’ve noticed is that there are also a huge number of 2nd tier companies that support these big guys, and then there’s a 3rd tier that supports the 2nd… all of which would cease to exist if tier 1 wasn’t here. If an ecosystem doesn’t have the big global companies, it can only grow to a certain point organically. This is where Brisbane’s problem lies.
Ultimate I want to develop my skills, be challenged, have opportunities to rapidly gain responsibility and above all learn. Right now China is delivering these things for me. I’m willing to discount the problems Mark talks about for the time being.