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Why China is hopeless

Popularity 20Viewed 4567 times 2015-1-6 00:02 |System category:Life| China, hopelessness

As a rational human being, I want to use my energy economically and write a blog about this, instead of writing about it separately to many people and waste energy.

There are ways to be successful, and ways to be unsuccessful. To be a "loser", you need to have a psychological mechanism that hinders your own improvement (such as making excuses, laziness, conformism, hesitance etc). To be a winner, you need to analyze things rationally, clearly and act accordingly. My 3 years and 4 months in China has proved me that China as a country is not going to be a winner, I'd like to share with you what makes me think so.

*Generalization and stereotyping as escapism
Making broad generalizations and being proud of such stereotypes won't get anyone anywhere. This is a common method of denying personal responsibility. Accept your personal quirks, incompetence, abilities and flaws; and stop trying to generalize these as national qualities.
Example: We Chinese people think/do/ this way.
Reality: No. That is how you think, or how you do something. Take the responsibilty. There are millions of people who have the same nationality as you, but don't think or act the way you do. I have heard someone say "I'm not good at maths, I'm American". This is another example of the same kind of escapism. Neither laziness, nor chauvinism, fascism or racism are "Chinese" qualities. But Chinese people would always tell you that "Well, in China......." No. It's not "in China". The same bullshit is everywhere in the world and that's why it needs to change. That's why everyone (including the Chinese) need to be conscious and aware.

There was a Chinese girl, a freshman, writing minutes during my thesis defense. She made a fuss about everything, worried in vain about trivial/stupid things and took my graduation things as her responsibility and vaguely/openly blamed me about things that aren't my fault. I told her to stop being a paranoiac, and that this is not good for her psychology. Her reaction was correcting a conjunction I used (even though she already had understood what I meant)

I wanted to help her, so I texted her afterwards to think about things. Her mind was made up that I was too relaxed and my graduation procedures (including things as easy as getting my supervisor's signature) were her own responsibility ue to my incapability. And her reply to me was that "this is Chinese culture and culture is very hard to change". No darling, that is your incapability of seeing the big picture and dealing with things calmly, assumptions about foreigners and somewhat stupidity.

*Young people being unwilling to change things
If something is not functional, people will not like it. Because rational people try to make things easier for themselves, not harder (if it's without any useful reason). Young people are supposed to be the locomotive of change towards the better, and this has been so in most places. In China, however, young people are extraordinarily unwilling to make a difference. Is this selfishness, lack of courage or laziness? I don't know. Maybe all.
Example: Zhejiang University is one of the best schools in China, but has a very unfunctional online system. Most procedures for graduation are complicated for Chinese/international students alike, mostly irrational, arbitrary and vague. As a resut it's impossible to plan things ahead. I sent an email to my department and international education centre with suggestions. Nobody cares of course. When I talked about it to Chinese students, they said "You graduated already, didn't you?" and I replied "It's not about my business, it's about those who haven't graduated yet". And they were surprised, why is this girl so angry about something that she is not effected by anymore? Actually if they let me, I would even write a detalied tutorial about each unnecessary, stupid and unreasonable step towards graduation I had to go through, so that others can plan their time, money and other stuff according to someone's solid experience instead of assumptions and gossip. But no, everyone is lost right now, because the graduation process is mystery to all who haven't graduated yet.

University is a Western institution, the child of Enlightenment. It shouldn't be so arbitrary and primitive and full of unexpected weirdness. 
Another example: A friend of mine suddenly noticed that her dorm key card doesn't work anymore. Her roommate let her in. Then she found out that her internet connection was cut as well. She went to pay, they told her that her name was not in the list anymore, and her dorm key card was invalid for the same reason. The school had arbitrarily decided that she graduated. In the middle of the semester. I, myself went through all the stupid things so that the system recognizes me as a graduate, and still have to wait for my certificate and diploma. I told the school the date I plan to leave. However, even though we are in the same school, the same system decided that my friend must have graduated and left. The international education office is in the dorm she lives in. Even though it is the same building, there is no communication between the office and dorm management. Unbelievable. If the office sent a name list of the graduated students at every graduation period, then the dorm management wouldn't be making random decisions about anyone's graduation. But if I told them these (my friend doesn't speak much Chinese) they would think I'm whining because I'm a foreigner.
Another one: I sometimes teach Chinese kids English. Last time I was doing a review for their exam. They had learnt countable/uncountable nouns, also some vegetables' names and kitchen stuff like spices, oil, butter etc. So when reviewing those, I asked them to repeat after me.

Me: Carrot (The class repats: Carrot)
Me: A carrot (The class repeats: A carrot)
Me: A few carrots (The class: a few carrots)
Me: Salt (The class: Salt)
Me: Some salt (The class: Some salt)
Me: Garlic ....
Suspicious voices raise in the classroom: 她说什么?我们学得不一样!对呀,她不说carrot, salt, garlic, 她说得不一样!(What is she saying? Not the same as what we learnt! Right, she doesn't say carrot, salt, garlic, she's saying differently!)

So according to them, I had to repeat words just in the sequence as they were written in the book. I couldn't mix vocabulary and grammar during review. They had learnt about uncountable nouns and salt and garlic, but in their minds these didn't connect. They protested about similar things several times during my review, and I felt very frustrated for being accused of teaching them "different things" (they couldn't see it was the same). Their exam scores were low as well, and I wasn't surprised at all. This is how Chinese people don't learn English.

*Arbitrary rules that don't mean anything
Rules are there to regulate things, assure safety and orderliness, or increase effectiveness, and so on. In China, they are unreasonable requirements which nobody knows why they exist.
Example: In my country there's a common joke. Before each exam, the naughtiest student in the class asks the teacher "Can we start from any question we want?" This is a joke because it's a useless question. Of course you can start from any question you want. Start from Q1 or 10 or 50, it doesn't matter, it's still the same thing. So everyone laughs at the question, and the "joker" reaches his/her aim. In China however, this is no joke. If you take paper based HSK, you need to be doing the same page as all the other people. Or, the teachers when I took the exam were psychopaths and wanted people to do so. Because there is no regulation, it is arbitrary, and your exam experience depends on your luck and the teachers in your classroom. 
Another example: There is a document for leaving the school, you basically get stamps from all offices. All of those are independent. Public Affairs Department (my department) and Internet Services Office or the library or the International Education Centre are not related to each other at all. There is no communication between them. And this is the reason you need to go to 8 or 9 offices and get the stamps, because the office can't ask for clearance from each of these places. Back home, the library reports those with debts to the office upon receiving a list of prospective graduates from the same office. Anyways, I went to Zijingang campus (takes 1 hour on the bus from my campus) to submit my thesis to the library, because I was told so. (When I say this in Chinese people think I'm an idiot foreigner and took "library" as Zijingang library because I live in Zijingang. None of these are true, I made sure that I have to go to Zijingang library before doing so, and I live in 1 hour distance). And the library told me I had to go to library of the another campus (where I live). Since I was at Zijingang already, I went to my department office to get the stamp on that document. She didn't want to do so, because I hadn't got the stamps from the previous 2 places. I told her it's nonsense to get the stamps in order, and that "previous" can't mean anything, because there's no relation among any of the places that were liste randomly on a piece of paper, and that I had come all the way to Zijingang already, so didn't want to go back just like that. So finally she agreed to give me the stamp. Time passed, I got the stamps from other places. In the middle (5th or 6th one?) there is space for one from my dorm office, and the last one is for the International Office. Except for these two I had it all. And I was at the Intl Office to give my medication receipt. Yes, as you guessed, since I was there already I wanted them to put the stamp. They refused, because I didn't have the dorm stamp. I told them I was on the way to my dorm already, and would get the dorm stamp after they put their stamp. So that I can photocopy the complete document and take to Zijingang and get my certificate; and bring the certificate and the original document to the Intl. Office.

The stupid office girl: But if the dorm stamp is missing your photocopy won't mean anything.
Me: I will get it when I get back to my dorm, and photocopy it afterwards.
TSOG: You need to give this document to me at the end anyways.
Me: I know, but I need to take a copy to my department.
TSOG: I can't put the stamp because you don't have the dorm stamp.
Me: There's no such necessity. I just don't want to come here once more in vain.
TSOG: (looks at the document with a pity) But you don't have the dorm stamp....
It went on and on, until I was drained of energy. 
I was angry. I couldn't even see a reason why I was explaining something so visible and obvious and easy to understand. ALRIGHT, I shouted. I WILL HAVE TO COME HERE IN VAIN AGAIN. If I was speaking English I would be talking very fast, and they wouldn't understand. So I talked Chinese, and repeated the same things. The actual dialogue is longer because I was trying to explain her the obvious, and my sentences were short because I didn't know why I had to convince them. I don't remember each sentence I said. A few hours later things I could've said came to my mind.

She was either deliberately trying to 麻烦 me, or was having a slow day, or is a stupid person all the time. I think it must be no.2. But she still needs to spend effort to try to understand what I mean. It was so easy to see after her stamp there will be one left and that's where I go to sleep every night. I guess she was in denial of the fact that ı need to give a photocopy to another campus even though I repeated it. Maybe she assumed my department was in the same campus? But even if it was, it would be at least 30 mins alk from the intl. office.

I decided to get the stamp from my dorm, and take the document to her when I go to the office to collect my medical insurance refund. Which will be next week hopefully. I'm not sure though, because even though it is identical to one I gave them the last time (and got the refund) she looked at it carefully and murmured "What is this, so expensive...?" to herself. I told her I've been drinking Chinese medicine and doing acupuncture, and that the receipt is the same as the last time, she still looked unaffected.If they deny me the refund this time, it will be weird enough. But I won't be surprised. And will fight for it. Because my scholarship is until June, and graduation ceremony is in March, and I have formalities to deal with during this month.
Another example: This was a month ago or so. I needed transcripts for traineeship and Phd applications. Most deadlines were in December.

Me: Can I get an English transcript as well?
Stupid Public Affairs Department Girl: I think you can, but I don't know where.... You can translate it yourself. Then you need the school stamp and that's it.
Me: Do I get the stamp here?
SPADG: No, I don't have that stamp.
Me: Where do I get it?
SPADG: I don't know...
Me. Alright.... Can you give me another copy of the Chinese transcript?
SPADG: But you're still taking a class, it doesn't have the grade.
Me: I know, I don't care. I need several copies.
SPADG: I will give you after you have the score for that class.
Me: It will be too late. I will apply to several places, I need more than one.
SPADG: But you didn't finish all your classes yet.
Me: It's not important! (forgot how to say "deadline") I need them now. It will be too late after I get the score for that class.
SPADG: You photocopy it yourself then.
Me: The photocopy won't have the real stamp... Do you understand what I mean?
SPADG: I know, you photocopy it as much as you want.
Me: It won't be real, I need ALL with the real stamp.
SPADG: But you're still taking one class.
Me: I know I am, but I need transcripts now.
SPADG: I will give you another copy after you have the grade for that one.
Me: But it will be too late. 
SPADG: One should be enough, I can't give you another one.
Me: If you can give me one, you can give me another one as well.
SPADG: But you didn't finish your classes yet.
(Note: When applying to schools, they accept provisional graduation certificates and incomplete transcripts as well. If you're going to graduate in June, you can apply to the next step in January and give them the real diploma when you have it. This is how I had applied to Zhejiang University also. But this girl was pretending that I can't apply for a Phd without having completed all my master's classes, and that an incomplete transcript would be useless)

*Not knowing the importance of constructive feedback and criticism
In China, most people would think you're "complaining" if you criticize something. 
Because there is no interaction between institutions and people, people suffer, institutions prosper. Are people for institutions or are institutions for people? First option is nonsense. But here, institutions or rules set up by other people are Gods, and people are slaves who have to obey without any thought. How dare you talk about/criticize something that someone else has made for you already?
Example: Almost every incident I encountered during my 3 years in China! I don't even know where should I begin to explain....
Reality: When you want to change something, people will say "You're a foreigner, you don't understand" or "This is how things are in China". If a Chinese person is courageous enough to criticize anything, they will say "You don't love our country", "You don't respect our traditions of hundreds of years" or even "You're brainashed by foreigners", which is ridicuous because it assumes being Chinese means being stupid and blind. Shortly, regardless of being Chinese or foreigner, you will be silenced by the society which suffers from the very thing you criticize.

Do you know that most seafood is cooked alive to ensure they're fresh? The example of lobster is often used in social sciences. If you put them in boiling water, they will try to escape immediately. So you put them in warm water, and heat it gradually, so that they don't notice the heat all of a sudden. When the water starts boiling and is too hot to bear, some lobsters want to climb out of the pot they're in. Do you know what the other lobsters do? They pull them in. They don't want them to escape. Yes, this means all lobsters are "Chinese".

*Racism as an excuse
I know that an average Chinese person does not see people of other races that often. So, stop lecturing me about this please. I met a black person for the first time when I was 20. I talked to an Asian person for the first time when I was 19. And this is because I studied English hard, and went abroad. Like most people in my country, I grew up seeing only white people who speak the same language and believe in the same religion. I had only seen people of other races in music videos or on TV. 

Of course people in my country think all black people play football/sing rap and all Asian people do porn (Japanese porn is getting common back home) HOWEVER this is only it. If racism back home is 3 units, in China it is 6 units. And people here put forward Chineseness as an excuse. Americans and people from other multicultural countries agree, "Yeah these people don't see foreigners that often" is something I often hear. The real reason for fascism and racism is fascism and racism; there's no excuse, and they are definately not an inevitable or forgivable consequence of history. I know it because I grew up in racial homogenity, and it was only when I took Japanese classes at university I met a Japanese person (my teacher). And I went to Japan to study, and I met a black French guy there. I didn't suspect his Frenchness or ask him questions about his skin or hair, I assure you. I accepted him as a black French person without any suspicion or disgust.
Another example: People in my country, even though they may meet a black person for the first time, are not as naive as Chinese people. Noone would say "So black!!!!" upon seeing a black person. Because black people are black, regardess of your encounter, and everybody knows this. Even if people may say/ask something ridiculous, they would never take shelter in their own nationality, and would admit they never thought Asian/black/brown people to be this or that. Yes they would stare at Asian people on the street. But they would still see them as human beings, and wouldn't objectify them (they may objectify women sexually though, if they had seen Japanese porn lately). And for sure noone would try to avoid coloured people, or hide their kids when they see them. So again, something you thought as "Chinese", isn't Chinese at all, but is pure self righteousness. That's why it's unacceptable for me that Chinese people "normalize" their racism listing the reasons above. Back home gender equality is a problem too. And this is the reason I would never accept "China" or "Chineseness" as an explanation for socially constructed gender roles. That you don't know about the world doesn't mean things exist only in your country.

My ex told me if people in his village knew he dated a white woman, he wouldn't be able to get married to a Chinese woman, because they would think he has AIDS. Back home even people who watch Japanese porn often wouldn't say you'd have AIDS for sure after having dated an Asian woman. Because it doesn't mean ALL Asian women would have AIDS, right? However in China white women are such sluts that all of them have AIDS, and having dated one means you're a bad boy that needs to be avoided. (Getting married to a white woman, however, means marrying "up" because anything white means beautiful)

I can think of other reasons to list under this blog, but it is too long already.

Each time I criticize China I get personal comments from people who try to humiliate me or my knowledge about the world one way or another. I have been through a lot of things, had a hard life, and matured up very early compared to my peers, and therefore deveoped a confidence and self awareness that no internet insult can break through. So all of you strangers are welcome to make comments about my life and assume your imagination as the only truth, I don't really care. (And you're also welcome to share your opinions about the topic as well. I don't mind any rational falsification of any of my ideas. However my concrete experience can't be deleted by anyone else's words, that's a fact).

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




Shake hands


Friends who just made a statement (2 Person)

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Reply Report seanboyce88 2015-3-23 11:05
even after so much time, I still love this blog. I now link it to newcomers as part of a welcome to China package :p

They need to know so they dont get so frustrated as poeple are oft to do when first arriving. One thing I would like to add after 6 months of thinking is the mount of tangential and pedantic arguments you get into, sidetracking from the main point. Even judy Zhu on here, (who I like personally) came up with her on experience of her class of 40, but this is not representative of the experience the majority of foreigners go through. I think that can be seen with the sheer support of the foriegners who commented. I got into an argument about the attempted homogenising of Chinese culture when in reality it is so different recently, it ended up into a debate as to how bad the british government is with the argument, how can you judge us when your government is so bad...can't argue with that logic, it's impossible.

Miss your blogs on here, hope life is treating you well!
Reply Report Maierwei 2015-3-30 00:52
seanboyce88: even after so much time, I still love this blog. I now link it to newcomers as part of a welcome to China package :p

They need to know so they dont g ...
Thank you very much!    Now I gave it a quick look, if I wrote it now I would write it differently, but still it conveys what I wanted to mean. I'm not in China and it has been a month already, I will write about the reasons why I didn't want to stay in China, I guess it will be somewhat in the same line as this blog.

The "how can you judge us when your government...." thing is the reason why I didn't tell anyone my nationality, you know. I will end my "rants" about China after a few blogs, so the right time to announce my nationality is coming close ^^ Anyays, my advice is that ignore any attempt to mix British government into any arguments. Because no British person is the representative of the British govt. or can/should take one hundred percent responsibility to "introduce" Britishness (!) into any China related argument. Noone is the embodiment of their government. Don't even think of arguing withthat logic, because there's no logic and it's just a shortcut to "winning" people think of when they run out of rational arguments (if they had any from the beginning).

How dare you comment on my blog by the way, you emperialist opium seller!
Reply Report seanboyce88 2015-3-30 10:03
Maierwei: Thank you very much!      Now I gave it a quick look, if I wrote it now I would write it differently, but still it conveys what I wanted to mean ...
Anymore comments like that and your country will be experiencing some British "freedom" :p

I actually wish I hadn't mentioned where I was from now in hindsight. I completely agree with you, people make assumptions on you and now I dislike telling people where I am from in public, and rather just leaving them constructing their own opinion of me rather than using the assumptions they have based on your country.
Reply Report kellivschina 2015-4-1 11:02
I applaud your willingness to post this even though, like you said, you'll probably get criticism from some. But the truth is...these are all things we're thinking and just don't always voice out loud! Great post.
Reply Report Maierwei 2015-4-6 01:17
kellivschina: I applaud your willingness to post this even though, like you said, you'll probably get criticism from some. But the truth is...these are all things w ...
Thank you very much!  
Reply Report Maierwei 2015-4-6 01:18
kellivschina: I applaud your willingness to post this even though, like you said, you'll probably get criticism from some. But the truth is...these are all things w ...
Thank you very much!  

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Whenever I get lost I look super-confident. Whenever I feel so scary, boring and ordinary people tell me I\'m so nice, interesting and friendly.


Recent comments

  • My Study Abroad in the UK 2017-1-6 22:17

    Hi, Maierwai. Admittedly, it is fun to read your blogs, as some of your stories about your life on exotic lands are intriguing and hilarious. However, I would also like to read about things you have experienced that would be billed as positive. Is there anything that your really appreciated when living abroad, e.g. in China, Japan, the UK and etc. I don't think that you are an overly cynical person, and you simply can't be critical of everything, right?

  • 有趣的人 needs to hold her tongue? 2016-12-22 09:30

    Maierwei: That question is common worldwide. They want to see if you have vision, if you plan to stay long in the company and take more responsibilities. They w ...
    Sorry for the late reply. Interesting. I will remember it in my next interview. Im working as a foreign teacher in China now, teaching my mother language in university. At the interview, they asked me a question like this
    "How long do you plan to teach in our university?"

    And I answered
    "At least for two years"

    And they accepted me. I don't know if my answer have nothing to do with it or not, but Im just trying to be honest with them hahaha.

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