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Lao Wais vs. Wai Guo Ren

Popularity 15Viewed 4385 times 2015-9-1 22:28 |System category:Life

老外 vs. 外国人/中国通

When I check into this Forum sporadically, it seems like more and more posts are pretty much a bunch of Lao Wais 
interpretation of their experience of the events in which they've lived here. China, my home of more than ten years.

The country I have decided to raise my now family of four in. Yeah, I know...I might as well be Chinese. 

While some blogs from Foreigners are amusing and somewhat insightful into the lives of the authors, very few I read, aside from perhaps our Austrian blogger of the year, actually resonate with any substantial social, historical meaning or any "true" understanding of this country. While I could proverbially flip through the pages of squat toilet blogs, squid on stick squeamishes, it almost seems like many Lao Wais (and I call you Lao Wais, because to me, that's what you are) have no real understanding of this country and why it is, where it is, as of now. I digress, I call 80% of the Foreign bloggers on here "Lao Wais", and perhaps the other 20% "Wai Guo Ren" or even fewer, "Zhong Guo Tong". 

I wonder how many people can truly speak of the Boxer Rebellion, the Opium Wars, The Long March; know who Zhu De, Liu Xiaoqi, even who Zhou Enlai or Deng really were. These Lao Wais seem to live in China only to reap the economic benefits while ignorantly trolling along in a country just because most local Chinese (at least in 2nd-tier cities) smile at you, and perhaps put you on TV once in awhile. No need to learn the language, and even worse, little, if any interest in traveling this magnificent country or learning about its history or culture.

The equivalent might be a Chinese moving to N. America without a clue about Mount Rushmore, the Alamo, or who Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson were, but unequivocally speak the wonders of their newfound home because of shopping malls, bravado, and self-commendability for moving to another country they seemingly know nothing about.

Not to beat my own drum, but after studying history in England and Canada, I moved to Beijing at 23 because I was infatuated with Chinese culture and history. The economy had absolutely nothing to do with it. As soon as I got here, I went to Mao's home farm in Shao Shan, travelled Gansu on my own, visited Sun-Yat-Sen's tomb in Nanjing, went to Qufu, Confucius' birthplace in Shandong...I did almost everything and anything I could do to make the textbooks I studied in University come alive. 

As this 70-year anniversary of the end of Japanese Agression parade commences in my hometown of Beijing, I have a deep respect of the history behind it, and why it plays such an important role. I came here as a young man to help this country, because I understood its history - from Qin Shi Huang through to the Qing Dynasty. Chinese culture in all its glory...and I wanted to live it.

When I see some bloggers come on here and just constantly speak of themselves, I honestly want to throw up. The "Lao Wais" have started to make us "Wai Guo Ren" or even "Zhong Guo Tong" look bad.

So, for those Foreigners who live in this country and have made it a priority to know the history, language, and travel abound and beyond, relish the celebration that is this weekend's 70th anniversary of the end of WW2. We understand it, and to some extent, that's why we live here. 

China is still Red, the last time I checked, and that's why I, as a young historian/global citizen, moved here in the first place. Whether it be Mao or Deng, or the Tang Dynasty or Emperor Kangxi, foreigners owe it to themselves to learn a little about this country before they write their self-congratulatory, "Look! I went shopping by myself today!" or "I'm such a famous and well-liked teacher!" bravado in this Forum. 

In short, the inane stories have become infuriatingly frustrating for some of us real expats here to read...again, and again, and again, and again. The same nonsense, again, and again...

It's mind-numbing torture. These are the Lao Wais who have lived here for 2,3,4,5 years who still can't speak a lick of Chinese, nor care to learn the language one iota. The same ones who would probably would castigate any Chinese family who's lived in the USA for years but can't speak English. Talk about a double-standard. The only difference is Chinese are just much more accommodating to foreigners than American society is accepting of immigrants.

If you don't know the history, reflect a bit this weekend, and learn something, anything substantial, about the country you profess to love so much.

And as for China's victory against Japanese War Aggression, that's another story I'll have to ask my grandfather about next time I'm in my wife's hometown of Shenyang.

Chinese history makes its present come alive. Respect it, and you'll have a whole new appreciation of this country.

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




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Comment Comment (5 comments)

Reply Report Ted180 2015-11-23 02:14
You have taken China seriously-enough to learn about it. I've never been to China (and I'm 73); but it strikes me that the path China takes is the most important element in the future of humanity. That's why I come to CD.  
Reply Report teamkrejados 2015-12-12 20:37
You know what's really shameful? I seem to know more about Chinese history than my students... SAD!
Reply Report SophieHoang 2016-5-3 17:11
Insightful post ! I hope to be able to read more from yours.
Reply Report zhanggli2010 2016-7-26 14:47
teamkrejados: You know what's really shameful? I seem to know more about Chinese history than my students... SAD!
Frankly speaking, the Chinese government has already been aware of this bad situation and has put more focus on education for its own history and ancient Chinese language, as a result, more scores/weight are being given onto them in Gaokao.
Reply Report Fuhai 2016-8-4 03:30
Perhaps could you suggest them some books, written by historians who have an eye on the present ?
Examples (but you would have more to suggest !):
- A recent one, written by a Canadian, Daniel Bell "the China model", with a lot of references to history
- Excellent to understand structural differences between countries, so not only for China: Emmanuel Todd "the history of family structures 1-Eurasia"

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