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“Where is China?”: An Unnecessary Question to a Bright Future(!)

Popularity 5Viewed 5582 times 2016-11-11 08:46 |System category:News| China, Chinese Dream

“Where is China?”

            I heard this question a few years earlier when I was taking the mandatory Mandarin classes provided by the university. The teacher had hanged on a political map of Asia on blackboard and she was teaching the country names, all of a sudden a girl about 18 – 19 years old had asked “Excuse me, where is China?”. Only in matter of seconds everyone was looking at her while half of the students were puzzled and other half was plainly thinking she couldn’t express herself well in English. No, she was able to speak English. She just didn’t know where the China was located on the world map. So as we were in China already for two months at that time, it had got me thinking that she decided to live in China for the next couple years before moving, she had decided to study Chinese and she was bold enough to do it without having any real information on where she was going and what she was going to face there. Yet, she moved to China for some reason that did not even necessitated to bother herself on where she was going.

            I believe the reason lies behind such act is the changing image of China as a land of opportunities. And in fact China has been offering lots of opportunities to foreigners who are ready to grasp them. However, I believe it has rendered the image of China, especially for the expats. China has become something like “land of easy money” or “start your career few steps ahead”. Hence this piece of very subjective work is written to see if that has any truth in it, on very subjective grounds – to be noted.  


Laowai’s Image of China

            If I talked about how China attracts businesses all over the world, how the expat population has increased over the years and so on, I guess I would just crowd out a topic that is only has been so popular for decades. We, those who have the chance to have a close look on China, know it already that there are lots of elements that is making China attractive to foreigners; business opportunities, culture, food, people, lifestyle, education whatever you name it. Like it or not, we are all here for a reason. Yet, I believe our reasons are hindered by the images we expect to find in China and by the image that has been reflected to us.

            I don’t think there is anyone who would not agree how much China has changed over the years economically and socially (politically too, but let’s not dig into that now). Over the years, import of foreign skills was incentivized and Chinese society started to meet infamous Laowai. As it was said, finding a job in world class companies with great salaries has become a usual thing for the earliest expats that moved to China. However, as the education level of Chinese society increased and government has become more experienced about how to handle his internal affairs regarding the foreigners, such jobs become less available and hence the competition got wild: demand increased, while the supply decreased. I would say a great number of foreign students in China also contributed to this phenomenon along with the HuaQiao (oversees Chinese). Even though labour supply increased, hyper growth created job opportunities those are not only local Chinese but also through the attraction of foreign companies. So, marvelously developing China has become the target of international society, people from all over the world has been coming to China ever since. Some to study, some to work, some to just learn Mandarin. But they are coming. And even though their arrival is incentivized by scholarships or plumped allowances, they are coming to seek the image they have of China.

            It would be far from reflecting any reality if I plainly describe a common image that we all have of China since it might differ greatly depending on country and background (actually I should write about it another time). But, for example, in my opinion and experience there are two types of my countryman living in China. First, is constituted by those who willingly came to China to do research, study or because of their work. Second is, on the contrary, made of students who failed university entrance examination (they are sent here by their families in the hope of something will become out of them) and those that are working in the sub-branches of family companies – China is not the most popular destination in my country, so it is hard to find someone willing to work here). I would say former group makes 10 percent of my fellow countryman in China. But I think it has been changing now. Before I came to China, when I told my friends that I was planning on moving to China they would ask me if I was hopeless. Nevertheless, I believe it is not the case anymore. There is another group derived; those who prioritized coming to China before anything.

            Now everyone thinks if you speak Chinese you can make good business somehow. You will be called for interviews. Even people will ask you to become CEO after you finish your bachelor! Okay that was a little bit exaggeration. But it has bit of a truth in it. When I talk to my class mates or other foreigners, to be honest, I hardly see anyone caring about classes or how well they are getting their job done –it is to exclude who are working in their own businesses or working in executive positions. Most of the people when they work in China they almost act like their studies get out of their job hunts. To be fair, I also worked full time in the last year of my master. But here we are talking about freshmen applying for jobs that requires at least 5 years of experience with a bunch of diplomas and certificates. What the expat community in China starting to have in mind is that they’ll land a job or make a fortune just because they are foreigners.    

            As probably lots of foreigners in China has experienced, we do actually get paid sometimes just because we are foreigners. And that is one of the main reasons that have actually created an illusionary image of China. In addition to job opportunities in China, Chinese companies’ tremendous business activity is also one of another cardinal reason. What is left behind is a bunch of people who are trying to join the race without knowing where they are going in the hope of winning.

So What am I Saying?

            To sum up what am I saying is that, with China’s marvelous growth China has become the target of many people around the world. Yet, no one is one hundred percent sure what they got themselves into; Simply knowing that China will boost your career (or help you get one), is easy to make people move to here while the real picture is quite different. We are seeing what we want to see, and Chinese dream is blind folding us to any reality out here.   



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




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Comment Comment (5 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2016-11-11 10:00
thanks for sharing here, we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report Funny-boy 2016-11-12 11:10
Interaction is important for us.
Reply Report Dracarys 2016-11-12 14:39
Borden your mind and improve yourselves ..
Reply Report alyssadeng 2017-2-18 23:05
That's kind of truth,foriegner could make a fortune much more easier if he or she has a good pronunciation and personality.
Reply Report GhostBuster 2017-2-24 18:13
Your essay is good. People know that there is China, but few know her location. Due to lack of geography, even Chinese living in China have problem identifying China on a blank map. Not to be surprised! China opens her doors in 1981, according to official documentation. The west has more interest in China than before because of numerous opportunities in many areas but economic growth is top priority.

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  • Why I Cannot Continue Studying in China 2018-11-15 14:14

    Thanks for sharing you idea here in Chindaily ..
    what you said is happened to me now .. I'm a postgraduate and next year would be my final year at university and i can really get what you said abuot studying in university at China ..

  • Why I Cannot Continue Studying in China 2018-2-19 15:37

    I remember reading this great blog a year back. Didn't I post a reply? It's not in the Comments list. Anyway: Once again, this opinion piece deserves to be shown to others.

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