Friday, 25 November 2011

British Born Chinese trip to North and South of China part 2

Interacting with the locals

As a non-mandarin speaking BBC, It's common for us to experience all kinds of prejudice from getting confused looks when Its found out we arent mainlanders/locals... to English teacher job interviews where a white english teacher is chosen over us native English speakers....just because he is white( and some cases English is not even his native language).
One specific incident I experienced was in a 7-11.

Typically, after 2 weeks in China I was used to having shopped for my groceries, with no problem, typically handing them to the cashier and wait for her to tally the cost waiting for the bill to be given to me, but on this occasion she asked me a question, which may have loosely translated into something like ' do you need a bag' and when I replied ' wo ting bu dong' she started laughing and started muttering under her breath to her friend sitting beside her,in disbelief, no doubt probably thinking that this Chinese guy infront of her was making a joke, that he didn't understand.

In retrospect I should have followed up by asking her ' ni shur yin wen ma? ( do you speak english) ' but that would in my eyes would've exposed me as a being an overseas Chinese and i guess idealism and mainly wanting to save face overcame the reality that my Mandarin is very basic apart from a few words and some basic vocabulary, that isnt up to conversation level just yet..

My other experience was when was taking the train from Beijing to Taiyuan.

A ticket inspector asked me for my ticket and I showed it to her. What I didn't realise is that when I got back to my sleeper,  she was still following me. My friend who was sitting on my sleeper spoke to her and then told me that she wanted my ticket - and thought that because I was walking away from her, I was mentally unstable! 

But on the whole, I don't think the discrimination was that bad - to be honest, my experience with Canto FOBS in the UK tend to be worse due to their directness, and in my experience they make it damn clear when they look down on your comparitively rusty Cantonese.

In Guangzhou too,I had similar problems, although again,mainly avoided partly because of my mainlander friend accompanying me spoke Mandarin and partly because a lot of the communication can be achieved through body language and basic Cantonese.

Even the Beijing hotel receptionist who werent used to dealing with non-mandarin clients,  by the end of my second week  had gotten used to me speaking only English and showed appreciation when I made a basic effort to communicate in Putongua.

For obvious reasons Mainland Chinese dont really take too much interest in your problems as a BBC, but thankfully, most problems can be overcome by having a basic understanding and self expression of putongua and obvious body language. And since arriving back to the U.K. , I've resumed my Putonghua lessons seriously  so hopefully these kind of language problems won't happen as much on my next trip. We shall see.


  1. haha, thats what the tour guide is for! I didn't even bother trying mandarin when i went to the northern mainland, 'English' all the way!

  2. English and cantonese till I die, I will never learn mandarin!

  3. haha you mainland hater, thanks for the comments tho - doesnt look like anyone else here gives a shit about my travels lol

  4. Cantonese and Hakka FTW! Brap brap!

  5. What I despise is the idolisation of white foreigners over their own people, whether born abroad or not. You may have seen this on your travels - I certainly have in the past - where ethnic Chinese will go out of their way to have their photos taken with a sweaty bald white man - because he's white. Worse still is in this incident, he was with a 20 something girl on his side (he was about 60) - and the locals were like, "oh I want a photo with the grotesque white man!".... it's this sort of attitude (which is hard to comprehend) which is destroying our identity, as the ethnic Chinese as a whole subconsciously or otherwise worship white people, thus want to BE white people - for Chinese women that means having children with white men and having half white kids.

    In white countries I might understand it, being the minority and the pressure to conform, but it is very depressing to see this in China and other Chinese majority countries.

    Just compare and contrast this to the attitude of white British in our own country towards ethnic Chinese... one of mockery and derision. Of course, the ethnic Chinese in China are too narrow minded to understand that this further promotes the notion that whites are intrinsically higher up on the social status ladder than Chinese.

  6. As for giving English language jobs to non English whites over English non-whites, I have heard this is quite common in ESL courses all over... the locals simply see whites as native English, and non-whites as native (whatever language is commonly associated with their race). Conversely in Britain and America, especially with the unemployment figures, employers are actively recruiting white non-English speakers for non-English teaching... because they actually have a clue that your upbringing, not your race, dictates how good you are at a certain language... if only the Chinese in China weren't so narrow minded.

    This of course, makes it even more difficult for British Chinese who want to learn the language, because one of the most obvious ways of learning is to interact with the locals... can't do that if they already expect you to know the language, and mock you for not doing so...

  7. @anonymous. I'll be covering a bit on white worship on my travels later, but yeah it's nothing we havent discussed before ugly bald white guys, old white guys...whether its abroad or even in a meetup group in london, seems like whites own the right to own our culture than we do and the english teacher phenom is a prime example of this.

    Actually i'd say english teachers abroad is the bane of white worshipping. When you think about it, it's giving a legitimate excuse for chinese to remain white worshippers - as long as english is established as the gateway to freedom, there will always be whiteworshipping.

    for the bbcs who want to teach english abroad its a different matter. its more for the money, and id say getting back in touch with our cultural roots despite the social engineered idea that only white people can speak good english

    most whites who want to learn mandarin to travel to china only want to do so for business, they dont give a shit about the culture, and have no direct respect or care for the people or history.

    i disagree about making it difficult to learn the language, as i made a few good friends out there, 2 specifically who are willing to help me with my mandarin - one in beijing and my friend who i travelled with, whom i ended up helping with his english more than mandarin but whatever - we are still friends and still stay in contact with today. i guess i was lucky. but what is key is that china makes a big push for getting the world to respect its cultural development, and not just see it as a destination to be raped by westerners. in some ways we ( china) is lucky because its just so massive. anyway chinese politics is complicated, the government want the best for the people but on their terms. as long as this stuff goes on, westerners will never take china seriously except as a destination for exploitation rather than giving anything back to the country of any real lasting value. and the rich chinese, at least those who dont know any better, will just copy this pattern of western exploitation on its own people and on and on it will go on until people start getting pissed off and say enough is enough.

    i know some people on here dont really care much about china due to being commonwealth,hence low comments on my bbc trip articles, but you know, if you want to be proud to be chinese, you have to mean it, not just proud to be bbc or proud to be hong konger...we have such a rich history and diversity and great potential. anyway lets see what happens. they dont call me happybritishchinese for nothing muthafuckaz. peace out.

  8. I actually visited my "clan" (surname) home whilst in China. It was quite surreal, the place has been there for centuries if not millenia, and here I was, standing on the land of my ancestors.

    Regards to the destruction of Chinese (or any other culture for that matter) culture, replacing it with white culture, we really are on the defensive. I have noticed a clear pattern that America and to a lesser extent, Britain (the White Anglo Saxon Protestants - WASPS) employ - spread their TV, music, "styles" onto other countries... for those that resist, invade and occupy. Look around contintental Europe, South America and of course East Asia... we are blindly (gladly?) following American culture. Why? Because it is associated with freedom, prosperity.

    This is affecting politics, business and everything the Chinese do on a big scale... recently Burma opened up to America, who will no doubt gladly flood the country with US companies to exploit the land... you'd think the people would see that it was swapping one superpower (there has been previous resentment over China extracting resources from the land) with another... but the comments say otherwise. They WELCOME US companies, they don't mind if American culture consumes them.

    I've just read this article:

    Notice how, every step of the way where China is attempting to build relations with other countries, there is some group or another reciting the same spiel (undemocratic, Free Tibet, repression, police state blah blah) to that nation's government, hindering Chinese progress and development... they speak of human rights but the endgame is to effectively cripple Chinese living standards (i.e. OUR human rights) to satisfy their motives... note this paragraph -

    "Supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which has endured heavy sanctions and suppression in China, picketed a National Ballet of China production at this year's Edinburgh international festival, which had substantial financial and cultural support from China."

    So something as innocent as ballet, now politicised? Will these groups stop at nothing? Does this mean that every time a British or American cultural group comes to China (or indeed any Chinese region), the Chinese should protest and picket about the white invasions of other countries and its cruelty? Maybe we should. If China's citizens not only protested not only against their own government but also against outside countries/rivals (e.g. US), other countries will begin to realise that the Chinese population have a voice and aren't to be trampled on by foreign pressure groups.

  9. Hi anonymous , nice to hear about you visiting your clan in CHina, would like to hear more about that.

    Re : politics

    ' we are blindly (gladly?) following American culture. Why? Because it is associated with freedom, prosperity. '

    yes thanks for pointing that out. its a good well maintained illusion. for as some of us may be aware , the US is just a military /propaganda tool for the UK.

    Hadnt read about Burma opening up to US, thats interesting. Yes as far as my experience in China was, youth associate US with freedom. The way Chinese news is presented with the flashy titles, and the adverts in its imitation way of freedom , is the gov's way of showing freedom but without real freedom. In that sense, thats something i can feel for the people. I spoke to a beijing friend on skype, who told me that the government just follow you wherever you go. always watching. he respects that china is a big country to control but at the same time, he felt that the majority are getting annoyed that the rich are getting rich off their backs( this includes the gov) and as i said before...its like a pot of steaming water waiting simmering.

    I dont envy the government,its a hard job trying to please everyone. just as you pointed out China is getting demonised in western media with tibet etc above, but without going into it too deeply, as this is a BBC blog and not a CHina politics blog, yes i agree with you that China should not be so soft.

    i read somewhere that china is too soft bailing out europe etc trying to get in nicely with people but still getting reprimanded for helping as being 'sneaky'. sometimes its like you cant win. damned if you do damned if you dont.

    Not sure if you read a while back about Chinese basketball players picking a fight with brazilian team, and then there was another US team i think. my first feeling is that the chinese youth are just pissed off with this opening to the west.

    in the west, we think, hey, it must be so great, communist and now..freedom. but if you look at other transitions in history, eg east berlin wall, russia, transitions are anything but.

    and this, i feel is what chinese , at least the majority are going through. yes they can buy more things but with bigger family comes bigger expenses. yes they have starbucks, but then they also want the 4 x4 to go with the uppity image. like america in the 50s ( and i say america also because of what you mentioned above), but theres also resentment.

    its like a pushpull. i read on one blog , chinasmack funnily enough, which i know is noted for its controversy, but was talking about how some chinese had sentimental thoughts about how peaceful and innocent the students looked in the communist days ( late 70s- 80s). and now everyone is fighting over iphones.

    to me, that sums up a lot. its the transition that im talking about. the protest you mention above if it happens ,will be out of necessity, and its a big job the government has on its hands, without the demonising of the west. so for their sake, and for the people of china's sake. i hope it can be resolved.

    i blame the west. haha. excessive capitalism never really had a happy ending. look at steve jobs lol

    china needs to find its spiritual centre again. thats all i can think of right now

  10. ^ btw no disrespect to steve jobs as i respect that he is a great visionary and icon of our times, but fact remains, he died having made all that cash and what good did it do him?

  11. Daniel York writes-

    Your travelogue experiences are really very interesting and well related, Happy. It's a shame you have to indulge in so much blind hatred a lot of the time. I'm sure you're a very interesting person in real life and we'd have lots to talk about but you've decided you hate me purely because my mother happens to be white.

    Oh well, 谢谢!下一次再见...

  12. Why are you HAPAS so damn self -obsessed? This article is for BBCS talking about their experiences in China. If you have nothing better to discuss on Trip To China article than talk about your white mother Im going to have to disallow comments on this thread as well.

    Acting work must be pretty quiet these days got nothing better to do than troll BS haha

  13. @happy you are so cruel, give yorkie bar a break, and I don't meant a kit kat LOL, he has his embarrassing ways to defend himself, that is to pretend he knows a bit of chinese writing, I thought I was bad.


  14. the girl with the black shirt in the pic has silicone implants for sure.

  15. ...Still the comment "Acting work must be pretty quiet these days got nothing better to do than troll BS haha" ...oh man what a slamdunk put down, I don't know how Yorkie bar can respond to that one other than to concede total defeat and stop trolling.

    Anyway, interesting story, yep saving up to make that trip, which I reckon all chinese interested in their roots should if they can, go. Don't like saying happy xmas, because if you know your Hong Kong history you know why.

  16. Daniel York writes-

    @ MoYan head.

    Wow, you're easily impressed, aren't you?

    FWIW I've had one of the busiest years of my life but even disregarding that I fail to see how that's any kind of "slam dunk put down". It's such a clumsy and patently obvious insult that I wouldn't even congratulate a five year old child for coming up with it.

  17. Daniel York writes-


    I wasn't writing about my white mother, I was pointing up your prejudice.

    Self obsessed? That's comical coming from you. You view absolutely everything through the prism of your own hang ups.

    There you are on page 1 using millions of dead soldiers as a platform for your paranoid theories.

    There you are in another thread equating Simon San's murder to mixed race performers.

    The above is by far the nicest article I've seen you write.

    What can I say?

    Throw the hatred down and be happy, Happy.

  18. ^ Black Christmas. A good reason amongst others for Commonwealth BBC's not to celebrate.

    Maybe you can write an article on it? Anyway thanks for the comment bro.

  19. comments seem to be delayed for some reason...

    @Daniel York.

    As long as eurasians think they can take over BBC attitudes with their white self important attitudes and misconstrue social engineering for racism like i said on the other know where the door is.

    If BBCz is going to get lax with your two faced snakecharm / white arrogance avoidance tactics I will continue to close threads that you spam on.

    'What can you say?

    Throw the hatred down and be happy?'

    I'll be happy once your white elitist presence has left this blog.