To our new Chinese readers

Thanks to some recent free advertising, I have a nice increase in the number of Chinese readers visiting Peking Duck. I want you to know that getting comments from Chinese vistors is very important to me and helps keep this a dynamic, representational community. So I hope you can leave comments whenever you have a question or a thought.

Many Chinese people comment here now, like Bingfeng, Bing, Henry, Steve, Hui Mao, Jing, JR, Lin, Yi and many others. A lot of expats and former expats can be found here as well. Some love China, some don’t. Most have a lot of feeling for the Chinese people, while some (like me) can be very critical of the government — because they fear the CCP sometimes does not act in the best interest of its people. And I make the exact same crtiticism of my own government – I am extremely critical of Bush and American policies. Just look around and you will see!

Some commenters trying to be funny sometimes say silly things — about China and about America. You need to realize these jokers don’t mean any harm, and if I feel they are being malicious I will tell them to stop. If you see someone say something negative about China feel free to challenge them and give your own opinion.

Please look around. To the left you will see a list of my favorite posts on this site (The Emperor’s Jewels), and I hope you can look through them. You will see I used to be much more critical of the CCP back in 2002, and have grown to be increasingly tolerant. I know they aren’t necessarily “evil,” and I know there are many magnificent people in the Party who only want what is best for the country they love. And I feel the exact same way. Thanks for visiting. Comment freely, and have a good time.

The Discussion: 43 Comments

Dear Peking Duck,
I’m really dead.
Very truly yours,
(channeled through Ivan)

July 24, 2005 @ 8:21 pm | Comment

Say it isn’t so, Mao!

July 24, 2005 @ 8:32 pm | Comment

Is that you Elvis?

July 24, 2005 @ 8:34 pm | Comment

Free advertising? You mean Mr. Jones article in China Daily on what a loser you are? On how you are a hater and basher? You are even worse, you are PK PK PK PK PK PK PK PK PK PK PK PK PK.

July 24, 2005 @ 8:45 pm | Comment

Hey, my best friend is a Communist. She saved my life; I blogged about it last year.

But there is an outspoken lot here on this forum!

July 24, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

perhaps you could turn that around pogai, and describe it as mr. jones article in the china daily about what a loser he himself is?

July 24, 2005 @ 9:04 pm | Comment


I’m shocked that you would offend the Chinese people in such a way as to have them look at the ‘Emperors Jewels’.


July 24, 2005 @ 9:59 pm | Comment

Gordon, I am an American Emperor, not Chinese. They should take no offence.

July 24, 2005 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

Well Richard, I just thought it would be appropriate for the FIRST post on this thread, to be from Chairman Mao. Kind of like how the train from Beijing to Changsha is “Train Number One”
I also want to thank Jung Chang for everything she has written about me. She makes me blush, I mean, I’m not used to being flattered so much. Others used to portray me as a wise warrior-poet who loved his people, but Jung Chang portrayed me as a ruthless misanthope who didn’t give a damn about any other human being. At last, someone REALLY understands!
Enough for now. I share a condo with a guy named Judas (and two neighbors named Brutus and Cassius) and it’s very convenient for me because someone’s teeth keep biting into my ass all the time. (Judas doesn’t like it so much though)
Very truly yours,
Chairman Mao (channeled through Ivan, who is telling me I’m in the Ninth Circle of Malebolge, whatever that means…)

July 24, 2005 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

Richard, criticism is a good thing, China opens itself up to the world, it knows what that means at the first place. It knows criticism, challenges are part of the game. As long as one is being objective, there would be no harsh feelings. But how can human beings be objective?

July 24, 2005 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

Chinese Queen,
I like the way you think.
Let me suggest an answer to your question “How can human beings be objective?” – and my answer comes from Modern Western science, which agrees with Ancient Chinese philosophy:
My Western answer is: Humans are not objective. And they are not subjective either. All Human knowledge is participant – it comes from participating with other things or other people.
Late Modern physics has demonstrated this. There is no such thing as objectivity OR subjectivity.
ALL knowledge and ALL experience, comes from participation with other things and other people, and the influence is always mutual, always in both directions.
As you are (or seem to be) Chinese, I assume you know that this idea of Modern Western Science is very similar to what Lao Tzu taught. (Well, personally I like L
And so, China has more in common with the Modern West than many Westerners or Chinese imagine. ๐Ÿ™‚

July 24, 2005 @ 11:56 pm | Comment

That is to say, an archaic branch of chinese thought is similar to an obscure branch of western thought.

I agree though, objectivity is impossible, although I don’t think this should stop people from protesting and criticising. The basic point is that you can never get over your bias unless you are confronted by it. Even then most people don’t make it, but it doesn’t just disappear on it’s own. This is why the best patriots are the most critical, I think.

July 25, 2005 @ 1:22 am | Comment

I’m sure that anyone with more than half a braincell will appreciate that this site is a China-related online community. Nothing more and nothing less.

If anyone disagrees with the opinions of the writer or a commenter then they should put down their own views and comment away. It’s that simple.

Hell, people like KLS have based their TPD careers on opposing people’s views….and he does it in style.

Still, nice little post Richard. I wouldn’t have thought to write it but it’s a good idea I think.

July 25, 2005 @ 1:41 am | Comment

“because they fear the CCP sometimes does not act in the best interest of its people. ”


“And I make the exact same crtiticism of my own government”

CCP dictators and Bush government. The same thing, exactly the same thing according to Richard.

Nice shot fot your chinese readers and CCP supporters. Awful shot for reality and truth.

July 25, 2005 @ 2:44 am | Comment

Regarding your post, above, why do you suggest that quantum physics is an “obscure” branch of Western thought?
If you mean it is not well known or understood, then yes I agree. I just want to clarify, that even if it is obscure, that does not mean that it is not essential in Western thinking.
The numbers of people who know about it – and the even fewer numbers of people who understand it – do not determine its import.

July 25, 2005 @ 3:21 am | Comment

Here’s a general question for expats in China/ex-expats, and for anyone else who cares to comment: what is it about China that evokes such a love/hate relationship? It’s a reaction that I rarely, if ever, encounter concerning other countries.

I lived in China for two years, am still absolutely fascinated by it, have been back (and plan to go back) regularly. And yet, at some level I can’t help but feel that I am absolutely fed up with the place.

I have friends who are former expats in places like Tanzania, Serbia and India, and all have overwhelmingly positive things to say about their former homes. I also have friends who were expats in China, and their reaction on a whole is quite different: ask them if they liked China, and the answer will be much more hesitant and considered. One also readily admits to be absolutely fed up with the place, and she is not the kind of person who hides from interaction with foreign cultures.

The common discourse is that China bashers no nothing about China; yet, I’ve found that the people with intelligent negative criticism of the place are often those who have been there the longest/have had the most cultural embedding.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no whining expat. I realized towards the end of my two years in China that I was in danger of becoming one, so I left to continue my studies in the UK. I still miss the place now that I’m not there, strangely enough.

So what do you all think?

July 25, 2005 @ 4:33 am | Comment

Jeez, doesn’t anyone here get my joke about Mao and Dante?

July 25, 2005 @ 4:36 am | Comment

Prosaically: In Dante’s Inferno, he placed Satan at the bottom in the ninth circle, and Satan had three mouths and he chewed on Judas and Brutus and Cassius forever.
And Mao was constipated, so I imagine he might get some relief by having his ass chewed by Satan for all eternity.
Jeez, doesn’t anyone read Dante anymore? ๐Ÿ™‚ Guess I should just go back to making sarcastic one liners here…. ๐Ÿ™‚

July 25, 2005 @ 4:43 am | Comment

Patrick, Dunno, Very good question! When i return to the U.S. I hate it there.I miss it here.It’s like a co-dependent relationship.Of course I am really the only one who’s dependent. Ivan, As the Chinese say to me often “You are Toooooo cleeeever!”BTW,Patrick,I love your posts.Do so more often.

July 25, 2005 @ 4:45 am | Comment

Yes, of course ,I got it. I GAVE it to you.You un-cleeever, American piece of shite.

July 25, 2005 @ 4:47 am | Comment

Dear Jeez,
What? What? I can’t hear you.
I’m still in China, still in the First Circle, with lots of noise buzzing around me……

July 25, 2005 @ 5:57 am | Comment


I really do wish that we had more commenters like yourself. I nearly made myself dizzy just now nodding my head in agreemwnt as I read through your comment.

I wrote today (on another TPD thread) that I’ve never known (a) people of the country where I’m living to be so sensitive to criticism and/or perceived slights and (b) divide the world into “pro” and “anti” camps.

Where have I worked before. Thailand, Taiwan, Caribbean, US, Canada, Bangladesh, loads of places…yet what you describe in your post above is totally unique to China.

Let’s face facts, China is just one of many countries in our world so why so different?

I obviously have my own ideas but I just wanted to agree with you. Great comment.

July 25, 2005 @ 6:14 am | Comment

Thanks, Richard. This place is very cool. I’m a 21 years old college student in Beijing, and I just want to say that it’s great to have a place to say something about the party…

July 25, 2005 @ 7:17 am | Comment

Having been in UK for some time, I’m still indulged with China affairs. Only change is moving from Chinese media to English ones.

But not until a year ago or so, I found this blog via google (I swear I didn’t search for Peking Duck), where I could use English instead of Chinese discussing topics that are relevant to me and I have something to say about.

And what really surprised me was that a lot of laowais could spend time talking about China day and night.

July 25, 2005 @ 8:10 am | Comment


Modern China is an abnormal fetus of communism, feudalism and capitalism.

July 25, 2005 @ 8:28 am | Comment

yes, excellent question Patrick, and I have no idea whatsoever, and am not aware of answers having been attempted elsewhere.
I was lucky enough to leave on relatively good terms with the place but was getting a bit grumpy with foreign friends who were not.

I knew lots of nice people, but I also knew some nasty aspects of the society.
I guess the more a foreigner is exposed to the latter, and not to the former, the more upset he or she’ll be made by the place.

maybe there’s also a feeling that we as foreigners can return any time to our own societies, which are okay, but the nice people we know are often stuck in a society which we don’t think is okay … … I really dunno, just clutching at straws for an explanation cos your question deserves an attempt at an answer.

July 25, 2005 @ 9:20 am | Comment

I’ve been grappling with that question for years. I know some expats in the UK and Taiwan and HK and the Netherlands who are totally enamored of their experience. They love every aspect of it and could never return home. While I know a few expats in China who adore living there and might stay forever, none can be said to be “totally enamored” of the place. All have loud and serious complaints, and I don’t think that is too hard to understand. The expat friend I know who loves China most is one of the most vociferous and enraged critics of the Great Firewall, which affects his business and personal; life and leads him to throw things at the wall. A kiwi friend of mine who’s lived there with his wife and daughter for 14 years still throws a fit over the “lines” people ignore and the lack of elevator etiquette. We all know the story. What it all boils down to, I think is the level of inconvenience, breakdown and frustration. The memories I have of trying to get money out of the Bank of China to send to America to pay for my house can still make me cry (ultimately, I failed to get the money and had to exchange it on the black market.) In this sense, life in China can be an uphill battle in terms of the most simple things, and there’s the source of most expat frustration. We all have our stories of situations we encountered there that we couldn’t imagine happening anywhere else. That’s not because China’s bad, but it requires a whole different mindset that many of us have difficulty adopting; you have to transform yourself, thickening your skin and looking at the most everyday occurrence, such as crossing the street, as a major Darwinian struggle. The anomaly is hpw this plays both ways. Those of us who were ready to despair over seemingly insurmountable inconveniences and disappointments still love the place. I’m going back in a few weeks. It’s a perpetual tug of war, and when you look at what daily life consists of there it really isn’t hard to see why.

July 25, 2005 @ 9:32 am | Comment


Most modern Chinese are not civilized according to Western standards.

Not joking or punning

July 25, 2005 @ 10:48 am | Comment

It depends on what you mean, Bing. This can be a very complicated discussion.

July 25, 2005 @ 10:55 am | Comment

For example, Chinese are often noisy at public areas like airport waiting room or tourist sites.

The only feeling I have is shame everytime I come across such situations.

Monkeys are noisy and monkeys are not civilized.

July 25, 2005 @ 11:00 am | Comment

Well, those are cultural things, not proof of being civilized. Well educated HK people can be very loud in restaurants, but they are civilized people. Americans see Chinese toilets and eating from the same dish and making noise and pushing on lines and they will be very shocked, but these things don’t mean Chinese are uncivilized. It’s just a different kind of civility. To the Chinese, giving a guest a fork and knife and expecting them to cut their own food is barbaric and uncivilized!

July 25, 2005 @ 11:05 am | Comment

Uncivilized has cultrual things too. We’d better off without some of them.

“Chinese toilets and eating from the same dish and making noise and pushing on lines.”

One exception is for eating from the same dish. That’s kind of legacy of ignorance of Hygeia.

But if all these can be called part of Chinese culture, as a Chinese I’d rather be shamed to death.

July 25, 2005 @ 11:21 am | Comment

Every society has various types of people, good or bad. Every culture has various aspects also, good or bad. One of the reasons that caused the phenomenon mentioned above is that Chinese education is very weak on teach their children of the importance of self respect and respecting other people (other people – anyone in the society, not just your family). This has also been related to the political system of China. In US, both school and home emphasis a lot on teaching the children have good self-esteem and respect other people, believing this is essential for children to grow up to be a good citizen in a democratic society. Very often the message that Chinese school and parent give the children is the opposite. Certainly, it doesnโ€™t mean every Chinese doesnโ€™t have self respect and respect for other people, and every American has. I personally witnessed some rude, insensitive and obnoxious behavior from some expats.

July 25, 2005 @ 1:15 pm | Comment

Laowai write,

>That is to say, an archaic branch of >chinese thought is similar to an >obscure branch of western thought.

I agreed fully. These few words say lots of things.

The chinese and westerners look at their interactions in the last hundred of years very differently. From the westerners’ view points, we did China a favor and helped it open up the outside world. Many westerners the “change the world” mentality. The chinese looks at it differently, China was invaded by the west and was forced to change at the gunpoints (although they also admitted that it helped China modernize, sometime privately). They have the victimization mentality.

Much of the thinking exists today. Americans look the backwardness of China and like to remake China in their own images. The China is inward-looking and its people feel Americans intrusive: yes, we have problems, but we can handle the problems ourselves and we are improving; and look at your own problems and you are doing nothing about them… As China develops and the vitimzation mentality gradually fades away, it will be easier for its people to deal with outside better.

Given the mess the world is having now, the west should be glad to know that, despite of the many disagreements, 1.3 billion chinese want to have their way of life, and don’t have the issue of “why they hate us?” with the chinese.

Thank you, Richard, for providing this excellent forum of discussions for people to understand China better. I can take any criticism you on China and I will say it out when I disagree.

I am a computer programmer and have terrible writing skills, but that’s my 2 cents.

By the way, for westerners who would like to have a better understanding of China, I recomend books by John King Fairbank and Doak Barnett. Doak Barnett’s last book on his life in China is fascinating.

July 25, 2005 @ 1:24 pm | Comment

LW, absolutely true that there are some expat jackasses who can be incredibly rude. You may even encounter some who push their way into elevators before letting people step out. Unfortunately, rushing nto the elevator is simply standard in China (not necessarily a terrible thing, just a plain fact of life) and is one of thise daily oddities that can give first-time expats a start. By the way, the Hong Kong Chinese are almost as aggressive in this regard as those in the PRC.

July 25, 2005 @ 1:28 pm | Comment

Argh! Too much has been said since this topic started. So I’ll just say that I’m really glad this is a place where we can discuss issues without nationalistic weirdos (well not many) jumping in and flaming the place. Most of the discussions have been polite and intelligent.

July 25, 2005 @ 1:34 pm | Comment

Another annoyance I often encounter when I visit China is that when I wait in queue, the person behind me tends to stand too close to me. Since I spent most of my life in China, it is easier for me to get used to this kinds of details in life. For westerners, I can understand how they feel.

July 25, 2005 @ 1:43 pm | Comment


What I get most annoyed about is that many Chinese people have no respect for queues. My ex-girlfriend was going to buy a platform ticket so she could bid me a tearful farewell – I had visited her on holiday when she went back to China, but that was going to be the last time we could be together – so I waited on the section where people who had bought a ticket came up.

Now some people are clever. They run up this bit to ask a question of the ticket tellers – then they buy a ticket. So I decided I’d had enough. Whenever someone came up, I stuck my arm out over the barrier and pointed to the back of the queue. And, funnily enough, they smiled and joined the back.

July 25, 2005 @ 3:29 pm | Comment


Yes, it is fairly common in China. I live in a place in the US with large chinese community. I don’t see the problem here. I don’t know exactly why.

I think for those people who feel certain connection with China, they just have to get used to this kind of small and unpleasant details in life. For westerners here, if I am not mistaken, not many of you speak chinese, if a chinese comes to live in the US and he does not speak English, just imagine how much culture shock he needs to overcome and how much frustrations he will encounter.

July 25, 2005 @ 8:24 pm | Comment


There has been a monkey on China’s back for the last 200 years.
Mao has finally took it upon himself to carry the monkey on his
own back. During the Long March, the monkey’s pet dogs chased
Mao for 25 thousand miles. After finally pushed the dogs to
an offshore resort island, Mao has to face the monkey himself
head on in Korea and Vietnam. He finally outlasted the monkey’s
patient through querilla warfare and by keeping the whole
country in state of constant vigilance for future
harassments by the monkey. He called his programs the Great
Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. They were mistaken
for economic disasters, but the suffering paid off in getting
the monkey off China’s back.

The little white ping-pong ball cracked open the nuclear fence
around gorilla land. At Tzung Tse Tong’s initiative but all
other clueless Chineses and Chinese diplomats’
objections, Mao finally received the long awaited message that
the monkey is going to jump off China’s back.
And the rest is history.

But the monkey is still on Korea’s and Japan’s backs. The
terrorama in Iraq is a good for them to get it off their
backs,too, so they could reactivate the millineum effort of
Asian reunification under buddism and Confucius ideals.
The world is counting on a new old-fashioned
Asia to lead us out of the doomsday quagmire.

July 26, 2005 @ 1:32 am | Comment


Thanks for the answer, I had to read a few times trying to understand the content. But I like the answer.

July 26, 2005 @ 1:21 pm | Comment

Joeching, for a continent that so desires unification as you contend, they sure to seem to expend an awful lot of energy hating and/or warring with each other…

July 27, 2005 @ 11:25 am | Comment

I can’t be the only person here who has spent a significant amount of time in Korea and/or studying the place.

Surely someone else here must have some Korea experience and see that that there is a similar love-hate dynamic for the foreign residents of this peculiar little peninsula.

After all, who can come to Korea without a tramatic encounter with an ajumma?

July 27, 2005 @ 11:28 am | Comment

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