An American Family in Chongqing

This is a story of unique appeal to any expat living outside of the major coastal cities, and it deals with an issue I’ve wondered about: What is life like for a Westerner who moves away from his comfortably American lifestyle to take root in the relatively harsh environment of a distant industrial city in China (distant from the “cool” cities like Shanghai, I mean, where there are lots of other expats). And what if you move there with your family, including young children? What kind of timke do they have?

A Wall Street Journal reporter explores these questions in a piece that should be required reading for all ambitious Americans itching to move with the wife and kids to China, where all the action is. They’d better realize in advance that the “action” as we know it in the West is limited to a few big cities, and if you’re out in the boonies, even in a large city, you may find your social life somewhat limited.

Entertainment in Chongqing is hard to find, the Larsens say. At a drive-through “safari park,” the children looked through car windows and watched tigers devour live chickens tossed from a ranger’s jeep. Enthusiasm about visiting pandas was marred, Ms. Larsen says, by seeing the zoo’s grubby bathrooms. The Larsens attended a Chinese opera, featuring two actors with painted faces, one in a horse costume. Tickets cost only $2, but the family, unimpressed, left at intermission.

One pastime Ms. Larsen has designed for 2-year-old Eliza is spotting dogs near the Hilton hotel. A look down an alley found no animals one Tuesday. After an hour, the little girl had glimpsed two mutts. “He’s going to his house,” Eliza said as a scruffy brown dog jostled along a sidewalk crowded with scaffolding equipment.

Chinese men and women made way for the tot to amble down on the sidewalk. Nearly everyone reacted to the rare sight of a foreign child, pointing, giggling, staring and sometimes touching her. “Eliza’s kind of like the monkey on show,” her mother said.

Ms. Larsen and her daughter took a route back to the Hilton over a pedestrian bridge, where merchants sell sunglasses, combs and belts. One woman’s habit is to thrust a mirror into the little girl’s hand each time they pass, Ms. Larsen says. She says she feels obligated to buy it, even though she is tiring of the routine. At first, the woman asked only one yuan for a mirror, Ms. Larsen says, but now she charges eight yuan, about 99 cents, for each one.

As Ms. Larsen settled up, a middle-aged man bent down for a closer look at Eliza, while a bang-bang man leaned on his bamboo stick and watched. An elderly passerby gave Eliza’s cheek a quick pinch. Everyone tried to be friendly, but Eliza, unsmiling, said nothing. She kept her head down, eyes fixed on the new mirror.

The husband is enjoying his work and seems to be realtively well adjusted. The company pays to keep them in the Hilton and the kids go to an exclusive school. But it’s obviously hell for his wife and kids.

It closes with a description of a poem their 6-year-old daughter wrote and taped to the bed stand:

Amarica is my place!
I love Amarica.
It was fun.
It was so fun.
I miss it.
I miss my frieds.
I love Amarica.
Amarica was my place and it still is my place.

I hope they’re okay when they get out; it sounds like they’re struggling.

The Discussion: 60 Comments

Not everywhere is suit for everyone, that is for sure. Wonder what in the world brought so many foreigners to China the frist place? Bussiness alone is not enough reason, there got to be something else that we can’t grasp. Anyone has any clue why people go to China to suffer?

August 3, 2005 @ 5:51 pm | Comment

Some people don’t know what they are in for. Some people enjoy it, even love it. In this case it was clear why he went – money and oppportunity. That’s what the perks are all about. He was obviously very surprised by what he found.

August 3, 2005 @ 5:54 pm | Comment

Did he found what he meant to find(have not read the story)? Which is more appealing, money and opportunities or a cozy boring nothing- ever-changed small town where everyone-knows-each-other cheap living environment? Oh my God, I know I shouldn’t have told how I live.

August 3, 2005 @ 6:01 pm | Comment

Read what I posted above – there were lots of disappointments and frustrations. He seems to like his work, but his wife is going to go crazy.

August 3, 2005 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

My sympathies lie with this family.

And thanks for their working and living in China, both of which will make changes, however little, to the locals.

August 3, 2005 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

All that is needed for this sordid family drama to come to fruition is for the husband to hook up with a Chinese mistress and/or prostitute (refer to Simonworld’s latest about business traveling, money, and aids). Perhaps that and the husband to take up golfing and we are looking at Nancy Kissel redux. Depending on how commited the marriage is and the sanity of the haus frau, the probable outcomes are either divorce or a nine-iron to the back of the skull. I’d feel more charitable towards the family’s situation but the only empathy I can summon is for the children. Knowing that there are millions of Chinese families separated by economic circumstance as parents work grueling hours for a better future (I was the result of one of these) the only emotion I feel when reading of the travales of a luxuriously privileged housewife whose daily rituals consist of pilates and shopping for taco shells, the most prominent emotion I can draw is a mild contempt.

August 3, 2005 @ 6:36 pm | Comment

Jing, I’m disposed to be more charitable.

Yes, they are not suffering on any kind of cosmic scale, but the story doesn’t try to equate their experience to real suffering and privation. It’s more about culture shock. And as China becomes more connected to the rest of the world, and more foreigners come here and more Chinese people work overseas, that’s a story worth telling.

As for this woman teeing-off on her husband’s head like Nancy Kissel, I think their experience is a little different. Plus, the world is full of expat wives. Very few feel inclined to open up their husband’s skull with a five-iron. (Or, if they feel so inclined, few act on it.)

August 3, 2005 @ 7:03 pm | Comment

Nope, I feel about as charitable as Jing does. There are better ways to go about adjusting than shutting yourself off in isolation.

August 3, 2005 @ 7:43 pm | Comment

Gotta agree with Jing, no sympathy from me either.

I don’t have any problems finding taco shells but why can’t I find any Kraft macaroni and cheese, other brands are just simply inferior.

And what is with the price of Jell-O?

I won’t even bother to describe the horrors I’ve had getting good suits made in Beijing. The cloth is great, the tailors are all thumbs.

August 3, 2005 @ 7:49 pm | Comment

You rat! 😛

I found that article last night in the Career Journal and saved it as a draft because I was too beat to blog it.

I didn’t think anyone would pick up on it so soon.

I had saved the draft as “Poor little rich expats”.

August 3, 2005 @ 8:04 pm | Comment

Comparison is powerful tool. Foreigners living in China have lots of privilege over the locals. Can you imagine what kind of horrible stories she would tell if the husband was helping in Africa fighting aids rather than in China making money and career achievement?

August 3, 2005 @ 8:04 pm | Comment

That is why China need more Wal-Mart.

August 3, 2005 @ 8:06 pm | Comment

Sorry Gordon. Two bloggers can cover ther same story, and living in Chengdu you can add something to it that I can’t.

Chris, I dunno…. I can really see the family moving there with all their hopes and dreams, like having the kids learn Chinese, and one by one realizing they got themselves into a situation they weren’t counting on. Obviously they have tried to get outside, but, in her own words, their kids are looked on as oddities, as “monkeys.” Can you imagine how heartbreaking that must be for a mother? Sure we can blame them for not doing their homework, for not tring hard enough to assimilate, but having read blogs like Andres Gentry and Laowai Monologues I can’t help but feel a degree of sympathy.

I feel even more sympathy, of course, for the poor Chinese family that ends up in America and finds itself exploited, confused and frightened. But that doesn’t mean I feel less symapthetic for the family in this article. I think they were sold a bill of goods on China, and when they got there they realized what a snow job it was.

August 3, 2005 @ 8:17 pm | Comment

Read things like “They have taken trips to Thailand and South Korea, and made plans to visit Bali and Hong Kong’s new Disneyland”, I am not sure that this article was trying to warn people about the hardship of their situation or trying to advertise the attraction of this type of expat position. Reading the package that Ford provided to him, most people, even in America, will envy him.

August 3, 2005 @ 8:17 pm | Comment

A marble lobby dominated by a waterfall and piano bar makes the Hilton the swankiest address in this part of China. English is the first language and a concierge takes care of smoothing over any rough spots. A blue-lettered “WELCOME” mat marked the entrance to the Larsen’s three-bedroom suite, converted from six guest rooms. It cost $4,300 a month, paid mostly by Ford. When the family needed to step outside, their driver, Jojo, waited in a black Ford Mondeo sedan, provided by the company.

Excuse me while I try to find some empathy.

Neatly dressed in slacks, a black argyle V-neck and bright white blouse, Ms. Larsen shows off her solution to the food challenge: A closet full of cans, stacked to the ceiling, with labels like Green Giant, Crisco and Hormel — items lugged to Chongqing in suitcases or mailed from overseas. Her birthday present in February was a silver, side-by-side U.S.-sized refrigerator-freezer.

hmmm..any ideas as to why they are having such a hard time adjusting? Must be because they miss the swimming pool back home.

Ms. Larsen says she hasn’t learned enough Chinese in her two hours of weekly lessons to make even basic points to the family baby sitter. She often calls her husband on the cellphone to seek translation help. Looking over the skyscrapers outside the hotel window, she says, “Real life is happening out there, and I’m not connected.” Even so, she adds, “What would I do out there?”

Nope, still haven’t found any empathy.

“I think I’m going to be a snob when I go home and walk into the public school,” Ms. Larsen says.

Looks like her mission has already been accomplished.

August 3, 2005 @ 8:17 pm | Comment

Let’s be a little more humane. It doesn’t matter how elegant their hotel is when their kids are too traumatized to go outside. Remember, these are young children. Think about the poem the daughter wrote. No matter how much wealth there might be at their fingertips, if they are frightened, miserable and confused their situation is a sad one. Money can’t buy friends for your kids, or ensure they can go outside and play with their mates. And that’s more important to most mothers than living in an elegant suite.

August 3, 2005 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

As for qualities of emotional, spiritual life, I always believe that those are up to each individual himself. Those just something nobody can give to you and nobody can take away.

August 3, 2005 @ 8:32 pm | Comment

Sure, I feel a little sorry for the kids, but I tend to think they are victims of their mothers own reclusiveness.

There are many, many other expats that bring their families over here to work and rather than keeping the children housed special schools for expat children, they integrate with the native children. They make friends with the local children, they learn the language (rather quickly too) and they seem to like it.

The mother admits that she doesn’t mingle or make friends with any of the local women. She stays in her hotel eating her Hormel chilli.


August 3, 2005 @ 8:33 pm | Comment

I put myself in her shoes, and while I don’t think sahe’s handling it the best way, I certainly sympathize. When she tried to go outside with the kids they were mocked. She wan’t expecting that, she just didn’t know. And now she’s screwed up.

August 3, 2005 @ 8:35 pm | Comment

The first time either of the Larsens saw China was when Ford flew them to Chongqing last summer for a visit after his job offer.

It’s not like they never had the chance to stick their toes in the water.

This woman is probably going to return home after her husbands tour is over and tell all of her little wicker basket PTA mommies about her grand travels in China and how she survived life in a third-world country.


August 3, 2005 @ 8:48 pm | Comment

I agree Richard.

On one level, as I read this article, one thought kept coming up, “Why am I not surprised?”

Then on another level, as I read some of the comments, another thought kept coming up, “Why am I not surprised?”

Yes, I have to wonder why Mister Corporate Daddy-O took his family to China and took them to Chongqing without doing any kind of consultation except possibly purchasing some Sinophilic book chocked fulled with romantic perceptions. Yes, at least his family has some advantages over most foreigners here who, like myself, deal with this behavior daily, and perhaps that in itself leads to very little sympathy or empathy from some foreign commentators here–just speculating.

My empathy goes with the children, and it’s not a garden party.

But to answer Chinese Queen’s question about why people go to China to suffer?

It’s because basically we’re masochists, who seek some kind of redemption, but we never find it, because we’re so goddamn unforgiving ourselves.

August 3, 2005 @ 8:50 pm | Comment

When I first moved into my neighborhood I hated all of the staring and the helllooooooo’s that were shouted at me over and over again. But a year later people around here hardly notice me.

I buy from the same mom & pop shops, exchange greetings with some of the people I see everyday outside of my building or on my street and I feel quite comfortable here.

Hiding inside of a luxury hotel or a gated community such as the one they now live in doesn’t help change a thing. All it does is make her and her children more of a spectacle.

August 3, 2005 @ 8:57 pm | Comment

Welcome back Hank!

Hope you enjoyed your vacation!

August 3, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

One can go to China for various kinds of reasons. But please don’t go there thinking oneself as martyr, sacrificing for some unknown noble purpose. It definitely will be very annoying for the Chinese people there.

August 3, 2005 @ 9:07 pm | Comment

I think the China-immersed culture-meisters on this thread have missed the point. My (measured) sympathy for this family isn’t based on poverty. They don’t have to be starving or living in a cardboard shack for me to empathize with them. And perhaps empathy is a better word than sympathy.

I *empathize* with the culture shock. Not everyone deals well with it. The story of a family of American transplants to Chongqing -of all places- and how they deal with it, and the effect the city and the cultural displacement have on them is interesting.

Yes, there are worse places this family could be. That’s not the point. They point is how they, as one transplant family, are responding to China.

It’s easy for us Chinese speaking sinophile types to scorn this housewife because she seeks the comforts she is used to. But I *empathize*. I remember how I felt when I first got here. And I *wanted* to be here and already spoke some Chinese and didn’t have to worry about socializing my toddlers.

Culture shock is universal. Some deal with it better than others. I find it interesting to see how this family is dealing with it. I don’t scorn them at all. And I don’t feel the need to dismiss their anxities because they insulate themselves or because he is a well-heeled expat.

When I was living in Singapore I used to scorn expats who isolated themselves. Since coming here I am more tolerant. I don’t think its the best response, but I understand it. And Chongqing is not Singapore.

The “if they don’t like it they can go home” attitude smacks of some of the troll comments I get on my site.

August 3, 2005 @ 9:12 pm | Comment


Point taken.

I had a spat during the winter where I didn’t want to go out and as a result I spent most of my time behind the computer screen in my apartment. Of course, the weather had everything to do with that.

I guess what irks me the most is the way the mother “sticks with her own kind”. Obviously the mother isn’t well traveled and hasn’t been exposed to other cultures very much if at all. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be so reclusive and indignant towards the world that surrounds her gated community.

I know almost everyone experiences culture shock and different people react to it in different ways, but this article doesn’t really do much to present the mother in any other way than snobbish and that’s not something I have much tolerance for.

Why even agree to come to China if all you’re going to do is hide from it?

August 3, 2005 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

Will, very well said. I totally agree with you. My empathy goes to the children. Their experience reminds me of my childhood experience as a migrant. And I have to say that this cultural shock is absolutely real, regardless of where you are. But fortunately from my point of view, this experience actually made me a stronger person. I guess the important part is that the family has to work together to overcome the initial barriers. I am glad that my parents did. And mind you, when we first arrived in Australia, my mum didn’t speak any English either.

August 3, 2005 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

Gordon, I do agree with that last sentiment of yours. To me this is a wonderful country that should be explored and experienced. But that’s me.

I think it’s a huge, wasted opportunity when expats parachute into a country, skip off the surface of it, and then leave. But I am more inclined to feel pity for the opportunity they have wasted than anything else.

I also do take the point of people who have trouble finding sympathy when the family came here solely for economic opportunity (although that’s not exactly rare) and then walls themselves off from China. I can see how that would be insulting to Chinese readers. But I don’t think its meant that way, and expat ghettos exist in all countries with expats, even the US.

Fat Cat: Maybe this family will come out stronger for this experience as well. I hope so.

August 3, 2005 @ 9:49 pm | Comment

Cry me a f—ing river. They’re whores for Ford Motor Company. Anyone who contributes to bringing MORE automobiles into the world – and especially into China – can’t suffer enough.

August 3, 2005 @ 9:56 pm | Comment

Ivan, I work for a PR company that spins for multinationals in China, so, while I generally agree that China (or at least Beijing) has all the cars it needs, nobody is a bigger whore than me. Thus, it would be hypocritical of me to condemn them for working for Ford for any reason except the fact that I don’t like Ford’s cars.

Disclosure: Ford is not a client.

August 3, 2005 @ 10:10 pm | Comment

As an expat here in China, I don’t find much empathy for the parents considering the way they are handling things.

Maybe I’ll have a different view once my wife immigrates to the US. For someone that has never been out of China, doesn’t really like any other food other than Chinese and has no friends in America, I’m sure it’s going to be very difficult for her.

August 3, 2005 @ 10:13 pm | Comment

FORD = Found On Road Dead

August 3, 2005 @ 10:14 pm | Comment

Desperate Housewife in Chongqing

August 3, 2005 @ 11:06 pm | Comment

Gordon: your wife will be OK in the US. Don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying Chinese food. Many of your future neighbours will want to exchange recipes with her.

August 3, 2005 @ 11:15 pm | Comment

wow, reading the comments I discover Jing expressing “mild contempt” and Gordon declaring an lack of empathy. no surprise there then!!

August 4, 2005 @ 12:18 am | Comment

as for the article, and assuming that whoever wrote it did a fair job and didn’t get carried away juxtaposing symbols of US consumer-indulgence with average chongqing spending patterns … it can only be good for the kid, give her a bit of backbone.

you know, I knew plenty of americans who did great in china. but I also came across loads who couldn’t hack being in a foreign country at all. they just didn’t get it.
far fewer Aussies or Brits or Europeans had this problem.
(and, as I said, plenty of Americans *didn’t* have such a problem — but a striking proportion of their countrymen and women did).

In fact, anecdotally, the only nation with a similarly high proportion of its population so averse to surviving in a foreign land … would be the chinese!
(similarity number 243)

August 4, 2005 @ 12:24 am | Comment

Why I Have No Contempt for American Expats in Chongqing

August 4, 2005 @ 12:42 am | Comment

In fact, anecdotally, the only nation with a similarly high proportion of its population so averse to surviving in a foreign land … would be the chinese!

There’s a difference between surviving in another country and integrating with it.

I think more expats would get along and enjoy life in China if they could speak the language. That’s the main barrier.

August 4, 2005 @ 12:43 am | Comment

Way more obstacles to getting along and enjoying life in China than just speaking the language.

August 4, 2005 @ 12:52 am | Comment

Sure there are, but those obstacles are compounded when you can’t speak the language.

August 4, 2005 @ 12:55 am | Comment

Why Empathize With the American Expats in Chongqing

August 4, 2005 @ 1:17 am | Comment

Dang, I was going to blog this one too…but never mind…

I guess I sympathize, and yet I don’t…it sort of boils down to, “learn Chinese, dammit!”

It reminds me of the American Embassy wife I meant waayyyy back in ’79, who was fixated on making these special peanut chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, only there were no chocolate chips and only whole peanuts, and she went through this whole shell-shocked description of how she made these special chocolate chip cookies, freezing her ass off on the balcony smashing up chocolate bars and shelling peanuts. It was hilarious on one level but obviously this woman was desperately grasping on to this personal culinary touchstone…

I don’t think the immigrant experience is quite the same in reverse. I mean, Chinese people who come to Southern California can plug themselves into an entire immigrant community that has all of the familiar comforts of home. You can’t do that if you are a Westerner in many parts of China. I guess that’s why I find Beijing an easy place to be – hey, they have Starbucks! What more do I need?

BTW, I have vivid memories of Chongqing, most of which revolve around getting deathly ill with some sort of food poisoning, and having a sadistic minder (and I’m not kidding) make me walk through the frozen mud in the middle of the night, past all these random construction projects and gaping holes in the (non) sidewalk, barfing every few yards, to this hospital that was all bare and concrete and dimly lit and then tell me that I would have to have an emergency apendectomy – and then he bent over my poor, wretched, retching self and smiled and said, “Are you AFRAID?” And I’m like, “Duh! I’m in this Third World hospital in the middle of the night, I’m so sick I can’t think straight, and you’re telling me I have to have surgery? Well, SURE I’m afraid!”

The doctors and the nurses were absolutely great, caring, professional people. What they were really saying was I might have apendicitis, and I needed to watch it, but in the meantime, here are some drugs to stop the vomiting.

I still have my appendix, by the way…

August 4, 2005 @ 1:29 am | Comment

This lack of empathy to the ‘poor little quarter-of-a-mil-per-year expat’ always disappoints me. As if earning a huge amount of money bars them from uttering a single word of complaint about ‘poor’ ‘little’ ‘misunderstood’ (in this case) China.

Cynical exhortations that Chinese fmailies have it ‘a lot worse’ and/or that the expat should quit whinging just leave me cold.

Almost as bad as meeting new arrivals in HK that believe they’ve just landed in the most exotic and alien place on the planet. To me, HK is about as “exotic” as South London.

Many of the expat “complaints” many of us here know for true. The culture shock is huge. Inevitable really. Sichuan etc won’t be like this forever.

However, I’m still dusting myself down and recovering from the shock of agreeing with (albeit bits of) a KLS post.

August 4, 2005 @ 2:27 am | Comment

I did a spell in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Trust me, Bangladesh can take the Pepsi Challenge with China anyday of the week.

Foreigners, i.e. me and my Thai colleagues couldn’t go outside because we’d be mobbed. People asking if we wanted a driver, a translator, a cleaner, allsorts of thngs. Even the police would come up and ask you for money.

This was just how is was but I never heard one-single middle-class Bangladeshi criticise foreigners for pointing out these facts. They just shrugged and accepted it as real. That’s it.

Big difference to some of the above ‘shock’ ‘horror’ ‘gasp’ reactions I just read above.

August 4, 2005 @ 2:33 am | Comment

Sorry, but I still can’t work up much sympathy for whinging expats. It has nothing to do with the salary since I feel equally unsympathic towards the poor struggling whinging expats as well.

August 4, 2005 @ 2:40 am | Comment

I just checked out Imagethief. He’s taken this subject onto another level. His post on the subject is well worth reading.

August 4, 2005 @ 2:50 am | Comment

Ah yes, and then there are expats like GWBH (one of my best mates in China) who hates everyone with equal enthusiasm. Yes, no prejudices there!

August 4, 2005 @ 3:09 am | Comment

Why I Empathize With the WSJ’s American Expats in Chongqing

August 4, 2005 @ 4:41 am | Comment

Lisa: Blog it anyway. I’m sure you have something original to say about it, considering your own experiences. Heck, look at me. I’m recycling all kindsa crap today.

August 4, 2005 @ 5:15 am | Comment

This is the problem. My ex came from a town in Anhui and she was ecstatic when she was able to go to Britain to study – even more so when she moved to Shanghai. It’s like living in somewhere like Worksop or Bradford, or somewhere in Devon. Or perhaps it would be more apt to describe places like Newcastle, Liverpool and Leeds before they modernised themselves. They’re small and boring – but they’ll still be cleaner and less polluted than many Chinese cities/towns.

But even I thought Shanghai was boring after a while. It is dynamic for a Chinese city, but it still isn’t that special. Not saying it’s bad. But if I moved to China I would live in Shanghai because it’s better than the rest, not because it’s better than other big cities in the Far East.

China is changing but it still a long way off from what I want in a place to live – and that’s not just because I’m a Roman Catholic democrat.

August 4, 2005 @ 7:10 am | Comment

Alright Will,  nicely put and well articulated. (on your

August 4, 2005 @ 7:35 am | Comment

Hey, Raj, you’re a Brit then? Good for you. I’m almost a Brit–I’m a Geordie from Newcastle!

Now you’ll never again treat my comments with the respect they deserve!! Haha. An intellectual Geordie, that’s me. Contradiction in terms?

August 4, 2005 @ 7:40 am | Comment

It seems like just another desperate house wife.

August 4, 2005 @ 10:06 am | Comment

Oh! Chongqing! The absolute horror! I passed through their in early 2004, and I would hardly describe it as a backwater. You want out-of-the-way, try the southern silk road in Xinjiang, or that rural highway somewhere between Zhengzhou, Henan and Jinan, Shandong.

I spent a year living in Zibo, Shandong- while by no means a rural hole, I’m sure it would have been ‘non-coastal’ enough to scare aware your average corporate expat (well, except for the German engineers). After that I moved to Hangzhou, and had to cringe hearing other expats bitch about not being able to get their steak cooked properly at this-or-that super chain hotel. Luckily, my local restaurants were kickass so I felt no need to gorge myself on Holiday Inn buffets for every meal. I jokingly referred to Hangzhou as “China lite”.

Well anyways, last time I went back to China this spring after living in London for a while, even Shanghai felt like an absolute chaotic mess so I guess I’m starting to lose my China expat ‘street cred’. : )

August 4, 2005 @ 10:26 am | Comment

Just to add a bit of perspective, I’ve heard expat wives in both Hong Kong and Tokyo voice much the same complaints and live in much the same way as described in this article.

August 4, 2005 @ 10:31 am | Comment

Further to Al’s above comment, I want to add that expat wives are also aware of the old “Yellow Fever” syndrome (the term was instigated in HK I believe).

They’re aware that their spouses are surrounded by gorgeous Asian women and KTV/massage is a large part of doing business/establishing business relationships in China.

In all my years here I’ve yet to see an non-Chinese man turn “it” down. Although I have seen a few Chinese colleagues do so. Sad but true.

Jing mentioned above something about a simonworld post on this subject but I haven’t checked it out yet.

August 4, 2005 @ 10:55 am | Comment

I guess for many chinese people if they don’t feel comfortable engaging in that kind of behaviour, they don’t go into business?

speaking of such nefarious activities, martyn weren’t you going to shock and awe us with some tales of your won?

August 4, 2005 @ 3:01 pm | Comment

err, of your own.

August 4, 2005 @ 3:02 pm | Comment

When I lived in Guilin, a waiguoren family lived in the same complex as me. The two kids, both girls, were about the same age as the girls in this article. I felt a little sad when I first saw them, and I wondered what they did for fun. Each time I saw the family, I tried to befriend them. I found out that back in Canada that they were farmers and they sold their farm before they came to China to teach English. Having only stayed in China for only six months, and not being able to speak hardly a word of Chinese, they felt they’d made a big mistake. After I learnt all this, they never talked to me again. Unlike the family in this article, they were not educated and they were not affluent.

August 6, 2005 @ 2:09 am | Comment

well, I have not quite decided If I empathize with the family or not, as I have lived in two fairly desolate backwaters in China, Jinan and Harbin, both with a TINY expat community and not much to offer besides a wallmart or two. But, as a current undergraduate student of Chinese my goals are completely different, I am not looking for american culture, I want to learn Chinese and make Chinese friends, so for me, the less of the west, the more I tend to like it. ( I loved Jinan, even though it looks like Beirut due to the construction)

August 7, 2005 @ 8:38 am | Comment

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