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Out Of Touch E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Momo
Beijing exists in a void that is out of touch with the charms of China I sought to experience. It's a city full of materialistic dreams and cluttered with tower cranes. Watching western businessmen in their suits, I'm reminded of ancient vikings crashing upon the shores of distant lands seeking to rape and pillage.

Cheap labor and profits seem to be all they care for. They wander around with outstretched hands and eager faces, seeking to lay their paws on anything of value. I can't help but to feel a distance between people like me and invaders like them. It's not just the foreigners who cling to dreams of financial prosperity and fast profits. The Chinese also care about little more than the size of their salary, a trip abroad or a constant supply of the latest fashions. A materialistic disease has infected the metropolitan Chinese cities.

Why don't Chinese stand in line? E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Cloudy
When I was a student, my Chinese teacher used to tell our class sad stories about having to wait in line for hours at a time with a voucher coupon to obtain the same drab clothing that everyone else was wearing during the Cultural Revolution. After the time I've spent here in a China , I wonder: 

How on earth could my teacher and his peers do it? By "do it," I don't mean to tolerate being forced to wear the same clothing as everyone else, I mean to stand in line for hours. In case you didn't know, the people in this last great bastion of Communism are very, very bad at forming lines. I was reminded of that today when making what I hoped to be a brief trip to a supermarket.  This is a busy time of year for China thanks to the spring festival, and for the last decade the government has increased holiday commercial traffic by giving people a week off to spend, spend, and spend some more. So needless to say the supermarkets and shopping malls were positively overflowing with people when I went out.

Mandarin - Dialects - Accents E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Leyla Lopos
Everywhere I go, I feel like an outsider -- I don't know that place, and I don't speak their language. Yeah, language , it's a big reason to make me feel that I don't belong to that place.

People in different regions of China speak different languages. We have mandarin as the standard spoken language of China, it's the official language, we use it on TV, radio, formal occasions ... and to communicate with people from different areas , but in daily lives, mandarin is not that widely used : in each area, we have our own local dialect. Like I live in Hangzhou, when talking with my family and other Hangzhou people, I usually speak Hangzhou dialect, and everyone does the same thing. Before entering the university , most people around me were native Hangzhounese, so most of the time, I spoke dialect rather than mandarin. At school, we used mandarin in the classroom, but outside classroom like during the break of the classes, we all spoke Hangzhou dialect.

The ugly side of cynicism E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Mary Higgins
A while back, a friend of mine had his bag stolen. A bit later he received a phone call from someone that said he found the bag. They made a plan to meet that evening to hand over the bag. The stranger seemed nice and friendly on the phone. Well, a short while later, my friend received a call from the stranger demanding 5000RMB for the bag and its contents.

A few of us stood around and tried to come up with ever more complex ways to nab the crook and get the bag without any sort of knife-slashing-the-face antics. My friend ultimately decided to forget about the bag since replacing everything would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000RMB and getting into a potentially dangerous argument over credit cards wasn't worth the effort.

Approved in China. E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Sunman
Everything we design and make in China has to be approved by some govt 'Quality Bureau'. What we make we pretty much try to keep away from the prying eyes of the competition, as we're good at it and they'd love to know how were are so good.

Now, we have some products that we have been selling for about 3 years in China - simple components that go into mobile phone systems - and they've never been approved because they are made to a customers spec and they go into a customers system so there is no real need for the parts to be approved. Makes sense to everyone, almost. Well, now, after all these years we have to get these parts 'approved' to make sure they are of a suitable quality for sale in China (actually standard practice). So we have to submit a pile of documentation to a certain department for them to review and approve. Trouble is, they don't have anyone who understands our technology or who is competent or qualified to do it - so they have recruited an 'expert' to do it for them. This 'expert' and his 4 cronies (yes, 5 people in total) have to review and approve our products and the entire documentation from specifications, drawings, process, test, inspection...etc.

Why I came to China? E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Momo
I am often asked by people to give them my reasons for coming to live and work in China. I never fail to hesitate and give them some lame answer to their question. I usually end up telling them them I'm not sure or that I believed China would be a really different place than my home, or that I just wanted the travel experience. All of that is true.

However, when I ponder the motivations that compelled me to seek out a means for being able to live in China, I come across deeper meanings than what I can just list off the top of my head. I will attempt to give a  list of the reasons why I chose to come to China in the most articulate way possible. Not just for you, the readers, but also for me. Perhaps the next time I'm asked why I came to China, I'll be able to say more than, "Because I wanted to".

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