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Random China Thoughts. Been There, Done That.

Posted in China Business, China Travel

Just arrived Seoul after a quasi-whirlwind China tour. Started in Shanghai, then went to Beijing and then to Qingdao. It had been around four months since I was in China last, and as is my habit, I am going to toss out my random thoughts from my trip.

Here is what I saw/thought.

1. Shanghai, Beijing and Qingdao all seem to be booming. However, those who are on the fringes of the boom, seem to be getting angrier by the day. in particular, Beijing cab drivers have gone from being the surliest in the world to bordering on being serial killers. My favorite was the one who told us to f–k our mothers after HE missed our hotel and then drove into a dead-end street after we told him to circle back. It’s tough living on $300 a month in a very expensive city. #7 below also does not help much in relieving their stress.

2. Three people (all foreigners) told me they have pretty much stopped eating out because they are afraid of the food. As one well-known China lawyer told me, “if I buy my own food, i have taken away one more potential trouble spot.” On the flip side, at least a dozen people said there’s no place they would rather be. China is where “everything” is happening. And fast.

3. I stayed at a brand new Crowne Plaza in Beijing. Though nominally an American hotel, it is very Chinese. One day, I remarked to Steve how the risk of staying in a brand new hotel is that the whole thing might just collapse on us because it has yet to stand the test of time. Very next day, there were sticks propping up a couple of mirror tiles on the ceiling by the elevator. After that, I was perpetually worried about the ones without the sticks.

4. One night a bunch of us had dinner at South Silk Road restaurant. The restaurant, owned by Beijing artist Fang Lijun, was gorgeous, with his paintings festooned everywhere. The food was excellent, as was the service. We then crossed the street and met some more people for drinks at the Pavillion, a high-end bar/restaurant. We were sitting outside when we all of a sudden started smelling something and then realized that a truck was going by spraying massive amounts of pesticide. We ran inside. I mention all this because Beijing does remain a city of contrasts. High end restaurants but spraying of pesticides at 9 at night without a care for the countless people in the path.

5. China does not have a housing market; it has a speculative market made up of people who buy property strictly as investments. Think of the condos as gold, not housing. A decent (not great) condo in Qingdao now costs around $500,000 but rents for only around $500 a month. Everyone said that half the condos in Qingdao are vacant, mostly bought by investors who don’t live in them. More and more are being built.

6. There were a number of important government type buildings that were 80-90% finished but then construction stopped. The explanation given to me by the Chinese lawyers was that they never made much sense in the first place, other than as vehicles for enriching bureaucrats’ pockets.

7. Man but I had some amazingly good food. All three cities are getting increasingly diverse and sophisticated in their offerings.

8. Beijing has more $300,000+ cars than any city in the world, I think. It is a good thing China’s peasants do not go to Beijing very often (other than as cab drivers). Not very subtle.

9. Had many discussions with Chinese lawyers. They are very frustrated with China’s court system. Their complaints are that there is little predictability and that the judges are random. Randomness/lack of caring/lack of scholarship were the big complaints. Why bother killing yourself on a brief and a hearing when the judges won’t read it and don’t really care?

10. China’s Internet was worse than it has been within the last five years. My old standby VPNs did not work to allow me to watch US TV shows or to get on Facebook. Again and again, people (both Chinese and non-Chinese) talked of how Beijing is doing what it can to try to stay ahead of the people and it is doing so with both carrots and sticks. The carrots are things like more accessible health care. The sticks are obvious.

11. Can China become a great economic power without massive improvements in the above, or will it get to a Thailand-like prosperity and then peter out? Or will it change?

12. While in Beijing I did a TV interview for a Hong Kong program on how American manufacturers are leaving China. I mentioned that as my firms’ manufacturing business declines, our creative services business is growing and more than taking up the slack. Five years ago, a large part of my firm’s business was in the Shanghai-Suzhou area and consisted mostly of manufacturing companies that were headquartered there. Five years ago, we did almost no business in Beijing. Beijing was for government and we were not very involved with that. Now, we do more business in Beijing than anywhere else. By far. Beijing has become the center for software, gaming, film, media, photography, sports and entertainment and various other creative service businesses and that is where we are seeing massive growth. We recently brought on a new lawyer (Mathew Alderson) whose practice focuses on these industries so I am sure that is clouding my view a bit, but at the same time, one of the reasons we brought Mathew on board was to handle the increasing number of such clients and to give me a foil for my Australia jokes. Are you seeing the same thing?

13. I have traveled all over Asia, North America, Europe and much of Latin America, and in no country of which I have been other than China do the people stand up on the airplane too early when landing and then try to push their way through. Am I making too much of this or should this be instructive on how business is done there?

14. I attended a talk given by co-blogger Steve Dickinson on how to protect your IP in China. The talk was put on by the China Helpdesk (a superb source for China IP info) and was geared a bit towards those in the creative industries. Steve mentioned how in virtually every instance where he has confronted IP and trade secret theft, it has germinated from an ex-employee or a customer. As Steve put it, it is almost always your “good friend who you have known for 17 years.”  Two Chinese lawyers in attendance told Steve that of course that would be the case. At least one Westerner expressed surprise at this.

15. Didn’t get a cough from Beijing this time. Has it really gotten better?

16. Went by a number of massive buildings that were 80-90% finished when construction stopped. Best explanation I got for those was that the skimming had already been taken out of them, so no need to continue. Developer borrows $25 million, skims $5 million off the top and then hires his cronies to build and skims another $3-5 million off that and then why even bother continuing? This seems to happen most often with quasi-government type buildings.

Fire away people. What do you think?

  • Kai

    1. Did he actually curse at you guys personally or was it one of those general “fuck!” exclamations when something goes wrong?
    11. I think its possible to be a great economic power as in many ways, it already is. It just depends on how you define “economic power”. That said, its safe to say that the vast majority of people are looking forward to improvements in the problems and shortcomings you’ve mentioned. There’s definitely a sort of patience (and cynicism), but there’s also expectation. Chinese can be a long-suffering lot.
    12. Yeah, those of us in Shanghai generally have to give some credit to those in Beijing.
    13. I’d say its a bit of a stretch to connect that with how business is done but it certainly says a lot about the state of social protocol amongst many of the Chinese who have the means to travel by air.
    14. I don’t think of this as being surprising whatsoever, especially for anyone who is familiar with Silicon Valley or a lot of R&D intensive industries. Perhaps the Westerner was reacting more to the notion of a “good friend” betraying you?
    Your experiences were pretty amusing but kinda what those of us who live here long term are already intimately familiar with. Watch out for falling tiles!

  • Mr V

    11. What did you think with Thailand like prosperity, especially in the view that Thailand has same problems as you mention in many of the points from blatant disregard for IP, bribery and growing income gaps and court system that is totally corrupt.

  • http://inbeijing.tumblr.com Laobaixing

    Re:#1 Beijing cab drivers used to be really talkative and interesting – but as the occupation has gotten less profitable (at one point it was a really good job, now not so much) they’ve become less friendly. When I flew into town this time around the cab driver was cursing a blue streak the whole way from the airport. When we drove under the “Be a Civilized Citizen and Speak in a Civilized Manner” sign I pointed it to him and asked if he was being civilized, “What dumb c**t needs a sign to tell him how to act.” But I only had that hostility directed at me once – when I disagreed with a driver about the quickest rout (he was right).
    Re: #13 – In Golden Arches East, an anthropological study of McDonalds in various East Asian countries, James Watson makes the point that waiting in line is not a natural human activity, but one that is historically and culturally conditioned. He argues that it was McDonalds that brought it to Hong Kong. So, its easy to look at an activity that comes off as impatient in terms of your own local standards and read a lot into it. But I don’t think that works – I think what it means is that some Chinese air passengers like to get off the plane first.
    It has been changing, though. I recall in the late 90s in Beijing – I frequently took a bus from the first station on the line, so it was always empty. If there were 20 people waiting for a bus with 30 seats, they’d still all clamor to be the first in the door. Now people wait in line a lot more. And not everyone in the plane jumps up right away – the people I go on business trips with always wait until the end.
    Re: #15 Nope. Not. At. All. This winter the twitter feed for the air pollution monitor of the US Embassy started tweeting lines from Revelations the air was so bad.

  • http://solongandthanx.blogspot.com/ Mark

    Awesome summary. I really like that you write your blog posts in simple language. Common folk like me who do not understand lawyer lingo find your posts extremely valuable, easy to read and easy to understand. Thank you!

  • Lulu Chen

    Nice to see some really in depth analysis of the Beijing and China markets.

  • Twofish

    Kai: Chinese can be a long-suffering lot.
    I think that a lot of going on is because Chinese aren’t that patient. It’s easy to be patient if things are generally going in the right direction, but I think that everyone understands and expects that if the economy stagnates then you are looking at a major social explosion. Whether the government can keep the economy going is anyone’s guess, but they certainly are focused on it.
    Dan: China does not have a housing market; it has a speculative market made up of people
    who buy property strictly as investments. Think of the condos as gold, not housing.
    Yup. It’s rather dysfunctional, and the only real question is whether it is “this is hurting the economy” dysfunctional or “this will blow up and destroy the economy” dysfunctional.” Part of the problem is that most new construction consists of empty shells which the buyer has to spend money to fix before renting, which they don’t really want to do since rents are so low. Add to the fact that there is no property tax, inflation is picking up, and the lack of any other investments, and you have this weird dysfunctional system.
    Also it’s hard to change. One problem is that large numbers of people own property in the major cities as a free gift from the government in the 1990′s. This means that government policies to reduce housing prices aren’t going to be popular.
    The only good thing about it is that from what I’ve seen, people aren’t using borrowed money to pay for the new construction. Some of it might be *stolen* money, but it’s not borrowed, which means that when it falls apart, it probably won’t cause a systemic banking system collapse.
    Maybe.
    Dan. Can China become a great economic power without massive improvements in the
    above, or will it get to a Thailand-like prosperity and then peter out? Or will it change?
    China is already a great economic power, and it’s a major miracle that it’s gotten as far as it has. The question is what happens next. I think the one thing that is certain is that China will change. *How* it will change is another question.
    3: Their complaints are that there is little predictability and that the judges are random.
    Randomness/lack of caring/lack of scholarship were the big complaints.
    I think that progress. It’s better to complain that the judges are random/disinterested/untrained than to complain that they are corrupt or oppressive or that there is no point in going to court because you know who is going to win. In some places, the judges are perfectly predictable but in the wrong ways. Also part of the reason that judges are random is that the system is getting overloaded with cases so you are having untrained judges getting overwhelmed with cases.
    Dan: 6. There were a number of important government type buildings that were 80-90%
    finished but then construction stopped. The explanation given to me by the Chinese lawyers
    was that they never made much sense in the first place, other than as vehicles for enriching
    bureaucrats’ pockets.
    More important than enriching bureaucrat’s pockets is to keep people busy building buildings than to mill around with nothing better to do than have a revolution.

  • moby D.

    It’s all so true and you made me laugh. I went looking for your earlier ones of these but couldn’t find them. Do you have links?

  • William

    10. Internet is definitely much worse this year. I think it will make the Chinese increasingly aware that the government would rather have an intranet and keep them in the dark. And of course the Internet interference makes it even harder for Chinese to interact with and learn from the outside world.
    13. This bothers me too. I think it’s partly because each flight has a certain number who are flying for the first time and don’t know any better, and others who stupidly think “we’re on the ground, there’s no danger anymore.” But the most egregious incident I witnessed was a guy in an aisle seat who unbuckled and leaned over two people to look out the window as we were on final approach. Luckily I was able to get the flight attendant’s attention.

  • Anon

    “On the flip side, at least a dozen people said there’s no place they would rather be. China is where “everything” is happening. And fast.”
    Famous last words…

  • http://www.startinchina.com Thijs (Shenzhen)

    all) Very true, frustration about everything is growing in China. The gap between rich and poor is bigger than ever and corruption is making the rich richer at the expense of the poor.
    9) Same problem for the medical system in China. They just don’t care at all, because of the lack of accountability. I think that all goes back to the one-party system (no accountability either). Commercial hospitals are much better, perhaps we should also have commercial courts? :)
    10) I’ve just written about Internet problems as one of the (potential) problems for the Universiade in Shenzhen. Last night it took me 30 minutes to send an email via GMail….
    13) you should see the overcrowded buses in the morning. People getting into an already full bus, before they let people go off. Always the same, they never wait. It seems Chinese mentality is “fight for yourself, otherwise someone else will beat you to it”.

  • HW Biggs

    So let me get this straight. You disagree with the people who are claiming everything in China is all hunky-dory and everyone is happy, including the 900+ million who are still living in abject poverty.

  • Contato

    This is great stuff Dan. I’ve been here so long that I see a lot of this as normal and it takes seeing this to realize how inured I have actually become. Can you direct me to your previous similar blogs.

  • SteveLaudig

    “They are very frustrated with China’s court system. Their complaints are that there is little predictability and that the judges are random. Randomness/lack of caring/lack of scholarship were the big complaints. Why bother killing yourself on a brief and a hearing when the judges won’t read it and don’t really care?”
    I practiced in states court in the u.s. for 20 some years and at the trial court level the same could be said for my experience in the four states I am familiar with. Trial court judges more often than not managed to keep themselves ignorant of both the law and the facts though they knew well enough where the campaign contributions came from and what political party the lawyers were associated with.

  • http://laowaiblog.com laowaiblog

    Very interesting and very true. As written in the article: China is a country of contrasts. High end restaurants and pesticide use combined is what china symbolizes. In many ways, it is confusion – a sense that everything is allowed but nothing is known for sure.
    Nice article!

  • Twofish

    Thijs: 9) Same problem for the medical system in China. They just don’t care at all, because of the lack of accountability. I think that all goes back to the one-party system (no accountability either).
    People do care, but as the US has found, putting together a national healthcare system is hard work, but they’ve ended up with a decent system after ten years of effort (google for NCMS). Also, there are other ways of having accountability than voting. Riots and mass protests are an everyday event, and one reason they happen is that they work. When you have a riot, a few people end up in jail for a few months, but usually everyone else gets what they want.
    Also some observations about things in the Pearl River Delta:
    1) You get a sense of the end of an era when talking to Taiwanese businessmen. A lot of them are in their 60′s and are more interested in retirement than anything else. All of them made back their money years and years ago, and most people are interested in cashing out. One other interesting thing is that Taiwanese businessmen in southern China do not have a reputation for “stable family structures”. This has some curious consequences, because if you’ve spent the last two decades of your life chasing bar-girls and mistresses with a wife in every city you visit, then you don’t have kids and a family that you can pass your business down to, and when you get tired and want to retire, there isn’t an ambitious son or daughter than will take over.
    2) It’s surprisingly hard to reorient a business from export to domestic production. You’d think that if you have a factory producing widgets for the United States, that all you have to do is to flip a switch and you can produce widgets for China. That’s not true. The problem is that if you try to switch from foreign to domestic then you have to create a whole new set of business relationships. People have spent the last thirty years building relationships with government officials and supply chains dealing with export, but if you want to switch, then you have to start from scratch and introduce yourself to a whole new set of people. If you have to “get something done” in export you may have to pay off someone, but at least you know who to pay off and how much they want. If you switch from foreign to domestic production, you don’t know who has to be paid off. You can spend the next five years trying to figure this out, but if you are 60 and you’ve made your money already, what’s the point?
    The impression from these business people that get is that everyone thinks that there is money to be made, but they aren’t going to be the people making it, since they are too old to start a business from scratch. What does seem to be happening is as the Taiwanese business people cash out, the businesses are being taken over be local people that are interested in doing what needs to be done.
    3) All this has interesting impact on Dongguan. What’s getting hit hard isn’t the factories, and I didn’t get the sense that Dongguan was becoming a burned out rust belt city. The factories are shifting from foreign to domestic production, and what seems to be happening is that they are shifting toward local management, so things are changing, people are moving around, but in the end the factories are still producing widgets rather than shutting down.
    The businesses that are shutting down are things like nightclubs, bars, karaoke, massage parlors, and all sorts of seedy establishments. One curious thing is that as wage levels rise and you have better opportunities, working in a massage parlor or as a second wife of looks a lot less attractive a career, and so those businesses are being hit both by supply and demand. Why be a second wife if you can live a comfortable life being the first? Also, if you are an overseas business person, your wife is hundreds if not thousands of miles away, whereas if you are local manager, your first wife is going to be there, and rather annoyed if you have another wife (which has gotten a lot more expensive).
    The consequence of this is that Dongguan is become respectable. Karaoke bars and massage parlors are closing down, but daycare centers, computer repair stores, and frozen yogurt shops are opening up. However that has a knock on effect, in that Dongguan is now “boring” so if you are young and looking for excitement, you are going to end up in Beijing.

  • ollumi

    2: True on both counts.
    3: It used to be that you could trust the foundation because people didn’t dare mess around too much in the process there, and just worry about the furnishing. Not anymore!
    5: Welcome to the last decade, only the money is now flowing somewhere else in the last year because the big brass basically gave everyone with a hand dipped in a deadline to do so.
    8: Oh people know(and growingly, just assume), it’s not that which is holding anyone back.
    9: I’m glad you posted that straight up “as is”. There were many times in your previous posts where I’ve had to bite my tongue when you described the court system because it was so vastly different from my own experience. I’m glad just because it’s your profession hasn’t made you dismiss things that may not make the system look so good outright! Read between the lines; it’s not so much that many district judges are random and lacking in basic legal training(their promotion criteria and process basically guarantees it), it’s why the Chinese lawyers felt very comfortable discussing that with you: I’m going to take a wild guess and say it’s safer than discussing if scholarship isn’t the determining factor in judging a case, what is.
    11: Hard to say. The country’s opportunities and challenges remain unique, part of its charm.
    12: really is news to me.
    13: Yeah, worldview wise it should give you a hint, but don’t make too much of it otherwise.
    16: Firms who do the actual building make the least percentage wise after counting all expenses, yes. So they have no incentive whatsoever and you end up with many 烂尾楼 or substandard buildings.

  • http://www.startinchina.com Thijs (Shenzhen)

    @Twofish: people might care, but they have a very funny way of showing it…. There are always good and bad people and as such good and bad doctors. It’s my impression (from personal experience) that many doctors do not take the effort to really figure out what is wrong with you. As such, they don’t care.
    I also didn’t mention voting as the only implementation for accountability (though it would be a very good one). I agree with you about the riots and protests, but I stand by my assertion that the lack of accountability is causing these (and many other) problems in China. As long as people are not accountable for the mess they make, it will never improve.

  • James G

    Again I predict a property tax in China (or parts, anyway) by the end of the decade. Maybe it will be staggered, but there will be one.
    Property tax. Big source of revenue. Tame the out of control housing market. There’s your daily trifecta.

  • LH

    Concerning the air in Beijing, hmm. My impression is that it has gotten much better *on the average* over the past four years. On the average means that the number of really bad air days per year has gone down a lot. Thing is that the really bad air days don’t seem to be much better than before, but it sure seems like there are a lot fewer of them then there were in say 2007.
    Spraying insecticide: c’mon, it’s a pretty big city. It’s easy to imagine that they don’t have enough trucks to spray the whole place between 2AM and 5AM. No one wants a lot of mosquitos in a city with 10s of millions of people.

  • Twofish

    James G: Again I predict a property tax in China (or parts, anyway) by the end of the decade. Maybe it will be staggered, but there will be one.
    Things happen fast in China.
    Also the property market bubble has burst. The government banned investment property purchases in some markets. Over the last several months, the volume of real estate transactions in Beijing has gone done 50% and prices by about 20%. You aren’t reading much about it, because it doesn’t fit into the “China is doomed when the real estate bubble bursts.”

  • mimimoo

    1. Yep. Take a bus out past the 4th ring and you see a major drop in living standards.
    3. Friends living in the recently build Sanlitun SOHO are amazed (I’m not) at how things in their apartments keep breaking and falling off.
    4. Saw the pesticide spraying on Gonti Beilu. We were in a taxi stuck behind the vehicle. There was guard stationed by an embassy and he only just made it into his glass box.They weren’t actually going stop for him. He would have been covered. Cripes. No concerns about health risks.
    7. Yes. But also more expensive. Lots of mediocre places popping up that are too over priced and less tasty than a cheap chengdu xiaochi.
    10. the internet is worse, for sure. My vpn barely works. It’s stopped me continuing with my blog and sing flickr.
    13. Yes. Noticed this on a recent trip around SE Asia. Also noticed Chinese tourists causing havoc at most tourist sites – eg climbing on things, pushing in queues etc.
    16 – That explains a lot. This is something I’ve noticed on many occasions.

  • Hua Qiao

    3. Same here. Wierd stuff breaks. My friend went through 4 flat irons in a month. What’s to break with a flat iron?
    4. At my company here in BJ, there was quite a controversy about putting the photocopy machine by 2 young (early 20′s) ladies. They felt that some odorless fumes might affect their fertility. whether or not that is true, the one child policy heightens all health concerns for future mothers and fathers. Pretty sad.
    9. My translator used to work at a law firm and she clerked for a Chinese judge. She says they are all alcoholics from 3 hour lunches meeting with litigants who curry favor with lots of gifts. Most have no legal backgrounds and are just party appointments.
    10. Assuming you have a place in the states, you could get a slingbox and hook it up so you can stream US shows. I have this and use it without vpn. The video quality is dependent on your China internet speed, which for me averages about 600kbp although they promised 2mbs. At 600 kbs, the picture is watchable. Hook a dvr to your slingbox back home so you can record and play back.
    13. That’s one of my favorite things to do is watch who gets up early and also watch the flight attendants’ reaction. Foreign carriers like United just go crazy. Air China doesn’t care. China Southern does make an effort to get them to sit down. In some cases, it’s out of ignorance but for other more well travelled fliers, they just feel they’re above the law. Flight attendants are FuWu Yuan and should be looked down upon rather than obeyed.
    BTW, my favorite airport story was at Beijing Capital airport. You descend from the main check in floor down an escator to the security area. I am right behind an elderly couple, who had trouble with the escalator and it was clear they had never been in an airport before. So we get to security and you know, how they have those tubs with empty water bottles and discarded/confiscated cigarette lighters as a warning to passengers not to bring these items through security? Well, the old man was very happy when he gets to this place as he reaches in and grabs 3 or 4 lighters; obviously warming up to the idea of flying if you get free lighters! The guard went crazy and it was all I could do not to laugh and embarass him further.
    15. You just got lucky. The US embassy air quality index hit 400+ last week. Sigh. wheeze.

  • http://younginbeijing.wordpress.com alreadyasleep

    I’d like the general address of some of those gov’t buildings that have become deserted. They would make nice photos. That’s a great story.

  • http://www.joyceyland.com Joyce Lau

    1. Beijing cabbies were always rude, even in good times. One got angry bc I caught him using a rigged meter that tripled the price, and he tried to throw me out — single girl, huge luggage, middle of winter — on the highway. Another time, a BJ friend had a 20-minute argument with a cabbie who was lost and almost got us into a crash.My only decent experiences have been in SH (around the time of the Expo – I think the drivers were under duress to be nice) and in the countryside. My friends tell me I’m treated worse bc I’m Chinese.
    3. The hotel boom has its shoddy side. One foreign friend refuses to get into any hotel elevator that doesn’t have that sheet of paper saying it’s been inspected. He takes a lot of stairs. Another new hotel I was touring showed me how they planned a pool right next to the power generator with just one wall in between! I warned them against electrocuting people. (Trivia: I’m the daughter of a fire safety inspector).
    5. Empty flat syndrome has been popping up in HK, too, albeit to a lesser degree. Mainland buyers — restricted by regulations back home — are buying up HK flats and leaving them empty. They don’t want to live in them, nor do they care about rental revenue. They want a place to park their cash (much of it rumored to be dirty). This has artificially raised prices, as well as residents’ ire, when they see many empty flats, while the average family can’t afford a mortgage. The HK government is trying cool-down measures.
    10. I don’t think China is anything like Thailand. It’s such a different culture — the psychology of the average Thai, the “red shirt / yellow shirt” conflict, religious roots, monarchy, violence in the South, etc. I think culture is deeply tied to how well an economy succeeds. And the Chinese are super practical, money-driven and not too distracted by religious or other issues.
    13. The planes! The standard excuse is that people behave badly because they come from poor provinces, are only a generation away from poverty, the country’s still developing, etc. I don’t buy it. The HK-Shanghai route on, say, Dragonair, is NOT filled with first-time flyers. They are well-dressed businesspeople, or rich tourists / shoppers, and still jump out of their seats at dangerous moments. Same with tourists to HK. These are worldly people, educated in the arts, wine, fashion, etc.. They’re not rude because they’re fresh off the farm — they’re rude bc they can get away with it. (Though they do queue neatly outside of designer boutiques here)
    Honestly, I prefer countryside people — with rougher manners, but more genuinely friendly personalities — to rich tourists who abuse salesgirls and shove people out of line at boutiques selling US $1,000 handbags. I was shopping at Lane Crawford when a Chinese man ran up to me, grabbed the shoe I was trying on and tried to flee with it. I was at a private hospital recently, and some “medical tourists” were bossing the nurses around to carry their luggage for them!

  • http://www.joyceyland.com Joyce Lau

    The usual caveat: Of course, not 1 billion+ people are rude — it’s just that a few obnoxious cabbies / travelers / tourists can make everyone else look bad and re-inforce everyone’s negative stereotypes about China.
    In fact, I’ve been nothing but impressed by the many Chinese exchange students studying journalism here, and the many new migrants to HK.

  • Kiss

    I like China. Great article. Thanks :)