Just read some really thoughtful blog posts on being a foreigner in China, by bloggers who ought to know.

The first is Sinostand’s, “Foreigners in China: Weibo vs. Reality,” and it essentially says that despite a few extra anti-foreign diatribes in the last month or so that have gotten much media attention, day-to-day treatment of Laowai has really not changed:

Like with any country, China has plenty of unmitigated racists. But at least for me, they’ve never amounted to anything more than a very rare nuisance in my day-to-day life. So if you’re not in China, don’t get the impression from recent events that the country is a cesspool of xenophobia and hatred. And if you are in China, try not to let the recent coverage of online opinion skew the way you see things. The status quo for Chinese opinion about foreigners has been and will be for a long time more or less the same: Somewhat ignorant, but good-natured and curious.

David Wolf, whom I have known and greatly respected for a long time, writes the following on his always superb, Silicon Hutong Blog:
There are a lot of things that can push living in China to the edge of bearability, but in-your-face nationalism and xenophobia is not one of them. If there is one thing that has made living in China these past 17 years so wonderful, it has been the people I meet. It never seems to get lost in a conversation that there is a difference between an individual and a government. Even at the height of anger over the Belgrade Embassy bombing, the vitriol was never personal: it was about a government’s mistake, not the mistake of a nation. At the same time, it’s incumbent on every one of us living as a guest on this soil to behave as a guest should, and not as an entitled drunken teenager on Grad Night at Disneyland.
David’s comment reminds me of a story CLB’s own Steve Dickinson told me. Steve has been living in China off and on for 20+ years and he tells me the only time he ever felt threatened by xenophobia was when he was verbally attacked at a bar by a patron angry over the Belgrade bombing.  Steve went on the offensive (which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows Steve) and loudly told the guy to shut the f— up (in Chinese, of course) and then went on to point out that if he had anything to do with the U.S. government’s decision to bomb China’s Belgrade Embassy, he “sure as s—” would not be sitting in some two-bit bar in Beijing. Everyone in the bar laughed and agreed with Steve, including the Chinese patron who a minute earlier had been excoriating Steve.
Xenophobia in China: as bad as the media is making it out to be, or just another day at the ranch?  Me, I’m going to trust Sinostand and Silicon Hutong.
UPDATE: This Beijing CityWeekend article, “Violence Continues to Plague Sanlitun” (and especially the comments to that article) indicates there has been a recent upsurge in violence against foreigners.  Though it is possible this is a case of foreigners getting caught up in an overall increase in crime, a number of the commenters talk of there having been a dramatic increase in just the last month or so.
Photo of Dan Harris Dan Harris

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network.  His work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

He was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), is rated 10.0 by AVVO.com (also its highest rating), and is a recognized SuperLawyer.

Dan is a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and constantly travels between the United States and Asia. He most commonly speaks on China law issues and is the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog. Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed Dan regarding various aspects of his international law practice.

Dan is licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at his firm, Dan focuses on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.