Anecdotes are wonderful, even better when graphically illustrated. I expect that Aric's was one straw on top of a stack of various straws. It's not mine to question what the whole story was. Those who would want to criticize Aric should spend a least a bit of time researching his context.
That said, I will give a counter anecdote. I was crossing the road in Beijing with a small nicely decorated airline snack box in my coat pocket. While watching the traffic, I didn't notice the box jostle out of my pocket onto the ground. Quickly, several people around me stopped me and told me that my box had fallen out of my pocket and that that person over there, leaving the scene, had picked it up. I smiled and thanked them for their help. I told them that the box just had some snacks in it - it was nothing.
How about another anecdote. I was going down to the subway when I saw a matronly ticket person stop a young couple at the place where they tore your paper ticket. I watched interested in what was up. The young woman had a baby in a carrier on her back. The carrier was not store bought and the baby was well bundled against the cold wind Beijing had this last February. The older ticket woman was gently telling the young mother that the baby will get too warm in the subway and helped her with making adjustments to the carrier.
It is of bad taste to go to a different country and critizes it. These types of things happen everywhere not only in China. They say more about human nature that about the nature of Asians. Maybe you are running out of interesting things to report in your Shaghai Diaries. Time to come back home?
I notice that within 60 seconds of the hit-and-run, the police arrive. So I can't believe someone with a cell phone was not immediately calling 911.
A while back I was taking a CPR/First Aid class from the Red Cross and one topic was when to help someone in obvious need and why people don't.
Yes, some people just don't care. But, most probably just don't know what to do. Many are afraid to and don't want to get involved. Some are concerned about liability even if they innocently do something wrong.
Sometimes the best thing to do is just to call 911 or appropriate emergency services.
I once witnessed a man in an electric wheelchair tip over while navigating up a seemingly safe sidewalk ramp. Very soon, the first passerby did help, but I am ashamed to say all I did was watch from a distance and left when he seemed OK.
zhongfang, that was REALLY bad, how long it took for someone to get on the street to see how the poor guy was doing. But moving him would have been the worst possible thing they could have done, since it might have aggravated his injuries.
Sometimes you just wonder how some people think; what lies in their hearts to make them like this...
Incredible insight Steve...good chance you might be spot on. I spent a couple of hours with my best Chinese friend yesterday talking about that. He's a guy I met on my very first trip to China and later, got me my first job here. He's a top tourism insider here and my China guru. He told me since they have JUST opened up tourism in Tibet it's hard to know just yet what's really going on. He said it's possible I might be stuck to only seeing Lhasa. I want to go to the mountain...Lhasa is cool I'm sure but the reason I'm going is Everest. If that's gonna be impossible then the trip is a no go for now. I've got time so gonna wait a couple of weeks with ears to the ground to see what's really going down there. This does seem to be a good Summer to travel in South China as tourism is very poor this year in China (gee, I wonder why???) and prices are good and there will be fewer crowds. Gonna do Yunnan for sure but it's up in the air if I'll be on to Tibet from there.
Hi Aric, I thought only southern China was liked that as I hav travelled extensively in Zhonshan, Dongguan, Panyu, & Shenzhen since 2004. This is very eye openning for me and I thoroughly enjoy your blog over the past few months.
I work for a Chinese company as their representative in the US, so I know your culture shock on some of the things you witness and experience.
I would love to know your experiences with Chinese business ethics and the way they treat "gweillos" when managing them. There seems to be a double standard in that I can get away with a lot more than if I was Chinese in saying things as critiques, but the information does not get absorbed beyond a superficial "ok, ok" level and no change occurs. Have you experienced this type of stubborness in your work life? I have found having Chinese colleagues make my suggestions after I point out the problem works better. Have you experienced that?
Good luck with your plans. You should continue this wherever you go. You have a really interesting POV on the world.
I honestly have to say I am not really surprised by the guy's reaction, the other day I did almost the exact same thing on my bike coming home from work and at least 3 people walked right by me.
I don't think its a cultural difference at all, I think there are just a lot of people like that and even more so in a big city.
I cant say I know whether or not China has more of that kind of behavior or not but I do think that kind of behavior is prevalent in any large city.
I hope you don't let it get to you too much, but at the same time I think it shows that you are a good guy for feeling bothered by it.
I personally love all the weird little news stories you give us that you would never hear about on any U.S. news show, and the "real" view from a "lǎowài" living in China. Just play it safe.
I want to be able to see you in China when I get there!
Christine, I wanted to also echo my thanks for the interview. I don't know if ignoring strangers is due to the CR since I saw some of this in Taiwan in the early 90s but these days it has greatly improved, so there is hope.
Aric, I wonder if your being a foreigner was the reason the crowd turned against you. Do you think if you had been Chinese, they would have supported your action? I also have an inherent revulsion when the strong bullies the weak, and have also stepped into those situations in the past. I just can't help it, do it without thinking so I think I know where you're coming from. Was the girl OK?
austinpickers, I just read that the IOC jumped on China (for the first time) for politicizing the Olympics but China's response was that they politicized the Olympics to keep the Olympics from being politicized, or something like that. Hard to comprehend Orwellian doublespeak: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/world/asia/27china.html?ref=asia Though tourists are now allowed in Tibet, I really wonder if it'll be worth it to visit there if the government keeps you roped in like cattle. It might be the least spiritual holiday you've ever had.
Aric, since your days are numbered in Shanghai, my suggestion is that you ignore the hard news unless it's really exceptional and give us a few more of the fun stories. You've been promising something on dating in China, which I think would interest the single people and be fun to read for us "married to Chinese" people. I can't wait to hear you explain the "noticing the person's nose first", the difference between bright and cloudy eyes, the formality of dating, etc. It was way different than in the west and would sure bring a lot of comments.
Do you really think it's safe to visit Burma? Will you have a problem getting a visa?
The footage disturbs me too and I don't disagree that it implies something worrying. I know you say it's not a cultural difference, it's a lack of humanity but I guess what I was trying to say is that it is our culture/society that reinforces and nurtures our humanity (or not as the case may be) - otherwise you imply that there's something innately inhumane about certain people, which I know you don't think at all. We only have to look at nations where there has been a forced rupture of cultural institutions through war or dictatorship - Iraq, Zimbabwe, PRC in the cultural rev - to see that when we don't have social support to be compassionate, most (but not all) citizens revert to a position somewhere between timid inaction to dog-eat-dog. Man I'm not at all surprised you're over it. Just dealing with the immigration police for a visa is tough enough, particularly when you feel like you've given something of yourself to the place over the past few years. Hope you recharge in Thailand and come back to fight another day
What you did was very gusty. When police in the States get involved with domestic violence calls, that turns out to be one of their most dangerous situations. The arguing parties often turn on the police. This is probably a similar reaction.
I like that parts of the shanghai diaries best where you informed us about things that you noticed which just happend to you ( found this t-shirts, the view of your window...man sexoil...) even though many of those things had bad connotations...would be nice to have some of those slices of live in a show again.
...I´m tired...good night...one more thing before I go to sleep :
Christinelu thanks for recording and sharing this with us. ^_^
christinelu - I completely agree; and have had this conversation numerous times. it basically comes down to extremities. if you're 'in', then you're taken care of for life, as I am with many of the Chinese families here. however, if you're not, then forgetaboutit. just like you saw in the video, he didn't know her, so why should he be bothered? that's the problem though. fine, if you're in a bar, don't by the lone person a drink, but to see someone faceplant in front of you with a cab almost hitting you and not even missing a beat? there's something wrong here...it's a simple human quality.
does this happen everywhere else? as I said, sure - and I think someone posted this. but I see this everyday here, in the way (as your friend mentioned in the video) they drive, eat, talk, everything...and it's not for me. I don't want to have that mentality and I'm afraid (through no fault but my own), I am getting that.
just the other day, I saw a man slapping a woman around. I crossed the street to break it up and the entire crowd of 5, including the man AND woman looked at me as if I was nuts and it quickly became them against me. I understand I'm not from here and it's not my business, but after 4 years here I think I have a right. hitting women & letting someone crash in front of you is NOT cultural difference, it's a lack of humanity - full stop.
seber - let me see what I can do, not too many days left, but I'm sure I can catch a few bands.
austinpickers - exactly. I've got a huge case of 'what the f*ck?!' right now and it's the reason I'm going.
willz68 - I agree...completely. problem is, we're from a place where people don't share that same mentality, and, as my Irish parents taught me:
'There, but the grace of God, go I'
I leave this place more thankful for my own upbringing, and fortune. I know that the things I've witnessed are nothing more than people who simply don't know...and I'm lucky enough to.
The footage disturbs me too and I don't disagree that it implies something worrying. I know you say it's not a cultural difference, it's a lack of humanity but I guess what I was trying to say is that it is our culture/society that reinforces and nurtures our humanity (or not as the case may be) - otherwise you imply that there's something innately inhumane about certain people, which I know you don't think at all. We only have to look at nations where there has been a forced rupture of cultural institutions through war or dictatorship - Iraq, Zimbabwe, PRC in the cultural rev - to see that when we don't have social support to be compassionate - most (but not all) citizens revert to a position somewhere between timid inaction to dog-eat-dog.
Man I'm not at all surprised you're over it. Just dealing with the immigration police for a visa is tough enough, particularly when you feel like you've given something of yourself to the place over the past few years.
Hope you recharge in Thailand and come back to fight another day.
I'AM PARALIZED FOR ALMOST THREE AND A HALF YEARS NOW. NOW I KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO GO TO A SUPERMARKET STORE AND NOT FIND A PARKING SPACE.I OR MY WIFE BETTER SAID HAS TO PARK WAY IN THE FAR SIDES OF THE STORES JUST TO GET ME OUT ON MY VANS RAMP.THEN WHEN WE COME OUT OF THE STORE,WE FIND A CAR PARKED RIGHT NEXT TO MY RAMP AND WE THEN HAVE TO WAIT FOR THEM TO COME OUT OF THE STORE.
I know exactly where you're at I think Aric. There's so much I could say about this subject but I won't. Every foreigner here has seen this kind of thing and just scratched our heads and said or thought, "what the f***???". Just a side note...I spoke to by best buddy in California on the phone yesterday and a guy we knew had the hell beat outta him and lay on the side of the road all night and bled to death. There were lots of folks who saw him and thought he was drunk or drugged and just left him there. Just a damn shame. And that's in Redding, California!!! The world is a really messed up place right now. Huge huge reason I wanna go to Tibet. I hear it's a magical place and I really need that right now...need to renew and recharge my soul. Think you do too!
What I enjoyed about your show was that it gave me an interresting point of view on what is happening in China every day, an every day resume about the situation espacally during the eathquake.
I was also very interested in your video about alternative music in china, I think that was the main interest to me because you gave me the oportunity to see bands that i would never have imagined they existed in China.
I understand that it's getting difficult for you right now and I feel sad about it.
To sum up show us more chinese band that's what I wan't to see.
I don't know, man - I mean, the public domain is one thing, but someone going face-down in front of a cab and not even walking over to check on that person seems to be something that people would immediately react towards, no?
Aric I think this sort of thing happens everywhere but having been to China quite a bit (and about to move for two years) I don't get much sense of courtesy towards strangers in public spaces, at least in the cities - I'm pretty blasé about the pushing, shoving, queue jumping but most Westerners I know who've been in China for a while find dealing with strangers tough going. Someone told me it comes out of Confucian thinking that stresses filial piety but doesn't really have a framework for being accommodating or polite to complete strangers without some sort of prior introduction or connection or establishing of hierarchy - hence the domination of guanxi. Is that true or were they pulling my leg?