That is, ignorant in the technical sense that they are made with no formal study of Chinese culture, politics, geography, history.
A few blogs I’d recommend to you for a more balanced and informed set of observations about living and working in China include the following:
- Seeing Red in China
- China Law Blog
- All Roads Lead to China
- China Realtime Report, from The Wall Street Journal blogs
A few other facts about my circumstances that bias my writing:
I live in an apartment complex in the central city, high-end district of Shanghai, known as Xintiandi. How high-end? The cars in my gated complex are a mix of Mercedes, Maseratis, Ferraris, Porsche SUVs, and a smattering of BMWs, Audis, and 1 or 2 Lamborghinis.
Across the street is a row of specialty auto showrooms: the local Rolls Royce dealer, the local Lambo dealer, and a couple of high-end sports coupe dealers I’ve never even heard of …but am certain I can’t afford.
A neighbor in my complex is Yao Ming, the retired basketball great star with the Houston Rockets, who has fashioned a post-sports career as a Chinese cross between Magic Johnson and Bill Bradley – businessman and a statesman.
My point is: I’m pretty sure that I don’t live in a normal Chinese neighborhood. To draw a comparison, I tell people all of the time from back home that where we live is sort of the Chinese equivalent of what I assume it would be like to live in the Dakota in NYC, or some other West Side condo across from Central Park.
- Shenyang – it reminds me of a much larger Pittsburgh, further north than Pyongyang North Korea, and not that far away from it
- Chengdu – a central Mid-West city that reminded me of Washington or Oregon when I was there – rainy, lush, with scenic mountains nearby and home of a well-known Panda reserve
- Shenzhen – something of a border town, just across from Hong Kong, and thus a manufacturing powerhouse, where the weather, traffic, and pollution reminded me of Los Angeles
- Beijing – struck me as a cross between Washington DC and Chicago, with a hint of Silicon Valley tossed in for good measure. Beijing it turns out is where most of the start-up tech ventures are located, due to access to college talent, government support, company headquarters, and capital.
But, even with these travels under my belt, I can’t profess to have gotten any closer to the real nature of the people and what it means to be Chinese. I don’t speak or understand Mandarin. And, I don’t read the Chinese simplified or traditional written language.
In fact, I’m not even especially fond of Chinese or other Asian food. It’s okay – something I’d eat once or twice a month. But, far from a diet that I’d love to adopt three times a day.
The reality is: I’m an unabashed Austin cheerleader with a healthy dose of no-place-but-Texas pride. While I try to be fair and seek to understand the perspective of others, I have no doubt that my observations are colored by my own racial, ethnic, and religious upbringing.
Knowing those biases, I hope my observations aren’t interpreted as being insensitive or insulting to any group or people. Read on and let me know what you think!