Mark Kitto (previously), whose article on why he was leaving China, “You’ll Never be Chinese“, kicked off a storm of hand-wringing and oneupmanship amongst various expat writers several months ago, is still here.
In a profile in the Global Times, an alternately surprisingly decent and extravagantly nationalistic Chinese tabloid, Kitto says he intends to move to the UK in Summer 2013.
Kitto is still here. He has not bought a plane ticket, nor even set a departure date beyond his plans for a final, months-long road trip across the country with his family, which should be completed by next summer.
Perhaps one reason his article sparked such unease among long-time expats in Beijing is that it confronted them with a harsh reality: one day, they too might be forced to uproot themselves from the home they spent so much passion and sweat adapting to and start all over again.
“You can say [the article] literally hit a nerve,” noted Kitto. “It’s the unpleasant truth, and [China expats] are pissed off someone is saying it. Maybe they agree with it, but they are uncomfortable at being reminded of it.”
Kitto’s article cites many reasons for leaving, including an uncertain regulatory environment for business, environmental concerns, rising materialism and a dissatisfaction with the pace and direction of political reform. But what forced his hand, he says, was his children’s education.
His son and daughter – Tristan, 8, and Isabel, 10 – currently spend 11 hours daily at school. This year, Kitto was told Isabel would no longer be doing extracurricular activities for the next two academic years in order to prepare for exams to be accepted into lower middle school.
“My daughter, in particular, is sporty, artistic, and loves singing and dancing. In a Chinese school, she has no chance whatsoever to develop these talents,” Kitto said.