Nationalistic Chinese tabloid the Global Times isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions, like “Do Shanghai expats feel superior to those in other Chinese cities?” In its latest investigative piece, the state media outlet set out to answer that apparently burning question asking various laowai in Shanghai if they or their friends are arrogant assholes.
Surprisingly, the Global Times came back with very little evidence that expats in Shanghai feel superior to other expats living in cities around China, except perhaps those poor smucks in Beijing choking on the smog.
In fact, a few foreigners even expressed their admiration for those expats that willingly choose to live in a place without even a single Taco Bell.
“Everybody has different reasons for where they want to live and what they want to do. Lots of foreigners want to be surrounded by traditional Chinese culture, not being in big cities, and I admire that,” said one American expat who recently arrived in Shanghai.
At some point, the article gets dragged into the relative merits of Shanghai vs. Beijing. We highlighted the most important part of the discussion:
“Beijing attracts a different sort of foreigners usually. Expats in Beijing tend to be academic or diplomatic and they probably speak better Putonghua, know more history and politics and integrate better with Chinese culture,” John Armstrong pointed out.
American expat Tommy, who lived for several years in both Beijing and Shanghai, agrees that the cities’ respective industries and histories are what draw their foreign populous.
“The expats I knew in Beijing were particularly interested in Chinese politics and culture or the arts and music scene, whereas from what I’ve seen in Shanghai there is more involvement in finance or entrepreneurialism.”
But Armstrong stipulated that such descriptions could be a complete generalization.
“I’m sure there are plenty of business people in Beijing and academics in Shanghai. Just my impression that those who embrace Beijing are in for the long haul,” Armstrong said.
At the end of the article, the Global Times discovers the real divide that exists between expats in China: “It is English teacher versus everyone else. Shanghai unites fairly or unfairly in its disdain for English teachers. They are the untouchable caste,” says one Canadian English teacher living in Shanghai.
So there you have it!
The in-depth investigative piece follows in the footsteps of a cringeworthy video starring an “American” English teacher in China who brags about how easy it is for him to get laid in an apparent marketing gimmick produced by a Chinese app selling cheap sex toys.
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