“We absolutely will not do business with Japanese dogs,” declares this real estate agent located in Brilliant City. “Give us back our Diaoyu Islands.”
Shanghai-based American expat Jacob Flowers writes in to warn us of an anti-Japanese real estate agency, Furenju Realty (福人居房产), located in Putuo district’s Brilliant City compound (中原两湾城), with which he had the following nasty encounter Thursday evening:
So, my current landlord wants to repossess the house to live in it, so I obviously have to find some new digs. As usual, I go through many agents to see as many places as possible (and because there are obviously good agents and bad agents). Sometimes as most of us know, agent showings will sometimes overlap with seeing the same place more than once (especially if you are looking in a specific compound).
One day, I am walking with some of my local friends around my compound gardens, and one of them says “oh shit, look at that agency!”. I look, and there is nothing that stands out, except that my friend elaborates “you see that sign above their window. It says that they will not do business with japanese pigs!”. No matter your position on the Diaoyu Islands, I was still appalled at the racism of it.
So I found this one agent online (the ones that use the fake pictures) and told her what I needed. She was workable because her english was somewhat comprehensible. For this reason, I did not know where her actual company was. One of the other main agents I was using was one of those agencies I walked into.
Long story short, it comes down to the wire, and I see a house I really like. Two agents however showed me the same house. One agent did MOST of the work for me in showing me many suitable places, and such, so I wanted to give the commission to him. But unfortunately, my conscience got the best of me, and I felt that the right thing to do would be to go with the agent who showed me the house FIRST. Right? So I make the arrangements, and she invites me to her agency the next night. As we proceed to her office, I get the sick feeling that we are heading in the direction of the racist agency. And it was.
I’m sitting there during the signing getting a sick feeling in my stomach, and my mind is burning. I feel that I can NOT do business with these folk, even though the girl agent was quite kindly. I call my chinese friend, explain the situation and ask for some advice. He says he understands, and talks to the landlord directly over the phone explaining my discomfort. The landlord says he understands completely and is willing to sign the contract with me with a new agency.
I apologize to the agents, and explain to them, I am not comfortable doing business with them, and point to their sign as my reason why. I tell them, that I can not accept racist attitudes. The agents are kindly, but they begin to press me into signing with them. They are telling me that it is against the law to sign with another agency if I saw it with them first, which I know is NOT TRUE, so I tell them that I’ve lived in China for 5 years, and who I chose to do business with is my own discretion. Myself and the landlord leave the agency, and the agents follow. I ask them to stop following, but they refuse and all the while are trying to coerce myself and the landlord into signing immediately.
We reach just outside the door of the other agency, when some unknown guy joins the parade, and begins yelling at me. He speaks NO english mind you. I explain to him, that I am going with another agency, who showed us the house, and even though it was my second time with them, it was the first time my friend had seen the house who would be living with me. I am calm, respectful, and obviously can not say too much due to my limited ability. I use my phone to google translate my intentions, but this guy swipes my phone away and says that he doesn’t care what I have to say. The girl agent proceeds to tell me that this man is the manager of the agency. He then proceeds to say some very insulting things about foreigners. I ask him if he understands what my issue is, for which the agent girl says something to him, and he begins to get in my face, shouting “我劈死你！我劈死你洋鬼子.” and he begins to edge closer attempting to prompt me to some sort of action. I am calm, and obviously have no way of interacting with his level of chinese, but shaking. At this point a crowd has gathered, and he is in my face shouting for a good 10 minutes, all the while the landlord is saying in chinese “do not speak to him that way, he is a foreigner. Calm down, calm down”. His continual barrage of insults and threats seem to have no way of relenting even when I tell him, I can not understand everything he is saying. To diffuse the situation, I simply tell him that I will stay in my current house and do not wish to sign any contracts at all. I was very careful to say, that I love China, and this is not about me supporting Japan. It is simply about me feeling uncomfortable doing business with people who so flagrantly post racist propaganda.
After everyone leaves, the girl agent is begging me to still sign the contract, to which I reply, “Absolutely not. Your manager just threatened me physically because I do not agree with his racist beliefs, and you expect me to do business with you? Your country hosted the 2008 Olympics, and the Shanghai 2010 Expo, where you wanted to showcase your improvements to the world. ‘One World. One Dream’. Where is your company’s decorum, respect, and civility? You want other nations to respect you, then do not act like savages!”
I lost the house, as more than likely the manager threatened the landlord as well, since he is no longer renting his house out via the two agencies I used. I am going to still try to get the house via a different agency, but who knows. If you want to have a certain ideology, then you ought to accept the consequences inherent with it. And yelling and screaming at people who do not understand entirely what you are saying, is not a good way to retain business.
When contacted by Shanghaiist, the manager of the real estate agency confirmed the key points in the above account, but remained adamant that it was the foreigner who had first “insulted the Chinese nation”.
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