Why do so many foreigners go to China and think China is good?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 29, 2020 06:46 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 29, 2020 06:46 AM

I’ve lived for substantial time in 3 Asian cities (Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen), and they all surprised me on the upside. In the case of China, here’s why I like it:

it’s modern, and continues to develop all the time. They have modern cities, excellent transport infrastructure (highways, airports, high-speed trains network which is unmatched in the world, excellent public transport and taxis), excellent hotels, malls, restaurants and cafes, beautiful parks, etc.

There’s a feeling of safety and freedom in Chinese cities, which impress with their size. There’s no one to tell you what to do, and you can see from the behavior of the diverse crowd, people just do what they want. In most places you won’t see any police. In some others they are present in security posts. They just do their job, i.e. sit there silently and behave reasonably, adding to the security and order. Do you know that police in China doesn’t have firearms? They are just like a part of the crowd, only doing their job.
friendliness of Chinese people. You will always get help, no matter that you can’t speak a word in Chinese besides 你好, or they can’t speak English. They’ll spend their time and go out of their way to explain you how to get somewhere, or how to buy a train ticket, they’ll patiently and enthusiastically explain how to get what you need. They’ll be positive and practical all the time while helping you.
they are non-dogmatic. The people are simply pragmatic and hardworking, they want to live good lives, and feel responsible for their well-being. They are not brainwashed (something which is actually more typical to Western countries, and you can see it on Quora too). The main philosophy of China is just common sense and being a good person.
business is in the genes of Chinese. Small shops and restaurants are ubiquitous, which makes me think self employment and small business must be a major kind of employment. The government creates excellent business infrastructure. For example, the hi tech city area in Shenzhen is very impressive and has lots of spaces to support innovations and startups. China hosts some of world’s biggest trade shows and exhibitions. It’s easy to see trends in the world economy here.

they are connected and communal. It’s easy to talk with people and make friends, especially if you are open and respectful.
technologically, China is of course advanced in many ways. For example, electric transport has been very developed here for years. You can find electric bikes, personal transportation vehicles (like kick scooters or mono wheels), electric taxis and cars, even electric buses (the photo below is a bus charging station).

some things are convenient. The Chinese messenger app (WeChat) is very advanced and makes it easy to make payments and much more; it’s a technology marvel. For example, in some cafes you can scan QR code on your table, which brings up the menu on your phone; you can make an order and it will be sent to your table. You can pay with your mobile phone almost everywhere, you don’t need cash or credit card. It’s fine to leave your wallet at home if you have a phone with you.
still kept (and in some cases even exaggerated) some of its sweet traditions. Well, their language itself is ancient to begin with. In the very developed Chinese cities you’ll see many people still trying to live simple ways. Outdoor tai chi, dragon boat festivals, traditional medicine, etc., add charm to the urban culture.
it’s vast and intellectually stimulating. It’s very geographically diverse, has rich history, and Chinese are passionate about learning and self development, they’re smart and focused. I love book shops here and book cafes; Shenzhen’s central book store claims to be the largest in the world.

To give a more balanced answer, I’ll mention a few negatives. They are not big, but are a part of life, too:

air pollution in some cities and regions. People are used to it. Most of the time it’s not terribly bad, and unfortunately air is more or less polluted in most (if not all) cities of the world. I take break from cities and travel once in a while to other countries or areas in China (such as Yunnan, Hainan) where the air is clean.

internet problems. Although the networks are fast, but due to traffic monitoring some sites are blocked (Google, popular social networks, and some news sites) or work slowly. This Internet control has not only political purpose, but it’s good for the development of Chinese Internet companies.
you shouldn’t be lazy and start learning the language and culture. It is very worthy. Although you always get help and generally friendly attitude, you need to do your part and learn at least the basics of Mandarin. Unlike in HK, in the mainland little effort is made to translate anything into English (beyond road signs and metro announcements). It pays a lot to know at least common phrases and basics of characters writing (汉字). It is a lot of fun actually.
Overall, China is fast pace, generally efficient, straightforward, but you need to get used to it and learn ways of doing things. They may be not what you are used to coming from another country.

Mudassir Ali
- Feb 29, 2020 06:47 AM

China is an amazing country. I think everyone needs to experience it at least once in their life.

Since first going to China in 2010, I have been in and out of China mainland and Hong Kong more times than I can count. I’ve visited hundreds of cities, all major cities and mostly tourist and business cities. I’ve even been to smaller country villages. I’ve lived in many areas there short term and own lots of property in China now.

It’s different. One of the main reasons why foreigners like it is because it’s different from their own country they grew up in. There is an awe factor.

The food. China has an abundance of amazing food. You can go to each province and experience a completely different set of cuisine styles. You can eat hot pot 100 times and never have the same combination of food. Their food is flavorful, fresh and generally healthier.

Modern. China has both older parts, and newer. In fact some parts of China are highly developed. China is the fastest growing country in the world. It’s had more growth in the last 20 years then any other country. And it’s becoming the world largest superpower. Even the USA cannot compare to the growth of China. Within 10 years I am estimating that China will completely surpass USA in most areas of technology and innovation.

Great investment. To add onto my point above, China is a great place to invest in. They have the highest business success rate in the world. They make more millionaires each year then any other country. Real Estate especially is very lucrative for foreigner to do in China. Lots of money to be made there.

Friendly. Most of anywhere you go in China (tourist locations) are very friendly to foreigners. Often times being treated like royalty. Especially public taxi services (most) won’t scam you and will try to take you where ever you want to go. I remember I hired a motorcycle taxi driver one day, and he was with me for about 11 hours straight, he waited for me at each place I went to, even if I took 45 minutes inside the building, he waited outside. At the end of the day, he charged me reasonable Chinese rates, and I treated him to dinner.

Culture. China’s culture is very complicated, detailed and mature. There is thousands of years of history there. The traditions are absolutely amazing. Everything from their standard day artwork in restaurants to their fun filled and spectacle festivals. The uniqueness of the country is something else that makes it great. From not sticking your chopsticks straight in the air in a bowl of rice, to burning money to honor the deads passing. China has a lot of amazing little things that make it a fun place to experience.

Scenery. China, without a doubt is one of the most gorgeous countries in the world. Everything from their mountain areas, rivers, and even flatlands/farmlands. I got thousands of photos I personally took I could show you, but there isn’t enough space. It’s the type of place you can go out on a raft on the Li River, and fall asleep for the whole day and drift down the river. You can drive around in the country side around the mountains and be captivated by the views and never see the same shape twice.

Air Pollution. This is both a negative and a positive. For most of China now, air pollution has gotten better in major cities. China has an abundance of clean, fresh air, especially in the country, and gorgeous mountain/river tourist areas. Heavy air pollution still exists in larger cities, smog, and thick air in the heat, especially by the rivers inside cities. The only dangerous air is in smaller factory cities, where the whole city is nothing but metal factories. Everyone wears masks. You can see metal glistening everywhere in the air. It gets in your mouth and tastes like iron, it gets in your eyes and stings. Definitely not a tourist area, and only a few factory cities are like that.

Historic sites. Another great thing about China is being able to visit all the historic site locations. All those older style buildings you see in movies and history tv shows, you can go to them and explore. And wow, there are many throughout all of China.

Transportation. China has a lot of people, no doubt about that. But what fascinates me is the amount of motorcycles, electric bikes, and regular bicycles there are. There is just too many people to all be driving cars. Bikes are much better, and there is a lot.

Unique parking system. Parking in China isn’t free. But you won’t find any parking meters. Instead areas have Chinese Entrepreneurs who watch over your car, your bike, etc. Each of these people have their own ‘zone’ they look at. They are everywhere. Outside malls, restaurants, shopping centers, tourist locations, etc. You pay them to be allowed to park, and in return, no one tows you, no one steals from you, and no one damages your property. Them and their assistants will man the area the whole day. Take for example the above photo of all the bikes. In that particular area, there was 2 people watching them the whole day.

Dating system. For foreigners looking to date/settle down in China, there is a long running tradition system. In every city in China there is a spot where you can go and people’s grandparents go there everyday and post a profile (paper) of their grand kids in the hopes of finding them a partner. These places are often hard to find, and will have hundreds and hundreds of ‘profiles’ posted up on walls and fences in the area. You can review them and get in contact to set up a interview. It’s really unique. Not as popular as it used to be with online dating now. But I think its worth mentioning as a cool thing because I think its awesome how Grandparents try to setup their grand-kids on matchmaking.

Traffic System. Traffic in China has come a long ways in the last 10 years, and this point is more of a negative. But traffic still has issues in smaller cities. It’s mostly fixed in bigger cities. I’m sure many of you have seen traffic videos of China on Youtube and the sort. There is a saying: green means go, yellow means go, and red means go. That’s right, you weave in and out of each other while all 4 directions go at the same time. And surprisingly, it works. The first time I drove on a motorcycle I got to experience this. It’s becoming less and less common each year as the government fixes all their light systems and enforces the rules. But there are still places you see this happening in smaller cities.

Safety. Contrary to media, China is generally very safe for the average tourist. Like any country, stay to the tourist designated zones and you’ll almost certainly be fine. I’ve only ever had a couple phones pickpocketed. For 99.999999% of visitors it’s generally safe, nothing to worry about if you use common sense. But venture into bad regions (just like any country), you can face gangs and more dangerous Chinese people who could potentially rob you at knife point, or attempt to kidnap for ransom. This is all very rare. But can still happen (like any other country).

Scams. China has a lot of scams, and many specifically targeting tourists, so this point will be a negative on this list. China isn’t perfect, so you’ll have this happen. No matter how nice China is as a whole, there is always that one person who tries to gain at your loss. China scams have been increasing over the years. But with common sense, you can usually avoid almost all. Most common ones are swtiching-money. This is where you give large bills (100 RMB) to pay and the cashier switches it out with a fake one and tells you it’s fake, making you give another one. I could list over 50 different common scams you’ll interact with in China if you are there for more than a month, but they’ve been listed elsewhere and are all over Youtube. With common sense, you can avoid it. Like the money one, I take photos of the serial numbers anytime I am giving large bills.

Entertainment. China government pays a lot on entertainment and visuals in tourist locations. The amount of time and money they put into landscaping, and cleaning up is impressive. They have the best festivals. Fireworks, plays, performances, music and general entertainment for hours. The festivals are a must-see.

Public Transportation: Their subway systems are amazing, most larger cities have them, very easy to get around. Just don’t take photo’s in public transportation areas like I did. It’s government property and photos are prohibited to be taken on government property. But it’s a great way to travel.

Cheap cheap cheap. Everything in China is very inexpensive. I was buying housing up for 10% of the cost of it does in North America. I was paying only 40 RMB (about $6 USD) per month on high speed internet. My China phone was only 100 RMB per month in usage. Cleaning services for my houses, apartments and other property as little as 50 RMB per time for a whole day service. Everything from food to transportation is very inexpensive. 1 year working Canada/USA pays for 5–6 years living in China. Big bottles of beer for about 3 RMB. In Canada that size beer would cost 20–25 RMB.

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