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2018-01-31 | 分类:生活 | 评论:0人

How did your opinions change after living in China?




Arman Siani, Engineer, Entrepreneur, Traveler
Answered Jan 22
I changed my stances from being neutral about China to completely pro-China during the time I lived there.
Growing up as an Aussie (yes my name is Arman but I am a white dude with a Turkish mother and an Italian-American dad who immigrated to Australia), my experience with Chinese people was mostly positive.
In my university, most of the Chinese students I came across were extremely intelligent and hard working, and these are characteristics that makes me like a person almost instantly, either because I myself am intelligent or hard-working or because I am lazy and dull and I like people with characteristics I desire for myself.




Without going into much details, I moved to China as an Engineer (the company that employed me in Australia shifted me to China) and then shifted careers and started working in quantitative finance, before coming back to the US.
Here are some points to note (which addresses my preconceptions before coming to the country and also some other issues):



The education system: While I had this opinion that Chinese education, especially in math and science would be tougher and superior to Australia, I didn’t realize the magnitude of the difficulty. The Chinese entrance exam, Gaokao was a tough nut to crack, and I witnessed first hand, the amount of effort that students put into cracking it in order to get into Tier 1 university. One of my colleagues’ younger cousin studied 8 hours a day and I was told that some Chinese students studied much more than that. The Gaokaos were orders of magnitudes more difficult than the ATARs or UAI (Australia) or the SATs. The physics question sets on the Gaokao were incredibly challenging, especially considering that they were to be answered by high schoolers, And I say those physics questions were challenging as an Engineer who graduated at the top 5–10 percent of his class. Oh and the collegues’ cousin couldn’t get into the university of his choice and had to settle for a Tier 2 University.




Infrastructure: I arrived during the early-mid 2000s and while I had preconceptions about China’s “third world” infrastructure, most of those pre-conceptions didn’t turn out to be true. Yes, things weren’t as good back at home, even though I was living in one of the prominent cities in China. But the roads and streets were clean (doesn’t apply to public toilets, which were exceptionally dirty) and construction of new buildings were taking place at a rapid rate. An “expat’s salary” did afford me very good facilities, including good housing. In any case, there was a huge difference in terms of infrastructure between the time I came to China and the time I left China.



Poverty and wealth: Before coming to China, I thought of China to be an incredibly poor, but rapidly rising nation. When I went there, I did feel that people in general were poorer than the West. A car was considered a luxury. American fast-food joints like McDonalds and Pizza Hut were considered “fine dining” (and yes, that would be the only time I would ever use McDonalds and “fine dining” in the same sentence). Owning a car (even tiny hatchbacks) was considered to be a status symbol. But there were also incredibly rich people and people working for certain private firms and owning businesses were extremely wealthy. However, the affluence of people increased exponentially in the years I stayed there.



Expats in China: Western expats in China came in two varieties. The first type were the incompetent, unqualified Westies who came to China to gain some “international exposure”, and usually they dropped into this country to teach English (although it doens’t apply to all English teachers in China). These folks would usually whine about the “oppressive” Chinese gove* and say how much they hated this place. The random Western woman who was here would complain about “misogyny”. But curiously, they would never leave the country. On the other hand, there were competent expats who came to this country as skilled workers who wanted to develop their careers and try their hands in China. These were the small to medium scale business owners who would often travel between China and the US, or international executives working for multinationals, or translators and business consultants and journalists.




The workplace: This is where I received quite a shock. I expected an easy-going work-life without strict hierarchies but I was as wrong as a person can ever be regarding both these assumptions. The work environment was stressful and hyper competitive, and surprisingly that was part of the reason I thrived there, because I liked to exert myself to the fullest extent possible. Also a lot of my colleagues were Chinese professionals who were educated in the UK or the US and they came back because they rightly felt that China with its dynamic economy had more opportunities. One of my subordinates got his degree in Math at the University of Michigan and was one of my favorite people to hang around. The people I worked with in general were extremely competitive, dedicated and competent. However, what I didn’t like about the workplace was limited individual autonomy, and a strangling bureaucracy when dealing with regulatory authorities.




Media vs reality: Living in Australia or the US, the media coverage of China was negative, to say the least, although in my opinion, George Bush’s tenure saw some positive Chinese opinions within the US administration (which was sort of counter-intuitive). In any case, the media portrayed the Chinese as mindless, brainwashed peasants who wanted their “white saviors” to rescue them from “oppression”. But the truth was completely different. Those guys are just like us, wanting better careers and futures for their children, and they didn’t really care too much about “democracy” and “human rights”. They were aware of how they came across to the West, but during my stay, I saw a gradual shift in attitude where they started to no longer care about what the West said about them. I have written about the media issue in quite a few of my China answers on Quora.




“Copycat” stereotype: I did have this impression that China stole a lot of designs from other nations, and while that’s not entirely false, its greatly exaggerated. This idea that the Chinese lack innovation is baseless. Yes, in the beginning they did utilize a lot of foreign designs for their models, but then again, that’s not unique to nations that only started to industrialize after the 50s. During the initial period of industrial revolution, French and German industries often enlisted the help of British engineers for their work, and Japan was no exception either. China’s recent developments in automation, quantum computing etc are original and innovative. And anyone who doubts the Chinese capability to innovate should go take a trip to a Chinese gadget market in one of the tier 2 cities.




In general however, what I liked about China was its people. They were intelligent, friendly and dynamic folks who genuinely loved their country and wanted to do good for themselves and their nation, and that’s something I cannot help but admire, especially considering that these people raised their nation form an sleepy backwater to the largest economy on the planet.
I left China because one of the curses of my personality is that I don’t stay still in one relationship or one job or one career. I need to move around.
However, I would gladly go back to China if and when I decide to take such a step.





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