Please read below to find out how YOU can help a young middle-class Westerner in China.
This is Tim:
Tim is 26 years old and lives in Suzhou. He comes from a loving family and graduated with a second-class degree in East Asian Studies from Loughborough University. Although he looks healthy, Tim is deeply troubled and in urgent need of help. For you see, Tim is a middle-class white man, and living in China is not easy for him.
All over China, young middle-class westerners like Tim are forced to work in the most humiliating and working-class conditions imaginable, and often have little comfort apart from a bi-monthly parcel from home containing packets of Yorkshire Tea, Custard Creams and old copies of The Guardian. Bored with their comfortable lifestyles back home, middle class expats like Tim often find a strange emptiness tugging at their hearts after graduation. Though they’ve been trained all their lives to go straight into investment banking after university, an overly liberal set of morals and too many nights spent smoking pot and watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon instills a sense of guilt so great that they simply must pack everything up and move to China.
However, on arrival in China, they sadly find less than middle-class conditions awaiting them:
Some middle-class westerners are forced to teach for upwards of TWO hours without a break for a nice sit down and a cup of tea.
Middle-class youths are sometimes placed in provinces which contain hardly any stores selling cheese, and often have to make do with inferior Chinese red wine as their only solace.
Even developed cities like Shanghai and Beijing are lacking in shops selling wind chimes, guitar picks, and pictures of Jim Morrison. One unfortunate middle-class student in Beijing People’s University had to resort to decorating his room with photos of India, when he knew for a fact that somebody in the corridor opposite had the exact same photographs.
Traditional British middle-class games like hockey, rugby, and cricket are virtually unheard of in China, and middle-class males have no alternative but to watch more working-class games like football and racism.
Chinese apartments are generally small and under-heated, creating an atmosphere unsuitable for holding candlelit dinner parties where the host can offer guests his homemade paté.
China ranks only 154th out of all the countries in the world in its number of horse-faced young women talking about shoes in pretentious coffee shops whilst sipping imported Pumpkin Spice Lattes- a disgusting figure in this day and age.
The statistics speak for themselves: 87% of middle-class westerners eventually leave China and return to jobs in accountancy firms; perhaps only mentioning China again in an effort to pull that new girl in Human Resources at the Christmas Party. The other 13% often remain bitter and discontented in China: reduced to talking about left-wing political ideals when drunk and establishing expat cycling clubs. Some even start writing blogs.
Though this blog is first and foremost a working man’s blog, we extend the hand of friendship out to our middle-class brethren and appeal for your help. Over seven people have read this blog, and if each one of them could contribute even one yuan, we would have at least seven yuan. Take a look at what your money could bring:
Just 55 RMB would be enough for a male middle-class westerner to drink a pint of Boddingtons in some bars, or a good cappuccino for a middle-class female. This would enable them to sigh contentedly, make an exaggerated gesture of satisfaction, and proclaim it’s better than the Chinese crap they’ve been drinking for the last two months.
Just 100 RMB would be enough to buy a Christmas Card which declares on the reverse that all of the company’s proceeds go to charity, which can maintain a correct and healthy level of pretentiousness in a middle-class expat for a full year.
200 RMB can provide a middle-class westerner with a two-day old copy of The Guardian on Sunday which they can then read in full and quote as their own opinions.
For only 8500 RMB we can send at least one middle-class westerner on a return trip to Surrey, where they can walk around green fields with the family dog and frequent wine bars for a whole week. One lucky middle-class male on his last trip home even managed to quote enough bullshit about China in an Irish theme pub that a neighbouring executive offered him a low-level consultancy position at PriceWaterhouseCoopers!
A mere 20,000 RMB a month can house a family of middle-class westerners in a community where they can meet like-minded middle-class families. Not only does this satisfy accommodation needs, but it also leads to bored housewives setting up charity cake bakes and Christmas Carol Choirs which revitalise expat communities.
So come on, readers! Dig deep into your pockets and do your best to help a middle-class expat near you! Proceeds can be sent to my offshore bank account registered in the Cayman Islands. Tim really needs your help.
Thank you and take care. And I do mean take care.
(This blog post is based on an original blog post I wrote back in 2007. The bastard was called Charlie in those days.)
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members– a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.
Clickbait post titles. How far the art of literature hath fallen…
Three weeks ago, whilst sat at home drinking a refreshing can of F-Max (the lightly sparkling fish-flavoured soft drink), I introduced the world to the exciting new game of Panda Hugger Top Trumps. If you have read that post you will know already that Panda Hugger Top Trumps is a fun game for One Child families across the Heavenly Kingdom who like their entertainment to feature the dregs and bottom-feeders from the lucrative trade of sucking up to the Chinese Communist Party. So far, neither Shaun Rein nor Martin Jacques have contacted me officially through their legal representatives, so I guess I’ll have to keep trying.
However, as some eagle-eyed readers pointed out, there was one notable person missing from this pack of jokers.
A man-boy whose humiliating attempts to grovel before his new Chinese masters outshines every other contender in the race.
A man-boy who – despite debasing himself to the lowest possible level in the eyes of the Politburo – has singularly failed to achieve the slightest success in his China plans.
I’m talking, of course, about Mark Zuckerberg.
His precious Facebook banned in China since 2009, Suckerberg has tried desperately since then to convince the good people in Zhongnanhai to unblock his website. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong in trying to expand one’s commercial operations, especially when one’s website is known to a large percentage of the world’s internet users as “404 Not Found”. I believe there are very few people in 2016 who still begrudge companies for trying to expand in China over vague rumblings of “human rights”. However, it is the nature of Suckerberg’s approach to China that earns him a very very special mention within the halls of CCP apologists. Grab yourself a sick bucket and make yourself comfortable, for we are about to list Mark Suckerberg’s 8 most egregious attempts to ingratiate himself with the boys of Beijing. Starting from incidents that only rank as “mildly nauseous” we will continue until we reach the lowest depths of whatever remains of Mark’s withered soul. You’ll probably need to encase your computer in protective plastic sheeting by that point lest projectile vomiting damages your hard drive. Join me as I attempt to not just take the piss out of this worthless sack of shit, but to weld every one of his orifices to a kidney dialysis machine for the next 5000 years until his body contains less piss-moisture than the surface of the desert planet Arrakis in Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Why 8? Because harmony, stupid laowai.
8: This 2015 Chinese New Year video
I really wish I hadn’t eaten that fish curry before writing this. Point your cursor at the video below and brace yourself.
A personal net worth of 35 billion US dollars and all Mark would splash out on his company’s Chinese New Year party was a pair of tacky fire cracker ornaments and a cheap paper lantern that wouldn’t look out of place hanging over the reception desk of a squalid backstreet Hainanese brothel. Come on Mark: surely with all the money Angela Merkel gave you to delete anti-immigration comments from Facebook you could have at least purchased a picture of a dragon or something?
What the hell is wrong with Suckerberg’s Chinese? Listen to him. It sounds like instead of hiring a Mandarin tutor he just saved money by inviting Stephen Hawking round and sticking a Berlitz tape in his voice box. And why is he so tense? Is it because he failed to enact proper quality control over the “food from around China” at the party and has had a bad case of transforming his underpants into a replica of the flag of Japan? Or is it because he has taken such a fisting from Xi Jinping over the years that he can no longer sit down? Fuck knows, I’d look it up on Facebook but I’m not a member of his awful data-thieving click-site.
Mark claims that the Facebook party would have 50 performances. I bet that at least 40 of those performances are things like Mark showing everybody he can use chopsticks, Mark singing “Mary had a little lamb” in piss-poor Mandarin, and Mark showing off his traditional Tang Dynasty jacket. The “likes” must have been simply flying around the Facebook HQ that day.
7: Mark’s speech at Tsinghua University
After proving to the world that he can speak Mandarin to the same standard as a bad Skype connection, Mark was at it again in October 2015 when he decided to give a speech to the students of Tsinghua University. To those readers who are unfamiliar with China’s establishments of higher learning: Tsinghua is generally regarded as China’s least worst university.
Have you watched it yet? I can understand if you didn’t because it took me quite some time too. The first time I watched it I was so angry that I put my foot through the computer screen and sent Facebook the bill. I then tried to watch it on my phone which has resulted in Tsinghua University receiving a bill as well.
Mark’s speech was entitled “Change the World”, which is ironic really because Mark doesn’t even change his shirt most of the time. Here Suckerberg did his very best impression of the well known “dancing white monkey” routine which will be familiar to any readers who have experienced the horror of teaching English in a Chinese school. Despite his vast amounts of wealth, Suckerberg managed to get himself in the same situation as penniless TEFL teachers trapped in dead-end jobs in tier-88 Nongzhou hellholes: shoved onto a stage and forced to act like an idiot in order to amuse bored Chinese teenagers.
And how did those future leaders of China react?
Riveted. They look like they’ve been forced to watch a Giant Redwood tree grow to maturity. At least the lady in the third row can upload her photo of Mark to her Facebook account as a memento of the big day. OH NO, HANG ON A MINUTE, SHE CAN’T BECAUSE FACEBOOK IS FUCKING BLOCKED IN CHINA EXPOSING THIS WHOLE CHARADE FOR THE EMBARRASSMENT IT IS. Strike this one up as yet another fail for Suckerberg and his revolting Uncle Tom routine.
6: Meeting China’s “Internet Czar” – Lu Wei
Mr Lu Wei is China’s “Internet Czar”. For those of you who don’t know what that means, Wikipedia tells me he is the senior executive official in charge of cybersecurity and internet policy in China.
Take a good look at the man.
This is a man who is directly responsible for the most constrained and censorious internet policy on the entire planet. His actions in blocking access to foreign content have contributed to China’s cyberspace becoming the world’s biggest intranet. Internet access in China is so bad that most people still have to resort to using CD-ROMs to get any kind of information, which is why Lu Wei has one glued to his jacket in the photo above. Thanks to him and his fellow cronies, the Information Superhighway in China more closely resembles an Information Cul-de-Sac.
And yet despite blocking Facebook and making absurd statements like “There is no internet censorship in China”, Lu Wei still gets Bad Luck Zuck grovelling at his feet. Lu Wei and Suckerberg have met on a couple of occasions, and on each occasion Suckerberg has got down on his knees and kowtowed like the self-loathing worm he is.
You know what image springs to mind when I see that picture of Mark shaking hands with the head of the world’s largest internet censorship project?
I’m sorry. Perhaps I’ve gone too far and overstepped the mark. It was never my intention to cause offence by comparing Mark Zuckerberg to Neville Chamberlain. They are completely different. People forget that Neville Chamberlain improved the lives of many working women with his Factories Act of 1937 which prevented employers from burdening employees with strenuous working hours. Zuckerberg, on the other hand, is just a slimy little cunt.
Thank God that Mark’s support of government censorship and control of the internet is only limited to China where it can’t affect the rest of us! Phew!
5: Placing Xi Jinping’s book in the Facebook HQ
Probably because the sensation of anal fisting becomes more pleasurable over repeated exposure, Suckerberg decided that meeting Internet Czar Lu Wei just once was nowhere near enough, so he invited the cuddly little Communist over to Facebook HQ for tea and biscuits.
According to Lu Wei’s follow-up report “What I Did On My Holidays By Lu Wei Aged 55 and 3/4”, the Net Nanny had a lovely day over at Mark’s shiny silicon valley palace. Not only did Mark show Lu Wei around the entire Facebook office, but Lu Wei even got to try out Mark’s very own special chair by Mark’s very own special desk!
They really had a lovely day. Oh… hang on… what’s that in the corner?
Oh for fuck’s sake. Can somebody telephone Mama Zuckerberg and tell her that Mark’s been acting like a dickhead once again?
That book is Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China. And Mark just happened to leave it on his desk when Lu Wei came to visit and some photographers were handily nearby. I couldn’t make this up.
To be fair: there is a slight possibility that Suckerberg may have genuinely read Xi Jinping’s book and left it on his desk by an absolutely stunning coincidence. That could be conceivable if the book is so well-written and so absorbing that it caused Mark to forget all about it and leave it haphazardly upon his desk. Let’s check an Amazon review of The Governance of China and see what other people think:
“Unless your Party unit requires you to read this, there’s absolutely no reason to purchase it.” – Anatole, reviewer.
Seriously. How low can Mark Zuckerberg go? Who did he think he was kidding by “accidentally” leaving a copy of Xi Jinping’s book on his desk in a sycophantic attempt to curry favour with the man himself? I ask again: How low can Mark go?
At least Mark hasn’t done anything really reprehensible yet – like using his own family…
That would be really low indeed.
4: This Chinese New Year video of Mark’s wife and child
That’s it. Fucking shoot me now.
3: Jogging through Tiananmen Square then posting photos of it on Facebook
If you have managed to read through this list so far, apart from being covered in the stinking vomit of revulsion, you probably guessed (correctly) that this post was inspired by Mark Zuckerberg’s recent photograph of him running through Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
Mark has done some shockingly naive things in the last few years during his failed attempts to ingratiate his webshite with the ruling class of China, but few have displayed such a shocking level of ignorance as this one. It’s laughable that his own PR team even let him get away with this.
There are so many things wrong with this. Zuckerberg makes a mockery of those miserable unfortunates who have no choice but to live everyday in smog clouds of life-shortening pollution with no way out. By jogging through a smog-covered Tiananmen Square, Mark sneers at all those people who have had to deal with cancer and the other fatal diseases that are caused by China’s outrageous pollution levels. Yet Mark doesn’t care about them. He just wants to show the world that he doesn’t believe those scary scientific PM readings that demonstrate the environmental degradation of Beijing’s air quality. Also, unlike those ridiculous Beijingers who cannot even step outside without wearing a facemask, let alone go for an early morning jog, Mark will be safely on a plane back to California and breathing in his privileged billionaire’s oxygen within no time.
Not only did Mark Zuckerberg show his utter contempt towards the lives of people who suffer from China’s industrial pollution, but he also chose to boast about it on Facebook whilst still in Beijing – a website that is blocked in China. In order to circumvent China’s firewall he must have used an illegal VPN to upload the photograph and accompanying comment. Such an action would get an ordinary Chinese citizen into trouble, but again Mark need not worry about such repercussions back in his Silicon Valley condo. Who cares about the plight of China’s health as long as they can access Mark’s social media site?
Ironically, I doubt whether this jog and subsequent Facebook boast did Zuckerberg any favours. The people of China would not have seen the post since they can’t access Facebook anyway. The Communist Party would have been embarrassed at a foreigner pointing out Beijing’s pollution problems, however unintended. Like every single one of Zuckerberg’s attempts to insert himself into the affections of the CCP, it will have failed spectacularly.
2: His entire marriage
***FEMINIST TRIGGER WARNING!***
Over the course of this article, we have seen the depths that Mark Zuckerberg will lower himself to in order to get his precious Facebook unblocked in China. It’s sickening, it’s sycophantic, it’s soulless. It also demonstrates a total lack of respect for oneself to crawl before an uncaring foreign leadership in an increasingly desperate and unsuccessful attempt to promote a business. If Suckerberg could prove his undying love to the great Chinese nation, he wouldn’t just tattoo a picture of Xi Jinping on the end of his penis, he’d probably get a rib surgically removed so that he could lean forward and suck it too.
However, I think Suckerberg’s underlying psychological issues run much deeper than a commercial wish to promote his business. It’s my belief that the awkward and autistic billionaire has a burning and unfulfilled need to be loved.
Bear in mind that out of these 8 posts, this entry is merely conjecture, though I think no less valid.
Let’s take a look at Mark Zuckerberg’s wife.
Indulge me in a quick thought experiment. How did Mark and Priscilla Zuckerberg get together?
The first part is easy. I think I can hazard a fairly accurate guess as to why Priscilla decided to marry awkward, socially autistic, weedy, man-boobed billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.
So why did Mark marry Priscilla?
There is no denying that there is a neediness and a desire for attention in everything Mark Zuckerberg does. Indeed, such a deep psychological craving for the respect of other people is common to nerdy intelligent types who feel during their formative teenage years that the unfair world is somehow against them. Bigger guys get the girls, but if I get rich then I can get girls too. As a theory it certainly explains Mark’s drive to create a monumentally successful (except in China – hah!) billion dollar business, especially a social media business that further focuses the attention onto its founder.
Let’s be honest. Priscilla is hardly a looker and is certainly not within the same league as the supermodel types you see hanging off the arms of people with far less money than Mark Zuckerberg. Even the late Paul Daniels did better with Debbie McGee and all he had was a magic wand and some doves. Seeing them together, it is very difficult to not suspect that Mark simply married the first woman that ever looked at him. In China I have seen more than my fair share of socially awkward “losers” slip an engagement ring on the first TEFL student who said “I think you very handsome”. I believe there is a strong possibility that Suckerberg has a very deep level of insecurity that his billions have not managed to cancel out.
(Yes, and before someone chooses to write in the comment section that I am wrong to judge Priscilla solely on her looks, I’m sure she has a “lovely personality” blah blah blah. She’s also a woman with a “lovely personality” who in all probability has married an equally ugly man just for his money. This isn’t the fucking Guardian.)
However, given everything we have seen about Mark Zuckerberg and his pitiful grovelling before the Chinese government, how can anybody be sure that he didn’t just marry a Chinese wife so that he could present himself even more as a “friend of China”?
No. I must be wrong. There is no way in this world that a Chinese woman would marry the billionaire head of a global media empire just for his money, and that the billionaire head of a global media empire would marry a Chinese woman just to expand his business interests in China. It’s just not possible.
1: Asking Xi Jinping to choose his baby’s name and being refused
So if marrying a Chinese woman just to suck up to the CCP only ranks at #2 on this list, what could #1 possibly be?
Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt to forge a friendship with China’s President Xi Jinping appears to have backfired.
The leader reportedly snubbed the Facebook founder’s request to choose an honorary Chinese name for his unborn baby girl with wife Priscilla Chan.
Zuckerberg, who is trying to lift China’s ban on Facebook, met Xi a number of times during his visit to the United States last month.
But it was at a spectacular White House state dinner hosted by President Barack and Michelle Obama in Xi’s honor on September 25 that Zuckerberg was brave enough to ask for the personal favor.
Seated at the head table with his pregnant wife, the Obamas and President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan, Zuckerberg plucked up the courage to ask Xi to name his baby daughter – in Mandarin.
But a source told PageSix that he received a definitive ‘no’ from a stony-faced Xi, while another explained that it was ‘too much responsibility’.
Not only has Suckerberg learnt Mandarin, jogged in Beijing and married a daughter of the Yellow Emperor just so that he can suck up to Zhongnanhai, he also asked Xi Jinping to provide the name of his then unborn daughter. He is willing to hand over all aspects of his family life to Xi Jinping if it even gave him the slightest chance of having his website unblocked in China for a week.
By asking Xi Jinping to name his daughter, Mark’s effectively granting ownership of his baby over to Xi. There’s a name for a man who raises a baby who belongs to somebody else, and that name is “cuckold”.
Zuckerberg isn’t just a Suckerberg, he’s a Cuckerberg too.
If the above 8 points have not convinced you yet that Cuckerberg isn’t the ultimate self-loathing, soulless, sycophantic Panda Hugger of our times, there is nothing further I can say. All that remains is to reward Mark his richly deserved Top Trumps card.
And Mark, if you are reading this, don’t worry if Xi Jinping doesn’t love you as much as you love him. At least there’s somebody else out there who shares the same feelings as you.
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members– a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.
(I wrote this on Sinocidal back in 2007. This article even got written about on Asian Correspondent. Here it is again, but with some cheeky updates to reflect the last few years)
5,000,000 years BC: Somewhere on the cooling igneous rock formed from millenia of geological turmoil that will one day settle and form the land we now know as China, sulphuric emissions from falling meteorites destroy stretches of lush forestry and wipe out all but the hardiest forms of life. A cycle has begun that will be repeated many times throughout the entire history of this land.
4,999,999 BC – 3001 BC: A quiet time for Chinese civilisation.
3000 BC: Exactly 5016 years ago this Tuesday, primitive man all over the world began to pick up objects using small wooden sticks as tools. Two advanced primates along the Yellow River basin decide that their way of picking up things with wooden sticks indicates their superior level of civilisation, and establish the foundations of Chinese civilisation after taking a shit in a hole.
2500 BC: Chinese scientists rename the fatherland “the motherland” after determining the sex of China.
1600 BC: The great Yu, last of the Five Legendary Rulers, promises to eradicate bad habits such as spitting and queue jumping within the next five years. “China is a developing country” he reminds critics.
770 BC – 476 BC: The Spring and Autumn Period occurs in China, and is only brought to an end by the invention of Summer and Winter by Chinese scientists.
479 BC: Confucius: philosopher, educator, and the man responsible for consolidating the guidelines that would shape East Asia, dies after chocking on a chicken bone. Though his earlier works were hailed as successes, commentators note that as he got older, the old man started to lose clarity. Phrases like: “Confucius says: Kids today don’t know they’re born”, “Confucius says: Take your coat off or you won’t feel the benefit”, and “Confucius says: I remember when this was all fields”, fail to make it into final editions of The Analects.
221 BC: The armies of Qin Shihuangdi “peacefully liberate” the whole of China for the first time, and the government goes around relieving citizens of burdensome relics of the old feudal system, like life and happiness. Qin Shihuangdi also builds the Great Wall of China: a feat of engineering so magnificent, that it can be seen anywhere in the world.
771 AD: At the height of China’s “Golden Age”, rebels An Lushan and Shi Siming lead an armed uprising against the ruling Tang Dynasty. Disgruntled peasants complain that the government spends too much time and money having passionate affairs and stirring political intrigue in order to attract CCTV producers of costume dramas from the future. The Curse of the Golden Flower fails to win a single Oscar nomination at the 2007 Academy Awards, and producers begin to leave the past as audiences demand more modern dramas. The An Lushan rebellion is quickly quelled and the Emperor blames everything on the time-travelling foreigners.
1167: The five year old Genghis Khan is left at home with his “Uncle Tommy” while his mother pops down the shops to buy some yak’s butter. A disturbed Genghis promises not to tell his mother about the “special games” he’s been playing, and grows up to conquer Asia and slaughter millions.
1266: Marco Polo arrives in Beijing and brings with him the inventions of spaghetti, ice cream, and gunpowder. Five years later, after investing in the Joint Venture “Sino-Polo Happy Food and Fireworks Factory”, a bankrupt Marco leaves China with all his ideas pirated and distributed freely around China. The Yuan Dynasty government responds to Venetian protests by saying it was all a ”misunderstanding”, and Marco “didn’t understand the Chinese way”.
1368: The Ming overthrows the Mongols and establishes a new dynasty that will last for nearly 200 years. During his coronation, the Emperor promises to eradicate bad habits such as spitting and queue jumping within the next five years. “China is a developing country” he reminds critics.
1405: Admiral Zheng He and his men arrive on the east coast of Africa: a feat accomplished 87 years before Columbus discovered America. Zheng He and his men spend their time in Africa walking around in a tour group and refusing to eat the local food. After being asked to leave for saying the locals were “too black”, Zheng He steals a giraffe, and cooks it upon arriving in China. The giraffe disagrees with the stomach of the Chinese Emperor; Zheng He is imprisoned and the African natives are then asked to apologise for hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.
1793: Lord Macartney, a well-known celebrity in Great Britain, sails to China and pleads with the Emperor Qianlong to accept British exports of microwaved vegetarian meals and recordings of The Mull of Kintyre. Macartney’s demands aren’t met, and he returns disheartened to the United Kingdom. On the way he is robbed of most of his fortune by a one-legged gold-digging pirate.
1842: Faced against powerful slogans like “Keep China British” and “It’s time to euthanise the Sick Man of Asia”, feeble catchphrases like “Get high on Confucianism!” fail to win the War on Drugs for the Qing government. Hong Kong is ceded to the British, and the Chinese vow to seek revenge by bricking the windows of the British Embassy 125 years later.
1911: Sun Yat-sen’s new Republic ends nearly 5000 years of imaginary imperial rule. The new Chinese Congress promises to eradicate bad habits such as spitting and queue jumping within the next five years. “China is a developing country” they remind critics.
1949: After years of civil war, Japanese invasion, and national humiliation, a giant poster of Mao gains control of China. The giant poster wields power through an army of smaller, photocopied, versions of itself, and promises to rid all China of stamps featuring Queen Victoria and placards of Chiang Kai-Shek. The giant poster of Mao is head of the Chinese Communist Party, which at the time was the biggest, and probably the best, Communist Party in the whole world.
1958: Mao begins the Great Leap Forward, which quickly leaps to the top of the BBC’s All-Time Best Misnamed Political Campaigns, pushing aside old favourites like Hitler’s “Great Hanukah Promotion Drive” and Gandhi’s “Let’s Kick Their Fucking Heads Open”.
1966: Mao follows his success with “The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”. A time which seemingly everybody chose to ignore completely and read a book about the Nanjing Massacre instead.
1969: The dreams of Man are realised as Neil Armstrong takes his first step on the moon. China responds by stating it too will place a man selling lamb kebabs, t-shirts, and musical lighters, on the moon by 2040.
June 4th 1989: According to the official records of the CCP, on this day the sun was shining, so Deng Xiaoping decided to have a nice picnic with his friends out in the countryside. On the way home, he saw a cute kid selling homemade lemonade by the roadside, so he bought six glasses for only one yuan each, and then gave the kid a shiny button to take home.
1997: The comet Hale-Bopp graced the heavens in one of the most beautiful sights ever to appear upon the celestial basin in recent years. Angry that the arrival of the comet was diverting media attention from the upcoming handover of Hong Kong, Deng Xiaoping passed away in a pathetic face-saving attempt to bring global attention back to China. The trick is a success, and none less that Dame Edna Everage himself arrives in Hong Kong to preside over the handover ceremony.
2000: Beijing authorities greet the arrival of the Olympic committee by painting the grass green and removing all the tramps off the streets. Six weeks later, Beijing authorities greet the arrival of the Eurovision Song Contest committee by painting the grass brown again, bringing the tramps back in, and letting them run wild on crack cocaine.
2008: The Glorious Olympics finally arrive like a shining beacon of awesomeness in a forest of shit. Human Rights activists in other countries protest against Beijing being awarded the Olympics and its treatment of Tibet. Chinese nationalists are quick to logon in rebuttal and tell the foreigners that China promises to eradicate bad habits such as spitting and queue jumping within the next five years. “China is a developing country” they remind us.
2013: A new President emerges who is universally declared to be THE BEST PRESIDENT EVER (by Xinhua, CCTV and the Peoples’ Daily). This President is so excellent that he scores 11/10 in absolutely everything he does, earning him the name Chairman XI. President Eleven loses no time in drawing up a list of all the foreigners living in China, ready to blame and behead them for when the GDP growth dips below 7% in three years time.
2016: Unknown blogger Arthur Meursault writes a blog post detailing the history of China. Two days later he finds over 100 comments in his spam folder from email addresses like email@example.com telling him that he “doesn’t understand China” and is “a little fat”.
In Xi Jinping’s China of 2016, dressing well has never been so important. Long gone are the days of masses of impoverished proletariat dressed in identikit blue uniforms. Today’s corrupt official needs to look the part. If any readers out there want to know how to dress to impress within local government circles of third and fourth tier cities like Nanchang, Linyi or Longyou, Mr Yang Wei is here to show you how to dress like a BOSS (or mid-ranking government official, at least). Follow Yang Wei’s handy tips below and soon you could have a mistress of slightly-above average looks living in a rented condominium on the outskirts of town as well as your own Audi A6.
Yang Wei’s fashion tips:
Hair perfectly formed in a buzzcut with right-angles so sharp that it scares birds away. Not that there are any birds in your tier-88 city after they were all killed in the 1960s, and even if there were they would probably just fly around your smog-choked city as there is nothing worth shitting on. If you are over the age of 45 it goes without saying that the hair should be rigorously dyed black every other day to prevent it from showing any bourgeois grey hairs. During vacation time you can be risqué and decorate your hair with a plastic green leaf that doesn’t look in the slightest bit ridiculous. No.
Leader glasses: exceptionally important, because nothing is guaranteed to make you stand out amongst your Party Cadre peers than wearing the exact same pair of glasses as everybody else.
Smoking is essential if you ever hope to grease the wheels of commerce and industry. Yang Wei himself prefers Little Panda brand which comes in a glorious yellow packet that symbolises gold, wealth, the mythical Yellow Emperor of the Xia Dynasty and lung cancer.
Western style suit jackets and shirts are an insult to 5000 years of Chinese fashion – and most importantly – restrict visibility of Yang Wei’s glorious pot belly. Yang Wei has invested a considerable amount of The People’s Currency (definitely not his own) into an ostentatious beer belly, so he damn well wants The People to see it. A loose-fitting Ralph Lauren polo shirt provides maximum comfort and prestige. Ideally it should be in garish bright pink or green to combine the comfort of “sports casual” with the finesse of “imperial leisure”. Pull this off correctly and you are rewarded with a look that says “I have arrived in Zhengzhou and nothing’s going to stop me.”
Probably the most important part of the entire outfit: a good phone provides the modern Party Member with immediate access to the infinite amount of information available on the Internet – or at least those sites still accessible in China anyway. This is one area where it is politically acceptable to invest in evil foreign technology as a Xiaomi or an Oppo will fade in comparison to the latest iPhone that you made your 80 year old grandmother queue 17 hours in the pouring rain in order to buy. Don’t worry though, you can quickly decontaminate your iPhone’s pernicious foreignness by filling it with good domestic apps like We-fucking-Chat, Tu-fucking-dou and Q-fucking-Q. At the time of writing, the most popular colour to decorate your iPhone in is a kind of effeminate pinky-peach that can be explained away as “Rose Gold”.
Mao forbid that you have ever been forced to conduct manual labour at any point during your years of existence. Demonstrate this fact by cultivating your fingernails into long jagged talons that prove you haven’t lifted anything heavier than a pencil or a stack of 100 RMB notes in the last twenty years. Bonus! The long nails can also be used to pick at ear wax and/or excrement providing you with an almost limitless supply of tasty post-banquet snacks.
A chunky and ostentatious belt buckle is the cherry on top of the nouveau riche cake: get this wrong and you’ll be airbrushed out of official CCP photos faster than Liu Shaoqi after a Gang of Four gangbang. A hideous belt buckle maketh the man and provides a centrepiece to his total outfit. Yang Wei personally favours a fake Lacoste belt buckle with the crocodile facing the wrong way, a crystal-studded dollar sign, or one tastefully inscribed with the words $$$RICHBOSS888$$$.
Luxury watch. Acceptable brands include Rolex, Piaget, Omega and Cartier. Non-acceptable brands include Swatch, fitness trackers or anything digital.
Clasped by one’s side is the indispensable Man Bag (or Han Bag if you want to get all ethnocentric). Dunhill is a decent choice because it normally comes accompanied with several free packets of cigarettes. Not only is a Man Bag a fashion essential, it is also useful for carrying large amounts of cash that you may or may not have recently received from crooked property developers in exchange for planning permission.
Trousers. It goes without saying that these should be pulled upwards as high as humanly possible. Slightly grazing the nipple is a good height.
Who’s this cool customer? The Ensemble: Tar black shoes paired with ice white socks featuring navy blue double cadet stripes. It’s a look that never goes out of fashion. The French call this look “L’Homme du Corruption”.
Ideally, one’s shoes should be the afore-mentioned deepest of tar blacks, but Yang Wei had unfortunately ruined his black shoes with some carelessly discarded curried lobster when he modelled for this photo so had to wear his brown ones instead. It is absolutely essential that the shoes are polished to within a fraction of actually destroying them – preferably by a roadside shoe-shiner for as little money as you can possibly get away with. A man’s shoes should be so shiny that they almost – almost – outshine China’s glorious future.
I have highlighted in bold and underlined my favourite parts.
Thanks for turning me on to this extremely enjoyable book. Lovecraftian indeed.
There were two things I found fascinating about it in particular:
-I actually didn’t find it all that racist, to be honest. Townsend seems to go out of his way to try to explain how things became the way they are in China and among the Chinese without invoking some notion of racial inferiority (in fact, at one point he speaks quite favorably of California Chinese, which suggested that there’s nothing wrong with the racial stock of the people). What was even more interesting was that he doesn’t even really seem to think that there’s anything wrong with China’s memetic stock- while some authors, like Lu Xun and Bo Yang, want to lay China’s ills at the feet of it’s sages, he points out that their ethics and teachings aren’t terribly different, in their actual content, from various western counterparts. I think if he lived today, he’d see that everything he saw could pretty much be explained by game theory and the social psychology of overpopulation; perhaps he should have re-read Thomas Malthus, who intimated the problems that would arise in a civilization that was too successful. Indeed, that was the real problem, that a better reading of Chinese history would have brought out- the system they stumbled upon worked well enough for them to choke on it. Visiting China in 1932 and 1933, he was seeing a civilization at it’s utter nadir- and coming from one that wasn’t far off from it’s peak. That’s going to generate startling contrasts.
-The book made me, inadvertently, much more sympathetic to the Communist Party. If Townsend’s account can be entirely believed (and I’m not quite sure that it can, though I had few quibbles with it other than that his understanding of Chinese history seemed pretty superficial and cliche, and thoroughly enjoyed his skewering of the KMT), then the achievements of the CCP during the Mao years were nothing short of miraculous. The massive improvements in literacy, sanitation, eradication of drugs, and just the unification and institution building that were completed look quite impressive next to his picture of China as an absolute, chaotic basketcase. It also throws out the whole narrative about Mao’s Cultural Revolution being such a horrific disaster for China- there wasn’t much left to save at that point. And it wasn’t really any worse than any average decade in China in the 20th century before 1950– but that certainly isn’t saying much.
There’s a recent work of popular Asian history, “The China Mirage” by James Bradley (which I highly recommend), which covers some of the same territory- especially as regards the power that missionaries had over our China policies. I definitely enjoyed his skewering of the missionary mindset.
Being a hardened cynic for all my life, I guess China didn’t really disappoint me in any idealistic respects; my six years at least got me a lovely wife, an MBA, some publishing credits and lots of fond memories. But equally, I’d never go back to live (unless I could work remotely as a trader); I always tell young folks who want to move to China to help them in their careers conquering the investment banking or management consulting worlds to STAY FAR, FAR AWAY. If you want to go for a few years to avoid reality back home, go ahead (particularly these days, reality is overrated anyway). If you’re just really curious and don’t have any particular ambitions to do anything beyond teaching and writing, and caught the China bug, go right ahead. But anyone with either a career or missionary drive should stay home.
If I could do it all over again, I’d have moved to Singapore and started a financial career instead.
Hanfeizi wins the coveted “Commenter of the Month” award. Considering how few comments this blog generates, he didn’t really have much competition.
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members– a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.
Hello! I’m Meursault, and when I’m not busy clicking “LIKE” on Facebook pictures about pugs and the babies of mild acquaintances, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good game to while away the long hours when I should be working for The Man. However, perhaps you are not as fortunate as me. Maybe you don’t work for The Man, but instead for The Han? And as we all know (say that in the voice of an overly zealous student) the Great Firewall means access to some of the better online games are inaccessible.
Not to worry! Your good friend Meursault likes to help his buddies behind the Great Firewall and is determined to bring some fun into the lives of TEFL Teachers and English Polishers everywhere by returning to the “old school” and introducing YOU to the game that is sweeping the Celestial Empire: Panda Hugger Top Trumps.
Yes! Finally somebody has been inspired to combine the old playground card game with everybody’s favourite CCP apologists. Have you ever wondered who would win in a fight between John Naisbitt and Martin Jacques? Have you ever pondered whether Eric X Li could get Daniel Bell in a headlock? Then this game is for you!
The rules are simple: just print out the following cards then gather your fellow English Teachers / Alcoholics / Fugitive Paedophiles for a rollicking good game. Compare your statistics and compete to become Xi Jinping’s Number One Fan. And just for extra fun: all cards have been decorated with beautiful hand-drawn bottles of Moet – because Champagne Socialists wouldn’t be Champagne Socialists without a bottle of bubbles!
Kneel in terror at his unstoppable narration of the inevitable rise of China! A man who is such a friend of the CCP that he has even adopted their beliefs. However the former editor of Marxism Today loses points for not knowing a word of Chinese and emulating Chiang Kai-shek in his hairstyle rather than the Great Helmsman.
The King of Outsourcing! Years spent studying Tim Ferris’ “4 Hour Work Week” has transformed John into a formidable one-man CCP propaganda machine: by simply outsourcing his entire Twitter updates to a group of underpaid Chinese students. Few can match the mighty John Ross in wealth following his large payouts from the British taxpayer. However, his wealth is also his weakness. For just as a panda cannot survive in the modern world without massive government assistance, neither can John Ross.
John’s immense power lies in the fact that he is a futurist: meaning that he knows exactly the right things to say to appease the CCP leadership from Xi Jinping in 2016 all the way to Xiii Jinping in 2046. Sadly, despite John’s amazing powers of prediction, he probably didn’t see this blog post coming.
Wife of John Naisbitt, Friend of China. Probably the sexiest of the Panda Huggers Pack, but let’s face it: John Ross isn’t much competition in that area. Like her husband, Doris enjoys free lunches, riding the CCP gravy train, and not producing anything of value since the 1990s.
Probably the least worst of the Panda Huggers – unlike the others on this list Mark Rowswell AKA Dashan genuinely possesses some talent. Unconquerable in his ability to speak perfect Chinese, Big Mountain makes the list mainly due to his abysmal performance as Edgar Snow (pictured on his card) and forcing every single foreigner in China to be compared to this “so handsome, so charm” Canadian cunning linguist.
It may be “The End of Copycat China”, but it certainly isn’t the end of Shaun Rein’s copycat career as a self-promoting pro-Party bullshitter. Establishing himself on the corporate bullshit circuit as an expert on the economics of China with unrivalled insider knowledge, Shaun represents one of the most powerful Panda Hugger Top Trumps. Some people suggest that Shaun Rein is not human and merely a highly advanced form of artificial unintelligence or a complex pro-Beijing algorithm, but could an algorithm wear such dashing tailor-made suits on profile photos atop Forbes Magazine columns? We don’t think so.
A powerful card to possess. Daniel’s firm belief that the Chinese Communist Party is a true meritocracy that should be emulated by governments all over the world has given him unique grovelling powers unequalled by anyone. Daniel Bell has brown-nosed the Party leadership so much, that it is often said within the halls of Zhongnanhai: “When Xi Jinping farts, Daniel Bell sneezes”.
Eric X Li!
Look at that face. Beautiful. Those perfect Asian features come not from Photoshop as some cruelly suggest, but from the remarkable DNA he has inherited from the Chinese exceptionalism that he likes to talk about. Eric X Li is an unusual card to possess in your Top Trump pack because it can combine with the Daniel Bell card to become Super Mega Chinese Meritocracy Exceptionalism Panda Hugger – the strongest Panda Hugger on the TED lecture circuit.
A special addition from the now discontinued Golden Age Panda Huggers Top Trumps Collection (which featured a gold-lettered and extremely rare Edgar Snow card), the former Prime Minister of the UK was sucking up to the People’s Republic before it was even fashionable. However, being dead for the last eleven years has limited his public profile somewhat. I’m also legally obliged by my lawyers to state that Edward Heath was a wonderful man who did wonders for Sino-British relations and was absolutely NOT a child molester.
Whereas Shaun Rein and John Ross at least try to anchor their propaganda within the grounds of reality, Gavin Menzies just doesn’t give a fuck. Among his most audacious claims is that China first discovered America, China first discovered Europe, China first discovered Atlantis, and China first discovered the healing properties of the Holy Grail of Christ Himself (who was also probably Chinese).
So there you have it – 10 of the greatest Panda Huggers to ever grace the business class lounge of Pudong International Airport. However, an angry feminist on Twitter just pointed out to me that I have failed to check my privilege and only included one woman in the deck. Hence, here is a special 11th card because DIVERSITY!
The woman who would attend the opening of an envelope if it meant she could show off one of her 17,000 traditional Chinese dresses, Elyse is a formidable opponent. Sadly, she hurts the feelings of the Chinese people due to her innate fempat weaknesses towards Western decadent luxuries like Element Fresh and Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks.
Spread the word about Panda Hugger Top Trumps and don’t forget to get in touch on the comments below if there is someone else who you feel should be included. I’ve paid $1.99 for this Make Your Own Top Trumps app so I want to get my money’s worth.
Oh – and look! Even Yang Wei and his son are getting in on the craze that is sweeping the nation!
All good stories come in three parts: The Godfather, the original Star Wars, Toy Story, Back to the Future, Lord of the Rings and Look Who’s Talking. Shockingly, when I was first writing about my ex-girlfriend’s mental housemate I neglected to write a conclusion. It seems I have been suffering from that “Difficult Third Album Syndrome”. And like Guns N’ Roses with their shitty Chinese Democracy album, I have been waiting years to deliver on my promises.
(On a side note, at one point I thought that real-life Chinese Democracy might emerge before Guns N’ Roses’ terrible album. If they ever announce that they are planning to release an upcoming album called Moderately Wealthy Society then I know for sure not to expect it during my lifetime.)
So let’s get this out of the way.
When we last left Nile she had just embarked on an on-again off-again relationship with an effeminate young jewellery designer called Shawn. Shawn must have had a little more spunk in him than I gave him credit for, as after a few months I was notified by my girlfriend that Nile had become pregnant. Yes – even though her body did not contain a soul, it apparently did contain a womb.
Before we proceed any further, let’s have a short reflection on where this story could go. If it was a normal society it would be a simple choice of Nile deciding whether or not to keep the baby depending on her beliefs and life choices. If she was from a conservative upbringing she would keep mini-Nile and start a life-long unhappy marriage with Shaun. Conversely, if she was the type of lady who had a progressive mindset and wanted to put her career first, it would no doubt be a warm bath, half a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin and Bye Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers blasting out of the radio.
Did you really think it would be that simple?
Let’s not forget the magic ingredient of China. In any situation or quandary, adding China to the mix is the equivalent of lacing a foxy 12-year old’s lemonade with rohypnol: you just can’t predict what crazy shit will happen next. China is the Spice Melange of cultures. Anything related to China is less likely to end in a normal result and more likely to involve something as weird as summoning sand worms on a desert planet. And that’s what happened to Nile.
Nile did indeed get an abortion – hardly surprising when during that time one of the most popular Hangzhou radio adverts was a cute little jingle of a scarily pre-pubescent voice singing “What do you do when you accidentally get pregnant? ABORT!” – yet with unexpected consequences. For several years Nile had always suffered from yo-yoing weight loss and gain, especially on the face for some bizarre reason. Imagine Nile’s delight when she discovered that after the stress of getting pregnant and undergoing an abortion procedure she had actually lost FIVE KILOGRAMS!
Over a girly cup of hot green tea (both hands clasped around the mug in that way women are prone to doing), Nile explained to my girlfriend that she had hit upon a new fail-proof weight loss method. Not only that, but she was planning on getting pregnant again just so she could have another abortion and lose another five kilos. She also recommended my girlfriend could consider trimming down too by “forgetting” her contraceptive pills and getting me to pump her full of that delicious creamy slimming goo.Then she said a terrible thing. A dark and terrible insight into the depths of the female psyche:
“Maybe if I have another abortion with Shaun and lose more weight, I will look better and be able to find a better boyfriend.”
Oh dear readers! Have you ever seen such darkness, such a devious manifestation of female hypergamy? Just imagine… Nile sat by her kitchen table sipping green tea… mentally calculating the optimum number of abortions to weight loss in order to upgrade her poor jewellery designer into a successful pot-bellied government official or factory owner. Horrifying. Even more terrifying than being on a long distance sleeper train with only Martin Jacques, Shaun Rein and John Ross for company and the destination is a symposium on China’s bright economic future.
Nile’s abortion mechanics chilled my girlfriend to the bone, inevitably leading her to seek a different, saner, living environment. However, since the day I first heard of Nile’s scheme, I have never felt at ease during those moments of unprotected sexual intercourse. Even with my wife I still can’t stop myself from thinking “Is she just using me so she doesn’t have to splash out on a gym membership?” This is just one of the many reasons why I always insist on anal. Even the labourious process of cleaning the strap-on afterwards is less worrying in comparison.