Fact or Fiction III: My Laowai Valentine

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Distraction Free

Welcome back one and all to the February edition of Fact or Fiction.  Those of you who read either of the last two will know, every edition I will have a guest and we will discuss a few of the big issues in China of the day.  Every answer will have a “Fact” or a “Fiction” and some justification to go along with it.

Today my guest is fellow Laowai blogger  Ericka. She is currently living in Qingdao, and writes a great deal about jade, learning Chinese, and being attracted to Bruce Lee. Today, we’re going to talk about Valentine’s Day, the New Year, and the Winter Olympics.

So join us for Fact or Fiction 3:  My Laowai Valentine!

Welcome back one and all to the February edition of Fact or Fiction.  Those of you who read either of the last two will know, every edition I will have a guest and we will discuss a few of the big issues in China of the day.  Every answer will have a “Fact” or a “Fiction” and some justification to go along with it.

Today my guest is fellow Laowai blogger  Ericka. She is currently living in Qingdao, and writes a great deal about jade, learning Chinese, and being attracted to Bruce Lee. Today, we’re going to talk about Valentine’s Day, the New Year, and the Winter Olympics.

So join us for Fact or Fiction 3:  My Laowai Valentine!

Fact or Fiction

1. In the coming years we will see as many Laowai women date Chinese men as we see Chinese women date Laowai men.

Glen: FICTION

I think that we will see more foreign women with Chinese men than we do currently, but I just don’t think that it’ll even out anytime soon. There are far too many “White Diggers” among the locals. There are plenty of men out there longing to be big shots and plenty of women out there who want that level of comfort and security. I think that as long as the economic imbalance stays what it is, and so long as my gender stays as shallow as it is, things will remain the same for the near future.

Ericka: FICTION

Many – No. More – Yes. The idea of mail-order husbands will probably never catch on, and so the foreign women will never catch up with the numbers of foreign men with Chinese counterparts. As China modernizes and more foreign women come to China, more laowai women will date and maybe marry Chinese men. This will not happen over night so we can’t expect to see many foreign women with Chinese men in the next few years.

In the spirit of the Romantic Days, the man and woman agree! 1 for 1.

2. Western men in general take advantage of local women.

Glen: FACT

I know that there are plenty of very normal, healthy relationships between locals and foreigners, but I think that is far from the norm. All the time I see old men with very young local women, I see beautiful Chinese women hanging out with men who would be losers back home, I see Western men try to make their Chinese significant others feel stupid, and I see Chinese women literally prostituting themselves out. What makes this worse is it makes all of the healthy relationships that exist get questioned.

Ericka: FACT

Unfortunately, I think many foreign men take advantage of the cultural dating differences. In China, there isn’t much casual dating (at least not between two young people) – if two people date, they expect they are working towards marriage, and sometimes these western men lead the girls on with no thought of marriage. Or they don’t bother to inform their girlfriends that they are not rich and/or will not take them to their home country. This whole situation is made worse by the fact that Chinese girls are not allowed to date in high school, making Chinese college girls, in general, much more naive or innocent than western girls of the same age. There is a definite taking advantage of. Though there are also plenty of decent western men out there too.

2 for 2!  How sweet…

3. China is a romantic place.

Glen: FACT

Absolutely! With all of the red lanterns, foggy mountains, great outdoor scenery, fireworks, and great temples, this is a land of romance. Heck, even the crowded streets and confusion has it’s “Gazes across the room” type charm.

Ericka: FICTION

In a country where outward displays of affection are not encouraged, romantic is not an adjective I would use to describe China. PDAs seem to be more a form of rebellion or excitement then actual romance, and “I love you” (520) isn’t traditionally proclaimed like in the west. In fact, people complained my husband and I were too affectionate on our wedding day and it made the guests feel uncomfortable. There are (traditionally) no romantic wedding proposals and honeymoons either don’t exist or are very structured and impersonal. When a romantic evening is dinner at Pizza Hut, there is not much romance to be had.

There are of course places like Yunnan, Sichuan, or Hangzhou where it is so majestic and beautiful you just expect someone to pop out reciting Tang poetry and mistrals playing erhu singing “wo ai ni you duo shen.” You can make your own romance there.

Our first spat of the day.  2 for 3. Time to switch the order

4. The biggest story in China from the Year of the Ox was the Xinjiang Riots.

Ericka: FACT

Though riots are not unknown in the Xinjiang area, the riots of 2009 where particularly attention grabbing. I would say that swine flu came as a close #2, with the quarantine of foreigners and closing of schools, but it wasn’t a story that came directly out of China.

Glen: FACT

It’s certainly not the story that the PRC wanted to have dominate the world headlines, but them’s the breaks sometimes.  The effects of those riots is still being felt with heavy censorship both in Xinjiang and around China.  I don’t imagine that changing anytime soon.

3 for 4.  Not so bad.

5. The biggest story for the Year of the Tiger will be the Shanghai Expo.

Ericka: FICTION

While the Shanghai Expo is a big deal, the biggest story of the year shouldn’t be foreseeable. China is always interesting and full of surprises (good and bad), and I’m sure that they won’t let us down in the Year of the Tiger. Something unforeseeable will happen with serious shock value.

Glen: FACT

Hmmm you’re probably right with “something unforeseeable” happening, but I’ll take the safe bet here.  The Shanghai Expo is the second phase of China’s Big Three attempts to open up (along with the Beijing Olympics, and the Guangzhou Asian Games) and for a country that had to lose several wars to even allow Europeans to trade here, it’s a big deal.  The Expo may be trumped by something else, but I think that the effects of the Expo, and the philosophy that goes along with it, will have a huge effect on this country for a long time.

Another disagreement.  3 for 5.  Will they top .500?

6. After China’s success in the 2008 Olympics, they are on their way to being a winter sports power.

Ericka: FICTION

The Winter Olympics just don’t have the same prestige or international attention as the Summer Olympics, and so I don’t think that the Chinese government will invest the time and money into developing winter sport athletes. It could happen, but I just don’t see it in the near future.

Glen: FACT

Unless you are from Canada or Norway it seems like the Winter Olympics will always be the second place compared to their warmer, more international counterparts (note:  I’m Canadian so I LOVE them).  But it seems like China really wants to have a strong athletics program.  So far in these games, they have won 5 Gold medals.  In all previous winter games, they only won 4 gold medals total (2 in 2002, 2 in 2006).  So it seems like they are improving a great deal.  The government dumped a bunch of money and effort into their sports programs, and I think that we will see the Chinese topping the medals tables in the not too distant future.  So long as they don’t win at curling or ice hockey, I’m fine with that.

And that concludes it. 3 for 6.  The most harmonious edition of FoF yet!

As always, what do you think?

Talk on Fact or Fiction III: My Laowai Valentine


7 Comments
  1. I would agree with most of your blog today, with one slight difference, it’s not just the western men taking advantage of Chinese women, the women do a good job of taking advantage of the Western men as well. Speaking with my taiji teacher, he even said most Chinese women want something when they are looking for a western man. Even if the mother-in-law likes you, you are never truly excepted. One perspective.

    I’ve seen very aggressive Chinese women pick up married men, while their wives were standing right there, and thinking nothing of it.

    I know not just one but a few stories of Chinese women once married and have a child, they take the kid to the U.S or Canada so the child will have a better education and in one case leave the Western man back in China. Chinese are more practical when it comes to marriage. We’ve been told (true or not) that Chinese marry their friends not the ones they love. Then everyone goes out and has affairs. Again, not everyone but a good portion, as we have heard this not just from Laowais, but many Chinese themselves.

    In speaking with another Chinese, it could be the area we were in, since we lived in Xiamen, and was open but he commented on how aggressive the Xiamen women were trying to catch a Laowai.

    Will it change of course, but for now I think it’s fairly even when it comes to people taking advantage of each other.

  2. Profile photo of Matt

    Interesting post, guys, and I must say that I find these fact/fiction sessions an increasingly worthwhile feature of the blog.

    That being said, I agree with Tina that simply stating that foreign men take advantage of local women isn’t a very accurate depiction of the true situation.

    Granted, there are certainly men who take advantage of local women, just as there are men who take advantage of women everywhere. And as Tina points out, there are local women who most certainly take advantage of laowai men.

    There are in fact a lot of loser Western men, of all ages, dating women seemingly out of their league. Western men are still exotic species in much of China- and exoticism is a draw for more daring Chinese women. Furthermore the absolute income and earning potential of a Western guy is far higher than his Chinese counterpart for geo-political reasons. It’s also important to realize that there are still quite a few Chinese willing to marry a foreigner for the content of his passport.

    These situations make it easier for the average Western guy to meet someone in China. Could you blame them for taking advantage of it? Meeting someone suitable isn’t easy, especially at a certain age. So while I don’t condone the boorish behavior certain men exhibit I don’t think such a blanket statement is necessarily fair.

    And Ericka- China isn’t romantic? Come on! It may not be Italy or Brazil but there’s a lot of romance happening, trust me :)

      • well, yes, it is …… Pizza Hut ……!!!! (drumroll, trumpets, violin chorus) Can’t get more exclusive, expensive, show-off than that. so, yes, very romantic. Once after a business meeting we had to wait for over an hour for dinner, because to celebrate the signing of the contract, instead of going to the very nice Chinese restaurant next door , our host promised us something really extra special would be delivered — which turned out to be …. lukewarm KFC! Wow, the face they gained…!

  3. “There are in fact a lot of loser Western men, of all ages, dating women seemingly out of their league.”

    Let me comment as both a “loser” and a “Western man”. Perhaps my “out of my league” wife loves me because I’m kind and loving. Or because I don’t smack her around. Or because I don’t drink, smoke and spend my free time in KTVs. Or maybe I find Chinese women feminine and graceful, but find foreign woman rude, obnoxious and trite.

    It’s rather ignorant that this article implies that a foreign man is with a Chinese woman because:

    1. He’s a loser, but is “exotic” in China.
    2. He has lots of money and the poor Chinese girl wants a better life.
    3. She wants to move overseas.

    It couldn’t possibly be because so many foreign woman confuse gender equality with masculinity or that their expectations in a relationship are often unrealistic.

    • Wow… well while I believe Shanghai Steve may have a wonderful and beautiful relationship with his wife, however, I find the generalizations that Chinese women are “graceful and feminine” and western women are “masculine” and “obnoxious” as well as implying that most Chinese men “smack around” the women they are with very offensive.

      Such old fashioned thinking, about how women should be, and the huge generalizations of women is offensive to both Chinese and Western women. Just generalizing Chinese women as desirable and Western ones as undesirable fetishizes one group, and dismissed the other.

      And being attracted to a certain type of woman doesn’t mean those traits are good, and others bad. It’s a matter of taste…

  4. Profile photo of Glen

    First off, I apologize if anything we said was offensive, but I would like to say that the topic clearly stated “in General”. ShanghaiSteve, we know nothing of your life or relationship and as such, we certainly were not commenting on it.

    In fact I said “What makes this worse is it makes all of the healthy relationships that exist get questioned.” and Ericka said “…there are also plenty of decent western men out there…”. So if you are in a health relationship and a decent Western Man, then why the need to get so defensive?

    Our generalization was no more ignorant than you claiming that foreign women are “obnoxious and trite” or masculine.

    @Tina: Good point about Chinese women taking advantage of the money! That could be a good idea for a future topic on Fact or Fiction.

    @Matt: Thanks for the comment on this feature. Care to be a guest sometime soon? :)

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