The Shanghaiist just posted about a near riot in Zhengzhou, Henan, a few days ago. The spark of the unrest was that a foreigner allegedly slapped and spit in the face of a Chinese woman.

A Caucasian man, appearing to be middle aged and sporting a Walmart brochure in the left breast pocket of his shirt, found himself surrounded by angry passersby as he sat holed up in the back seat of a BYD car. Many from the crowd said, on camera, that the foreigner should apologize because he allegedly slapped a Chinese woman and spat on her face.

To prevent him from leaving the scene, the throng punctured the tires of his car. They also tried to push close and break the vehicle’s windows, but police held them at bay with more than a little difficulty.

The incident erupted on Aug 17 in Henan province’s Zhengzhou city. Eventually police managed to slip the man out from the crowd, to safety. After that, the angry mob let loose on the vehicle, shattering the back window.

Lets assume that suspected douchebag is in fact a douchebag. Lets assume that everything in this mob-generated fengqing-orgasm meme of a video is correct and he did spit on and slap a Chinese woman. Lets assume that it was for absolutely no reason. Lets assume he’s just some asshole who thinks he’s way better than China and Chinese people and is just a racist prick. Lets assume there was absolutely no provocation at all — no “other side”. Now, all, or at least a good portion of that, is just as likely untrue as true. But lets assume.

It leaves just one big massive question in my mind: Would it have been a car demolishing riot with a police officer putting his job on the line to appease a seething mass of nationalistic fervor if it had been some Chinese man (or woman) who was the racist, entitled, person slapping, spit dispenser?

Be safe out there fellow laowai — the climate’s hot, and not just because of the summer sun.

UPDATE: Just read about this attack on a foreigner in Beijing:

On Friday night, around 8pm, a foreign man was walking with his Chinese boss from the SOHO Nexus building towards the Sanlitun SOHO building. As they approached the intersection of Baijiazhuang Lu, four Chinese men appeared from nowhere and began attacking them. From his account, three of them were beating him while one went after his boss.

He was thrown to the ground, beaten in the face and kicked repeatedly, all while yelling for them to stop. There were other people in the area at the time, but none stepped in to offer assistance. At some point during the attack, he managed to break free, only to be struck from behind. A few moments later the assailants suddenly stopped, and ran off.

The most chilling part of the story is what happened next. As they ran away, one of the men shouted (in English), “Get the f*ck out of our country! We don’t want your kind here!” He suffered a mild concussion and some other minor injuries as a result of the attack. more

I’m certainly not one for fear-mongering, so please take both stories above with a dash of soy, but it’s tough to ignore that there seems to be something festering beneath the otherwise amicable expat existence in China.


    • Dear Mr. Ryan,

      Please excuse my son XieXie, he made this rude and unprovoked comment when his internet time was over and should have been in bed.

      It is my and my wife’s mistake. We have failed to appropriately socialize him. As you can see, his hours that turn into days playing “Warcraft” have left him a social outcast.

      Although little XieXie is a mere 34 years old, we do hope we will one day progress no matter what everyone says.


      Zhao XieXie’s Die

  1. Another example of ignorance in China! Upon arrival in China many years ago I broke up a fight between Chinese in Qingdao with sense of “humanity,” feeling sympathy for a stranger getting his teeth kicked in. In the end, the gathering crowd accused me of starting the fight, called my Chinese girlfriend a whore, and the perpetrators escaped. The author is right, no matter what the foreigner did this is just another example of fucking uneducated Chinese just pissed at the world and taking it out on the “foreign oppressor.” These uneducated Chinese have no legitimate individualistic thought, they just follow the group’s collective thought, a relic of the Mao era of brainwashing – how saddening!

    • @ N-man – you had a Chinese girlfriend and you would deign to use the words “uneducated Chinese”? You sure sound like you deserve to have been bashed up all right, dumbo.

      • even if the majority of the people in this crowd have higher education, do you really think it is the right behaviour? what if you get in such a situation? will you still think it is alright to bash a person like this without any proof or knowing the background of what happened?

      • @breveik: Yes, there are uneducated Chinese people in China, can you believe it? And, yes, I dare to use this adjective on the great majority of those Chinese or other peoples of the world who are such spectators. I never said all Chinese were uneducated. While I don’t condone the foreigner’s actions and think he made the first mistake, what I was trying to focus on here is the “group”-mentality of Chinese when faced with such a situation. Instead of asking themselves “hmm, what’s really going on here? Should I help the “lao wai” get out of this situation or stand here and just stare?”, they just stare like @ucking idiots and believe the loudest Chinese farmer with the most extreme accusation. Wow, history repeats itself.

        Yes, I believe blindly following the leader with the loudest voice without thinking is a sin against humanity, and all those who stand and just watch are active participants in the degradation of society. As a “lao wai (as the Chinese so aptly call me, including a four year old boy) I have better hopes for Chinese people.

        A final note to the dumbo-lover (@breveik): the fact that Chinese use the term “lao wai” is proof enough of the lack of education in Chinese society. If you come to my country, we will never call you a “foreigner” to your face, it is considered very rude.

        @Robinson and @yue – I totally agree and think you got my point as well. Thanks.



  2. So the foreigner was spitting and not the Chinese? I’m suspicious. 😉 A bridge too far there… 😉

    I WISH Chinese got upset like this over spitting in public. Oh… can you imagine? Shanghai would be fucking Paris overnight.

    Well at least they got one thing right: anyone who spits on the street in China, whether ‘toward’ another person, or ‘toward’ a business, or just spitting to scorn the ground they walk on, despises this country. Same goes for carelessly littering, urinating and defacating in public. Get upset people. Get pissed. This is what development looks like.

    Hey would you look at that! Finally some common ground, something Chinese and Foreigners can agree on and work for the future! Add oil.

    • this comment made me laugh…not really. but I do agree. The spitting bothers me a lot and I am going to China again for a longer period of time and trying to prepare myself mentally for this disgusting habit.

      to comment on the incident,
      well, I doubt there would be a riot if it was a Chinese guy slapping a foreign girl. also, doesn’t a person deserve a benefit of a doubt? maybe this woman gave him a veeeery good reason to do it. not saying it is alright, but how about checking some background before destroying a persons car? this whole incident really bothers me. a lot. just thinking that the majority of the people participating probably haven’t even seen what happened.
      is there some update btw? what happened to the guy afterwards?

  3. A few months back the prestigeous “intellectual” who hosts the CCTV program DIALOG went on a rant about the “foreign trash should be taken out” – His irresponsible comments and attitude is merely the bubbles on the surface of the nationalistic boiling heated up by the CCP to distract people from the fact that the “development” of China is a huge sham. Anything, anyone not Chinese, says about the true nature of the lack of culture and harmony in country so stridently proud of it’s 4000 years of “culture” uneffected by progress, is considered “China Bashing”.

    The little known, and even less admition that whatever “development” has occured has been nearly completely accomplished by or with “foreign” advisors, agents, and experts involved, or by Chinese educated outside of China. If all the “foreign trash” did leave China, the development would stop faster than the time it takes a kid to crap on the sidewalk.

  4. Foreigners are treated with suspision and curiosity in every country. And they are more likely to attract the wrong type of attention too.

    At the same time, I have seen many foreigners treating chinese people, culture and habits with disdain and sometimes the chinese can sense it too.

    I suppose apart from the pysical difference in apperance, the cultural difference is also too vast and this may lead to unconciously offending some people. While the educated and sensible people ignore it, there are fools & tools in every country. And they may decide to ‘punish’ a person for his/her race and nationality.

    Brown people looking like Arabs (one was a sikh from india) have been beaten after terrorist attacks in western countries. Racial profiling is a norm at the airports. There are areas in NY where a white guy can not dare to go even in broad daylight.

    It is the responsibility of educated and sensible people, not only to avoid but also discourge laying the blame on a race, a culture, a religion on a country for such individual events. Because thats how more and more people fall vactims to racist behaviour.

    Of my personal experience in china as a foreign student, I can say that for most part chinese people are much more tolerant and non-racist than what I’ve been told about some western countries, and that is despite their culture which is to be indifferent to strangers (they stare at you but never smile when you make eye contact for example)

    Then again, out of 130 million people, there are sure to be many crazy nutcases.

    One just needs to be more careful in foreign countries.

    • After reading a lot of the hateful comments, I was about to leave, and Saif’c comment inspired me to comment also.

      Yes. It’s terrible that violence like that happened, but it’s deeper than just spit on a woman’s face, or an innocent man walking on the street and being beatened up by 3 Chinese men (that happens too many times in too many countries not just in China). As Saif pointed out, a lot of foreigners come to China and treat Chinese people like 2nd class citizens. Even if they are not called “stupid” or other names, they can still sense disrespectful attitude.

      Foreigners go to China expect to be treated like kings and queens, and be grateful that you’re there to do them a favor, and a majority of Chinese people are grateful, helpful and kind to the foreigners they encounter, but some of them carry a load of resentment from either misunderstanding, language barrier, mistreatment,…etc., and when an opportunity presents itself, like the spit incident, some people will use it to vent (even through violence).

      I’m not saying that incident was to be taken lightly, but reading most of the responses, I detected a lot of you don’t like Chinese people – they spit, they are uneducated….., yet, do you ever feel that you might need to treat Chinese people with more respect even if you don’t like somethings they do?

      N-man – you sure have an superior attitude toward Chinese people -“Ignorance in China”, “uneducated people” – I hope you be very careful carrying that attitude with you on the streets of China – it’s not a threat because I don’t live there, but a sincere hint that because of attitude like yours, people get violent.

      Michael A. Robson – In Ching, a spit is meaningless if it’s spit on the street (a nasty habbit) but when it’s spite on someone’s face, it’s very disgraceful, and it is a cause for a fight. The man who spit supposedly spit on a woman’s face. She was riding on a bike who accidently scrached the foreigner’s car next to her in a traffic jam. The foreigner who worked for Wal-Mart came out of the car, slapped her on the face and then spit on her face also. I don’t recall when I read that news – Google it if you are interested.

      Ryan – I just found your blog today and I like the way you handled people’s response. I just want expats to know the other side of the story, and hope that some of the bloggers can open their minds and learn more about Chinese culture, the people, and be more willing to give them the respect as your host.

    • I’m assuming “to” was meant to be “no”?

      I have no sympathy for any unprovoked violence, women or otherwise, and I’m certainly not defending the foreigner’s actions — whatever they may have been. I’m denouncing mob violence/justice and the general climate of blind anger and violence towards anything “laowai”.

  5. well, i am also from henan province, my husband is from spain, he also had some fights with local people, one story: a girl grabbed me from behind and he just split her from me, but she crashed on the ground, she called police to report that my husband beat her, so bitch girl.
    what i can tell, and everybody should think is one question: does what exactly happen here matters? no!! look how the chinese destroy his car, and look how they threaten him, they are foolish, look if the police cares about what chinese did? no!! more, worse things than this happen all the time in china, which chinese cares? nobody!! so, please shut your mouth and stop pretending to be the victim, i am ashamed of those people.

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