November 5, 2004
Ten Reasons Why China Sucks
This ridiculous article titled "From cells to bells, 10 things the Chinese do far better than we do" has been making the rounds in the blogosphere these past few days. I say ridiculous because it was obviously written by someone who has not traveled widely in Asia (or at least meant for someone who has not traveled widely in Asia), as almost all of the things that the author claims China does better (like cheap cell phones, stop lights that count down, wireless service bells, parking data, slipcovers for chairs in restaurants, etc, etc) can be found all over Asia (HK, Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, etc, etc). It's an Asian thing, not a China thing.
In response to that, I present you with my list of ten scary-ass things about China, most of which are uniquely Chinese. For this list, I won't include anything pertaining to politics and government (like human rights, or lack thereof, for example). You could easily make a top 1000 list of horrible things about China if you included the government. This list will only include stuff that bother the heck out of me on a day-to-day basis living here. Keep in mind that I've spent most of my time in China in Shanghai, easily China's most advanced city (along with Beijing). Everything I mention below is progressively worse the further out from Shanghai you go. Believe me, I've ventured past Shanghai several times and each time I've been scared shitless.
- The internet here is almost unusably bad. Many overseas sites simply aren't reachable and even the ones that are, are very, very slow. Must be their uber censorship router filtering everything coming into the country.
- Horrible Mandarin. A properly educated mainland Chinese person speaks beautiful Mandarin, I have to admit. Unfortunately, most Chinese people aren't well educated and they speak horrendous Mandarin.
- Simplified writing is an abomination. It's as if one day the American government decided that not enough people are literate so they decide to adopt text messaging shortcuts as the national written language "cuz it's EZer 2 Lern."
- Chinese people have absolutely no concept of waiting in line. It's just one manifestation of the general lack of curtesy here. I've never met a population of people that exhibited such rudeness. It's all part of the lack of education that I mentioned before.
- Pollution. And I include with this not only the horrible air pollution, but noise pollution as well. The constant honking on the streets slowly drives me insane as I walk around the city. I know this isn't just Chinese, it happens in many other places, but man, they love to honk here. Car horns. Bicycle horns. Police whistles. It's non-stop noise everywhere.
- If the honking doesn't drive you mad, the cacaphony of people hocking up phlegm will do it. Maybe it's the horrible air quality, but why do Chinese people have so much phlegm????
- Chinese people love to yell. You'll usually find at least one or two people on every block angrily screaming at someone about something or other.
- Food generally speaking is horrible here. The hygiene is low-to-non-existent and the culinary skills are seriously lacking as well. I wouldn't be caught dead eating anything from a street vendor in China. You can get food poisoning just by looking at them. Speaking of restaurants, the quality of service in China stinks as well. Due to the cheap labor, the ratio of the waiters to customers is frequently 2-to-1. Yet most Chinese wait staff have no idea how to properly wait a table.
- Bad architecture and design. Chinese people's concept of good architecture is a building with a faux european renaissance look with a lot of gold trimming, hopefully with a fancy top. Driving around Shanghai, you'll notice that almost every building has some sort of "hat" on top.
- Too many instances of dirty old men paired with hot young things. It's just disgusting and sad. I know there are sugar daddys all over the world, but it's literally all over the streets here. You can't turn around without seeing an old man with a pretty young girl.
I'll end the list at ten, but I could go on and on. Well, I've always said China is a scary-ass place. Scary as in it's scary backwards. It's progressing fast, no doubt, but it's still very, very backwards. Scary, too, because it is progressing beyond the sophistication of the populace.