As a follow up to the post on why we have decided to stay another year in China, I am borrowing a list of what China is doing right from Jeremy Goldkorn, a well known China expert.  While many of the items I had not thought about specifically, I found myself nodding my head and thinking “yeah, I have noticed that…”.

- Continuing to lift millions and millions of people out of poverty (that’s the big one).

- A culture of hard work, thrift, and diligence that emphasizes the importance of education.
- The fapiao, a state-issued invoice system that is a work of genius which allows a massive more-or-less unregulated informal economy to thrive and still contribute taxes to the state.
- Investing in Africa, seeing developing countries as potential markets rather than basket cases.
- Dreaming big.
- Infrastructure.
- Increasingly professional emergency response systems for bird flu scares, earthquakes etc.
- Internet humor, Internet-based literature.
- State atheism, broad state support of science over superstition and religion.
- Ecommerce: you can buy anything, get incredible service, and often same-day delivery in big cities.
- Real family values: China is a culture that supports families; you can take a baby anywhere and no one will give you nasty looks about crying, etc.
- Food.
- Basic health care system (You’ll only laugh at this one if you’re from a rich country).
- Acknowledgement of climate change and environmental problems at highest levels of government.
- Active state support for new energy and renewables.
- The Beijing-Tianjin Anti Dust Storm Reforestation Program.
- No liquor licensing laws.
- Ease of opening bank accounts, online banking.
- Visa policy that treats Nigerians and Americans (or in my own case, South Africans) the same.

The complete article that includes Mr. Goldkorn’s list as well as other well known China-hands can be found at:



Another Year in China

May 15, 2013

I just signed up for another year teaching China. It has been a good year.

It certainly helped that we moved from Beijing to Hangzhou, a smaller city (6 million people) with cleaner air (not great but better) and more nature. Lots of places to hike, lots of greenery, lots of water.

My job teaching elementary students is as fun as teaching kindergartners but the work hours are less and vacation time much more.

Our apartment is free and adjacent to the campus so we have fewer expenses and no commute. Consequently we can save more money.

But mostly the enjoyment and excitement of living here comes from watching China develop on a daily basis. Change happens here ten times faster than anywhere else I have ever lived.

I was once driving on a new road with my father near his longtime Oregon home and he said “I don’t know where I am, I guess it has been a few years since I have been out this way.”. In China I have that feeling all the time.

But is is not just roads and buildings that transform quickly, it is transportation, communication and education—everything.

For a country that was shutoff from the outside world and stagnant for over thirty years, it is amazing that it can adapt and handle so much change without the wheels flying off. Or can it?

So that is why we are staying, to observe how the China story ends.



Modern China

December 12, 2012

I only have just started looking at China as China, not as China through an American’s eyes. In many respects, China is becoming more westernized.  But in other respects, it is not mimicking the West as it has its own distinct culture.  It is also skipping a lot of the steps that the West took [...]

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Simple Restarts

December 1, 2012

Most of us get started out on our own in simple circumstances.  We may have had just a futon, boxes for furniture and some sort of device that played music.  We could move with hardly any notice and needed little space to get our life set up. But over time we began adding stuff to [...]

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Us and Them

November 14, 2012

Like the US, China is just finishing up determining who their new government leaders will be.  Unlike the US, it was no surprise.  Apparently there is a saying in China that goes like this: North Koreans know who leader will be the earliest because he never changes. Chinese know who their leader will be five [...]

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Math + Enthusiasm = Success

October 26, 2012

We get a fair amount of correspondence from people who are considering moving abroad and joining the ranks of the independent expat.  Generally they ask for information about particular countries, recommendations for second language programs and advice on matters of personal safety. It seems odd to me that we seldom get asked about how to [...]

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A Habit of Abandoning Habits

October 24, 2012

We are moving the day after tomorrow.  Since this move is not international, I almost convinced myself that we can ship the items we have purchased over the past 16 months to our new home. Thinking about moving more than a carry-on bag of clothes has kept me awake the last few nights. Do I [...]

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Staff Reflection

October 21, 2012

We have been working in an English-immersion kindergarten in Beijing and will be sorry to leave later this month for jobs in more southern pastures.  While the children we teach are wonderful, it is the diverse expat staff that has made this job truly memorable.  Or in the case of outings with our Aussie brethren, [...]

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Leaving it All..Again

October 21, 2012

As we wind down our 16 months here in Beijing we are visiting all of our favorite haunts for what may be the last time.  Restaurants, parks, stores and strolls are being checked off the list. We have done this before, several times.  It is certainly a possibility that we will be back in Beijing [...]

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Watching Economics At Work

October 15, 2012

If one aspires to be a great architect, you need to travel to cities that have great works of architecture.  If one aspires to be a great fashion designer you need to hit the streets of fashion capitals and watch the people who are being watched by other designers.  And if one aspires to be [...]

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