Friday, December 07, 2007

So, China Dirt #2

And China makes it easy for us to lounge through existence, to sink like sediment through the day. It is the difference between Chinese and Western women that allows guys like me, guys in general, to live in the way that gives Chinadirt so much contempt to pour on us.

Chinese women have a very different tradition to follow than Western women. Personal freedom has always been denied to Chinese women by their country’s culture. Even today, for all its patina of modernization, the personal life of Chinese women is still controlled – cabined, cribbed and confined.

Mona, for example, a fantastic former lover, bold and imaginative – Mona represents the best of modern Chinese woman (not that I in any way wish to prescribe what a woman ‘should’ be). But even Mona, smart, confident, determined, funny, even Mona is controlled by the wider patterns of society. Her mother was staying with her for a few weeks, and while Mona was at work, the mother would go through every inch of her flat, her drawers, cupboards, wardrobe. And not at all covertly – to her, it was simply a mother’s right to do this. Mona, being quite up to the minute, has several mobile phones, and one of these she left at home. Her mother read all the messages on it and found one from a lover saying something along the lines of ‘You were great in bed the other night.’ This lover was a Chinese guy, and his message was thus in Chinese, meaning Mona’s mother understood it, as would not have been the case was it from her Western lover.

Mona’s mother was horrified by this, and when Mona came home asked, incredulous, “You are not a virgin any more?” Mona concocted some tale about this being a message she was relaying for a friend. Her mother, Mona told me, did not really believe it.

I suggested Mona could have just told the truth, and said this was how her life was, and she was nothing different in it. But she told me her mother would not have been able to handle that. And indeed she said ‘Already she’s said she wants to die, she’s said “The only reason I’ll stay alive is because of your grandparents”’ – What awful parental blackmail! How little the parents understand their children, and how much they want to control them.

Now of course Chinese women today have far more freedom than even a few years ago, and Mona does indeed live a relatively free life. But even so, she still lives that life within strict confines. She cannot show the reality of it to her mother, and her freedom is thus only a limited, carefully defined level of freedom. Nor can she show the reality of it to most Chinese guys. She, like many of my women friends, has told me several times that too many Chinese guys simply cannot handle the reality of the life today’s Chinese women often live, or at least want to live.

And this is why she is leaving. She wants out. She’s been driven away by the bullshit this culture imposes on her, by its petty restrictions, by its inability to take her for what she is rather than what it would have her be. She’s got her residence visa to another country, going to that freer country like so many of China’s smartest and brightest, going to be more than she can ever be here. Going against the wishes of her parents, who would have her settle down and produce them a grandchild, going against the advice of her boss that she should stay in her easy, undemanding job. Going, and will not come back.

It is this background that is the walls and bars to the cage a Chinese woman dates in. When she dates a Chinese guy, she is usually in that cell, hemmed in by the strictures of a culture that she knows well. Must play the virgin. Must be bashful in bed. Must have no desires but what her man wants.

But a Western guy is outside that culture; and so when she dates him she is free of the imposed attitude of Chinese culture. Dating a Western guy, she has no framework in which to orient herself. Dating becomes a chance for a different level of personal freedom for her, and (too often) an avenue of exploitation for him

Now Western culture gives women far more freedom to dictate their dating lives than Chinese culture does, which is why Western women won’t put up with such bullshit from Western men. This is unarguably a good thing, and if Chinese culture allowed more of this freedom for its women – if China’s women would fight for it -- then their life would not be quite so overwhelmingly shit as it is now.

But no matter how right or just, when guys like me can escape from those expectations of Western women, we don’t look back. Out here we embrace our nature. Yes; it is oafish, crude, and after many centuries of struggle in the West when women have at last gained some measure of respect (though not much) it is profoundly depressing. But this is who men are. Hence China’s concubine system, for example. Men want to fuck around.

The kind of thing we’re escaping from is clear on Chinadirt:-

To the FHMs [Finding himself man] out there I say:

FIND some maturity by getting a real job. And no, filing one story a week to an unnamed newspaper back home, occasional modeling as the token white boy in some baijiu billboard, and “tutoring” Chinese college girls does not count!

FIND some decency by appreciating your girlfriend-the one who cooked for you after 10 hour workdays, ironed and laid out clothes for you when you had interviews, who puts up with your equally immature friends and pretends not to be lonely when you leave her four times a week to go find yourself on Sanlitun.

FIND some courage to tell your girlfriend the TRUTH about the other woman you’ve been seeing so that your girlfriend doesn’t have to hear about it from other sources and suffer a near anxiety attack in the middle of a dinner party being thrown by her boss.

If you were a real man, you’d FIND a doorway out of this little box of selfishness and oblivion in which you live. You’d FIND a way to recognize that living like a nomad does not make you deep, only pathetic. You’d FIND out that responsibility and commitments aren’t evil constraints but realities of life. You’d FIND that you can’t live like a teenager forever!

Well, what a list of demands, Dame Partlet the hen! And you expect us to stick around for all that? That we will listen to your shouty capitals, your martinet demands, when we could be in the arms of a pliant Chinese woman? Come, come. ‘If you are a real man’ – now there are words to send us right out the door.

And so what is the answer? Perhaps there is none, and nor are the writers of Chinadirt looking for any. They certainly don’t want to hear any advice from us expat guys – though I’m sure most of the email they’ll be receiving from ‘my’ community will be the offensive misogynist bullshit we do so well. No, the point of the site is just to expose what swines we expats can be, and that’s a fine thing to be doing. Seems to me (spite of my comments above) the women writing it know pretty well what they’re about. Long may they shout and punch and scorn. Power upon power to you -- You are right, my dears, all your voices are right. We are the inconstant ones.

Friday, November 09, 2007

So, China Dirt #1

For the last few weeks I’ve been reading Chinadirt, where expat women are invited to tell their ‘horror stories from the front lines’ Headlining with a cliché isn’t the best way to make a reader stick around; no more is ‘wierd’ for ‘weird’ and ‘diasterous’ for ‘disastrous.’ Such solecisms may be overlooked in a hurried entry but in the permanent text of a site it might make one suspect sloppy writers are sloppy thinkers.

But no matter to that -- let us look beyond mere pedantry (for I am sure in the many thousands of words below I have made one or two errors) to the meat of the thing.

Here’s ‘The Running Man’:-

You came along when I was slaving away at a job in which each day felt like a tour through every layer of Dante's Inferno. You were like a breath of fresh air rushing through lungs that were drying out from ten hours a day in hell. You taught me to relax. You taught me there was more to life than work, work, work. You assured me that it was OK and even noble to enjoy life.

You seemed to live life so well. "He seems so calm, so happy, so Zen," I thought to myself, "whereas I'm always frantic and stressed." Looking around at the stacks of reports and screen full of unanswered work emails that made up my life, I realized that my long hours in the eternally 23 degrees celsius office had robbed me of the knowledge of even what season it was outside. I decided you, with your carefree manner, jovial laugh and long nights spent bonding with friends, had a better way. Almost spiritual.

I learned a lot from my time with you. I learned to live in the moment. I learned to put friends ahead of meetings. I learned that an extra hour of intimate late night conversation is well worth being tired the next day. I learned to leave work behind when I exit the office.

But the biggest lesson I learned is that you're not the deep, spiritual, life-embracing man I thought you were. You're just a scared little boy.

And then ‘Requiem to a Relationship’:-

Though only a month back, I feel slightly alien when thinking about my New Years resolution. “Ok, me,” I thought, “enough of this relationship hopping. It’s time to refocus on yourself. You can’t avoid the ache of being alone forever.” And then he came along with and in feeling him wrap around me I thought that it would be different this time around, it would be better, it would last. Why worry about the cycle when this was obviously going to be the one that would break it? And so, I dipped my toe back into the pool and was so swelled with hope that I didn’t even realize when I fell in. I didn’t even realize that I started drowning in the idealism of him and me until it was too late.

Then the relationship stopped, killed softly in its sleep with a whimper. Aborted before it was ever even alive, and all the hope that I had been bottling into it floated out dead and limp in a puddle of tears. Then before I knew it, the near decade of hazy transitions fell on me at full force, slamming me with eight years of repressed heartache.

And so on it goes, expat woman after expat woman complaining about what toads and bugs we expat men are, what goats and monkeys.

We know this. This is not news to us.

Of course the most of us are sleazy. Yes, we chase, chase and chase some more and when we get a woman it never satisfies us; of course we treat China as a paradise. Of course; we are gods here and no matter how aged, halt or hopeless we look in the mirror and we see Dionysius, Apollo; we look with the eyes of what Chinese culture allows us to be. Why would we not?

Running Man – So you’re looking for Virgil to lead you out of the Inferno – and god knows you need the advice on poetics too. But the guy you found doesn’t want to be your guide, he’s no Virgil, no. You placed the hatred you have for your job square on his shoulders. But need scares men. We don’t want it. Do you think he wanted to be your savior? It is no wonder he ran. And then when he didn’t measure up to your impossible expectations you cursed him. Oh, I understand why and you’ve got the right of it, no doubt; he is scared, sure, returning the ticket of commitment, thank-you, and leaving. He is a little boy. As are we all.

Requiem for a Relationship – Just like the ‘Running Man’ you have all this need in you, this hunger, and you dump it all on the shoulders of the guy. You see him as what you want him to be, not as what he is, and all your need, your hunger, your vacuum – all on him, all buckling and crushing him. And you seem to know it now, I’ll give you that – ‘I didn’t even realize that I started drowning in the idealism of him and me until it was too late.’ Maybe I misunderstood your writing, but you apparently indicate you knew this guy for less than a month, decided he was the answer to all your needs and then – could you not see it coming? – the relationship was ‘aborted before it was ever even alive.’ Of course it was; you killed it. I tell you, every guy who reads what you wrote – every single one of us – will think just as I thought (for there is little I think that is new) – ‘Thank fuck I never met her’ and ‘Wow, imagine dating a woman like that!’

Get out of your bathtub of self-indulgent mush, stop feeling so damn sorry for yourself and act like a responsible member of the human race. Spine - Spine - Spine! Then we won’t be running away from you because fuck knows, just reading your tense, brittle text, I’m lacing up my Nikes to follow the runner above.

I had a friend, very dear to me, and she gave me this advice: Think of the blue whale. This is not as glib nor absurd as it might sound. ‘Imagine being almost the last of your kind,’ she said, ‘Hunted close to extinction, your environment poisoned. Imagine that.’ And it works, it really does. Think of where you are and where you could be, and it’s pretty easy to say ‘fuck this’ to your maunderings (as this friend did to me, later, though that is another story…)

And ‘Fuck this’ is worth exploring some, for it is at the heart of our experience as expats in China. It is at the heart of what it is to be a male – or at least a male expat in China. We are here and we date Chinese women because we have said ‘fuck this’ to the expectations of dating in the West.

Ah, yes, turning our backs on the West. And here the ‘loser back home’ trope comes in, and what a lazy bit of writing that is. From the site:

Sometimes I feel like one of the main reasons expat guys come to China is because life back in their home countries had gone drastically wrong. What? you're over 30 and have never held a real job? Oh? You failed out of university in your second year and don't have any direction in life? Hm? You're addicted to cocaine and are exiled from your home country? Ah? You have mysterious twitches and smell a bit funny?

Now how breathtakingly arrogant – how passingly patronizing. What, China is such a lowball country that any monkey can hold down a job here? China has no standards? Do you think when Western Firm X wants to expand into China they rummage round the garbage cans out back to find some hapless stooge to send? Or do you rather think they reason ‘We gotta spend a shed of cash on this, let’s pick a live one’?

Yes, sure, we treat Chinese women like shit in the large of it, but that is not because we are failed men. It is because we are men. Just men; and China allows the inner nature that every man holds to come to the surface. It allows us to say ‘fuck it’ to the checks and balances of Western dating; and that freedom, which many men do not get, allows our baser side to show – to an extreme. We don’t come here because we’re rotten; it is rather that the inner rot that lies in the core of most men can grow and flourish here. Like a full-acorned boar, we all want to cry O and mount – as ‘Western Girl’ (from Chinadirt) writes:-

If "western girl" means having enough self-respect not to hop into bed with a man I've known for less than six hours in gratitude for one lousy 60 kuai dry martini, then I'm proud to be a hardass Western girl.

I did think to ask ‘So how much would you hop into bed for? A 600 kuai martini? A 6000 kuai bottle of wine?’ – but the truth of it is you’re right to be proud, angered, on your mettle.

Joseph Conrad, an incomparably great writer, one word of his worth ten thousand mine, wrote of a certain kind of Westerner in Asia:-

‘The majority were men who ... had been thrown there by some accident, had remained as officers of country ships. They now had a horror of the home service, with its harder conditions, severer view of duty, and the hazard of stormy oceans. They were attuned to the eternal peace of Eastern sky and sea. They loved short passages, good deck chairs, large native crews, and the privilege of being white. They shuddered at the thought of hard work, and led precariously easy lives, always on the verge of engagement, serving Chinamen, Arabs, half-castes – would have served the devil himself had he made it easy enough. They talked everlastingly of turns of luck: how So-and-so got charge of a boat on the coast of China – a soft thing; and how this one had an easy billet in Japan somewhere, and that one was doing well in the Siamese navy; and in all they said – in their actions, in their looks, in their persons – could be detected the soft spot, the place of decay, the determination to lounge safely through existence.’

Thursday, March 22, 2007

How to get fucked in China

Now some people have cast doubt on the veracity of this blog, so today I shall set out to prove the truth of it. For getting fucked in China is easy. The motherland offers endless ways to get the fucking of your life, a fucking more or less unimaginable in another country, and all you have to do is know where to look. So I’m going to share some of that information with you.

The first thing to decide is who you are. Once you’ve done that, you will know where to find the best fuck possible. Below, a few categories to get going:-

· Miner. Current death toll in China’s mines: about 6000 a year. But if you’re poor and have muscles it’s an easy way to make some money. At the mercy of unscrupulous mine owners, and a conniving, corrupt government, down the mine you go. Feed your family. Send a kid to school. Get your parents the healthcare they need to stay alive. Get fucked. Crushed, gassed, drowned, burned or exploded. Plenty of choice. And not in mines alone – countrywide, an average of 320 people are killed at work every single day.

· Patient. Now you’re at the mercy of doctors who overprescribe expensive drugs to turn a fast buck. At the mercy of hospital administrators who’ll let you die in front of them if you can’t afford their fee. At the mercy of the crooks and thieves who (once more with rapacious CPC officials’ assistance) produce vast quantities of fake drugs. Money! If you threw Zheng Xiaoyu a few dollars, when he was head of China’s State Food and Drugs Administration, you could get a license to produce your own medicine. Before he took over, fewer than a hundred producers got this license. Afterwards, more than two thousand. So take your choice; a fake sugar pill that doesn’t alleviate your symptoms or a poison confection that gives you a whole new set. But China can screw better than that – why fuck individuals when you could fuck the whole country? Take the fake anti-rabies drugs blithely produced by the unscrupulous and greedy, no matter that rabies is currently China’s most infectious disease. And why fuck the whole country when you could fuck the whole planet? Take Tamiflu, a drug that may help stop the next global avian flu pandemic. Tons of it, fake, streaming out of China. But so what? As long as someone makes money, what if 50 million die as the disease spreads unchecked by fake medicine?

· Farmer. Think you have any right to your land? Think again. Expect to be forced off it when the local party guy sells it to a developer. If he’s a commie with a conscience you may get a few thousand yuan share of his millions before he sends in the police to beat you away – or maybe shoot you. Take the village of Dongzhou, for example, where police shot and killed villagers protesting about their land being stolen. How many? The police admit to three, the villagers say 20. But given China’s prowess in such fuckery, who do you believe?

· Student. Assuming you can come up with the bribe to get into university in the first place, there are plenty of ways to get a good fucking here, and the simplest of all is forced sex with your tutor if you’re a cute girl. But how about if you live in northwestern China where, year after year, education leaders shut the schools at harvest time and sent the pupils to work eight to twelve hours a day in the fields? A good hard fuck there for the 18 year old who fell off a tractor and was crushed to death. And what about dancing school that sent 22 of its 15 to 16 year old pupils halfway across the country to work as prostitutes? What of the middle school teacher who forced two sassy girls to drink a bottle of 50% proof alcohol (after which they had to go to hospital) and then beat the boy who stood up for them? Or what about the kids of poor migrant workers? Snobby cities like Shanghai don’t provide education for them, but when the parents set up their own school for the kids, what happens? Shanghai closes it down. So goodbye Jianying Hope School, shut down after 11 years of giving education to poor kids when no-one else would; just one more recipient of the colossal fuck power of China.

· Woman. You get some of the finest fucking China has to offer. Sure, I am doing my best to bed as many of the female population as I can. But I am as nothing to the mighty shafting power of the motherland. Let’s move past the big fact that China has the world’s highest rate of female suicides, and focus on a small fact – Yang Dongyan. He was a farmer who, looking to make a buck, bought a woman (for women are livestock too in China) so that he could sell her on as a bride, making a nice profit. But then he met a pal who told him the woman would be worth more dead. Dead, she could be sold as a ‘ghost bride’ to the family of a recently-deceased bachelor to accompany him as a wife in the next world. And so he murdered her and sold her for a nice 400 dollar profit.

· ‘Ethnic Minority’ – or, as we might also call you, a colonized captive, a slave in your own country, a victim. You’re from Tibet? From Xinjiang? Best to dig a hole and bury your culture in it, for your Chinese overlords won’t let you embrace it – expect to parade you in your national costume at the big Party pow-wows, poor performing bear that you are. Want to learn your own language in school? Want to know the true history of your country? Then bend over for a good CPC shafting. Your country is occupied territory held by force, by might, by anger, a tracked and stretchmarked body, the big pain that leaves you raw, like opened ground. Don’t ever forget it.

· The environment. Ah, now you, dear darling environment, are getting the biggest shafting of all. No wine and roses for you, just straight up against the wall fucked. Oh, did you think the sweet words from Beijing were true? That whispered seduction of ‘In 2006 we’re going to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 4%?’ So naïve of you! It’s the oldest line of all – ‘I care’ - and you fell for it! How did you feel the morning after when you realized consumption increased? How did you feel about those 12 billion tonnes of industrial waste water just in the first half of last year? 70% of your rivers and lakes polluted? But I suppose you must be used to it, ranking 100th out of 118 developing countries in terms of environmental care.

· A hooker. Now you might think you were getting fucked enough already, what with having to screw any guy with a handful of loose change and bored with his wife. But not so; if you were a hooker in Shenzhen, for example, you recently got fucked good some more when the police rounded a bunch of you up and paraded you in public, reading out your names over loudspeakers.

· A religious believer. Now, sure, if you believe in god you’re deluded. But if your lunatic delusion is of the christian flavor, and prompts you to get together your own religious gathering outside a state-sanctioned church then you’ll better break out the KY and condoms, since you’re going to get it good. As, for example, the nine priests arrested recently for having the temerity to pray in a place that had not been designated as a church by the government. But better to embrace the absurdities of christianity rather than those of falun gong. If you adhere to that particular brand of lunacy, then you can look forward to arrest, a good beating, and then disappearing from site. And that’s just the beginning, that’s just the foreplay. What comes next? Having your organs removed in an army hospital to be sold to the highest bidder, that’s what. China, say thank-you to Japan, say thank-you to Unit 731. They taught you a good lesson, huh? What an eager pupil you prove to be!

· Countryside resident. China has 900 million people in its countryside. Ninety percent of them lack adequate pensions and healthcare. Get this: a survey across China’s provinces found that nearly 70% of elderly people had just one set of clothes. Countrywide, also, only 25% of China’s workers are covered by a pension plan. Best to die before you retire – or else you’ll be fucked by the double whammy of poverty and the neglect of your kids as they zip off to the city to worship the god cash. And yet there are billions of dollars for the vain frippery of putting men in space, billions for the useless expo, billions for the shiny high speed train in Shanghai that doesn’t even work properly and billions upon billions for the army. Yes, China is so enamored of fucking its people that it would rather buy more guns and bombs than a change of clothes for its elderly.

· A journalist – But of course! The greatest enemy in China is the truth, so you guys are in for a particularly good fucking. Still, you’ll have plenty of company – China’s had the highest number of journalists in prison in the world for the last eight years in a row. You deserve it, of course, you journalists. Trying to tell the truth, what arrogance! How foolish of you to think your nation cared about such a trivial matter. And maybe prison is lucky, for you could get fucked as good as reporter Lan Chongzheng, who was beaten to death for asking too many questions about unsafe mines.

· A doctor with a conscience. Consider Doctor Gao Yijie. Under surveillance. Under house arrest. Monitored. Watched. Harassed. Why? Because she showed concern for China’s AIDS patients, many tens of thousands of whom contracted HIV (and thousands more Hepatitis) from blood-selling in the 1990s. What happened? Poor farmers were urged to take part in a scheme where they gave a pint of blood, useful ingredients were extracted, and a pint was put back in. But that returned pint came from the common stock, jumbled in the common box, which was not screened. The result today? Henan Province’s ‘ghost villages’ where most people have died. Consider this:- 300,000 infected with AIDS between 1994 and 1995 alone. The few who are still alive will be dead soon. How many officials or doctors have been punished for this? None. Only those who try to do something about it get fucked. Think of someone else, think of Wan Yanhai. He tried to speak up. Idiot. Bend over, Wan! How about ‘Snow Lotus’ an AIDS awareness group, funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, whose members were harassed by police after they tried to act over 19 kids who had were expelled from school when it was found they had Hepatitis B?

· A blogger. Want to write something anonymously? No way. You have to register with your real name and details. Chinabounder? Oh, they don’t care about foreigners like me. I can do what I want. It’s China’s own people who get fucked by its government. The CPC doesn’t care about me; I am no captive, no prisoner, no helot. I get all the freedom I want in China. It is the Chinese who are kept in ignorance by their wrathful, watchful, suspicious masters. Take Zhang Ming, who was dean of political sciences at Renmin University – was dean, until he was fired for suggesting on his blog that there was too much bureaucracy at the university, suggesting that those in power were appointed for their party connections instead of academic ability. You’d have thought that someone who had got as far as he had knew better than to tell the truth. But that’s how the fucking goes, that is why it is the Chinese who lack freedom in their own nation, kept shut in the dark. Shut in the dark as they increasingly are, as one by one the CPC switches off the lights of the internet. Blogspot, for example, was becoming something too free and truthful. Chinese people – horrors – were beginning to express themselves and – worse! – read the opinions of others, opinions that did not ‘stand where the Party stands’ (those are the words of Luo Gan, one of China’s most powerful men, on the nature of truth). The site is now blocked in China, many blogs far better than mine inaccessible to those lacking the tech skills to get round the great firewall. But so skilled is the government at the lies attendant on a skilful fucking that should you ask them about this they will tell you, ‘We do not censor the internet’ – and will tell it cool and calm, not a blink nor twitch. For they are the most practiced of liars.

· Migrant Worker. For you as for women, as for the environment, an Olympic style screwing beckons. Gold, Silver, Bronze, you’ll always get one. So many ways to get shafted here. What does it matter that you are the people more than any others who have built modern China? How about Wang Jianchang and Liu Yuanping who, when they asked to be paid their wages, were fired, taken to the police station, and put in hand and leg irons? And for women migrants there’s a double dose – 20% of you get fired as soon as you become pregnant.

· In need of financial help. Expect charity and kindness? Know what you’ll get instead? Only one percent of the ten million registered firms in China have ever donated to charity. Eighty percent of the China Charity Foundation’s revenues come from overseas, and just 20% from China. China, where the lucky few who own 80% of the country’s wealth contribute less than 15% of all monies donated to charity. China, whose charities get 0.05% of GDP. Even mean old Britain is better at 0.88% and the USA a shining example at 2.17%. Let’s put that another way. Per capita income in the US is 40 times higher than China – but donations to charity are 1000 times higher. Best not to be poor in China.

….think that is the end of the fucking? It is scarcely the beginning.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A new girl

So there’s this new girl.

She’s quite the head turner. Young, vivacious, full of life, feminine fire to the masculine mud that is so common in China. Even though she’s expected to conform – for everyone must conform in this society – she finds little ways to be an individual – sometimes just her smile, that twist of the body, that sparkle in the eye that is her individuality; or maybe it’s the way she walks into a room, surrounded by people yet still all herself – or the way she answers a question, or asks one. It’s the way she rides her bike, whipping full of life between the more staid cyclists, up on the pavement, dodging between the lampposts. It’s the way she dances to her music, the way she drinks a cup of tea, the way she twirls a pen between her fingers.

From the first time you see her you know she’s special. She’s got that something, that spark of sass, of drive; it animates her, energizes her. She’s full of secrets and laughter, plans and hopes. Her presence fills a room and her absence empties it. She’s not someone you forget. I want to know her, know what her life is, who she is, how, what she thinks.

She’s young, and she’s got her life ahead of her. She’s not going to become a robot, not going to put up with the grind and the shit, with the third-rate university education China offers, with its meaningless lip service to ideas no one believes in. She’s not going to sit through Mao Zedong theory or learn about Hu Jintao’s trite, risible ‘Socialist Countryside’ (that a once great country comes to this!) She’s not going to wear the staid, dull regulation haircut her tutors will want, and she’s not going to get up at 6am in the morning to do their silly physical exercises and go to sleep at 11pm when they put the electricity off. She’s not going to be a good girl for them, quiet, polite, obedient.

Not her. Not for her the three or four years of rinkydink ‘higher’ education nor all the English tests; not for her the semi-slave labor as some prof’s lab flunkey, nor graduation in some cheap, gaudy robe, nor the kindergarten-style routine of the tassel on her mortarboard being moved from left to right. Nor, after that, the fuss and scrape of finding a job, and having to pick out the right clothes and style to make some dull potato of a Chinese guy offer her some shit job with shit wages in a shit firm, with a shit contract that says she must work as many hours overtime as she’s told and must not get pregnant. Not for her the causal abuses of her humanity that getting a job in China requires (for getting a job here is putting yourself on the slave auction block). Not for her putting up with the inept, bashful wooing of office colleagues, their fawning when they chase her and contempt when she declines, nor the constant drip of sexual harassment coded into the country’s DNA; and certainly not marriage to some passionless clod followed by decades of servitude and conformity.

None of this for her.

None of it.


She’ll have no future, she’ll have no life, no chance, no joy, she’ll never grow and develop and explore her potential, what she could be.

Because she’s dead.

Her name was Zhang Yaoyi. She was 11. She was a pupil in a school in China’s central Hunan province.

I imagine her. I see her. She’s sitting at her desk and there’s that smile in her eye, that little wisp of steely will that marks her individuality. She says something to the teacher – Li Hengyi – just a little comment, just slightly too bright and certainly not servile enough, not docile, humble, as all good girls should be.

And then the lunacy that lurks beneath the male skin slithers to the surface.

He smashes her head against the desktop several times, hard, brutal; she falls to the floor. He kicks her, thick, heavy blows from his feet into her stomach, her ribcage. He jumps on her, kicks her head. Already she’s covered in blood and barely conscious. He grabs an iron bar that’s used to pull open the high windows and beats her with it, beats her, smashes her, bloody, murderous, brutal.

And now she’s totally still, blood spreading out over the floor, the soft slick spread of the puddle of red, teeth smashed, fingers broken. He picks her up –picks her up – and carries her to the window. Opens it. And throws her out. Four stories she falls; it kills her.

Dead. Gone. Erased.

And where were all you frothing lunatics then? Where were the witchhunts then? Where was the anger and the outrage? Where were the frenzied press reports? Where were the blog sites calling for this guy’s head?

One Western man has sex with a bunch of women. Women who are adults, who consent freely, and who enjoy it thoroughly. He writes about it, throws in a few run-of-the-mill opinions. Behavior nothing special. Thoughts little new.

Chaos. Millions of madmen fussing and strutting and firing off absurd emails.

Zhang Yaoyi beaten to death by her teacher – by her fucking teacher – and what? A story here, a story there. Page 4 of Shanghai Daily. Ignored by China Daily. A few reports in one day's papers, a smattering of interest from the lazy, idle, muzzled Chinese language press, none of it front page. And then silence.

Nothing much for a few days. More silence. Then a buried-away follow up report that Li Hengyi was mentally ill and thus would face no charges.

He’d been working at that school since 1998, and began to show signs of mental illness in 2001. Li Hengyi’s treatment, which came in late 2003, two years later, lasted two months and then he went right back into the classroom. That’s why he was still there in 2006 – despite it being perfectly well known he beat the kids – and that’s why Zhang Yaoyi died.

So where were you, you angry fuckers? Where were you then? Where was your outrage? Where were the letters to the press?

Silence from you all. I have in class many times raised the name Zhang Yaoyi, written it up on the board, in Chinese and so far not a single student has known the name. Not one!

Unbelievable? Not in China.

Another girl: Zheng Shaojuan.

Zheng Shaojuan was a second-grader, nine years old, in the village of Putian, in Fujian Province. Her teacher , Liang Liyu, sees her peeping at the deskmate’s answers in a math test, and so he – of course it is a he, it is always a he – grabs a broom handle and begins to beat her on her back. She starts sobbing, which enrages our fine, honorable teacher all the more and so he starts hitting her head, blow after blow after blow – all the while her brother, sitting in the row behind, is forced to watch this display of pig brutality. The girl tries to move her body forward, away from the rain of violence and this just adds fury to anger.

What! She tries to get away from him? He jabs the broomhandle into her, viciously rabid thrusts, trying to force her body round so that she will meet his eyes. For how dare she not look at him as he beats her? What disrespect!

And so frenzied are the blows, so great his brutal rage the broomstick snaps in two, splinters of it piercing even through the thick fabric of her school tracksuit and lacerating her skin. His wrath is purged and he’s taught her his lesson. Back to teaching he goes, full of pride at his display of good teaching methodology. Shaojuan spends the rest of the afternoon slumped on her desk. Later, another teacher walks by and sees this and she, having the decency the man did not, acts like a teacher (parent?) should, comes into the class to see what’s wrong with the girl. Shaojuan says she is not feeling well and the woman teacher suggests she goes home; she gets to her feet, shakily walks to the door, respectfully asks permission to leave from Liang, fighting down her shame and anger and contempt, leaves the classroom but collapses, right there, in the corridor, no strength in her body, her head fuzzy, unfocused. Liang carries on not giving a fuck and so the woman teacher helps Shaojuan home, carrying her part of the way.

An ambulance is called but this being China takes an hour to arrive; by that time another child has died in the Chinese educational system. By that time Shaojuan is dead.

And what of Yaoyi, whose bright future, whose hope and potential has been beaten to death, whose parents have been bought off for a mere US$25,000 and are now expected to shut up, seeking no further redress? And what of Shaojuan’s parents, who had gone to other provinces as migrant workers, leaving her with relatives? Of them I have found no trace; for they, being migrant workers, belong to that class of people who have built this country and who are routinely despised, belittled, cheated, abused and subsequently forgotten.

Where were you brave citizens of China then? Where was the anger? Where was the press, so like dogs baying for Chinabounder? The outcry? The mass of internet idiots so concerned about China’s honor and dignity? They offered silence and remain silent. Not a word, not a sigh, not a shrug of the shoulder, not even a raised eyebrow.

Here is an example of the anger I received just because I slept with a few women, just one of the ten thousand emails I got, from

Food, Wine, and Women

Food, you will be eating your own shit covered in shards of blood-stained metal.

Wine, you will be drinking your own blood while drowning in your own piss.

Women, the only bitch you had and will ever fuck is your mother's raw and bloody corpse.

I am supremely confident that you will enjoy the inhumane pleasure of being skinned and buried alive in a metal coffin fill to the top with sulfuric acid 6 feet under a stranger's grave.

Live everyday like your last, one day you will wake up in a bathtub full of ice with parts of your family all around you, I know you will enjoy the smell of dead corpses and you will definitely love to hear the black flies circling you while maggots crawl and burrow themselves under your skin.

It's springtime in Nottingham for me to watch your sadistic and pleasurable misfortune.

Shame on the citizens of China! Your children are dying and your silence is complicit in their death.