Foreigners Leaving China
Mike’s Blog 101
The China In and Out
Moving to a new place is always a stressful one – but especially China. It is a “whole new world” – both online and offline. The adjustments one needs to go through are significant, and when I see a new group of people coming here, I always wonder how long they will be able to stay.
My old friend Terry Lin is one of them. He came in February of this year with a bunch of friends to work here, but they are already placing out after a few months. A common trend I have to deal with over the years unfortunately.
The mindset shift needed for China is significant. I left in 2010 thinking I would never move back. I was transitioning to Philippines, taking trips back and forth between Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Manila. I think the time mentally checked out of China helped me to re-prepare for the moving back that year. I couldn’t complain anymore and I willingly moved back knowing what to expect.
Maybe that should be a requirement for all foreigners who want to live in China. Come here for a while, maybe a month or two, and see how you adapt. Most of us do complain about China and there of course are bad things about it. But its a process, and we either need to accept China for what it is, or leave.
It is clear from the stacks and stacks of books about – you cannot change China. Either you adjust, or you leave.
Makes me think of one of my friends Andrew (aka Boozer, RIP) who I met when first moving to China. He told me I was too high strung here and trying to make things happen too fast, so one of three things would happen:
1) I’d leave China
2) I’d deal with China for what it is
3) I’d have a mental breakdown.
I have been through all 3 of those cycles (well not a full breakdown, but there have been some of those “China days” as many foreigners here can relate with me on) – and for the most part I have settled to option 2 – I’m dealing with China for what it is. And no, I didn’t “give in” – instead of that I would say I have a clear understanding of how the system works in China, as well as the system overseas and I know how to quickly adjust between the two “worlds”. That is a skill that is extremely valuable, and I think is required for you to do business not only in China, but anywhere outside of your home country. You need to respect the countries you are visiting in and doing business in and realize it is a different set of rules.
Now I almost get annoyed when I see another foreigner rushing into China thinking they can apply their MBA skills to “make China efficient”. There is so much more to it. China is the way it is for a reason – and they resent it when a smart MBA comes here thinking they can teach Chinese how they should live and do business.
##What’s the Future?
To be honest, I don’t think it will get easier for foreigners in China. I see it getting more divided and more different. I see a Chinese internet that is totally cut off from the rest of the world’s internet. Almost like those AOL days when you would click the WWW icon to go to the “world wide web” and a warning would pop up:
“Its dangerous out there, are you really sure you want to leave the AOL walled garden and enter the wild and open internet?”
I think it would make you re-confirm after as well. So I see China building up more and more infrastructure, systems, and technology so that it has everything inside of the firewall and physical wall so that it can further separate itself from the rest of the world. I won’t comment if that is right or wrong but that is just the way I see the trend going.
So for those who want to rush into China and think you can take the bull by the horns and fix it – realize – you need to adapt for China – not the other way around.