De­fend­ing China

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Leila Hashemi

May 2 will be my two-year “Chi­naver­sary.” When I scroll back through my WeChat Mo­ments and look at the first post I made com­ing off the plane, I can barely re­mem­ber that girl. I already con­sider my­self a full-fledged Bei­jinger through and through.

In ad­di­tion to my new savvy city smarts, I have found my­self in the po­si­tion of de­fend­ing this city and coun­try I now call home many times. Peo­ple have their mis­con­cep­tions and stereotypes, and you will hear the same old jokes, but my de­fense goes deeper.

When ex­pats move here, it is not like home; some can deal with that and some can’t. How­ever, if you are liv­ing and work­ing here, I re­ally find it hard to sit at a ta­ble and lis­ten to you bad­mouth all of China, its poli­cies and its peo­ple.

My typ­i­cal re­sponse is, “Well, did you not re­search the dif­fer­ences be­fore you came?” While there are vast dif­fer­ences, the fact re­mains that life here for an ex­pat is good. I live in a nice apart­ment, have a clean­ing lady, can go out and do as I please for the most part with­out wor­ry­ing about money, and I can travel to the in­nu­mer­able un­for­get­table des­ti­na­tions within China for next to noth­ing. I use this as my chance in a con­ver­sa­tion to re­mind peo­ple of the plethora of op­por­tu­ni­ties we have in such a rapidly de­vel­op­ing coun­try. I think peo­ple eas­ily for­get the neg­a­tive things they ex­pe­ri­enced back home and tend to ro­man­ti­cize what it was like where they are from.

We all have the op­tion to leave for home at any time, but as a gap year turns into a threeto five-year jour­ney or more, there has to be a rea­son we all choose to stay.

Aside from de­fend­ing the coun­try from lo­cal ex­pats, when I speak to my friends, they make jokes like, “How can you stand to live there this long, aren’t you sick of noo­dles ev­ery day?” They have no idea how de­vel­oped a city like Bei­jing is or how much China im­pacts daily life in coun­tries like the US where I am from. With­out im­ports from China, life would be much dif­fer­ent in the “land of the free.”

While I’ll al­ways be an Amer­i­can, China is where I am in­vest­ing my tal­ent, time and life. When some­one makes neg­a­tive re­marks or is un­in­formed, I find it is now my duty to help them un­der­stand why this coun­try is one I am proud to call home.

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