From all the discussions and debates that expats have amongst themselves here and because I love sweeping generalisations, I thought I’d share the consensus that there are 4 kinds of “China hands” here in Beijing:
The Long-termers: normally bitter, fluent and not going anywhere fast – often the kind of person who would not fit in anywhere else in the world.
The Could-Be-Anywheres: those who make no attempt to fit in to China at all; don’t bother to learn the language; keep a driver to avoid public transport but have a great expat life.
The Starting Outers: college kids with identikit backgrounds coming for an “experience” to put on their CVs and to wait out the recession. This includes vast numbers of ABCs and CBCs (American born Chinese, Canadian born Chinese).
The Over-Its: those who have been here for a while, learned the language, tried to understand the culture but who are tired of it all and just want to head home.
Perhaps Google are in the latter category? The announcement they are considering pulling out of China has been received with equal measures of admiration and scepticism. Personally I think it was a crazy move to begin with, given the required rules of operation here are completely at odds with the company’s raison d’etre. I will not miss the Great Firewall of China at all and can only hope expats and others continue to be able to access VPN services as the government continues its crackdown of the internet.It’s definitely become much harder to do things on the internet since we arrived here 9 months ago.
Is the move by Google really a result of a new round of cyber attacks targeting those involved in human rights? Or has the company realised that the cost of doing business here at the moment is just too high? Read all about it here and here and decide for yourselves.