Author Topic: Anecdotes from China Part 1  (Read 879 times)

Offline CrackSmokeRepublican

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Anecdotes from China Part 1
« on: September 02, 2011, 09:08:38 PM »
Anecdotes from China Part 1
Posted on August 12, 2011 by The Expat

Arriving at Guangzhou’s Baiyun international airport used to be quite unpleasant.  After one cleared customs and strolled into the arrival hall, the taxi touts, beggars and other grifters would swarm all around you making it almost impossible to exit the terminal.  That was six years ago.  The forward thinking Chinese government has revamped the entire place, and barricaded the arrival hall so that touts and swindlers cannot easily approach arriving travelers.  I suppose that this was probably done in preparation for the Asian Games a few years back.

I had the unfortunate privilege of being in Guangzhou during the Asian Games and it was a mess.  The price of prostitutes skyrocketed, the night clubs filled to capacity, and hotels and restaurants raised their prices by 300-400%.  Some foreign card ATM machines ran out of money every day, and it was like a shell game trying to find one that was stocked up.

Today I was met at the airport by two of my business partners.  They are related to each other in the way that many Chinese are related to eachother.  That is to say that they aren’t related by blood, but through some convoluted web of personal connections.  They still refer to each other as ”brother” and “sister”.

The Baby Mystery

I’ve never asked where the baby came from or who it actually belongs to; but one day out of the blue, a baby materialized in the palatial apartment of one of my Chinese business partners.  I hadn’t known she was married, and having previously visited just four months prior, hadn’t even noticed that she was pregnant.  In fact, this girl is stick-thin and has always been stick-thin.  There is no way that she was 6 months pregnant four months prior to that.

Nevertheless, a baby now exists and is referred to as “my baby” by said business partner.  The husband or possible father of the child has neither been seen nor mentioned.  News of a newborn child was never forthcoming.  The baby simply showed up one day.  The child does resemble it’s mother, but I’m still perplexed.  Our business back and forth was not interrupted for even a single day.  She must have been answering emails on an iPhone while giving birth, as we have daily contact for business purposes.

Either that, or she had someone else answering all of her emails, which considering how business is done in China, is not entirely out of the scope of possibilities.  Strange.

The other business partner also has a child.  In fact, he has TWO children.  Two children with the same woman.  This is highly uncommon in China.  I am well aware of China’s one child policy, and have avoided asking too many questions about either partner’s child situation.  When I asked my partner how much of a fine he had to pay for his second child, he replied “300,000RMB”, which is almost $47,000 USD.  I was unable to ascertain how the penalty is calculated.

On Money

The main reason I go to China is to discuss and sometimes deliver money to my partners.  Due to my lack of accounting skills, our accounting databases often times do not align.  Our balance sheets are often times miles apart, and it is usually my fault.  My experience has been that the Chinese enjoy showing off their wealth.  Dinners are all paid for, and a black Mercedes S-Class with blacked out windows is always on call for even the shortest trips to the most trivial of places.

It’s kind of like a game, and my partners are constantly asking me about my life in Korea, attempting to gauge my level of relative success compared with their own.  I know for a fact that I am making these people wealthy.  When my business paired with theirs, the synergistic relationship catapulted us into wealth that we never could have dreamed of just a few years prior.  Due to the nature of the internet (especially in Korea), I cannot post figures or even talk about our business relationship, but I can confirm without any doubt that it has been extremely fruitful to say the least.  China is responsible for nearly all of my business success.

Every time I go to China, it is my strategy to be as humble as possible.  Any hint that I’m doing too much better than they are business or finance-wise could result in a change of the business dynamic.  I travel with my shittiest luggage and I don’t wear any expensive clothes.  The Chinese, much like Koreans, have no shame at all in asking extremely personal questions about your finances.  They want to know what kind of car I’m driving and how much it cost.  They want to know what kind of house I’m living in, how large it is, how nice the neighborhood is, and how much it cost.

They parade me around their giant apartments and houses, pointing out luxury items and asking me how much such items would cost in Korea.  They are intensely curious about how well my business is doing and the barrage of questions is almost endless.  If they determine that I’m making too much more than they are, prices for the services and goods they provide me are likely to increase, as has been the case in the past.  So I stay humble and I lie.

RMB getting stronger, my profits going down

The RMB when compared with the USD or KRW has gradually been getting stronger, which for me has been horrible.  To put it simply; it now takes a whole lot more USD to equal the same old RMB prices that I’ve been paying forever.  Not long ago, $10,000 was equal to about 82,000RMB.  Today $10,000 is equal to about 63,900RMB.  Of course any business person with even an ounce of common sense would say “Hey dude, just pay your partners and workers in USD instead of RMB.”  Which sounds good in theory, but do you really think the Chinese would jump all over a lower USD salary which they’d only have to convert to RMB themselves anyway?

So there’s  a lot of grandstanding and posturing.  We’ll eat at expensive restaurants, and I won’t pay a single bill.  The only thing I ever pay for is my usual suite at the Garden Hotel; a stone’s throw from one of the only Starbucks in Southern China and surrounded by countless massage parlors, the true nature of which remains dubious.

I exchanged some KRW into Chinese RMB at Mizuho bank yesterday.  They gave me a large stack of brand new bills, along with some filthy old notes mixed in the bag.  Of all the currencies that have passed through my hands, Chinese currency has got to be the most filthy.  The bills are almost always stained brown with filth, almost as if the Chinese government never bothers to destroy the old notes, and people simply keep spending them until they disintegrate.  I don’t like getting stacks of the new notes, because when I dole them out to Chinese people, they usually assume they are fake.

More often than not, they hold the note up to the light and perform several other authenticity tests before accepting a new note from me.  It seems as though new Chinese currency notes are only ever distributed OUTSIDE of China.  Once you’re in China, the notes are filthy and brown from seemingly decades of circulation.

Clean, uncirculated RMB notes on the left. Standard issue filthy RMB notes on the right.


The streets outside the Garden hotel are packed with foreigners.  Being an industrial town, Guangzhou is where exporters and importers meet.  In fact, every type of business you can imagine is conducted here.  Some of the foreigners are of the less desirable variety.

A walk down Huanshi Dong Lu inevitably results in one being approached by a number of Nigerians asking “What are you looking for?” and “What do you need?” These sometimes colorful characters are known to provide both hard and soft drugs -whether it be a 5kg mountain of ketamine or a dime bag of ditch weed.  They are also known to sell chemicals and other shit disguised as drugs and a few foreigners have died in surrounding hotels after ingesting what they thought was either heroin or cocaine but actually turned out to be industrial chemicals.

They mostly hang out around Mcdonalds and it’s very surprising that they police don’t crack down more often.  I’m assuming that they don’t keep any drugs on their person, but surely the police must be on to what is happening, as it isn’t normal behavior for foreigners to loiter around the sidewalk approaching strangers all day and night.  Conservative estimates peg the number of Nigerians in Chinese prisons at several hundred.  Some estimate over a thousand.  China has executed Nigerian drug traffickers before so I’m surprised to see the streets still crowded with Nigerians offering every drug under the sun to every foreigner who walks by.  Passing through customs, one cannot help but notice the giant red and yellow banner that says “Drug smuggling in China is punishable by death”.

One has to wonder if death or life in a Chinese prison is still preferable to daily life in Nigeria.  The number and overt nature of Nigerian drug touts on the streets of Guangzhou would hint that it is.

After the Revolution of 1905, the Czar had prudently prepared for further outbreaks by transferring some $400 million in cash to the New York banks, Chase, National City, Guaranty Trust, J.P.Morgan Co., and Hanover Trust. In 1914, these same banks bought the controlling number of shares in the newly organized Federal Reserve Bank of New York, paying for the stock with the Czar\'s sequestered funds. In November 1917,  Red Guards drove a truck to the Imperial Bank and removed the Romanoff gold and jewels. The gold was later shipped directly to Kuhn, Loeb Co. in New York.-- Curse of Canaan