Saturday, December 20, 2014

Giving birth in China: a few impressions

My wife gave birth last week in a Chinese hospital and I would like to share a few impressions.
Overall I think giving birth in a Chinese hospital is not so different than in France. Though I don't have any experience from the french side.

A few points strike me:

In China, few obey the rules

Nothing new, in China there are some rules, but few respect the rules. In the Chinese hospital, people shout, they bring in food, they come at anytime to visit the newborn baby and the mother...
It is all a little bit messy.

Pay the basic and pay extras if you want more
After giving birth, nobody will explain anything. You will have to know everything. Or if you want more know-how, you will need to pay for this: how to wash the kid, how to change his diaper... The hospital offers many extras.

Beware child thieves
In the hospital I received several warning about child thieves. It is better to keep a close watch on your child, lock your room door. There is a guard at night who is supposed to check people coming inside the hospital. When the nurse takes your newborn baby to wash him, she will mark him with some ink! and as she comes back she will ask you the name of the mother, the sex of the child!

It is a boy: congratulation!
Since my wife gave birth, I have been asked again again the same question: "is it a boy or girl?". And I always get the same answer "it is a boy: congratulation!". It certainly speaks for itself and tell us the Chinese perception about having a boy vs a girl.

Monday, December 8, 2014

In China, clearly specify time and date

First of all let me apologize for not posting these last weeks.
I told you that I will post once a week and I hope to keep this frequency.

Today I would like to provide a good advise for all those who work and live in China.
When dealing with Chinese people, you should know that in China, nobody will tell you yes or no. In fact in China you want to preserve the social harmony and avoid conflicts.
As a consequence there is little commitment. And if you need to anticipate this.

One way will be to clearly specify time and date.
When you have a meeting, when you ask someone to do some work... you must be very precise with the time and date.
Give a specific time and date. For instance: this specific work (you must detail everything) will be finished this specific day at this specific time. You should be wary and avoid vague expression of time such as next month, in a week, in a few days, soon...

Doing so, your protagonist can not avoid his responsabilities. And he does so, you can always "blame" him, remind him that you gave a specific time and date and thus take the upper hand!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In China how your year of birth could affect your whole life

For Chinese people years repeat themselves every 12 years, based on the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. Chinese people believe that history repeats itself based on several cycles.

Bad and good birth years
Among these 12 zodiac signs none is bad. 
But truth is that some signs are perceived as good while others are perceived as bad. Chinese people believe in this. And they all want their child to be born a good year: such as pig year, monkey year, horse year.
They will carefuly avoid the goat year for instance.
In fact the general hold responsible for the down fall of the last Chinese dynastie Qing dynastie were all goats. A chinese saying tell us that among 10 goats, 9 are bad. We note that there is still one good goat. Nothing is fully white or black in China.

What is "bad" years were in fact "good"!As you understand Chinese people don't want to give birth a goat year or any "bad" year.
Therefore there is a real birth difference between good and bad years! sometimes as much as 1 million!
When you think about this, it means more competition for instance to get a place in primary school, to get accepted by the top universities...
Therefore it would be some kind of advantage to be born a "bad year"!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In China: several businesses in one!

With the crisis, the Chinese market is more competitive.
People need to find ways to earn more and reduce their costs.

In China there is a new growing trend: the two in one or even the three, the four in one!
One commerce develops several businesses that complement one another.
Let me give you some example:
A flower shop sells coffee,
A pastry shop sells coffee, organize birthday party, sell to take away,
A hairdresser sells lottery tickets,
A shop receives delivery for internet sales,
A disco bar gives dance classes,
A restaurant teaches how to cook,

Some businesses also share one same space to attract more customers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Different rice varieties for different rice alcohol

In China, there are many different rice alcohol.
They are produced from different rice!
It is exactly the same as for wine made from different type of grape!

Unfortunately big shopping center only sell one or two variety of rice alcohol: baijiu, sometimes mijiu.
In the countryside local people still have the know how. They produce different alcohol from different rice all the year long. For instance shuijiu or dongjiu is produced in winter. It is sweet and sour.
Let's hope that these traditionnal alcohol will prevail under the pressure of shopping centers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why Chinese people talk to foreigners randomly?

Being a foreigner in China, Chinese people will often talk to you randomly on the street.

This is two edge sword.On one side, it is nice to have the attention of other people, being able to discuss freely any topic you wish.
On the other side, it can be really annoying, having to face the same questions again and again (do you like China? why are you in China?...). Furthermore, Chinese people don't look at you. They don't mind that you might be busy talking on the phone or simply that you might look in a bad... They will still come to talk.

Why Chinese people talk to foreigners randomly on the street?
First you need to know that the culture is really different. In China there are people everywhere. In China people live in communauty. It is normal to anyone as you wish and ask any question you like. There is no formal etiquette. And the etiquette doesn't apply to foreigners.

Now there are many reasons Chinese people talk to foreigners randomly :

  • Some want to practise their english
  • Some want to talk to a foreigner for the face mianzi
  • Some want to joke in front of their friends
  • Some are looking for a foreign boyfriend
  • Some want to cheat your money, sell your some products...
  • Some want to speak their mind. Being a foreigner they can talk freely to you. They will ask your opinion about Taiwan, Tibet or some sensitive topic
  • Some want to hear you praise China
  • ...

Some Chinese people talk to me randomly on the street

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

All powerful supermarket chains in China?

Since I came back to China after many years, I noticed some main changes.
One of these change is certainly the position of supermarket chains in China.
Huge supermarket chains such as Wall-Mart, Carrefour, or Chinese chain Bubugao got more powerful.
They extended their sphere of influence, following a trend that we have all seen in the west.

From importer and distribution in supermarkets to local franchise shops.A few years ago these huge company would only import goods, distribute them in supermarket.
Today they target local customers. They develop a network of franchise shops everywhere.
Doing so of course they kill all the independant shops, offering a wider product choice.
Today there is less and less opportunities to develop your own small business, unless you invest in a franchise shop and follow the "supervision" of some huge supermarket chain.

Controlling shopping malls: leaving no choice to shops.In China shops have less and less choice to find good commercial space. They need to rent inside a shopping mall or not at all.
First supermarket chains occupy the place. Then they build and develop. After that they rent to commerce. The rent is often over-priced. Thinking about it, it makes sense, a shopping mall will benefit more if commerce don't stay for too long, but keep changing frequently! Constant novelty attracts customers: Chinese customers want new things.

Supermarkets in China even provide their own free buses for shoppers.