Escape from China
It was a dream, and in dreams you have no choices: either there are no decisions to be made, or they were made for you long before ever the dream began…
As the car approached the downtown area, it began to slow down, and the streetscape outside the window became clear. Row upon row of the Chinese restaurants are dominated by red and yellow, most Chinese restaurants are Sichuan and Shandong cuisine. “Here is a gathering place for the ethic Chinese.” he said with a stout arm pointing out of the window and a puzzling smile.
His name is C. He has been studying here for more than three years. We met on the Internet and met offline for the first time today. He seems to be very talkative, at least on the Internet and on the highway just now. He said that he is applying for political asylum. He got a master’s degree and didn’t feel like to get a second one. If he can’t find a job, he can only stay as a refugee.
The speed was slower. Pedestrians were watching us outside from the window as if they were watching a rare animal that rushed into a strange forest. He broke off the unceasing flow of words, looked a little nervous. He pressed his hands on the steering wheel, staring at the front. When I opened the window, I immediately heard accents from Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and occasionally a few Cantonese.
“They have already booked their seats. You go first. If they haven’t arrived, you can tell the boss the name of Chen,” C said. I have been told, Chen is a guy of some prominence here. Although I haven’t seen it before, I’ve heard it for a long time. It is said that you can get a discount in the name of Chen in eating in this area. I has been thinking it was a joke.
The Chinese restaurant is good, clean and tidy, except for the blessings on the wall that read “Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation”. The boss looks very enthusiastic, and even enthusiastic a bit too much, a bit puzzling.
A Concentrated Version of “China”
After sitting down, we continued the topic just now, and C’s stiff expression still did not relax. “I don’t come here often. If it’s me, I will go straight to my home for dinner, I’m annoying to hear these Chinese speaking.” He waved his hand, speaking with pure Beijing accent that was completely different from the surroundings.
C is born in a middle-class family in Beijing. Two generations of his elders are working in the interal system. In his words, “Within the system, without the benefits.” But why apply for political asylum? He can immigrate by investing, it’s also easy for him to be an technical immigrant because of his profession. But he has chosen such a difficult way.
He shook his head. “This is the first time I have made such a decision myself, a decision to change my life.” In other words, your family did not know your application for political asylum? “How can I let my family know? They are waiting for me to bring honour to my ancestors, ” he said.
C told me that parents do everything for him all along, even the decision of studying abroad is made from the comparison to others by his parents in a friend’s dinner. “As you know, the only thing for these middle-aged or old people to do is comparing their sons and daughters. On the dinner table, if one’s children are studying abroad, the others will have no face to eat anymore.” he sneered. “You chinky parents take their children as belongings, like their belts and watches, are used to compare and show off. Your chinky family is a miniature version of the whole chinky society. What the political system looks like, what the parents in the system looks like.”
He has a set of unusual wording habits, but it is easy to understand, because there is a rule: a noun added a word “your” before, which represents something that is not agree with, such as your chinky, referring to China; on the contrary, a word “I” is added before a noun, that represents what is agree with. From the day we began to communicate, until now, I have heard only one noun with the word “I”, which is the name of the western country which we stand.
“Why apply for political asylum? Because I have no confidence in finding a job. I dare not say that it’s difficult for a Chinese to find a job. The media workers like you are sure to ask me for the data, I don’t have any data. But I can see the people got rejected. And I don’t have enough confidence about my knowledge. Political asylum is the only way to stay.” He mocks the western media that they are still talking about cheating in the exam. In fact, it has already become a popular subculture, and there is no novelty. “Everyone who come out to study has a somehow rich family. Studying abroad is gilding, just for a diploma. They will go back, sooner or later. But nowadays, fewer and fewer people are going to go back. One returning from abroad is no longer as valuable in your chinky as it was ten years ago. I can get more money as an Uber driver here. And the self-evaluation of these people can no longer find a job in your chinky. They all want to take a step into the upper class. I am different from them.”
I think he’s already a member of the upper class. New luxury cars, famous brands of casual wear, new iPhones the just came out last week. Speaking of this, he exposed an expression mixed with pride and sadness. He told me that, in fact, there were some hesitation deep in his mind. On one side was the excitement of finally getting rid of his family’s hellish control, and on the other side was the pain of the separation of his family and that his parents would not be able to come to see him.
“To tell you the truth, my family has never been hesitated in terms of money. I can get no matter how much I want, but I just don’t want to go back. Now that I have reached this point, I simply continue to go on,” he said. “This is indeed a difficult way, especially the kind of endless waiting and fear, that’s what most tormenting, and I only hope that I will not gone crazy like others.” Someone gone crazy? “In any case, ones whose spirit is abnormal more than the normal,” he sighed.
C hopes his application for political asylum can be approved. It seems that it’s because it is “the first time in his life to make decisions independently.” He wants to prove that he can be successful after getting rid of his family intervention.
Remember, every refugee is a book of blood and tears, he said.
Why don’t you come here often? I thought that Chinese people overseas are holds together, I said. He shook his head. “It looks like unity.” Then he approached my face mysteriously, held his little finger in the arms and scanned the surroundings. “Listen, did you feel anything? There is something hiding behind these gossip, that is your chinky… like ghosts, lingering. No, is an enhanced version of the ghost.”
It is a sound wave of fear wrapped up with a heavy smile. It is sandwiched between people, between heart and heart, hidden behind the collision of the cordial accent of the hometown. “Many of things in your chinky have not disappeared here, but have been strengthened, condensed, including hypocrisy,” he said, pointing to a bottle of Kangshifu iced tea on the table. “I looked at it, I’m nervous, I’ve got goosebumps all over me. It’s everywhere in the Chinese restaurants and supermarkets.”
In fact, I can go to a western restaurant. I explain to him that my taste is very international. He shook his head. “Do you think you can feel at home in a Western restaurant? Naive.”
He is right. Perhaps the hardest people living here is these Chinese who have desperately fled from China but are difficult to integrate into Western society. They are in a narrow space, while despising the voluntary fifty-cent-party Chinese compatriots who are proud of the “rise of the motherland”. On the one hand, they are collectively referred to as “Chinese” by Westerners.
There are often media reports in the West that most of the Chinese students are entertaining with themselves and seldom integrate into local community activities. C said that he still finds it difficult to understand the jokes of the whites and find nothing humorous. He is very embarrassed in front of the local people. His can speak very fluent English. What If you are a Chinese with bad English? How do you find a sense of belonging?
“A lot of people are more ‘pinky’ than when they in China,” C said, sighing. “A bunch of lame ducks. How good they are that staying in you chinky and waiting to become cannon fodder, that kind of person should not come out.”
By the way, I heard a more amazing news — the graffiti of “Go Back to China” may be done by the Chinese.
Ideological business chain
Everyone arrived, we began to drink. The boss brought a few bottles of beer and said with a strong Cantonese accent: “For free, for free”, the same expression I received when I told the name of Chen. I am somewhat puzzled and asked C: “Do you know each other?” He smiled mysteriously and said, “This is the face of the student union.”
I’ve heard the name of this mysterious Chinese Students’ Union, in media reports that appeared to be accompanied by incidents such as spies and intervening in the education system of the free states. I did not expect that is related to these free beers. C introduced me to M who is on vacation from the United States. He said that the United States has “the same” student union as in here.
M told me that many Chinese are not very good at English. They are highly dependent on Chinese media platforms and social networks. Facebook and twitter are rarely used. The official social media account of the Chinese Student Union is in WeChat.
The student union media platform and some very low-level Chinese media are all of these people’s spiritual feed, and the students’ union’s account s a good way to make profit. It is said that many Chinese supermarkets and restaurants are rushing to find them for advertising. Chen worked in the student union and was said to have been “interviewed” by the Chinese Consulate. This is why the we can get free beers in the name of Chen in Chinese restaurants.
Advertising can be passed through strict censorship, political censorship, legend says that the boss even need to recite the Core Socialist Values, which has not been confirmed. I am surprised there are so many medias in the United States, why do we have to advertise on a small public account in China WeChat? “That’s also the power of the student union,” M said.
On the one hand, the main customers of Chinese restaurants and supermarkets are Chinese. These Chinese are very autistic and difficult to integrate into the local community. Also bad in English. Therefore, it is best for merchants to advertise on Chinese social media; on the other hand, if a business owner explicitly opposes the Chinese government, while other media have advertised for him/her, the student union will immediately organize a public opinion offensive, and the media of advertising will be recognized as an anti-China hostile force, or shameless traitors, and all the cooperation will be cut off.
“There are also Chinese bosses who ignore Students’ Union. That means he can’t expect his business to thrive.” C said. “I admire the kind of backboned person.” He told me that all the people who come for dinner today have not explicitly joined the student union.
It is said that the funds of the Student Union came from China. Whether it was a video for the women who danced at the entrance of the city hall, or a parade against the people who did not like the Chinese government (such as the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama), all seems to be able to get subsidies. If you write an article titled “The Rise of the Motherland,” you can get a higher reward than the average media. According to legend, it is easier to get a job if you put the student union on your resume. It is more likely to refer to someone who will be back to China.
“People will not express disagreement. It’s not for the money. The family members of these students are still in China. You know,” M shook his head regretfully.
Chinese restaurants, Chinatown, local Chinese platforms, Chinese student unions, Chinese consulates, what a big ideological business chain.
In addition to the Chinese version of international large-scale media, most of the overseas Chinese media are mostly unprofessional. They use fake news and sensational gossip news to catch the eyes. More importantly, these Chinese-language media are often used as the strategic weapons by the Chinese government to implement “Grand International Propaganda”.
In recent years, the Chinese government has been vigorously promoting the “Soft Power” of China in the international arena. Overseas Chinese-language media are considered “taking the heavy responsibility of displaying China’s soft power in culture”, and China has also actively expanded the influence of Chinese media overseas through large investments. The sentence “According to foreign media” is often appeared in the report of the mainland media, including the above-mentioned “knockoff Foreign Media”, as well as the “pro-Chinese” media and “self-censorship” media, spoke for the authorities. The key to the problem is not how many foreign media speak for China or whether it holds a pro-China position. Instead, in the Chinese context where news is strictly regulated, the voice of criticism is systematically blocked.
The overseas Chinese who are not be able to identify professionality in the media, will also not be able to get rid of the Chinese information content. Therefore, even if they live in a free country, they still under the ideology control of the Chinese government.
C pointed at me and said, “Your chinkny have finished, completely Sodom, and you gangs should all come out, staying in China means turning into cannon fodder in the future.”
“I’m Oskar Schindler”
After talking for so long, people spoke the same words to me for the first time: “Hurry to come out.”
“There are so many preferential policies here, it’s a waste if you do not use it,” C said. “You must first apply for a visa, and then you say something against the Chinese government on the Internet. It is best to scold the government, and then wait for an administrative penalty, then escape immediately. If your passport is taken away, you can smuggle into Myanmar, you can buy legal procedures to Thailand, and then flee to a third country from Thailand. In fact, you better escape now, before your passport is taken away.”
C do not understand the idea of those who want to “do something” in domestic. They think that nothing has been done in China. I do not understand. In fact, there are still many people who can just escape, but they choose to stay and change the country to fight against the evil forces. However, everyone agreed with C’s point of view.
“I’m sure that around 95% of the people around have no idea about what happened last year,” M said. “but their happiness index will be definitely higher than ours, only a few anti-Trump American students are not. They only care about if Trump’s immigration policy will affect their employment in the United States. As a result, people who get the offer will immediately have no discontent. Do you believe it? This is caused by the depreciation of knowledge. It is precisely because knowledge can be tentacled in the Internet age that people can not bother to learn. Oversupply is just a law of value….”.
They told me that in a tone of showing off, there have been several recent Chinese people who have come to apply for refugees. From different ages, 50s to 90s, there are also people with disabilities who cannot find jobs in China. “Now nothing is important for me but to get all of you sensible out. Let’s enjoy welfare and drink whiskey here, and appreciate how your chinky end up,” C said. His seems to be ambitious. I don’t understand what is his standard on “sensible”.
M has the same attitude. He thinks that my thought is unreasonable. “You can’t care about China’s future if you don’t have a job, stupid. Those you care about are not worth your hungry, do you know?” he said. “How could you feel shameful to be a refugee? How many people desperately ran out to being refugees? Being anything is more glorious than be a Chinese”.
I remembered the Chinese people who had children born overseas. They got paper diapers, milk, and other products and showed off in the WeChat group, as well as those expressions of praise in the group. I feel a mixture.
It is a true great man whom no poverty and hardship can shake. I smile and wave my hand. They even disagreed more. “You must get a ticket even sell your house. If you cannot afford for it, my friends and me can pay it for you. You always take the excuse of lack of money, showing that you haven’t experienced what the real refugees in Africa feeling. Escaped by boats with close call, and will be sent to the refugee camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. But you can get a temporary protection visa from the refugee camp…”
The “real refugees” is a strange saying. Aren’t you really refugees? Awkward silence. Several people began to drink. After a moment, C said slowly. “You are still not hungry enough. When you too hungry to open your eyes, you will understand. There is no way out of caring for politics”.
These words are the same as what he said on the Internet. He has been lobbying me for immigration for so long. C has uninstalled Twitter and Facebook and left the social media completely. In his words, he said, “Out of sight and out of mind.” “What can those people who only shout slogans do?” He put on a contemptuous look. “Moreover, they shouted anonymously online, and working for the party offline. Okay, someone believe that’s real, and they can not even get a job in real life… How unjust it is!”
C was once a member of the “only shouting” crowd on the Internet, and for a long time, but just to make it easier for the application for political asylum, it is said that immigration officials will be checking your social media account. As a result, they made friends with many dissent netizens, including me. “You are not the same,” C pointed to me. “Your problem is that you are too implicit. Your words on the Internet is always the result of thinking. Thinking is useless. Scolding directly is the only way to make you stand firm and be able to please the immigration officer. When you apply for political asylum, you will see that reason is worthless.
Several “experienced people” have offered advice. They told me not to let myself calm down, to stick to the principle of tragicism, and to cry. “If immigration officials say that you must have good psychological qualities because you are major in psychology. You have to deny immediately, because it’s hard for people with good psychological qualities to apply for political asylum…” they said.
It is necessary to be fear, cultivate fear, and keep fearing. This seems to be another reason why they are out of tune with the surrounding areas, but it is also helpless. If you cannot show enough fear at the interview, it’s difficult for the application to be passed.
“I desperately rendered how bad China is, it is still very helpful, and it can enhance my satisfaction on this side,” C said bluntly. He was playing the keys of the car and seemed to be thinking about how many Uber’s business he can do during this meal that had lasted for more than two hours, with a bit unwilling in his eyes. “I have a master’s degree at a prestigious university,” he said.
He kept saying that he cares for nothing now. “If someone asks me if I support Trump, I definitely say yes. Isn’t Trump kind of a good fit with you planet?” he referred to the turning right of Europe and the United States. I reminded him that we have just left China but not the planet. He refused answer me and said to himself: “You can’t sit in an empty room for the rest of your life and reason yourself because no one will listen to you. Democracy can’t overcome the cyclical anti-intellectualism… Are you still in the social media? How long will it be? Waste your entire life in persuading the group of people who are desperate to commit suicide?!”
Isn’t emotional diversion a responsibility of psychology? His words are inconsistent. One side is disparaging of political concerns. On the other side, he hopes to pull more Chinese people out, just as he denounces “Your Sodom chinky” on one side, and feels affectionate warmth from parents and family on the other side. It seems that one side is a special expression on the other side.
“You have to hurry up,” C said. “If the tide of Chinese refugees breaks out in the future, basically all applications from China will be backlogged indefinitely. In the end, only international students can apply for refugees. It is not an unforeseen future. Even a tourist visa cannot get passed in that situation, that means you are done. It will be too late to make a fortune and immigrate, but people getting out now can still get a job.” He hits the table with his chopsticks and he is serious: “I’m Schindler, we all are.”
Several people kept sharing experiences with me, looks experienced. They said that they can guide me to apply for a visa, what to pay attention to when entering the customs, skills to write materials after entering the customs, and so on. M said, “Although we strongly advise you to get out, you must also think clearly for yourself, people of your situation will be discussed in detail, you are expected to be asked more questions during the interview, such as why you did not apply for political asylum in Europe when you frequently left the country in the past two years, etc., it may be your difficulty. But we can get it passed, as long as you were tragic enough, just don’t be as calm as on the Internet….”.
I’m puzzled. In the eight years working in the media, I don’t have the habit of affirming my position. It was against the principles of journalism. Although my psychology major have studied tragicism and performance-type personality, I can only analyze it, but it is difficult to imitate it. They taught me “to be full of hatred,” and always maintain a mental state of “China is a hell, it cannot been saved.” We must give up the thoughts of resistance and hope at first… It was their words that brought up my sorrow, remembering those who are still struggling in China.
A girl suddenly interrupted, “is he not unmarried?” pointing at me, “Haha, you are saved!”
I am unmarried and I’m a celibatarian. I wrote it in my Facebook profile. C asked me to quickly edit the profile and said that they can help me to find a girl with nationality on this side to do “fake marriage immigrants”. I have heard about this kind of thing before, but I didn’t understand. It is said that the cost of fake marriage is relatively high, the other side, the immigration lawyer, and the middleman who are “playing costar”, all of them need money.
“Maybe it can become real marriage,” C seems to be enlightening me. He told me that several fake marriages have gone real in the past. “Be lucky. You are young and looks handsome, you should be more confident in your appearance.” he said.
I am a bit embarrassed. Marriage is a solemn promise. How can you say…They laugh at me for taking things too hard. “How much do you think the marriages in your chinky are not transactions? In the era of materialism, what else can’t you sell? The key is to selling well. A single marriage certificate is worth for a free citizenship. You don’t need to buy a house or look at your mother-in-law’s face. It’s a good deal,” C said.
“If it is true love, how nice would it be?” The girl’s emotion was just like looking back at a luxurious dress that was displayed in a street-front boutique window. Several men began to turn to her. “It seems easier for you women to marry a white man. But it’s not so easy for a Chinese man to marry a white woman.” This seems to be a law. People often talked about long before and were guessed for many reasons. But why must be white?
Most of the white people have a social status. They told me that they showed some sense of inferiority as a Chinese descendant. The word “Chinese” is written on the face of every ethnic Chinese. The international image of China is what they look like in the eyes of local people.
“I never participated in ethnic Chinese activities that boycotted racial discrimination,” M said, showing an expression of disgust. “Those Chinese who are keen on such boycotts are mostly called pinky in the China, and some are not, but their consciousness is very easy to slip into the perspective of ‘self-esteem as the Chinese’, and I’m clumsy of speech, I can’t argue with them.”
Identity is constructed by society. People’s identity are in the middle of a particular social context. China does not seem to be able to — at least for a long time — to create a “Chinese” identity with broad appeal. It has turned to a government that promotes nationalism, but it has become more and more difficult to unite the different voices in the country. China cannot show the world that it can be open, inclusive and democratic.
In an authoritarian country, people cannot participate in any of the country’s affairs, cannot determine the future of the country, and cannot effectively supervise the staff of the country. “China” is only a concept of political power. The people are far away from this regime, farther and farther. In recent years, the Chinese authorities have used various kinds of show to promote the so-called “people-friendly style”. But the more this is the case, the stronger the sense of distance will be.
How long does it take to establish equal social status with the aborigines in Western societies? One generation? “It will take several generations,” C said. “You think too far. We are now an independent nation on this dinner table. No matter what name you give it, but certainly not China.”
Is it really possible? I believe that if the Chinese have nationalism, the kind of nationalism that can really exert influence, can only be established outside the system. It is expected to fight against the system. The key is that the people who make it up must have the courage to destroy the entire regime.
Escape from China
The situation of Chinese mainlanders migrating abroad has been different from the past decades. In the 1980s, Chinese students began to go abroad, many of whom stayed in Western countries after the Tiananmen massacre in 1989, because those countries took the initiative to provide them with political asylum; in the 1990s, Chinese immigrants working abroad let the smuggling gang take themselves to the West, sometimes on cargo ships, such as Golden Venture, which was stranded in New York City in 1993. This phenomenon has caused widespread concern in the international community at that time.
In the past 30 years, the formation and growth of China’s middle class seems to be proceeding with an unprecedented acceleration. They are increasingly lacking a sense of security for the future, especially for their children’s future. Therefore, it is more likely to choose to emigrate, either by investing or sending children to study abroad, hoping to gain a long-term foothold. According to a survey conducted in November 2016, 85% of China’s middle-class residents are eager to immigrate.
On the other hand, according to statistics released by the United Nations in 2016, in the past 13 years, the number of Chinese people successfully applying for refugees abroad has consistently ranked in the top 20 in the world. Last year, the number of Chinese people applying for refugees was five times more than that of five years ago. Some analysts believe that this is the result of the Chinese government’s continued suppression of dissidents, human rights lawyers, and human rights activists. But this is not the whole reason. The specific reason is very complicated. This article is only a glimpse of one of the tiny sides.
The 2015 UN Global Migration Report shows that the number of global immigrants has reached 244 million in 2015. China ranks fourth in the list of immigrant export countries, with 10 million immigrants.
According to data from the Canadian Immigration Department, China has been Canada’s largest source of refugees since 2013, and the number of applicants is increasing every year. In 2015, a total of 1,738 Chinese refugee applications were received. In the first three months of 2016, There are 391 refugee applications; a spokesman for the Australian Immigration and Border Protection Agency said that in 2015, 146 Chinese refugees were approved; according to the German Federal Immigration and Refugee Administration, 382 Chinese submitted refugee asylum applications. In 2015, a total of 553 Chinese submitted refugee applications. According to data from the 2012 refugee report in France, 2,035 Chinese people submitted applications for asylum…
According to the US Department of Homeland Security, in the fiscal year 2012, immigrants from China applied for asylum in the US Immigration Court accounted for 25% of the total number of applications in 206 countries or territories; in 2014, the most approved refugees in the United States were Chinese, followed by It was from politically turbulent Egypt and war-torn Syria; in 2015 China remained the largest source of asylum seekers in the United States, with a total of 15,100 applications.
In 2015, the report issued by the Migration Policy Institute estimated that the total number of Chinese citizens illegally living in the United States in 2012 was 210,000. Analysts from the United States pointed out that there are many ways in which Chinese immigrants can illegally enter the United States. About 50% do not cross borders, but overstay in the United States after entering the United States in a legal manner such as a tourist or business visa.
According to the US State Department, each year quotas for relatives’ immigration and occupational immigration are allocated 7%, or 25,620, per country. In November 2015, 260,265 people were still waiting on the list in China, which means that they will not accept new ones. In the case of the application, these amounts will take at least 10 years to digest. This means that it takes a long time for legitimate channels to enter the United States, so some Chinese have to use illegal channels.
According to a survey released by the Gallup polling agency in 2012, there are 22 million people in China who want to immigrate to the United States, the highest number in the world; in November 2016, according to a survey released by Hurun Research Institute and Visas Consulting Group, 60% of China’s wealthy people plan to purchase properties overseas in the next three years. The survey targets Chinese rich people with assets of US$1.5 million (the current number of such people in China is approximately 1.34 million). According to the survey, about 800,000 Chinese rich people plan to invest in overseas properties and immigrate to foreign countries.
Many Chinese who do not have the ability to emigrate are also trying their best to make their children born abroad and get the next generation out of Chinese nationality. Surveys show that in recent years, more and more Chinese wealthy families have gone to the United States, and the number of birthing centers across the two countries has continued to increase. In 2016, an estimated tens of thousands of Chinese mothers are living in the United States. The United States has become the most popular destination for fertility tourists in China. However, at the same time, Americans complained about illegally birthing centers setting up in residential areas. Law enforcement agencies investigated and closed these institutions, which led to the frequent repatriation of pregnant women to the United States.
People escaping from China have a variety of reasons. Only one point is the same. They all chose to “escape” rather than oppose it positively and unite to fight against the evil forces. This is indistinguishable from the “people who only shout the slogan on the Internet,” who are despised by some of them. Perhaps, they think that escaping from China is “resistance”, and “desinicization” is a victory?
To a certain extent, these people who left were “people who see some problems clearly” but they quietly left without resounding, and those who felt that they could not escape were mostly dependent on daydream for comfort. And then?
As a cosmopolite, I believe that the positive effect of cultural reference on human development is that open is better than closed and mixed blood is better than pure blood.
However, one should gain understanding in a non-native speaking country and should pursue a sense of belonging in the process of exile, although this is extremely difficult.
A sense of belonging means that you need to have a tacit understanding with the people you live with, so that people around you not only can understand your language, but can also understand your intentions. It may take a long time for the lonely Chinese refugees to be caught in the gap between this re-regionalization era and the global trend of the rising of the new nationalism.
(All characters are aliases)