Everyone is leaving China.

Why.

Preface: I have been living in Beijing for nearly four years. I moved to China immediately after graduating university and have enjoyed it here, for the most part. I have defended China (broadly speaking) endlessly everywhere from conversations with close friends to piecemeal spurts of rage on this blog.

I will continue to defend China, but the direction this country is going in is no longer a laughing matter, no longer a simple dinner conversation.

What’s happening here is scary, and I am slightly scared to be writing about it. Gotta puke it out. Here’s to sharing my thoughts and to not getting deported. My VPN runs through HK.

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Aside: I am marginally afraid that my work visa will not be renewed next year. I attained my work visa at the age of 22 in Beijing through Sina (clearly not through legitimate means). Since then I have only worked for large Chinese or international companies that have a solid presence in China. I have heard stories of permits not being renewed due to age restrictions. People under the age of 27 are not considered ‘experts’ in their field, and therefore are at risk of getting kicked out. I also said some untoward things when I participated in a salon at the Chinese Academy of Governance 2 months ago.

When I returned home this year to the Bay Area in October for 2 weeks, my mindset began changing. Some of it had to do with my opinion on the HK protests, some with my thoughts on U.S.-China relations, and some with my own professional life in Beijing. As much as I defend China, as much as I love some things about Chinese people, what’s happening to this country under the current regime is plain and simple,

fucking scary.

It’s going to take more than one post to explain why.

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I used this background photo in a presentation I made in 2009 to my study abroad class at Capital Normal University. The topic was Beijing Traffic. There were 4 million cars in this city in 2009. Now there are 6 million. That’s a lot of cars. More importantly, that’s a lot of traffic. That’s not counting the buses that clog up the bike lanes or the mopeds and bicycles that run up the sidewalks.

This post was prompted by my realization that more than a few of my friends have recently left Beijing. For HK, for the US, for anywhere but here. I thought it might be a coincidence that they were all trickling out at the same time, but I don’t think it is.

Beijing is starting to become an empty husk.

The foreigners that have been living here are leaving in droves, and it gets harder every day for new expats to enter China.

Locals constantly talk about wanting to move abroad. For the sake of their children, for the sake of their own lives.

I will refrain from speaking directly about the current Chinese regime, but I will say this: the slippery slope had already begun during the last regime. The growing racism, the festering nationalism, the xenophobia.

This is no longer a one-party rule.

This is a one-man rule.

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Let’s talk about the untoward thing I said at the Academy of Governance in Beijing. What is this academy? It is an educational arm, part of the Party school, where ministers and leaders of all levels of the Chinese government are required to go to every year to attend classes.

I was attending a salon under the direction and surveillance of the Director General of International Affairs. We spoke about ideas for future salons. I spoke about media in China, since it is the only topic I am well-versed at regarding China. Having worked for Sina and weibo.com, seeing the inner workings of censorship and product development, having to wait outside in the cold a few random mornings because a party secretary of some sort was visiting the building, I have become very well aware of the policies the government instills in order to control information flow on the Chinese internet.

(Here’s a fun website that shows posts that have been censored from weibo.com: http://weiboscope.jmsc.hku.hk/)

So I spoke about censorship in China and my opinion on it. There was a translator present. I got carried away and my closing statement was as such:

You can get rid of the people you don’t like, but their ideas never die.

The translator: I’m not going to translate that.

I think the Director General got the point, though. I’m quite retarded.

In any case, the problem remains. Why did I say such a stupid thing?

Because this is one of the things I am passionate about. This is a REAL problem. Everyone here knows it. Everyone thinks it. Chinese people don’t walk around mindlessly. Most of them may work in a robotic fashion, but they have families, they have futures, they have hopes, too. But they CANNOT stand up for their hopes.

The Chinese government needs to address this, just like they need to address the thousands of other problems broiling in this beast of a nation.

China is imploding.

The protests in HK are a problem?

They’re not. That is a hiccup. The real problem lies here, in the mainland. The muted unrest within the capital itself is enough to make Xi Jinping shake in his sleep.

Chinese people are smart. But everyone is defeated. No one is willing to truly stand up.

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More and more

I feel like everything is a lie.

China is one big lie.

Governments lie.

Corporations lie.

Marketing and branding departments are professional manipulators and brainwashers.

Lies become truths

Generations pass.

~

When I returned to Beijing from the US this time, I realized how drastic the situation in China is becoming. I started to think, why the fuck am I here, loving this place? I love this city so much. But when I walk from my apartment to the bus stop, when I walk from 3.3 in Sanlitun to the nasty intersection with all the rickshaws, when I look at the people on the street and then the skyscrapers rising up above them I feel

Is this real?

I feel like I’m living in a video game

And China is Blizzard

controlling the weather, the people, the buildings.