Attempting to Talk Your Way Out of a Visa Fine

I learned the Chinese word for deport the other day. Contextually. As in, “You should be happy that we are only going to fine you 5000 kuai, and not deport you.” That was what the uniformed man at the public security bureau said.

The PSB is the dispensary of visa’s in Chengdu, and I imagine that the uniformed man, having dealt with lots of foreigners, probably finds that when a foreigner is complaining about a visa-related fine, brandishing the notion of deportation ends the argument pretty quickly.  My reaction was to start crying.

The tears were heartfelt, but also a bit calculated. As I whimpered, I continued to reiterate bullet points from my case for leniency. “I did not overstay the time stated on my visa; I was not informed of this regulation by my school; I am just a student, I don’t have that kind of money. ” My game plan was to start respectfully, and through a series of questions, lead the PSB official down a narrow corridor of logic, bring him to see the glaring inequity with which I was being treated. That tact having just failed, I had moved to plan B.

An "L" Tourist Visa in US Passport with 3-month duration

Now I should come clean here and say that I am not totally blameless in this matter. When my student visa for this semester arrived at my home in the US, I noticed that in the “duration of stay” field, there was not 180 as I had expected, but 000.  I emailed the company that I had gotten my visa through, and they emailed me back saying: “000 means no limit on the stay. However, you need to register your visa within 30 days after you enter china.”

Expats who have lived in China for a while know that resident aliens must register at the local dispatch center, and I was not surprised to learn that I would have to register, having registered when I studied here previously. A year and a half ago, I applied for a student visa when I was in China, and I had gone to the dispatch center- where I interrupted the officers playing cards and registered- before I got my visa. But this time I already had my visa in hand, so, arriving in ChengDu- busy applying for this and studying for that- I put off registering at the dispatch center, reassured by the knowledge that my visa was, at least in some sense, unlimited. Not quite.

The uniformed man before whom I was crying did not break the bad news to me. The seriousness of my situation had gradually crystalized in my brain over the past week of errands that had strung me from PSB-School-PSB-Dispatch Center-PSB-School-PSB-School-PSB. There was a lot of frantic biking in that string of errands, a lot of waiting, and  a lot of me nodding sheepishly and agreeing, trying to look as non-threatening as possible. Notable highlights from the sequence include PSB1, when I learned that any 000 visa is invalid after 30 days, School1, when I learned that the maximum fine was 5000 kuai, and PSB4, when I signed my statement apologizing for my violation, sealing it with a red right thumb print.
I went into PSB4 with a little bit of hope that I might not be charged the full fine because of the specifics of my case. My spoken Chinese is good, and so is my luck, I thought that I would probably be able to get the fine reduced by performing a delicate ballet in which I defused a bomb attached to a dancing bear. I was hoping to charm them.

After PSB4, I had the sense that I had made some progress. I had told a story of a conscientious sinophil tripped up by a bit of bad luck mixed with honest misunderstanding. The suited man’s suited subordinate had been thrilled to watch me write a few characters in Chinese. But ultimately I had not gotten any resolution on the size of the fine. The suited subordinate said that the size of the fine was ultimately not his decision. I had been ready to cry at PSB4 but without knowing the size of the fine, it didn’t happen. That night I emailed my mom, and she replied, “You were right not to press, but early tears may have saved you a couple hundred bucks.” The next day, at PSB5, I was ready to put it all on the table.

After presenting a letter from school stating that I was a student there, I was told that the fine was going to be 5000 kuai. The night before, lying in bed, I had thought about particular verbiage to use in the event that I was handed down the maximum penalty, and at this point I began to make my case, “don’t you think that my situation is somewhat different from the typical visa expiration case,” I said in Chinese. The uniformed subordinate then sighed and ushered me next door, to the office of the uniformed man.

If you overstay your Chinese visa, police might not show you mercy

I had prepared for this showdown two arguments. The first was that fundamentally, I had not overstayed my visa. I had paid a semesters tuition and the semester was not over. Had I jumped through the bureaucratic hoop in time, my visa would have been automatically extended to cover my period of study. Now I had registered, and I was still within that period of study. No harm, no foul. I should not be treated the same as someone who just decided not to leave the country within the time written on their visa.

The second argument was that a duration indicated “000” was erroneous and misleading. Even if I had registered within 30 days, I would have had to technically re-apply for a new visa, and my old one (the one marked 000) would have been invalid.  Under any circumstances that visa would have expired after 30 days. It should have said 30 days on the visa, not 000.

Although often I have a hard time composing my thoughts in Chinese when I am angry, nervous, or excited, (all three of which I was,) at that particular moment my phrases were landing together, like Tetris pieces, in a colorful interlocking melody. With each point the uniformed man nodded gravely, waiting until I finished, and expressing regret that regulations offered him no room for leeway in assessing penalties. He lost no opportunity to pass the buck. “Did they not tell you at the border that you had to register within 30 days?” he said. “Did your school’s foreign student office not ensure that you had registered? How irresponsible of them. Maybe they will bear some of the burden of paying this fine,” he said. “Why didn’t your visa service explain this to you? You should report them to the government. They can be held responsible.” he said.

He seemed well practiced in affecting empathy, but his voice carried a fatalistic monotone that suggested an unwavering certainty in the outcome of the conversation. My plan was to cry as a last resort, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to force it.  As it became more clear that the uniformed man was not going to lower the fine, the tears sprang forth surprisingly naturally.

Cute cartoons adorn PSB's across China

Have you ever cried before a man in uniform? It was my first time, but if you think about it, it has probably happened consistently over the course of history. The man in the uniform always has some bad news for the person crying.

Now when I say crying, I wasn’t yelling or whining or waving my arms, but there was definitely water flowing down my face. I was taking shorter gasps of breath in between my sentences- I wouldn’t go so far as to call them sobs. I fiddled with the Chinese language study book that I had brought, deliberately stuffed with sheets of vocabulary words, as a symbol of my diligence. I was making one last lunge for salvation, for pity, and the uniformed man was parrying me. it went something like this:

Me: “I’m a student, I cant pay that much money. I just don’t have it. ”
UM: “You’ll find a way. You can borrow it from your family.”
Me:  “Who has that kind of money laying around”
UM: “That is not a lot in dollars. Your family will give it to you.”
Me: “That would be too shameful. I can’t ask them.”
UM: “It is the job of parents to take care of their children, they will support you.”
Me: “You don’t understand, every family situation is different. I cant ask them.”
UM: “Then ask one of your friends. You’ll find a way…”
Me: “I will go bankrupt.”
UM: “You will find a way…”

He trailed off at the end, as if to say “… or you wont. But in either case my lunch break will be occuring at 11:30, and I will be leaving the office then.” I stood there red faced and quiet for a moment. Then I left.

The largest 100 yuan denomination "Red backs"

And of course he was right. I did find a way: thanks to a timely (and abnormally generous) 500 dollar Christmas gift from grandma, I showed up to the PSB  three days later with a stack of redbacks. Of course my passport wasn’t ready then (as they had said it would be), but when I came back the next day and paid the fine, I was able to finally reclaim it. Only one catch. No visa. That 5000 kuai only included the penalty for my expired visa, and not the processing of a new visa- that would be an additional 1000 kuai. Although I have never had one, I have heard that during a colonoscopy a smallish metal rod is inserted into the rectum to a certain point, whereupon the end of the rod opens and smaller rod with a surgical mouth emerges (ala the alien’s mouth in Alien) and bites off a piece of tissue from your colon. The second charge felt sort of like that.

One of the bad things about having bad things happen to you is that once you tell someone, everyone else wants to know about the bad thing, and you wind up reliving the event through your interaction with others. With my friends, I used a series of sodomy jokes to convey the plotline (I should have said I was Shanghai-ed), but with my girlfriend and my family, I had to dissect each step of the story- my growing impatience with the topic seeming more and more like defensiveness in the face of my own failures. My mother sent me an email saying that my father thought that maybe it meant I wanted to come home, and I sent a sharp email back saying that it was, “just bad personal business management coupled with bad luck.”

In some ways my mistake was understandable. Things weren’t always this strict for expats. A couple of years ago I probably could have weaseled my way out without a fine. But we are in post-Olympics China, and blind adoration of westerners is passe, at least among the officials at the PSB. If I wasn’t ignorant, then I must have been incompetent. Talking about it has cleansed the wound, but it still irks me whenever I pass the dispatch center which is on the same street as my apartment complex, about 50 meters from the gate.

87 thoughts on “Attempting to Talk Your Way Out of a Visa Fine”

  1. great article. I’ve visited no.3 room also for overstaying. Only a couple of days for me and a first time offense. I got off with a warning (lucky).

    The PSB has a habit of sending me an SMS about 10 days before my visa expires to let me know. I wish they would do that anyway, not only because you’re on a “blacklist”.

  2. Shouldn’t this post be titled “Trying to cry your way out of a visa fine”? ;p

    I have also cried in the past to change a visa situation and I ended up saving thousands of kuai!

  3. I hear what your saying- I didn’t come up with the title… Im afraid it might give people the impression that this story has a happy ending.

  4. I did think it would have a happy ending and we could all learn about how to bend the visa laws… But alas. We’re best to obey them anyway, because there is no clemency but there is a death penalty!

    Site looks great by the way!

  5. yeah i remember trying to talk my way out of a fine. both times i ended up getting angry and receiving the maximum fine. the few success stories i heard involved a lot of flattery and submissive nodding.

    Just imagine if you were in the US, talking to a cop there about overstaying … much less fun.

  6. Even though it was 5000RMB it still blows big time! Really feel for you!!The tears were really touching!! Anyway best bet is never do your visa in chengdu if possible !!

  7. I thought a woman had written this, not a modern woman, mind you, but a stereotypical girl from an old b&w movie. However, when the author referred to his girlfriend I looked for a name. Eli–usually a man’s name. Picture–hard to tell with that towel, but maybe there is a hint of a beard of sorts.

    So, all those tears from a man trying to save himself a few hundred dollars! Shame on you for making foreigners look bad.

    And, anyone who has lived here for a time knows that acting weak will get you nowhere.

  8. From your comment, I glean the following information about you James:
    a. You are a man you has 6000 kuai to spare.
    b. You have not had a good cry in a while.
    c. You would like an ass-kicking.
    Maybe someday soon we will meet, and I can help you resolve all 3 of these issues…

    • 我是个中国人 本来看到这篇文章,为ELI的真诚所感动。我很敬佩外国人能把自己的真实的经历大胆的公布。可是看到你JAMES的留言我觉得你才是丢外国人的脸,从你的话中可以看出你是个虚伪,小气,不近人情的小人,用中国人的话说就是你站着说话不腰疼。人家敢于真实说出自己的经历,你自己做过多少丢人的事恐怕只有你自己知道。真正的男人不会在这里无聊的指责别人。你是不是很有钱,如果你钱多没处花,可以尽管找我帮你花。

  9. Hi, I am Tracey and I’m a Hong Kong girl. I come to Chengdu to take their ladies to hospital in Hong Kong to have babies. So I read you site for info. Now I feel very strange can western man cry so easy or is it just make up?
    I think no chiness man can cry about that. Even if hes poor he don’t cry for any police find. He maybe poor but he don’t wanna lose his poor face (he he)… Worker in chengdu just maqke 100 kuai one day. So hes gonna work for 60 days and pay that find cuz hes not a baby hes a man. In HK there’s many western guys. Mostly they dress in good suites and they always working hard but they don’t show off the money. They save for their family so they don’t have a crises. So HK peolpl respect them. I don’t know maybe chengdu western man are different. Maybe this is just a story about a strange person. Hope you don’t mind my question. I just tell you the truth. Don’t threating me or swear at me ok like you said to the other guy. I think hes word is mostly true. Maybe hes chiness

  10. To answer your question Tracey, this story is not made up. I could have omitted the part about crying, but I chose to include it, because I wanted to tell the story honestly. I understand that some people- like you and james- look down on a man for crying. Why? Crying is a healthy, natural part of life.

    In many societies, tradition tells us that men should not cry, but women should. These same traditions tell us that men are more powerful, more important, and more capable to lead. The traditional dominance of men the social hierarchy is predicated on the (fallacious) underlying notion that men are impervious to the emotional fragility of the human condition. If you would like to live in a society where men and women are treated as equals, then hold them to the same standards of acceptable behavior.

    或者, 换一句话说, 你想永远住在大男子主义社会吗?你们过分好面子的人确实拉着现代社会的后退。

    哎呀, 说服老封建真象对牛弹琴。。。

    Also, FYI, most workers in ChengDu do NOT make 100 kuai a day.

  11. Wow. Because if there’s one thing that Chinese authorities respect, it’s poor people. When has begging and crying you have no money to pay ever worked, in Chinese history?

    In Chinese culture, a full-grown man crying is a sign of weakness and powerlessness. Not nice. But good luck pushing this “traditional dominance of men the social hierarchy” on your new adopted country.

    • He opted for humility and pandered for mercy, but in the end didn’t get it. He gave it a shot, came out with a great story, and was confident enough to be honest about it with everyone. I really enjoyed the story but I don’t see why it’s such a big deal beyond that.

    • ok i see jake here might not be full of hate. in fact, if you are hating, you’re hating on the fact that sensitive men have no place or power in Chinese culture. And i would agree with you, to a certain extent.

      Jake here seems to be saying, poor powerless senstive men like Eli got no chance out here, but he wishes you luck nevertheless.

      There are many beautiufl things about Chinese culture and many silly things.

      i would propose the following statement and if there are any comments, lets take it to the forum (chengduliving.com/forum):

      Chinese women’s team sports have much more success than men’s and I say this is a function of the “crying is weakness – must save face” paradigm that stifles men and keeps them from achieving the emotional maturity it takes to AS A GROUP meet adversity and persevere.

      As my first example, I will provide China’s defeat at the hands of Japan during the Asian Cup Final several years ago.

  12. This article does not say: “crying is an effective tactic for avoiding punishment by Chinese authorities.” It is just a story about what happened to me.

    Some people seem to think that my actions were somehow shameful. Jake has brought us the fascinating insight that “a full-grown man crying is a sign of weakness.” I don’t think that showing weakness is shameful. Im not saying crying is the best way to subvert authority, but Im not ashamed to give it a try. As the article thoroughly explains, crying was a last resort.

    Additionally, you can keep your wishes of good luck, as I will not be needing any luck “pushing” a male dominated social hierarchy on China, as it has already been in place here for several thousand years.

    Any more haters? Step right up!

    • yeah man i was going to stay out of this bullshit about “to cry or not to cry” but I gotta say the haters out there are just doing what they have to do to make each day satisfying. and I am glad to see you confront each hater with the appropriate mixture of sighing and slow explaining.

      All those who say that crying is weak, won’t work on authorities and subverts one or many cultural paradigms have probably never had to deal with the Law.

      I cried my first night in jail. now that can get you an ass whipping and worse, but I couldn’t help it. I only spent a few days there, but at the time my situation seemed really desperate.

      No one fucked with me and those that would have are the most ignorant, the most fearful and, in my opinion, the most worthless humans out there.

      So, i think this thing about Eli Sweet crying is laughable because I know Eli would smack the shit out of James, Jake and all of Tracey’s little HK punks and that’s for real. But i gotta meet hate with reason cuz thats why i’m here.
      One Love.

  13. Good. You don’t kick me. You make your meaning very clear and suprising. Maybe your talk is better cuz I’m girl. You have double standard that’s normal. But you talk like im just stupid schoolgirl and tell me stuff that’s old everybody knows. Its just waterwords like when someone asks those Legco guys a question they don’t answer they just talk something else. Nobody said about men sholdnot cry and woman should cry. Nothing about man and woman. I went to chiness schoolso my English sucks. May be you don’t get it, my fault. May be you don’t read good or careful. Im gonna tell you a lesson for no mony. People pay my family to make their baby born hong kong. It cost 10 times your police find and more. These families usually good people but there not really chengdu. They are countryside. (you know real chengdu are not so many now and they look down on countryside men) Thier standards not so good. In hongkong I tell them, this is hk this is not chengdu so don’t spit and shout and don’t leave your garbage everywhere. They appreciate me. And they obey me. But theres other chiness in those hk hospitals. But last hospital I went it’s a private hospital. There are foreigners (see I don’t say western man don’t confuse you) and hongkongess and chiness. All the doctors and nurses are hongkongess. In hong kong hospitals they have every sighn is English and chiness. But that hospital have some sighns wrote by hand. Those sighns not in English, not in chiness,These signs in SIMPLE Chiness. One say No Spitting, another says No Put Bones in Toilet. But to me that sighns says hongkongess think chiness very dirty and stupit. I get so mad I rip one sign. But later I think and understand. Some chiness do things other guys think is no good. Then they think all chiness like that. Doesn’t matter if action is really bad or not. If a chiness spit other people gonna think hes dirty. Maybe spitting is not so bad. Don’t answer that its different culture value and if you think spitting is dirty you are thinking fallacious. Fact is people don’t like it. They gonna think spitter is bad and if spitter is chiness they gonna think chiness is bad. Same with you so pay attention. If you cry for some mony ,Chiness gonna think you very weak or chee shin (fung le in chengdu). There gonna talk and those chiness then have bad impression. You think that policeman is tell his family, “a person cried for some mony today and he beg for a long time.” No way. Hes gonna say for sure a white man or western man or foreigner cried and people who hear are gonna get little idea about foreigner growing in there brains. And what about you? You cry for 6000. Cry for 4000? How about 1000?
    You gonna cry cuz you drop your icecream cone on sidewalk? One more thing. Every two weeks I come to Chengdu and I pay workers who have good skils at tiles and carpenter. They work on apartments sometimes foreigners own. Its my familys busness. Don’t tell me what workers make. I hire them ifire them ipay them. I tell you when you want a good worker don’t make mess tile strait paint strait you gonna pay almost 100. Remember don’t need to answer. This not conversation. This is a lesson from me. Read carful understand my suck English and your life will be better.

    • I see that you want to have a conversation with me Tracey, so lets have a conversation. I think that I can look past your mangled English and address the mangled logic behind it.

      Spitting is very different from men crying. Spitting in public is looked down upon because it spreads tuberculosis (肺结核), a very serious health problem in China. Male crying is looked down upon because it violates established gender roles. The first is a scientific reason, the second is a cultural preference. Male crying has no negative impact on society (though encouraging men to suppress their emotions does).

      I will cry when I think it might help me (like in the PSB), I will cry when I am sad (like in the PSB), and I might just cry when I read your next ignorant, patronizing comment, and I have to defend crying again!

      Also, your anecdotal home renovation story aside, average workers in Chengdu still don’t make 100 kuai a day.

  14. Wow, that’s got to hurt! What a woman! Are they all like that where she comes from? If so, driver, get me to the airport fast. Goodbye dirty old Chengdu; hello straight-talking, money-making Hong Kong ladies. Yeah!

    • watch what you wish for my man, notice tracey is down with ties and suits and well-coifed gentlemen (i.e. CA$HMONEY) and a lil bit of info:

      in HK there are wanted ads for husbands that start with how many zeroes his ass needs to pull in AND how many zeroes the previous fella pulled in.

      But then again HK has straight talkin, wild-stylin women, too so get yer ticket, why not …

  15. As a comical device, it doesn’t matter if the crying parts in Eli’s story are true or not. You have to either personally know Eli, be into the same comedy and writing as him, or be perceptive of his article’s ironic tone. Just like how a lot of people hate Curb your Enthusiasm, the humor in Eli’s article is not for everyone.

    Most people in the world are raised to see crying as shameful. For a lot of readers, Eli was pushing a boundary, and for others like Jake, he crossed it. At our “at-risk youth” summer camp, we treated crying as a behavior that was disruptive to the group’s activities. I’d ask a crying kid to stand away from the group where I could talk to him without the group laughing at him. “Why are you punishing me?” he’d usually ask. “This isn’t punishment,” I’d say, “Crying is normal, it’s just disruptive to the group. Take as long as you need, and come back when you’re ready.”

    As for Tracey’s comments, I remember one time when we were training a group of ten Somali refugees in basic living skills at the Tacoma Community House. We played a game where we’d toss a ball to someone in the circle and practice a daily conversation question. I threw the ball to one of the 19-year-old men and asked, “Do you have any children?” “Three,” he answered proudly and threw the ball back to me. He asked, “How many children to you have?” “None,” I said. The men all scowled in disgust. The women raised their eyebrows. “You’re not a man if you don’t have any children,” he spat. At the moment, I could think of enough cultural and economic factors to justify my being 21 and not having any children, to dismiss their disrespect and go on with the lesson, unfazed, and, I think, Eli, you should do the same.

  16. I have personally boxed and wrestled with Eli, made him bleed, etc. Crying is a reasonable response for well-attuned men like Eli and myself. We were raised by strong mothers and hippie dads. We’re able to express our emotions in more ways than just dickheaded arrogance (although Eli and I are both good at that as well). Nice 成语 Eli.

    • It’s amusing seeing people who don’t know Eli personally imply that he isn’t masculine.

      You guys were raised by hippy fathers and strong mothers too? Awesome

  17. I’m breaking my internet rule: Use only for info, email, or money. It was Reid’s last comment that inspired me. Reid wrote how he and Eli did manly things together and he made Eli bleed and they are true men who are in touch with their feelings and not afraid to express them because they have hippie fathers. It was a way of showing support for a friend, I suppose, and everyone will agree that is wonderful. Then Charlie wrote to assure us of his buddy’s masculinity.

    With respect, I’ve read all the comments from top to bottom and I just can’t see how Reid and Charlie are on topic. Take time to actually read the comments, as I did. Don’t rely on what Eli has told you people are saying. As you can see, the manliness or masculinity of anyone is not the issue here. Let’s identify the real issues by reviewing the words of Chairman Tracey.

    “Nobody said about men sholdnot cry and woman should cry. Nothing about man and woman.” Even James did not actually say that Eli was acting like a woman. He compared Eli’s crying to that which one might see in an old black and white movie. Think Lucy crying because Ricky won’t let her sing in his Cuban band. That is, the crying is done for nothing truly heart-rending. It’s done principally for manipulation. Eli should address this. He can’t argue that he’s breaking the old boundaries which restrict a man’s rate and incidence of tear flow in favour of women, who are allowed unlimited access to this resource. Well, he can argue it, but it is irrelevant as no one has told him that his behaviour would have been acceptable for a woman. His friends seem to be saying he’s moving into new territories, pushing the envelope one said. Don’t encourage him. Eli claims his emotion was not completely faked, that there was real feeling. But he did use it for money, didn’t he? That’s not pushing the envelope; that’s the world’s oldest profession.

    Tracey’s second point is that crying for material gain, crying for stuff, puts you on a slippery slope. Where do you draw the line? I’m using terrible clichés here. Let’s turn to the master. “And what about you? You cry for 6000. Cry for 4000? How about 1000? You gonna cry cuz you drop your icecream cone on sidewalk?” (Eli calls that mangled English. I call it poetry.) It’s actually an interesting question. Eli should address this. He seems to criticise James for having the money to pay, though there is no evidence for his supposition. Maybe that’s the key. If you owe money that you don’t have, you should get out the handkerchief. (This has enormous implications for the Obama administration.)

    The third comes directly from James, and Tracey concurs. When members of a visible minority behave in a manner which the host culture perceives as negative, that host culture begins to stereotype those of the minority. Stereotyping leads to prejudice. Again, doesn’t that sound like dreary Sociology 101, 5th Tier American university essay paraphrasing, or as Tracey would say ‘suck’ prose? But Tracey asserts when one of us westerners does something frowned upon in Chinese culture people will talk and those “who hear are gonna get little idea about foreigner growing in there brains.” So let’s talk about that, not that I think crying for money is a deeply rooted Western tradition and is even worth talking about. But the issue is whether one is culpable if he creates a negative impression which hurts others of his class, ethnic group or whatever. In Korea, the opinion held of young American conversation teachers is really quite low due the behaviour of some. Check out the comments on Chinese websites. It’s not as bad here—yet. As Tracey said, it doesn’t matter if the host culture’s values are valid or not. If you transgress those values, prejudice will be the result. I’m not sure I agree, but it’s a valid argument and very well put. (Eli completely misunderstood this, went on about spitting being a spreader of TB, stating that crying and spitting were not analogous. Now watch, if he replies he’ll say it again.)

    But you know what? I don’t care if Eli cries for nothing and a lot of Chinese snicker behind his back. If he wants to look like an (where he says he will kick James), go ahead. And if the Chinese opinion of Americans goes down, I think Americans can live with that. However, I really care about this last point. Tracey brought it up twice. Neither Eli nor any of his cohorts addressed it. Tracey, at the end of her first letter and the beginning of her second, refers to Eli’s threat of violence. Reid, Sascha, Charlie and the rest of the clique—you must tell Eli that won’t do, it’s just not on. You cannot threaten a man for telling you his opinion, no matter what you think, no matter how unfair you think he is. He has a right to criticise your behaviour, especially when you put it out for public distribution. If you don’t like it, you can argue, or you can shut up. You cannot threaten abuse. When you made that threat, Eli, you became the bad guy in this piece, the bully. And, by threats and vulgarity, you brought out the Swiftian yahoos. Read the comments following your puerile threat, Eli. Once you swore, others followed suit. It does not make you look good. Your friends know you, know all your virtues. But outsiders, those not in your little group, only see what you present. And what they see ain’t pretty. There’s little you can do now, it’s all out there.

    What you can do, however, is own up to the injustice you have done James. Today would be good.

    Post Script: I have made an assumption that Eli is American, based on certain aspects of his writing. I apologise if I have erred.

    • Actually Wen, your rule has not been broken. In this case, it appears that you are in desperate need of some info, and luckily, you have found just the man to provide it to you. Welcome to the arena, prepare to greet the blade.

      Let me begin by asking you three questions. Is it shameful in your eyes to cry before a Chinese authority figure? Does the gender or the nationality of the person matter? Do you believe that expats should conform to social norms that they disagree with while abroad? While nit-picking others about the topicality of their posts, you have not taken a position on any of the core issues of discussion.

      You allege that I “completely misunderstood (Tracey’s story about spitting by)… stating that crying and spitting were not analogous.” Was she not analogizing the two situations? When she said “they gonna think spitter is bad and if spitter is chiness they gonna think chiness is bad. Same with you so pay attention,” it seemed pretty clear that’s what she was doing. You followed the logic of that analogy when you warned us against generating the kind of prejudice described by Tracey.

      “As Tracey said, it doesn’t matter if the host culture’s values are valid or not… I’m not sure I agree, but it’s a valid argument and very well put,” you say.“There gonna talk and those chiness then have bad impression.” Yeah, she’s a regular fucking Chaucer. Seriously, “it’s a valid argument and very well put”…? You must be trying to get laid for your web gallantry Wen, with your praise of ‘the master… chairman Tracy,’ and her ‘poetry.’. It’s a terrible argument, and it’s terribly put. The validity of a cultural value is precisely the determining factor upon which we should make our decision whether or not to conform. If violating a bad social norm generates a negative impression among some, fine. Chinese cultural values are not homogenous, and (as this thread shows) both sides will find supporters. We can argue about whether male crying is appropriate, but do we really need to argue about whether or not standing behind our beliefs is a good thing? You seem a reasonable man, and I don’t need to brandish an extreme example to remind you that conforming to a social norm that you disagree with is a morally untenable position. But your equivocation, ‘im not sure if I agree or not,’reminds us that you are not here to take a position on the issue, just clumsily rehash the remarks of others and hopefully pick up a QQ number.

      Now, let me address your statment that “crying for material gain puts you on a slippery slope,” by which I assume you mean ‘crying for material gain is a slippery slope.’ You know what is a slippery slope? Using the lazy, bled-dry slippery slope analogy when you can’t think of a better argument. Why? Because at first people mistake this intellectually pretentious language for something meaningful, then you start throwing it around more and more loosely, and eventually you are using it in a public debate to describe a scenario with which it is not remotely comparable… like crying for money! Tell me, where does this slippery slope of tear prostitution lead? And what are the landmarks on the way down? Perhaps it starts innocently enough- drinks with friends, and somebody bets ten dollars I can’t shed a tear. Next thing you know, I’m weeping my way through the checkout line at the supermarket. Then one day I wake up in a cardboard box, tear ducts dry from overuse, surreptitiously squeezing visene over my lids for a crowd of sweaty, tear-thirsty voyeurs.

      But seriously, your dumb analogy aside, you would like me to address crying “…done for nothing truly heart-rending” but rather “principally for manipulation.”As the article states, I cried because I was sad. It might not sound like a “truly heart-rending” situation to you, but when you are a student, and you are fined more money than you have in the bank, it is not a good feeling. But of course I also said in the article that I had considered, and was willing, to cry to manipulate if necessary. Is manipulation always a bad thing? Would you try to cry your way out of an unjust death sentence, or would that be shamefully manipulative?‘Manipulation’ is a loaded term, because it suggests exerting influence to a nefarious end, which is not always the case.

      Would I cry for 6000, 4000, or 1000 kuai? My answers to these questions are, in reverse order, yes, yes, and hell yeah. In a neutral situation- say, some sort of new age performance art piece (which, btw, I am up for if you and Tracy would like to bankroll it) – anyone who could will themselves to cry (which I have never been able to do) would be silly to say no. But of course crying is never in a neutral situation, and what you are really asking me is, would I cry to cheat someone out of money I did not deserve? No. Would I use crying to try to manipulate someone? I would if I thought I was being treated unfairly. Like, say, if I was given a heavy handed fine, and I wanted a more just outcome.

      For the coup de gras, let me address the complaint of an old man shaking his cane at the whippersnappers: I have crossed a line by threatening James with physical violence on a message board. Let’s be very clear – no threat was made. A threat was insinuated. It seems incongruous that you resisted inferring from statements like “I thought a woman had written this” that my masculinity was being questioned, but you were pretty gung ho about inferring a ‘threat of violence,’ from my statement, and then demanding, cowboy style, that I ‘own up to the injustice,’ I’ve done.

      Let me break it down for you, so that next time you won’t shout ‘checkmate’ before the game is over…

      Perhaps I will run into James in the near future (in the Tongzilin Carrefore), he will address me politely, and I will realize that he is not in need of an attitude adjustment. On the other hand, perhaps I will see him at a bar (The Shamrock obviously), he will be as rude to me as he was in his post, and he will get his ass whooped. Or perhaps I will see him and realize that he is a bad mother fucker, and Ill apologize profusely and buy him a beer. The beauty of putting the adverbial modifier ‘perhaps’ at the beginning of the sentence is that it eliminates none of these possibilities. So save me the melodramatic lecture about bullying, and brush up on your semantics.
      PS. Yes, I am American. Where are you from? Something in your word choice makes me think Canada.

  18. wow, crying in order to
    a) save cash
    b) relieve emotional stress
    c) both
    by Eli, a man, has pulled the analyst out of Wen. I agree that we (the clique, the posse, the crew) all jumped up and started beating our chests when James and Tracey showed up … and that’s because we know Eli and know that him crying (or writing about crying) is more to accentuate the irony of Eli, a tough guy, crying and to get us all to giggle along with him. ELi is a man and he likes to tell jokes.

    And yes, crying and sniveling in front of Chinese will make us look bad. But I really don’t care that much because Chinese make themselves look bad on a magnitude far far far above anything Eli did in the PSB and they don’t seem to care a bit. I learn from them.

    Eli, you are a ho, you shouldn’t have threatened poor netizens that just wanted to have a friendly discussion and you should watch what you do, because if you make us all look bad, it might affect my ability to get a cab later on in Chengdu.

  19. wtf is going on here?
    are there more mommas going to show up here?

    how come those people who thought they know chinese culture better than Eli don’t know what 好为人师 means? Or maybe they really like to make everybody else to be the same PERFECT person like themselves?

    Fie!
    oh sorry I spit.

  20. Thanks for your on topic comments, Sascha. Actually, I think you’re right–it’s not worth worrying about what impression you make. That’s why I said that I didn’t really agree with that point and later said that it probably didn’t matter even if people did think less of Americans as Americans could handle that. There’s another reason it may not matter. My knowledge of the cultural landscape here is less that yours I’m sure, but my experience is that most Chinese do not hold grudges and may even be less likely to stereotype. That’s just from personal experience, however. I’ve had business disputes with Chinese which seemed acrimonious, but one week later they would walk back in wanting to resume as though nothing had happened. It’s not like the country my family originally came from where Family A would despise Family B for generations because Family B’s great-great-great-great grandfather once had an illicit affair with one of Family A’s sheep.

    When you say that Eli is being called a ho, that is a bit unfair. First, the oldest profession was a joke, like the sheep, see. Second, we are talking about one individual action of one very young man and whether or not people would approve. We are not making general aspersions on anyone’s character. I reiterate, the concern you should have on the site is what impression people have who know nothing of the writer’s character. Obviously, Eli is quite an exceptional young lad or he would not have so many friends supporting him. But, outsiders cannot see all the positive attributes he possesses.

    Eli, I look forward to your response. I know it’s going to be good; I know it’s going to be tough; and I may not like it much. But I’m quite an old guy (three times your age I figure), so I can take criticism. As I said, free speech is an important right. (And one that wouldn’t even exist for any of us if not for the United States.) When I read it, I’ll do so carefully, several times; you can count on it. I will reply respectfully as long as it doesn’t contain profanity or threats. I may not be able to reply right away, though, as business is really heating up now that CNY is over. It might take a couple of weeks.

    An interesting development: teachers are copying the essay and comments on this site and using them as classroom material. I can’t imagine how that works.

    Sincerely,
    Wen

    • Wen, how did you discover that teachers are using the essay and comments as classroom material? I would be overjoyed to hear an English student offer Eli’s justification for a grown man crying in public.

  21. Once again, thank you to all the haters out there! Please continue to keep me on my toes! As they say ‘ if nobody’s hatin, then nobody’s listenin.’ I know that hate is the blood in your veins, the oxygen in your lungs, and I applaud you for putting your nuts on the table, where I can smash them with my rhetorical mallet. I have another article coming soon, and I look forward to all of your niggling personal attacks! Good Luck.

  22. Too bad Wen, Eli didn’t come up with a good answer for your last post. Instead we got a rap phrase where his ego clearly shows.

    God dammit Eli, you need to relax. Be a man. A man who is able to take some critizism without becoming all defensive and aggressive.

    Looking forward to your next article!

  23. I was afraid this might happen. I posted my response to Wen using the function to post my comment directly following Wen’s post. At the same time I posted a more general comment at the end of the thread.

    Read it first, and then open your mouth.

  24. This was my response to Wen, posted feb19.

    Actually Wen, your rule has not been broken. In this case, it appears that you are in desperate need of some info, and luckily, you have found just the man to provide it to you. Welcome to the arena, prepare to greet the blade.

    Let me begin by asking you three questions. Is it shameful in your eyes to cry before a Chinese authority figure? Does the gender or the nationality of the person matter? Do you believe that expats should conform to social norms that they disagree with while abroad? While nit-picking others about the topicality of their posts, you have not taken a position on any of the core issues of discussion.

    You allege that I “completely misunderstood (Tracey’s story about spitting by)… stating that crying and spitting were not analogous.” Was she not analogizing the two situations? When she said “they gonna think spitter is bad and if spitter is chiness they gonna think chiness is bad. Same with you so pay attention,” it seemed pretty clear that’s what she was doing. You followed the logic of that analogy when you warned us against generating the kind of prejudice described by Tracey.

    “As Tracey said, it doesn’t matter if the host culture’s values are valid or not… I’m not sure I agree, but it’s a valid argument and very well put,” you say.“There gonna talk and those chiness then have bad impression.” Yeah, she’s a regular fucking Chaucer. Seriously, “it’s a valid argument and very well put”…? You must be trying to get laid for your web gallantry Wen, with your praise of ‘the master… chairman Tracy,’ and her ‘poetry.’. It’s a terrible argument, and it’s terribly put. The validity of a cultural value is precisely the determining factor upon which we should make our decision whether or not to conform. If violating a bad social norm generates a negative impression among some, fine. Chinese cultural values are not homogenous, and (as this thread shows) both sides will find supporters. We can argue about whether male crying is appropriate, but do we really need to argue about whether or not standing behind our beliefs is a good thing? You seem a reasonable man, and I don’t need to brandish an extreme example to remind you that conforming to a social norm that you disagree with is a morally untenable position. But your equivocation, ‘im not sure if I agree or not,’reminds us that you are not here to take a position on the issue, just clumsily rehash the remarks of others and hopefully pick up a QQ number.

    Now, let me address your statment that “crying for material gain puts you on a slippery slope,” by which I assume you mean ‘crying for material gain is a slippery slope.’ You know what is a slippery slope? Using the lazy, bled-dry slippery slope analogy when you can’t think of a better argument. Why? Because at first people mistake this intellectually pretentious language for something meaningful, then you start throwing it around more and more loosely, and eventually you are using it in a public debate to describe a scenario with which it is not remotely comparable… like crying for money! Tell me, where does this slippery slope of tear prostitution lead? And what are the landmarks on the way down? Perhaps it starts innocently enough- drinks with friends, and somebody bets ten dollars I can’t shed a tear. Next thing you know, I’m weeping my way through the checkout line at the supermarket. Then one day I wake up in a cardboard box, tear ducts dry from overuse, surreptitiously squeezing visene over my lids for a crowd of sweaty, tear-thirsty voyeurs.

    But seriously, your dumb analogy aside, you would like me to address crying “…done for nothing truly heart-rending” but rather “principally for manipulation.”As the article states, I cried because I was sad. It might not sound like a “truly heart-rending” situation to you, but when you are a student, and you are fined more money than you have in the bank, it is not a good feeling. But of course I also said in the article that I had considered, and was willing, to cry to manipulate if necessary. Is manipulation always a bad thing? Would you try to cry your way out of an unjust death sentence, or would that be shamefully manipulative?‘Manipulation’ is a loaded term, because it suggests exerting influence to a nefarious end, which is not always the case.

    Would I cry for 6000, 4000, or 1000 kuai? My answers to these questions are, in reverse order, yes, yes, and hell yeah. In a neutral situation- say, some sort of new age performance art piece (which, btw, I am up for if you and Tracy would like to bankroll it) – anyone who could will themselves to cry (which I have never been able to do) would be silly to say no. But of course crying is never in a neutral situation, and what you are really asking me is, would I cry to cheat someone out of money I did not deserve? No. Would I use crying to try to manipulate someone? I would if I thought I was being treated unfairly. Like, say, if I was given a heavy handed fine, and I wanted a more just outcome.

    For the coup de gras, let me address the complaint of an old man shaking his cane at the whippersnappers: I have crossed a line by threatening James with physical violence on a message board. Let’s be very clear – no threat was made. A threat was insinuated. It seems incongruous that you resisted inferring from statements like “I thought a woman had written this” that my masculinity was being questioned, but you were pretty gung ho about inferring a ‘threat of violence,’ from my statement, and then demanding, cowboy style, that I ‘own up to the injustice,’ I’ve done.

    Let me break it down for you, so that next time you won’t shout ‘checkmate’ before the game is over…

    Perhaps I will run into James in the near future (in the Tongzilin Carrefore), he will address me politely, and I will realize that he is not in need of an attitude adjustment. On the other hand, perhaps I will see him at a bar (The Shamrock obviously), he will be as rude to me as he was in his post, and he will get his ass whooped. Or perhaps I will see him and realize that he is a bad mother fucker, and Ill apologize profusely and buy him a beer. The beauty of putting the adverbial modifier ‘perhaps’ at the beginning of the sentence is that it eliminates none of these possibilities. So save me the melodramatic lecture about bullying, and brush up on your semantics.

    PS. Yes, I am American. Where are you from? Something in your word choice makes me think Canada.

  25. Loved your reply, Eli. Smiled all the way through it, both times. I won’t comment on everything because we don’t want to put everyone to sleep do we?

    This, I plan, is my penultimate comment. Eli may not like what I say today, but tomorrow he should get out his dancing shoes. In the meantime, a few notes:

    First, I liked the “Welcome to the arena, prepare to greet the blade” bit. I smiled because it reminded me of how my son sometimes talks. He’s six. His blade’s about as sharp as yours.

    Second, thanks for thinking I might be Canadian. I never met one I didn’t like. But, no, I’m not. I’m Taiwanese-South African. (The lover of sheep reference was from a Scottish grandfather we kind of acquired along the way.) I asked if you were American as I had a passing thought, which I’ve since dismissed, that this cry for kuai (for nothing) value system might be some American cultural phenomenon. I could find no one, man or woman, of any nationality who could condone or even comprehend such behaviour outside of that small group of Americans who seem to be your friends.

    The series of questions disappointed me. I expected better. I’ve already said I did not care what you did in front of the officer. Yes, I think your behaviour was foolish and undignified. It would have been equally so no matter where you did it. A while back I saw two policemen pull up towards a group of tricycle drivers. Most of the drivers scatter, but one is caught. What does it mean for him, I ask a local. He loses his tricycle until he pays a fine, maybe 2000 kuai. The driver is crushed. Still, he “[b]ites the bullet and he looks within/For dignity”. The next day it happens again, but this time the driver is a woman. Her reaction is the same as the man’s: a stiff upper lip, fortitude—a quality universally admired.

    Please don’t pretend you were extending the boundaries of acceptable behaviour for the Chinese or exploring new modes of expression for men. Nor should you compare your action to an actor in a drama or to a man desperately trying to save his life. 馬屎皮面光 is the idiom that comes to mind. That there are times to “take the rag away” and times to “bury the rag deep in your face” has been acknowledged since Ecclesiastes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with what you did, but to most people it seems childish. Remember the Chinese woman who missed her plane and began crying and throwing a tantrum at the airport. Remember how that episode went viral and ultimately ended up on every Friday night newscast going? What did you think of her at the time? As a person from a Chinese country, I was embarrassed. I instinctively felt that other people would focus on her Chinese-ness. And it’s true, some announcers would introduce the article by mentioning she was Chinese; the Youtube caption is Crazy Chinese Woman. Well, I’ll bet James, when he read your junior high school assignment, felt much as I did when I saw her inappropriate display of emotion.

    Here’s a similar situation: You have the January edition of Chengdoo magazine in your room. Open to page 30. As you know, an entry from you is right at the bottom. Now look up to the section on ‘little sins…in Chengdu’. Around the middle is an entry from one who describes an action with some parallels to yours. Apparently, he ‘pooped’, partly missed, and didn’t flush at Dico’s. (What is it about Chengdu that attracts the cream of Western youth?) I don’t think this entry was from you because I don’t think you would say ‘pooped’, although maybe the mag insisted on it or changed your original statement. So what are the parallels? He contravened a social norm. He indiscriminately spread his bodily fluids. He wrote about it, although in a far less public venue than you chose. There is a sense of pride in his action. His action would be regarded as at best childish by most adults. (And, I can’t resist,his defecation, like your writing, largely missed the target.) James and Tracey would also note that the article on page 30 will eventually be read by a number of Chinese people who may translate it and thus help to convey a fine impression of our foreign friends. I understand why James would care. Why Tracey would concern herself with people who care nothing for how they look to their hosts is more difficult for me.

    This brings me to the most amusing part of Eli’s comment. Eli’s worried my comments on Tracey’s writing were prompted by lust, by the desire to get ‘laid’ as he puts it. Later, he says I want her QQ number. If anyone is reading this, I am going to tell you what you’ve already realised.

    Eli is jealous. He’s hurtin’. He’s leavin’ rap behind and moving to C & W. The pain of rejection, of unrequited love, has scrambled his wires. Here’s how it was revealed: Tracey must have understood how she was being talked down to and resented it mightily, as she wrote, “Remember don’t need to answer. This not conversation.” Eli shot back, “I see that you want to have a conversation with me Tracey, so lets have a conversation.” A teacher I know emailed this comment to me about the exchange. “If a lady gets annoyed at you because you talk down to her when in fact her status is higher than yours, and if that lady tells you to listen and shut up because she doesn’t want any backtalk, you had better just listen. You know the old routine where the woman says, ‘Beat it, you creep. I want nothing to do with you.’ And then the man turns to his buddies and says, ‘She wants me.’ Well, no, she doesn’t.”

    But, I don’t blame Eli. Right now he’s crying, “Vaar daai vlamme en vuur brand nou diep, diep binne my.” You see, that woman has heart. Remember how she wrote about her anger when she saw the sign which was clearly aimed at the bad behaviour of mainland Chinese. Why would she care? She’d already ‘moved up and out’. Note that she also cared to point out where she thought Eli had erred when most of us just laughed at him. I admit I was being ironic (and again Eli missed this) when I referred to her as ‘the master’ and her work as ‘poetry’, but I genuinely felt her writing was interesting and expressive—all those grammatically unconnected phrases going off like firecrackers! So if getting QQ numbers and laid is Eli’s crude rapper way of saying I was in awe of, even smitten by, this woman, he’s right. But, it’s more of an all-real-men-love-Jane-Austen kind of thing. (Oops, must remember that Eli misses little things like irony.)

    There’s some irony in Eli’s ‘finale’, dramatic irony rather than verbal or situational, unfortunately for him. Remember, at the beginning he likened his comment to some kind of sword-play. He forgot about that for awhile but then picked it up at the end when he proudly announced his ‘coup de gras’. I’m not sure how to translate that for you. Maybe Eli was missing the foie gras ravioli at Au Pied de Cochon. Anyway, gras (pronounced ‘graw’) means fat. Coup means strike. So I guess you’re planning to end the argument by throwing lumps of fat at all who criticise you. You probably meant ‘coup de grâce’ (pronounced graws), but even that does not mean what you think it does.

    The contrast between your constant boasting of your vast knowledge of semantics and rhetoric and your actual lack of writing ability is quite remarkable. And yes, thank you, Eli. We all learned about adverbs in Primary 3, but if it makes you feel good, you just tell us all about it again. No doubt when you went to junior college you took linguistics as part of your language department requirement. And you sat there with the jocks and foreign students who needed an easy course to keep their GPA up. There’s no need to show us how little you actually know. “Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring.” A little humility would be a great improvement. I risk a charge of immodesty myself if I tell you 班門弄斧; so I’ll use Phillippus’ epigram instead (well, sort of). “Polly matete cry town is my daskalon.” No, Cry Town does not yet mean Eli’s Chengdu. Google it.

    Actually, the conclusion did rather lack meat. Note that Eli tries to weasel his way out by saying he didn’t threaten; rather, he ‘insinuated’ a threat. He didn’t make a threat. Nice try, but a threat direct or by insinuation is still a threat made. Also, you keep insisting you have the right to decide who gets ‘whooped’ and who doesn’t. There’s Eli sitting in the Shamrock judging whomever he pleases by whatever standard he chooses to impose. After his petulant judgment, Big Eli will administer the punishment. This is schoolyard stuff. No respectable or respected adult thinks or talks like that. I note that your self-conferred authority even extends to regulating when people may speak. A man named Peter writes a comment with a very mild criticism and you tell him what to read and in what order and “then open your mouth.” First, the man gave not only advice but encouragement. Second, it doesn’t matter whether your work is read forwards, backwards, or upside down. It’s like listening to an escaped megalomaniac from Charenton.

    So everything stands pretty much as it did before. Eli, I fear you are on the slippery slope. I use it as a metaphor. Sorry you didn’t get it the first time. The first stage was your crying; the second, your childish arguments; the third, well. . . 一哭,二鬧,三上吊.

    But try to hold off your precipitous slide for one day. Tomorrow, some cheery news follows.

    À demain,
    Lee Wen-hsuen

    P.S. How can a white guy in China, especially a braggart who thinks he’s the blade of prose and the mallet of rhetoric, think Carrefour is spelt ‘Carrefore’? Isn’t that like a Moslem misspelling Mecca? Also Eli, I’m told that you pronounce it as three syllables. No, it’s two syllables, as in car-foor. It’s a French corruption of the Latin ‘quadrifurcus’ meaning ‘with four forks’, i.e. a crossroads. Don’t know why they called their store Crossroads. Maybe they were big Robert Johnson fans.

  26. I had better start with a disclosure. My comments before yesterday’s were made as part of a bet—a rather large one. It all began when I read Eli’s ‘confession’, James’ brief rant, the yahoos’ cursing, and then Tracey’s brilliant evisceration. I thought this could get very interesting. Look what we’ve got: conflict, threats, manipulation (and not just by Eli), hypocrisy, pretentiousness, and wonderful, bizarre humour (some of it intentional). And the plot is all conveyed, after the original posting, in comments. All right, so it’s not “Clarissa”, but over time it could approach Clarissa’s length.

    So I copied and pasted and sent it off to friends interested in such things. They also liked it, saw the potential. But they thought the central character was too smarmy, too full of himself, to be really interesting. I said yes, true, he was probably very young, immature, attention-seeking, but aren’t a lot of young guys like that. They said this one was different. He would never really grow up. This one was permanently lacking and had already been fully explored in that remarkable classic by Ralph Buchsbaum. (I was reminded of my old headmaster, Dr Siddall, who would say to a miscreant, “You’re a dubious character.” A fortnight later the kid’s father would show up, pack him off, never to be seen again.) Some of the judgments were really quite harsh, especially from the teachers, who claimed to have more experience in judging the adolescent mentality. They drew attention to the threat made by Eli against a man who had the temerity to criticise him. The lawyer was particularly vexed about this: Look at his consistently expressed superiority complex, his complete disregard for anything but his own ends. This boy’s got form (American translation: He has a criminal record). He has all the signs of criminal mentality.

    I was surprised at the vehemence, and thought their shots were heading far past the target. I admitted there was some truth to what they said; still, so what? Kid gets upset. He’s insecure. He overreacts and spouts nonsense. He’ll regret it. He’ll probably want to retract his words. That was my argument. Want to bet, said the trader, knowing my weakness.

    They made me such a deal: I was to set the amount. If I won, each of the six men would pay me the amount in full. If I lost, I would pay each man one sixth of the amount. I knew the task was difficult, that my chance of success was well under 50%, but the lure of a 600% payoff was irresistible. The six were two English teachers (one secondary school, one university), two lawyers, two traders (also my occupation). If there was a disagreement as to whether the conditions of the bet had been satisfied, nobody had to pay. This is important, Eli, because without trust in the sincerity of others, nothing is possible.

    The bet: that Eli would, with prodding but without direct instruction, apologise in some form or at least retract his threat. The second bet (you see what a sucker I am) for an equal amount: that Eli would restrain his potty mouth and actually write an entire response without any of the seven-boring-words-you-can’t-say-on-television. I was allowed direct instruction in this. Another restriction was that I was not allowed to solicit sympathy for James.

    As you have realised, I lost both bets. And now, Eli, you can put on your dancing shoes. You may have wondered how much each bet was for.

    ¥6000. That’s right. I lost a total of 12,000 kuai betting on you. Honestly, I knew the odds were slim. I knew also that I had won more than a few bets from these friends in the past, and it was time to really take a chance and give them an opportunity to win some money back. Still, I’ll have to console myself with the thought of the fun I had reading Eli’s responses and writing my own. And I’m happy to learn there are some very impressive people out there, although in the main I believe I 對牛彈琴.

    But there is a dark side. Like Eli, I indulged in a little deceit, a little manipulation. I wasn’t allowed to appeal for sympathy for James. Yet, I believe James to be an older man because of the nature of the outburst and because of the phrase ‘shame on you’. How could I get Eli to alter his register or his tone in order to effect a different ‘attitude’ on his part? I hit upon the wonderfully clever idea (this is irony, Eli) of writing as though I were of a grandfatherly age. I phrased a comment in the manner of my only English-speaking grandfather and said I was about three times Eli’s age. I didn’t consider it a lie, just prevarication. Well, I am three times his mental age, I rationalised. And the end will justify the means. Eli will choke back the seven words. I mean, who swears around his grandfather and grandmother and their friends? No one. What’s more, he will abandon that egocentric, superior attitude as men, even the very insecure, don’t perceive a need to impress the elderly.

    Well, as they say, that went well. Eli bought the illusion but remained his ‘fucking’-this and ‘motherfucking’-that self and even mocked the ersatz grandfather with clichés like canes and whippersnappers. He relished in the notion that he could now be absolutely abusive and push another envelope, I suppose. Hoisted by my own petard.

    But now I’m on the slippery slope of life that comes of not heeding standards of decency and behaviour. I have been deceitful, and my friends know it. Will they wonder if I might be equally deceptive with them? Will I be able ever to climb back onto firm ground? Out of the darkness. “The horror! The horror!”

    Baai. Totsiens. Totsiens.
    Wen-hsuen

  27. What parallel dimension have we entered where blog comments are 2,000 words and we bet $2,000 on what someone says? I am stunned

  28. Tracey,
    I think you don’t need to worry. That story is just a joke. Nobody would cry for that. That’s why it is funny. I learned about this story from my ESL teacher in Vancouver. He gave it on a paper to the ESL class. We had to read it and do some questions and find the English mistakes in the paper. There were multiple choice and sentences. I got the mistake about how to write the word visas. I didn’t get the punctuation errors. Only a few ESLs got those. We also had to list the people on each side and then write about their different styles. But that’s not the funny part.

    The funny part starts when some guys from regular class came in. They were Canadians (Jewish and one Christian guy), bananas, and an Indian. Mr. Graham, our teacher, asks them to come sometimes to help us write paragraphs and to talk to us. We like them all very much, especially the Indian guy because he is so funny.

    First, one of the Canadian guys read a part of the story by Eli. He started to choke and sob when he read the words. Then he made real tears come out!! The Indian guy sat there like he’s the policeman. He rolled his eyes around every time the Canadian acted like Eli crying. We were laughing pretty hard. Then one of the bananas found a video of rap by Eli. I was disappointed because I thought he wore pirate clothes. “It’s like Weird Al.” The Canadians laughed, but the ESLs didn’t know about him, so then they played Weird Al singing “I’m Fat” instead of “I’m Bad” by Michael Jackson. Then they went back to the rap video. You can stand it because it’s really short. I guess it’s really old because nobody does rap music anymore. But the Canadians started to get kind of rude about the video. So Mr. Graham told them to go to the caf and they could do a parody. When they were gone, he wrote down all kinds of stuff we could look up such as parody, Weird Al, rap, stereotype, hypocrisy, sensitivity, dramatic irony. I learned a lot and I never laughed so much in school. My stomach hurt for a long time.
    So I think Eli’s story is just a story. Like people say in Vancouver, ho funny la.
    (Thank you to Peter Lee for fixing my English.)

    From Tracy (almost same name as you)

  29. OK. Here’s the parody we were supposed to do. Except it didn’t turn out to be a parody. It didn’t even turn out to be a rap. I call it bhangra-rap. You can even call it an exercise song. Don’t just read it, you have to dance it. So put your computer up on a high-boy or something. Then you can dance and chant the words. Now raise your right hand like your screwing in a lightbulb. Ceiling is low. Also put your left hand behind your back and pretend you are turning a doorknob. Do both actions and move your body back and forth in time to boom shacka lacka lacka. When you do the boom boom part you must move your hips in a rhythm from left to right and back again. Try it. OK. Very good. Now you are gonna lose weight from all that oily Chinese food. We did three characters. We don’t know about James, but we think maybe Wen is right that he is an older man. We made him a little sad and lost. That joke is old person’s joke, my uncle likes to tell it. Sorry, Mr. James, we don’t mean any disrespect. It’s just a character for us.

    The beast is China and the bolt hole is Chengdu.

    OK. Look at refrain to get the beat. Let’s go!

    Head nurse said better check on funny old James
    He wouldn’t eat his tapioca, called the nurses names
    Filipina stroked his forehead, he misunderstood
    She said now don’t do that James, be good
    Then she fluffed his pillow , asked if he liked Kipling
    He said I don’t know (pause) I’ve never kippled

    Boom shacka lacka lacka boom boom boom
    Boom shacka lacka lacka (pause) boom boom (twice)
    (One voice, talking in time to the refrain:
    Old folks home
    Lonely old guy
    Soldierman
    Don’t show weakness
    In front of the natives, boys)

    Over East, in the belly of the beast
    There’s an old bolt hole, where lives the rapper priest
    He got new religion, can control his situation
    Got disciplines called, Manly Crying Nation
    But the God of Asia, from Hormuz to Malacca
    He say, You cry here, boy, you gonna be a motherf*****

    Boom shacka lacka lacka boom boom boom
    Boom shacka lacka lacka (pause) boom boom (twice)
    (Eli’s voice, talking in time to the refrain:
    Rapper, Gotta say Motherf*****
    Don’t criticize me, old man
    I kick yo’ ass)

    In from Kowloon Tong, flies a tough little lady
    She sees the fuss, thinks it’s all a bit crazy
    She talks fireworks phrases, causes a sensation
    Says this ain’t real crying, it’s about manipulation
    A man should cry for devastating events
    But you cry for eight hundred seventy-six dollars and thirteen cents

    Boom shacka lacka lacka boom boom boom
    Boom shacka lacka lacka (pause) boom boom (continue until voice finishes, get softer until the final boom boom)
    (Tracey’s voice, talking in time to the refrain:
    6000 yuan, not even $900, chee shin, fungle
    Eli’s voice:
    Real tears, sincere, I’m just being honest
    Trying to manipulate the poh-lice
    Shut up, I kick yo’ ass, asshole
    See, you’re all haters, not me I’m peaceful
    I’m an artist, a rapper
    Hey, you lookin’ at me
    Whatchew mean—hypocrite?
    I can beat you, old man
    I’m tough. Rapper. Pirate rapper.)

    Boom shacka lacka lacka…
    BOOM BOOM

  30. After reading all of this, it seems that the point is that a grown man crying in public as a means of manipulation is a sign of weakness?

    Well they say that a good general uses all of the weapons in his arsenal. And the mighty Sun Tzu (one of your very own) speaks highly of manipulation and deceit as a means to an end.

    It was actually a very clever way of getting what he wanted, and it’s just a shame he couldn’t quite pull it off.

  31. Wen,
    I don’t understand why you feel strongly enough to write 5000 words unsolicited, but you are “disappointed,” that I ask you how you feel about the central question of the argument.

    You state, “I think your behavior was foolish and undignified. It would have been equally so no matter where you did it.” Crying is foolish and undignified no matter where it’s done? That’s your position? Real men don’t cry? “Stiff upper lip?” Frankly, I find that notion of self-comportment a bit old-fashioned.

    You also suggest that my “inappropriate” display of emotion indicates that I am someone who “care(s) nothing for how they look to their hosts.” Is that a negative stereotype of Westerners that you encounter among Chinese a lot? That we are touchy-feely cry babies? What I hear more of is the perception that we are fat, or lazy, or arrogant, or rude, or ignorant, or wasteful, or aggressive, or sexually liberal, or politically manipulative, or economically exploitative. I also often hear the complaint that we are not respectful enough of our elders. I don’t hear people complaining about foreigners being too emotionally expressive because it’s not a point of cultural tension between expats and local Chinese. Crying in front of an official is not like crapping on the floor. It’s not like spitting in a hospital. And it’s not like having a nervous breakdown an airport. If you believe “there’s nothing inherently wrong with what you (I) did,” then why do compare it with things that are obviously inherently wrong?

    Because making an outlandish comparison is the only way to get any mileage out of your ‘losing face for foreigners’ argument. Looking at what actually happened- two men having a discussion in an office- there’s not a lot of drama to work with. But then again, it’s not actually about the crying now is it? It’s about the writing about the crying. It just rubs you the wrong way. Here’s a guy who says he’s a rapper- but he really just a wimp! And he’s getting attention bragging about being a wimp. You want some of that attention too! So here you come, to tell me about myself.

    I’m a bully, I’m a braggart, I’m a six-year old. I’m a guy who doesn’t flush, I’m a spurned lover, I’m a junior college attendee, I’m a dubious character. I’m crude, vulgar, adolescent, immature, smarmy, insecure, and permanently lacking. I’ve got a criminal mentality, a superiority complex and, I’m a megalomaniac.

    You don’t want to argue issues, you just want to make ad hominem attacks and play amateur psychologist. Let me return the favor. You’ve sublimated your ‘ambitions as a writer’ in favor of pursuing more lucrative, less fulfilling work. Your animosity towards me stems from the transference of your personal disappointment on to my writing. You strain to affect literary sophistication because you feel insecure.

    That’s why you began your post with the casual-sounding preface “we don’t want to put everyone to sleep do we,” then proceeded to sprinkle your writing with unnecessary references like a carnie dousing himself in cheap cologne.

    While my knowledge of semantics is not vast- it’s pretty clear that when you said “I lost a total of 12,000 kuai betting on you,” what you meant was you lost 12000 kuai betting against me. See, slip ups like that will cost you… Oh well, at least one of us has learned a valuable lesson.

    So, since you like Bob Dylan quotes, here’s one more for you: “Well, I cried for you—now it’s your turn, you can cry awhile.”

    PS. Also, since you like throwing around money, my roommate would like me to inform you that we have poker night every Wednesday, and you are cordially invited.

  32. Tracy
    It may seem strange to you that someone would cry in that situation, but I assure you the story is not a joke.

    I first came to China in 1997. I’ve lived in China on and off for 5 years, and I’ve studied Chinese on and off for 10 years. I plan to get a job speaking Chinese and live my life between China and the US. When I was threatened with deportation, I took that threat seriously.

    I didn’t have the money to pay the fine, I didn’t want to get deported, and I didn’t think that the punishment was fair. I was worried, and I was frustrated. That’s what made me cry.

    By the way- do you know how your teacher found this article and decided to use it for your ESL class? That’s very cool. Where in Vancouver do you study English?

  33. Dearest Mr. Lee Wen-hsuen,
    My college English teacher gave me your words. He said we can learn from this man. I studied them very hard. I looked up every phrase on internet. I found you are very funny and knowledgeable. You gave us words from America and South Africa and Greece and England and Rome and France. I was very surprised a Chinese man knows about all that. I played the Afrikaans song for my little brother. Now he listens over and over. He has a drum and he sings that song many times. He even tries to sing the words Afrikaans.

    I put your words on the wall over my desk in my little room and I look at them many times. I showed the Chinese words to my grandmama. And I translated the English part around them. She laughed at how you use them. She thinks your writing is very good but too square like when Japanese write Chinese. Isn’t that funny? She thinks it is your handwriting, not the computer’s.

    My classmates and I think you are a good man. You try to teach that bad boy how he should act and talk. He doesn’t listen because he loves himself too much. But you don’t give up, you still have some faith in him. Then you bet on him even your friends say you are wrong. This shows you are wonderful but maybe you believe in goodness too much. So I worry about you.

    You say you are westerner but you are Chinese. I think maybe you are like those bananas that the girl from Vancouver has in her class. Maybe you went to Africa when you were little. Then you went to English school like in Malaysia or Singapore. In Singapore and Labuan there are traders. Some are English. Those guys like to bet on anything even which fly will go off the window first. Also, many Chinese bet too much on horses and games. Sometimes they bet their house. I think what if Mr Lee has gambler thinking like English man and Chinese man together. I ask my mama about Chengdu. What is there for trader I ask. She said nothing. Chengdu has no market and it is far from the sea. But she told me Chengdu is famous for majong. She said old Chinese joke. When the airplane goes over Chengdu the passengers can hear majong tiles. Now I am very scared. What if Mr. Lee loses all his money? What about his little son?

    Lee Wen-hsuen, when you write your words you are very serious and strick, but behind the words is a little joke or smile and behind the smile is another serious idea. It is like a day in my town when the rain comes down so fresh and then the sun comes warm at first and then too hot and in a moment more rain comes to cool. We would be so sad if you gamble and lose when you are such a good person. I hope you don’t mind. Are you a Christian? My mother and I went to church this morning and I prayed to Jesus for you. We will go again tonight and I will pray for you more. God bless you.

  34. Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers, Rosa. Most of your assumptions are correct. And, yes, I did go to Chengdu for mah-jong. But, I always have a strict betting limit for the year, which is based on my net for the previous year, and win or lose, I never add to that limit. This year was very successful, but I think I won’t go back to Chengdu. It’s so polluted that there are no stars at night and, if you can believe it, even the leaves are dirty. Coming from Singapore, you could not imagine the living conditions here. It’s certainly no place to take my son, whom I missed greatly. So, while it’s an easy place to make money, I think my gambling days in Chengdu are finished. To answer your question: As I grew up mostly in South Africa and did much of my schooling in England, I am a Christian. I wish you and your family all the best. Keep studying hard.
    Lee Wen-hsuen

  35. Hi, it’s me again. I didn’t write that song by myself. It was a group effort. And I didn’t write any of this story at all. In fact, my friend in Montreal sent me this. They got the same assignment as we did in Surrey. He tried to post it but it didn’t work. You’re gonna like it because it says your name 11 times. I counted. I don’t know what mark he got, but I think it’s pretty good. He knows about stuff there because once he had to go to Chongqing. I found this story is really funny, especially if you read it out loud.

    The Slippery Slope

    Eli turned down the dimmer switch and turned on SichuanTV. It was the usual parade of dysfunctional families, in-laws, deserted mothers, and abandoned children. Neighbours stood around amused while TV social workers tried to bring order to chaos. The crying helped Eli to focus.

    A policeman appeared on the screen, an older officer. Eli looked hard. Could that be the man who had so affected him those many years ago?

    What had happened that day back in ’09 when he had thought that crying might effect a reduction or even a waiving of the ¥6000 fine for overstaying his visa? He had intended to be in control, to be the manipulator, but it had not worked out that way. The tears had become real. More, he had enjoyed it. The emotion had throbbed inside him and the tears ejaculated forth in a climactic rush. He was one with the man who sat impassively saying, “You’ll get the money.” He had wanted to ask the officer if it was good for him too. But he hadn’t.

    Then came questioning, self-doubt. He would pace back and forth, frequently walk past the Chengdu Public Security Building where he’d lost his innocence. He had needed to confess. And he had done so, but it had not brought the comfort he craved. Friends gave weak support. “Well, Eli was honest.” “Don’t worry about Eli. He’s still the manly man he always was.” One mentioned that he had once made Eli bleed. That was exciting to recall, but it didn’t compare to the ecstasy of sobbing in front of the officer with the hairless face and shiny buttons. How he had wanted to press his body into those buttons! To feel the pain as they pushed into him.

    Those who did not know him had questioned his values. Eli cries for kuai, they had said. You sell your tears for money. You bring disrespect on others of your class. He had denied it, but inside he thought, why not. Why not sell tears for money?

    He sought satisfaction. There were assignations with older men, men who had once bullied and dominated their wives and craved a bawling, sobbing partner to convince them of their power and worth. But those wives, being liberated by menopause, seeing through the weakness of their men, had moved on and were unlikely to cry for the husbands they no longer loved or even respected. Eli filled a void. He served a social purpose, he reasoned. He gave value in the marketplace. He was a cry worker.

    But the assignations were not enough. He had more tears to shed than time allowed. The endless meetings, negotiations, finding discreet flats or by-the-hour hotels ate into precious crying time. He began to prowl the streets. He hit upon the perfect forlorn, helpless look that men dreading the return home after work recognized. Soon he was doing ten, maybe fifteen crying jags a night, standing in darkened doorways, in vacant shops, or crouching in the backs of cars. One weekend he hit ¥6000. He felt jubilant, vindicated. What would those doubting Jameses, Traceys, and Wens think now if they could only see that crying for kuai was not only honourable, it was remunerative?

    It was not to last, however. Time was wearing him down. The constant crying had left crusty lines down his face, his sparse beard eaten by salt. He had gone out later when it was darker, but still fewer seemed interested in what he was selling. “And what they see ain’t pretty.” Had James said that, or had it been Wen? He didn’t look so much like a ‘cry for kuai’ hustler anymore, just a sad, pathetic beggar really. And so he had entered the final stage of his career.

    And that’s where he was now, he thought, as he stared at the TV. The policeman was gone from the screen, and a woman was screaming that her mother-in-law had locked her out of her home because she had just borne a second daughter. As the mother-in-law screamed curses in an incomprehensible Sichuan dialect, the woman was weeping, her daughter was wailing and the new baby had just begun to holler.

    R-r-r-ring, r-r-r-ring. Eli muted the TV, put on the phone headset and said, “1-900-PHONE-CRY. I’m Sweet Eli. I cry for kuai. How may I (sniffle) help you?”

    Do you take American Express?

    (Sob) No-o-o, I’m so sor-(choke)-ry. Just Visa or M-m-m-asterCard (aangh-aangh-sob-blubber). He moaned masochistically with anticipation as he felt the man thrust his card into the phone’s chip reader.

    OK. I’ll take 3 minutes.

    Eli immediately let out all the stops. He cried for every girl who had ever dumped him, a considerable list. He cried for every pet which had died due to his irresponsible neglect. He cried for every dollar he had ever lost and every ice cream which had hit the pavement. But most of all he cried for the policeman with the shiny buttons who had not been moved so many years ago. He gave the caller all he had. He knew from years of experience how the punters wanted it.

  36. Wow, this thread is the gift that keeps on giving. Tell your friend that was awesome Jaswinder. Creative, hilarious, and very well written! He nailed the portrayal of SiChuan TV too!

  37. I did not praise the author of that last post enough. That was flat out brilliant. BRILLIANT! That could have come out of The New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs section.

    I read it out loud to a friend and he had a mild seizure laughing. I think I pulled a muscle, I may have shed a tear.

    What I don’t understand, is how could that piece have come from an assignment in an ESL class. If English is not the author’s first language, he/she is an unbelievable student.

  38. Lived in coastal town in China for over 4 years, never registered. Told PSB worker in Chinese pretty much to ‘fuck off’ in front of 40 shocked bar goers in China when they raided a bar, turned the music off, pre-olympics requesting that every foreigner showed their passort. When bemused PSB worker asked to take me to PSB told him I would go after I finished ordering and drinking beer. He stood there not knowing what to do. Fled bar soon after with beer in hand when I started thinking about lack of registration for so many years. Returned later to tear down sign PSB had put up instructing that foreigers must carry passports at all times. Shocked bar owner offered complimentary drink.

    I love thinking back on these sweet China moments.

  39. On September 9th 2001 i arrived in Xinjiang and ws ready to cross into Pakistan a few days later. Of course, we know what happened two days later. They closed the China-pakistan border for more than one week. My Chinese visa had now been expired for 4 days. I plead my case to the border guards but was ordered to pay a 2000 kuai fine (500 for each day). This was paid and a note was made in my passport, on the Chinese visa. This was to be a curse; i had alot of trouble getting my next visa (a tourist one), even in HK (and those were the great days of “buy a visa, any visa”). Anyway, i lost that dreaded pssport a few yers later, got a new one, and gone were all my China visa headaches….

  40. Great discussion.

    I have just read this post and even though it is a bit older I like to add my opinion about it.

    First of all I find the idea, to use “fake pity emotions” in order to get something is not the proper and ethically right way to do.

    Yes, some women might do it and may be successful. But
    1. not all women do it
    AND 2. should those who use “fake pity emotions” be considered as our examples? I don’t think so. In my opinion, if you deal with people like that, it can be very dangerous because the deceive you and can hurt you a lot emotionally as well as financially.

    So should we men follow that example – NO, I don’t think so.

    The second question is, does it make a difference when you resort to these kind of “fake emotions” when you are in a very desperate situation, in which you don’t know a way out?

    Well, Eli wasn’t in such a situation. And this fact outraged some of the chinese readers of this blog. Fact is many people in china are in much deeper s***t and don’t need to behave like this (but the other side of the coin, chinese readers also should admit, is that some of the girls here are masters in using “fake pity emotions” in order to get some healthy money transfers from abroad. But as I already mentioned – in my opinion this ethically is a No go!).

    If it is a real desperate situation, then, yes all cards are on the table but in such kind of situation it wouldn’t be crying out of choice.

    How desperate Eli’s situation was is hard to tell for me though.

    The third thing is: could you use “fake pity emotions” in order to avoid unfair treatment?

    Like “an eye for an eye”. People try to hurt you unfairly with the visa charges and so you can resort to unfair ways as well.

    Hard to say if the charges are unfair.

    If they were unfair, then, yes, perhaps some people might use “fake pity emotions” but I personally would not do it and in deed think it is in a way a “face loosing” situation, which as we all know the locals in this beautiful country despise. So don’t be surprised about some hefty comments.

    In my opinion just another example of the issues between different cultures.

    • Ethics are subjective and it obviously didn’t violate his personal code to feign fear in order to bypass the fine… but a fine of that magnitude is pretty serious. We’re talking about US $800 which is approximately the average quarterly wage in China among locals.

      Personally I thought it was pretty ballsy to not only do what he did but publicly share intimate details of what happened. Whether you agree or disagree with what Eli did, you have to commend his courage and honesty. I take it that the vasty majority of people who shed tears in the PSB don’t have the guts or self confidence to subject themselves to the whim of a public forum.

    • Phil,

      You make a very reasonable point about the ethical questionability of using ‘fake pity emotions,’ and I accept your criticism. I agree that using emotions to deceive and manipulate people is not good. Re-reading my writing, I don’t like the hint that such was my intention. Like where I say:

      “My plan was to cry as a last resort, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to force it. As it became more clear that the uniformed man was not going to lower the fine, the tears sprang forth surprisingly naturally.”

      It sounds like I know how to force myself to cry- which I don’t. And it sounds like I was surprised that I was crying- which I wasn’t. In reality, I am guy who cries a lot, and I knew that I might cry if I got stuck in that situation.

      The way that I portrayed it, the crying seemed strategic, and I think that is inaccurate. I definitely was trying to present myself as an earnest and wholesome student. And I knew crying might affect the outcome. But my intention was to convince the official with the facts of my case, about which I felt strongly. I didn’t cry then (nor have I ever cried) for any reason other than genuine emotion.

      I should have made it clear that it was an expression of genuine sadness and frustration and not a tactic. I can’t force myself to cry, and I don’t co-sign the use of crying as a tactic of emotional manipulation. But if we take as given that my crying was an honest outburst, is there anything shameful about such a display of emotion?

      • I don’t think there’s anything shameful about a display of emotion, in general…but dude, crying because you got fined for something you tried to take advantage of due to thinking Chinese legality is lax (which it used to be for foreigners) or procrastinated out of laziness (likely the case), then trying to logically argue something that you knew logically made no sense (ie. 000 days is ‘infinite Visa’) is pretty sad.

  41. My USA passport was stolen last year in China and I didn’t registered for the resident permit before. So, first, a fine of 500 yuan for no permit; 2 months to hand me the Lost Passport Report; $100+ for a new passport; 950+ yuan for a (1 week?) temporary Chinese visa, this is only for me to leave legally; a visit to Hong Kong to get a true Chinese visa, an easy 2000+ yuan. At the end, it costs me around 4000 yuan and 6 weeks.

  42. Are students here on visas? I thought they had to get a resident permit just like the rest of us here for extended periods of time. My working visa also said “000” on it and it was stamped “cancelled” when I entered China the first time two years ago. It was my understanding that the “Visa,” for people staying longer than 6 months, just gets you in the door. Then you gotta get a resident permit. I don’t know. I lost my passport too about 2 months ago and it was a freakin expensive nightmare to get it replaced with a new resident permit, temporary L visa. I also was carrying 2000 RMB in the wallet as well. Yeah, my wife was not happy about sinking close to 1000 USD into getting replacement paperwork.

    • I don’t know if mine was stamped ”cancelled” when I arrived (Ill check – my passport is actually away now getting a new visa (thankfully a Z)) but they definitely give you whole new sticker when you register and and get it converted to a resident permit.

      You are right about the visa really just ”getting you in the door.” The residence permit is what really counts. Having long term expats locally registered is a real priority for the government… I learned that the expensive way.

      Sorry to hear about your lost passport too- that sucks. To offer another visa hassle story to you, I went to Thailand a couple years ago, and while I was there my passport crossed the boundary of being less than 6 months from expiration. The Chinese wouldn’t give me a new visa until I got a new passport. So I had to apply for a new one in Thailand- which subsequently caused me to miss my return flight to China.

      • They wouldn’t give you a visa because your passport was within 6 months of expiring? My passport is within 4 months of expiring and my new visa is currently in processing. I think everything has already been accepted though, I already dropped it off at the visa office and went through the interview and everything.

        That was my first time going through the visa interview in Chengdu, by the way. You sit down with a police officer and he asked me questions for 20 minutes, furiously scribbling notes the entire time. I’ve been on F visas for years and that’s the first time I’ve had to do that.

  43. I was outside the country, it may be different if you are already here.

    But I do believe that you need at least 6 mo. of validity if you are applying from abroad. See here, Q19: http://www.mychinavisa.com/faq.php

    I have heard about the interviews for the Fs. My roommate had to go through one for his. I also heard about someone who had one and didn’t get the visa.

  44. ok , same thing happened to me but I didn’t cry because the wife was sitting next to me and im hard ,

    I was working for a school , a school I warn everybody away from and you would only work there if your desperate (Guangya school)

    at starting this school you handed in all valid information , signed contracts and told everything is cool NOW GET TO WORK

    6 months in my wife informs me, OW your visa expired 2 months ago

    went down there , got interrogated on recorded film , and my wife was asked to leave , to see if I was working in China etc etc , the school told me not to say I had been working ,

    the verdict was 5000 yuan fine or up to 10 days in chinese prison or deported , even tho your married , and a super kool dude , come back monday , will let you know your fait , and stop crying like alittle girl, your wife is coming back in ,

    so came back , got the fine , went back to the school and ordered them to pay the fine …. of course nothing , did some research and found the school had not processed anybodies visas ,

    wasnt a kool ordeal , and I only rock cool gigs , so on me bike back home with the bird , and a nice cold pint with me pals ….. jobs a good n ……

  45. Sisco,

    How do you end up with visa trouble when your wife is Chinese? Shouldn’t you be able to get your visa with no trouble?

  46. NAA ELI , BEING MARRIED WONT HELP, YOU NEED TO BE ON THE WORKING VISA , TO WORK , CANNY NOWT DO IT ON THE VISITING FAMILY VISA, ANT ALLOWED TO COLLECT PEAS ON THAT VISA

    SORRY FOR SHOUTING , I USE CAPS ALOT WHEN WORKING , IM ALWAYS MAKING STATEMENTS

  47. Haha, Sisco man, you’re funny. You know that typing in cap locks is equal to shouting… but you still want to shout. I know how you feel. Whats up with your tattoo business? Are you covered in ink yet? You should post some pictures in the chengduliving forum (https://www.chengduliving.com/forum/,) and see if you can attract some new customers…

  48. That was very informative. As my friend facing a similar situation (and panicking) I’d like to ask you Eli, are you still living in China? if so have you been able to apply for a new visa smoothly after that?

    • Tina,

      I am still in China (in Chengdu,) and I was able to get a visa smoothly after that. That was my last tourist visa though.

      Since then I have had a couple student visas and a couple work visas… but no additional problems stemming from my brush with the law.

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