The Midnight Knock
One of the most serious problems plaguing the Chinese educational system is the inability to attract qualified and excellent foreign teachers to the Chinese hinterlands where they are most needed. The vast majority of foreigners that go to China want to work in the cities such as Shanghai , Beijing , Gaungzhou , Qingdao , Shenzhen , Xian and Kunming because they are fun modern and exciting. They also want to be paid very high salaries which are usually far more than the schools in the hinterlands can afford. This is entirely as it should be for young people just starting out in their careers. Everybody wants to make a ton of money at that age. In my humble opinion when one gets a little older and money isn't as pressing an issue we should all give back a bit. There is also however another reason which can be laid at the feet of the Chinese themselves. Finding a foreigner that wants to live in the 18th Century is virtually impossible. Even the young foreigners that come to China knowing very little of practical use about China will only do it once. They get very smart about these issues very quickly. God knows I did. In short the farther you go from the major cities the further back in time you go. When you get a couple of hundred miles from any major Chinese metropolitan area it's truly like living in the 18th Century. The Chinese that live in these areas have abysmal business practices and stunted social and cultural practices. It truly is like stepping into a time machine. Foreigners and especially yours truly will not tolerate this idiocy. Today I'm going to tell you about one of my three adventures in living and working in The Chinese Hinterlands.
A couple of years ago I was working in Changchun , Jilin Province , China. Changchun is the capital of this province so it's a fairly modern city. I was making good albeit not great money for a small class load. My students were dumb as dirt but this can be an advantage for the teacher if he knows how to play it. Think no homework and 15 minutes maximum class prep time. I was able to easily save 80 % of my money. It was not a perfect situation as no situation ever is but I was quite happy until one of my better students came to me and asked me to do him a favor. There was a private school in a small town called Song Yuan about two hours from Changchun that needed a foreign teacher and he figured if he could find them one they would give him an English teaching job in one year when he graduated. He wanted me to be that English teacher. As an aside here if you ever go to China to teach you absolutely do not want to teach in a private school. Remember those abysmal business practices I was telling you about? Chinese private English schools are rife with them. When you work at a government run school you are guaranteed to get your money come Hell or high water which quite frequently will not be the case in a private school. You'll also get anywhere from 8 - 16 weeks PAID vacation depending on when Spring Festival is and where the school is located. That also is definitely not the case in a private school. In any case I had done this twice already and hated it because of the stated reasons. I knew what I was most likely in for. I liked this kid though and wanted to help him so I laid down my conditions and told him to tell the school if they broke even one of them I would not continue with the contract. They agreed to a ten week contract on my conditions. I was to begin in a couple of weeks. I lasted five weeks until they broke the contract. They were shocked when I canceled the remainder of my contract as they always are. They just never learn that most Americans will not put up with this foolishness. The Chinese view of foreigners and especially Americans is that there are two types. The go along and get along type. This foreigner will take all their
shit and excuses because " When in China one must do as the Chinese do". This foreigner will be liked very much but not respected at all. The other kind of foreigner is the kind that will hold them to the letter of the contract as they should be. This foreigner will be respected but also will be hated passionately and forever. The Chinese never forget any transgression against them by a foreigner even if it's only a perceived one. Would you care to guess which kind of foreigner I am?
In China friends all foreigners by Chinese law must have their passports with them at all times. Generally speaking though since Americans in particular are loathe to carry their passports with them at all times a blind eye is turned until you transgress. Upon that circumstance you'd better be able to explain yourself and get your passport quickly. Having been in China for a considerable time by now I was aware of this law. Also in China any foreigner that wishes to check into a Chinese hotel must have their passport with them. There is zero latitude on this point. Should you have made a mistake and forgot it you'll be outside sleeping in the cold even in - 60 temperatures. Should you freeze to death they won't care about you or how it makes them look. It's your responsibility to know the rules. Furthermore when any foreigner comes into any Chinese town they are required to go to the local police station and let the cops know they're there. Knowing all these rules I was prepared to deal with this Chinese idiocy as I usually am. I gave a copy of my passport to my friend and instructed him to have the school make the necessary arrangements with the school. I was assured that everything was arranged properly. That Friday at 2:00 P.M. we boarded the train for the two hour trip to Song Yuan. My hotel was located literally right next door to the school. We checked in with the headmaster at the school and then got me checked into the hotel. I rested for about one hour and then went to do my one Friday evening class after which I went to my room to chill for the evening. About 10:30 P.M. I get a knock at the door. I wasn't expecting anyone so I thought perhaps it was my student stopping by to say hi or notify me of changes in the next day's schedule. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door and standing there were two Chinese men in suits eyeing me very suspiciously and standing slightly behind and to the left of a uniformed Chinese cop. I had no clue what was going on but being American and knowing that I hadn't done anything I was not afraid..Showing a lack of fear to a Chinese cop will freak them out. They didn't know whether to eat shit or bark at the Chinese moon. He asked me in Chinese who I was and why I was there. I answered him in Chinese and he was quite startled that I could speak Chinese. The further you go away from the big cities the more they'll be shocked that a foreigner can speak their language. In their eyes that is not supposed to happen. I told him that I was a teacher at the school next door and was there for that purpose. He showed me his badge and asked why I hadn't registered at the police station. I told him that the school had arranged that. He was very professional and very corrupt. I asked him what the problem was. He told me that there had been a robbery by a foreigner and they were checking out all the hotels in town looking for this foreigner. I believe that that certainly could be true but I think it's far more likely that there was another reason they were harassing me. At this point I noticed that the tow guys in suits were getting fidgety so I asked the uniformed cop who they were. I was told that they were undercover cops. It was time to call my student and have him and a school representative come by and straighten this mess out. We were told to be in the police station in the morning to register with my passport copy that I had given the school and that the next week when I came I was to bring my original passport and come to the police station. When I asked what they would have done had I not been able to straighten this mess out they informed me that I most likely would have been " invited " to be a " guest " of their in the local calaboose. I have zero doubt that they would have harmed me but I also have zero doubt that I would have rooted in that jail until my identity and purpose were confirmed. Now for the real reason I was harassed.
In China all Chinese hotels must register with the government for the right to host foreign guest. There is an official government fee for this right and then there is a weekly / monthly " gift " to the local jingcha / cops. Neither the hotel nor the school had " donated " this " gift " most likely in an effort to save a few bucks. I was only going to be there a few weeks so why not try it is there attitude. They didn't give a damn about how they imperiled me as they won't usually when there is a buck to be made. The cops saw a financial opportunity and pounced as these corrupt bastards will never fail to do. My guess is that one of this hotel's competitors ratted them out to the cops.The comrades do have an affinity for the finer things in life. Those things don't come cheap especially in China . A supplemental income is needed. We straightened this all out and everything was fine for three weeks.
Fast forward four weeks.
It's now Friday afternoon and time for my weekly trip to Songyuan to teach. Since we are in the midst of a blizzard I instruct my student to make sure the trains are running and to call the school and make sure they are going to have classes. I'm assured that the answer to both questions is yes. I have my doubts but ---- We arrive in Songyuan about 5:15 P.M. which is one hour late. I have a class at 6:00 P.M so we hurry over to the hotel to get me checked in. Do you remember those abysmal business practices and antiquated cultural customs I mentioned as reasons the foreigners didn't like to go to the Hinterlands of China? I am about to become a victim of them AGAIN !!! It seems that the hotel has not " donated " their weekly / monthly " gift " to the local peace officers so I have nowhere to stay. Now remember that I told you that the hotel is literally right next to the school and that wee had called them before hand to confirm trains and classes because of the whether. Nobody at either institution informs me that I have no place to stay. I ask my student why and am told that neither institution believes that it's their responsibility and also that neither institution wants to " lose face " by admitting there mistake. My student finds the next nearest hotel and begs and pleads for a room for me. I am allowed to stay for one night only on his Chinese residency card. I firmly believe that this hotel is the one that ratted my original hotel out to the cops. I finish my Saturday classes and then inform them that I'm voiding the contract . I catch the express 4:00 P.M. bus back to Changchun. Thus concluded my final adventure in the Chinese 18th Century.
Friends in closing I'd like to offer you a bit of very good and free advice. As follows : Should you ever visit China NEVER screw around with a Chines cop. They are humorless , vicious and brutal as Hell. They are also the final law in China. They have the ultimate power.
Never ever consider China a friend of America's . They have a goal in mind and they are singular in their purpose. They are far more dangerous than the Jihadis. They are the unseen enemy. Friends you'd all better wake up soon and force your Congresspeople to deal with China before it's too late or be prepared to learn to speak Chinese and salute the flag below.
It's our choice as Americans. They need us we don't need them. I know what my choice is do you?