First Post: My Blog’s Intention

I really dislike laowai blogs. Laowai is a Chinese term that means “foreigner” – a term not just used by Chinese, but by any self-respecting foreigner who lives in the PRC (People’s Republic of China). It is a term that, when I hear it uttered from a construction worker or other passerby as I walk down the street, it rings in my ear and lisences an immediate “laowai” retort. Westerners are trained to feel that any label is inherently offensive, as it implies a certain amount of assumptions about someone based on her or his appearances. If you ask a Chinese person, however, they will insist that laowai is an endearing term – literally, it means “Ol’ Foreigny.” I will not delve deeper into the anthropological and psychological implications of the use of a single term to describe a group of people (or rather, a non-group of people; that is, everyone who is not Chinese-looking), because as I said, I dislike laowai blogs.

Laowai blogs are ceaselessly self-promoting. The laowai blogger will surreptitiously hint at his Chinese linguistic powers; he will analyze why China, in a word, is not America; he has the money to dine and drink at high-end bars, but those events never make the blog. Instead, he expounds on the occasional ground-breaking (and probably one-sided) conversation with a local taxi driver concerning China’s cultural superiority over The West. Bloggers have the power that was never granted to previous generations of writers and commentators; anonymity of experience, selection of detail, regurgitation of uncertified knowledge, and image-sculpting priveleges comparable to those of Donatello (I say privelege as opposed to abilites; you will surely read more about this conflict later).

So let me rephrase: I dislike typical laowai blogs. In considering the projection of my future blogging, I suppose I too cannot help but tread on these trite laowai-caricature follies; there exist limitations. Most prominently, I cannot discuss my experience in China without obligingly weaving in China’s current quandary of Westernization vs. Sinocization (modernization is not debatable – China is heading, full-speed, into blind modernization. Let us hope Edward Smith is never appointed Chairman). I will avoid topics that can be found in any given laowai blog, and avoid scooping from the dredge of uncited knowledge. I guess you could say this blog is an extension of my graduate studies, aimed at other laowai’s with an academic interest in China.


This entry was published on November 18, 2010 at 2:38 am. It’s filed under China, Laowai, Westernization and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “First Post: My Blog’s Intention

  1. I'm all a-quiver with excitement after reading this rousing "mission statement" I do hope you will dazzle us with your unorthodox approach to laowai-ness. Though I hope it's not too bold of me to ask wot exactly makes a non-typical laowai blog? Or is the answer: "stay tuned for the next entry" ? Relishing the chance to read the rest

  2. Also, I like the white on brown. It's like frosting on a cupcake.

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