Journal Comments - Me China Red - CycleBlaze

Journal Comments

From Me China Red by Marian Rosenberg

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Marian Rosenberg replied to a comment by Rich Frasier on D74: 徐家坪 → 略阳

I have five books with "sole translator" cred to my name and one as lead. You can actually buy the last one. I personally wouldn't as it's super dry but I can give you the name.

The others aren't in print yet but I've been paid and the publishers are the ones who hired me.... and I've been being in print will presumably happen.

3 weeks ago
Rich Frasier commented on D74: 徐家坪 → 略阳

Another masterpiece :) You should write a book. Oh, wait…

3 weeks ago
Marian Rosenberg replied to a comment by Rich Frasier on D70: 成县

Once upon a very long time ago in the days before I knew things, I was suffering through an attempt to solve things by some very uncooperative police and I lost my temper and yelled at them. Much to my surprise, the immediate response was for them to then do what I had wanted all along.

By now, separate from my explicitly knowing I'm right and having the relevant documentation accessible which backs me up, I also know how much they want to avoid Paperwork Generating Incidents involving a foreigner; and, although I don't know what the specific things are in the records that a senior officer getting annoyed enough at me to look me up can access, I know that being looked up in the system results in an immediate apology.

I refer to this treatment as "I'm so sorry Ms. Markle, I didn't recognize you in that outfit".

3 weeks ago
Rich Frasier commented on D70: 成县

I don’t understand anything at all about China but you seem like an incredibly brave person. I love reading about your experiences but I hope you’re not putting yourself in danger. Your writing also makes me laugh out loud sometimes. Kudos!!

3 weeks ago
Marian Rosenberg replied to a comment by Steve Miller/Grampies on The Police

It's wrong on dozens of levels but it's also complicated and nuanced. Historically (and I'm going back about 400 years) foreigners were only allowed in very specific cities called Treaty Ports. This had changed by what is referred to as the "Century of Humiliation" and there was some massive anti foreigner sentiment at the time of the Boxer Rebellion.

Although most of the foreigners living in China prior to 1949 left with the establishment of the PRC, no one actually prohibited foreigners during the early years of Communist China. This was also a period when movement of any kind and for any person required a lot of documentation.

Reform and Opening Up started a bit over 40 years ago. At that time, the vast vast majority of 'foreigners' coming into the country were what are referred to as 'Overseas Returnees' (and they were most likely Visitors rather than Returnees). This is when the foreigner specific lodging regulations started.

There were earlier lodging regulations but they didn't divide foreigners into a separate class.

For the most part, these regulations covered things like safety, security, and—most importantly—not looking like a impoverished country. Fire fighting equipment that wasn't legislated in hotels that could only take Chinese (even rich or politically connected ones), was an absolute requirement as part of getting a Foreigner License. Room size and minimum furnishing were also mandated.

It's important to remember that unlike restrictions that currently exist in politically sensitive areas such as Tibet this wasn't xenophobia or a way of controlling populations (either foreign or local) or their access to each other, but a way of "putting your best foot forward". At worst, it was viewed as a cash grab (the facilities at a Foreigner Hotel not necessarily being readily apparent as better) or a way to ensure that the best customers went to your friend's hotel.

A "Foreigner Hotel" wasn't restricted from taking Chinese but a hotel that wasn't licensed to take foreigners, couldn't.

By the time I arrived, "Foreigner Hotels" were defined as anything ranked Chinese three star and above OR International Youth Hostels. Hostels even had multi-bed dormitories and, unlike Russia (or other countries that have controlled the movement of foreign tourists within their borders), a dorm could be mixed in terms of citizenry.

The whole concept of a foreigner hotel as defined by law went away completely in 2003. It had been going away in dribs and drabs for the past 20 years but some document (that I have never found but which I have personal experience of) that came into effect with that year's National Day Holiday in October made the license which a hotel needed to take foreigners into a "business license". Coming from a country that was only just shaking off the vestiges of an internal passport (called a hukou) being something with real teeth, it didn't matter what nationality you were, you still registered with the hotel and the hotel—if operating according to the law—still passed that registration on to the police.

Passing the registration on to the police became more streamlined with a computer registration system that I first encountered in 2008.

I'm not exactly sure when I realized that Foreigner Hotels and new restrictions on foreigners tended to deliberately come from the local government (sometimes the police, sometimes the tourism board) but it wasn't a bike trip. This was the old concept of "putting your best foot forward" showing up along with some more insidious reasons such as not liking foreigners from "those countries" (mostly Africa and the Middle East).

However, the best (and worst) reason the police wanted to control the movement of foreigners came not out of a concern of who we might talk to, or what we might see, or even our personal safety, but out of concern for the police themselves. You see, if my bag (or bike) gets stolen and I'm the kind of loudmouth that insists on filing a police report, that gives the upper echelons of the police a very good reason to rain holy hellfire down upon the rank and file for doing a piss poor job at public security within their jurisdiction.

Since Beijing has explicitly said "foreigners can stay anywhere" and made a point (over the past almost 20 years) of continuing to not limit foreigners ability to stay anywhere that is also legally allowed to take Chinese, the restrictions on where foreigners can and cannot stay are very local and also very carefully unwritten.

Separate from my being a cheap-ass when I'm touring, I refuse to accept being inconvenienced by unwritten rules.

Throw an often poorly programmed and regularly straight up broken (at least in terms of "edge cases" of being anything other than a Chinese citizen with a second generation ID card) computer registration system into the mix, add a dash of Covid (meaning that every government at every level actually has gone back to caring about every traveler being logged) and you don't even need to cry "xenophobia" to get the current clusterfuck of No Foreigners Allowed.

Which is not to say that it's never xenophobia.

1 month ago
Steve Miller/Grampies commented on The Police

Sometimes residents of social democratic countries such as my own can go too far in believing that every country wants or needs freedom and democracy. But really, the racist and police state tactics that you describe in your blog are way beyond acceptable. There are some fundamental truths and standards that can be used to judge political and general human behaviour. For this we don't need to resort to religion. Instead, I would rely on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So many violations of this are described in just your one blog entry, it's hard to choose one. But how about Article 13(1) "Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state."

If a Chinese visitor would be booted by police out of the Accent Inn in Victoria, BC and made to go stay with other Chinese at the Empress, it would be headline news on CBC, and could never stand. We should speak up when we see things like that portrayed as normal in other places, and that is why I have written this comment.

1 month ago
Jean Knops commented on The Police

The joy of dealing with local government. I am still trying to try to understand the seven layers of government in China, that often only marginally cooperate and how the country can keep functioning.

1 month ago
Marian Rosenberg replied to a comment by Megan Shook on D11: 香坊 → 直罗

I was already out of the nature preserve and into an area with people by that point. I also still didn't believe that the leopards were real.

1 month ago
Megan Shook commented on D11: 香坊 → 直罗

Yikes! Leopard paw prints, and you had to keep going after dark.

1 month ago
Megan Shook commented on D5:老庙→白水→老庙→白水

I can relate to the panic felt upon discovering an absolutely essential item is left behind. With me it’s my damn glasses that won’t fold up when I remove them to be able to see through the fog caused by wearing a mask when it’s chilly weather. I set them down, do my whatever, and walk away because can see well enough without the bifocals for walking around.

1 month ago
Bill Shaneyfelt commented on a photo in D35: 城川 → 白泥井

Looks like alfalfa.

2 months ago
Bill Shaneyfelt commented on a photo in D32:龙州→红墩界


2 months ago
Bill Shaneyfelt replied to a comment by Marian Rosenberg on a photo in D32:龙州→红墩界

Not all are aromatic.

2 months ago
Marian Rosenberg replied to a comment by Bill Shaneyfelt on a photo in D32:龙州→红墩界

So possibly native to Asia?

2 months ago
Marian Rosenberg replied to a comment by Bill Shaneyfelt on a photo in D32:龙州→红墩界

I don't remember noticing a smell

2 months ago