Why I’m leaving China


So you’ve finally decided to break up with China. You’ll probably want to write a blog post or newspaper article about it, then.

Too busy packing? Here’s our handy delete-as-necessary CDS guide to posing that crucial ‘Dear Zhang’ piece!

Relax – I’ll be back soon! Not even sure why I’m writing this, in fact

Hey. How you doing? Great, great.

Look… we need to talk. About us.

When we first met, it was great. You were a developing nation, on the cusp of greatness, full of opportunity, innocence and frankly batshit behavior. I was a 24-year-old college graduate who couldn’t get a job/ recently redundant 36-year-old staring bleakly into the future/ newly divorced sex-tourist only 52 years young.

And now? Now, you’re a bellicose superpower with a victimhood complex and a whole bunch of incipient, growing social problems. And me? I’m a 29-year-old college graduate who still can’t get a job/ China expert/ old guy with arthritis and no pension plan.

Hey, hey – don’t cry… come on. Let’s not make a scene.

Look, we’ve had some good times you and me, haven’t we? Remember when we spent six weeks in Hunan together, pretending to be the foreign CEO of an investment capital firm? Holy shit, I’ve only just realized that was criminal fraud!

Or what about that time you gave me a job as an actor in a prestigious TV series, playing Whitey – despite the fact I couldn’t emote my way out of a fortune cookie? Oh my God! What about when we spent a year teaching in Dongbei – what was it you said? “We have to leave town, now. Your friend has slept with a local gangster’s mistress and now he wants to cut off both your legs”?

Man, that shit was fucked-up. Hm, I wonder what did ever happen to Mike? I should really write to that crazy bastard sometime. I guess it was kind of douchey of me not to give him a heads-up before I fled Harbin.

Anyway, it’s not all been one-sided.

I’ve given a lot to you. I’ve tried, I really have. I’ve read all four of your Novels. I learned how to use chopsticks. I spent two months editing your mom’s crappy kindergarten website. I even wrote that personal statement that got you into Harvard Business School (and you sort of “screwed” me on that deal – or not, if you know what I mean).

And there are still so many things I love about you: the bountiful range of cuisines; the hospitality of your people; the southern landscape; the complete lack of qualifications needed to get a teaching job; those courtroom pictures of Gu Kailai in a fat suit. Good times.

But now it’s really time to move to Taiwan/ ask my parents if my bedroom is still available/ go back to Europe and set up a China consultancy firm/ call a probate lawyer.


I can’t really say for sure what the final straw was. Probably it was a combination of things. Maybe the pollution; the constant food scandals; the oppression of the Tibetan and Uighur minorities; the inexcusable decision to delay Dark Knight Rises in cinemas until August 27. I mean, seriously, what the fuck? I need to see that movie, now.

And look, this has nothing to do with the fact that the PSB tried to frame me as a drug dealer/ your father is a high-ranking PLA general who hate Americans/ my visa just ran out.

No. It’s just that now happens to be a very fashionable time to be leaving China. This isn’t personal. It’s not you. It’s me.

Well, mostly it’s you.”

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