Since late 1980 I have been coming to Beijing. After some stints in Shanghai and Hong Kong, Beijing has become my hometown where I have my de facto home. I also have a Chinese Green Card.
Beijing can be tough and challenging, but so much fun at times – and never boring. Who wants to leave this exciting metropolis? Sadly due to COVID-19 policies many foreigners have left and rather few want to come here. We all hope this will change for the better.
According to the 2020 population census the urban area population was estimated at 20,896,820. Some estimate real figues to be much higher. The foreign population in Beijing was estimated at 62,812 being 0.3% (using the 20,896,820 figure). However figures in 2023 could be drastically lower.
The Beijing Municipality is about half of Belgium in size but with twice the population. Most are concentrated in the urban areas.
According to the 2020 census China had 845,697 foreigners (0.06% of total population). The real amount of non-Asian foreigners is not clear as the 2020 census does not show a breakdown per country of origin but we can estimate it is well below of 50%. That could be some 400,000.
One can never take China too seriously, the government can be sharp-thinking but also provides both exasperation and entertainment with some of their erratic policies. Today is not like yesterday and tomorrow will be different.
I don’t know of any other country or city that has gone through so many drastic changes in 40 years. Beijing has changed from a rural and Stalinist city into a world metropolis. But the most radical changes have been in the people, the way they think and live. Hence the reason for me to try to write a book about the contemporary Chinese society. Being so complex, the project is on hold…
The Chinese media are increasingly censored, “problems” should not be reported (too much). The sky is blue, the government is wise (always). Chinese also feel easily offended; ugly nationalism can explode in front of “foreign criticism”.
However foreign media are also often biased, interested only in bad news. Many of our so-called intellectuals in the West have actually no clue about the real China. China is the preferred target for criticism, simply because is becoming one of the super powers. Who cares about some obscure countries where thousands get murdered, raped, starved? Where the complete government in power is totally corrupt and there is no justice? They are only small footnotes. Because there is little or no economic interest.
This blog is an irreverent mix of serious issues and fun, showing the dark side as well as the bright side. Sometimes sarcastic, critical and filled with exasperation. But this city can be a fun city with a very Chinese mixture of the latest hi-tech, Confucianism, raw capitalism, culture and spiritual void. And yes, Chinese can have fun. They just have fun their way and they often don’t want us to know.
Oh yes, I should mention. Why did I come to China in 1980? Because I was a “Red”? Nope. I came for the MONEY. I got a job offer too good to refuse.
For more about me see: 2022 briefGVK
“In the interests of truth, tolerance and justice”
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