Friday Night Politics

27 Mar

Not much to talk about, broskis, which is why I haven’t written a post in approximately three years.

First, let’s get the breaking news out of the way. I’ve been accepted into my top two college picks for next fall, wooooo! I’m still waiting to hear from the University of Washington, but Seattle University and the University of British Columbia have already welcomed me with open arms. Let’s hope they got some Benjamins tucked away for me, because I’ll appreciate as much financial support as I can get.

Next bit of news: there’s a mini-holiday coming up next week! 清明节,Tomb Sweeping Day, is about to rock China. We get a three-day weekend, but then have to make up one of the days we missed on Sunday… doesn’t make much sense. BUT, you guys, since I don’t work Tuesdays or Wednesdays, my three-day weekend magically becomes a FIVE DAY WEEKEND. Planning is still in its infancy, but I will quite possibly go to Dalian or Taishan with some friends. Chilling at the beach, or climbing a mountain for six hours? Decisions are hard.

OK, now it’s story time. Last Friday night was arguably one of my more enjoyable nights in China. It was one of those going-out experiences that had the right mix of old friends, new friends, and crazy friends.

My usual partner-in-crime and I got some noodles, then went back to her apartment to chill out and maybe verbally attack strangers on WeChat. Her other friend dropped by, and we listened to tragic Chinese love songs for about an hour, which gratefully got me ready for the karaoke I had to do the next day.

Anyway, we of course headed out to the friendly neighborhood Helen’s bar later that night, and at first, things didn’t look so promising. But after about half an hour, a group of middle-aged Chinese men came over to our table and started chatting with us. My friend’s friend’s Chinese was sensational, so he was able to talk to these chaps like it was nothin’. Per usual, I had to struggle a bit, but was still able to hold a decent conversation with one of the guys.

The group of Chinese guys brought about 60 beers, a fruit platter, and nachos with them, which suggested these fellows might have a bit of cash. This ended up being an understatement. One of the guys, Zheng, owns some kind of water factory (drinking water, I think???) near my school, and he proceeded to show me his wealth in a myriad of ways.

“Guess where my suit’s from? Germany. How about my shoes? Italian. Check out my watch. It’s from Switzerland. I paid 60,000 RMB for it. I have a Porsche outside. Want to see it?” (He really did–it was gorgeous, in an ostentatious and depressing sort of way.)

On and on he went. It was interesting to talk to an honest-to-goodness Chinese businessman, who does the whole “guanxi” (relationships) thing and takes his clients out all the time and gets them drunk before signing deals with them. But at the same time, it was really sad to see that other than money… this guys had nothing going on in his life. No sense of humor, no real relationships, and no dreams other than making more and more money.

Things got a little hairy, when one of the students further down the table moved and sat next to me. He was from Japan, and the only way we could communicate was in Chinese (awesome). Less awesome, though, was when Zheng Chinese businessman asshole started a conversation like this.

“So… you’re Japanese. I bet a lot of people here hate you.”

Oh yeah. Things were about to get real. We launched into a discussion about the Diaoyu Islands, a few chunks of rock between China and Japan that have caused a lot of ruffled feathers in the past several months. The Japanese guy decided it was a good time to leave the bar with his friends, but I talked to Zheng for a while longer.

Basically, his entire argument could be summarized in two points:

1. The Diaoyu Islands are China’s. How would you like it if the Japanese came to America and occupied Las Vegas? (Seriously, he compared a few tiny islands to Las Vegas.)

2. The Diaoyu Islands have serious implications for Chinese security. If the islands are taken by a foreign power, the Chinese navy has no way to leave harbor. (Really? The entire Chinese navy couldn’t find a way around a few rocks in the ocean? It sounds like their navy has more serious problems.)

I don’t mean to sound flippant or oversimplify this row between China and Japan, but his arguments just didn’t seem quite valid. The islands are uninhabited. The only reason anyone cares about these, is because they’re close to fishing grounds and oil fields. So why don’t we talk about those issues, rather than pretending anyone is concerned about these islands? Just my opinion. Feel free to disagree.

Still, I tried to communicate my views, and Zheng Asshole would have none of it. So I also decided it was time to leave, and returned to my safe, non-argumentative home.

In retrospect, this doesn’t actually sound like that fun of a night out. But talking to Zheng was very informative, and the students sitting next to us at the table were a blast (and slightly hammered). These students, my friend, and I promised to hang out in the future at some point… but somehow there was no phone number exchange. So the only solution is to keep going to Helen’s on the weekends, and to hope we run into those crazy cats again.

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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Friends, Night Life, Tianjin


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