Thinking about Moving to China? Blogging and Censorship

Matt | Blogging in China,Censorship | Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Continuing on with questions about moving to China, here are a few more of them you might want to ask or answer before you come.

9. What are the facts about censorship? Facebook? YouTube? Blogger?  I am a blogger myself and I need to blog.

As a writer and user of information in China, the “Great Firewall of China”, can be frustrating and uncomfortable. This discomfort stayed with me during my time in China and it was one of the things that reminded me of where I was living.

Starting with blogging, as this seems close to your heart (and mine), this should be fine. The only trouble I found was that you cannot seem to use the free blog sites such as Blogspot or WordPress to host your site. I discovered this when I first started. The blogs hosted on free sites, such as Blogspot, are unable to open while you are in China. I think this goes for Blogger as well. In order for you to blog in China, you need to pay for hosting, such as DreamHost, and get your own domain name. After that, blogging should not be an issue for you.

There are lots of blogs in and around China that are thriving. In my links section there are some great sites I like to read and they discuss some important issues. Interestingly, the site Peking Duck recently spoke of an example of the censorship and of rewriting history. I thought it was an impressive and timely article for this question.

As for YouTube and Facebook, as far as I know these are blocked. This is quite frustrating. Another site that is blocked in China is Wikipedia. This was a little annoying, but when I came back to Canada the first thing I would do was jump back into these sites. For the most part I wasn’t a big user of these sites, so these limitations did not bother me. The issue of blocking sites gets more intense and personal when my methods of communicating get severed. Reading about sites such as Skype getting blocked would concern me heavily as that is how I call between Canada and China.

Overall, the level of control over information was a little discomforting for me, but one is definitely able to blog in China. Living in a controlled environment was a little awkward at first.  Although in moving and living in a new culture experiencing differences is to be expected and is part of the journey.

Being gay in China

Matt | Gay in China | Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

A reader recently asked a few questions about being gay in China.

I’m interested in teaching English in China. But I have a very important question. I’m hoping you can give me some insight, and I think your readers may also be interested in the topic.

I am a gay male from the US. What is China like in terms of gay rights and tolerance? How are gay males viewed? Is it considered inappropriate for a gay male to teach children, as is the case in conservative areas of the US? Do cities like Beijing and Shanghai have an active gay scene? Should I avoid teaching in smaller towns and aim for a bigger, more modern city?

I know that since 2001 it is no longer considered a “mental illness”, but I was wondering if you could shed some light on this.

I think the Chinese culture is conservative in a lot of ways and unfortunately, concerning gay rights I think it is extremely conservative. In this regard, I feel it is similar to how North America likely was back in the ‘50s: things happened, but they were not discussed openly. China is changing rapidly, but sexual tolerance seems to be changing at a slower pace. A positive sign of change is that if you look at any guide book, such as Lonely Planet, you will likely find a “Gay/Lesbian Bars” section in some of the larger cities, such as Beijing or Shanghai.

To answer your specific questions, here is what I know and I hope it is of some help. As for gay rights, I don’t know if there are any in China, I would guess not.  There doesn’t seem to be much mentioned on the news on in the papers concerning this topic.  As for how people are viewed, gay males seem to be viewed negatively at least by the general public. It is not uncommon to hear people pointing out an effeminately-dressed man on the subway and saying, “He’s a gay.” Although, there do appear to be more openly gay young people and this I take as a positive sign.

Interestingly, I find Chinese men are more effeminate than Canadian men and are more comfortable with physical touch, so it is extremely difficult for me to notice if such men are showing signs of intimacy or if they are simply close friends.  For example, when my family came over for my wedding last summer my wife’s cousin “Kobe” held my brother’s hand as a sign of close friendship.  Fortunately, I had mentioned this to my brother beforehand and he was okay with the situation.  Shortly after, my wife mentioned to her cousin that this behaviour, male adults holding hands, was not common for Canadians and he stopped.

Concerning an active gay scene, again, I think the guide books or local expat magazines, such as The Beijinger, would provide more current information. I would think that the larger cities like Beijing or Shanghai would have a more active scene, would have more foreigners and would have a more comfortable environment than other cities. For these reasons, I think teaching and living in a larger city may be a better place to start.

Concerning teaching in China and being openly gay or lesbian, this is difficult. From my perspective as a straight male teacher, I think the attitude and culture in China would make it very challenging for someone to teach or work there and be openly gay. Sadly, I think most Chinese parents would be uncomfortable with this situation and would not send their children to that school. Because of this I would recommend keeping your sexual interests private if you want to teach in China.

Powered by WordPress | Theme by Roy Tanck