China's Exemplary Expats People

China's Exemplary Expats

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China’s new open-door policy and spectacular growth over the past three decades has prompted droves of westerners to make the leap to the Middle Kingdom. The total number of expatriates presently living in China reached over half a million in 2010. Expatriates can be seen in nearly every provincial city in China, Shanghai and Beijing of course hosting most of them.

Life in China for expatriates today is not as difficult as in years past. The living standard in China's largest cities like Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai is as enjoyable as that of the western cities like New York, London and Paris.

Some expats find Chinese culture confusing, most consider it fascinating. The stable development of society and economy and rich job opportunities are all positive factors that attract more and more expatriates to come live, work and travel in China.

Expatriates in China are mainly employed in the information technology, education and finance sectors. In larger cities, there are also many expatriates who earn a living by opening their own western style restaurants and bars. Then there are those who have become celebrities in their own rights, either from capitalizing on their western face for television, by blogging about current events, or publishing memoirs of their adventures.

Following is a sampling of China's most extraordinary expats living there today, and how they found their respective fortunes and/or fame and/or infamy.


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  1. 9

    Chris "Lonely Planet" Taylor

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    Chris Taylor, author of the Lonely Planet guides to China, Tibet, Japan and Cambodia in the 1990s, and the first features editor at the Taipei Times, looks back on this era in his debut novel, Harvest Season, a racy, chemical-fueled parable of party travelers who push things too far in tourism’s latest frontier - China. When he falls for the newcomer's fire-dancing Chinese girlfriend, he becomes entangled in a conflict that pits the drug-addled Westerners against increasingly hostile locals. A dark exploration of the disrupting effects of change, globalization and travel, Harvest Season also provides a glimpse of a China most of us never imagined existed.
  2. 10

    Paul French

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    Shanghai-based Paul French is a partner in the China and UK based research publisher Access Asia. Paul writes a regular column on Asian issues for Ethical Corporation. Paul has written and/or contributed to dozens of books about China, including Carl Crow A Tough Old China Hand, One Billion Shoppers, Fat China, Oil on Water and Shanghai History in Photographs. As a China specialist he has been quoted in a wide variety of publications.
  3. 11

    Kaiser Kuo

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    Kaiser Kuo is a Chinese American freelance writer and rock musician living in Beijing. He is a former member of the rock band Tang Dynasty and has further enlivened contemporary Chinese music culture with the formation of another ethnically-oriented heavy metal rock group, Spring and Autumn. Kaiser's musical involvement also involved playing bass for Dirty Deeds. Kaiser currently works as director for international communications for Chinese search engine Baidu. He was previously a technology correspondent for Red Herring magazine, and also worked as director of digital strategy, China, for Ogilvy & Mather in Beijing. He writes a column "Ich bin ein Beijinger" for the English-language magazine the beijinger. In 2010, Kaiser started the Sinica show, a current affairs podcast based in Beijing that invites prominent China journalists and China-watchers to participate in uncensored discussions about Chinese political and economic affairs.
  4. 12

    Jeremy Goldkorn

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    Jeremy Goldkorn founded the popular China media website Danwei.org, and acts as editor and publisher. The site has tracked the changes in China’s media and Internet on a daily basis since 2003 and also produces video interviews with people in culture and the media in China. Goldkorn produced the documentary film African Boots of Beijing. His writing has appeared in many Chinese and foreign publications including The Guardian, The New York Times, Life, and Cosmopolitan‘s China edition, covering a range of subjects from media regulation, Internet business, freedom of expression, the habits of young Chinese Internet users, Sino-African affairs, the Great Wall and Chinese consumer culture.
  5. 13
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    Travel photographer Tom Carter journeyed for 2 years and 56,000 kilometers across the 33 provinces of China, the first foreigner in the history of China to have ever done so. During his travels, Tom racked up an impressive number of arrests and near-fatalities that have since become the stuff of expat legend, turning him into a popular headliner at speaking events and literary festivals. His book, CHINA: Portrait of a People, has been hailed as the most comprehensive photography book on modern China ever published by a single author.
  6. 14
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    Rachel DeWoskin spent her twenties in China as a consultant, writer, and the unlikely star of a nighttime soap opera called "Foreign Babes in Beijing." Her memoir of those years, Foreign Babes in Beijing, has been published in six countries and is being developed as a television series by HBO. Her novel Repeat After Me, about a young American ESL teacher, a troubled Chinese radical, and their unexpected New York romance, won a Foreward Magazine Book of the Year award. Her third book, the novel Big Girl Small, is forthcoming from FSG in 2011.
  7. 15
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    Edwin Maher is a New Zealand-born TV journalist who now works for CCTV International in Beijing, China. In 2003, China Central Television sought to expand its CCTV International to be more professional and accessible to Western audiences. CCTV senior executive Jiang Heping approached Maher, already working in China with CCTV as a voice coach, to become one of the first western anchors for the revamped network. In January 2010, it was announced that Mayer's life story would be adapted into a feature film, starring David Duchovny.
  8. 16

    Robert "Weird China" Kong Hai

    Robert Kong Hai is an American who has amassed the largest twitter (Weird China) following of anyone in China. Robert is active as a coordinator and financial sponsor of TEDx and other educational events in the Middle Kingdom. He puts his MBA to good use as a trainer in Qingdao where his blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Chinese speaking offspring draw crowds like rockstars. His tweets are a veritable Twikipedia of statistics on China. While he doesn’t play in many China expat social sandboxes, that makes him controversial by Old Hand standards, he is listened to by thousands and the most mentioned and re-tweeted on the network. With 266,000 followers he might just be a factor in public opinion about China.
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