Working abroad as an Overseas Chinese, and to those who are afraid to do it

I’ve bolded some points I will respond to from a New York Times article, Overseas Chinese, Foreigner at Home:

Cities like Beijing and Shanghai are increasingly home to overseas Chinese, as those of us of Chinese descent who are not citizens of China are known. By some estimates, more than 30 percent of the American citizens living in China are of Chinese ethnicity.

For hyphenated Chinese like me, living here presents challenges as well as attractions. The chance to explore our’s roots and discover a country radically different from the one left behind by our parents or grandparents can be as powerful a lure as the job opportunities offered by a rising China.

Yet expectations of some Chinese toward ethnically Chinese foreigners can be disconcerting. There are assumptions that someone who looks Chinese must speak fluent Mandarin and instinctively understand cultural norms that may be peculiar to the contemporary mainland. Both locals and foreigners can be unsure how to categorize us.

To the point of discover your roots as a way of going back to China:

I think this is a very challenging point to convey to a lot of my friends, even fellow Chinese-American friends of mine. My incentive is to really experience and understand a different culture (in this case, Chinese culture) to learn about how different people see the world, especially where my parents came from.

However, I often get challenged and asked a lot of questions: “What is the local salary there?” “What about your own career growth and professional growth, wouldn’t it get hampered by going back to China?” “How will you survive?” “What if you get manipulated, robbed, or attacked by the local culture?”

I believe this sets things in really crazy dichotomies. While salary is considered a factor (and there are definitely opportunity costs to going abroad, I cannot deny that; for example, unless you are working for a brand name, multi-national company, going abroad will have very different career directions than working in your home country), I believe these questions says a lot about ourselves:

We are essentially saying: if it is not related to your career, or it does not have a high monetary value, it is not worth pursuing.

Continue reading “Working abroad as an Overseas Chinese, and to those who are afraid to do it”

Building a New China Dream

April 29, 2013 — Today China has over 300 million middle class consumers – but that number is expected to grow to more than 800 million by 2025. These changes will put unprecedented pressure on our Earth’s limited natural resources. In this thought-provoking presentation, Peggy Liu, co-founder of the Shanghai-based nonprofit organization JUCCCE and a Time magazine Hero for the Environment, explores efforts she’s leading to re-imagine prosperity and reshape consumerism in China by building a new “China Dream” that preserves resources such as energy, food, land and water for future generations. She also discusses how myth-creation, mass media and collaboration will be keys to transforming lifestyles in China, and around the world.


Peggy Liu is one of my biggest role models in the world, and is doing so much in the environment, in sustainability, in trying to create a vision for the China Dream.

The key thing she uses is that language, how we communicate, tell the story about sustainability is sooo important. You can’t expect to change sustainability own your own: you need to leverage the skillsets, the personalities, and motivations of every person in order to change the way we live our lives.

I’ll edit this post to write a review of some key points she said later in this week.

Featured company: China Youthology

There’s something about the energy of this company that really has a lot of youth, energy, and passion that is quite inspiring to me.

China Youthology is a market research and ethnography firm that asks the question: how are young people in China thinking in living their day to day lives, such that organizations, businesses, and other institutions can better serve their needs today?

2013-04-26 16:13:03的屏幕截图

The feel of this site is so energetic!

While I’m not an ethnographer by background, I’d so be down for working for this company someday. According to their website, their clients range from Google, Loreal, Intel, Nokia, Kraft, BMW and Lays Chips. Their goal: empower youth culture by doing market research that reflects the power of feeling young, passionate, and wanting to change the world.

In case anybody wants to work with them, here’s a career brochure:

CY Career Brochure from Lisa Li


Hong Kong Street Market Symphony

Like to take a break from my Taiwan blog posts to show a bit of my Cantonese side.

By the way, I really wish I could visit Hong Kong for a week on vacation. I went to HK in 2006 to take the airport to head back to California, as most of my relatives in China live in Guangzhou.

Attention, everyone: prepare yourself for a close encounter as your iconic street market lamps have landed at Olympian City, turning the shopping mall into a land of red lamps.

Brought to you by Olympian City, Sino Art and local designer brand G.O.D., “The Street Market Symphony” presents the familiar local street market in a fresh perspective, celebrating the street market culture being a valuable part of our cultural heritage.

The art exhibition plays with our normal perception and tickles with our senses, using multimedia installations housed in large red lamps to challenge us to revisit a familiar setting in the most unique experience. We will see you under the red lamps this autumn—Bring Your Own Bag optional.

As I do a bit more illustration and drawing like work in my free time, I’m beginning to raise the possibility of trying to add illustration/art as a possible career path.

What I really love about this video is that it attempts to create cultural bridges (see Peggy Liu’s TEDx Talk); to be honest, I’m not somebody who has that much ambition in life, as much as I used to; however, just the thought of creating connections between different people using art, food, and cultural events is really exciting to me!

I love food, night market, street market lifestyle! It’s a great way to understand the local lifestyle, just hang out and chill, get to know people in a low-stress environment. In some ways, I really can see myself building cultural bridges through art; the question becomes: how?

It’s time to change the way we talk about sustainability

Sustainability is dead. Or at least the entire language we use to talk about it should be buried.

Sustainability messaging must shift hard from a focus on abstract responsibility to one that helps people make subconscious choices that make them feel good about themselves. We need to speak to the heart, not to the head. From Peggy Liu, JUCCCE (Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy) (link)

So, I have a question for you guys:

How can you talk about saving the planet in a way that relates to the people you are talking to?

For example: getting people out of cars, walking/biking to work, living close to transit in order to reduce greenhouse gases, is not only too abstract, but it creates a very negative vision, a sense of fear, a very unrealistic vision (at least in the US) that may not work and seem idealistic.

What about…

Creating a lifestyle that allows parents more time to spend with kids, save money for the experiences that matter such as vacations, exercising/playing in the park, hanging out and watching a movie nearby.

Sustainability needs to connect with the emotions, people’s actual needs, not abstract concepts that come from our professions simply that is based on us telling what people should do.

As a city planner, I think we could learn something from the field of marketing/advertising; unfortunately, we’re so far off from people’s lives, focusing on really abstract concepts such as “urban design”, “transit-oriented development”, “form-based codes”, “getting people onto transit”, without really painting a picture of what sort of lifestyles that people can aspire to that is healthy to the planet and ourselves in the long run. 

The question is, what does a sustainable lifestyle really look like?

From the article:

Suzanne Shelton, an American pollster and behavior change specialist, talks about how humor may be more effective than education at breaking habits. She says, “Knowing a thing doesn’t mean you will do a thing.” Perhaps the biting wit of TV comedians Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert could be used to make fun of shameful unsustainable behavior.


In pointing out what makes a successful movie, Phillip Muhl, a major movie executive formerly of Disney, says that no one wants to watch a movie where the world is going to end and we’re all going to die. But we all love a good drama that shows us how screwed we can be, and yet the human race still perseveres. We go to movies for hope. How can environmentalists move from climate-weary white papers to magnetic box office–style stories?


The team behind the new Battlestar Galactica was brilliant in the way it allowed glimmers of hope in the midst of so much despair. Similarly, the human drama of everyday life on an Earth being stripped of resources must be told in a compelling way. Instead of the drama of polar bears or rising PM2.5 statistics, we must tell the story of us.

It’s time to start questioning not just what world we will leave behind, but what dreams we will shape for our children. To do that, we need to leave sustainability jargon behind and take up the language of hope.

What does a sustainable lifestyle really look like? How can we visualize it, understand it, and connect to it to start making small decisions today?

We have to be very craft-ful with our language, how we craft a story, that people can relate to and connect with. If anything, let’s start changing the way we can communicate sustainability.

Let’s start talking about lifestyles that is healthy for us as well as the earth.

Hangzhou Bikeshare Company doesn’t want to open its bikeshare data up to the public

Imagine creating a real-time app showing how many bikes are available nearby, only to be censored by the government?

There was a smartphone app in Hangzhou that basically gave you real time data of how many bikes are available per bike-sharing station in Hangzhou. This is important for people who are trying to go to a bikesharing station, but need to make sure that they go to a station that actually has bikes.

The defunct Hangzhou Bikesharing App that tells you how many bikes are at each station (掌上杭州)

This app was designed by IT Engineer Zhang Guangyu, who does not work for the Hangzhou Bikesharing company, but managed to get some of the data and turn it into an app. At (2:30), he states that if the company releases the API, it would really help make the data collection a lot easier (he says that other countries release their API).

At 2:41, a representative from the Hangzhou Bikesharing Company states: “How did this citizen obtain our data? Right now, we still don’t know. If he used normal means to access our data, then it is okay. However, if he was able to access our backend data, we feel that his behavior is not appropriate.”

Apparently, despite its popularity, the app started not working several months later. Zhang reported in Sina Weibo (China’s twitter) that the platform data on the app stopped updating.
He believes at (4:05) that his IP was blacklisted, and as a result, the app stopped functioning.

I wasn’t really able to translate the rest after 4:05, but it doesn’t seem like the Bikesharing Company wants to open up its data to developers.

Smart cities and open data cities is a relatively new concept; this sort of concept is dependent on whether Chinese local governments are open to being transparent with this sort of data.

There is a big market in using data and finding ways to visualize data to solve simple problems such as trying to get to work on time; you need the right information to do that.

I think if Chinese cities want to promote sustainability, it has to develop some level of trust with developers and people; meaning, if you want to make it easier for others to use bikes, create the infrastructure, the services that help encourage it. By hiding its data, it only creates an environment of distrust, and mystery; you are essentially barring out a larger market, demographic that could have benefited from bike-sharing, but don’t know how.  Data, transparency creates dialogue, momentum to solve problems.

Original title: 杭州公共自行车信息开发之争[九点半]
Source of video: Zhejiang TV