A GUIDE TO MOVING TO CHINA AS AN EXPAT: WHAT THEY WONT TELL YOU

Living, working, or studying in China today can offer a lot of special opportunities that you will not find anywhere else. China is a fascinating country with a lot of dynamic economic growth and admittedly a lot of cities give off a very futuristic vibe. Chinese history and cultural are popular with new agers and there are many appealing aspects of life in China that can make it a great choice for people who want to try something new.

There are several websites that give details of how to plan your move to China and what to look forward to, but few will admit the aspects of China that are problematic and challenging. One blogger wrote of their experience, “Life in China is good! It really surprised me how well everything is arranged; from transport, safety to cleanliness on the streets.”

If you are thinking of moving to China, here is the down and dirty grime that you are not likely to hear anywhere else.

First – Internet sucks! In 2024, life for an international traveler does not work without the internet, but China’s regulations on the internet have gotten so bad, that it feels like every website worth anything is blocked! Baidu.com is one of the few search engines that you can use and it will literally take you everywhere you don’t want to go to read everything you have no interest in reading.

Not only does it feel that 90% of the Internet is blocked, but all of your social media is basically cut off – YouTube, Facebook, Istagram, etc. And if you were planning on reading a book from Google Play or Kindle, good luck if you are using a Chinese device with a local number. Publishing content is equally as challenging as Amazon doesn’t allow print on demand in Chinese. Nor does Instagram Spark.

Second – if you are just trying to connect to the internet, most places require (by law) a local phone number to verify you with a code so that the government can know exactly who it is that they are tracking. If you do not have a Chinese mobile phone number, then you will need to get one and have fun with that process. You will fill out so many papers that it will feel like you are applying for a home loan. This cycle of filling out forms every time you want to sign on to a public network in China will be so taxing that you will be too tired to check your emails once you do sign on.

Next – if your emails are on platforms that China blocks? Have fun trying to stay connected to your entire life of family, friends, business, and bills. Proton, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc are all blocked. And if your email provider is not blocked in China, you can be rest assured that there is a reason and that reason is that you are not the only one reading your emails! The Chinese government are also enjoying those special messages from your aunt Judy.

Of course the way around most of these problems is to have an VPN, right? WRONG! China has gotten really good at blocking almost every VPN out there. That is why BTJ had to create our own VPN while working and traveling in China.

Another way to get around this measure (for now) is to use your own foreign phone data plan and tether your devices, but that can be costly over time.

Additionally, traveling in China has just gotten much more complicated. In the past, foreigners could easily purchase train tickets online for any location to any destination. No longer! Even those with a permanent ID card for Hong Kong and Macau are not able to purchase tickets online in many places. They have to personally go to the train station with their passport in hand and have it scanned by the officials to purchase a ticket and those ques are never lacking people waiting in them, so be prepared for a long wait.

Probably the most difficult part about living in China is the visa. If you are lucky enough to work for a company that pays for a department to handle your resident visa, then the problem may not seem so big, but for those that must work on the China visa themselves, it can be one of the most time consuming tasks ever tackled. The frustration that will inevitably come from laws, changes of laws, and practices of laws that are not written as well as the active ignoring of laws that are written.

If you have ever wanted to be a missionary to China, now is the time because there are far fewer foreigners living in China than there were 10 years ago. Many foreign businesses have packed up their bags and left for greener pastures, but the opportunities for those that continue to face these challenges head on are endless.

The key to life in China is to be flexible, expect very little, be ready for unexpected changes every day and listen to the will of the Father.

Dr. Eugene Bach is a known trouble-maker with an active imagination and sinful past. He has a PhD, but is not a real doctor, so please do not call for him during a medical emergency on an airplane when someone is having a heart attack. Eugene started working for Back to Jerusalem in the year 2000 after a backroom deal involving Chinese spies, the NRA, Swiss bankers, and a small group of Apostolic Christians that only baptize in Jesus’ name. He spends most of his time in closed countries attempting to topple governments by proclaiming the name of Jesus and not taking showers. From time-to-time he pretends to be a writer. He is not good at it, but everyone around him tries to humor him.

Leave your thought