Home ownership has been something that has perplexed me for a while. Since I was in university, I’ve looked at the astronomic prices of homes (then in Toronto and now in Taipei and Hong Kong) and wondered why more people didn’t rent. I know the supposed benefits of owning your own place- the secure feeling of owning your own home which then forms a big part of your assets, as an investment, and as something you can pass on to your children. Yet costwise it seems sometimes it doesn’t make sense. No matter how good a location or the potential surge in values, there’s no reason why you should buy a home that would cost you several decades to pay off. In America, more people also seem to be embracing renting, a sentiment which I strongly agree with. I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to own a home, but at a reasonable cost. Besides, change is a bigger aspect of our lives than our parents or grandparents, with moves and job changes and long-term travel more common now.
This recent development in China was a slight surprise to me, but the reason for it isn’t surprising. Expats are being forced to turn away from Beijing and Shanghai to lesser metropolises like Chengdu and Hangzhou, due to more Chinese returning from overseas. More and more Chinese going abroad to study and picking up Western skills, knowledge and savvy, and many will of course want to return home. As such, it’s not going to be so easy for expats to make it in China, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a role for them. They, and myself as well, will just have to try harder and be open to new opportunities in other cities.
In golf, there’s more good news on Chinese prodigy Guan Tianlang, as he made the cut to move into the final round. Guan made history by being the youngest person to play in a golf major, and he made further history by being the youngest to make the cut. His age- 14. Guan is from Guangzhou and has already played and won tournaments with adult competitors. Good luck to another Chinese succeeding in sport (though golf is not actually a real sport).
Here’re a few more interesting links on China and Taiwan from earlier this week and which I posted on my China blog Random China.
Chinese tourists are swarming the world and for some, it’s a big concern. The article is subtitled “The good, the bad and the backlash”, which gives a good idea of what it’s about. Not surprisingly it mentions Hong Kong, where some of the worst anti-mainland bias can be found, especially against mainland tourists. 83 million Chinese traveled overseas in 2012, becoming the top spending tourists in the world and overtaking Americans and Germans. This is good because it means more Chinese have the means to travel and are able to spend well. This is a positive development and I just hope the numbers will continue to increase. Of course, there are adverse effects from the big numbers and cultural differences and unfortunately, bad behavior from a significant minority. The article does a good job to examine this last issue with several Chinese quoted saying that many Chinese do not condone rude behavior and are indeed aware and ashamed when fellow countrymen act badly abroad.
Dinosaurs were found in Yunnan province recently. Actually, these were fossilized dinosaur embryos that were estimated to be 190 million years old! The fossils might even contain tissue remains which could be extracted for research. That’s pretty amazing to think that organic matter could have survived so long.
I was initially surprised when I first saw the headline of this article, but after some thought, not so much. Basically, Taiwanese don’t read much, much less so than people in countries like France, Russia, Japan, and mainland China. This worries the government so much that the ministry of culture has come up with a plan to help local publishers. The Atlantic Monthly article describes the decline in reading and, and mentions this is contrasted by Taiwan’s many bookstores, highlighted by the very well-known Eslite, an elegant local version of Borders (US) or Chapters (Canada). The main conclusions are that Taiwanese mainly buy Western bestsellers or self-help books, reading isn’t very popular, and that the local literary scene is not in good shape.
I do have local friends and acquaintances who read, and Western books are indeed popular. I can’t confirm the article’s assertion that nobody reads (the title is definitely a very hyperbolic one). Many people do read newspapers, magazines, and manga (Japanese comics). However, I’d say I don’t find it surprising that locals don’t read much books on average, since I feel that many young people, or even middle-aged people, don’t seem curious about or want to know more about the world. Since most available books are written by non-Taiwanese and about the world, I’d think this doesn’t help to make books very appealing. Couple that with the fact that the local media is not very professional and focuses more on gossip and scandal than hard news, making for a less informed population, and that there’re many forms of entertainment and leisure to distract Taiwanese, and it’s not hard to see that reading, especially serious literature and nonfiction, may be seriously declining. As the writer says, many people in libraries here are either studying or browsing magazines or newspapers, or making out (I can’t say I’ve seen this), while Eslite is popular but it’s mostly a hangout spot (to be honest, I do see many people reading whenever I’m there).