Guard in Beijing Shows How NOT to Ask for Help Finding Foreign Girlfriend

Recently, a guard in the community where I live surely demonstrated exactly how NOT to ask for an introduction to a foreign girlfriend.

For starters, his timing proved terrible. When he opened the door of his post to speak to me, I happened to be passing through the gate, hurrying to the office. Not exactly the perfect moment to discuss romantic matters.

Of course, the very question — “Could you help me find a foreign girlfriend?” – would surely surprise the average person, expecting a hand wave or a “Ni Hao”, but puzzled me in particular.

Nearly a year earlier, I recalled this same guard yearning to return ahead of Chinese New Year to his hometown in another province, distressed that if he couldn’t get a train ticket back home in time, then he would surely miss, in his words, his “son’s childhood”.

Which meant, of course, that he already had a wife – and a kid.

Furthermore, I had even witnessed him dispensing relationship advice to an unmarried friend of his, keen to “learn the ropes” from someone supposedly “older and wiser”.

So when I heard his question, I raised an eyebrow in disbelief and almost wondered if this was his way of telling me he had just wrapped up a tidy divorce. Had he really let go of his wife?

Instead, I said to him, “But you’re married, right?”

A grin crept across his face. “She doesn’t have to know that.”

Oh, goodness.

I have no idea if the guard was actually being serious. This is, after all, a guy who once blurted out to me in English, “I love you”, and I could swear he stifled a laugh at the time. (Note too that, for many Chinese, saying “I love you” in English doesn’t necessary have the same weight or meaning.)

Still, for all I know he might also subscribe to that awful line of thought that foreign women make for perfect partners for an affair. (See point No 1 in my post 5 Fascinating Stereotypes of Western Women in China.)

Given that the last thing I wanted was a reputation for setting up women with men who cheat on their wives, I shook my head and said no.

And as I made my way into the office, a more perfect response to all of this nonsense arose in my thoughts – face in palm.

Photo Essay: Behind the Scenes of Beijing Photo Shoot for China Daily

For most of last week, China Daily website sent me on assignment to shoot some videos around Beijing, which put the spotlight on changes in culture and education around the city. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at some of the places we visited for the shoot.

We shot a number of scenes at the National Center for Performing Arts, recognized by many for its iconic egg-shaped design.

We shot some scenes right here in this spectacular hall, and also in one of the theaters as well, during a rehearsal.

In Beijing’s Wangjing neighborhood, we visited the Yabin Dance Studio, home to the renowned dancer Yabin Wang, who has appeared at the National Center for Performing Arts on numerous occasions, including in collaboration with foreign artists.

Here I stand with Yabin (right) and one of her fellow dancers in the studio. I later learned that she has also had a career as an actor — my colleagues on the video shoot recognized her as one of the leads in the first and second seasons of Xiangcun Aiqing (乡村爱情).

On the education front, we first visited Peking Union Medical College Hospital, the first Western medical institution established in China. There I spoke with the director of a postdoctoral program, who also introduced the hospital, including this photograph on the wall taken in 1921, during the celebration of its founding.

We went to the Communication University of China, the premier institution in the country for higher education in the media and communications industry, where we had a chance to visit its mobile 4K ultrahigh definition studio (seen in the background), equipped with the same technology you would find in major media outlets. The university is one of the few in the country to have a 5G network, which facilitates the broadcast of ultrahigh definition video.

Our last day of shooting brought us to the Qianmen area just south of Tian’anmen Square, and its lively pedestrian shopping streets.

The videos for these Beijing episodes will go live around the beginning of October — and once they’re available, I’ll share them with all of you online.

Shooting Videos in Beijing for China Daily Website

This week, I’m on assignment for China Daily website to shoot some videos around Beijing, also part of the series to commemorate the 70th anniversary of China’s founding coming up in October, like the video shoots I did in Suzhou and Shandong province.

Because of the busy schedule once again, I’ll be off from blogging this week. Stay tuned next week, when I’ll post some photos from the experience.

And for all of you who celebrate around the world, here’s wishing you a happy Mid-Autumn Festival this weekend!

Celebrating 10 Years of Blogging With 10 Photos

Ten years of blogging. I can’t believe that, as of this Saturday, I will have been at this for a decade, ever since May 18, 2009.

To mark this special 10-year “blog-iversary” I’m running 10 photos of me and my husband from the past decade, along with a popular post from the end of each of these past 10 years.

Thank you so much to all the readers out there, no matter how long you’ve followed Speaking of China. You’ve continually inspired me and also helped make this a better blog. I’m also deeply grateful to have made so many wonderful friends in the process too. Know that I’m raising my glass to everyone in appreciation!



When Jun and I went to China for the summer of 2009, we indulged in a month-long trip across the country to take in all of the sights we never visited years before — from Xi’an and Chengdu to Changsha and Kaifeng.

Post: On the Rarity of Foreign Women and Chinese Boyfriends/Chinese Husbands



Jun and I welcomed the year of the tiger in 2010 as the emcees of a Chinese New Year celebration. What a night!

Post: China Blogs by Western Women who Love Chinese Men



Here we are in 2011 celebrating Jun’s birthday over Thai curries.

Post: Dating Advice for Chinese Men from J.T. Tran, the Asian Playboy



To commemorate our wedding anniversary in 2012, we enjoyed a relaxing evening of classical music performed by the Cleveland Orchestra. But before heading out, we posed before the flower garden to remember the evening.

Post: 2012 Blogs By Western Women Who Love Chinese Men



For Chinese New Year in 2013, Jun and I whipped up a traditional Chinese feast for the family — from roast goose and ribs to ginger-garlic green beans and stir-fried matchstick potatoes. We’re smiling, but there’s exhaustion behind those eyes because we spent the entire morning in the kitchen! Still, it was worth the effort.

Post: Why Aren’t We Talking More About The Rarity of AMWF?



There’s nothing like finally spending Chinese New Year at the family home in China for the first time in years. In 2014, Jun and I reunited with his family and the country we love.

Post: 6 Stunning Celebrity Couples of Asian Men & Non-Asian Women


On my birthday in 2015, Jun and I visited the West Lake, snapping this photo by our beloved corner of the lake near Qu Yuan Feng He (曲院风荷).

Post: 4 Habits I’ve Learned from my Chinese Husband


Jun and I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Washington DC with family in the summer of 2016, where we had the chance to look upon all the iconic landmarks.

Post: 5 Unhappy Things I’ve Struggled with as an Expat Married to a Foreigner


Jun and I took this shot just after moving from Hangzhou to Beijing.

Post: 2017 Blogs by Western Women Who Love Chinese Men


As spring arrived in the park near our home in Beijing, Jun and I took the time to take a walk and appreciate the flowers.

Post: Olympic Speedskater Shaolin Sandor Liu Has a Cool China Connection Beyond His Chinese Father

Thank you so much for reading!

China Daily Videos: Watch Me Discuss Family Small Talk, Delivery for Chinese New Year

Recently, I served as a guest for two Chinese New Year-themed videos for China Daily, where we discussed online delivery of Chinese New Year goods and also how to navigate family small talk during the holidays. For anyone who has ever wondered, “What does Jocelyn sound like?” here’s your chance to hear and see me in action!

My favorite is Holidays with family: Small talk strategies:

In this video, the staff at China Daily website shares their experiences during family gatherings and summarizes a list of “safe” topics to help you navigate holiday conversations.

The other video is Spring Festival: Tracking the changes in online shopping:

For Chinese New Year, many people shop for a wide range of holiday goods, known as nianhuo in Chinese, and the staff at China Daily website are no exception. In this video, they talk about their nianhuo shopping experiences, and their concerns of the possible dark side of the shopping spree, while also delivering their best holiday wishes to you.

Have a look and let me know what you think! And if you like them, share them.

Wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year!

Study of Foreign Women/Chinese Men Seeks Online Survey Participants

Are you a foreign woman or Chinese man in a foreign-Chinese couple in mainland China? Aliza Warwick, a researcher at Peking University’s Yenching Academy, just came out with an online survey that you could take (only takes 10-15 minutes) to help support her exploration of intercultural marriages. Here’s some background on her research:

Data from the Chinese government show that the number of marriage between foreigners and Chinese citizens in mainland China has been rising rapidly in the past several decades since China’s opening up. However, no demographic data are released about the individuals in theses marriages, such as where the foreign spouse is from originally, the ages of the individuals in the marriages, or their educational and occupational backgrounds. Anecdotes from the media hardly provide a clearer picture and instead often serve to fuel stereotypes. This questionnaire seeks to address this information gap and shed some light on this growing population of intercultural couples. The survey is part of a larger research project focused on intercultural marriage in mainland China by a Masters student at Peking University’s Yenching Academy.

You can learn more by clicking on this link for the survey, which provides further background information on the research. And if you’d like to participate, you can do so anonymously online.

Additionally, if you have further questions about the research, you can contact Aliza via email at [email protected] or via WeChat at aliza23.

Photo credits:
Models: Justin Zhang, fitness coach and Youtuber (IG: NoobStrength) and
Angelina Bower, beautiful fashion model (IG: musicloveandlies)
Photographer: Ana Hudson (WhiteChocolatePlayer)

Caution! Chinese New Year Is Coming: Why You Should Be Careful Ahead of the Holidays

Chinese New Year is the most wonderful time of the year for Chinese people, a holiday marked by joyful family reunions, feasts and traditional festivities.

But there’s a flip side to the coming holiday season: It’s also the time of the year when people should exercise additional caution.

A coworker of mine provides a typical example why. Recently, she needed to run to the bank and decided to rent a shared bicycle, which required using her smartphone to scan a QR code on it, which of course let any would-be thieves see her high-end phone. Because she felt rushed in a busy area, she didn’t pay much attention in the process. But after arriving at the bank, she suddenly realized that someone had stolen her smartphone — which very likely happened as she was distracted and getting ready to pedal away.

(She even told me, later on, that she should have been more careful, given that Chinese New Year is approaching.)

This kind of thing is more likely to happen in the weeks leading up the holidays, a time when thefts and other related crimes spike (so much so that a Tencent-backed news outlet devoted an entire article in Chinese to exploring why thieves are so rampant during Chinese New Year).

But it’s not just pickpockets you have to worry about.

Over the years, I’ve often heard my Chinese mother-in-law warn me to be more vigilant as Chinese New Year approaches, because it’s a time when more burglaries occur. In her village, people have had everything from valuables to crisp stacks of renminbi bills disappear after break-ins. (That’s why my in-laws always aim to have someone stay at home at all times during the holiday season.)

Why does so more crime take place in the holiday lead-up?

First of all, China experiences a huge migration of people during this time, with a rise in people carrying money and valuable gifts, providing more opportunities for thieves in places like crowded train stations and airports, and packed public transport around town (such as subways and buses).

Because so many people leave their homes and apartments for travel, this also creates more chances for burglars as well.

Add to this the fact that the holidays also come with a lot of pressure. People are expected to bring something home (like money or gifts) and appear successful before friends, family and peers. That includes crooks too, and anyone else less ethically inclined in society. So they have extra motivation to get out there and take advantage of the potential bounty that the Chinese New Year period brings.

Still, it’s good to know that China (a country that’s largely still very safe) isn’t the only place where the holidays demand more awareness when it comes to public safety.

After all, look at this advice from the Los Angeles Police Department ahead of the Christmas holidays, which includes the following words:

The holiday season is always a special time of year. It is also a time when busy people become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crime. We can never be too careful, too prepared or too aware.

Or this information from the University of Alabama – Birmingham before the Christmas holidays:

During the holidays, the potential for thefts and robberies increase. More people are out and about, and they are carrying more money than during other times of the year.

Wherever you happen to be celebrating the holidays, here’s hoping your Chinese New Year is a safe one.

What do you think?

Photo credit: Paul via Flickr.

Photo Essay: Enjoying Fall Foliage at Beijing’s Fragrant Hills

Beijing’s Fragrant Hills burst forth in brilliant reds, yellows and oranges with the coming of autumn, and visiting still remains one of those must-do experiences if you come to the city in October. Jun and I decided to go hiking there, timing our visit to catch the fall foliage at its peak.

First off, it’s an easy trip from Beijing, thanks to the newly opened Xijiao Line on the subway, and you can even buy your tickets to the park online ahead of time (which is recommended if you visit during weekends or holidays, when it can get rather crowded).

Second, while Fragrant Hills do draw a lot of visitors, it’s quite easy to escape the crowds if you hike a longer or less-traveled route.

While I’m still on break and catching up on things, I thought I would share some photos from our visit. We followed the “red leaf trail” in the park, which offers plenty of opportunities to view the best fall foliage at Fragrant Hills.


Wherever you are, here’s wishing you a fabulous (and colorful) fall!


Photo Essay: A Great Wall of Autumn Colors – Visiting Badaling National Forest Park

There’s nothing like hiking through mountains when autumn shows its brilliant colors — especially when you can hike beside and enjoy views of the Great Wall. That’s what Jun and I did this past week in a visit to Badaling National Forest Park.

It’s an easy journey from Beijing (just take bus 877 from the Deshengmen area, near the Jishuitan subway stop on Line 2). And once you’re up the mountain, a loop trail rewards you with incredible views of the serpentine Badaling Great Wall straddling the mountain ridges dotted with red and yellow leaves.

While I’m taking a break this week, I thought I’d share a sampling of photos from our hike.

Wherever you are, here’s hoping you’re enjoying the beauty of autumn!

Photo Essay: Taking Time to Smell The Roses – Our Beijing Summer

It’s hard to believe summer will officially end later this week! Despite the scorching temperatures we saw here in Beijing (like much of the world), Jun and I still enjoyed our share of light moments (including, yes, taking the time to smell the roses). While I’m catching up on some work, I’m bringing you a few of my favorite summer images from here in Beijing.

Wherever you are, here’s wishing you had a sensational summer!

We took this photo in the rose garden at China Daily, where we also took a moment to take in the roses’ fragrance as well. Ah!

Jun and I visited Yuanming Yuan (the Old Summer Palace), which reminded us of our old stomping grounds in Hangzhou.

Here’s a picture we took of Qianmen, the gate just south of Tian’anmen Square.

Also near the Qianmen neighborhood, but looking in the opposite direction down the old streets.

Jun and I stroll through through a park filled with beautiful willow trees beside a canal in the Ditan Park area.