I lived in Kunming for a few years and left in August of 2020. Just curious what percentage of foreigners are still left from pre-pandemic times (of course there aren't official statistics but just a rough estimate would do). For those of you that are still there, what made you stay?
Yes, illegal immigration is a major issue. However vast majority of construction workers and those working in the agricultural industry are illegals, primarily from Mexico. They still play an important role in the economy, and take up a lot of jobs most Americans aren't willing to work. Wish there we had a better labor worker visa program so we could actually tax these people though. I worked in construction a while back in Miami and I was the only non-Spanish speaker in my crew. They work their asses off. We always struggled to find legal laborers so we had to resort to illegals since most Americans bitch about having to work hard under the sun and quit after day one. But still, having a porous border causes lots of issues and allows for rampant human and drug trafficking to happen. Pretty sad.
Well those statistics are incredibly misleading. The poverty line in China is incredibly low and the CCP recently lowered it yet again in order "lift millions out of poverty." If you're making over $2.30 a day then you're not impoverished in China. Also, the CCP were the ones to push the Chinese people into poverty in the first place, so even though the country has made a lot of progress, they were the ones to also deal the damage. 60+ million died during the cultural revolution (mainly due to starvation) and it was only until the PRC embraced capitalism and opened up under Deng Xiaoping where they were finally given the chance to prosper economically.
The CCP has an immense amount of soft power, and they are very good at misleading people in believing their "achievements." An example could be with lowering carbon emissions and investment into green energy. China does invest more money into renewable energy than any other country in the world which is great, but they also emit more carbon than all developed countries combined and they are not slowing down. They are still constructing many coal plants that have an awful impact on air quality, and not to mention they are out-fishing the world's oceans and are the number one demand for poaching.
On to the US, politics here are incredibly decisive and toxic. It is no longer about who is right or wrong, but more-so whose side you're on. This country has lots of potential, but the political state of this country is currently as polarized and divided as ever before. Still however, there is a lot of economic opportunity and Americans do enjoy a lot of freedoms that Chinese do not. Just wish we could come together to fix our broken healthcare system, I personally think it's one of the biggest issues we face.
In regard to your response to my "the same China" comment, I am in 100% complete agreement. China is a rapidly changing country, and especially due to the firm grip that the CCP has on the minds of the people, China can completely change over night. In my mind when I wrote that, I was really just thinking of the good old days when Chinese were more curious than suspicious about me. The days when I could have a long chat with somebody at a BBQ and share a couple beers with without having me or my country constantly being verbally attacked. I swear every time somebody asked me where I was from during the pandemic when I was there, they instantly had a negative reaction. Either they'd say something like 美国人吗？怎么可能！你的皮肤这么那么黑啊！(well comments about my skin color and nationality were always common) Or just make some negative comment about the US related to the pandemic, riots, etc. Oh yeah... or just run away lol
I remember in the very beginning of the pandemic I was joking around with a friend saying how I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow China just blames the pandemic on us laowai and everyone just eats it up, which sadly that is pretty what happened. Also by specifically designating the US as the primary enemy and blaming us for the pandemic, it was just something that I got sick of hearing knowing it's obviously not the truth and also felt like it was frequently being used to demean me in a way.
Anyways, I actually don't really have harsh feelings towards the country. I have many amazing memories that I will cherish and would love to go back one day once they open up a bit more and the hangover from the pandemic has subsided. Saw some of the most beautiful scenery in my entire life, ate tons of amazing food, met great people, but nearing the end I knew my time there was over and my long term future wasn't going to be in one of the least free countries on the planet. I think a lot of foreigners still living there are clinging on to the past and trying their best to live in the foreign bubble and ignore the dystopian authoritarian path that the CCP is taking. Reality can be tough to accept out there, especially when you've invested so much time, energy, and emotion into building a life in a place you love.
I left Kunming mid 2020 back to the US due to the high levels of xenophobia, racism, and the massive uptick in nationalism. Being half black from the US it was a nightmare. Initially when I first moved to China is 2015 as a naive foreigner who didn't speak a lick of the language I loved it. After learning more Mandarin and finally being able to understand the language, it was quite disheartening to hear racist comments being made towards me on a daily basis. This only got worse since the pandemic, and the constant anti-American propaganda only intensified it. It is difficult for me to understand why anybody would continue living there in the current political climate, but admittedly there are many perks to living in China. If you mainly just associate with the foreign community, have a working vpn, and continue to be afforded a nice lifestyle working 20-30 hours a week and never have to worry about finances, then why go back home? Anyways, since March of 2020, practically no foreigners have been allowed to enter. Many left in the beginning of the pandemic, and a fair amount made the decision to leave for other reasons. Just thought I'd share why I left. Several of my friends decided to pack up and leave for the same reasons. China isn't the same anymore.