Is this unusual?

I got stopped by a police officer on Friday night. I was making an illegal left. He ran out into the middle of the road, narrowly missing getting clipped by the truck I was trying to hide behind as I broke the law. He pulls me over and asks for my “pass-uh-poor”. When I gave it to him, he started speaking to me in Chinese. I indicated that I was sorry, but I don’t understand. He gave me back my passport, said “Ni ting bu dong Chong wen”, and walked away. I still made it around the corner quicker than if I had done a standard “chinese” left. :laughing:

So my question to you is: Does this happen often? Is it best, even if you are fluent in Chinese, to just shrug? Sure seems that way.

…and I thought this was going to be a thread about Tom Jones… :unamused:

the short answer is…it depends, mostly on your attitude… if you come off as an obnoxious foreigner thumbing your over sized nose at the law and the noble officers that enforce it (note: for insight into just how sarcastic i’m being here check the “police in taiwan” thread in this forum) then chances are they’ll decide it’s worth the hassle to fine you regardless, just because you’re being a prick… this is true regardless of how good your chinese is…

  1. if you really can’t speak chinese or are going to pretend you can’t, remember the attitude thing above… you may get away with it because they couldn’t be bothered, but you may push inspector Chen a bridge too far if he thinks you’re taking the piss…

  2. it is entirely possible to speak just enough chinese to get yourself in trouble… If you have enough chinese ability to make the police think that it wouldn’t be a huge, face losing hassle to ticket you, they probably will… this is by far the worst move you can make… if you don’t have the chinese ability to go for method #3 below, stick with #1 and be nice…

  3. thirdly and ideally do it the Taiwanese way… to pull this off you need to be at least fluent in mandarin, preferably with some Taiwanese ability and have a pack of cigarettes… with your helmet off, car/bike parked, non threatening posture adopted, pass out some smokes to the boys whilst you fish around your wallet for your license and ARC, produce several more forms of ID than they are asking for, preferably from another country and claim that they are all international driving licenses… comment on how much you had to learn to drive/ride in Taiwan since you have to be a much better driver here in Taiwan than in your home country… ask if you were pulled over for having a broken light / flat tire / missing engine and say you just paid $5000 to fix the damn thing and… “oh, you can’t turn left on a left turn light?.. no?.. really?..” instigate a discussion on whether or not this “can’t turn left on a left turn light” nonsense is a recent change by that new mayor / legislator / president guy, because it definitely wasn’t the case in the good old days… ask which party that new mayor/lawyer/president guy is from… talk about how much things have changed since he took power (keep neutral about it so they can interpret it according to whether they hate/like the guy) mention how fascinating Taiwan politics is, but regretfully beyond the understanding of a mere foreigner like yourself… ask repeated questions about the law you have just broken, with sincere amazement that you somehow despite your best efforts were unaware of this law… claim your ignorance of the law must be due to some nuance of the chinese language that as a dumb foreigner you’re incapable of comprehending despite you genuine efforts to learn the language… all this small talk has a dual purpose, you’re buttering them up but you’re also waiting for the confrontational nature of the situation to diffuse, whilst waiting for all other witnesses and luckless fellow road users to be ticketed and move on… not having witnesses is essential to your being let off… assuming you’ve completed all the steps above successfully, in near flawless Chinese interspersed with Taiwanese one liners and not put your foot in your mouth, your chances of being let off scot free are fairly good…

but to get back to the topic of your original question… I’m with Tom on that one… “it’s not unusual…” :wink:

I’m with Plasmatron. Number three is the correct choice, although I’ve never had to take it that far. Apologizing (in Chinese, of course), being quick to admit that I was in the wrong, smiles, and a fistful of IDs usually takes care of things. It drives my wife nuts that I always get off the hook, but hey - I don’t ask for special treatment. If they choose to treat me so generously, that’s great.

Ya, I think it’s pretty typical to just pretend that you can’t speak Chinese. This is harder to do if you have a Taiwanese girl on the back of the bike though because they just talk to her. This happened to me once but I still got out of a ticket by being polite and the police told the girl that she should make more of an effort to explain the traffic rules to me

PLasmatron is right about his number #3. Just give them the face that they need(which isn’t much) and keep things non-threatening…and you’ll most likely drive away or in some cases walk away with nothing but a smile and handshake!..However, don’t try this at home!(in your home country)! you’ll get charged with bribery for having offered an afficer a smoke! :wink:

Plasmatrons’ #3 is great, well written. I can speak Chinese and always do when pulled over. I am usually polite, but even when I am slightly confrontational…they still let me go. I once asked the cop who the other guy was…he said he was a police in training…I asked “Does he need to be a gangster first? Or can he just jump right into being a cop?” The trainie laughed quietly while shooting nervous looks at the cop. But I still…no, wait a minute…uh, he gave me a ticket that time…my bad.

A good Taiwanese line to use when pulled over by the police is (written in phonetic English) “Lang mmm she wah Tie aye” word for word it means “person not me killed” meaning " It wasn’t me who killed the person." This usually gets them laughing before we even start to discuss particulars. :slight_smile:

Lving out in the boonies (Chiayi), I have only been pulled over four times in 15 months. I’ve never had a license. Never had a problem. Always smile, pull out all my I.D., and just shrug my shoulders. They always let me go with a warning. (touch wood).

This even works with cops who speak English. :sunglasses: