Who has lived in Taiwan AND Mainland China?

Hello all,

I have been living in northern China for two years, and I think I’ll be coming to Taiwan in January. If anyone out there has lived in both places, could you tell me what the significant differences (or similarities)between the two places?

For example, how is shopping in Taiwan compared to China? Living habits? How about the locals’ attitudes towards foreigners?


Hi Curtass,

Now I understand how Rooftop knew that you were coming from Northern China… For your information, my case is very similar but I do speak mandarin and I am an Taiwanese that was born in Taipei and raised in France…
So 7 years ago, I was working in Shenyang (4th biggest industrial town in China) for 1 year and 1/2 and immediately after moved to Taipei with my company and stayed there for 2 years. I know that in 7 years a lot of things have changed in China, but in Taiwan also, so we can eventually make a comparison. The biggest difference is, in Taipei, no one will spit in the street. Shopping can be quite similar if you were in Beijing… but very different if you were in Dalian or Shenyang. If you have been to HK, I would say, Taipei is quite similar to HK except the human mass oppression you get in HK (I cannot survive long in HK… there is simply too much people and too much stress) and more welcoming local people (I know it is biased but a lot of foreigners do say so…) and you also have less foreigners than HK or Singapour… but eventually more than Northern China. Also mentality is very different. When I was in Shenyang, even being a Chinese, I have difficulties to understand their behavior, their common sense (they simply do not have), their reasoning / idea… they won’t tell you… who knows if you are spy of the secret intelligence…

I think this is a good opportunity for you to understand that although we are all Chinese, Chinese from China are very different from Singapore Chinese, from HK Chinese and from Taiwan Chinese… this is why there is no possibility of “union” at this time of the century. Hope I did not bother you too much… Good luck.

[quote=“Curtass”]Hello all,

I have been living in northern China for two years, and I think I’ll be coming to Taiwan in January. If anyone out there has lived in both places, could you tell me what the significant differences (or similarities)between the two places?

For example, how is shopping in Taiwan compared to China? Living habits? How about the locals’ attitudes towards foreigners?


Okay, being the Shopaholic that Iam , I can tell you that the diffience is like WalMart to Sax fith Ave…Yes, honey, you will get here and feel like you are home. :bravo: I spent two months in China (long enough for me, I aint hardheaded enough) and came back here and damm near spent a months rent on shopping. While hong kong fairs a little better especially in the knock off dept. Taipei works out just fine, if you work it met your needs. Come on down… :bravo:

Lived in Mainland one year, in Taiwan all together about 2,5 years on and off.

Definately prefer Taiwan over Mainland. Taiwanese are way more friendly towards foreigners than Mainlanders. You feel more like home and not just like a weird animal in a zoo, where everybody stares at you.

That was my feeling 7 years ago and I just recently found out, that it hasn’t changed that much…come over and you’ll see Chinese culture and Chinese people with totally different eyes

What a load of crap, are you sure you lived in Taipei?

You and me both; but I’d be talking about Taipei. I would guess it’s a little better here though given the intervention of the Japs and Yanks.

Hmmm. Living in China. Taiwan can seem pretty backwards sometimes, but then in any aspect I can think of, China will be ten times worse. People are much friendlier, too friendly sometimes, but at least genuine. You don’t have people continually trying to suck up to you for some sort of financial benefit. You can eat anything without having to worry you’re being poisoned intentionally. If you get into legal difficulties with locals you will get a fair hearing and might even win. It’s possible to appeal against unfair regulations and win. You can go to a bar without being pestered by hookers. You don’t have to suffer almost every financial transaction ending in an argument. Everything is available via the ‘front door’, no bribery required. You don’t need a staff to perform every single basic task and function for you. Most people have better/newer stuff than you and can’t be bothered to steal yours (cars/motorcycles being the exception). You don’t have to spend 2 hours (min.) in the back of a car between each and every business meeting. You can drive here without being singled out by the cops, or ‘professional victims’. You can take anyone you like into your home, a hotel room etc. without intervention or interruption. You are unlikely to be subject to summary interrogation, arrest or search. You’re not pestered by DVD vendors every 100m on the street. There are other things to entertain you outside of noisy restaurants, brothels and KTVs. You can get anything on cable or satellite TV, any magazines or books you want. You can go anywhere and everywhere on the internet. ‘They’ don’t bother tapping your phone at random or planting spies around to keep an eye on you or find out what you think about ‘them’ (well, not anymore).

I’ve run out of time to type about this. If you can tolerate living in China, you might actually enjoy living in Taiwan.

lived in china. lived in taiwan. the people in china, in my opinion were kinder to this laowai. taiwan was easier materially speaking but china was a whole lot more enjoyable. if china had paid paid taiwan rates i would have returned to the mainland.

To go along with what skeptic yank said, people’s attitudes towards foreigners in the mainland were of two extremes: they either treated me as a circus freak or as an extremely honored guest. Here, you’ll get the occassional staring or ‘meiguoren’ yelled at you but otherwise you’ll be ignored, which depending on your mood can be a relief or disappointing.

As for shopping, Taiwan doesn’t have the whole bargaining culture, which is a big positive for me. I like being able to see the price tags if I’m just looking and I like after buying something not having the feeling of ‘Gee whiz, I knocked off three-quarters of the original price, but could I have gotten it for even less?’ But no 75 cent DVDs out here either, though. :frowning:

[quote=“alidarbac”]no 75 cent DVDs out here either, though. :frowning:[/quote]Oh they’re here, just not being shoved in your face on every street corner…

i spend more time in the mainland than I’d like to for business, and I’ve been based in Taiwan for a little over 5 years…

hsiadogah did a great job describing the irritants of living and working in the mainland… it think it’s fair to say these are somewhat less of a factor in parts of the civilized areas like ShangHai and Beijing than for example in a small factory town in the filth ridden toxic industrial slum created by the Taiwanese in Dong Guan…

an observation purely in terms of the people… whilst the mainlanders are constantly foaming at the mouth with their patriotic, knee jerk, “we are the greatest county on earth, you’re with us or against us” bollocks… which is in itself, quite irritating… the Taiwanese are in my experience the most racist and prejudiced people I have ever come across…

:loco: :loco: :loco: Do you speak any Chinese? :loco:

I always thought the Mainlanders were really nice people, but that was 8 years ago, when I didn’t speak a word of Chinese. They made me change my mind :astonished: :astonished:

[quote=“hsiadogah”][quote=“alidarbac”]no 75 cent DVDs out here either, though. :frowning:[/quote]Oh they’re here, just not being shoved in your face on every street corner…[/quote] Where do tell cause I miss buying my bootlegs…

Night markets. They sell all kinds of bootleg shit there.

meshell, yes. i am in fluent conversationally in mandarin . the peasants i met met were some of the kindest people in the world.

take your obnoxious emoticon and shove it.

Wow…no offense. Peasants I met where naive and uneducated enough not to be as racist as the rest of the crowd. But do you actually want to hide in the countryside among peasants for your whole stay in China?
Go to a bigger city of a rural province, for example Wuhu, and you know what I mean. Hasn’t changed at all, sorry. I think I deserve more than that.

Thanks for the input.

People seem to disagree on their opinions about China. Although there are many things I dislike about China (See hsiadogah), I love living in China on a whole. However, I prefer living on less touristy cities, such as Dalian or Qingdao. Cities like Xi’an and Shanghai are places I would only like to visit, because all of the things that hsiadogah pointed out are multiplied by 10.

While we are on the topic of differences, what is the opinion on the whole situation between Mainland and China? Do the local people care if they are part of China or not? Many of the locals here are pretty intense about it.

One foreign teacher here was writing countries on the blackboard, and he listed Taiwan as a country. This news somehow got back to a student’s mother, and she threw a fit and called the police and the media. The teacher ended up being deported within a week of the incident.

Also, when I tell Chinese people that I am going to Taiwan, some of them say, “Don’t go to Taiwan! There’s gonna be a war! It’s a danger zone!”

So yeah, what do the Taiwanese think?


yeah, people don’t like it when outsiders rock the boat. in my first teaching job in china i worked at an elite school in haikou. i drew a map of china on the board and didn’t include taiwan. the kids went gaga as if i tongued mother teresa. they didn’t report me to the cops. instead we had a nice discussion (in english mostly) about taiwan. the teenagers in china didn’t know that taiwan had its own money. they all just KNEW taiwan used RMB.

they would like to ask me questions like “which side would you fight for if china fights U.S.?” and all i could really do was tell them the truth: america ain’t gonna fight china because their rich guys and the american rich guys are working together. since my students were the children of the party/rich guys this tidbit lessened their hawkishness and improved their rational for learning english.

If any quote sums up the difference between living in Taiwan and the Mainland, this is it…

I can also relate from first hand experience that this level of nationalistic paranoia extends to the highest level.

Back in 2001, I took a business trip to Thailand. On my 4th night there, I was invited by our Thai business partner to a Wang family association dinner in Bangkok. All of the upper crust Chinese community were there, including the entire staff from the Mainland Embassy, and members of the Thai royal family. Being the only foreigner present, I was somewhat of a novelty, and was being introduced around when I was presented to the Chinese Ambassador. We exchanged brief pleasentries and he inquired as to where I’d learned my Chinese.

Me: “Oh, I’ve lived in Taiwan for 15 years.”
Ambassador: “Ah, so how do you like living in China?”
Me in utter diplomatic ignorance: “Sorry, I’ve never been to China.”

Entire diplomatic table falls silent. No noise heard except the whir of the reporter’s motordrives amongst the whispers from the other tables…“What did that foreigner say?” I wish my writing skills were good enough to describe the look on the ambassadors face, but if you’ve ever seen that supremely glacial look amongst the locals when trying to contain themselves you’ll understand what I mean.

My rather innocuous comment made several of the Bangkok papers the following day. Our Thai business partners also informed me that I was not welcome in The Peoples Republic. I assume I’ve been blacklisted.

My fifteen minutes of fame in cross-strait relations… :homer: :thumbsup:

:notworthy: absolutely fabulous :notworthy:

you need to think about a career change into politics. :bravo:

i would’ve paid good money to see that.

Opportunities lost due to a simple faux pas…such is life. :slight_smile: