So this morning, I got out of my bed, which was designed in the U.S., but made by the Chinese and sold to me from a Chinese-owned shop. Then I got up and used a bunch of bathroom products also designed in the U.S., but made here and sold by locals. I went to the French bakery chain to buy a New York-style bagel made on the premises and sold to me by a Chinese speaking cashier. Afterward, I got into a taxi that was designed in Germany and manufactured just outside Shanghai. It was driven by a guy from Henan, who spoke to me, with a thick northern accent. He got me to my favorite, formerly French-owned, now Chinese-owned, café to have an espresso. The beans, from Italy, are whipped up by the French barista. We then watched the Ultimate Fighting Championship 121, which was taped in the U.S., broadcast in Korean, and readily available on Youku. I got hungry and decided to order (in Chinese) some local food, consisting of an American-style Subway sandwich, put together and delivered by a locally-owned franchise. How much more local can you get? Was I betraying the country that I live in by enjoying a, clearly, Amerocentric sandwich? Would it make them feel any better if I ate it with chopsticks? Am I not being Chinese when I use the lift to get up to my apartment? Yet, sometimes I feel guilty for doing things that have a bit of foreign influence. Why do I feel this guilt at all?
It’s like when the dude walks into a bar and orders a Tsingtao beer instead of the Tiger because the Tsingtao seems more local. Number one, both are produced locally, and although Tiger beer hasn’t been around as long, that doesn’t make it any less local. Wasn’t it the Germans who taught the people of Qingdao how to make their beer in the first place? And who really cares about where this stuff is made anyway. If a Corona is made in Mexico, who really cares, as long as someone near us is profiting somehow. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but as I’m writing this I happen to be ordering a Corona from the local bartender for 25RMB. Profit indeed, for the bar owner, of course. How could the Mexican producers make more than 15RMB per bottle if they only sell it at the supermarket? The short answer is: They can’t, because you can pick up Corona at the supermarket for about 10RMB per bottle. Maybe I should feel guilty, instead, for not drinking at home more often. Now where is that again? One more beer for the road!
By Tim Hoerle