Just read some really thoughtful blog posts on being a foreigner in China, by bloggers who know.
The first is Foreigners in China: Weibo vs. Reality, and it essentially says that despite a few extra anti-foreign diatribes in the last month or so that have gotten a lot of media attention, day-to-day treatment of Laowai has really not changed:
Like with any country, China has plenty of unmitigated racists. But at least for me, they’ve never amounted to anything more than a very rare nuisance in my day-to-day life. So if you’re not in China, don’t get the impression from recent events that the country is a cesspool of xenophobia and hatred. And if you are in China, try not to let the recent coverage of online opinion skew the way you see things. The status quo for Chinese opinion about foreigners has been and will be for a long time more or less the same: Somewhat ignorant, but good-natured and curious.
David Wolf, whom I have known and respected for a long time, writes the following on his always superb, Silicon Hutong Blog:
David’s comment reminds me of a story CLB’s own Steve Dickinson told me. Steve has been living in China off and on for 20+ years and he tells me the only time he ever felt threatened by xenophobia was when he was verbally attacked at a bar by a patron angry over the Belgrade bombing. Steve went on the offensive and loudly told the guy to shut up (in Chinese, of course) and then went on to point out that if he (Steve) had anything to do with the U.S. government’s decision to bomb China’s Belgrade Embassy, he “sure as hell” would not be sitting in some two-bit bar in Beijing. Everyone in the bar laughed and agreed with Steve, including the Chinese patron who a minute earlier had been excoriating Steve.
Xenophobia in China: as bad as the media is making it out to be, or just another day at the ranch?
UPDATE: This Beijing CityWeekend article, Violence Continues to Plague Sanlitun (and especially the comments to that article) indicates a recent upsurge in violence against foreigners in Beijing. Though it is possible this is a case of foreigners getting caught up in an overall increase in crime, a number of the commenters talk about having seen a dramatic increase in anti-foreigner incidents in the last month or so.