There I was, walking home along the same, boring street, pass the security gate when suddenly shouts reached my ears. I managed to catch a glimpse of a nearby security guard, walking away casually (as you do when faced with a dangerous situation!), before I turned my eyes towards the source of the noise. It was a group of about 4 middle-aged men.I’m not sure exactly how many as I did not stop to stare, unlike around 15 people who gathered around. (For some reason, violent incidents attract a lot of ‘bad‘ attention here. I say bad as standing around, doing nothing (or worse, filming!) whilst someone is getting abused or beaten up is just not right. I’m not really sure what kind of behaviour is right in that kind of situation – to get involved or to just walk pass and try to ignore it due to worries about one’s own safety…I tend to go for the latter, however I have never been a witness to a serious incident, e.g. a car crash. I am aware that a lot of people around the world are drawn/attracted to violence, it’s most definitely not just the Chinese, yet I can’t help but think that this attraction is more stronger, more primitive over here. Is it just because there are so many more people here? Perhaps. There are certainly LOTS of things to bring one to a boiling point!
Getting back to my story – to my horror not only was one man getting beaten to the ground but he was also being threatened with a CLEAVER! One of the men was seriously waving a huge cleaver! I couldn’t believe my eyes! They were maybe 15 metres away from me!What did this other guy do to be at the risk of a major injury? And what infuriated the cleaver guy so much that he felt the need to resort to using weapons?!
I have witnessed quite a few street fights, road rage incidents (once I was on the bus to work and the bus driver decided to get off and start a fight with another driver!Not the best start of the day..)and heated arguments, sometimes in the oddest of places and at the most unexpected times, but have never before been so near to a potentially deadly situation.
Naturally, it is not only the Chinese, who get into fights on the street, I’ve seen or heard a fair few while living in the UK (mind you, I did live in an area infamous for a particular type of people and in a city known for all the wrong reasons) but I have never imagined the Chinese to be this violent.
When we think of Asians in general, the image we see in our minds is of an infantile female and a mild-mannered, nerdy man (awful generalization but that’s the way it is). At least that’s what I and a lot of my friends imagined. My OH and his mates only confirmed that image. However, after living in China for nearly two years, I can now confidently state that my preconceptions were incorrect and that the Chinese are a fairly violent bunch. I get as frustrated as anyone else (you’d know, you read my rants!), so does my husband, but we don’t go into wild mode in a restaurant or at the train station just because there are no tickets left (seen it).
I suppose I live in a more Chinese, crowded area than most expats so I have an ‘opportunity‘ to see more of these violent type of situations (which do not happen often, but are frequent enough to make me think about them more in depth) than in an area inhabited mainly by expats. Is it only the numbers though? Is it people’s origin as the part of the city I live in, is predominantly inhabited by migrant workers from the countryside. I regularly see reports on social media and local tv about sudden attacks, often between females, and often caused by something unbelievably silly. Why do people get upset so quickly? One minute they are standing in a queue, the next they are shouting abuse at each other and getting physical (no, not in that way)! Normally, I probably wouldn’t have thought about this issue that much as street-violence occurs everywhere and can be much more serious than what I described, but you do begin to consider your safety once you witness a situation, like the one I have today, right on your doorstep.
Is my area safe? I used to think so and generally speaking, I believe it is. Is China safe? The local authorities would have you think that it is the safest country on Earth, with virtually no violence or serious crime (many locals also firmly believe that-a reason for many an argument between myself and my OH) but you soon realize that that’s not exactly true. In fact, far from it. That’s not to say China is more dangerous than other countries. It’s not. And in a land of billions, it would be impossible not to get any nutcases; I’m only saying that it is not as safe as it’d like to be considered.
After today, I will certainly try to stay even more alert than usually. You just don’t know what may trigger someone’s fury and being a tall, blond foreigner doesn’t exactly detract unwanted attention…
I haven’t attached any street-fight photos as don’t tend to stop to take them and besides, there are plenty of those around the web.