Chinese culture and what my face says about me

Finally I found a Chinese small business owner who is willing to talk to me!

I feel like the chains have been lifted from my shoulders. Chains which have been weighing me down the whole of last week to the point where I was prepared to fail this assignment.

Thank Frank! 

Frank Zhang is the owner of a Chinese restaurant in China Mall as well as a clothing store, both in Crown Mines. He came to South Africa in 2000 and met his wife in 2004 in Gordons Bay, Western Cape.

“Not so many Chinese there, so we found each other quickly.” His wife is a bookkeeper in Befordveiw and they have an eight year old daughter who is the only Chinese learner in her school.

Frank’s a proud SA citizen

Frank told me that he sees himself as part of a small percentage of Chinese people in Johannesburg who loves living in South Africa. For many others it is very hard to live here, but unlike many, Frank has no plans to go back to China in the future.

“I’ve got a house, my wife is happy, my child is happy, I will stay here.” Frank said it is true that most Chinese people living in Johannesburg only came here to make money and have plans to return to China one day.

It was really uplifting the way Frank spoke about education in South Africa. He said that many Chinese people will come and study here because it is “top class education” and he definitely wants his daughter to study at a South African university.

Frank has offered his interpreting skills for when I go speak to other shop owners in China Mall- What a champ!

The eyes are the window to the soul- Open those windows

Earlier on today I went to the Taiwanese information division at Taipei Liaison Office in RSA.

I spoke to a Taiwanese diplomat, Alexander Chou. When I first sat down with him I could tell that he had years of hate and anguish inside of him against white South Africans, as a result of the way Taiwanese and Chinese people were treated during apartheid.

He stared me deeply in the eye and told me exactly what he thought of white people and how our current government has successfully managed to drive away foreign investment with our “shit unions”.

“Like stools, this government flushes away any potential it has by not allowing people, other than blacks, to work as professionals and contribute to globalization.”

The man was angry, but I heard him out, until he started opening up to me about Chinese culture.

All in all I found our meeting incredibly enriching. We spoke for almost three hours and he cooked me a traditional Taiwanese lunch: vegetarian Chinese soup, a green salad and brown bread- all eaten with spoons and chopsticks.

Alex (as he likes to be called) didn’t only talk to me about Chinese history and culture, he shared with me valuable life lessons about love, marriage, sex and how to find a job. He even managed to tell me things about myself I never knew, just by looking at my facial feature.

This is what he had to say about me (Click on the photo to zoom):

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With a slight American twang to his accent, he left me with this: “It is not about your capabilities that lead you to success, it is your ability to choose.”

He said life gives you many opportunities each year, you will never know if they are good or bad choices, but that it why you must think carefully about the path you choose, as that is what can determine you fate.

Follow my journey so far

Click on the links to view previous posts from my in-depth journalism project on the theme: China in Johannesburg.