This book is a true story about me, a very ordinary Chinese who was never physically tortured or prosecuted by ‘the evil communist regime’, but still had to ‘escape’ from China for a better life. This book is also a true story of what happened inside China after the Cultural Revolution, especially in the last 30 years when it has grown from one of the poorest developing countries to the world’s second largest economy. Furthermore, this book is about how a new-generation Chinese migrant finds his place in the Australian society and works towards his Australian dream.
Let me begin this book with a few special moments of my life. In September 2011, my wife and I landed at the Kingsford Smith Airport after our ‘exodus’ from China. All we had on that day were two suitcases of clothes and a six-month-old unborn baby in her belly. We had no place to live in Sydney, no relatives, no jobs and not much savings. No one came to welcome and pick us up at the airport. We rented a small car at the airport from Budget, and bought two mobile phone numbers with the cheapest plan from Vodafone. Then we drove to the Ibis Budget Hotel I had booked online.
After dinner at McDonald’s, my wife was quite tired. She has vomited many times during the eleven-hour red-eye flight. I knew she had no appetite at all, but was forcing herself to eat for the sake of the baby growing inside her. When I put our dirty clothes in the coin-operated washing machine in the laundry and returned to our small room, she was already asleep in the not-so-comfortable bed. She had to sleep on her side because her belly was too big. Looking at her back, I almost started crying. I felt so sorry that I had to put my six-month-pregnant wife through this unpleasant journey, and the worst part was that I had no idea where I was heading. But I had no time to cry. I wiped off the tears in my eyes and turned on my laptop to look for a place we could afford. I had no idea if anyone would rent out to a jobless pregnant couple at all.
One week later, we bought a twelve-year-old car and moved into a small apartment in Westmead. In a day, I had assembled all the furniture from IKEA with my own hands, including a nappy-change table and a baby cot. I was exhausted, but I felt overwhelmingly relieved that I finally had a place for the baby if it somehow decided to come early. I could also cook some nutritious and healthy home meal for my wife. Finally, we were no longer homeless. When everything was done, I pretty much dropped on the carpet and fell asleep instantly.
On the second day, my wife had her first check-up at the Westmead hospital since our arrival. The baby was fine. Although I still had not found a job, my wife was not worried. Maybe she had strong faith in me, or maybe she did not want to show her feelings and create extra pressure on me. I told her that if I could not find a job in accounting, I would do any work to make sure she and the baby had everything they needed. I even started to apply for cleaner jobs on the local newspaper.
I did not find a job in accounting. It was not long after the global financial crisis. Very few businesses were hiring. I found a commission-based sales job. There was not much job security, but I finally started making money again. My wife was so happy. Besides paying for rent and basic living expenses, we spent all the money on baby clothes, nappies and a pram.
On an early December night, my wife started to feel contractions. I was so excited. We rushed to the hospital and started our 48-hour battle. I could never truly feel my wife’s pain, but after one day of her screaming, I could see my wife was exhausted. I too, was exhausted. When the doctor told me that the baby was not coming out and they needed to perform a Caesarean delivery and there was a small chance that she could die, I almost collapsed. She was holding my hands extremely tightly because she was in great pain from contractions. I was also holding her hands very tightly because I was extremely worried that I might lose her that night.
At midnight, my son was finally born. In the operating theatre when I was holding him for the first time, I finally started crying. I just could not hold it anymore. He was so small, so precious, so ugly, and so beautiful. My wife has lost a litre of blood during the birth, but luckily she was okay. I felt extremely happy and blessed. Besides my son, also born that night was a new man – me. For the first time in my life, I understood what it felt like being a man and a father.
On the second morning, I sent a text message to my parents in Beijing, telling them that their first grandson had been born and everyone was okay. Although they were happy with the news, I knew deeply that they still could not forgive me for fleeing from China like I had. I did not care because I was a father too, and I knew I was doing the right thing for my wife and child. Even without the blessings of the grandparents, I would still do my best to ensure that my son had the best life possible.
On the third morning, I have received a phone call from a HR agent. She told me that I had a job offer. It was a full-time telemarketing job with a 12-month contract in an IT company. She was not sure whether I would accept it as it was just a 12-month contract and the pay was only fifty thousand a year. I said yes, definitely yes! I was so happy that I could secure 12 months of income for my new family. That was definitely the most exciting job offer I had ever received.
Three months later, my wife also found a contract job near home. We were lucky to have her mother came from China to help look after our boy. My wife went to work in the morning, and came home at lunchtime to breastfeed, and then went back to work again in the afternoon. With her income, we started saving because we hoped one day we could buy our own property.
Six months later, my parents came to Australia to see their grandson for the very first time. I could see that they loved their grandson, although they were still very disappointed in me for escaping from China and doing some embarrassing sales job.
Twelve months later, I had completed the telemarketing contract. Although the company wished to keep me in sales, I knew it was time to move back to accounting, something with a better future given my educational background. After trying and trying, I finally found an entry-level auditor job in PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – the world’s largest accounting firm. The pay was not great, but I was still excited. It was a dream job that I could not have gotten many years ago. I was about ten years older than my peers, who have just graduated from universities, but I know it was never too late to start something great.
Another twelve months passed, and my wife found a better job. We finally had enough savings as deposit for our first home. It was a very old unit in the northern suburbs of Sydney, older than both of us were, but we felt so happy when we moved into the first home we owned. A few months after we moved, my wife was pregnant again. When my second child was born, I also got promoted at work.
Last year, I moved to the Audit Office of New South Wales as an experienced financial auditor. My wife landed a job in a world-leading fast-moving consumer goods company as a financial analyst. We had finally gotten the job and life every new migrant dreamt of. When we returned to Beijing with two lovely children during Christmas, although my parents did not say it, I knew that they had finally accepted that I had made the right decision in leaving China five years ago.
So why did I have to escape from China in the first place? For you to really get the story, I need to share more of the background. In Chapter one of the book, I will tell you more stories of the new Chinese – myself – and of my father, whose life journey had a significant impact on mine. In Chapter two, I will describe the four generations of Chinese since the establishment of communist China, and more real stories since the end of the Cultural Revolution, when China transformed from a poor and extreme country to what it is today. In Chapter three, I will describe the different types of Chinese living inside Australia. In Chapter four, I am going to try to depict the full picture of politics in China without getting my book banned in my home country. Then in Chapter five, I will talk about the traditional Chinese culture and how it still shapes the mindset of the Chinese today.
In the second half of the book, I will touch on some more practical issues with the Chinese. In Chapter six, I will talk about the Chinese working in Australia and illustrate how different it would have been for them if they had been working in China. The reason that I had to escape from China will be revealed in this Chapter. In Chapter seven, I will share the ‘secret’ of how the Chinese became so rich in just a few decades. Then in Chapter eight, I will discuss how the Chinese spend their money and what people should do if they wish to sell to the Chinese. And then in the final Chapter, I will present my views on whether China the rising super power could be a threat to world safety. I will conclude this book with my own prediction (or wish) for China’s future.
I hope you enjoy reading my story and the story of the new China.