Monthly Archives: May 2016

Lisa Goes to America

Now You Are Lisa, my newest book of fiction, set in Beijing, is now available in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.


Lisa, the English name of my Chinese wife, and I recently took our first trip to the United States together. Knowing that this was her first trip outside of China, I was curious to see her reaction.

Some reactions I expected; others I didn’t.

For context, we started the trip visiting an American friend who lives in the northern suburbs of Detroit, in Oakland County, one of the wealthier counties in the US. We then spent three days in Chicago, one of America’s greatest cities, smack dab in the middle of the Loop, just off of Michigan Avenue.

I’ll give you the summary first. While Chicago is a world-class city and the weather was absolutely perfect while we were there, she wasn’t wowed. “This is Beijing, but older.” And she’s right, which might wow those of you who haven’t been to Beijing lately more than those of us, myself included, who love Chicago.

What she was not prepared for were the American suburbs. They literally have no counterpart in China; nothing even remotely close.

While I despise class distinctions of any kind I have to wade into that treacherous water simply to give you some context. You obviously weren’t with us and the American suburbs run the gamut.

The American suburbs. There is nothing quite like them in China. My wife, I should say, thoroughly enjoyed the open space and greenery.
The American suburbs. There is nothing quite like them in China. My wife, I should say, thoroughly enjoyed the open space and greenery.

My friend lives in a middle to upper middle class suburb – senior engineers, lawyers, dentists, the like. Not McMansions by any stretch but very nice homes with some lawn to mow and plenty of trees and plantings to provide a very comfortable patio for the weekend barbeque. And given the time of year everything was lush and green.

When we first entered the subdivision we saw a man mowing his lawn on a riding lawnmower. Pretty typical, for sure. But Lisa couldn’t comprehend it. “His lawn is very small. Why does he need a ‘car’? In China they would cut a lawn that size by hand.” And, of course, she’s right. Cutting grass by hand, or by using power trimmers, remains common in China. (All grass, however, is commercial. No one actually lives surrounded by grass.)

When we went out and about to buy mobile phones, etc., the expected response surfaced: “Where are the people?” The form of the observation, however, was not expected and shed new light on the American suburban way of life.

There were a lot of people out and about. Traffic, by American standards, was terrible. What you see, however, are cars, not the people inside. Where there are sidewalks, they are virtually empty. There is no direct visual sense of the presence of actual humans.

Think about it. In the suburbs, we leave the house, enter the attached garage, get in our car, back out, close the garage door with the electric door operator, and drive to wherever we’re going. And the same in reverse.

In China, by contrast, a large segment of the population stills walks or rides a bicycle to wherever they’re going. And even if they take mass transit, they have to get to the bus stop or subway station. The sidewalks, as a result, are typically teeming with human bodies.

On the surface, Chicago and Beijing aren't all that different. Glass towers and people everywhere. Chicago, however, retains a significant amount of famous historical architecture. That is largely gone from the mega-cities of China.
On the surface, Chicago and Beijing aren’t all that different. Glass towers and people everywhere. Chicago, however, retains a significant amount of famous historical architecture. That is largely gone from the mega-cities of China.

Chicago, of course, was a different story, particularly on a sunny Sunday in the Loop. People were everywhere. While there were still more than enough cars, the sense of humanity was much more obvious. (A good portion of it, incidentally, was Chinese. We had no difficulty finding people to speak Chinese with, a marked change from my last visit to Chicago a decade ago.)

In the end, I probably had more observations/surprises than my wife. The Chinese are very adaptable and don’t sweat the small stuff.

And that provides the perfect segue to my own Ah Ha!

At dinner with a friend and business colleague one night in Chicago, his wife asked me what I would miss most about living in China. I had a ready list of answers – commitment to family, architecture and art, close friends, etc. etc.

What came to mind, however, rose out of the blue.

I’ve written at length about the inductive worldview of the Chinese versus the deductive worldview of the West, including the US. Where this difference is most obvious is in the general level of angst and hostility (or lack thereof) between the people you encounter in China and those you encounter in the US.

In China, anarchy rules the highways. Everybody cuts everyone else off. It’s a given. But in my entire time there I have yet to witness a single case of road rage. While riding in China I’ve often thought that guns would be drawn if the driver were to pull that particular maneuver in any city in the US. Never once, however, have I seen anyone offer so much as an obscene gesture in response.

Of course there is a lot of honking of horns in China. As there is in Chicago. The difference is that in China it is not personal. It’s all pretty benign. ‘I am here.’ ‘I am coming through.’ ‘Watch out.’

In the US, by contrast, when a driver honks his or her horn he typically lays on it and the message is something closer to ‘You _sshole’ than ‘I am here.’

The unexpected expression of that difference, however, is that I simply sensed a lot more stress and angst in the air of the US than I do in China.

And after giving it a lot of thought I have a hypothesis. Remember, I am a Baby Boomer. And no generation worked harder to achieve the American dream.

But there is a difference between pressure and stress, whether self-induced or imposed. Stress is a function of a sense of a lack of control. And while we, as Baby Boomers, put ourselves under a lot of self-induced pressure, we generally felt in control of our futures. Work hard; work smart; and you can achieve your goals.

That, however, is no longer true. Our lives are increasingly out of our control. And our collective social values have only added fuel to the fire.

The simple fact, that the current US presidential election is bringing into stark clarity, is that most of us are no longer in control of either our lives or the ‘successes’ that society appears to value. (The Kardashians come to mind.)

As a result, everyone is stressed out. People are physically aging at a rate I don’t recall when I lived here. And the angst is everywhere – in race relations, our politics, the back-biting that dominates the American workplace; virtually everywhere we live and work.

The millennials, I sense, are rejecting this state of affairs. As my generation learned in the 60’s, however, it is one thing to reject a mindset and quite another to articulate a set of social values to fill the resulting vacuum. Nonetheless, I cheer them on. They sense something is wrong and they are right.

So that’s a wrap up from Lisa’s first week in the US. We return to China a week from now. But I am confident it will be a week filled with enlightenment – and more than a few sighs of both understanding and a bit of sadness.

Contact: You may contact the author at


Quick administrative notes:

  1. I have finally put my toe in the water of Facebook. I have thousands of pictures I’ve taken in China and want to share, so I’ve started a public group called Pictures of China – Moreau. My username on Facebook is I own all of the publishing rights to all of the pictures I will post there and you are free to use as you wish, except in cases where you are clearly attempting to degrade me, China, or the Chinese people. Fair enough? All for free and I will post a couple of times per week.
  2. I have temporarily lowered the Kindle price for the two novels I wrote under the pen name of Avam Hale. The Bomb Shelter is currently available for $.99. The Message? is currently available for $2.99. Really, that’s pretty low risk for you. If you hate them you’re out next to nothing. Oh, and I have 49 free Kindle copies of The Message? to give out. Send your e-mail to and I’ll send you an electronic claim check. If you’re worried about security create a temporary free e-mail and then close the account. I promise to erase the e-mail as soon as I’ve sent the free gift notification.
  3. My latest (and in my humble opinion, my best) novel is now available. Now You Are Lisa is a contemporary tale set on the streets of Beijing. The Kindle version will be available next week.


On Thursday of this week Chinese Chief of the General Staff Fang Fenghui and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford participated in a video conference with the intent of working out potentially confrontational issues in the South China Sea. This, of course, followed on the heels of a U.S. destroyer’s sail-by in waters off Fiery Cross Reef that China claims as territorial sea under international maritime law.

China deployed two fighter jets, one early warning aircraft and three ships to track the American ship and ask it to leave. But there were no barrel roles or buzzing that has been reported.

There is really nothing new to report on this topic. China referred to the incident as a “provocative action” and the U.S. said the sail-bys will continue. Still, according to the Associated Press, State Department Josh Earnest said, “And we certainly do not want to see the tensions increase…”

Which, of course, leaves one to scratch his head over why the U.S. Navy seems so intent on pricking the dragon. Not a single cargo ship has been stopped or prevented from conducting its commerce.

And, as I’ve noted many times, China is as unlikely to withdraw from the South China Sea as the U.S. is to withdraw its ample military presence from Guam or Hawaii or the Philippines or South Korea.

In other non-news, the U.S. presidential election, which appears to already be driving the Americans I’ve talked to out of their collective minds, is getting zero attention from the Chinese I’ve talked to. It’s all just another reality tv show to them that has little to do with the future of Chinese/American relations. Besides, they believe the Kardashians will still run the country whoever wins the election. Don’t they?

I’ve watched dozens and dozens of experts on CNBC Asia and other outlets giving their take on the prospects for the Chinese economy. It’s a waste of time, all the pontificating. No one really knows. The Chinese economy is simply unlike any other in the world.

From where I sit everything appears to be moving along pretty smoothly. Housing prices continue to rise in key markets. The restaurants are crowded. I’ve seen more new Tesla’s on the road in the last few months than I’ve seen anywhere else in the world.

Yes, China has too much steel capacity and everyone knows that. But its strategic focus is on tech and that is taking off much faster than I could have imagined, as witnessed this past week by Apple’s one billion dollar investment in a Chinese ride-sharing startup.

To me there is one over-riding difference between the Chinese economy and the U.S. economy. By any measure, American consumers are tapped out, and since wages aren’t rising for the average American, that isn’t going to change anytime soon. The Chinese, on the other hand, are sitting on a lot of cash. They have one of the highest savings rates in the world and even the poorest Chinese find a way to put cash aside for a rainy day.

That’s about it. Unlike some media outlets I refuse to manufacture news.

Check out the pictures on my public Facebook group page. China is as stimulating visually as it is mentally.


I have often written that all of Chinese culture is built on a foundation of personal connections and the obligations that flow from them. What it took me much longer to learn, however, is that the reverse is true as well. Connection flows from obligation. And that truth, I now believe, is more important than the first.

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist (1908-1970) best known for identifying the Hierarchy of Human Needs. It essentially argues that we must fulfill four fundamental needs before we can even think about realizing our true potential or finding fulfillment in life, which he called self-actualization. (It’s what we all yearn for – Why am I here?)

The first two steps in the hierarchy cover the obvious – food, water, shelter, and a sense of safety. The third step, however, isn’t so obvious and is, without a doubt, often overlooked. I personally believe it is the single most important ingredient to all of the loneliness, angst, and general malaise that sucks the joy from much of the Western population today. (Have you been watching the US presidential election, or the European immigration crisis, or the rise of whatever extremist group lately?)

I recently published a fictional book that dealt with the topic. It’s called Now You Are Lisa, currently available in paperback on Amazon and soon in a Kindle version.

The book, however, is not the focus of the post. The book is only the catalyst.

Americans, in general, consider themselves friendly and outgoing. And most are. They greet strangers on the street. They hold the door. They smile at cute children and pat friendly looking dogs on the head.

Professional Americans are great at networking. Many members of LinkedIn have hundreds of connections on file. The same with YouTube and Twitter.

We are not very good, however, at connection. And we’re even worse at developing the sense of obligation that should flow from real connection. And that’s because our sense of connection is superficial, not obligatory.

When I left my first employer after 18 years, I had risen to president and a member of the board of directors. And when I left I did so voluntarily, but with nothing but praise for the company, and the company was doing well. Of a board of 10-12 at the time, one called me to wish me good luck and thank me for my contribution.

When I left my last company after 20 years, 11 of which I spent on the board of directors and nine as a senior executive of the company, nobody called or even e-mailed. After I experienced a small, but potentially serious, health problem, only one bothered to write.

When I wrote two novels while still employed I gave many, many free copies to colleagues and professional ‘connections’ in the US, asking only that they take a minute to write a review on Amazon since reviews are critical to sales in that model. One did. And he was Dutch.

So, it reads like self-pity, I know. It isn’t. I have long stopped defining myself by my job. You should too.

But let me ask you this: When was the last time you took time out of your schedule to do something for someone else that would provide you absolutely no personal benefit in return? And don’t answer spontaneously. Thank about it.

There are many, many exceptions, of course. And those are the good people we should all emulate.

And here’s why I write this now. The Chinese, for the most part, are an exception. They understand the value of obligation and the sense of connection it provides. I’ve been getting it backward. Their society is not built on connection; it’s built on obligation and the connection flows from there.

I left my Chinese employer nine months ago. And I still hear from colleagues, many of who have since left the company, who just want to see how I’m doing and to wish me well. And, without fail, to thank me for what they perceive I did to help them grow in their careers. (Little do they know that they helped me far more than I helped them.)

Just this past week I heard from two more – nine months after I left. These aren’t people who reported directly to me or with whom I had any kind of social relationship outside of work. One left the company before I did.

We never talk business. They aren’t calling to complain or commiserate. They are calling at a strictly personal level. They would lose face if they talked about work. They talk about me – the person.

As Americans, we tend to think of obligation as a burden. ‘I don’t want to go to this dinner but I’m obligated. It’s a client…or the boss…or someone who can help my career.’ The very word implies something we must do rather than something we want to do.

The Chinese, however, don’t look at it that way. They see obligation as an opportunity; an opportunity to enhance their connection to the people and world around them and to thus advance one more rung on Maslow’s ladder.

In organizations there is lots of talk about servant leadership. (Although it is seldom practiced in reality.) I think that’s a misnomer. It should be called obligation leadership. If we, as leaders, feel a sense of true obligation to those we are asked to lead, they, in turn, will find the satisfaction of connection. And then Katie bar the doors. They will perform like even they didn’t think possible.

Obligation. It really is a win-win. Try it. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel. And how ‘lucky’ you get in every aspect of your life.

Here’s the official description of Now You Are Lisa, by Gary Moreau:

After a long career filled with triumphant successes and devastating failures, American businessman Adam Bertrand is well accustomed to the ups and downs of life. Still, several years after starting a new life in the thriving, modern city of Beijing, China, nothing could have prepared him for the disaster that awaits him.

Now, his wife and daughters are gone—his health, ravaged by a growing alcohol addiction. With no job and no sense of purpose, Adam flounders in a sea of loneliness and despair, desperate to fix the pieces of his broken existence. But through the unexpected power of human connection, a simple touch, he suddenly begins to rediscover exactly what he was missing all along.

Now You Are Lisa follows one man’s journey as he awakens to the presence of others around him, after a lifetime of being driven by achievement and success. Inspired by the example of a poor Chinese widow who crosses his path, Adam begins to discover the truth behind a life well lived—and the incredible strength that emerges when we manage to overcome the obstacles that life throws our way.

Here’s the link on Amazon: Now You Are Lisa


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Please, Thank You, Marriage

Notice to Readers: I am running a sweepstakes for free Kindle copies of my fictional book, The Message?, written under my pen name of Avam Hale. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The promotion ends the earlier of May 9, 2016 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules at Amazon Giveaway. (Sorry, US residents only.) Winners will be picked randomly by Amazon and your chances of winning are 1 in 10 until the free prizes run out. This is a contemporary tale that has all of the ingredients of a good read – a little love, a murder, some Washington politics, and a surprise ending. Click on the link below to enter:

Amazon Kindle Free Giveaway


As a an American Baby Boomer son of two Great Generation veterans of WWII (both served in the US Navy) I was trained to say please and thank you at every turn. As a Chinese woman who has never traveled outside of the Middle Kingdom, that personal habit annoys my wife more than any other.

The Chinese divide people into two groups – those they have a personal connection to and those they don’t. Within the first group, nothing tops the connection to your children. Parents, spouse, and siblings follow, pretty much in equal order. They are all important with a capital I.

With connection comes obligation. It is assumed that adult children will take care of their aging parents. And parents will often sacrifice their careers, their personal pleasure, and their own ambitions to insure their child has the best possible chance for a comfortable life. (There is no literal translation of the concept from Chinese to English but I think the word ‘ze ren’ comes closest.)

Obligation, however, works both ways. ‘I owe you’ means ‘We owe each other’ in China. Neither side of a connection has more or less obligation than the other.

That much is pretty easy to understand. What took me a long time to truly comprehend, however, is that obligation comes with certain expectations. Intimacy is the wrong word since it denotes a certain emotional attachment that isn’t necessarily part of the equation. Perhaps oneness is a better description but that’s a little vague and open to interpretation.

The point is that my Chinese wife is continually perplexed, and more than a little put off, when I say please and thank you to her. She inevitably retorts, “Why you say thank you?” or “Why you say please?” and then looks at me suspiciously, as if I’m hiding something or just impossible to figure out.

Erich Segal, author of the book, Love Story, made the phrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” famous in the West. I suspect that the Chinese were a little perplexed by that. In their culture, love is not the issue. Connection is.

The beauty of that, of course, is that connection is lot easier to identify than love. Writers and poets are still trying to figure out what love means and probably always will be. You don’t need a marriage counselor to figure out what connection is.

At 62 I am far too old to break lifelong habits. I have, however, come to see the inherent beauty of the Chinese perspective. When I say please to my spouse there is an inherent implication that I am requesting something outside of the normal boundaries of obligation. With marriage, however, there should be no boundaries.

So, what am I suggesting when I say please and thank you? Am I suggesting that there are limits to my sense of obligation? And what are those limits? Defining them would be to sail into murky waters indeed.

And isn’t that where a lot of marriages fail? We start splitting hairs over things like obligation and the meaning of marriage and our role within it? Trust collapses; sex evaporates; connection dwindles; the marriage ultimately fails.

The Chinese get divorced, of course. They’re getting divorced in record numbers, in fact. Part of that, in Beijing at least, is due to the fact that the government put in restrictions on the number of homes one family could own in an effort to cool down housing prices. And since real estate is THE investment of choice in China, some couples actually divorced to create two households and double the number of homes the family could invest in. The act, in other words, had nothing to do with love or their obligation to each other.

There is, nonetheless, a certain simplicity to the Chinese perspective that I find refreshing. While Chinese customs may seem a bit bewildering to the average Westerner, simplicity is a common thread throughout Chinese culture. As Confucius said, “Wherever you go, there you are.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Western culture, by contrast, is fully of subtly and incongruity. And given our deductive worldview that compels us to understand cause and effect in everything, it should be no surprise that we suffer so much angst and stress in our lives. As my wife continually reminds me, “You think too much.” She sleeps like a baby. I’ve been tired my entire adult life.

In the end, I’m not arguing for one perspective over the other. I do believe, however, that the Chinese are generally a lot less stressed than their Western counterparts. They may, in fact, particularly the children, be under a lot more pressure. But pressure and stress are two different things. Stress comes, as my physician brother tells me, from the sense of a lack of control. That has been my experience but I might add to that by saying that stress comes from the sense of a lack of control or understanding.

Think about it. How much effort is devoted by Western men trying to figure out women? And vice-versa. I can’t open the home page of my Internet browser without seeing at least one article devoted to the topic. “Secrets to a successful marriage.” “How to know if your husband is about to cheat.” “What men really want.” “What men don’t get about women.” The list goes on. It’s never-ending. And after all of this effort we’re really no closer to the truth than when we started.

Perhaps that’s because there is no single truth. Perhaps it’s like The Way in Taoism; it’s just too complicated for our human minds to comprehend.

I will say that I have spent several years trying to train myself not to always try to figure everything out. Just accept things the way they are. And, as a result, I can say with conviction that I am less stressed than I have ever been. You should try it. (Be aware, it’s not easy.)

So, thank you for reading this. Unless, of course, you are a sibling or someone with whom I have a deep connection. (My wife never reads my blogs. She assumes she doesn’t have to because she is my wife and doesn’t find much entertainment in all the soul-searching anyway.) If you do fall into the latter category, well, have a nice day. I may not be polite, but I am there for you.

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Development & Transportation

Notice to Readers: For the next 7 days I am giving away free Kindle copies of my fictional book, The Message?, written under my pen name of Avam Hale. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of May 9, 2016 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules at Amazon Giveaway. (Sorry, US residents only.) Your chances of winning are 1 in 10 until the free prizes run out. This is a contemporary tale that has all of the ingredients of a good read – a little love, a murder, some Washington politics, and a surprise ending. Click on the link below to enter:

Amazon Kindle Free Giveaway

Harmony. It is the very foundation of Chinese culture. For every yin there is a yang. Or, more precisely, yin and yang co-exist and balance each other. One cannot exist without the other.

Modernization often comes with some baggage, like traffic jams, pollution, and an increase in the generation of rubbish.
Modernization often comes with some baggage, like traffic jams, pollution, and an increase in the generation of rubbish.

And so it is with economic development. While I fully endorse the benefits of economic development, it comes with some baggage. Pollution levels typically rise. (The people who create the smallest carbon footprint in the world are also the poorest.) More rubbish is generated and landfills fill up faster. And while people typically enjoy access to better healthcare, disease is more easily spread by a mobile society.

This trade-off has become increasingly apparent to me personally in the area of transportation. China now boasts the largest automotive market in the world. Once dominated by pedestrian and bicycle traffic, transportation in China is increasingly dominated by the automobile.

More automobiles are now produced in China annually than in the US and Japan combined. The number of cars on the road is expected to reach 200 million by 2020. In Beijing alone, 750,000 additional cars were added to the streets in 2011, before restrictions were placed on the number of new license plates that could be issued through the implementation of a low probability lottery system. (More than 2 million applicants now compete for fewer than 200,000 new plates each year.)

Many Chinese travel as a family on a single e-scooter or bike, usually without helmets.
Many Chinese travel as a family on a single e-scooter or bike, usually without helmets.

With more traffic, of course, come more accidents, a reality greatly inflated by the fact that the Chinese are generally intolerant of traffic regulations and the vast majority of drivers now on the streets are novices. The middle-aged driver next to you at the stoplight may have been driving for a matter of weeks.

Many Chinese, of course, continue to travel by bicycle. While the Chinese were skeptical of the bicycle when it was first introduced in the 1800’s they ultimately came to embrace it and it is estimated there are now more than 500 million bicycles plying the streets of China. Most are simple in design. They have a single gear and, without exception, a basket on the front.

Most bicycles in China are simple in design: one gear, a luggage rack, and a front basket.
Most bicycles in China are simple in design: one gear, a luggage rack, and a front basket.

Most bicycles (called zi xing che) in China also have a flat medal frame over the back tire that is designed to lash cargo to. More often than not, however, you will see a woman there riding sidesaddle. And few of these passengers hold on to the driver. They appear to have an unbelievable sense of innate balance and somehow manage to keep their feet, with ankles typically crossed, out of the spokes.

Road touring and bicycle racing are quite popular in China, particularly in the more affluent areas, and these enthusiasts typically ride the latest in titanium technology and are dressed in the kind of outfit you would find in the Tour de France, complete with the latest in aerodynamic and colorful helmets.

The last mile of your online purchase will inevitably make the trip in an e-vehicle like this. Low delivery costs is why e-commerce is exploding in China.
Your online purchase will inevitably make the last mile of its trip in an e-vehicle like this. Low delivery costs is one of the reasons e-commerce is exploding in China.

The touring enthusiasts, however, are very much in the minority. I have yet to see a typical Chinese cyclist wearing a helmet, and that includes the children. It’s a risk, for sure, particularly when you consider that a family of three often travels together on one bicycle – the father pedaling, the mother sitting sidesaddle on the back, and the youngster sitting in a makeshift seat behind the handlebars. (I’ve actually seen a family of five riding on a single scooter, all without helmets.)

Thankfully, most roads in China have a bicycle/pedestrian lane and all of the major boulevards in the urban areas boast separate lanes, typically separated from the automobile lanes by a concrete island resplendent with flowers and other vegetation. Unfortunately, drivers looking to circumvent congestion and jump ahead of the queue at stoplights routinely use these lanes as well.

The first step in upgrading your transportation is typically the e-bike. This one is even fitted out for winter riding.
The first step in upgrading your transportation is typically the e-bike. This one is even fitted out for winter riding.

Perhaps the most significant development in terms of pedestrian safety, however, is the burgeoning number of electric bikes (e-bikes) and scooters now in use. This is typically the first transportation upgrade for families who now enjoy a better income and quality of life. In 2012, the latest year for which I could find statistics, there were already more than two hundred million e-bikes in use in China and I’ll bet that number has doubled since. These vehicles are unregistered, unregulated, and require no special license even though they can easily travel fifty km/hour or faster. And being electric, they are essentially silent, so you can’t hear them coming. (In the US, by contract, only 53,000 e-bikes were sold in 2012.)

Sometimes the pedestrian lane can get pretty crowded. By law, pedestrians have the right of way but I'm the only one who appears to know that.
Sometimes the pedestrian lane can get pretty crowded. By law, pedestrians have the right of way but I’m the only one who appears to know that.

Most importantly, e-bikes and e-scooters are not forbidden from the bicycle/pedestrian lanes and virtually all of them ride there. Given that some bicycle/pedestrian lanes can be less than two meters across, and not all riders give an advance warning of their approach with a bell or buzzer, this can make for a harrowing walking experience, particularly since some e-bike and e-scooter riders don’t even slow down when they pass.

In the US, 2% of all traffic fatalities involve a car hitting a cyclist, while bicycles only account for 1% of all trips taken. Fully one-third of all cycling accidents involve an automobile.

In fact, pedestrians have the legal right of way over all automobiles, e-bikes, and e-scooters in China. I am the only person in China, however, who knows about that law. If you travel here, therefore, assume that you, as a pedestrian, are invisible to everyone else.

E-bikes also come in a work version which ply the streets delivering purchases.
E-bikes also come in a work version which ply the streets delivering purchases.

Cars, e-bikes, and e-scooters certainly provide a great deal of convenience. And they greatly increase the area in which it is practical to look for work. (Not to mention that they allow you to arrive at work without being covered in sweat.) In no way, therefore, do I suggest any attempt to restrict their growth.

But for every yin there is a yang and often we don’t foresee it ahead of time. Development and transportation is no different. As China steps onto the world stage, now boasting the second largest economy in the world, it will generate a better quality of life for its citizens. It will also inherit, however, a number of the unfortunate by-products of modernization.