Foreign shenanigans and fishy affairs in Shanghai

By Khyati Shah Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/7 18:53:27

Illustration: Lu Ting/GT

Foreigners are an exotic lot in Shanghai. Spotting a foreigner in the masses of local faces is bound to raise an eyebrow despite Shanghai being China's most international city, with an estimated 200,000 expats lending an indelible pigment to the city's piquant mosaic.

The expat population does more than its fair bit to make Shanghai a global international city by bestowing it with an exotic flair that only they can bring. However, there are a few black sheep, who bring a bad reputation to the whole lot. Recent incidents give rise to this opinion.

Last week, there was a high profile robbery in Shanghai involving 1 million yuan ($151,204), which led to the detainment of two foreigners. The event that transpired seems straight from a Hollywood thriller.

An illegal currency exchange dealer surnamed Zhang arrived at a serviced apartment in Jing'an district to meet a new client. While Zhang was waiting for him outside the apartment, someone suddenly grabbed Zhang's briefcase and sprayed his face with something spicy. After realizing he'd been robbed, Zhang called the police despite the fact that he himself was involved in an unlawful trade.

Shanghai police acted with the required immediacy, arriving in under three minutes. Using surveillance cameras, they followed the suspects to their two-storey apartment at Lingshan Road in Pudong New Area.

The foreigners, expecting food delivery to celebrate their heist, instead found a bunch of cops at their doorstep.

It was due to the ingenuity of an experienced investigator that the loot was uncovered, in under 20 minutes, hidden in an empty step under the floor panel of the apartment staircase.

I find the entire treatment of this incident by the Shanghai Police to be creditworthy. It is certainly no trivial matter that they managed to reach the crime scene, track down the suspects, identify and detain them and also recover the cash, all in a matter of five hours.

The local police deserve an enthusiastic applause, and these two foreigners also should be receiving more public spotlight for their crime, including exposing their names, countries of origin and why they set up the heist in the first place.

I understand that, as expats, we all have different personal reasons for moving to China. But we as a community also have a responsibility to weed out bad elements.

Every foreign national carries the image of his home country wherever he goes; expatriates in particular are the unwitting brand ambassadors of their respective countries. We enhance (or sully) the image of our home country by the way we act and behave in foreign lands, especially China, which has a relatively small population of Western residents with limitations to foreign exposure.

Bad behavior or involvement in crimes are not sought-after attributes in any country. But the scales are tipped even higher when it comes to living abroad. Nefarious activities such as the Shanghai foreign currency robbery only bring further disrepute to one's homeland and may even influence the long-term visa policy decisions of their fellow compatriots.

Foreign nationals and the expat community in China must do their very best to uphold the brand image of their respective countries. Shanghai has for centuries been extremely welcoming to all foreigners, and as such we play a vital role in the city's ongoing development and progress.

If Shanghai can be a welcoming host, we can certainly play our role of gracious guests. And it is an unwritten rule that, in any party whether a guest is honorific or not, guests still must remain well-behaved enough to not steal from the host. Only then can the party go on for all!

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Posted in: TWOCENTS

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