Meet Dashan, the China-based Canadian master of Mandarin so many expats love to hate




Don’t call them expats. They’re immigrants like everyone else.

ETA: Actually if you put the word “immigrant” in your head where you previously used “expat,” the Quora thread is a lot more interesting.


My Fox News watching American in-laws are living with us in Germany. Occasionally they’ll say something about the kind of “economic migrants who come to the country for the benefits”, at which point I ask “you mean, people like us?” At the end of the day, most people who move to another country do so because they think their standard of life will improve in some way. In many cases (especially with ‘expats’), they hope to see an economic benefit.


The air looked so clear back then.


I don’t know why, but when I look at him I think “Youth Pastor”


“Expat” is the appropriate term from the perspective of those residing in the originating country. So he is an expat to Canadians, but Americans would/should use the term “immigrant”. Similarly, any immigrant in America is considered an “expatriate” (or linguistic equivalent) in their country of origin.


I think my point went over your head.


Not really, most of those I see described as ex-pats normally go back to their birth country in the end while immigrants tend to stay in the country they move to and are described from the point of view of their birth place as emigrants.


So you can’t call someone an expat until they’ve gone back home? An exexpat?


@kwhitefo’s definition seems about right to me - immigrants hope to adopt their host country as their own eventually. Expats are also in the country, but it’s generally on business and home is usually in their country of origin. Many of the expats we knew in China actually had houses in their home countries that they were renting out in anticipation of returning to after a few years. Unlike in Europe, you basically can’t immigrate to China - your visa is generally only for a year and many expats would go home for a month or so after working for a year. I didn’t see anyone as anything other than expats (including people from other Asian countries) unless they were at least married to a Chinese person - regular visas are pretty hard to come by one after 65.

By way of contrast, Europeans in America or Americans in Europe could really be either immigrants or expats, depending on their long term plans.


I dunno.

I consider myself an immigrant and an expat.

I don’t have any plans to go back home.


That’s true - as a British person living abroad, you’re automatically an expat. You’re also an immigrant, which is not true of British people in China. Other people who come to the US on business are also not immigrants, as they aren’t immigrating to the US. (Incidentally, I also consider myself an immigrant, even though I’m not 100% sure that I will be here for the rest of my life. My in-laws are also fine with the term “immigrant”, but “economic migrant” is a bit of a dog whistle).


They retain their original citizenship and don’t intend to permanently stay in the foreign country.


As a Permanent Resident foreigner in NZ I’m an immigrant, but Aotearoa is definitely home. If it wasn’t home I’d be an expat. You can’t migrate to China — as a holder of a western nation’s passport you’re forever an expat.

And I’ve never hated Dashan, even when we lived in China. Surely it’s hard to hate him if you pause to think of the sheer hard work, determination and practise that goes into making the character? Mark Rowswell himself always comes across as a decent guy, very self aware in interviews, and his stage persona is entirely appropriate for his audience.

Being compared with Dashan on a daily basis is wearing, but those are the breaks.


“I think my point went over your head.”
Ironically, it didn’t, I re-read things as you suggested, decided there was really no perceptible difference to me, determined that this was because of my semi-unique background being both an expat and an immigrant, realized that your background was likely the cause of the difference for you and probably many others, analyzed why that might be but refrained from speculating o’er-much as to the possible impacts that might have on your worldview in general, and posted a concise (albeit incomplete) summation of the perspectives.
In short, not only did I not miss your point, I (apparently) analyzed it to a deeper level and was kind enough to share with others in a non-snarky manner, sparking a lively discussion around same.
But thanks for playing! :stuck_out_tongue:
(Oops, let a little snark slip in there at the end this time. Lol!)


Christ, what an asshole.


I think this calls for emergency pedantry. Patria is the Latin word for home country so “ex patria” means from the object’s home country. Expatriates are from their home country and this does not change depending on the observer. They can also be immigrants as the terms are not mutually exclusive.


Appeals to etymology are problematic. Often they (seem to) work. Sometimes they don’t. In the end of the day, they don’t prove a thing.


I think the distinction can be problematic in that immigrants could be viewed as leaving a worse country to go a better country, while expats are seen as relatively wealthy people who move between countries of their own free will (this would be a narrower definition of expat that doesn’t necessarily follow from the etymology, but it seems to be the way it’s commonly used). Some Americans may be happy to call themselves the descendants of European immigrants, but there’s also the stereotype that these immigrants were poor starving huddled masses with nothing to go back to in their country of origin. This stereotype continues with some countries, but western passports are now usually easier to travel on and westerners can fairly easily move to another country without ruling out the option of returning or moving on. By way of contrast, I knew Chinese professionals who spent years with a plan to move to a western country. One engineer I knew went to the US on a tourist visa, hoping to overstay and somehow manage to live there permanently. My boss was on a waiting list to move to Australia. It’s been the best part of a decade and he’s still in China.

There are more businesspeople traveling around the world from countries like India and China now, but I think the issue is more than just using two words to describe the same kind of person from different countries of origin. Westerners can travel around the world and spend a few years working in one country before moving on a lot easier than people from other countries can. The sacrifices and life changing decisions that people from some countries make mean that the temporary expat life westerners can have in their country is pretty far from their experience moving to the west.


e.g. equestrian, navigation, stellar, aquarium, agriculture, pro bono, et cetera