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A Surprise From Home

Welcome fellow InterNations Expats to my regular slot in which I will be sharing with you my experiences and learnings from living in China’s third largest city, Guangzhou.

Moving to China was bound to involve unexpected surprises. One such surprise was seeing the flag from my home country - the Union Jack - as the dominant exported fashion symbol in Guangzhou.

The most common place is on clothing: as the badge or main design for a t-shirt, sweater or even trousers. Little boys on the Shenzhen metro stare at my wife and I in amazement, and we stare back at their Union Jack coats.

The bold red, white and blue stripes also feature on many fashionable bags and school apparel. I have stopped students at my school and told them enthusiastically that I am from the 'LONDON' they have blazoned across the flag design. They weren't even aware it's a place let alone that the colours were a flag.

Perhaps the most bizarre sightings are bars that cover themselves in the Union Jack. Near our apartment there is an establishment called 'Mini Taste' which has a garishly painted mini metro parked in the reception, blocking the site of the bar behind and making it easy to confuse the bar with a car-sale forecourt.

Guangzhou is near to Hong Kong and is bound to be influenced by some Western trends. When known as Canton, Guangzhou had historic links with Britain, albeit through trade and the Opium Wars of the 19th century. I am sure the enthusiasm for the British flag is not an outpouring of love for my nation, just a love for a classic design. Reverse commercial imperialism.

Every time I see the Union Jack, I am reminded of home in a mix of fondness and sadness. Having just returned from traveling around Indonesia I can report, with amusement, that the Union Jack is spreading there as well. I'm MJF, this is Guangzhou and that's 303 words.


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David Thyne

"At the first Shanghai Get-Together I met several American expats. I am very grateful that they shared their experience with me."

Diana Anhaus-Brey

"It is just so easy to find other international people and global minds with InterNations. I didn´t know there were so many in Shanghai."

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