16 May, 2018

Red Tape

Here's my joke: 
They call it "red-tape" because the Communists do it the best. 

...or the most. 

I'm not good at jokes. 

Living in a communist country has really introduced me to a depth of layers of bureaucratic B.S. that I would never have believed existed.

We spent more than 2 hours this afternoon at our local police station to get a document that it turns out none of the staff there knew how to do!

TWO HOURS! We never did get the document. Brett was livid. Now we have to go back tomorrow armed with a Chinese-speaking friend, and another friend's phone number, who knows people higher up at this office and can perhaps get something done.

When you move to China, you have to register with your local police bureau - very local, like just a few blocks - and they will issue a residency permit. If we stay anywhere else we are to register there until we go home. Staying at a hotel is not a problem, because most hotels have an officer who handles this kind of thing.

We recently read that when you move from your district, you should go to that same office to get a - well, basically a criminal background check. An official letter that says that you haven't committed any crimes while living here. That is all we were trying to get. We had the name of the document in English and Chinese to show to the clerk. I noticed that she seemed somewhat baffled, but they collected our passports and started working. 

Other people came and went, and 2 hours later we were called up to get ... new residency permits! Which we didn't need because ours are still valid. 

This is a very Chinese thing. They don't want to admit they can't do something so they will do what they can. Even if it is the wrong thing and wastes your afternoon for a pointless new piece of paper.

I love traveling. I love living in different countries. I think visiting is great, but by actually residing in a new culture, you really learn about them and yourself.

But seriously, people.


  1. Oh wow. I'm sorry you wasted an afternoon. Wow.

    1. We found the right place to go the next day, but it will take a month. So now, some friends will have to go pick it up and mail it to us at our new home!

  2. Wow the frustration just leaks through - and I totally get it! We get so used to the smooth progress of things in the West - and although there are hoops to jump through, they seem to be pretty straightforward - 2 hours to achieve nothing and to have to go back and do it all again would be soooo annoying! Hope you have more success the second time around.

    1. We were successful in that the correct document is now in process, but it won't be done until after we are long gone, so some friends have agreed to pick it up and mail it to us.

      I think the most frustrating thing was that nobody knew what to do until we happened to find the right place. It was like playing "hot and cold" in a diplomatic office district.

  3. It seems like most of the trouble was caused by the people who wouldn't admit they didn't know what they were doing.
    What's really annoying about that is in my job there's a fair amount of what I'd call red tape that, while sometimes frustrating, is meant to guide people through complicated processes.
    Although some of those processes have been made more complicated than they need to be by people who wouldn't admit they didn't know what they were doing.

    1. We later found out that the local police are the right people to go to ... if you are a Chinese National. For foreigners, there is a giant lack of information or helpfulness.
      Be kind to your foreign friends - it happens to them in the States, too!


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