Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How cool are Photographers in China?

When I bowed and handed my regular business card for the first time last May to a Chinese winery manager, I immediately recognized my error. "Janis, you idiot." He couldn't read a single line. My business card was in English. He only read and spoke Chinese.

So I vowed to be more sophisticated for this trip. I translated my name and title–"Photographer"–into Chinese characters. I thought that was so cool while I was in the United States. Besides, in the US, most people think that photographers are nifty because they get to travel to China for their work.

But what is cool in the US might not be so here.

At 3:37 AM Beijing time during my first time-difference-sleepless night, it dawned on me that someone might place the title “photographer” into the same flashing-red-caution-light category as “Journalist”. As you probably have heard, "Journalists" often need to be escorted by government handlers. Journalists have been arrested here for writing the wrong thing.

Wake up call: I don’t want to be showing off my Chinese-version business card to everyone, especially government folks or the police. For the Chinese record, I’m not a “Journalist”. I am just a tourist who wants to learn about Chinese culture, people and wine industry. And yes, I like to take photographs.

Just to add spice to this discussion, my postings to this blog were blocked.

So what do you think? Should I show my Chinese-version card when I visit wineries owned by the Chinese-government companies?

1 comment:

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