Laowai Hall of Shame 2019

By That's, December 30, 2019

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The good, the bad and the ugly. The weird and the wacky. As is the That’s tradition, we’ve compiled our 2019 China Year in Review series. So sit back, relax and relive the highs and lows of the last 12 months.


Another year, more badly behaved laowai. We’ve counted down six of China’s naughtiest foreigners of 2019.

6. NBA’s James Harden Gets into Trouble with Shanghai Traffic Police

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Image via @新闻晨报/Weibo

NBA superstar James Harden concluded his China summer tour with a lane violation. Photos surfaced on Chinese social media in June of Harden and his entourage cruising the streets of Shanghai on electric motorbikes. Unfortunately, the Houston Rocket’s starter committed a foul in the eyes of city traffic police by driving on the opposite side of the road and not wearing a helmet. While Harden is known to take an extra step (or five) on the hardwood, the traffic referee wasn’t having any of it – reprimanding Harden in the middle of an intersection while he was on his bike. He was quick to acknowledge the traffic violation, taking to his official Weibo account to apologize.

5. Foreign Musician in Guangzhou Has Racist Social Media Meltdown

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Image via Pixabay

Earlier this year, a longtime expat living in Guangzhou had a racist, late-night social media meltdown. Screenshots of the racist posts on WeChat Moments were shared to Weibo by understandably upset Chinese netizens, forcing the man – a UK citizen known around town for his cover band antics – to issue an apology on his official WeChat account (yes, the man has his own official WeChat account…). “I would like to sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart for the offence that I have caused. In a moment of drunken madness, I wrote some terrible words that I deeply regret,” reads the intro to the letter-like apology, which is titled ‘Dear China.’

4. Foreign Student Attacks Traffic Police in South China

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Screengrab via QQ

A foreign student got himself into trouble in July for pushing a traffic police officer on the street in Fuzhou, Fujian province. (What can we say, that South China summer heat makes people do crazy things…) After he was caught by traffic police driving with another person on an electric scooter in downtown Fuzhou, which is against local traffic rules, the foreign student refused to cooperate and started a physical confrontation with the law enforcement officer, Beijing News reported. According to the report, the foreign student was studying at the International College of Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University at the time of the attack. In light of the incident, the student, identified as Younes from Egypt, was given an in-school suspension, according to a notice published on the university’s website on July 12. 

3. Chinese Netizens Enraged at Foreigners Swimming in Ecological Park

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Image via Huoguo Shipin/QQ Video

A trio of poorly behaved foreigners in Foshan found themselves in the crosshairs of Chinese social media users earlier this year after a video surfaced online of the group swimming in an off-limits pond at Foshan’s Nanhai Bay Forest Ecological Park. In the footage, which flashes between the rule breaking swimmers and a ‘no swimming’ sign, one woman and two men can be seen frolicking in a clear pool of water at the base of a small waterfall. Still images of the scene indicate other foreigners may have been present, but this was not clarified or confirmed in media reports at the time.

The threesome of disorderly laowai were spotted by park employees during a security patrol, according to South China Morning Post, and asked to exit the water, to which the group allegedly replied “Ha, ha! Okay, we’ll get out immediately.” Of course, they didn’t immediately exit the pool and it reportedly took “about 20 minutes” for them to do so.

2. Expat Kicked Out of China after Racist Comments Go Viral

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Image via @长春情报站/Weibo

A foreign employee at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing was fired and ordered to leave the country in November, after several racist comments he posted about Chinese people went viral on social media. Mark Kolars, who worked with CAS Institute of Automation as a visual effects specialist since 2012, was dismissed after screenshots of inappropriate LinkedIn comments were shared on Weibo. The Austria native went on a racism-fueled rant on the professional networking site, referring to Chinese men as “dirty yellow guys, talking trash all day,” and concluded one message by writing “Without us to begin with you would still wear rice heads.” (What is a ‘rice head’ and how do you wear it? We have no idea.)

Kolars did apologize for his racist outburst via LinkedIn, saying his messages were “inappropriate and racist in nature and hurt the feelings of my Chinese friends and colleagues,” as cited by SCMP. However, Chinese netizens were still taken aback by the comments. 

1. Foreign Teacher Arrested for Molesting Child in Shandong

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Image via Pexels

A foreign kindergarten teacher was arrested by police in Qingdao, Shandong province for molesting a young girl earlier this year, CCTV reported over the summer. According to a report by the People’s Procuratorate of Shibei District, Qingdao on July 23, the teacher molested the student in January of this year during the childrens’ lunchtime nap. China Daily reported that video footage inside the classroom shows the male teacher entering the room and putting his hands into the girl’s bedding for about one minute. A Chinese caretaker had left to use the bathroom at the time.

After the girl told her parents, the family reported the case to the Shibei Public Security Bureau. Police detained the teacher on January 29, immediately after the case was brought to light. The teacher, named Daniel Oswaldo Mayorga Heredia, is from the Republic of Colombia and was born in 1984. He was sentenced to five years in prison in late July and will be deported upon the completion of his sentence. 


For more 2019 Year in Review coverage, click here.

[Cover image compiled by That’s]

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