This last week I learned a valuable lesson on friendships in China.   I grew up in America and was taught by my grandmother that friendships are very important.  Your friends are the people who will always stand by you thru thick and thin… they will be there beside you no matter what.  Your friends are people who even if you are far away or haven’t spoken in 10 years… when you see each other it is like you never were apart.   I was taught that friends are your family and sometimes closer than family.  Your friends will support you when you feel sad… and cheer when you feel happy… In America friends are an important part of your happiness and your personal life.

I had this idea of friendship when i first came to China.  I thought… wow… i can make some new friends to enhance my life and add to my family.   My mother is gone, my father is gone.. my grandmothers and grandfathers have gone… i have lost uncles and aunts … and I only have my one brother…. so my family and my support system has left the earth.. and moved on into the after life…. so my friends are my family.. they take the place of what I am missing… they are an important part of my life… and I couldn’t wait to meet new friends and new members of my extended family.

Unfortunately, I have come to realize that friendship isnt defined the same in China.   I have found that friendships are forms of “relationships” that you need to survive here…. these “relationships” are what you need to do business, buy a home, a car, get paperwork done… or even find jobs.   These “relationships”… separate the rich from the poor… and the successful from the not successful.   There are “gifts” you must give.. and dinners you must eat and cigarettes you must smoke.   These relationships must be nurtured and cared for like a fragile tree .. until they grow strong and are able to give you shade and support.   Life in China can be very unhappy if you do not have these special “friendships”.

You also may lose people who you felt were your real friend because you have not usefulness to them.   You can’t aid them in any way or foster their success so you are not useful and therefore not a valued friend.  You become an afterthought and eventually… no thought at all.

What a depressing way of life it must be for some that live here their whole life. I asked how do you make these connections… and was told… thru others that have these connections… so you need to connect with someone who has larger connections.. that may even have larger connections… to become successful in China.

So much work.. to achieve success…. more work than doing the business itself…All this ass kissing gets in the way of actually doing business.

Where are the “real” friendships China?  Where is the companionship and the love of friends?

Now my issue is… what do I do?   Do I keep my natural instinct of what friendship really is?  Do I keep the values of friendship that I was taught by my grandmother?   Or.. Do I change?  Do I use the Chinese way and use “relationships” as friendships?  Do I forget all that has been taught to me .. about honesty.. and loyalty…. and just use people to achieve my success in this country?  Do I do as Chinese because I am in China? Just forget the values of my Country?

Such questions that I never thought I would be faced with.  Questions that I never imagined I would ask myself.  But as I see my Chinese “friends” slowly disappear… and stop talking to me… and stop.. calling or seeing me… I realize that maybe I am not as useful to them.. as they thought i was…. However.. what they do not know.. is WHAT I know.. and WHAT I can do…. my true friends… that really care about me… can see… my usefulness…. can see my abilities….. they know that my friendship is one of power, understanding, honesty and respect.

Crazy thing about  China.. the people … are all playing a game..they take the term “game of life” literally….. a large, intricate, hurtful game… nothing is what it seems.. no one is who they seem…. Nothing is real…. I understand the lack of trust .. everyone has here now… there are too many secrets, too many lies… and too may fake people….. after 7000 years of history… you would think… that China would have learned what Americans learn in a small amount of time….. that … HONESTY is the best policy…. and material things go away.. but a real FRIENDSHIP… is forever. That Beauty is only skin deep and UGLY is to the bone.