Postcard from Beijing... no 11

Capital moaners should put up or get out

I fully realize the irony of what I'm about to share, but there's nothing that irks me more than a whiner. And right now a myriad of moaners can be found all over the metropolis, from Houhai to Haidian.

Let me elaborate. One friend sadly had her shiny new bike stolen, while another acquaintance had his wallet pinched out of his pocket on a night out in Sanlitun. Elsewhere another discovered, after she had gotten out of the taxi, that the change her driver had given her was actually counterfeit money, while a colleague carelessly left his much loved iPod on his desk overnight and was distraught to find when he returned the next morning that - you can see this coming a mile off - it had mysteriously "walked." Meanwhile visiting friends and family routinely risk their lives trying to cross Beijing's big roads which are admittedly like a video game. The result? Much moaning about how Beijing is no longer the safe city it once was.

Don't get me wrong. I empathize with all of the aforementioned, really I do. Nonetheless in my mind their gripes about Beijing being unsafe simply doesn't stand up. All of the above scenarios could have, and perhaps should have, been avoided providing people exercised a little caution, care and common sense. Sure these situations were, at the time, aggravating, inconvenient and yes, upsetting, but let's be honest: They can hardly be considered dangerous, per se.

Make no mistake: It's far, far, far more frightening to live in hyper-violent Western cities like London, Los Angeles and New York where gun and drug related crime is all too common and women can't walk home alone at night without fear of being mugged, raped, killed or all three. In Beijing, I can walk home at just about any hour without throwing furtive glances over my shoulder every two seconds and praying I'll make it back to my apartment in one piece. The fact of the matter is that while petty crime may (or may not) be on the up in Beijing, the capital's crime rate is impressively low and China as a whole remains one of the safest countries statistically to visit. This is partly because, unlike back home, the sentences for offenders are not only commendably harsh, but also stringently enforced.

So next time you're scammed or find yourself uttering the words "I was overcharged!" please try and maintain some perspective. I'm sorry if I sound harsh but for me the moans about Beijing being unsafe are hard to accept, because most are from expats who are perfectly free to leave if they really don't feel at peace. Very few of us have family ties here or a sense of commitment to the local community. More of us rent rather than own, and anything over a year will be considered a fair stint by employers back home.

It's easy to gripe (and most of us, myself included have at some time or other) because it's the lazy option. But as with so many situations, the solution is simple; help change it or accept it. But please, stop moaning; trains and planes leave Beijing every few minutes.