British teachers fined, jailed and deported for working illegally in China

The British Expat looks on helplessly as the woman clings to his bike demanding money

The British expat looks on helplessly as the woman clings to his bike demanding money

The following is one of many stories in recent months concerning foreign nationals working illegally, or vilified as serious criminals for seemingly minor matters.

After ricocheting from subject of sympathy to target of vitriol by millions of Chinese Internet users who had seen photographs of him hitting a woman pedestrian with his scooter, a foreign resident of Beijing has been detained, fined and now faces deportation. It was just the latest case of the whirlwind rush to judgment and a tendency to stake out extremes frequently seen in Chinese cyberspace.

On Dec. 3, Chinese across the country were riveted by the images online that showed a Chinese woman in a long black coat clinging to a scooter and seemingly arguing with a young foreigner, whose nationality and age have not been disclosed, in the streets of Beijing.

“This young foreign fellow tried to help her when she fell down, but she claimed he knocked her down and wouldn’t let go until the foreigner paid her 1,800 renminbi” — about $300 — “in ‘medical fees’,” read the description accompanying the photos. The event seemed to conform to a familiar narrative in China, in which a person feigns a crippling injury in order to squeeze money out of an innocent passerby or even someone who has offered help. Soon the web was awash in comments condemning the woman.

“She brings disgrace to our nation”, said one. “Is money worth losing face for our entire nation in front of a foreigner?” asked another.

But within hours, public opinion reversed itself after the woman told her version of the story to newspapers and the police released surveillance footage. The footage showed the foreigner speeding on his scooter toward the pedestrian crossing and knocking the woman down, according to the Beijing Times.

Making matters worse for the foreigner’s case, a video shot by a passerby with a mobile phone was posted online that showed the man swearing at the woman in fluent Chinese for about three minutes. He was also seen trying to physically remove her from his scooter before bystanders pulled him away from her.

Editor’s Note: Police initially concluded that no crimes had been committed, and finalised the matter with a relatively small “fine.” It was only after a huge public condemnation of the woman and Chinese society, and huge public support for the expat, that Chinese authorities decided an example needed to be made. It was then that the new “evidence” appeared, and multiple charges were laid.

From the surveillance video, it is impossible to identify whether the rider was the man in question or not. Both rider and passenger are wearing helmets, which is unheard of in China. The video suddenly and mysteriously appeared after support for the foreigner was growing. It is also clear from the videos and medical reports that the woman was not seriously injured.

The woman, later identified as a Ms. Li, said in a videotaped interview with the Beijing News that she almost “blacked out” from the impact. The interview was viewed more than one million times. “I have been a successful business woman my whole life. Why would I want to con 1,800 renminbi out of you?” she says, addressing the absent foreigner, while showing reporters photos of her injuries and medical report. She then bursts into tears and says, “I’m definitely pressing charges!”

By the end of the day, the Beijing police had announced that not only had the foreigner knocked the woman down, but that he was riding the scooter without a license and the scooter had no license plate.

On Wednesday, the police said that the foreigner and his father were both “illegally employed” in Beijing, and would be deported to their home countries, but not before serving 5 and 14 days respectively in detention, and paying fines of 5,000 and 10,000 renminbi. The company that employed them was fined 20,000 renminbi.

“We are happy to see him go,” read one comment online.

The photographer who posted the first set of photos and text made a public apology to Ms. Li via the Beijing Times. “I beg the forgiveness of Ms. Li, the netizens and everyone who was hurt by this incident.”

Editor’s Note: While the surveillance video is questionable, and the reaction of the expat was understandable, this story highlights the risks of working illegally in China, if that was indeed the case. China no longer just fines expats and sends them on their way. They are fined, jailed, deported and banned from China for at least ten years. Even if one believes the charges are unfair, there is no realistic avenue of appeal against police decisions in such matters.

The Editor of China Daily Mail supports China in its campaign against illegal workers.

Source: New York Times – Foreigner Faces Deportation Over Scooter Incident

Categories: Education & Employment

Tags: , , , , , ,

5 replies

  1. It is so frustrating when incidents like these are blown completely out of proportion.
    Around the same time last year, I was the pedestrian in a similar situation. The light’s green, and soon as I step on to the street crossing, my friend, a step behind me, bellows at me to watch out, so I take a step backwards in reflex and only get hit on the arm by someone’s rear view mirror. I look up and see the offender lying on his side towards the other end of the crossing. As is typical in China, this scooter drivers didn’t give a rat’s a** about traffic lights, so this particular driver driving on the wrong side of the road, coming straight at me past his red light had to swerve to avoid me and swerve again to avoid the car coming towards him and topples over. My friend goes over to help him up; he was alright – no bleeding, thank goodness, but reeks of alcohol breath. He holds on to my friend’s arm and starts to make a scene. We were lucky, it was winter and he was all bundled up, and that it was 10 pm and he was drunk on cheap baijiu and we got away after my friend slipped him a couple of hundreds. In retrospect, it was definitely my fault I expected a green light to be a green light in China. I guess we, laowais, need to just accept that we can never change the system, so why fight it?


  2. Irrespective of this, many foreigners are exploiting the Chinese’s tendency of hospitality to overseas people and think they can do what they damn well like. Well, this is China and not your goddamn country. You do as the Chinese do or piss off. There is no two ways about it and this is not the early 20th Century when every Chinaman in their own country has to bow in deference to a white man.

    Wake up guys before you find yourself in a dark, dank Chinese dungeon.

    Editor’s note: Richseeto has been identified as a probable paid contributor, with constant anti-west and pro-China tirades (

    An informative article was written about internet posters displaying such emotive outbursts:


  3. New York Times deliberatedly try to trivialise this incident as – Foreigner Faces Deportation Over Scooter Incident and conveniently ignore the more serious offence of working illegally in China. All you white guys would sympathise with the Scooter rider right? Hey, if a Chinese person is in the similar incident with an American pedestrian, would your enlightened society treat the Chinese any different than what the Chinese police did to the white scooter rider?

    He would be lucky if he got away with a bashing at best or shot at worst given the American Cops predilection with guns and shooting the “offender”.

    You bunch of foreign whites pisses me off. Obviously you refuse to respect Chinese authority and Chinese sovereignty in their own country and this is what will cause turmoil in the world. Then you turn around and blame the Chinese for all the ills that befall you.

    You make me sick!!!

    Editor’s note: Richseeto has been identified as a probable paid contributor, with constant anti-west and pro-China tirades (

    An informative article was written about internet posters displaying such emotive outbursts:


  4. Racist comment just get voted down, regardless to your “sovereignty”.
    Learn how to comment in a civilized manner and you may get the thumb up!


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