Posts Tagged 'government'

True or not?

We get a lot of hearsay from the foreign community. We band together, after a fashion, united by the common purpose of navigating a strange and sometimes unintelligible society. Sometimes the rumors are baseless, others turn out to be true.

For example: Shakira will play a New Year’s Eve concert in Nanjing. That one turned out to be true! Wish we had heard in time.

But a disturbing new rumor, substantiated with online news reports: Skype may be banned in China!

If this one turns out to be true, we’re going to meet a whole new level of hassle trying to stay connected with family and friends back home. Or at least, a whole new level of expense. China wants to protect its own telecom business, and with the authority of the government behind all business regulations, there can be an executive decision to shut down a global website like Skype if they feel it will benefit their interests.

Skype was working fine today. It may not be tomorrow! If we don’t answer, don’t take it personally.

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Another foreigner’s tax

We’re used to paying more just for being a foreigner. In a largely negotiation-based economy, we know that Chinese natives can almost always bargain for a better price for the things they buy than we can. Plus, we’ve been told straight to our face that because our salaries as foreigners are higher than average, it’s only fair that we pay higher prices.

The government is getting in on this now. Frequently, long-term residents have their luggage and personal items mailed to China, because of airplane luggage restrictions, bulky items, or just to get care packages from home. Customs has usually foregone taxing packages valued at less than $70.

Now they’ve lowered that value to $8. That means any box that is worth more than a McDonald’s value meal will now be subject to import taxes. And, according to our friends, the person who sets that tax is a local post officer, who will OPEN your box, personally assess the contents, and give you a 20% fee based on what they THINK the contents are worth.

Hmm.. Does Target ibuprofen retail as high as Advil? What’s the market value of back issues of Time magazine? Is that a new Rolex or a second-hand one (or a knockoff made in China!)?

Apparently the government will step in to save us lots of trouble. Maybe we shouldn’t even fill in the customs valuation forms anymore. There should be a postal stamp that says in Chinese: “Please open me for valuation”.

We’re glad our four boxes from home arrived just before this new law passed. But we’re reconsidering what to ask sent to us for Christmas!