« Buggy about Beijing | Main | Hatred and the Wheel of Life »

'No Dogs and Chinese allowed'

It was the kind of sign that humiliated Chinese during the semi-colonial era before 1949. Signs in foreign-run concession areas would sometimes say: “No Dogs and Chinese allowed.”

Those days are long over. China is a proud nation, with much to be proud of.

Nodogs But there are certain places that continue to be restricted for Chinese. And I happen to be smack dab in the middle of one. Our office is in what is called the Qijiayuan Diplomatic Compound. It no longer is just for diplomats. While there are some diplomatic missions here, any foreigner with some currency can rent, I believe, and Chinese employees or family members are welcome. At the gates, People’s Armed Police guards stand smartly at attention. They often stop Chinese and ask for identity cards to see if they indeed have jobs here or are part of families residing here.

All this is a long wind-up to say my office assistant, Fan Di, arrived in tears this morning. She’d been stopped at the gate, apparently rather rudely, and it got her dander up. So she refused to pull out her identity card. She told the guard he’d seen her enter countless times and why was he harassing her? So I asked her to write up her impressions. That's her in the photo below, by the way. Here's what she wrote:

There were two soldiers standing there this morning. As usual, I was rushing directly to the doorway of our building when suddenly one of the two soldiers stopped me with his arm.

"Show me your card," he said.

"I work in this building," I replied confidently, hinting that I should be recognized since I have worked in this building for more than half a year and I was sure that I didn't look like someone who came here for the first time.

"This is an embassy and anyone should show their card if they want to get in," the soldier said.

"Oh really?" I questioned. "Why do you never ask for cards from foreigners?"

"Because this is a FOREIGN compound," he emphasized most arrogantly.

Okay, had he not said such words, I would have shown him the card. But this is not the first time that I heard such words spoken from their mouths. What he said irritated me and I decided that I would never show it to them. Do foreigners have priority in the foreign compounds? Is it logical?

"How do you know that I'm not a foreigner?" I asked.

"I should check your card before I know whether or not you are a foreigner," he said.

"I'm not giving you my card," I said. "I would give you my card if you checked everybody. But you don’t. Now I'm late for work and I'm going in."

Maybe the soldier had never seen a Chinese girl as tough as me. He was obviously angry and stretched out his arms to block me. When I was managing to get out of his control, the other soldier, who never said anything before, now came to help his comrade. He also stopped me with his arms. They were forcing their arms against me really hard.

"Let us try and see whether you can get in (without my permission)," shouted the first one as if he had great power superior to mine. The stalemate lasted for half a minute and finally I broke free.

As I was running to the doorway, that guard still couldn't stop shouting: "I'll remember you. You wait and see!"

During the whole process, another two guards were just standing there 10 meters away, laughing.

As I got into the elevator, tears just came from my eyes. I was angry not only because I was treated unfairly, but also I have experienced how some Chinese still make foreigners seem superior, and I felt pity for the guards. I think the other soldier must know that I work here. He still watched his companion give me trouble. They treat any foreigner better than their compatriots. The only standard they judge people is by the color of their skin. Should this be the way that they are educated? Don't they understand there might be more Chinese who work in the foreign compound and should be respected for who they are? AND, what are they here for? Supervising Chinese? In that way, they can even smile to a foreign terrorist!

At noon, I told another office worker about this and she asked why I didn't speak English to them to avoid trouble. Why should I? I don't want to pretend that I am a foreigner. I've never felt as a Chinese that I’m lower than a foreigner. I am just who I am.



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 'No Dogs and Chinese allowed':


Kuang Gouzhen

I am a Singaporean Chinese and have travelled extensively in the Mainland for the past decade. Never have I felt discriminated against in China because of my ethnicity or treated less well than a yang ren.


Jay You believe what you want to believe The sign about "no dogs or chinese allowed" is NOT myth.If you want to know the truth,check the city ordinances of the relevant period (1905-1927).Chinese(except for servants) were explicitly banned from the parks, as were dogs. What does it matter whether a photo of the sign survived, or have not been deliberately destroyed or hiddened? #
1903年. 上海外灘公園規則:

* 第一條 腳踏車及犬不准入內。
(No dogs and bicycles are admitted.)
* 第五條 除西人傭僕外,華人一概不准入內。
(No Chinese are admitted, except servants in attendance upon foreigners.)

# 1903年7月20日. 《周作人日記》(癸卯):


# 1913年. 上海外灘公園規則:

* 第一條 這些公園為外國人專用。
(These Gardens are reserved exclusively for the foreign community.)
* 第二條 狗與自行車不得入內。
(No dogs and bicycles are admitted.)

Buy Viagra

Hi, I think your comment is very interesting!!! Thanks for sharing!!


You go Girl!!!!
Don't let anyone try to make you seem inferior. You remind me of my College days at U.M.
Ann Arbor Mi. The City of Ann Arbor tried to treat the Students like second class Citizens in many ways. We din't take it. We organized we protested we Won!!!!




This story sounds suspiciously like fiction targeted toward internet "news" vultures in the attempt to raise their ire. Facts? What are those?


seems to me most here are very China ignorant.... it is not a free country....unlike the USA....it is a country run via the Fascists period....from one who's dad lived and fought there starting in Burma to free China from the Japanese in early 1942 and who's family history goes back hundreds of years working in China....


It must be assumed that Guards obey orders from the Employer, which must be to maintain normality & public order. So passers-by (the public) have the "choice" (wot a buzzword!) of: behaving normally, or "rocking-the-boat". Consequences follow upon our choices. Globally. Not only in China.


Interesting discussion. Two matters, one of the ID, the other of defining what it is to be Chinese or a foreigner. As in US or UK, the Real ID is a big question not so much about terrorism as about official power controlling individual behavior. I think Fan Di was absolutely right in having the emotional reaction that the guards were asking for her ID in order to put her in her place as a girl, a sex object they could laugh at, not for logical reasons or even any written rules. So asking for ID from just some people means likely discrimination, many people work in BJ without official permits, the law is enforced arbitrarily. This would be upsetting to anyone. Secondly, the possible Huangpu Park sign was before IDs, but there is also the question of discrimination between "Chinese" and others. Is someone who speaks perfect Mandarin, has had an operation on their eyelids, eats with chopsticks, even marries a Chinese woman, has legal residence permit, etc., Chinese? Da Shan is not. Many ABCs are considered (by PRC citizens) "Chinese" even though not Chinese citizens; Tibetans are Chinese citizens too, just not Han. There are a very few people who are "white" who carry PRC passports, I am not one but since I am "white" I am never asked for papers, and even then no guard would know if they were valid. I think there is a hidden matter of Chinese self-identity, just like Tibetan self-identity or even American self-identity, with globalization these national papers are less important, and there is a lot of identity confusion as the incident with the guards illustrates. The discrimination between whites and "yellow" is not unique, the same thing happens between quadroons and blacks in Haiti, or migrants and natives in Shanghai. A lot of people try to "pass" if they can, while others try to separate, it's hard to be yourself under this pressure. The PRC personal ID just has your picture and place of registration (which might be your home) and a number that can be checked to determine validity. Asking for the ID allows the guards to speak with the subject and determine accent and a lot more that is irrelevant to the guard function. As a laowei in BJ, I have wondered about these guards, do they guard against us or for us?


The guards were just doing their job.

No surprise given the Tibet situation. Things are a little sensitive.

Obviously it can feel like a slap in the face when they suddenly do that and you are not used to it. But Fan Di is clearly the one in the wrong.

And the sign is a myth - like a lot of things in Chinese history.

The China Game

On the sign try this source:

Robert A. Bickers and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom. "Shanghai's 'Dogs and Chinese Not Admitted' Sign: Legend, History and Contemporary Symbol." China Quarterly, no. 142 (1995): 444-66.


Sorry TJ, that TAR is off-limits to you. Since you will be staying put in Beijing, PULEEZE keep us posted on your little scheme of "Divide-and-Rule-the-Hans-Tibetans-Muslims-Everybody-in-China": Please post updated photos of your curious Assistant: has she learnt the lesson of PROPER DRESS CODE for Office Workers now!?


She deserved for challenging authority. She think she's above most Chinese just by working for a foreigner. The guards vent their anger at foreigner or compatriot working for foreigner from the Tibet riots. Random security check is normal, what is the big deal.


Thanks for leaving up the wide range of comments.


I believe the writer (or the so-called professional journalist, or he has been assuming he is) believes a title like is new and a great attack to other people.

This actually shows how a frustrated and desperate journalist lose his/her manner and cool. There are many such kinds of losers all over the world --- when they cannot achiev anything to draw attention, they attack like a dog.

By the way, the ``dog and chinese not allowed" thing has been in the history textbook of chinese high school for many years. And I think it is one of the things thatput the modern chinese society together.

the tank man

gosh, look at this ugly chick .i'm gonna vomit....no wonder those two soldiers would stop you

over.it's quite dangerous and inhospitable to have someone like you to work for our NOBLE LOFY YET

ENDANGERED RARE SPECIES in China. It's inhuman....
hey Tim (tit in mouth or sth ),did you make this happen, see she is so pathetic and strikes me she

had to constantly inject some testosterone to withstand your abuse,oppression and degradation on

her.you must timmed her for quite a days long,huh? don't you ?

sorry Fan babe,i'm just telling what i'm thinking of in my mind. if you don't like to work for this

bastard, come over to HK.
and btw tim, isn't the freedom or democracy you honky journalists are crusading for in China?
but I'm wondering what are you trying to get at with this blog? are you trying to stire up another

Tibetan crisis within Han Chinese or sth ? and If what you are advocating makes any sense. I DARE YOU LEAVE THIS COMMENT REMAINED.


"Chinese kids are not allowed to attend foreign school? Says who? I know a few Chinese kids who are attending an American school in Beijing."

Kids whose parents are hai gui? With foreign passports? An "American school" as in SAS or one of those hybrid foreign/chinese schools? There is a world of difference.


The picture is indeed from the Bruce Lee movie (you can see the clip on youtube), so I think at least a correction is in order.

Also, wikipedia claims that the park did not have this sign, though it did have a rule allowing only foreigners in, and cites the following as a source:

Robert A. Bickers and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom. "Shanghai's 'Dogs and Chinese Not Admitted' Sign: Legend, History and Contemporary Symbol." China Quarterly, no. 142 (1995): 444-66.

tim J

Interesting point, Jay. I just read through the Peking Duck posting and am still not entirely clear if such a sign existed at Huangpu Park after 1890 or not. I thought I remembered reading in Paul French's excellent book on Carl Crow that such signs did exist in Shanghai. Also, my assistant is probably similar to many Chinese in affirming emphatically that such signs did exist.


Maybe the sign should read:

"No Running Dogs and Chinese"?

Youssef Massef

One more thing, Fan Di is cute! That might cheer her up!

Youssef Massef

Soldiers are not normal people and their actions follow only their chain of command, current orders, and boot camp indoctrination. Fan Di did a dangerous thing and whoever posted her picture also did a dangerous thing. Oy vay!


Reminds me of how sad I am to fly anywhere these days in the U.S.

Sick of this emphasis on security over personal rights -- EVERYWHERE.


Indeed, as Jay points out, the "No dogs or Chinese" sign is a myth, and the sign in your photo comes from the Bruce Lee film "精武门" (Fist of Fury?).


Nh, I knew you were disgusting, I didn't know you were THIS disgusting.

Chinese kids are not allowed to attend foreign school? Says who? I know a few Chinese kids who are attending an American school in Beijing.

The Chinese government deliberatedly allowed Han Chinese to be killed by Tibetan mobs to justify the crack down? Wow, nh, ni ya zhen ta ma bian tai!


Your assistant is a bit of a whimp. Perhaps she should shed some tears about certain current events.


Part of the reason for segregation is the CCP does not want average Chinese getting their thoughts "polluted" by too much exposure to foreigners.

That is why Chinese kids are not allowed to attend foreign schools.

An eyewitness on BBC world said that the PAP/PLA cordoned off areas with riots even while Han Chinese were allegedly being attacked.

Was this done to allow Han to be killed and therefore justify a deadly crackdown by the military as well as stir up more Chinese nationalism?


I think in India at a town called Mousourrie they still have the colonial era wooden plank saying "No dogs and Indians Allowed" in the Mall area.

Bravo Fan Di. I don't know whether its a racial prejudice or gender prejudice, but you did the right thing :)


Since it's impossible for a foreigner to obtain Chinese citizenship, there's no point in checking their IDs.


Fan Di,
Pity the Chinese that the deep rooted inferiority complex is hurting themselves and make a mockery of their own people and culture!
My observation is that in China and to many Chinese, any thing and every thing from the West is superior to any thing and everything Asian-with the possible exception to Japanese.
My conclusion is if you are some how connected to any thing Western -be it in your job, education, relationship...etc,- you are 'made'. That's how it works over there.
Racism? NO, this is not. This is Inferiority Complex to the Nth degree!


There's just one small problem. The sign about "no dogs or chinese allowed" is a mere myth. The subject was covered over at Peking Duck about three years ago.



Truly sad and outrageous. Yes China is a racist country where foreigners are deemed superior (especially the whites). The Chinese need a slap in the face!

A  B


Encore! Encore!

Standing ovation.


Racism is alive and well, especially those who can't face the facts. If it is information from a foreign source, it is China Bashing.


Sad Lesson for the Day: DRESS CODE. It is important to be "appropriately dressed", especially Office Workers. Surely the Guard should act, if he suspected hanky-panky occurring on regular 9-5 basis? Stranger things have happened. What far-fetched resemblance is there, to hoary, old Dog Story? Just TJ's crap: on a slow-day, bash China -- safe way to earn a living as journalist.


Sadly, I see this out my way as well. My wife is a local, and she's seen it a few times I'm sure.

The comments to this entry are closed.



"China Rises" is written by Tom Lasseter, the Beijing bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

Send Tom a story suggestion.

Read Tom's stories at news.mcclatchy.com.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @TomLasseter

Follow Tom on Google Plus

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


    Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
              1 2
    3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    10 11 12 13 14 15 16
    17 18 19 20 21 22 23
    24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Photo Albums