Thanks, China Daily. Thanks for embedding a reporter deep inside the septic tank that is the Sanlitun Police Bureau and telling us it’s a lustrous fishbowl with that most exotic of exotic creatures, the officer who cares.
This piece, in which reporter Cao Yin is allowed to tail “stocky” 44-year-old Zhang Tao, presumably to see how a scanner works and learn the best way to splash water on piss to defuse the stench, begins about the way you’d expect: with a portly officer citing numbers, because he’s memorized them and it’d be a damn shame if he let that memorization go to waste.
“My area has a residential precinct with more than 11,000 people, including 1,100 temporary residents, as well as a bar street and several foreign embassies,” he said as he led me to his office, which is 100 meters away under a large poplar tree.
And what does Officer Zhang do?
“I’m here from 9 am to 9 pm and on 24-hour call two days a week,” he said, adding with a smile: “My personal cell phone number is an open secret around here.”
No, what is it that you do?
At the entrance to Zhang’s office, which he shares with his 52-year-old assistant, Jin Guiqin, are piles of pamphlets in Chinese and English on visa applications, accommodation and general tips for foreign residents. There is a printer and passport scanner, which means expats can register there as soon as they arrive in Beijing.
No, no, you asshole. What do you do other than sit in the office you share with an assistant with a printer and passport scanner?
Posted on one wall is a large color-coded map of the community’s apartment buildings that Zhang made in 2008.
“The colors show me how many people live in an apartment and what nationality they are,” he explained.
You… racially profile?
One particular compound has more than 50 expats, including Norwegians and Italians, and most are managers or owners of bars and restaurants, Zhang said. Their apartments are marked in blue.
You… monitor residents?
“We update the map once a month and often call to confirm how long residents will stay,” he said.
You… color in maps like a four-year-old?
Jin, his assistant, added that he will regularly text foreign residents or post messages on doors to remind them if their visa or accommodation documents are about to expire.
Oh, yeah… that sounds about right. You harass people about their papers.
But working in such a foreigner-heavy area, you at least harass them in English, right?
“I’m not good at English, but I try explaining regulations to foreigners,” he said. “If someone doesn’t understand me, I’ll show them the service guide and turn to pages in English.”
To be fair to these chums, it’s not like they don’t get out every once in a while. Oh no. Sometimes, like four years ago, Officer Zhang had to actually chase someone…
He recalled an incident in 2008 when a drunk British man knocked over a rack of CDs in a store and tried to run away. “The owner was furious. I caught the offender and made him apologize, as well as clean up the mess he’d made,” Zhang said.
Great. Meanwhile, in 2012, this happened, a brutal fight, and we’re told you were notified of it. What did you do, other than nothing?
You continued to do nothing.
Surely this reporter, this Cao Yin, will call you out on your shit, right?
While passing through Nali Patio, I suggested we visit Mosto, an Italian restaurant on the third floor, where we met 48-year-old Luca Fidanza, the assistant manager, who said the owner was unavailable and that he did not speak Chinese.
Wait. Wait wait wait wait wait. Was Mosto offering buy-two-get-one on their entrees? Why in any holy or unholy deity’s name would you decide to get into an elevator up to Mosto while making the rounds in Sanlitun? Was there some huge brawl last week caused by a spilt caper-olive tapenade? Was some poor embassy official served ruined mascarpone? Don’t fuck with a man’s yellow fin tuna ceviche, that’s what I’ve always said.
With that, my first tour with the exit-entry administration was over. Zhang said goodbye and headed back toward the bright lights of Sanlitun Village North.
“See, my work is not just about managing foreign residents,” he said before leaving. “I’m also here to serve them.”
After the launch of Beijing’s campaign against the illegal entry and employment of foreigners on May 15, China Daily submitted a request to follow exit-entry officers carrying out their duties in areas with a large presence of expatriates. This is the first in a series of stories on the subject.
Oh FUCK YOU.