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    Like all things in life there are good, better, and best ways to handle problems – with or without the help of lawyers, which for economic reasons should always be a last resort – especially in China.

    If you decide to work or teach in China, rest assured that you will have at least one argument a month with your employer. This is normal for new arrivals in China.

    Every month we get about 30 “complaints” from expat teachers in China about their employers but in reality maybe only 5 of the 30 are legitimate gripes. The vast majority are simply misunderstandings due to language barriers, cultural misinterpretations, or lack of communications.

    Keep in mind that for 5,000 years Chinese culture has programmed their citizens to be “harmonious” and avoid conflicts. Your employer does not want problems with you. They need you and usually want you to be happy. Granted there are exceptions where some unethical employers will try to exploit you, but they are not the majority.

    The key is to control your temper and not make a public scene. If you can keep calm and cool, you can resolve about 80% of all your gripes with your employer. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. This is China and things are done differently here – and “face” is extremely important. This is not your country. You are only a temporary guest here and YOU need to adjust to local ways and protocols. There is no BBB, FTC, or Congressmen here to run to when you have issues. Your embassy will NOT get involved in labor issues so don’t waste your time nor theirs. You need to be your own diplomat first, and usually that will be sufficient to work things out. Only when you cannot accomplish a mutually-acceptable settlement will the CFTU intercede on your behalf.

    The CFTU offers a free guidebook to “China Labor Relations & Conflict Resolution” and we offer it both to teachers and schools. Send for it by email and it will prepare you for your next argument with your employer, and hopefully you will have less and less “misunderstandings” after reading this free publication. You can request your own free copy at request@chinaforeignteachersunion.org

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