China Elevator Stories

“Are There Any Positive Aspects Of Having A Different Citizenship?”

I chat with my husband’s niece over dinner in Changchun.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


One day in July 2013, my husband and I visit his 9-year-old niece in Changchun.

She asks me at dinner: “Are there any positive aspects of having a different citizenship?”
I answer her: “There are. If you hold a Chinese citizenship, it’s not very easy to go abroad. You’ll need a visa for almost every country. If you’re from Austria, you’ll need a visa for some countries like China, but there are also many countries where you don’t need a visa.”

She says: “I see. Is there anything else that is better abroad?”
“The air is generally much cleaner in Europe than it is in China.”
“Is the air bad in Changchun?”
“Well, Changchun is still okay I guess, but if you go to Beijing, for example, it’s really bad. The skies are often grey and you can’t see the buildings just a few meters from you.”

She then wants to know: “Why is the air in Beijing so bad?”
“That’s a question many people would like to know the answer for. Maybe there are many factories near Beijing.”
My husband churns in: “And there are lots of cars on Beijing’s streets.”

Has a young kid ever asked you questions like these?

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