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Expats on the loose in Beijing

By Jules Quartly  (China Daily)

08:51, March 19, 2013

Expat writers Kaitlin Solimine, Tom Carter and Matthew Polly, recount their China experiences at the book launch of Unsavory Elements, part of the Capital Literary Festival Beijing. PHOTOS BY ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

A group of foreigners gathered over the weekend to speak about their new anthology. Jules Quartly finds out why they think China is the new land of opportunity.

Tian'anmen was still buzzing with politicians and tourists on Sunday morning as the two sessions wrapped up under China's new leadership and trumpets sounded for the "Chinese dream".

Nearby, at the glossy Capital M restaurant overlooking the iconic square, some unsavory foreign elements had gathered.

The writers, editors and publishers of a new anthology provided an alternative spin on the achievements of the Party and the development of the country on the day the annual political congress concluded.

Meeting for what was dubbed an "expat-tacular" panel discussion, part of the Capital Literary Festival Beijing, five authors introduced their contributions to the anthology Unsavory Elements, which presents 28 expat writers, some well known others less so, recounting their China experiences.

The book's publisher, China polymath and forum moderator Graham Earnshaw introduced the writers by saying expats are oft referred to as "laowai" ("old outsiders"), which neatly sums up their position at the periphery of Chinese life, even though the floating population has become an increasingly significant segment of the general population.

Whether they are English teachers, diplomats or businessmen, editor of the anthology and author of China: Portrait of a People, Tom Carter said the stories provide an antidote to the plethora of "useless" business and guide books that are outdated a year after they are published because they "immortalize our China experiences and dreams".

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