The Ghost

A proud native of Pennsylvania’s Coal Region and a graduate of Penn State University, Brandon Taylor now lives in Beijing, China, where he works for the newsweekly Beijing Review and sometimes still gets lost in the city’s ancient hutongs.

I am pale, unnecessarily, embarrassingly pale. Perhaps it was my screen addiction in childhood, the endless hours of video games and time spent indoors that has resulted in a pasty white complexion that’s made me the end of many a “you’re so white” joke. In America, this was a curse, but in China it’s been a blessing. The Chinese love caucasians, our white skin the epitome of beauty. But that wasn’t always the case.

Much of China’s recent history has been dominated by foreign invasions. As a result, the populace came up with a special word for these invaders, aimed mostly at but not limited to white Euro-conquerers: yangguizi, translated into foreign devil or, more accurately, overseas ghost. While blatantly negative when it was conceived, today it’s only comically negative, a mostly laughed-at term that foreigners throw around when referring to themselves or other “foreign devils”. I use it because I am both a foreigner and a “ghost”.

My life in China started with a three-month internship at China Daily and quickly turned into three years working for Beijing Review, the best weekly English-language news magazine the Communist Party of China can produce. As an “editorial consultant” (read, copy editor/propaganda artist extraordinaire) I edit the Chinglish — the wonderful interpretation of the English language by China’s 1.3 billion people — out of a variety of articles on Chinese business, national news and cultural accomplishments. It’s an interesting job, challenging at times while rewarding at others. This blog follows my life in Beijing working for state media and traveling the great nation of China, a country rich in culture, history, and the most deliciousĀ and gastronomically challenging foods I’ve ever tasted.

Be sure to check out my other blog FOREIGN EXPERTISE for even more photos and stories of my adventures in China from 2009 to Fall 2011.

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