I recently came across an unexpected difference between China and England.
A Chinese friend wants to change her job. The reasons are unimportant.
In England, America and most of the restof the world the is is simple.
You apply for new jobs and go to the interviews.
When you get one you tell your old employer.
You work your period of notice, if you have one.
You leave the old job and start the new one.
Here you have to get actual permission to leave the old job. You fill in forms requesting that you be allowed to leave and submit them to the proper authorities within your organisation and wait. They have absolute control over whether you can leave or not.
In her case it was "not".
So even though she has a new job to go to and wants to leave she has been told she must continue to work for the company she is currently at doing the job she currently does.
Sometimes, as a foreigner with rather more leeway than the average Chinese worker, it's easy to forget just how authoritarian the society here can be. We aren't really exposed to it very much so we don't notice it as much as we should.
In case anyone wonders, the job isn't anything high powered or official, it's in an ordinary and unexceptional office post.
It can be worse though. I have heard of teachers who for some trivial imagined failing have been demoted from teaching to toilet cleaning. I was also chatting with another friend recently, a Chinese English teacher. His English is excellent - virtually native speaker level - but they still sent him on a week long total immersion program with other teachers. In this they are closeted away together (in what didn't sound like fun conditions to me) and required to speak English at all times. If they are overheard speaking Chinese they receive demerits. There are a range of punsihments available including exclusion from social activities, confinement to rooms and the ever popular cleaning duties.
This sounds suspiciously like what they used to call "re-education".
I'm not sure how serious he was one he uttered those immortal words beloved of authoritarian regimes everywhere, "It's for our own good.".
I am sure that if they tried it with foreign workers it would be no time at all before they didn't have any.