The main popular article on this topic that I am familiar with is Patrick Chovanec’s The Nine Nations of China (written in the spirit of Garreau’s and Woodard’s work on North America).
Commenter AquariusAnon provides an update with a focus on China’s major cities and their ideological outlooks. His series of comments are reprinted below.
Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen
1. Beijing is indeed Siloviki vatnik Sinotriumph. Actually it has strong historical cultural influences from Mongolia and Siberia, and there’s a little bit of a Buryatia vibe among a huge population of the locals, especially older men.
Russophilia in Beijing is manifest in the 6 flights a day between Beijing and Moscow, and have been at least 4 daily since 2010. Also, last time I was in Beijing, I noticed quite a few restaurants have Russian menus.
But Beijing still has a relevant, nontrivial liberal population: Arts and entertainment in China is largely centered on Beijing. Even if they have to work within the limits of Chinese censorship, they are highly liberal. Overall, vatnik-influenced Sinotriumph siloviki is still dominant.
Based on my experiences with Western expats in China, they find Beijing to be much more authentically Chinese and down to earth than Shanghai. There is some outright hostility towards foreigners in Beijing, but this is probably the Tier 1 city of China where its the easiest to befriend a local. So culturally, its quite similar to Russia.
Car culture and traffic jams are huge in Beijing. The architecture and city planning is very, in fact, extremely, Soviet. I recall my first impression of the outskirts of Moscow was how similar it looked to the same areas of Beijing.
2. Spot on about Shanghai. Russian influence ends at borscht among the Shanghainese. They’re also a small minority of Chinese tourists in Russia. Aeroflot flights to Shanghai are almost 100% connections, unlike those to Beijing.
Anglophilia is actually drastically declining among Shanghainese, due to negative experiences in the Anglosphere. The average Shanghainese finds the Anglosphere backwards and culturally alien, but acknowledges its superior education system and its economic size. Pretty much all middle class and above Shanghainese send their children to North America for education, but when it comes to general lifestyle influence, Japan is by far #1.
Keep in mind that Shanghai is essentially a first world Asian city on par with Tokyo or Seoul, but so happens to have internet censorship and a 50% vatnik population with their annoying peasant behavior. Shanghai is pretty economically segregated though, with areas split between tourist, elite locals and western expats, middle class, and peasant migrant vatniks.
Western expats find Shanghai to be a lot less authentically Chinese compared to Beijing, feels more like an international megapolis. Its unmatched in Mainland China for Western-friendly amenities, food, dating scene, and nightlife.
3. Shenzhen is a place where rural kids from all over China go to seek opportunity. The Sinotriumph technology cognitive elite is there, largely sourced from poor families in rural areas. Huge amounts of factory workers. There are no locals in Shenzhen at all, and almost everybody comes from a peasant background, whether rich or poor.
Shenzhen should be in between Beijing and Shanghai for liberalness. A lot of the top technology specialists may be highly nationalistic, due both to their nature of work, and that many got degrees from the Anglosphere but completely, and utterly failed to assimilate. On the other hand, factory owners and real estate people in Shenzhen will lean liberal (apolitical mostly though).
In all cities, and this includes Beijing, any type of Sinotriumph can’t hold a candle to the triumph the cargo cult. Your most hardcore anti-American, pro-Russian military silovik’s favorite car will likely be an Audi, and probably has a secret second home in Canada, Australia, or even California. And he’ll laugh you off if you suggest buying a house in Russia.
And the middle class in all cities are mostly bugmen consumerists. In terms of domestic policies, they’re mildly critical of the CCP, and in geopolitics, mildly Sinotriumph. In either case, nothing drastic that the gravy train gets derailed. Cargo cultism of Japanese, Korean, and Western products are still going strong with this group, because Chinese products sometimes really can’t compete.
All the tier 1 cities in China slightly exceed Moscow by just a tiny amount in terms of both amenities and wages.
P.S. Apple’s decline in China is mostly due to how ridiculously priced it is in the Chinese market. People buy Huawei (and other Chinese brands) not for nationalism, but because it works just as well at a fraction of the price. Shanghai’s liberast elite are still overcrowding Apple stores, with lines outside on weekend afternoons.
This is svidomy core of the Chinese civilization. Svidomism that somehow infused neoliberalism.txt.
Taiwan has been stagnant since the late 1990s. Wages haven’t grown at all in this period! Wages and prices are Portugal levels in Taiwan now. Buildings are largely from the 80s and falling into disrepair, and pretty much all apartment buildings have illegal, flimsy, uninsulated tin shacks built on the roof for rentals units! Infrastructure projects are often massively delayed.
Taipei overall has a tired, beat up vibe. Doesn’t even look first world at first impression.
The Svidomist parliament mostly argues, sometimes fights, and doesn’t get any work done. Not just anti-Chinese svidomism and LGBT nonsense, but the current ruling also started a slippery slope for immigration: The Vietnamese, and to a lesser extent Indonesians, are about to become an underclass ethnic minority in Taiwan.
The economic elite of Taiwan on the other hand, is a very different situation. Generally, they dislike the CCP, but pretty much every single rich Taiwanese businessman got rich off of Mainland China, usually by opening factories or selling their products there. For many white collar professionals, their relative expertise compared to Mainland counterparts (Taiwanese education/training is still quite serious and well-regarded) means they are in high demand in China. Taiwanese professionals get paid in between expat packages and regular wages in China, which puts the salary roughly 1.5x what they get in Taiwan, at roughly the same cost of living.
There’s also a big tourism industry in Taiwan that exclusively focuses on Chinese group tours. Taiwan is one of the few places where locals handle these cheap tour groups themselves.
The somewhat pro-China KMT largely represents the interests of these crowds above. However, they have no pivoted into “Make Taiwan Great Again” as the DPP svidomists utterly failed in that regard.
Taiwanese svidomy is the strongest in the poorer, more agragrian south of Taiwan.
Quick word on the demographics of Taiwan: 84% are Chinese who immigrated prior to the civil war mostly from present day Fujian province (Hoklo) and mixed with some of the coastal aboriginals, 14% are civil war refugees (Mainlanders), and 2% are aboriginals, mostly the unmixed tribes in the deep mountains. The 14% of “mainlanders” and the aboriginals are almost entirely pro-KMT. Aboriginals turn towards the KMT because the svidomist DPP is a Hoklo nationalist party, which obviously excludes the aboriginals. DPP’s support is almost entirely Hoklo.
P.S. patronizing Taiwanese products and especially cafes in China is being seen as a very “Sovok” thing now at least in Shanghai, about as ridiculous as Georgian cuisine in Moscow. Overpriced, poor value for money, and packaging/designs/tastes are either stuck behind the times, or simply inferior in every way imaginable compared to Japanese, Western, or independent domestic SAPL-owned competitors. This isn’t 1990-2005 anymore when the Taiwanese were the only ones who dominate the Chinese market for “foreign” consumerist products.
Besides Taiwan’s solid educational system and corporate culture, which means an R&D sector that punches way above its weight and the corporate culture means ample Mainland opportunities for graduates as described earlier, Taiwan’s stock exchange is also significantly outsized compared to its economy/population, due to the Mainland also.
Also, the Taiwanese lower class is much more civilized than Mainland Chinese vatnik peasants.
Quick add on Chinese liberast “Russophobia”
Western-style Russophobia, which is nothing more than PDS (Putin Derangement Syndrome), is nonexistent in China. Putin isn’t viewed unfavorably even among Chinese liberasts.
The average Chinese liberast elite writes off Russia as a corrupt, underdeveloped country that somehow has a massive military. They see Russians as undisciplined primitive people who drink and fight too much with poor impulse control/work ethic. And this type of “Russo-contempt” among Chinese liberasts is the biggest reason why high end Chinese tourism and Sino-Russian economic ties significantly lag behind the vatnik-Maozuo budget tour groups and military ties.
This lag will only grow bigger with time and Chinese liberasts are one of the most materialistic people on the planet, respecting only wealthy countries and willing to only invest in wealthy countries or perhaps some poorer ones that take care of wealthy foreigners well (e.g. tourism-centered economies like Mauritius, Bali, or Thailand). Russia miserably fails in both regards. Somehow Chinese liberasts also think of Russia as a high-crime and terror-prone place full of scammers.
“Russo-contempt” among Chinese liberal elites will stay until the Russian economy upgrades to Italy/South Korea levels. Its viewed among them as Brazil with snow, nukes, and tanks, which is not entirely false.
What’s worrying is that Russo-contempt has seeped into middle class millennials and Gen-Z Chinese too. Russian language classes are getting less and less popular Chinese universities, with no end in sight.
Russophilia in China is limited to the following groups:
1. Sinotriumph siloviki, or hardcore Sinotriumphialists as a whole. They view Russia as the leader of the global anti-Western “Axis of Resistance”, and knows the extreme importance of Russia as China’s strategic rear.
2. Sino-vatniki over the age of 50. They were kids when China was a vassal of the Sovoks (1949 to 1960, with lingering cultural influences until the Cultural Revolution), so Sovok culture, the main sights of Russia (e.g. Red Square, Winter Palace, Lake Baikal), and to a lesser extent even the Russian language, are very familiar among them. English wholly replaced Russian as China’s default foreign language only right around the start of the Cultural Revolution.
President Xi falls into both categories, which explains his views towards Russia.
However, its highly likely his successor will be a Gen-X Russo-contempt liberal. This doesn’t mean China will be neoliberalism.txt, as even liberasts are, and will always be, Sino-patriots.
Harbin is actually a below average provincial capital wealth-wise. Northeast China (Manchuria) is an economically stagnant region full of Sino-vatniks with a declining population. They form the bulk of both the peasant population in Beijing and Russia’s Chinese population; most Chinese restaurants in Russia cook Northeast Chinese dishes. Other places outside of their natural habitat where you’ll find the Northeast Chinese vatniki in bulk are Hainan Island, South Korea, and to a lesser extent Japan. A lot of them are also prostitutes in Paris.
The “elite” in this region is extremely ostentatious and rather vulgar: Extreme love of the latest designer clothing, sports cars, and gold. Sometimes they even get into debt to acquire these things. Combined with a love of grilled meats and drinking, this is the region of China that’s the most similar to Russia culturally.
Now talking about culture, Russian influence in this region lingers to this day: Russian sausages and black bread, and Russian cuisine as a whole, are actually a staple of Harbin locals’ food. Lots of Russian architecture and former Orthodox churches in Harbin. In fact, Harbin was built by the Russians. There are a lot of Russians, mostly vatniki from Siberia, in Harbin. The locals don’t really like them for their typical vatniki drunken behavior (but the locals themselves aren’t much better in that regard).
Heilongjiang, the province that Harbin is the capital of, is one of the very, very few places that still has areas with mandatory Russian on the college entrance exam; cities on the Chinese side of the Sino-Russian border in Heilongjiang have huge Russian trader populations and the city centers of these towns are entire Chinese-Russian bilingual. Many locals in these towns speak Russian; sometimes a few Russian words even show up in the local dialects in these regions.