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Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be Great


He will choose you, disarm you with his words, and control you with his presence. He will delight you with his wit and his plans. He will show you a good time, but you will always get the bill. He will smile and deceive you, and he will scare you with his eyes. And when he is through with you, and he will be through with you, he will desert you and take with him your innocence and your pride. You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser, and for a long time you will wonder what happened and what you did wrong. And if another of his kind comes knocking at your door, will you open it?

(From an essay signed, “A psychopath in prison” in Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us. by Robert Hare, Ph.D.)1


This article is a reaction to various news stories on the Internet regarding the infamous foreign “teacher” and blogger ChinaBounder, aka David Marriott, who publicized his sexual exploits with Chinese women in Shanghai on his website Sex and Shanghai. He was reportedly forced to shut down and go into hiding after a Chinese professor of psychology, Zhang Jiehai, spearheaded a citywide manhunt for this scoundrel who boasted about all the girls he was able to bed without the need to promise them anything. After it was safe to come out of hiding, ChinaBounder decided to cash in on his notoriety by breaking his anonymity and retaliating with a book titled “Fault Lines on the Face of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great.”

Young Therapist Learns a Valuable Lesson

Many years ago, back in 1980, when I was just starting out my career at a community mental health center as a young and naive psychotherapist, I was assigned a case of a big corporate chief financial officer who had been arrested for embezzling over $100,000. He had contrived a rather simple yet effective plan in which he personally approved unobtrusive overcharges on weekly product deliveries. He would sign-off on the doctored invoices and he and his partner would split the difference. I can no longer recall all the specific details of the case but I do remember that this scheme persisted for almost two years before he was caught—and only then through a series of mishaps which led to the arrest of his co-conspirator (who then promptly proceeded to hand over my patient to the police as part of a plea bargain agreement).

This CFO’s attorney strongly advised him to seek therapy for his “depression” and “remorse,” which he did immediately. I remember thinking it strange at the time that a man who lived in a million dollar home and drove a $40,000 car (back in 1980) would seek treatment at a community mental health center that primarily served working class people and assigned fees based on a sliding scale. Surely, I thought to myself, this man could afford the very best private psychiatric care available in town. Nevertheless, in those days I wouldn’t dare question the appropriateness of any patient who had been assigned to me and, after all, the clinic director was thrilled because the patient’s fee had been set at 50 dollars per session (the maximum amount at that time).

To make a long story short, after about five months of therapy or so, any suspicions of disingenuousness I might have initially harbored had been allayed and I wrote a very strong letter of support for this patient (against the advice of my supervisor) in which I espoused all of his virtues and attested to the sincerity of his deep remorse and regret. This letter was instrumental in leading to a plea bargain agreement in which the patient basically admitted to nothing more than the exercise of “poor judgment” and agreed to resign his position as CFO in exchange for a glowing letter of recommendation from the company’s CEO. Legally speaking, he was given a slap on the wrist and, essentially, walked away from the entire affair with very little damage done—except for his legal fees of course.

Once the case was officially over, Mr. CFO dropped the facade he had so cleverly duped me with and began to expressly ruminate, in session, over how enraged he was at ever having had to defend himself in this matter whatsoever! He expressed near-homicidal fury over the truck driver who had “ratted him out,” rage with the prosecuting attorney for “victimizing” him with this “ridiculous” case, and he held nothing but contempt for the “greed” of his remarkably gifted attorney who not only kept him out of prison but masterfully engineered a plea bargain agreement that left his shirttails pressed and clean.

He was so enraged over having to return all the money he had embezzled, plus whatever the case had cost him in legal fees, he began to plan his next scheme to steal back from his new employer (another Fortune 500 Company) all the monies he had “lost.” When I advised him that information he might report to me about the future commission of a felony was not privileged communication, he abruptly terminated “therapy” and I never heard from him again (nor did he ever pay for that last session).

This early exposure in my career to a type of patient I had not previously encountered led to a great deal of additional reading and discussion about what psychoanalysts call “phallic narcissism.” I hadn’t thought about this patient in years until I was suddenly reminded of him, quite recently, when I came across an article titled “ChinaBounder’s Back and He’s Mad” on I suspect, too, there was a part of me that identified in retrospect with the plight of some of those girls he has reportedly boasted about using like playthings, which then served as the impetus behind the writing of this editorial.

Phallic Narcissism and the Sociopathic Lifestyle

Consider the following simple yet eloquent and sufficient description of the phallic narcissist from John McCormick’s The Sociopathic Style:2

This is a person who is a perfectionist and who is very concerned about self-image. They are fairly reality based and can be quite successful. They often have to be right.

Their grandiosity is held in check to great degree by the reality of their accomplishments. They are often driven to succeed and are often seen as successful.

Sexuality for these individuals is based on proving their own sexual attractiveness and their power is derived from the kind of person they can conquer sexually and often by the number of people they can conquer sexually.

Life is seen as a problem to be conquered with physical skill and mental prowess. They do not live through relationships of the heart and have difficulty truly loving. Their image of self is as a lover and sexual conqueror but not as one who loves. People relating to them will not feel loved and often will feel judged and inadequate.

Before I proceed any further, I would like to make it abundantly clear that I am most definitely not a moral crusader or a “holier than thou” sort of person, nor will I be joining Mother Teresa in the annals of sainthood anytime near soon. For the most part, I tend to mind my own business and keeping my side of the street clean is more than enough for me to concern myself with.

What other people do in the privacy of their own homes is entirely their business, not mine—but what other foreigners do in China publicly (or, in this case, choose to make public) is very much the business of every Westerner in China, man and woman alike, who is trying to do some good and make a positive difference here.

It is not easy being a foreign teacher in China and people like David Marriott make it exponentially more difficult for each and everyone of us. Provinces and cities with relatively large numbers of foreigners are engaging in the tightening of visa and other regulations that are adversely affecting all of us: the good are getting swept away with the bad. One city, at least, is now issuing identification numbers for photos used in visa applications and professional teachers who have lived and worked in China for years are, for the first time, facing considerable problems satisfying newly created and enforced visa and residency permit requirements. Whether these restrictive measures will subside after the Olympic Games are officially concluded or remain with us for years to come is anyone’s guess.

That Prof. Zhang would become incensed over the alleged sexual exploitation and emotional abuse of Chinese girls, many of whom were supposedly Marriott’s former students, does not surprise me—and I believe Zhang’s motives were sound and commendable. What does both surprise and concern me is that Prof. Zhang’s campaign was not supported by every single Westerner in Shanghai with long-term psychological and financial investments in China.

I am not so naive as to imagine that every girl ChinaBounder slept with had been previously innocent or inexperienced until such time that she met Marriott. With conservative estimates placing the number of active prostitutes in China at around 10 million3, it is fair to assume that not every unmarried young woman in China is a vestal virgin. In addition, Shanghai women do have a reputation (among foreign men anyway)—whether it be true or false—for being rather mercenary in their attraction to and interest in men, foreign and Chinese alike. However, if just one of his bedmates allowed herself to be seduced in the hope that by giving herself to Marriott she might secure a future husband and a better life for herself and her family, and Marriott was consciously aware of this, then there is an emotional part of me that deeply regrets that Prof. Zhang and his group of net citizens did not catch up with him.

When you cast your eyes upon the numerous pairings of relatively pretty and young Chinese girls with most decidedly unattractive and much older Western men, it is clear that there is no glory or accomplishment in bedding girls from a developing country who are seeking a better life and possibly a visa to a more affluent country. Completely aside from the moral issues involved, this is certainly not something worth boasting about and doing so ranks right down there with bathroom humor. Speaking entirely for myself, I stopped having an interest in locker room stories at around 15-years of age (maybe younger), which is why—admittedly—this piece is written on summary accounts of Marriott’s blog as opposed to an actual reading of it.

Aside from being obviously and exceedingly sophomoric, is ChinaBounder a phallic narcissist like my former patient of 28 years ago was? Of course, there is no reliable way of answering that question barring a thorough examination. The fact that Marriott appears to believe that exposing China’s presumed faults—as well as those of anyone else who criticizes him (based on quoted comments of his I read about Prof. Zhang)—exonerates him of his responsibility in how he treats others suggests that, at the very least, he lacks empathy, as well as the ability to critically evaluate himself as clearly as he believes he can an entire country. And those are just two reasons why David Marriott may never sufficiently develop into a great (let alone nice) person—completely aside from whether China herself will ever be great. Perhaps these apparent manifestations of phallic narcissism and sociopathy are simply characterological traits and not symptoms of an ingrained personality disorder.

Maybe, one day, ChinaBounder— as well as all the other foreign men in China just like him—will grow up enough to fully appreciate the emotional harm they have caused, not only to some of these girls who have been used but to all the other foreigners in China who are judged and responded to on the basis of the actions of just a handful of extremely immature, base, and poorly-behaved Westerners who regard sleeping with Chinese girls as if it were a competitive sport or recreational activity.

At least it’s something to hope for, for the sake of all foreigners living and working in China.


  1. Retrieved September 8, 2008 from
  2. McCormick, John. (2006). Phallic Narcissistic Personality. Retrieved September 12, 2008 from
  3. Dougherty, Niklas (2006). Prostitution in contemporary China: The case of Shanghai Jiading. Unpublished master’s thesis. Lund University, Sweden.


# RE: Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be GreatKim 2010-02-13 09:37
Hi! I think you should read his blog before you criticise him the way you do. He is -undoubtedly – a bigmouth Lothario but the women he sleeps with are overwhelmingly very aware of what kind of guy he is. They go along for the ride, so to speak. Also, he is quite often witty and perceptive about China and about his own shortcomings too, and although he brags at least he doesn’t give traceable names…so I think we can forgive him.
And I’m surprised you said you wouldn’t mind if the Zhang-gang banged him. That whole incident was scary…why are you endorsing thuggish vigilantism?
# RE: Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be GreatMatt 2010-02-13 09:37

Your blog is wonderful, I really appreciate and enjoy your insights into psychology along with a view of life in China. I’ll be traveling there soon and I found your site after searching around.

Thanks for writing it!

# RE: Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be GreatRick S. 2010-02-13 09:38
I think it is a very sad statement of our times when the benchmark on something like this is ‘Well, he’s not a rapist or a sadist’.

I work as a foreign teacher in a city with less than 1000 foreigners. Two years ago a new law went into effect that made registration of motorbikes illegal inside the city. Maybe there were about 100 foreigners with motorbikes so the police took a ‘look the other way’ attitude towards the foreigners. Occasionally some over-zealous cop would stop a foreigner, especially if he wasn’t wearing his helmet, but if he was nice about it and put the helmet on, they would usually let you go with just a warning. Most of the time there was no trouble.

Then one day this one punk who was big trouble was pulled over. Instead of being nice about it, he decided to yell at the cop and call him names! Unfortunately there was a woman in the crowd who spoke some English and she was translating this guy’s insults to cop. Before you knew it, there was a crowd of 300 angry Chinese gathered around in this big ball and the newspapers got there. Story made the evening news and all the papers.

After that they started to crack down on any foreigner driving a bike in the city and they never let up. Most of us have just sold them off. This one lowlife punk with his big mouth killed it for all of us. One rotten apple really can spoil the whole barrel. Thanks for the article.

# RE: Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be GreatWhisperingShout 2010-02-13 09:39
I read Chinabounder’s current blog page. The main article seemed to be a laundry list of China’s well known shortcomings appended to a vulgar theme.

In fairness, it was neither better nor worse than what one would expect to find on a Myspace or Facebook blog page.

I assume the writer is just going through that locker room type of mentality that some young men, desperate for attention and validation, go through.

After some post secondary education, and a bit of maturity, he’ll probably enter young adulthood chagrined at his lack of discretion and writing skills.

I am assuming, based on the writing level, that this is a recent high school student. If not, well, that would be really, really pathetic.
# RE: Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be GreatDiane 2010-02-13 09:39
Kim can forgive everything because this guy didn’t specifically identify the girls? That’s very big of him.

What about the GIRLS? Did they know their bedroom activities would be written up in the next internet issue? Wouldn’t they be able to identify themselves online? Did they consent to this?

There are moral and legal issues galore that the original author hasn’t even begun to approach.
# RE: Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be GreatDr. Greg 2010-02-13 09:40
Dear Kim,

Sorry about the misquote: “loudmouth” is the New York version of “bigmouth.” Smile.

I guess everyone does has the inalienable right to be a “prat”: you can’t legislate decency. As for the rest of it, I think we will have to agree to disagree after all.

And, for the record, I have absolutely nothing against English teachers: they were certainly among my favorite in high school. It’s just that I don’t think it’s reasonable to refer to anyone who can speak English as an “English teacher” (even if they’re being paid as one in China), hence my use of quotation marks. I’m sorry that wasn’t clear to you.

From the situation you describe in Dalian, it sounds like a very special, even unique, city in regard to foreign English teachers. We’ll have to investigate that for future editions of the guide.

Anyway, thanks for your interest and comments. Both are very much appreciated.

Best regards,
# RE: Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be GreatKim 2010-02-13 09:40
Dear Dr!

Thanks for the response! First of all, I’d like to say that I didn’t call the Bounder a loudmouth Lothario, I called him a bigmouth Lothario. But your phrase is much better…much more of a ring to it what with the assonance and alliteration. I will use that elsewhere if I may ;)

Well, I think we will have to agree to differ about Bounder. When you call him contemptuous of China and the Chinese, I don’t see that. I see a guy who likes living here but would criticise any country he lived in because he is a polemicist. His rants have quite a lot of truth to them and to dismiss them as insulting is to miss the point of that type of writing. I think he overstates his case and is guilty of insensitivity, but I can forgive that if it shakes people up a bit and makes them think.

Also, what you call a highly vitriolic and foul tirade against Zhang, I would say was a fairly justified attack against someone who deserved it. I think Zhang is a much more dangerous and perverting “educator” than Bounder. Also, I would say that the best teacher I had at school, the most inspirational and the most effective, was, I found out later, a very flawed man in his private life. Would I like Bounder to teach my daughter? Yes, if he is a good teacher. If he then leaves school and sleeps with lots of women and brags about it anonymously and with no traceable names, then so what?

Would I want to hang out with the guy and listen to his bragging? No way. I think he is a bit of a prat. But I defend (to the death) his right to be a prat. He is not a rapist or a sadist.

Finally, I have been in Dalian for two years now and have hung out with an awful lot of, mostly male, English teachers and have never heard anything like your supermarket anecdote. Nor have I met anyone who sleeps with lots of Chinese women and brags about it. I have some colleagues who are young, male, and horny and in some cases absolutely smitten by Chinese femininity, yes, but they don’t sleep around and “break hearts”. They mostly joke about how all the beautiful girls are out of their league! Most of them are after a serious girlfriend…just like everywhere else! Anyway, I think you have an unfairly poor opinion of male English teachers in China, you even use “English teacher” in scare quotes. But teachers have libidos too. Teachers are capable of being professional in the classroom and randy outside it. I think you and Nancy are being a little prudish. And I do not think Bounder is representative of anything but a tiny tiny minority of English teachers. That’s my experience anyway!
# RE: Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be GreatDr. Greg 2010-02-13 09:41

If Chinabounder’s situation was a relatively rare one, there wouldn’t have been any reason to write an article about it. In fact, he is a very common type of male foreign English teacher in China and I just used him as an example, as he decided to go public with his adventures. The article is not really about him, per se, and in that regard, it is something of a misnomer. I could have just as easily written about 10 other foreign teachers I know of personally who fit the same bill, but without the notoriety. Like the one, a few months ago, who bragged to me about how he picks up Chinese women in the supermarket by acting confused and asking them for help. He offers to buy them a cup of coffee for their trouble, and then tries to see how quickly he can get them into bed. Oh what good sport it is (and he took pride in telling me how much money he saves on prostitutes this way). It’s strange perhaps, because I grew up in New York City, but after I left high school, I stopped hearing stories like these—until I moved to China that is.

When I wrote, above, that I hadn’t read his blog, what I meant is that I had not read through it entirely. Of course, I read a few entries, just enough for me to see for myself what all the hullaballoo was about. Referring to him as a “loudmouth Lothario,” although kind and generous of you, understates the potential harm he—and other foreign “teachers” like him in China—can cause: in more ways than one. Let me ask you honestly: When the time comes, would you want your daughter dating someone like this? How would you feel to learn that someone of his ilk, given how contemptuous he is of China and the Chinese, was actually teaching your daughter in school? Would it make you angry?

In regard to his blog, I read one highly vitriolic and foul tirade against not only Prof. Zhang but the entire educational system in China, a couple of references to Chinabounder’s genital size (in regard to the inadequacy of Chinese condoms), and a couple of “yes… buts” or, more specifically, “Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have written that but I’m not doing anything that isn’t just a part of human nature…so screw them” or, simply restated: “boys will be boys… wink-wink.” Not only did I not read any genuine self-disclosures about his own shortcomings but, instead, very quickly observed a clear tendency on his part to viciously attack and insult anyone who criticizes him. As I mentioned earlier, there are thousands of foreign “English teachers” just like him in China and everyone of them can tell you precisely what is wrong with this country as well.

And, by the way, if you read what I wrote carefully, I don’t think it’s reasonable to conclude that I am a supporter of thuggish vigilantes. If, in fact, he was exploiting Chinese girls in the manner I specifically qualified, and as alleged by Prof. Zhang, then, yes, I can certainly understand the rage reaction against him. Literary rhetoric and hyperbole aside, do I really think he should have been castrated or killed for that? No, of course not—but I can completely relate to and empathize with the sentiment that motivated the manhunt.

To Nancy,

Stick to international schools only in need of certified teachers, such as yourself, in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and you should find something of a reasonable peer group there.

To Paul,

# RE: Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be GreatPaul Stalmyer 2010-02-13 09:41
Nancy wrote “Is this what I can expect of the foreign community in China?”

Fair question. There are many types of expatriates living and working in China, Nancy, and foreign English teachers make up just a part of that community.

There are many corporate, legal, and diplomatic types in China, especially in Beijing, who do not appreciate being grouped together with unqualified teachers of spoken English, myself included.

Greg, I thoroughly enjoy reading these articles and hope you keep them up! It’s one of the few sites I check regularly for new entries with my cup of tea here in Beijing. Your insights are spot on. Cheers.

Paul Stalmyer
Beijing, China
# RE: Just Two Reasons Why ChinaBounder May Never Be GreatNancy 2010-02-13 09:42
I was a history teacher for more than 25 years. I am a widow, without children, and was thinking about moving to China to live and work part-time as a teacher in my golden years.

I hadn’t known anything about this Chinabounder until I read the material provided by the links in the first article. I can’t believe that anyone who is a real teacher would write such trash or that any real educator would find enjoyment in that sort of literary diarrhea. Is this what I can expect of the foreign community in China?

All this time I was afraid of how I would adjust to the major differences between cultures and now I am beginning to think that my biggest adjustment will have nothing to do with China or the Chinese. Perhaps I ought to stay at home.

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Middle Kingdom Life is the premier award-winning educational website for foreign teachers and Western expats in China. It was founded by an American professor in psychology and sociology for the purpose of disseminating valid and reliable information about living and teaching in China. The site's mission is to protect and enhance the interests and social welfare of foreign teachers and Western expats in China.

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