People's republic of desire
On a flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong, Niuniu is seated next to a middle-aged man named Steve, an American. He tells Niuniu that he is an engineer manager of a well-known American hi-tech company.
In recent years, more United States companies have moved production to China or used Chinese factories as their sites because of costs. This new geo-economic shift has also changed Steve's lifestyle. With his firm's growing business in China, he commutes between the mainland and California. This time, he is visiting Shenzhen.
Niuniu notices Steve's eyes sparkle whenever he mentions Shenzhen.
'You seem to be very excited about the trip. Is it your first time?' Niuniu asks.
'No. My third time,' Steve answers, then volunteers his story. 'My job is to help my company select manufacturing sites in Asia, so I have been to most of the big cities there. I think Hong Kong is a beautiful city, but too westernised and expensive. Now, it's become a transit point. I find Taipei has no character. I don't find it interesting. Singapore is very boring. I love Shenzhen.'
'Actually, my colleagues and I all know that everywhere is pretty much the same in terms of the capacity of one manufacturing site. The defining factor is the women. If we like the women there, we manipulate the data a little bit and give a glowing recommendation so the factories can be set up there so we can travel there later.'
'Sounds like you like the women in Shenzhen,' Niuniu says.
'Yes, they are beautiful and friendly. I was a former naval officer. Shenzhen reminds me of the Philippines and Hong Kong 15 or 20 years ago. In the United States, I have my middle-age crisis. But every time I come to Shenzhen, I feel younger and recharged. Those available, open-minded young Chinese women make me feel good about myself. After all, I can still get attention.'
'How do you meet them?'
'I've met several girls on the internet and I've picked up girls at bars and discos. Or my vendors introduce them to me. My colleagues are all doing the same thing. Often we go hunting together.'
Niuniu did not expect Steve to be so blatant. But he's not finished. 'Guess what I don't like about Asian women?'
'Southerners are too skinny,' he says.
'How much does your wife weigh?'
Steve orders more drinks. Niuniu becomes concerned as he begins to eye her, not even attempting to hide his intentions.
His comments also become more personal as the hours flow by. 'Those earrings are charming.' 'Your sweater fits you so well.' 'You should wear only short skirts or tight slacks.'
Fortunately, Niuniu has the aisle seat, so she doesn't have to climb over him to go to the toilet. As the aircraft is somewhere over Japan, Steve asks: 'Niuniu, want to become a member of the mile-high club?'
'What's that?' Niuniu asks.
He leers at her and says: 'That's a club of people who have made love at 35,000 feet above sea-level in an airliner's toilet.'
Niuniu smiles sweetly. 'Sounds great. Let me get ready. I'll be in the toilet on the right in the tail section. Give me about six minutes.' But she promptly heads for the attendants' galley. Niuniu gets herself a mid-flight upgrade, and Steve gets a surprise when he finds a male steward in the toilet.
'You can pick your day to travel, how much you are willing to pay, and where you want to sit, but you can't pick the passenger in the next seat when you fly solo. You have to pray it's not some horny old goat,' Niuniu thinks as she lands in Hong Kong. 'When will I ever fly in a private plane?'