Update to the China Bitcoin saga

Update to the China Bitcoin saga
JISHOU, HUNAN — I talked to customer service at Huobi today, and it seems enabling deposits with my Chinese bank card is not easy as one would think — all because of the lack of a Chinese national ID number. So, they will refund my 500 RMB ($73) deposit in two to three days. If Huobi’s coders don’t edit the backend to allow linking passport numbers to Chinese bank cards, I may be shut out of Huobi indefinitely. There’s really no point in using an exchange if you can’t, you know, exchange stuff. Meanwhile, I sent an email to BTCChina’s support staff to inquire if I would have similar difficulties trading on their exchange. I’m waiting for their reply. BTCChina has this message on their website now. As with Huobi, I had already provided BTCChina with all that when I first opened the account a couple of years ago. Huobi required me to do it all over again, because the name issue I explained yesterday. I’m hoping I don’t have the same hassles with BTC China. In the meantime, if I want to buy Bitcoin in China, I can still use LocalBitCoins.com or BitKan (a China-based P2P service). While these ...

China’s new regulations for Bitcoin exchanges are a PITA

China's new regulations for Bitcoin exchanges are a PITA
JISHOU, HUNAN — If you’re not into Bitcoin, you may safely skip this post. Otherwise, read on to learn of my frustrations in complying with China’s new requirements for Bitcoin exchange users. I have accounts with two Chinese Bitcoin exchanges, and previously had no issues at all registering those accounts and submitting orders using my Chinese bank cards. But national banking regulators have recently compelled the exchanges to comply with KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) regulations, ostensibly to protect customers and cut off possible criminal activity, but mostly to restrict capital flight. Over the weekend, Bitcoin prices had dipped into the $900 range, and I was betting that they would bounce back. Assuming that these new KYC/AML regulations were not yet in effect, I made a 500 RMB ($73) deposit to my Huobi.com account. And nothing happened. Huobi did not credit the deposit to my account. Yesterday, customer service informed me that I had to upload a photo of my passport and a photo of me holding the passport next to my face. So I did that. Several times. Each time, there was an error message. First, I got “the image is not clear,” so I submitted ...

I’m back, and now dealing with China’s new Bitcoin restrictions

I'm back, and now dealing with China's new Bitcoin restrictions
JISHOU, HUNAN — While I was away, China’s central banking authorities decided to investigate (as they put it), China’s Bitcoin exchanges, resulting in all the exchanges sharply curtailing withdrawals of Bitcoin until further notice. As I have used Bitcoin as a way to move part of my salary (paid in Chinese yuan) to my bank in America, this new situation directly affects me. All is not lost, however, as I will detail below. One dilemma many expats face is moving money from one country to another. I am paid in Chinese yuan, and am permitted to transfer 70% of my very modest pay — by US standards — each month to the USA. At first, I used bank wire transfers, which required substantial paperwork, the assistance of a Chinese national’s bank account and relatively high fees. Then I learned I could create a Chinese PayPal account and send funds to my American PayPal account, paying about 4% in exchange fees. Not bad, but my experience with PayPal is, shall we say, less than positive. Beginning in 2013 I started using Bitcoin to move my money cross-border. I’d buy bitcoins with Chinese yuan, send the bitcoins to my Coinbase account, and ...

Passport in hand, I’m ready to travel! 3

Passport in hand, I'm ready to travel!
JISHOU, HUNAN — In the eight years since I came here, the city has grown in leaps and bounds. Previously, the Public Security Bureau (PSB) was near the central business district, about 20 minutes from campus. But Jishou is included in the national development of western China (that is, west of the Beijing-Shanghai-Hong Kong corridor), so many of the government offices have moved or will move to brand spanking new quarters in QianZhou, south of Jishou proper. Really, to be completely accurate, I should say QianZhou has grown in leaps and bounds. While Jishou expanded some, it’s constrained by natural borders: a river running west to east and mountains roughly perpendicular to the river. Tearing down the CBD and erecting new buildings is not feasible, especially when it’s easier to build on land to the south. So, the PSB moved to new spacious — no, cavernous — offices on the southern perimeter of QianZhou, 10 kilometers (6 miles) from campus, roughly twice as far away as the old facilities. The area is so new that taxi drivers don’t even know where it is. I had to help him find it, since I’ve been there twice already. My passport was all ...

It’s time for the annual trek to America!

It's time for the annual trek to America!
JISHOU, HUNAN — If all goes to plan, I’ll be in the USA for another summer vacation on Monday. Now is as good a time as any to catch everyone up on what’s been happening here. The spring term basically finished for me last Friday. I gave my final exams the week before, and handed in the grades on the 6th. Since that time, I’ve basically just been cooling my heels here waiting to get my passport with a new residence permit back from the Public Security Bureau (PSB). Until then, I can’t leave town. Two years ago, the PSB almost did not renew my residence permit because they thought I had been teaching at another school, which is against regulations. My foreign affairs officer was able to persuade them to grant me my residency, though. Last year’s renewal went off without a hitch, but this year not so much. See that photo above? I visited a combined primary-secondary school in Huayuan County in May, where a graduate student friend of mine teaches English. He thought I could visit the school’s English classes to encourage the kids to learn English better. I visited three classes in the morning. It was ...

Three Chinese cities in top 10 most costly places for expats

Three Chinese cities in top 10 most costly places for expats
JISHOU, HUNAN — Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing are among the ten most expensive places to live for expats, according to Mercer, a global business consulting firm. Hong Kong is #1, with Shanghai in seventh place and Beijing in tenth. Other Asian cities in the top ten are Singapore and Tokyo, in fourth and fifth places respectively. Jishou is not included on the list, but it would be near the bottom, as rents are quite cheap here compared to the larger cities in China. Citing the Mercer study, the BBC reports that a two-bedroom unfurnished apartment in Hong Kong rents for US$6,800, compared with $5,100 for a comparable apartment in New York. A cup of coffee in HK will set you back about US$8, but a hamburger meal is about $5. Some of the cities are expensive, because of their fearsome cost of living generally. Many Chinese, for example, have trouble affording housing in the nation’s largest cities. Other cities, such Luanda, Angola (#2) are in countries with weak currencies, which hurts expat pocketbooks. Mercer says it evaluates expats’ cost of living in some 200-odd cities by taking into account housing, education for children, transport and everything needed to live ...

Movie review: Batman v. Superman waits too long to show Wonder Woman

Movie review: <em>Batman v. Superman</em> waits too long to show Wonder Woman
JISHOU, HUNAN — I’ve never posted a movie review here before, because there’s so many other people reviewing movies, why bother? But I went to see Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice tonight with an entirely Chinese audience, accompanied by six of my freshmen. So this review will have a different perspective than others out there. For those who have not seen the movie (or read the reviews), I’ll cut to the chase and skip all the story commentary. (1) For whatever reason, director Zack Snyder felt it necessary to provide Batman’s complete back story, though it was hardly necessary for an understanding of this movie. (2) The first half of the movie was just plain dull, despite the fight sequences. One student, Lee, said it was boring. Another, Meredith, just fell asleep. I almost did myself. I sat through the first half comparing it unfavorably to a Marvel Cinematic Universe flick, waiting for something exciting that would advance the main plot. (3) My students were all female, with no previous knowledge of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. They all really enjoyed seeing WW in uniform, kicking ass alongside the boys. They said she was cool, and powerful. And I thought, why ...

Mother Nature throws us a curveball

Mother Nature throws us a curveball
JISHOU, HUNAN, CHINA — Classes began last week, and the spring-like temperatures encouraged me to believe I had dodged most of Hunan’s winter. Wrong-o! Temperatures began to fall over the weekend, and when I woke up at 6:30, there was this white stuff falling from the sky. And it was about 33 degrees F out — just a tad colder than it was the night before. Hunan rarely gets snow, especially in March, so everyone was just a little surprised, and excited. One of my students is from southern China, and this is the first time she has seen snow. Ever wonder what happens when a stand of bamboo gets covered in wet snow? This is the road leading down from my apartment building to the main part of campus. It’s lined with stands of bamboo on either side, which usually stand straight and tall. This morning, they were arching over the road. Here’s another view. By lunchtime, most of the snow had melted, and spring-like temperatures are supposed to return tomorrow or the day after. My classes this term are the same as last, Listening Comprehension and Oral English. Not much to report that’s news there. The university has ...

The Malaysia trip, part 6 1

The Malaysia trip, part 6
JISHOU, HUNAN, CHINA — I just realized that my posts are numbered differently from the map I made. Whoops! When I devoted an extra post to the Batu Caves/Thaipusam visit, I should have labeled it “part 1.5,” because I was still technically in Kuala Lumpur. Oh, well. You are all clever enough to figure things out. Although this post is “part 6,” it pertains to location 5 on the map I posted — Kota Kinabalu, which is in Sabah state on the island of Borneo. You can find it on the map on the right near the northern tip of the island. Malaysia is divided into peninsular West Malaysia, where I have spent most of my time, the federal territory of Labuan, which is an island north of Borneo, and the east Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah on the north side of Borneo. The rest of Borneo belongs to the tiny sultanate of Brunei (embedded in Sarawak) and Indonesia. In addition, Malaysia has two distinct monsoon seasons, depending where you are. The western coast of peninsular Malaysia has its monsoons April to October. Meanwhile, the eastern coast and Borneo have their monsoons between November and February. As I was ...

The Malaysia trip, part 5

The Malaysia trip, part 5
JISHOU, HUNAN, CHINA — Let’s see if I can wrap up my travelogue before classes start in a few days. As you probably have guessed, Singapore was my next destination after Penang. My friends who have been there praised this city as a good place to visit, and since I was in the neighborhood (so to speak), I decided to spend a few days there. It was not nearly enough. Singapore is like Hong Kong, or New York City, or any other big metropolis. There’s so much to see and do, that even locals have not seen or done it all. My plan was to spend Chinese New Year there, as I knew Singapore would have a massive fireworks display on Feb. 7. There were at least two, one in Chinatown and one on the waterfront, and in the end, I saw neither one. I had not counted on one major factor: the crowds. Navigating the crush of people in Chinatown just got to me, and round about 10 pm, I decided to bail out and head back to my airbnb place in Little India. So, I can’t offer any photos of massive fireworks displays. Which is not to say ...

Malaysia trip SIDEBAR 2: the Hong Kong-mainland ferry

Malaysia trip SIDEBAR 2: the Hong Kong-mainland ferry
This is another sidebar, and I’m breaking the chronology of my tale by skipping momentarily the Singapore and Kota Kinabalu portions of my trip. Please be patient. I’ll get to them soon enough. GUANGZHOU — I’ve been to Hong Kong several times now. Usually, I take the high speed rail to Shenzhen, then the metro to border control, walk across the bridge to HK border control, then use the MTR to get around. While this is inexpensive, the worst part is having to queue up for two passport checks, which usually takes an hour all told. This time, I wanted to try something different — the ferry. When I booked by hotel in Hong Kong, I chose the Butterfly on Waterfront, which is very close to the Macau-HK Ferry Terminal. I had been considering visiting Macau before returning to the mainland, but decided to stay an extra day in Hong Kong instead. [Butterfly on Waterfront is described as a “boutique hotel,” which is a fancy way of saying “your room is small, but trendy!” Room rates are between $80-120 a night, which is cheap by HK standards, and for that price I got a very comfortable room with a desk, ...

Malaysia trip, part 5 SIDEBAR: The quest for Singapore’s Bitcoin ATMs

Malaysia trip, part 5 SIDEBAR: The quest for Singapore's Bitcoin ATMs
HONG KONG — As you can guess from the dateline here, I’ve come to the end of my Malaysian adventure, and I’m still running behind in talking about it. This post is a sidebar to the forthcoming narrative about my three days in Singapore. It’s about my efforts to find Singapore’s Bitcoin ATMs (plural), and finding perhaps the only surviving member of the species. I’m still a cautious booster of Bitcoin, the computer-based “cryptocurrency” that’s been behind both scandals and successes in the financial world. For my purposes, it’s a relatively low-cost way to channel Chinese yuan from my Chinese bank account to American dollars in my US bank account. Depending on market prices, sometimes it’s a no-cost way to move money, and if you time transfers right, somewhat profitable. I move funds roughly once a month, after payday. Usually, I use two exchanges, BTCC, which is based in China, and Coinbase, in the USA. [Coinbase is not technically an exchange, but it does permit you to move between dollars and bitcoins. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll call it an exchange for now.] Buying bitcoins in China used to be a piece of cake, using a Chinese version of PayPal called ...
Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com