July 1, 2011

Media Release

Friday 1 July 2011


BEIJING–In a country where toeing the party line is the norm, one China-based expat has decided to stand up and say no to alcohol for the month of July.

Susan Clear is an Irish-Australian and has been living in Beijing since 2007. She once believed her Irish genes and Australian binge-drinking behaviour would serve her well in the boozy Middle Kingdom, but Ms Clear simply was not prepared for the level of drinking in China.

“I remember getting off the plane, and I definitely remember going to my first Chinese banquet. The next four years are kinda blurry” says Ms Clear.

A liter bottle of beer in China costs a mere 3 Chinese Yuan, or 43 Australian cents. While their most famous liquor Baijiu still dominates social occasions in China, the country is now the largest consumer of beer in the world, and growing.

“I think people drink a lot everywhere, but in China people's social lives revolve around eating and drinking. People live close to each other, less people drive, and there is literally a new bar to try every second week” says Ms Clear.

Like thousands of Australians back at home, Ms Clear is abstaining from alcohol this July to raise money for adults with cancer. This is something Ms Clear knows about first hand.

“A close friend of mine was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the age of 28 earlier this year. This just isn’t something you expect to happen at our age.”

“Cancer is scary, sad, and a reality check. Watching Ben take on cancer made me homesick and feel helpless, but also inspired me to do things today, not tomorrow” she says.

When asked if Ms Clear was concerned about standing out in a nation that has long encouraged its citizens to stand in exactly the same way, all the time, she said that she had bigger things on her mind.

“I want to support a good cause and be healthier at the same time.  I’m not sure of any link between alcohol and cancer, but drinking definitely leads people to do other unhealthy things, like smoking, grabbing a 3 am kebab or eating large oily hangover breakfasts, which are known risk factors.”

But avoiding a cool beer on a humid Beijing summer night can be hard. Help Ms Clear by donating at https://www.dryjuly.com/profiles/susanclear


Unlike these women, Ms Clear is going to walk to a different tune

Conformity is serious business in China

Tsingtao, China's number one beer


  1. Great one Susan, tough time and place to abstain, but brilliant reason to go alcohol free. In fact such a good reason its motivates me to join you. Even though I just discovered Pims and lemonade last night i will also will have an alcohol free July.
    Ben, so sad to hear about the big C, but great to see your blog. With an attitude like yours how could you not beat this beast. You can do it! My colleague here in Beijing had the same experience last year. He's now back in the Jing and just became a dad with his 2nd son, a couple of months ago. So keep well, and keep writing. I'm looking forward to seeing you back in the Jing real soon. stace

  2. Stacey - great to hear! It's nice to be able to go somewhere like Capital M and enjoy a 'soft' drink! Let's go have a Pimms together in August! Susan

  3. I'm with you in spirits Susan.

    (and yes, that brilliant joke took me a week to think up!)

  4. Good on you Susan! I know two people in Beijing that are doing Dry July and I find it really admirable. I was with my other friend, Jo, on July 1 and didn't have any drinks when we went to Dos Kolegas. I thought "I could totally do this!" but then realized that I'd started the night with a Mala Mule and then had a beer with dinner. But I'm definitely giving it a go next year!

  5. Ben, You are probably in hospital already being prepped. I am thinking of you over the next 24 hours and in the days and weeks that follow. Bum up, head down, as they say ....

  6. Taking a deep breath for you this morning, Ben. Have courage. Be angry. I wish a peaceful mind to your mother, too.

  7. Thinking about you today Ben. I'm guessing–because of the time difference between us on the correct side of the planet and you on the upside-down side–you might be done and have your temporary fix by now. So hope you'll get fit and start over very soon.
    All the best

  8. How's it going, Ben? Anyone able to give the blogosphere any feed-back?

  9. Well done Susan, it's a great cause and such a tough thing to do at any time, let alone during a Beijing summer!

    You may be interested to know that there is evidence of a link between long-term alcohol consumption and cancer- specifically mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bowel (in men) and breast (in women)... see this link to find out more http://tiny.cc/nflbw

    Thinking of you Ben- hope you're recovering well.