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
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