“Chinese people love protesting, although it’s often at a very local level about local issues such as a landlord hiking up the rent.There are other times when you cycle past the most bling cars ever – like illuminous gold shiny Range Rovers next to a rickshaw driver.There is so much energy – and so much happens there; even just cycling to the office something might happen, there might be a protest.China has a high number of protests,” she explained.What you don’t hear that much about is the average person in the emerging middle classes and what their lives are like,” she added. A lot of parents may know their son or daughter is gay but they make them get married to save face. I also interviewed a mistress as infidelity is rife in China.The characters in the book include a Chinese pick-up artist; someone trying to make it in the Chinese rock world who is starting his own online sex toy store; a woman in the first-ever all female punk band – China’s answer to Pussy Riot – who sings in English (to avoid censorship); various gay Chinese people exploring how acceptable ‘being out’ is in China; and a prominent Chinese sex blogger (who has since been banned). Plenty of wives know their husbands are having affairs but they accept it as part of business culture and it is seen as the way to get ahead,” Steinfeld added.She said found the atmosphere in Shanghai “electric.” “It was probably like how New York was in the 50s and 60s.In London people complain about their jobs but six months on they haven’t done anything about it; whereas in China then would move on and everyone was so enthusiastic.
“I think Chinese people have a similar sense of humour to British people and I was put on a massive pedestal being a young blonde girl so I always got into the best bars and clubs and all these great parties,” she added.
Some of the characters in Steinfeld’s book she already knew, others she searched out through her contacts.
Apart from the celebrities, she concealed their real identities. ‘Little Emperors’ is a term used in China to describe young urban men, the offspring of the one-child policy, who are the apple of their parents’ eyes, totally spoilt and pampered and lavished with clothes and toys, Steinfeld said.
“I was getting headaches and you would hear these stories about how living in Beijing brought people’s life expectancy down by five and a half years or that some expat there got cancer.
It’s a difficult city to live in and to be honest I wanted to find someone to date,” she added, admitting that though she had dated Chinese men, it had not worked out and the problem with dating expats was that there was a limited pool.