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Furry Event China: A review of my first Chinese furry con experience

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

Furry Event China (referred to henceforth as FEC) is a number of firsts for me with regards to attending a furry convention:

  1. The convention itself was held inside of an event space of a public mall rather than the usual convention center.
  2. It was my first furry convention experience not of a Western demographic.
  3. It was the first convention I attended outside of North America.
  4. Actually, it was my first furry convention at an event that wasn't called VancouFur.

Given this, and an assortment of other differences we will be going over, it was definitely an experience that I will never forget.

Furry Event China banner

My reason for visiting FEC was due to it being a convenient two hour train ride from my home in Hong Kong. A more local flair is certainly easier on my limited budget than going to a Western convention. The FEC was a one day furry con, hosted in Guangzhou on Saturday, July 22, 2017. I decided to make it a weekend summer getaway; which fell in line with the convention theme.

Oops, out of tickets!

"What? How can a convention be out of tickets?" I asked.

In hindsight, I should have probably bought the ticket online via Taobao before coming to the convention like I did for my prior attendances at other furry cons. But seriously, how can the convention run out of tickets? Maybe Furry Event China underestimated the amount of people attending the convention. Guess the opening hour of 10:30am for the purchasing of tickets actually meant “Buy them while stocks last!”.

Is it that hard to print extra tickets? I did not come all the way from Hong Kong for nothing. Watching the con-goers and the fursuiters walking in and out of the convention’s main entrance sure dampened my spirits.

I suppose my knowledge of the logistics behind the quantity of tickets issue is quite limited. Before this one I had attended VancouFur five times over the years. In none of those cases do I remember a time when the tickets ran out, nor the welcome packages containing the conbooks and related attendance passes.  Perhaps the convention was basing the ticket availability off from their attendance of last year, and the attendance for this year was a drastic increase from the former?

"So when will there be extra tickets, or more importantly, when will attendance be open to at-door con-goers?" I asked.

I was told to check back at around 2 in the afternoon.

Okay. Guess I will just wait and dawdle around the neighboring mall, and get a nibble while I am at it.

Eventually the afternoon finally rolled around. I asked the volunteer manning attendance and he pointed me to the nearby stairwell leading to the basement. I followed his lead, and I ended up in the car-park. There is absolutely nothing in there besides a bunch of parked cars. So, I went back up to ask again. He clarified that I have to head on out the main exit of the parking lot, go up the ramp, and there will be a door to the left.

I would have missed it if it were not for the line of people and the music pumping out of the event. It was almost like a hidden recluse. Looking in, I finally caught sight of some fursuiters inside. I am finally here. Time to make this trip worthwhile. It is time to have fun!

Currency issues, ¥100 Renmenbi notes, and mobile app dependence woes

I finally made it to the registration booth. The pass costs ¥60. Realizing I had a bunch of ¥100 notes that I wished to split into smaller denominations, I handed over the ¥100 note accordingly. The guy manning the registration had to decline.

"Sorry, we do not accept ¥100 notes."

"Why?" I asked.

The main reason for restricting the means of payment would be that in mainland China, due to the rampant problem of counterfeit money, people are tentative in accepting cash as payment. As the largest denomination of Renmenbi is ¥100 (~$14.81 USD), they have to exercise caution.

Fortunately, I managed to scrounge up enough of ¥20s, ¥10s, and ¥5s to pay for the ticket. Thank goodness I had enough of the smaller denominations, else I'd have to buy something from the nearby shops to break the ¥100 notes up before returning to the back of the line. Even then, the shopkeepers out there may not accept the large bills either!

The payment issue did not stop there. While walking along, I saw something that I wanted to buy. I reached for my wallet and pulled out the correct wad of Renmenbi. Just as I was about to hand the cash over to purchase that sweet art book, the artist had to decline.

"Sorry, we only support payments through Alipay and WeChat Pay."

The reason? This harks back to my point of the ¥100 note being easily counterfeited. Well, so much for bringing the cash along. Guess I could only window shop. Oh, it’s a limited item only available by offline means? Can a payment with a credit card be made? No? Guess I could consider following the artist through Weibo and asking if they can mail it to me then? Who knew in-person purchases could be such a hassle.

Many of the booths that I window shopped only seemed to accept either of the before mentioned methods. The western equivalent would be that I could only pay for the artist’s products with Paypal.

Hence, the “WeChat Pay & Alipay Only” payment is not just a phenomenon that applies to just the convention, it is a trend that permeates the entire country. Shopping mall food courts only accept these two as well. As many furry related goods cost a good amount, it can be quite the inconvenience if you are the sort to splurge at cons to attend this one. Furry Event China seemed to be made and tailored for Chinese con-goers.

A different experience from Western fur-cons

Given the obvious Asian influence of the furry con, most of the fursuit styles are “Kemono” style, i.e. Japanese fursuits with huge Anime eyes, and tiny snouts. Hence, many of the fursuits I have seen were probably made by Atelier Amanojaku, a prominent Japanese fursuit making company.

As Facebook and Twitter, among many Western social networks, are banned behind the Great Firewall, artists usually advertise Weibo handles. Some do advertise Twitter, Facebook, and other such handles, but they are usually artists from Taiwan or Japan. Hence, if you would like to contact these artists, be sure to create a Weibo account.

Due to the fact that I did not pre-register, I did not get a conbook. But I was able to borrow one for a short while, and from what I can tell, the dealers den constitutes around 80% of the con space, the other 20% being the two headless lounges, i.e. the fursuiter’s changing rooms, and the stage for talent shows and official announcements. There was a section in the conbook for the Founders’ words and featured furries and brands, but that was it. There were no schedules. I cannot say for the rest of the furry conventions in China, but FEC feels more like a furry-themed bazaar than a proper furry convention, given their heavy emphasis on the con space usage as a dealers’ den.

I have observed that the con-goers at FEC are more concerned with anonymity than my prior experience at VancouFur. There were many instances of people donning black face masks to conceal their identity. I am not well-informed as to how the Chinese public perceives furries, but perhaps it may hold potential stigma similar to western perception? Furthermore, given how the concept of “human flesh search engine” is prevalent in China, where people leak photos and videos online in blog and forum posts to expose the identities of others (similar to doxing in the West), it may seem such precautions were necessary for attendees.

As FEC is a one-day convention, commissions were out of the question. None of the dealers advertised a desire to take such requests. The lack of dealers advertising their works beyond selling their artbooks, CD albums, and other pre-created content for purchase was quite surprising.

Would I consider visiting FEC next year should it be held? Most likely not. For my next Asian furcon, it would either be a more international and established furry con such as Infurnity in Taiwan or the Japan Meeting of Furries.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

It really doesn't sound like a convention at all. It's a one day furry shopping event where you can wear suits. It almost doesn't even make sense to need to register if you're just a normal attendee; you don't have to register to attend a market. I would've been so disappointed if I'd gone and experienced all the problems you had.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

Years ago I remember someone at a panel talking about Japanese fandom and KemoCon - but I also got the impression that at least once a year there was some kind of sales event there. Saw a photo with lots of tables set up for dealers - but I don't know what kind of sales. Books, manga, art commissions? Didn't see anything like fursuits or accessories in the photo.

Your rating: None

Oh God, I hate Paypal. Paying at the Dealer's Den with Paypal would be awful. Artists wouldn't sell. What about kids & parents who come on open doors day, they wouldn't be able to buy. What's the point of having money notes if they can't be used. And you can't enjoy your stay because they might human-flesh-search you. Living in China sounds awful.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

If such things were happening in the US the conspiracy theories would be pretty rampant.

That the government planted "counterfeit" money among the real money to scare people of its usefulness and then force them into the more 'reliable' digital currency, which just so happens to also be more easily tracked should the government want to look into your spending habits.

But, you know, that would be a conspiracy theory.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

This is the Chinese we're talking about. It's not just a theory. It's well within the realm of high probability. Reading the article I was honestly taken aback. Dude's surprised that people are concealing their identities. Yeah, and I'm surprised the entire "con" wasn't a sting operation to nab dissidents "disrupting the social harmony and cultural purity".

Your rating: None

I guess I'm slightly more naive and believe that the Chinese government has bigger fish to fry then going after animal costumers and artists, at least at this time.

Especially given that all countries have anthropomorphism somewhere in their culture, so if Chinese furries hit upon the anthropomorphism in Chinese culture it's harder for the government to say they are a 'counter-culture'.

It certainly is tougher to assemble when the government has more powers and things can be a bit scary if the government gets in a bad mood (which can happen to any government and not just China). I hope they continue to try and work with what they can to make as good a convention experience as they can in the given circumstances.

But having knowledge of the situation through articles like this will lead to less culture shock, which helps all sides.

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

The Chinese don't give a shit about their own culture. There's stories about the cultural revolution, how the youth revolts that were basically co-opted by the soon to be Communist dictatorship went around destroying priceless art because it represented the old regime. That art usually represents the culture and heritage of a people more than the party in power at the time it was made is usually lost on dimwitted Neanderthals which is why ISIS also has destroyed ancient artifacts belonging to its own people.

In between this response and the last one I decided to brush up on what little information is available about how China handles furry and anthro things because I remembered some years back there was some shit floating around the fandom about them supposedly banning anthro cartoons. They actually had only banned new foreign works that featured both live action and animation together (like Roger Rabbit and Space Jam) and even that was for purely economic reasons. Basically they wanted to reduce the impact (read: competition) Western works have on their own market. Of course, they had to word it like this:

"CGI and 2-D characters alongside human actors jeopardize 'the broadcast order of homemade animation and mislead their development,' according to a report from the state-run Xinhua News Agency." Which makes it sound like Retardese a vague, stereotypical statement about upholding vague, stereotypical cultural values which don't even actually exist. I think the Chinese must have their own equivalent of "Make America Great Again" kinds of statements that sound profound and brave but really mean jack shit apart from what you want them to mean (except that you can guarantee they always mean the worst thing they could possibly mean).

It also turns out there's some Chinese company making knockoff fursuits and using our fursonas to do it. Who knows, maybe some or even all of the suits the author saw came from that same company. But the fact it wasn't even a real convention kinda says it all. No culture, just commerce. How do you say Viva La Revolucion in Engrish?

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Several Southeast Asian countries have banned Japanese animation because it's "too violent". This increases the market for its own animation, which is usually just as violent if not more so.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

Oh man, I gotta hear more about this. Please drop links if you got 'em. I got a feeling the cynicism and hypocrisy is just delicious.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Yes, the Chinese government does have bigger fish than going after furries, but I wouldn't put it past it to "register" the attendees of this just in case it wanted to go after any of them in the future.

I don't trust PayPal, either.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

Actually, Paypal wouldn't be too bad if handled correctly. I've done it at cons before and it does take a while if you're asking for an email to send it to, and the apps on smart phones take a while.

But Paypal does have the "paypal.me" feature where you can specify payment as part of the URL. Turn that into a little QR code displayed on a tiny screen on your smartphone (fancier if you can do it with an Arduino, so you can have a detached display). I'm not sure if the link goes into the apps or not, so it's worth playing around.

Your rating: None

That's great right up to the point where PayPal decides they don't want to do business with you because you draw stuff they don't like, or a commissioner complained and they froze your account - and by the way, you can't buy or sell anything on eBay while your account is limited; they're run by the same people and only accept cards via PayPal.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying not to offer PayPal, it's a convenient option to have available. But artists - and any businesses - who lock themselves into one method of payment are running a big risk, and also turning away a certain number of legitimate customers who can't or won't use that service. Diversity of options is key.

Your rating: None

Would you be able to expand on that a bit? What I'm asking is basically, how, when, and why? Do they just not like money? Are they like certain amateurish websites in the fandom I won't name where the "rules" amount to the whims of whatever admin happens to be the moral arbiter that moment? Because furries seem to use PayPal a lot, and have for a long time, and duh, probably the majority of commissions are either porn or very suggestive. So is it completely arbitrary or are there a real set of standards they have? If they're at least consistent in their bullshit maybe I'll be less inclined to believe it's bullshit.

Your rating: None

Did you follow the links I gave? Or a search is fine, too. The issue is perceived risk of various kinds. Often they're worried about monetary (e.g. receiving payments from lots of different "friends" is suspect), but reputation can be an issue, too - they don't want their name associated with various seedy-but-legal activities.

PayPal has a habit of 'limiting' accounts temporarily or permanently, up to the point where you can't do anything but take money out after 180 days, if it doesn't like people who're paying you; or you're involved with goods or services they've forbidden (which differ from place to place; you'll have to check terms on your own account).

The interpretation of the policies can, as the first link above describes, be a tad hit and miss, and it varies over time and between support staff. The thing is, they'll probably only take a look if something triggers their automated system to start with. It's usually not the first payment - it's the twenty-seventh one which pushes you over an annual income threshold, or the commissioner who does a chargeback, or the payee who's found to have engaged in unrelated fraud.

As a result, you can't tell what you can get away with because they might just not have noticed, and in any case they might change their mind about it after six months. And by the time you find out, you've already gotten used to relying on them, so they have you over a barrel and can demand almost any terms they like to restore the account.

This kind of thing is a risk to artists and other business-owners, so I recommend establishing additional payment methods. Tempting as it may be to treat them as if they're a bank, they're not, and their contract with you is stacked in their favour.

Your rating: None

Actually I did, but all it looked like to me was opinions and anecdotes which, while not entirely worthless, are something you need an awful lot of people saying essentially the same thing before the apparent inconsistency on PayPal's part becomes more, well, apparent. And it surprised me that up until now I'd never heard too many complaints about PayPal, at least of this nature. I'm all too aware of private companies becoming self-appointed culture-warriors and basically trying to act like governments but I'd never heard of PayPal being one of them. I'd heard of them freezing funds for sketchy reasons and fucking up in other ways but never essentially banning people for drawing the wrong thing.

From what I read in the links you provided I guess Bad Dragon/FurryNetwork has an alternative or is working on one so maybe that's why I never heard more, if the word got out quickly enough that PayPal can't really be trusted to be clear and consistent with their policies, people would've just jumped to whatever alternative(s) is available instead of kicking up a stink.

You'd think there'd be at least one service out there whose policy boils down to "as long as it's not illegal and we get our cut, we won't play God with people's money or their products" because I'd assume that's probably what most people want. The idea that furry artists of all people should need to resort to the black market and/or the deep web to just do what they do free of interference sounds ridiculous to me. But trusting PayPal if any of this is even remotely true sounds even more ridiculous if people who draw cartoon animals having sex have to talk about possible workarounds and loopholes.

I wonder how many furry artists could probably be supplementing their income right now but aren't just because they're paranoid about all the bullshit they'll have to deal with from people that really ought to have nothing to say about what perfectly harmless things (really little more than ideas when you get down to what art is) consenting adults exchange money for. Besides me, I mean. But yeah I'll definitely do some more Googling because I could certainly use more things to rage about...

Your rating: None

As a buyer I have issues with using PayPal as well. The most recent issue I had was with someone who couldn't follow instructions and tried to pay "for goods and services" when the payment was part of a simple cash pool. I tried to return the payment and discovered that PayPal pocketed their fee anyway with no option for a refund. It turns out that there is no way to disable this: If you own a PayPal account, then you are vulnerable to having fees deducted for payments that are made in error (or, theoretically, payments made maliciously). This goes even if you are only a buyer and you don't use PayPal for sales, ever.

Considering this along with other horror stories, PayPal's monopolization of payment methods on eBay, ongoing frustration with their user interface, and other customer service issues I've had, I decided to close my PayPal account last year and have had no problems living without it. I typically get commissions at cons, not online, and when it comes to sending or collecting cash electronically for money pools of any sort, I recommend debit-only solutions like Venmo (PayPal owned) and Square Cash.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I wouldn't trust the Chinese government to respect furries' rights and privacy (or indeed anyone's) as far as I could throw the island of Hong Kong. Not even if I was a macro-furry as big as Hong Kong itself...

Your rating: None

Yeah this doesn't sound like a convention, more like a shopping event with costuming as a sideshow. Very cool perspective though. I was wondering about the actual experience when I came across some hard to translate promotion before.

I think it would be a great idea to throw localized bazaar type events... like a dealer den/artshow/swap meet kind of thing. Swapping and art because it brings the DIY chemistry that makes it more than just a hustle.

What to swap? Art supplies and art maybe? Books/movies/media and costuming gear definitely. I have a large walk in closet full of gear and some is stuff I collected but will never wear, but someone else would. (Man, I wish those pants covered with owls were a better fit.)

It's one of the 100+ articles in my always-growing file of drafts.

Your rating: None

I've been wanting to do a Furry Yard Sale for years, just had trouble finding a venue back in California.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

There are furry conventions in China? I honestly wouldn't have thought, given the way society works there. Let's hope they'll never be kidnapped and sent to some re-education camp for enjoying something not approved by the Communist Party; If people get their organs harvested for peacefully meditating, I'm sure a lot of bad things can happen for dressing in a fursuit.

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About the author

TefPwoof (Tef Vandal)read storiescontact (login required)

a mobile game designer and Pomeranian Wolf from Hong Kong , interested in mobile gaming, swimming, and running

Just a Pomeranian Wolf hybrid that is a huge fan of purple living on both sides of the Pacific. Perhaps one day he will scrounge up enough money to get himself a fursuit!