“Mei Banfa” Engineering | 没办法工程

What is “mei banfa”? In [comparatively] resource-rich environs across China, some would call it an excuse, a cop-out, a lack of dedication to service, or an indifference to customer satisfaction. It often comes as a response to what might have been considered a reasonable request: “Nothing can be done”, “There’s no solution”, “[This problem is] unsolvable”. Unchangeable seats, un-refundable tickets, leaky pipes, blocked websites – the little things that add flavor to daily life in China.

My Fulbright research introduced me to a somewhat different definition. This recent piece for Makeshift unpacks the phrase as it applies to China’s more resource-constrained contexts, where it may introduce or partially explain a hack, work-around, or behavior imposed/inspired by constraints upon the utterer.

Like, say, a rotisserie duck-cooker mounted on the back of a three-wheeled vehicle. Download the article below.


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