When foreigners first arrived in Beijing to live, the first thing many do is look out for others like them.
As they walk down the street or in the store, they try to give them a nod, like, "Hey, I'm like you in this foreign place..."
They're hoping this kind of silent bonding will make them feel less alone in this city of 17 million Chinese.
But now they are starting to give other lao wai a more skeptical look after hearing a shocking but true tale of foreigners attacking their own kind.
On February 17 a businessman who comes up to Beijing regularly, had dinner with some business associates at The Tree, a pizza joint I've been to a few times in Sanlitun. It's mostly frequented by foreigners, but it is in a slightly offbeat location that entails going through winding back alleys to get to.
After dinner and drinks around 9-9:30pm, but not to the point of inebriation, this tall Caucasian man in his 40s decides to leave his associates early and leaves the restaurant.
Just outside, a tall, thin foreigner who had a Spanish accent approached him and asked if he'd want to walk with him to where the taxis are.
He agreed, and just as they turned the corner a few paces from the restaurant, a shorter man also Spanish-looking, jumped from behind and shot him with a stun gun or a taser.
He fell to the ground and as soon as he recovered from the shock, the businessman tried to fight these two men but the second man stunned him again and gave him a blow to the head.
That knocked him to the ground again and he was out cold. When he came to his senses, he found himself lying in the snow, with his wallet and cellphone missing.
He staggered back to the restaurant where they called the police and he was taken to the station to file a report.
A representative from the British Embassy was contacted and took him back to his hotel.
The businessman immediately cancelled his credit cards and the international service on his cellphone. The most valuable items in his wallet were photos of his daughter.
He was in a great deal of pain in his legs and spent the next day in bed. It was only today could he sit comfortably.
This stun-gun duo can't do this tag-team attack for very long in Sanlitun as once word gets out, they will get caught soon.
While the actual attack is shocking, it's the fact that foreigners have turned on each other which is even more bizarre.
I've heard of fights erupt in bars where foreigners frequent, but an attack to rob someone is downright scary.