We have noted the same. Though we know some that are great.
Paul even says, “Returnees are tragic figures in China.” He then explains that they are not accepted as a higher form of life or even with value greater than the Chinese staff, so he or she must delude themselves of that and trash all they learned and do things the Chinese way to fit in. All their Western training is lost.
It is quite often true. Many companies send their trusted Chinese engineer to handle their business in China. Either they are found to be tragic, or it is tragic for the company as the company will be told again and again that this is China. The HQ is told to blame China that things are so unpleasant. It will be very hard for the HQ to know what is really wrong. The tragedy is on them.
Returnees Struggle in China as China is China
The Chinese are a class based culture. Further, they focus on China. China knows what is right for China, and no one else. If I am Chinese and have more education, then I am a higher form of life. Little children call other kids older brother or younger brother. Up and down always.
If I am Chinese and want to bring a Western way of doing things, then I am wrong to the nth degree. A Westerner who comes with a different way gets a little more grace. They humor him and are skeptical.
Some highly Westernized Chinese people can work with an open mind in a big Western Company. However, smaller ones may get no respect till you thoroughly earn it, and the returnee most often must not lead the way.
This is unfortunate, but China is an old stubborn country with this kind of culture, and we should not expect them to be like us.