Augusto Fernandez admits he did not swap Atletico Madrid for Beijing Renhe for the football, but believes the Chinese Super League is underrated.
Argentina international Fernandez spent two years playing under Diego Simeone at Atletico, joining in January 2016 as cover for Tiago following the midfielder's leg break.
However, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament the following September and made just 21 La Liga appearances for the club before heading to Beijing.
Fernandez, who is back in Madrid following the expiration of his contract in China and has opened an Argentine restaurant, acknowledged he could have remained at Atleti had he wanted.
"I'm not going to be a hypocrite; I didn't go to China for the football. I had two years left on my Atletico contract and Cholo [Simeone] loved me," he told Radio Continental.
"Chinese football is underrated. People think it's played with a paper ball. Go run at a Chinese person, hit a Chinese person and see who wins. The Chinese are fast and aggressive.
"Chinese football was for me an experience like life. Rare, different. So different.
"I went to compete, to train. You don't earn the respect of the Chinese with what you did in the past, with your name. You earn it by training well and producing results.
"Chinese football is fast but has a lot of tactical deficiencies. If you don't quit, you earn respect."
Beijing won just three CSL games in 2019 and finished bottom of the table, suffering relegation to League One.