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6 things foreigners often get wrong about Chinese people


While foreigners are often a misunderstood
bunch in China, we’re not immune to making assumptions and having
prejudices of our own. Many foreigners harbour a lot of misconceptions
about China and its people, from their lifestyle, to their culture, to
their motivations for wanting to get to know you. Here we take a look at
some of the ways that Chinese people are misunderstood by the
foreigners who live here.

1) Chinese People Will Jump at the Chance to Live Abroad

Most of us have been warned about dating Chinese people who are just out for a green card,
but the truth is that while some, perhaps even many Chinese people
would love to go abroad, just as many are happy to stay in China. In
fact, some men and women who date Chinese people may find, to their
surprise, that their partner has no interest in living abroad and
instead would rather have their foreign boyfriend or girlfriend to
settle down in China! Many Chinese people are very comfortable here in
their home country, and while they might enjoy visiting a foreign
country, have no desire to emigrate.

2) Chinese Women Only Want Your Money

While more than one foreign man has been burned by a Chinese
gold-digger, the truth is that many Chinese women look for the same
qualities in a partner that foreign women do. While they may value a
partner who is established and provide for a family, they are not gold
diggers in the traditional sense. Chinese culture places a high value on
a man’s ability to be the breadwinner, and so Chinese women tend to be
attracted to men who have good jobs with decent salaries, but this is
not due to greed. Most Chinese women also value personality traits such
as kindness or a good sense of humour as highly as they value what’s in
your pocketbook.

3) Chinese People Have Low Salaries

While it is true that in most of the 2nd and 3rd tier cities the
salaries for the average Chinese office worker remain fairly low, the
salaries for experienced professionals, especially in the big cities,
can rival anything an English teacher can pull in. At a local Chinese
private high school in Beijing, senior Chinese physics and chemistry teachers
make 8000 RMB a month and senior engineers at some companies make
upwards of 20,000 RMB a month. It can be dangerous to assume that every
Chinese person you speak to will be in awe of your big foreign salary.
China is growing and Chinese professionals with the right experience and
sought after skills are making lots of money.

4) Chinese People Are Sheep

Anyone who has taught at a Chinese university and graded a stack of
essays has probably felt a bit dismayed by what seems to be a lack of
original thought and critical thinking skills among the population. But
the truth is, China is full of creative thinkers, from writers to
musicians to armchair philosophers who will tell you their view on life,
the universe and everything else if you give them a chance. Beware of
forming opinions on Chinese people as a whole based on group of students
who are, after all, not quite fully formed yet as individuals and who
are, furthermore, still in the public education system which does not
place a high value on creativity or individuality. Just because the
education system doesn’t value these things, however, doesn’t mean that
they don’t exist in the society. China is full of interesting people
with a lot to say.

5) Chinese People Are Rude

Most foreigners have complained about Chinese people’s inability to
queue, spitting on the sidewalk, or small children taking a leak in the
middle of the supermarket. In fact, if you polled the average Chinese
person, they’re not fans of these things either. Most Chinese people
would rather there be orderly lines, but unless everyone lines up, the
people who do stand nicely in their place and wait for others will never
make it to the front. And who enjoys walking down the sidewalk and
stepping in a pile of human poo, or dodging loogies flying at your feet?
Most educated people would not allow their children to use public areas
as toilets, but they don’t feel it is their job to stop others either.
Most Chinese people and foreigners feel the same way about the “lack of
manners” you can sometimes see on display in China. The main difference
is that most Chinese people are accustomed to it and don’t usually voice
their displeasure as vocally as foreigners do.

6) Chinese People Just Want To Use You For English Practice

While it is true that in China you will run into “language leeches,”
people who are only interested in practicing English with a foreign
speaker, if you make the effort and learn some Chinese you’ll find that
most people are just as happy to speak with you in Chinese as in English
and that most people actually find it a relief not to have to recall
their gao kao
level English skills that they haven’t put to use for the past 10
years. And while some friends might start out simply wanting a foreign
friend for language purposes, the people who are only interested in you
for your English will quickly lose interest and the people who want to
be your friend will stick with you regardless of what language you’re
using to communicate.  


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