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Why are courteous Chinese blamed by foreigners – part 2

3. “Next, I will tell you about situations that occur when a Chinese person visits an American family.”

3. 再说个中国人到美国做客,常碰到的情况吧。

 

“Some Chinese people become westernized and impersonal after they live in the US for a while. They are less affectionate to their parents, and even charge their parents for the long-distance calls.”

相信大家一定听人骂过:有些中国人,到美国就变得很洋化,没一点人情味儿了。连孩子对父母都无情,还有向老爸老妈收长途电话费的。

 

Is this an overstatement? Not completely. I have heard some overseas students complaining that their friends sometimes make long telephone calls to the Chinese Mainland on their phones. How expensive an international call it was at the time! However their friends would not stop talking on the telephone once they picked up. The hosts couldn’t do anything but listen and calculate the phone bill in their minds, “Oh my god, I just spend a whole week salary on this call!”

这话夸张吗?也不尽然。我就听过一些留学生抱怨,他的朋友来,到晚上猛往中国大陆打电话。那时候越洋电话多贵啊!可是朋友拿起电话就不放。主人战战兢兢,竖着耳朵听,一边听一边算:“天哪!已经打掉我一个星期的薪水啦!”

 

But, it turns out the friends were not insensible. They calculated the time when they made the telephone call. After they finished, they paid for the call.

但那朋友不是不懂事,他一边打电话一边自己计时,打完电话就说要付钱。

 

How can a Chinese host accept his guest paying the bill? Maybe a fight breaks out:

你想嘛!中国人,又做主人,能接受吗?只怕还像打架似的:

 

“Are you kidding!? Unbelievable! Am I a stranger to you? It is just a little money, you must let me pay for the phone call!”

 “开玩笑!有这种事吗?您这不是见外吗?才几个钱,比得上咱们的交情吗?您尽管打!

 

The explanation is that the friends being called are not indifferent. They may not make a telephone call again, as they are worried it would cost the host much money. Even when they have to make telephone call for business reasons, they will feel embarrassed and reduce the call time from 30 minutes to 10 minutes. As a result, their business might suffer.

真正的问题是,他的朋友不是没感觉,为了怕主人破费,可能因此不敢打电话,就算他做生意,要经常越洋联络,也可能因为不好意思打电话,该谈半小时的改成10分钟,结果影响了生意。

 

So what is the reason for this behaviour?

这要怪谁?

Chinese say: “All people in the world are brothers”

 “四海之内皆兄弟

 

Despite of the above stories, I would say we should greet our guests from afar warmly, but should not scare them with too much of our warmth as well. Surely, we should treat them with courtesy, but “courtesy” should be reasonable. Especially if its a culturally different context.

说完这几个真实故事,我要说,有远道来的客人,我们要热情待客,但千万别用热情把他们吓到。我们当然要待之以礼,但这礼貌的礼,也是合理的理。

 

There is a Chinese saying, “one should not deceive anyone old or young”. The meaning being we should not deceive anyone, either from China or abroad. You cannot sell something to a Chinese person at 10RMB , but to a foreigner at 15RMB. On the contrary, if you flatter a foreigner on purpose, it might hurt your reputation. Moreover, when you are courteous to foreigners but mean to your compatriots, the foreigners will feel privileged.

中国人常说童叟无欺,我们是中外无欺,绝不能看是老中,卖10块;看是洋人,卖15块。相反的,也不能一看是蓝眼睛金头发的,就刻意奉承。因为这样做会坏了信用;而且当你对外人恭敬,却贬抑自己人的时候,反而会让外人有优越感。

 

“All people in the world are brothers”. We should treat anyone friendly, as we would our brothers.

不是说四海之内皆兄弟吗?只要友好的,我们待他如兄弟。

 

Brothers should be affectionate and equal to each other. They treat each other the way others treat themselves. But never forget, “even blood brothers keep careful accounts!”

兄弟当然要有情,当然要平等,当然要礼尚往来,而且——“亲兄弟,明算账!

2016-06-22

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