3. “Next, I will tell you about situations that occur when a Chinese person visits an American family.”
“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.”
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!”
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.
How can a Chinese host accept his guest paying the bill? Maybe a fight breaks out:
“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!”
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.
So what is the reason for this behaviour?
Chinese say: “All people in the world are brothers”
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.
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.
“All people in the world are brothers”. We should treat anyone friendly, as we would our brothers.
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!”