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Tipping, Morning Showers, and Other Things Chinese People Can’t Understand About Americans

Posted: 01/27/2015 9:00 am

us differences drinking waterComparing cultural norms is common practice among foreigners in China, but the scrutiny is usually on Chinese culture and how Chinese people do things. Turning the tables comes with a list of things that Chinese people will never be able to understand about people who live in the United States. Some of these things will be immediately apparent if you’ve ever spent time in China, and some will leave you scratching your head.

It’s called the Top 10 strange American habits incomprehensible to Chinese, and is taken verbatim from (thus the sometimes awkward phrasing):

10. Pet Culture
Americans are famous worldwide for loving their pets more than they love people. Some have explained that this is because there are more dogs than people in the United States. Although this is an exaggeration, the saying is not completely nonsense. The costs of raising pets like dogs — including providing for their daily well-being and even medical care — may be high, but Americans are just willing to spend that money.

9. Taking showers in the morning
Americans differ from Chinese people in that many Americans take showers in the morning. Some Americans explain that showering in the evening is unnecessary if one works in an air-conditioned place. Those who have outdoor jobs also need to take evening showers.

8. Wearing pants lower than underwear
There is an actual saying used to describe this “baggy pants” style. It started in some African-American communities before a variety of other social groups adopted the trend. It is already part of American street culture throughout the country, and even celebrities like Justin Bieber can be seen sporting such pants.

7. Tipping, even when you are already paying for a service
Tipping is a normal phenomenon in the United States. One gives tips when eating in a restaurant, taking a taxi or having a bellboy carry your luggage to your room. Tipping is usually 15 percent of the amount you spend on your entire bill, but it differs according to the quality of the restaurant or cab ride. Refusing to tip is impolite and will make you an unwelcome guest.

6. Tap water safe, but not the warm water
In the United States., tap water is nominally safe to drinking straight from the faucet. Although some people may not like to drink tap water because of its slightly strange flavor, it is indeed safe for drinking. However, one has to remember that hot tap water from the faucet may not always be safe for drinking, because it comes from a different water source and the quality of hot water is often far lower than that of cold water.

5.  Wearing light clothing in winter
Americans tend to dress more casually than Chinese people. Many young people wear short-sleeve T-shirts in the winter, although they might put on an overcoat and long jeans when it becomes extremely cold. This is primarily because there is central heating everywhere — inside buildings and in subway and bus stations. Hence, it is normal to see corporate women dressed in professional shirts and skirts under a thin overcoat in New York streets in early winter.

4. Wearing UGG boots in summer
Many Chinese viewers of “The Big Bang Theory” (which is popular in China) must have noticed that Penny, one of the TV show’s main characters, often wears T-shirts and shorts with a pair of snow boots. In fact, many Americans wear these fluffy boots in summer.

us differences3. Hitting the hay with shoes on
Americans tend to think of bed sheets and sofas as expendable domestic items meant to be replaced sooner or later. Therefore, a lot of Americans see no reason to inconvenience themselves just for the sake of keeping things clean. Moreover, the United States is a relatively clean country, where there is less dust and dirt on the roads and in public places, meaning that shoe soles tend not to get very dirty.

2. Eating hamburgers while drinking diet beverages
For Americans, eating a hamburger while drinking a soda is as normal as the combination of soy milk and fried dough twists in China. Although tasty and convenient, the combination has a high calorie count. Amid growing obesity problems, many Americans have developed a habit of drinking reduced-sugar beverages referred to as “diet sodas,” which contain 99 percent less of the calories in regular sodas. Hamburgers and french fries already contain a huge amount of calories, so what is the point of only drinking diet soda?

1. Drinking cold water throughout the year
Americans tend to drink only icy cold water all year round. On their water coolers, there are only two options: hot water, which is merely used to make instant coffee or tea, and cold water, which is for direct consumption. Americans do not really understand why people might drink warm water. Likewise, there are no exceptional circumstances where people are advised not to drink cold water. For instance, whereas most Chinese people think that women who are menstruating or who have recently given birth should drink only hot water to stay healthy, American women have no qualms about drinking ice water or eating ice cream at those times.



Watch: Things Chinese People Say to Laowai

Posted: 01/16/2015 11:00 am

mamahuhu things chinese people say to expatsWhile we hope none of our readers have had to resort to the “thousand yard stare” during their time spent in China, there remains a quiet frustration that manifests itself into a poker face when being confronted with the usual barrage of things you’re told and asked because you’re an expat in China.

This poker face is effectively represented in this video by comedy troupe MAMAHUHU in a compilation of all the same things that a Chinese person are likely to say to an expat in conversation (or what passes for conversation).

Here it is on Youku:

This video counters one previously made by MAMAHUHU about all the things expats are prone to say to Chinese (“You know what China should do…”). You can watch it below and experience how the other half lives:


Photo: Youku screencap


China Hands Out First 10-Year Visas to Americans Following Deal With Obama

Posted: 11/17/2014 6:22 pm

first visa extension china usa tourist business studnent

The first ten-year travel visa with multiple entries have been issued to Americans just days after the US and China reached a deal on visas at APEC in Beijing, reported ECNS. 

23-year-old researcher Edmund Downie was the first US citizen to receive the newly extended visa at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. Under the agreement, student visas will be valid for five years, while tourist and business visas will be valid for ten years. The agreement does not change the length of time a visitor is allowed to stay in the country, but the validity of the visa itself. In other words, people will still only be able to stay for 30 days on each entry in most cases.

Visas for each country were previously only valid for one year.

“It eases the process of visa acquisition and makes it more affordable,” Downie said, while adding this will help Americans to learn more about China.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was present at a ceremony at the US Embassy in Beijing last week where the first ten-year visas were issued to Chinese citizens.

Kerry emphasized the mutual benefit both countries will gain, saying, ”This will pay huge dividends for American and Chinese citizens and it will strengthen both of our economies.”

Through this agreement, the White House hopes to attract more Chinese tourists as a way to boost employment and inject billions into the US economy. A White House statement said that by 2021, Chinese travelers will contribute $85 billion to the US economy and support 440,000 jobs. The agreement will also “quadruple” the current number of Chinese visitors coming to the United States.

Previously, China represented an untapped source of tourism for the US.  The White House noted “Chinese travelers persistently rank the United States as their top desired travel destination, but only slightly more than 1.8 percent of total outbound travelers go to the United States.”

President Obama made the visa policy announcement at a speech during APEC in which he said he wanted China “to do well”, saying, “”The United States welcomes the rise of a prosperous, peaceful and stable China.”

In light of the many tensions between the two countries, President Obama also raised US concerns over China’s stubbornly fixed exchange rate, restricted markets, and press freedoms and human rights.

Obama also touched upon the protests happening in Hong Kong over universal suffrage, saying, ”Our primary message has been to make sure violence is avoided,” adding that the US would “continue to have concerns about human rights” in China.

President Obama emphasized he would stick to his ideals, saying, ”We’re not going to stop speaking out on behalf of the things that we care about.”

Photo: ecns


Chinese Becomes Second Most Spoken Foreign Language in the USA

Posted: 10/15/2014 6:39 pm

history_of_chinese_calligraphyThe Chinese language is now the third most-spoken language in America, and in second place among foreign languages behind Spanish.

The number of Chinese heading for America is on the rise, as we told you previously. One survey found there were 2.6 million Chinese there in 2009, increasing to three million today. But there must be more at play than mere immigration. Confucius Institutes, which teach Chinese, are proliferating and there is increasing interest in the language among Americans.

“Chinese” also isn’t broken down into dialects in the survey, but it’s well-known that Cantonese remains widely-used. But that is changing, according to Haipei Shue, the president of the National Council of Chinese Americans (NCCA):

“It’s an inexorable demographic change that Mandarin has become the ruling language among Chinese Americans. Now you can order food in Mandarin in any Chinese restaurant here.”

Dong Kun, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ institute of linguistics, said the popularity of Mandarin is good for the promotion of  Chinese culture worldwide.

Widespread immigration means the USA is increasingly becoming a society that doesn’t speak English. Sixty-two million people in the USA have a mother tongue that isn’t English, representing 21 percent of the total population.


Photo: arts cultural


Conde Nast Names Beijing One of the World’s Most Unfriendly Cities

Posted: 08/13/2014 4:31 pm

forbidden city crowdsConde Nast Traveler has recently published the results of a poll that shows Beijing is considered among the world’s most unfriendly cities according to tourists.

The term “unfriendly” isn’t necessarily a reflection of a city’s residents. Instead, it’s a judgment on how accessible and accommodating a city is towards its international tourists. For example, Johannesburg was ranked first because of its high crime rate and “danger of traveling alone”.

Beijing ranks at number six on the list, apparently because of its “terrible pollution” and “dirty streets” that detract from its beautiful attractions. With that, China Daily issued the following post:

worlds unfriendliest cities

Is Beijing the world’s most unfriendly city?
US travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler has published a list of the world’s most unfriendly cities for 2014 upon which Beijing is ranked at number six. The magazine thinks that environmental pollution, traffic congestion and overcrowding are the main reasons for being on the list. The top city on the list is Johannesburg, and there are three well-known romantic French cities on the list: Paris (#4), Marsailles (#4), and Cannes (#2).

As China’s capital, Beijing certainly has its problems. Beijing does have bad air pollution, congested streets and too many people, so it can’t dispute these facts. The contention seems to be over the word “unfriendly”.  Netizens in China, of course, have sounded off over the news:

I don’t understand the meaning of the word “unfriendly”. [tragic.emo]

This list was determined by the Americans themselves, no wonder there aren’t any of their own US cities on this list.

Let’s see you make New York, Los Angeles, and Washington not be congested with traffic!

There really aren’t any US cities listed.

In truth, Beijingers fear important foreigners!! Especially important people who are black!! It’s just that the foreign media doesn’t know this.

Actually, (they) treat foreigners very well.

I’ve never been to Beijing; I support this.

It seems as though this isn’t wrong. In loving our country, we must look at all the facts.

Take a hike, Beijing!

Or, it may be time to accept that Beijing is a terrible place to find yourself at the end of a journey. In May, a survey of 54,000 people by TripAdvisor determined that Beijing is the second-worst travel destination in the world, topped only by Moscow.

The survey ranked cities by the quality of taxi services provided, the helpfulness of locals, and, yes, the friendliness of its residents.

Photo: Jez and Jennie’s


Fox News Host Refers To “Chinamen” In Highly-Criticized TV Rant

Posted: 07/14/2014 2:48 pm

fox news bob beckel

Fox News host of The Five, Bob Beckel, has criticized the Chinese people as the greatest threat to US national security, reports CCTV News. But that isn’t the only thing that has people in China upset. He also made the following remark on the July 10 broadcast of the show:

“As usual, we bring them over here and teach a bunch of Chinamen – err, Chinese people – how to do computers and then they go back to China and hack into us.”

Beckel then made a threatening gesture at the camera.

fox news bob beckelDemocratic state senator Ted Lieu made a statement on Saturday calling for Beckel’s resignation for making racist slurs. Lieu said:

We should all be alarmed by the racist, xenophobic comments by Fox News host Bob Beckel. His comments have no place in America, and this is at least the second time he has used racial slurs. He must resign immediately.

The CCTV report does not include the contention that Beckel had made a “racist slur”. The translation of “Chinamen” into Chinese in the report is not a pejorative. While unfamiliar, this translated term uses a colloquialism that is familiar to southern Chinese dialects.

However, the report does bring up that Beckel has shown anti-Chinese tendencies before in a previous comment when, after his eyes became swollen from swimming, he said “it made [him] look Oriental”.

The extent of the hurt feelings of the Chinese people can be seen in online comments:

We had taught the foreignmen–er, sorry, foreigners–how to make gunpowder, and then they came back to use the guns they invented to invade us. (A popular comment with variations repeated several times)

Isn’t this whomever “crying wolf”? Who is setting up an international monitoring system? Who is arguing the most forcefully? You know, yes you know. You know, you know, you know…

You should first give back the money you owe us before speaking.

Damned pervert America-man

What a bullshit comment

I’m too angry. Is this [network] trying to provoke an argument?

Threat? Ha, haven’t done you in yet.

Gunpowder was invented by us!

I suddenly have the urge to name off the four great inventions (of China)…

Fire him immediately? What kind of host is this?

You old bastard, did your mother teach you to speak that way?

He’s just trying to self-promote himself. I hope that no one is going to acknowledge his words.

Here is a video of Beckel’s remarks from the Thursday broadcast. The quoted passage begins at 0:12:

The FOX host had also made previous remarks regarding the limiting Chinese foreign exchange students,

Photos: CCTV News

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