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Hilarious Stereotypes of Foreign Countries Held by Chinese People

Posted: 01/30/2015 9:21 am

usa  paradeStereotyping might not be politically correct, but it happens nonetheless. If you ask anyone about China, you’re likely to get a variety of answers about what Chinese people tend to be like.

But what do Chinese people think about your country? Yes, the stereotyping goes both ways. A travel agency in China has compiled a list of national stereotypes to try and help Chinese travelers get beyond them.

Here’s what the article, reasons why foreigners don’t match your initial impression of them, all here for you to discuss, says:

Hey everybody; have you ever brought up a country only to have a strict association with it? For example, talking about South Korea will remind you of plastic surgery, talking about Thailand is to talk about ladyboys, and talking about Japan is to bring up perverts…

The following lists foreigners by their stereotypes; what’s your response?

Canadians: everything they say is boring, and life is depressing there

Maybe you’ve thought that since Canada is so cold and icy that there’s nothing to do there. In fact, in Canada you can go snowboarding, kayaking, and do other extreme sports. What’s more, absurdist comedy star Jim Carrey and Friends actor Matthew Perry are both Canadians, and are they boring? They’re hilarious! Therefore, don’t say that Canadians are boring!

Americans: Liberated thinkers, are tolerant of everything

Actually, European countries are more liberal minded than the USA, as seen in the more acceptable attitude towards nude beaches. Additionally, there are 16 states in the US that have not yet legalized gay marriage. That’s why it’s not that fitting to say that Americans are not that liberal.

sleepingSpaniards: Lazy, and love to sleep

Every day, Spaniards enjoy a three hour lunch and an afternoon nap. This is why other countries believe Spaniards are lazy and don’t want to work. However, Spain has seen a 2.8 percent annual average growth in its GDP, beating Germany by one percent.

Italians: Passionate, undisciplined, inefficient

The success of the textile and chemical manufacturing industry of Italy, its fine cuisine of pizza and pasta, the culture and historical architecture from the Renaissance era –these things all prove that Italians are not the least bit undisciplined and inefficient.

English: Soccer hooligans, and the fact that English men love soccer more than they love women!

In fact, more fights happen over soccer in Sweden than they do in England.

French: Arrogant

It’s been said that the French don’t like to smile at strangers and have an air of superiority, but this is just the culture of France. To them, they don’t like to display any hypocritical expressions. The French consider smiling to have nothing to do with etiquette, just as arrogance doesn’t.

Irish: Drunk every day

Any time the subjects of drunks or bars are brought up, many people think of the Irish. However, in an 2004 international study about the use of alcohol, Ireland ranked behind Luxembourg and Hungary.

Filipinos: Barbaric, backwards islanders

In 2003, the average Filipino sent 2,300 text messages a day, making it the most prevalent users of text messages in the world. At the same time, the Philippines is the blogging capital of Asia, therefore the Philippines is not backwards by any stretch of the imagination.

Indians: Narrow thinking, are all poor bastards

Although many Indians still live in poverty, this situation has improved in recent years. India has become a world leader in software, and is one of the fastest rising economies in the world. Have you seen the 2009 comedy 3 Idiots? The number of films produced by the Indian film industry is the highest in the world, as is its box office! Therefore, how can one rationally say that Indians have a narrow scope of thinking, and are all poor bastards?

Cultural stereotypes are something that slowly but imperceptibly affect our thinking. It’s the same with foreigners that all think Chinese can perform kung-fu like Bruce Lee, something that makes Chinese speechless. Therefore, you shouldn’t have any stereotypes towards foreigners or else they’ll think us and our stereotypes to be silly and naive…

Photos: Travel 163


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.



New Sitcom In Production About Expat Life in Beijing

Posted: 07/23/2014 10:36 am

no pets or foreigners sitcom tv show expats china foreignersA new sitcom called No Pets or Foreigners that details the comedic adventures of expat life in Beijing may be coming to a TV near you.

Time Out Beijing features an interview with star and creator of the show Murray Clive Walker that details some of what you may come to expect from the burgeoning show.

No Pets or Foreigners is about two expats that live in China and their relationship with their bad-tempered landlord Mr Li and his materialistic and mercenary-minded daughter Lingling.

Walker explained that the show’s humor will be aimed squarely at foreigners in China, and not at all critical towards the local Chinese culture:

It’s mostly about taking the piss out of two foreigners. I’m aware of the whole mianzi thing with the Chinese so I won’t be making any digs at them and their culture.

Explaining why the show is bilingual, Walker again focused upon the expat characters:

In order to enhance the stupidity of the foreigners they had to be speaking in English.

Even though there are no previous sitcoms about foreigners in China, the entire idea is still a well-worn cliche. Walker says he’s trying to avoid falling into that trap.

no pets or foreigners sitcom tv show expats china foreigners

When asked what kind of humor we can expect from the show, he said:

There’s a lot of toilet humor as well because I think that’s something we all wrestle with here what with the squat toilets. It’s not meant to be sophisticated but I do want to imbue the show with an emotional content. I’d like to find that balance between humor and emotion.

Have a sneak peak of the show from the video below:

Photo: Youku screenshots


Top 10 Complaints Chinese Women Have About Their Foreign Boyfriends

Posted: 07/21/2014 5:20 pm
mixed race couple

File photo from 2002.

For some foreigners, seeking opportunity in China is tied to finding love. For these Chinese ladies, being in a cross-cultural relationships means they must show their love in a specific way: by complaining.

China Daily has compiled this list of the top complaints Chinese women have about their foreign boyfriends. Reportedly provided by an unidentified Pakistani national, the list does a good job of simplifying the cultural differences between China and the rest of the world into two distinct homogeneous globs so that we can better understand them both.

This list was originally published in Chinese, but with the term “you” used so often to denote the Western boyfriend, we thought it was necessary to bring it to a Western audience.

Here then are the top ten complaints a Chinese woman has about her foreign boyfriend:

1. You Don’t Help Me Carry My Bag!

The majority of foreign boyfriends fundamentally think that carrying their girlfriend’s handbag is not masculine at all. However, this is the most common request of a Chinese girlfriend. Chinese girlfriends often put unnecessary things that are of no use into their handbags just so their boyfriends can help them carry it. And, foreign boyfriends don’t tend to carry bags (of their own) when they go out.

2. You Don’t Talk to Me Often Enough!

Chinese girlfriends often require you to communicate with them everyday: to call or text them them two to three times a day in order to show them you care. This is something that won’t change. Therefore, if you want to date them for a while, you must adapt to this.

3. You Don’t See Me Often Enough!

If you don’t see your girlfriend often enough, she will think that you are selfish. If you haven’t done what a Chinese girl wants you to do, she will think you are selfish. They will not miss any opportunity to criticize you for being selfish. However, the term “selfish” is not as serious of a complaint to foreigners. They (in all of their hundreds of cultures) think that being called “selfish” is very normal. This is not the case at all for Chinese people.

4. Stop Spending So Much Time With Your Friends!

Sometimes, Chinese girlfriends will complain that they don’t like your friends. However, that’s not the whole story: all they want is for you to spend less time with your friends so that you can spend more time with your girlfriend. They want a to live in a world with just the two of you, and not go out and see friends.

5. Why Don’t You Take Me Out With You to the Bars?

Whenever you go out to the bar, she’ll often complain that you don’t take her out with you. She will use every reason to criticize you for not taking her with you. She’ll say that you don’t like her being in a bar because she wants you to always remain by her side.

6. No Sense of Fashion

She wants you to dress according to what she thinks. Fashion styles in China are completely different from those of other countries and with which is difficult to comply, so ready yourself to confront this type of complaint day and night.

7. You Don’t Understand Chinese Culture!

Your Chinese girlfriend will often say that you need to learn Chinese culture better. 

8. Eat More!

It sounds very strange to hear, but is a fact: Chinese girlfriends will recommend you to “eat more healthily”. A Chinese proverb is “eating more is eating healthy”. They are following this rule to the letter, and take along their boyfriends for the ride.

9. Don’t Eat So Much!

Sooner or later you’ll start to eat more, but then you’ll begin to hear another complaint: you’re eating too much. Your Chinese girlfriend will tell you that you should start to eat less because it’s better for your health. All of a sudden, the aforementioned Chinese proverb and perspective will change.

10. Shopping

Finally, Chinese girlfriends will complain that you don’t take them out to go shopping. It’s true! They’re correct. Remember to take her shopping, but only go window shopping. She wants to go strolling with you. Sometimes, she’ll want you to spend a little money. Not long after spending it, she will say, “I had previously thought you to be selfish, but now you’ve shown me you aren’t.”

Photo: China Daily


Opinion: Laowai is a Four Letter Word

Posted: 06/3/2014 12:00 pm

laowai foreigner t-shirt[The following is a blog originally published at Sinopathic on December 23, 2013 as written by terroir, and is reprinted here with permission.]

It’s thrown around by our colleagues, the jianbing seller, taxi driver, your students, and maybe even your friends. Even though it’s such a ubiquitous term, nobody seems to be quite sure what “laowai” really means. Should you feel good to be referred to that way, as a member of a prestigious club? Or should you be taken aback at being singled out as something different?

Some may say that “laowai” is a neutral term that doesn’t contain any inherent meaning other than “foreigner”. If there are any negative connotations in the word, they stem from the context in which the word is used. But this ignores the latent meaning of the word, shrouding it behind the banality of daily repetition that grinds its significance into unfeeling, bureaucratic indifference.

Taken literally, “laowai” written in Chinese is 老外 (lǎowài). Individually, its components are 老 (lǎo) meaning “old”, and 外 (wài), meaining “outside”. “Laowai” most definitely does not mean “foreigner” in Chinese; instead, that term is written as “外国人” (wàiguórén) which is made up of “外国” for “foreign” and “人” for “person”.

There is no English equivalent of “laowai” in English; this mostly stems from the fact that most English-speaking cultures don’t inherently view the world as being divided between themselves and everyone else (most, I said).

There may be some confusion to what “laowai” actually means due to its individual components. “Old” is universally regarded in Chinese culture as a sign of respect. If someone is called “Old Wang”, then the Wangster is a person of a dignified position, regardless of his age. With this same thinking, a “laowai” should be a position that is equally respected—something absolutely true if it wasn’t for the second half of the term, “outside”.

Family is the most important component of Chinese society. As a way to endear themselves to others, many Chinese will address strangers with family roles; for example, to call a fellow man a “哥们儿” (gēmenr) is to afford him the respect of not just a fellow brother, but an elder one. After family, the respect commanded by any one person starts to thin out the further away they are located from the family home: friends, business associates, co-workers, neighbors… until it becomes a question of geography.

Being an outsider is pretty much the lowest scale to occupy on the Chinese social hierarchy. You are not trusted; your customs and habits are strange and unfamiliar; you are the unknown that stands in contrast to the family circle; your existence is a contradiction to all that which is Chinese.

So when when taken together, “laowai” means “respectable outsider” and not the “Hey, old whitey!” that Lonely Planet tried to convince me of at a more naive stage of my stay here. One could take it as as a backhanded compliment if one enjoys masochism in their majesty, but the word “laowai” is basically a system of control to always alienate a foreigner. No matter how well you speak Chinese, no matter how much you pander, no matter how much you love China – you don’t belong.

Respectfully speaking, of course.


Editor’s note: If you’re still not convinced, we’ve found a very simple process to both confirm the opinions expressed here as well as to give yourself the social advantage anywhere in China. Please use responsibly.

  1. The very instant you are personally referred to as a “laowai” during a conversation, stop everything. Interrupt the other party if you have to. Doesn’t matter if it is pouring rain and you are negotiating a fare for a taxi—grind the conversation to a standstill.
  2. Without raising your tone or showing any anger, pointedly demand answers to these questions: “Who are you calling a laowai?” (你叫谁是个老外?Nǐ jiào shuí shìgè lǎowài?) “Who’s a laowai? Am I a laowai?” (谁是个老外?我是个老外吗?Shuí shìgè lǎowài? Wǒ shìgè lǎowài ma?) “Where’s this laowai?” (老外在哪里?Lǎowài zài nǎlǐ?) Be firm, but not emotional.
  3. Do not waiver. Do not stray from your objective. Repeat yourself dozens of times if necessary. Do not change the subject, or allow the subject to be changed. Do not say anything other than the script in step #2. Again, do not escalate the situation by getting angry.
  4. Results will vary, but what we’ve seen is a slow grinding of cogs in the brain, after which the offending Chinese person will slap the brakes on and put it in reverse like a pizza delivery guy in the wrong driveway at the 29th minute. You may get an apology, get called the revised label of “foreign friend” (外国朋友, Wàiguó péngyǒu) and a conciliatory “好了好了好了” (Hǎole hǎole hǎole). This person will now try to quickly resume your original conversation to forget this unpleasantness, albeit at a disadvantage.
  5. Enjoy your new respect.

Photo: iQiLu


China Insider: Why a Racist Quote in People’s Daily Online Isn’t Racist At All

Posted: 04/25/2014 8:35 pm

africantown guangzhou african africa chinese

A quote given in a pictorial seen on the People’s Daily Online is not racist at all.

While a picture can tell a thousand words, we’ll let the actual written words speak for themselves in this case:

An African young man uses the text scanner at a shop and warily looks around. His frightened look reveals his identity of a new comer, perhaps without legal documents.

Yeah, that seems to be unfairly judging a person you don’t know anything about with a biased preconception. But, this caption isn’t racist because we’re not getting the full picture here: the true way to enjoy this pictorial is not by the pictures, but through the photographer.

The photo essay is about the African community that resides in Guangzhou. Estimated to have originated in 2002, “Africatown” was the coalescence of a number of Africa traders that continually grew year by year. However, the growth of Guangzhou’s Africatown seems to rely upon the uneasy truce made between the African and Chinese communities which is founded upon the mutual ignoring of each other’s existence.

Well, that didn’t sit well with Li Dong. Two years ago, Li Dong quit his job and decided to fully document the African community in Guangzhou through photography.

But though we have Li’s many photographs of the African community, we really aren’t any closer to understanding them—not by the People’s Online pictorial and it’s rather direct-yet-ambiguous statement. Instead, we need the proper context to relate with—and for that, we have Li Dong himself.africantown guangzhou african africa chinese

The full story about the African community photographs broke back on April 10, and it did it by telling us about Li Dong: his life, his history, his accolades. The introduction to the story starts off grandly like this:

Man of academics from a famous school, executive of a company, Entrepreneur… Li Dong is a man with many proud labels.

And then majestically reveals the purpose:

Within the two years of observing and living on Baohaozhi Street, he has become the African’s neighbor; from the beginning when people were wary [of his presence] up until the present when he is fully understood, he has slowly used his camera lens to tell the unknown stories of life and struggle of these people from another country.

And then it goes on to tell everything about Li. We are told of Li’s disgrace of losing face as a child when he saw the way Chinese would act around foreigners, and then Li explains how his work is required understanding to achieve a cultural advantage:

“Before, (Chinese) would need to take up the whole day to decide which bottle of mineral water to purchase when outside the country, but now an increasing number of Chinese are (more comfortable) with buying things when abroad. Before, (we Chinese) were wild for foreign trinkets; now, an increasing number of foreigners are instead coming to China to study and get rich…”

Yes, we need to know the all the motivations why someone would do something like this. We need to know that the person doing this is a person of high standing and privilege, after which we can extend our respect to the things he stands for by proxy. Yes, we need read the background first in order to give the proper respect, and then understand later.

The story of the African community in China is in fact Li’s story of why he was compelled to quit his job and devote an entire two years of his life to this project when a weekend wouldn’t do. We don’t need a pictorial telling the stories about the African community in Guangzhou because the real story we need to hear is the one that’s trying to tell it.

And let’s be fair to that quote by the People’s Daily Online: they did say “perhaps”.

Photos: People’s Daily Online


Urban Dictionary Chinglish Entries “Applauded” by Chinese Media

Posted: 04/19/2014 3:08 pm

While every day is a good day to wave a flag, Chinese online media were thumping their chest with pride recently when it was discovered that Chinese internet slang has entered the Western lexicon by being published in an online dictionary.

The entries included English versions of Chinese internet slang like no zuo no die, which means “If you don’t look for trouble, you won’t find any”; you can you up, no can no bb, which means “do better if you can, otherwise stop complaining;” and zhuangbility, which means to be a “poser” or “pretender”.

The media fanfare over this momentous event was swift and strong. CNR took a step back and looked at the big picture with a long-range telescope:

Chinese Quotes Have Surpassed our National Boundaries

Yangcheng Evening Report implied a mission had been accomplished with this introductory line:

(Chinese Slang Phase) Successfully Inputted Overseas

The Beijing Evening Report called the entry deserving of “applause” and echoed a military sentiment by writing:

Chinese Popular Internet Slang Has ‘Invaded’ an US Online Dictionary

But it was the People’s Daily who was most enthusiastic of the entry with its introductory lede that affirmed, ”English speakers may soon be saying “you can you up, no can no bb” in response to criticism.”

And why not? After gifting the world with the compass, porcelain and paper, China’s gift to the world will be a more streamlined world that isn’t weighed down by oppressive prepositions.

The media’s nationalist sentiments arrive as the mentioned Chinese internet slang are accepted and published by that venerable internet institution, the Urban Dictionary, and forever destined to remain respected additions to the pantheon of human wisdom through the miracle of open sourcing.

As can be seen in the above screenshot published on sites like Ecns, the entry “no zuo no die” joins Urban Dictionary alongside trending terms like tittybongqueef, poopsterbate, and alabama hot pocket.

Congratulations are in order. China, you’ve been validated by the distinguished hallmark of respect that defines itself in its own coffers as:

[Urban Dictionary:] A place formerly used to find out about slang, and now a place that teens with no life use as a burn book to whine about celebrities, their friends, etc., let out their sexual frustrations, show off their racist/sexist/homophobic/anti-(insert religion here) opinions, troll, and babble about things they know nothing about.

Photos: CNR


Some Chinese perplexed, confused by laowai: survey

Posted: 02/22/2011 10:18 am

We all know this anyway, but now it’s finally been confirmed in a survey of 161,000 Chinese people in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen: Chinese people who work alongside laowai find them confusing, and their jokes unfunny. The report comes to us courtesy of EastDay:

About one third of the people taking part in the survey said they had difficulty communicating with their foreign colleagues.

Kiki Liu, a secretary with a Hong Kong-based logistics company, said she was bemused by a British colleague’s jokes.

“He loved to tell jokes, but I found most of them to be not funny at all,” she said. “I thought it impolite if I showed no response, so every time I just laughed stiffly.”

Cecelie Cui, a customs service employee for a computer company, said an Indian colleague insisted on describing simple things in a complicated way. “He is a nice man and is sweet to everyone, but often I don’t know what point he’s making,” said Cui.

The good news is that most Chinese said foreigners brought “something unique” to the company. There’s no doubt that laowai often complain about being misunderstood or not understanding their Chinese colleagues, so it’s clear the miscommunication goes both ways.

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