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Old 01-26-2014, 04:39 AM
201 posts, read 265,676 times
Reputation: 69


The OP's observations largely reflect my personal observations in college, which I believe had a 40% Asian student population (which was mostly Chinese). I'm going on a limb here, but I think it has something to do with the competitive/straightforward mindset due to success-driven motivations that is prevalent amongst Asians, Chinese in particular.

I also noticed that things tend to get more impersonal in large, crowded urban areas (something that China has a lot of).

The reason is because Chinese people under communism was never rewarded for putting in the extra mile, hence they never bothered.
Wow, that's quite interesting once you think about it...never thought about that before.

Old 01-29-2014, 03:46 AM
Location: Guangzhou, China
9,783 posts, read 13,383,780 times
Reputation: 11313
Well, I've been in China for a bit over a week now...

I've found that at the local/neighborhood restaurants that I eat at, the proprietors are as polite as they can be considering we don't speak the same language. They are generally patient and even try to show a sense of humor where possible. This seems especially true with the Muslim/halal restaurants.

I went to a very busy lunchtime buffet-style place in Zhujiang with a friend; you basically get a tray with some rice on it, and the lady who hands you that is yelling at you and everyone else in line to go, go, go. So you go. There's a line of chefs behind a sneeze guard who wait for you to point at what you want and then whap it on your plate. You select a few items as you move down the line. You are supposed to have your cash out; the girl at the register watches two or three people down and has the change for your bill ready to be handed back. The whole affair takes maybe 45 seconds, tops. Possibly less. Then, you sit down wherever there's another seat; we were immediately joined by two office ladies who started at us while eating. You eat, you're done, you get up and someone immediately comes to remove your tray. You could conceivably get out of there in three or four minutes.

As far as walking out on the streets and all that, yes it's more hectic and chaotic at face value than in Western cities, but if you're willing to open your mind to the experience rather than just decide that it's messed up and crazy, then you realize in fairly short form that there is, indeed, a set of social mores as to how you navigate a crowd. If you're on the metro waiting for the doors to open to get off, everyone bears right and moves rapidly off the train - there's not really any shoving or anything like that, it's just that everyone is moving through a limited space at the same time so you bump into people and take it for a given. No one cares. During peak hours at main stations, there may be a police/security officer who more or less tells the crowd where the line cuts off. Once they do, it's only a few seconds before the door closes and the train is on its way. Even though, peak to peak, the numbers of people getting on and off are greater in GZ than NYC or Boston, it takes a fraction of the time.

Now, what is quite interesting is that despite this rush, rush, rush mentality in the subway or during lunchtime, Chinese people are much more apt to simply stop and look at or ponder something than people in the West, and they're generally willing to do that for a much greater amount of time than most Westerners when they do.

- I hit it off well with a female coworker who helped me get set up in town, so we went for lunch. Then, I walked her home. Then, we met for lunch the next day, and she quietly asked if I'd like to go for dinner; I agreed. As we sat at dinner, in a sort of middle-of-the-road Chinese restaurant, a boy of ten or so came up and started circling the table over and over, for a minute or two, watching us. My coworker didn't bat an eye; I noticed, but was okay with it. Maybe ten minutes after that, an older fellow came up and stood maybe six feet away from the table, hands behind his back, watching us as we ate and talked, with a totally placid and benign look on his face. He was there for about five minutes before he left, his curiosity at a the interactions between a foreigner and a local girl sated. In the Anglosphere, this would have been considered to be intensely rude, but it's totally socially acceptable here, and I really didn't have a problem with it, either.

- When I'm on the metro and I pull my phone out to look at a text or switch to a different song, the people standing on either side will not-so-subtly check to see what's on the screen, primarily because I'm a foreigner. This sort of behavior would likely get you yelled at in the States, if not shoved off. Although it happens like clockwork to me, I see Chinese people do it to eachother frequently enough as well, and no one seems to be too shaken by it.

- A girl in a school tracksuit had a handwritten sign and was sitting on her hands and knees by the metro with a money jar out. I have no idea what was written on the sign, but as I watched while I waited for the light to turn, about a dozen or so people would cycle between stopping to read and then leaving; someone else would take their place to stop and look as that person left.

TL;DR: What I've noticed in my week here is that it seems as though things that are interpreted as something that's more utilitarian, like your daily commute or lunchtime rush, are to be sped through with efficiency... so that there is time to do or reflect upon more important or interesting things.
Old 01-29-2014, 09:26 AM
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,781 posts, read 16,288,926 times
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^ Interesting observations. I didn't notice that that much when I was in China, maybe because I blend in. I think most could still tell I was a foreigner from my camera and maybe my dress. But anyway, we went on a 4 day local tour of Beijing, in Mandarin (mum can speak a bit) and I found the Chinese there quite nice, even though we couldn't speak to each other, from their expressions, body language, and tone of voice, it seems it was easy to just befriend them and feel familiar and comfortable with them. I feel that is the case in Asia in general, in South Asia, SEA and probably China. Can't speak for Korea and Japan, but I feel Japan in particularly probably has that more reserved nature like the West. But in the West, or at least the Anglosphere, there seems to be a sort of barrier between people, like it's awkward to get too close, and very hard to make friends with strangers, whereas in places like Sri Lanka complete strangers will talk to you, ask you the most personal questions (but it doesn't feel rude because they share so much too, and they're not afraid to hide anything like a lot of westerners), as well as invite you to their homes, for a meal.etc. In Sri Lanka when I wanted to use an internet cafe and it was closed, I asked a young man if he knew when it opened and he said I could come over and use the internet at his house! Such would be almost unheard of here or in the States i imagine. I also saw a lot of smiles there. I feel that closeness is something that is lacking in a lot of developed societies. Its probably more prevalent in rural than urban areas though too.
Old 02-02-2014, 11:30 AM
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
12,665 posts, read 15,115,096 times
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Chinese immigrants (especially from Mainland China) usually lack manners and usually do not know (or care about) the local culture or customs. I find Hong Kong and Taiwanese, immigrants to have better manners, education and civility.

The Mainland immigrants will invade your personal space, bump you, touch you without any "excuse me" or other pleasantries. They do not seem to know when they have offended people. They are really "clueless".

Here in the SF Bay Area and most of the US, their driving skills are also atrocious, I wonder how they received their driving licenses?
Old 02-03-2014, 08:53 AM
7 posts, read 13,710 times
Reputation: 12
Mainland Chinese think bribing somebody or using money to settle things is acceptable.
They like to ask how much money you have, especially in the case chinese women asking men. They want to make friends or marry somebody rich. Materialistic China.
Old 02-03-2014, 06:27 PM
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,781 posts, read 16,288,926 times
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Originally Posted by watchbits View Post
Mainland Chinese think bribing somebody or using money to settle things is acceptable.
They like to ask how much money you have, especially in the case chinese women asking men. They want to make friends or marry somebody rich. Materialistic China.
Yes I certainly have no interest in those types of women.
Old 02-03-2014, 11:07 PM
6,731 posts, read 6,626,785 times
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That vast majority of Chinese people over 45 years old never finished high school and had been hungry when they were young.

Now you can compare them with similar people in other countries.
Old 02-04-2014, 10:50 PM
1,100 posts, read 1,674,957 times
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I would think that there are several factors at play here.

First factor, which is very attributable to Communist China is they discouraged the concept of privacy and personal space. It's like if you are not doing anything wrong, there's nothing to hide. So people seem to be OK with looking what you are reading on your phone, to go so near to you that they bump to you or to overhear other people's conversations. This total disregard for privacy was so evident in the 1980s when most public toilets had no doors. If they are fine with same-sex nudity at the showers, that's acceptable in a lot of Western countries as well. But if there are no doors at the toilet cubicles or even worse, when some people will not close the doors even if there is a door, it just grosses me out.

The 2nd factor is I think a general lack of the well-being of a stranger. It seems that if they don't know you, you are nothing to them, so it doesn't matter what the heck happened to you. Unfortunately, I think this is what happened when even a child is run over in China and no one even stopped to help. People just don't care when they don't know you. They'll cut in line, they'll push. I experienced a case wherein a person actually placed his bag on the subway seat so I won't be able to sit down anymore in spite of the fact that I was carrying a child!

The 3rd factor is the lack of education or training, as well as the low status of service workers. However, I find this improving very fast. In the 1980s when the stores were government-operated in China, the sales people were extremely rude. We were reprimanded for trying on shoes and not buying them because they did not fit well. They were extremely mad that the soles of the shoes came in contact with the floor while fitting them and they were then a bit dirty! But recently, service people had been extremely nice in China. It is likely the fellow customers/passengers that are usually the problem.
Old 02-09-2014, 05:47 AM
Location: DC/NYC
332 posts, read 735,366 times
Reputation: 247
In Latin America everyone is polite even those with less than a high school education. They will say Good morning, evening, afternoon to strangers and be very nice to them. I once had a taxi man in Peru take us all around the city and being happy to do it without charge. Politeness is a cultural thing, how you were raised, and what the lifestyle is like. If it is a purely materialistic money hungry society or a less civilized society then they are less likely to care and are more focused on being competitieve much like the USA.

QUOTE=Bettafish;33317694]That vast majority of Chinese people over 45 years old never finished high school and had been hungry when they were young.

Now you can compare them with similar people in other countries.[/quote]
Old 02-10-2014, 09:17 AM
Location: New Jersey
5,661 posts, read 2,938,084 times
Reputation: 6462
I disagree with the title of this thread in the implication that rudeness is pandemic to every Chinese society. It is really endemic to just China itself and really in crowded cities where there has been a constant influx of people from the countryside.

I do not find the Chinese diaspora to be rude at all. They do not behave similarly to those in China or recent Chinese immigrants.

In fact, traditionally the Overseas Chinese tend to call the mainland and mainlanders "dai-loke" (this is Cantonese). At least in the past, this term had a somewhat slight bit of demeaning connotation with regard to lower sophistication, education, manners and being old-fashion so you know this is hardly a recent phenomenon.

Last edited by antinimby; 02-10-2014 at 09:31 AM..
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