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"Lying" in China, An Opinion

Long-Dragon (390 posts) • 0

I have adapted the piece below from another source and shortened it. What do you think?
"I love China. It's a great country with amazing history, culture, and language. My life in Chinese business is often a struggle and a challenge, as so many non Chinese coming to China have found out.
Lying is the Norm: One thing you notice pretty quickly when starting to work in China is that lying is very common and not in the say American spin, or lack of transparency sort of way, just outright lying. Why is lying so common? Because appearance is everything. The reality of the situation doesn't really matter. It's what people believe to be true that does.
Appearance is Reality: This concept is hard for many Westerners to grasp, but let's look at an example to help clarify. Try to think about a time, maybe in high school, where you or someone you know was affected by a malicious rumor. The rumor was absolutely untrue, yet it completely changed the way people reacted to you and what they thought about you. It also had a huge effect on your life.
This way that other people's beliefs affect reality, regardless of validity, is a core tenant in understanding how many Chinese think. If reality is affected by appearances more than the truth, what's the point in focusing on the truth? Much better to focus on what has real word effects.
Lessons Learned: If appearances are upheld, everybody is happy. This is a hard lesson that is hard for foreigners to learn in China and one I am not very comfortable with. Quality and great people did not seem to really matter to many, who were happy as long as they had something good to show prospective people that encouraged them to buy or do."

Alien (3819 posts) • 0

I think you're on to something, although I think the text goes too far, and also tends to present a Chinese/'foreigners'(?) dichotomy that overstates the real situation. But it is certainly true that blunt directness is not appreciated much in Han Chinese culture, especially when it harms face and/or the feelings of others (and yes, I know this is not the whole story of what you are talking about). I find this annoying, but one must learn to interpret meaning from speech everywhere (e.g., read an advertisement from anywhere; notice what is left out of education or the news).

Napoleon (1184 posts) • 0

And the old 'Chinese' and 'foreigners' as it is well known that there is only 2 cultures in the entire world.

Alien (3819 posts) • 0

One may consider spin as lying - the object is pretty much the same: to manipulate another's beliefs and actions rather than to communicate honestly. And spin is just about everywhere in a culture powered by economic competition.
And then there is politeness, which takes different forms and is understood differently in different cultures, but usually assumes a form of avoiding blunt 'truth'. However, politeness generally supposes a mutual understanding on the sides of both speaker and hearer, although crossculturally this is not always the case.

Napoleon (1184 posts) • 0

@Alien

You've made more sense than the starting post. When dealing with anyone you're not familiar with there is certain amounts of reading between the lines, knowing what is being said for show, and out of politeness etc. When you're doing this between people with the same cultural norms this is fairly straightforward, the two parties are on familiar ground.
When this is being done cross culturally then all these lines are blurred and altered. Politeness could be perceived as lies, sensitive subjects as lack of transparency and each party has different details of the subject that they hold important, causing difficulties. On top of all this you've got language.

Alien (3819 posts) • 0

My point exactly, Napoleon. But the OP has a point: outright lying, as well as the cultural acceptance of, or at least the expectation of it, does vary from culture to culture, I think. But then simply 'telling the truth' can be expensive under conditions of domination, including domination by less-than-even-handed economic/political/social etc. arrangements.

Napoleon (1184 posts) • 0

I think it's going to be difficult to say lying is more prevalent here than elsewhere or other cultures.

If you asked Dudeson's everyone to a man would be outright lyers. If we asked 'The Man of Many Names', he would claim that he has never encountered a lie told by a Chinese but that every foreigner he meets lies through their teeth.

It's all about personal experiences I would guess. I've had had mixed bag in the lying department wherever I have been. It does'nt take more than a couple of pages of The Telegraph to realise that it exists, thick and fast, in 'The West' too.

The starting post just appears to me as ''I'm a yankee here on business, I'm finding it harder here than I thought, ipso facto, Chinese are liers'' then the old 'Let's find a keyboard to bang!'

Alien (3819 posts) • 0

Well, some people have a tendency to believe that moving to a different cultural environment is, or should be, more or less like moving around the block, rather than a matter of learning from a different and unfamiliar perspective...I don't mean to focus on the OP here...no end to it...but then hell, who completely understands even 'his/her own' culture? There's always the viewpoint of the outsider and the viewpoint of the insider, and neither is complete or sufficient overall. Overall we're all on the inside of overall human culture, so there's hope.
Seems to me lying is definitely more prevalent in cultures where people are internally at war with each other, as the point then is not mutual honesty or understanding, but victory. We may not be really 'at war', but it seems we're almost never completely at peace with one another either. It's pretty much a social arrangement, maybe we can do better.

The Dudeson's (1106 posts) • 0

Of course there is a lot of lying here. This is Bulsh*t mountain. And we have to climb it everyday.

Napoleon, just go outside and interact socially, unless you talk about salary, how fat or thin you have become, and how much people hate Japan and America, just try to talk to random people, shop owners etc. and you will be lied to.

How you wanna call it, who gives....
But it is still a lie.

It is, as long-dragon posted part of the face-culture. And as always, all Chinese [I have talked to, about that] hate it, but it's part of this AMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZING culture, so we have to love it, spread it, teach it to our kids, while we smack them up if they don't do their homework or get a good gaokao.

Right? Sorry for talking negative about anything Chinese, I know I have to love it and have face-intercourse with it, because it is so awesome! My apologies!

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