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"I don't like these Chinese ways"

ritta (26 posts) • 0


yes, it is common. as for me, in Kunming, i think most of people's stares are curiosity, for kunming is not as international as cities like Shanghai or Beijing, people in Kunming are more inclined to look at foreigners than to chat with them. most of them don't know how to chat with foreigners in a polite way, and the most important is, they may feel shy to talk with laowai, for their oral english is not so fluent. but i think this is not a big problem. speaking language is not the only way for conmmunication, right?

aaronb (54 posts) • 0

Ok, I admit that I am getting annoyed. The conversation won't go anywhere as long as people (most of them foreigners) keep making excuses.

"They stare because they haven't seen a foreigner before"
Again, they stare even if they have.

Plus, there is staring (people watching) and there is STARING (long, hard, like you are looking at an object, perhaps with a miserable look on your face). In Kunming there is plenty of STARING. And in many countries, people who haven't seen foreigners don't STARE so much. THE REASON PEOPLE STARE IS NOT BECAUSE THEY HAVEN"T SEEN A FOREIGNER.

And no one is asking anyone to chat with foreigners. They can ignore you, give nod, or a little wave or a ni hao. But if they do, why not chat the same way they do with any other person? And they can do it in Chinese or English or Swahili, it doesn't matter.

Most local people, despite all the wonderful things that they do know how to do, don't know how to acknowledge me in a friendly way. When I say "ni hao" almost all are shocked, some give a friendly reply or nod of the head, some don't. But with all of them, I have to initiate it, to break the tension.

NO ONE is saying that local people are bad. We are all imperfect. But please STOP making excuses for cultural behaviors that you won't often see in plenty of more rural or isolated places in the world.

CovaNegra (5 posts) • 0

I'm sad to say that I was thinking about this the other day, and I'm sort of with arronb here. At this point in my life, I have traveled to about twenty different countries, including some pretty rural spots in Africa where foreigners are REALLY uncommon. My normal way of dealing with staring is to make direct eye contact and give a big smile. If it's a child staring, maybe a wave too! I am a petite, pleasant looking, non-threatening woman, and in countries all over the world this almost always elicits one of two responses: 1) a big smile in return, or 2) looking away, embarrassed to be caught staring (rarely).

Kunming is the only place I have ever visited in all my travels where about 50% of people just continue to stare. Correction: continue to glower! I don't get it. Am I missing out on some cultural difference where smiling at strangers is rude?

AnnAurora (36 posts) • 0

This 'positive' discrimination means that you as a foreigner get better treated than most locals, it's easier for you to find a job and friends. Trying to apply Western thinking to the Chinese society will only make your head hurt. There is nothing we can do about it so just try to do the most out of it. If nothing else you can always wear big sunglasses and a cap those days when you can't take people staring at you.

Dazzer (2813 posts) • 0

Things I have noticed.
Staring is not polite in many cultures. I think some manners were lost in the cultural revolution. This is not an excuse. My Chinese wife has told me that it is rude to stare, but many people lack manners.
The stare looks like a glower, but is really just curiosity, but it is not tempered by any modesty on the part of the onlooker.
The routine questions come from people who have only learned how to strike up a conversation from a school text book. This may be the first conversation they have had with a foreigner. If you don't believe me, go to an English corner in a college or uni.
People who stop you on the street are generally trying to be friendly, and yes I agree it can be annoying. But it ain't gonna change any day soon, there is nothing we as individuals can do to change the 1.2bn population.

Whenever I go to my home country, I see people who make me cringe with embarrassment. Bad habits abound. Using the 'f' bomb as punctuation is just a rude as staring to me. Throwing trash on the street, putting feet up on the seat in the bus.
Having manners has a lot to do with social status. Something that was diluted in China.

ritta (26 posts) • 0

well, staring, we just regard it as a body language of human being. The different implication or meanings or views of it are given by our thoughts, which vary from people to people.

aaronb (54 posts) • 0

The idea of this being an issue of western vs. Chinese culture has been patently refuted in this thread, not sure why some still cling to it.

(By the way,this dichotomy Chinese vs. western culture is one of the most useless concepts that is still pushed all over the place, has very few explanatory powers, and raises more questions than it answers. It isn't much better than mumbling-dude, stuff is different in different places )

I guess some hold this view because they believe it respects diversity, and asks us to be compassionate to different people. But it ends up as a denial of human commonality. Poop smells bad to everyone, no matter what the culture, it really does, it is not subjective.

The irony is that culturizing stupid behavior and saying it is just "different", is an insult to Kunming people. It says that current day mores can't be improved upon, that they think themselves separate, can't accept criticism, are all alike, and are incapable of change. It is patronizing and denies their adulthood.

It actually goes further than this, and just totally papers over the diversity it is supposed to promote.

For example, if these are "Chinese ways" that should be respected, then what of my local Kunming friends who are annoyed by these "ways" when they walk around with me? Are they not Chinese? Not Kunmingers?

I bet if you did a poll and asked Kunmingers if they thought prolonged and daily staring, shouting laowai on the street, etc. is inconsiderate behavior -more than 1/2 would say, perhaps even a large majority would say, yes it is. Such people are fully Chinese and fully local. What about THEIR ways?

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

I once asked one of my cousins (French culture) why the French and Europeans in general tend to stare at foreigners. He responded:

1. They're not just staring at you - they're staring at everyone. Get off your high horse!

2. If they're really looking at you, it's because you're packaged differently. They're looking at the package - the clothes, the shoes, the haircuts, accessories etc - which can be either a good thing - aka cool fashion, or a potentially other thing - um....unique (?) fashion statement. In the USA - you may be in the process of being sized up for a mugging, home invasion, stalking, assault, etc (or the person is gay/lesbian and thinking of a witticism to successfully approach you and break the ice). If you're male - check your zipper - the barn door may be open...(true story)...

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