A snappy little list is currently doing the rounds in Chinese and Japanese media, claiming to detail 10 things Americans think about Chinese people. Did you know that all Chinese people are good at cooking? That China’s men love money more than they love their wives? Or that they all want to wear the same clothes? Neither did we… But in amongst the humdrum negative stereotyping, though, there are some compliments being paid too!
Join us after the jump for 10 things that some Chinese people think Americans think about them!
1. Chinese people are model workers
“They are industrious, enterprising, and frugal to the point of occasional stinginess.”
We start the list with a nice bit of positive praise! Americans are in awe of the Chinese work ethic, apparently.
2. They love to live in mansions!
“Americans observe that Chinese immigrants love the American real estate industry, buying up big swanky palatial properties.”
The US, indeed, is the top destination for super-rich Chinese emigrants looking for property investments and a new life overseas.
3. They’re all so good at cooking!
“All Chinese people want to open a restaurant someday. But the weird thing is, they don’t use real Chinese ingredients when they cook!”
Americans were apparently surprised that Chinese people would rather buy imported foreign ingredients than more “authentic” Chinese ones.
4. Chinese government officials are highly educated, with backgrounds in public service
“In the United States, elected officials can come from all kinds of backgrounds. But Chinese officials are cherry-picked from a small elite of highly-educated individuals with the ‘right’ connections.”
And now they can double-check their cherry-picking skills with this handy “are you a sleazebag?” anti-corruption quiz.
5. They love money more than their wife/husband
“Some Chinese couples come to the United States and end up working illegally. Maybe they don’t love each other any more, but so long as they’re making money they don’t care.”
Here we have moved from the patronisingly complimentary to the downright offensive…
6. They all want to wear the same clothes!
“In China, the clothes you wear are closely linked to social status. So everybody wants to wear the ‘right’ clothes.”
People wear the same clothes in other countries, too, y’know…
7. Networking and connections are more important than the law
“It’s difficult for Americans to understand how important networking is to Chinese people. Constitutional change in the United States is a drawn-out process, but in China the law is amended so regularly that people don’t place their trust in legislation.”
Lack of confidence in the law is also brought about by widespread corruption in China, ranging from graft, bribery and embezzlement to nepotism.
8. Chinese people are only interested in getting rich
“In the US, parents want their kids to become doctors or lawyers – but if the kid changes their mind during college, that’s fine. Chinese students face more parental pressure, so they’re prepared to give up their own ambitions in order to make money.”
Many young people in China do experience intense parental pressure, whether to make money, marry right, or produce children (or often all three). Studying with a clear career goal in sight, however, is probably something that should be admired rather than disparaged!
9. Americans respect laws; Chinese people care about reputation
“Some Chinese people might not put too much emphasis on obeying the law, but they care immensely about their name and reputation.”
The concept of “saving face”, or not washing your dirty laundry in public, is dominant in many Asian cultures, and can be quite incomprehensible from a Western perspective. Where do the 3-million-plus Chinese Americans living in the US fit into this neat little dichotomy, though?
10. Chinese marriages are surprisingly stable
“Americans noted that Chinese people don’t tend to get divorced, even if the marriage isn’t working.”
It’s worth noting that divorce rates in China are on the rise, especially in big cities. But that pressure to marry and bear children does bring about sham relationships, which – as we learned this week – do not always end well.
Although this list has cropped up in the Japanese and Chinese blogosphere this week, it appears to have been around in some form since at least last summer. It’s not clear which – or how many – Americans the writer talked to when compiling the list, either. But we hope you’ll agree that it makes for an entertaining, if slightly questionable, cultural insight!