China and Japan have always had a tenuous relationship and in recent years you could classify it as somewhere between “sworn enemies” and “best buds”. Their close proximity to each other should allow each of the two countries to learn a lot about the other, yet even with informational tools like the Internet, what exactly the Japanese know about their “neighbors” is cringe-worthy.
When asked “What is your image of Chinese people?” the responses were exactly what you would expect. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s about to get really stereotypical in here.
We all suffer from a bit of image stereotyping when faced with making broad generalizations about countries. Most of us know that China has some beautiful scenery and grand-scale cities, but we also know the country also has some very poor areas. For some Japanese people, the image that comes to mind when they think about Chinese people might be stuck in the 1980s.
When asked, images of thousands of people on bikes, civil rights protests and hilariously strange robots were what came to mind.
▼ No freedom, no technology and no cool robots, you know, China
Not the most cultured responses, but the question was posed to Japanese Internet users so the answers were bound to be stereotypical. When shown pictures of what China was really like, some people did a double-take because they looked a lot like their home country, Japan.
▼ This looks suspiciously familiar…
Of course, there were other obvious stereotypes that came to light; many cited “Chinese” characters from various media as their image of Chinese people. These ranged from manga, anime and video game characters, to television and movie characters. Characters like Chun Li and Gen from Street Fighter, Retsukaiou from Baki the Grappler, and Master Pai Mei from Kill Bill were people who came to mind.
Image: Flickr (Dave Mathis)
Other Chinese things that were mentioned that we should all shake our heads at were Chinese dresses, tai chi, pollution and giant gongs.
▼ We should all feel a little ashamed…
Image: Flickr (The Magic Tuba Pixie)
It’s pretty easy to make the cheap joke and rattle off any number of funny stereotypes, but all it takes is a quick look around yourself to know that everyone is pretty much the same, no matter where they are from. One commenter tried to joke that directly behind the picturesque metropolis of Beijing are the slums, but a more enlightened person remarked, “Japan is the same.” We could all do with a little bit more acknowledgement of our collective sameness and take some time to get to know each other a little bit better.