What aspect of Chinese culture is hardest for Westerners to properly understand?
Anna Bomby Master Mechanical Engineering & Automation Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (2015)
Answered Jun 8
Anna Bomby 南京航空航天大学机械与自动化硕士
After living in China for three years I found a couple of things hard to understand.
1- The concept of friendship:
Chinese people are very warm to many foreigners. However becoming a true friend is another story.
When you are friend with someone you automatically enter a group of friends that will often do most of their activities together. It’s hard to become a part of the group as you’re expected to be friend with most of the group members.
As part of becoming friends with everyone you’ll very soon be invited to early dinner (hopefully you can understand Chinese). Even when you know someone for just 5 minutes they may invite you to their home.
Once you’re part of the circle you’re a true friend and you’re expected to be part of many activities and spend most of your time with those people or some of those. Sometimes two circles will merge or one circle will split into two if some people are not interested in the same things.
2- The concept of Hong Bao:
for those who don’t know the Hong Bao is a red envelope in which you
put money to give on special events (wedding birth graduation Chinese
new year etc).
Yes I do understand that you give money to someone who just got married or graduated it’s not a problem. But nowadays you get Hong Bao ALL THE TIME. It’s like “you passed one exam? here get your money” or you get money for Valentine’s from your friend… what meaning does it hold?
The Hong Bao became such a fashion that wechat even added a social feature for it.
Red envelope - Wikipedia
3- The value of money:
know I know you’ll tell me it’s normal to like money. But have you ever
heard someone saying “I can’t be in a relationship with him; he has no
money”? I have. Multiple times.
In China the more you have money the more friendly people will be with you. More than that men are expected to own a house a car and a significant amount of money to get married and those are questions frequently asked by people in China to anyone even foreigners.
I’ll always remember this saying on husband prospect: “I’d rather be crying in a BMW than smiling on a bike”.
4- Making racism normal:
can’t count the amount of times I have seen job advertisements saying
“whites only” or even when I was working in a club I had to bring people
in and I had this specific line “each 4 people get bonus (Chinese and
black don’t count)”.
Their own order of likeliness is usually:
White Also they expect black people to be less rich than white people hence they’re unlikely to befriend them (see point 3).
A friend of mine (Chinese) was talking with another girl (from Madagascar) then she went to her boyfriend and said “how can I be friend with her when she’s black?”. That’s enough said…
Mervyn Locke Enlightened laowai/Decade-long China resident/Permanent China bull
upxed Sat R26; Upvoted by Xinchun Li lives in China
Mervyn Locke 开明的老外、长期居住中国、永远看好中国
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