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It all depends on what kind of friend you are looking for in China. If you want close personal friends like we westerners are accustomed to having back home, it is going to be very difficult. |
I came to China 7 months ago to teach English at a university. Of course, all of my students wanted to be my "friend". Most of the students are very friendly, but their idea of friendship is totally different from mine. After 7 months here, I have one very good, close, personal friend. I have had many offers to be "Guanxi" friends. I did much reading on the "Guanxi" idea and now understand a bit better where many of the Chinese people are coming from when they say they want to be your "friend".
I just recently lost a "Guanxi" friend who I thought had become a good personal friend. I met this person right after I moved here. This guy was so outgoing and friendly and immediately wanted to be my friend. At that time I had no idea what Guanxi was, so being a stranger here I was happy to take him on as a friend. After a few months I did become somewhat suspicious of his reasons for friendship. When he was with other friends he would always introduce me as his English teacher, never by name and never as "Friend". Whenever we would go out to eat or go anywhere, he would never let me pay for anything. It was his way of re-paying me for helping him with spoken English. He was always telling me that he wanted to find a way to show his appreciation. When I questioned him about this, he said that I was just one of his friends. I'm not sure what he meant by that.
He has made a lot of promises to me which have all been broken. He is definitely not a man of his word. Recently all phone calls have stopped and no texts anymore, so I am assuming that I have outlived my usefulness. He had talked about giving up on the English because it was too hard. I think that's what he did, and didn't tell me, so he no longer needs my "friendship". I miss him, but realize it is probably a good thing he has left.
My good personal friend I have had for almost as long as I've been here. Our friendship developed over time and is not a "Guanxi" friendship. I would recommend reading up on Guanxi. It has helped me to understand how most friendships here work, and to be very careful when someone asks me to be their "friend".