Author: ttt222

Can Foreigners Ever Understand China? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2013-1-27 03:49:08 |Display all floors
fatdragon Post time: 2013-1-26 19:09
Robert's exposure to China has seemingly given him an advantage over you in understanding China an ...

But Robert will ONLY admit to the good things about China.  He claims "bashing" if ANYONE points out not so good things.  Everyone has their right to an opinion, but Robber will only accept his and no one elses.  By the way, I do have a Chinese wife and a 4 year daughter, so I do have "insight" into China.

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Post time 2013-1-27 07:24:53 |Display all floors
I am an Englishman who lives in Australia and I worked in Guangzhou for a year, back in 2003. I know I will never understand China but I do love the country, it's people, culture, traditions and of course it's food. I have great respect for it's Government, the way it can administer such a huge population and all it is doing to wipe out corruption.

While in China I met many university students and with such bright, intelligent young people China will be in safe hands.

All the people I talked to in China were proud of their country and they have every reason to be proud.

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Post time 2013-1-27 08:48:19 |Display all floors
I will  never understand China and that bis one of the things I like about the country, it is never dull, just when you thought you had a handle on it something happens to change your mind.
What many people do not realize is that China is more than one country, what may be normal in Helongjiang would be frowned upon in Yunan, such a vast country so many differences.

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Post time 2013-1-27 11:48:23 |Display all floors
grb Post time: 2013-1-27 03:49
But Robert will ONLY admit to the good things about China.  He claims "bashing" if ANYONE points o ...

Let me see.... Robert is a foreigner who lives in China by courtesy of the Chinese government. That makes him a guest. Tell me, when you are invited to someone's house do you criticise your host at every opportunity?
(mostly harmless)

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Post time 2013-1-27 11:55:56 |Display all floors
I don't even completely understand my own country (i.e. why does everyone want a gun?). That being said I believe that COMPLETELY understanding China is difficult, bordering on impossible, for foreigners. I've lived here for nearly 10 years, though mostly in only one province (Guangdong). The hardest part for me to comprehend are the glaring contradictions in, for want of better terminology, Chinese "character." I could cite many examples. Chinese students study much more science than most of my compatriots yet are often very unscientific in their thinking and just "believe" things with no real scientific evidence they're true. (One example being a woman shouldn't bathe or wash her hair for a month after giving birth. I could list countless others but there are time and space limitations. ) And while almost every Chinese I ask states they don't believe in God almost all say they believe in "fate" or "destiny."  When I ask them to explain the difference most can't. (For the record I don't believe in either God or fate so I'm not being a judgemental Christian here. I happen to think both "God" and "fate" are silly.) Many Chinese I know are fastidious about keeping their own "space" clean and neat but have no problem with public places being filthy and chaotic. Evidence of this is not hard to find. Even beautiful "scenic" places are strewn with litter. A further puzzle to me is why Chinese can be so obedient when they shouldn't be (i.e. doing whatever their parents tell them to do, including when and whom to marry and what job to take) and disobedient to the point of jeopardizing their own safety (i.e. ignoring traffic signals). They can also be amazingly polite in a "formal" way (like referring to people by title) and totally rude in their everyday actions (like refusing to stand in line and wait their turn.) The "face" culture is also very difficult to understand for most foreigners and impossible to accept when it IS understood. Many times I have asked a Chinese acquaintance, "Why do you care what these complete strangers think of you?" Their response is usually, "You wouldn't understand." And they're right! I don't. On scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being "don't understand at all" and 10 being "understand completely" I'd put myself at MAYBE a "4" after being here for almost 10 years. At this rate I'll be at "8" when I've been here 20 years.   

As for the foreigners living here there tends to be two distinct "camps." The first feels it must "denigrate' China at every opportunity and the other feels it must defend China to the hilt at every opportunity. Both camps, frankly, annoy me. China is no different than any other country on Earth. Not perfect but not totally awful either. Both camps seems to forget this.

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Post time 2013-1-27 12:49:00 |Display all floors
It's hard enough for foreigners, but here's a question. Can Chinese people understand their own culture these days? I've lived here 8 years, there are many things I understand. I have learnt more about the Japanese Occupation, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, Confucius, Taoism and many other areas of Chinese history than most of my university students. I'm not saying I understand China, I haven't been everywhere in China nor mingled with all levels of social groups.

However, when I ask my students, what is your culture today? It leads to a lot of students unsure of how to describe it, lots of debate, many different opinions and many students at a loss for an answer. The same could  be said for many people from many countries in the world.

So do I understand China? More than most but not completely. I understand where the two faced lying nature comes from, I also know why it is there, given the history of China last century, and that it can be broken down with the right understanding and approach.

But that's the best part of living in China, it's culture is so complex, has changed so much in the last 60 years, isn't sure of itself and is changing so rapidly that it's fascinating to watch and discuss with my university students.

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Post time 2013-1-27 12:53:17 |Display all floors
pangmei Post time: 2013-1-27 11:55
I don't even completely understand my own country (i.e. why does everyone want a gun?). That being s ...

Thankyou for an intelligent and insightful response, they are quite rare here. Well done.

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