East vs West
two cups and two cats

Cultural Differences: Trying to Rationalize The Problem China

In China, there is no one topic I have written about which I have not personally experienced a thousand times.  The wisdom written down comes from experience.

A Western Perspective In China

Recently I was joking with my Chinese girlfriend on how a lot of Chinese people discriminate.  It got to the deeper point of how she said, “When you talk about China sometimes, I feel like you are discriminating.”

I told her, “No, I am definitely not discriminating.  I am making an observation.  There is black and there is white, and I observe those two things.”

“But the thing about Chinese people is that they are not able to see things from my perspective.  Because they have lived in China their whole life, so they have never known anything different or looked at things from an outside perspective.  When you come to Australia, you are going to realize that everything is one hundred percent different.”

“We don’t eat with chopsticks (筷子).  There is no rice (米饭), there are no noodles (面条), no congee (粥), and no soup (汤).  We eat hot chips, sandwiches, salads, pies.  Everything we eat is different, including the decorations, the law, and the politics.”

“So, when a foreigner from any country comes to China, the only thing we can do when we come to China is to adapt (适应) to the country, because everything is just so different.”

She replied, “Oh really, but you are actually pretty good at understanding, and knowing not to speak out against things in China.”  I said, “Because I know China.  I have been here for such a long time.  But I think what we are talking about here is being patriotic to your country.  You have to say that about your country because it is your country.”



Trying to Rationalize The Problem China

I then changed the pace to ask, “Do you know what irrational is?”  She said, “That is when you make a decision that does not make sense.”  I said, “Right.  Rationalize is when people try to make other people make sense of what they are saying.  So, what you are doing in regards to China is that you are trying to rationalize it to me.”

“For example, your work and overtime is tough, but because you were born and live in China, you try to rationalize it by saying, ‘that is just the way it is.  I can’t change it, so I just like it.’  The reason you rationalize it is because China lacks critical thinking.”

“For example, in Australia, I can tell the government to go get fucked!  If we don’t like something, we are going to say it.”

“That is the difference between Australia and China.”

But in China, you have not learnt to be critical about the government, or anything, so you just accept a lot of things that happen in your life.  You rationalize it away because most people are taught to be patriotic about their country.”



Author: 钨宝

The author of Diary Of A Mad Chaos from 1996 to 2018, The Lost Years book, Wubao In China (猎艳奇缘) book series, and Foreigner (华人) an exploration of race relations in Australia. Fluent in Chinese Mandarin, Macedonian, and English, the author currently resides in China, Guangzhou where he continues to make comparative analysis of the cultural differences between Eastern and Western societies.

Comments: 1

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  1. I think you are being unkind to China as they have been closed off to the outside world for a long time. You only have to look back a hundred years from 1949 to understand the mentality of the country. I have recently spent a month there and was impressed that I wasn’t ripped off once. Now the thing to bear in mind is they never ripped me off cause they don’t know how to is perhaps the blunt answer. We get ripped off in Aus and the UK because it’s part of our society, we expect it. It’s not in there mindset to do so, this may change in years to come if they open up more. This is a dilemma that China faces. The more they adapt to the rest of the world, the more of their identity they lose.

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