2022-01-02 回复奖励 40949
What''s your experience from living with the Chinese people for awhile?


Usama Ahmad, former Employee in the Govt. of Pakistan.(前巴基斯坦政府雇员)

I lived in a predominantly low-medium income Chinese neighborliness for more than an year when I first came to Canada. I had also worked with Chinese engineers back home when I worked with the Pakistani government and my class in Canada was also heavily represented by Chinese students.
These are by no means observations meant to apply to Chinese folk as a whole since their behavior, customs and beliefs can vary vastly even within China. And they were drawn from a very diverse Chinese crowd. So take them with a grain of salt:
Chinese people who did not go to English medium schools and learned the language themselves often struggle with the He/She pronouns and get them mixed up. It’s not uncommon to hear them say something like: “My Wife, he is a big fan of rock climbing” or “My husband, she loves to cook”. I suspect this might be because Mandarin might not have clear cut binary pronouns.


Young Chinese people are far more constrained by their social customs and norms than say, people from Pakistan or India. To the point that they have one personality when dining with their parents and in-laws and another personality when they are hanging out with non-Chinese friends. I’m guessing this might be because Chinese society is very strict and traditional in terms of relationships. For the most part, Pakistanis have roughly the same personality and behavior when dealing with family and friends. Not so with Chinese folk who are far more refined and careful when dealing with family and formal relations. My friend who would be relaxed, carefree around us would have a very different, courteous and demure way of interacting when dealing with her in laws and family. Which is why I’ve noticed quite a lot of my Chinese lady friends don’t particularly enjoy time with their in-laws due to how careful and refined they have to act around them.
The personality shift occurs in language as well: One of my friends is an intensely shy, private person when she is with us. But she is incredibly lively, the life of every party and incredibly funny….when she is in a Mandarin speaking crowd. The language barrier constrains not only communication but also prevents you from seeing the full personality of your Chinese mates cause they can only express themselves through the narrow, oddly shaped holes of the English language (which is as far from Mandarin as any language can be).


There is a stereotype that Northern Chinese are very tough, hardworking, strong and silent types whereas Southern Chinese are a bit snobby, more materialistic and with more expensive tastes. This stereotype was actually relayed to me by my Chinese friends themselves. I think there are rough adherence to this rule, but honestly I’ve met people from Shanghai who fit the Northern descxtion quite a bit and similarly Northern Chinese who fit the southern descxtion a lot. So I’m not sure how true this is.


White Americans have this stereotype about Chinese people being “loud”. This is incorrect: Chinese people aren’t loud. Mandarin is loud. Pakistanis would understand the distinction between the two concepts perfectly: When we speak Punjabi or Pashto, our voice level automatically goes up a notch. It just comes with the language and how it’s intonations, pronunciations and vocalizations work. You have to be a little loud to make them work. But when we switch back to the gentle waves of Urdu, our voice goes back to a soft spoken state. Mandarin is kind of the same I feel: It’s just one of those languages that when you speak it, you voice goes up. When my Chinese friends switch to Cantonese or English, their voice automatically goes soft. Yet, sometimes they try to literally whisper in Mandarin and we can almost hear them from across the room. Also, again this varies from region to region: If you ever meet a New Yorker, they are way more louder than someone from the Midwest rural areas.
The educational focus is real: If you are not well educated, you are barred from good society in Chinese culture. I’ve seen my Chinese friends waste money on second Masters and PhDs their careers don’t need just because of the peer pressure and extra respect they earn in their society from a Dr. next to their name.

原创翻译:龙腾网 http://www.ltaaa.cn 转载请注明出处

There used to be a thing where Shanghai people were pretty snobby and if you were from outside Shanghai and went their to work as a Chinese, if you didn’t speak Shanghainese you were a pariah. This is dead now and Shanghai is apparently very mixed and cosmopolitan (well, cosmopolitan from the Chinese POV) and being able to speak Shanghai is not a barrier to entry.
Chinese men are wayyyyyy more comfortable with their arm pit hair than us. When we used to play football in the summers with our Chinese colleagues, they sometimes took their shirts off and the inglorious sight of their full, lush arm pit hair was enough to send us screaming in terror and dismay. Islamic doctrines prevent us from having arm pit hair longer than a grain of rice so to see such a full head of hair under their arms was…honestly? upsetting.


Chinese people don’t sweat as much as us: They nearly pass out in the hot summers because they sweat less than us and thus can’t regulate their body temperature as well as South Asians who sweat more profusely but can work longer hours in the hot sun outside. To compensate for this genetic deficiency, Chinese people seem to have a much higher metabolism because my Chinese friends eat like crazy and still manage to stay thin whereas I could eat one naan today and gain 2 pounds tomorrow. Also, they manage to smell nicer in summers due to lack of sweat so I guess they could pass out from a heat stroke but smell great doing it.


Speaking of marriage: Chinese parents REALLY dole out the cash to help their kids get settled. A side benefit of the one child policy I suppose. Or perhaps a necessity bought on by the rising prices in China? But when a couple gets engaged, the parents from both sides really chip in to help the young couple get a house, get set up and all that. These are incredibly large investments so it kinda makes sense how serious and formal and dispassionate point #9 is: Marriage can take up the entire life savings for some Chinese parents. South Asian society is different where our darn siblings split our parent’s resources so we don’t really get as much support as a couple when we get married.
Chinese young women are under a lot more pressure to work a job these days than their South Asian counterparts because we still have the mentality that the woman should make the home, raise the kids etc. But the Global economy isn’t screwing around: Double income or bust. The Chinese have caught on to this faster than a lot of other immigrant communities and have worked out a eco system of day care, neighborhoods and communities and support networks to enable couples to work while raising kids and maintaining good living standards (plus accumulate the expensive fees for the fancy private schools they are gonna try to get their kids into).


If you use cash to try to pay in Shanghai, old ladies will laugh at you for being so archaic.
The Chinese bubble: It’s what holds back Chinese immigrants more than anything else. Chinese immigrants and young people to Canada often have more disposable income with them than immigrants from South Asia but struggle in school and job hunts because they tend to form Chinese bubbles and stay within their circle of Chinese friends only. Now this isn’t entirely their fault: English isn’t their first language and they didn’t learn it in school. But holy crap, i think this is a huge negative, no two ways about it. When we were about to be sent to China as part of a government delegation, we had to go through certain sensitivity training under a diplomat. Mostly he just taught us boilerplate stuff (Don’t bring up Taiwan, don’t make a mess at the food table just ask for a fork if you cant use chop sticks, Show up at the meetings etc). But the one thing they stressed the most was : Don’t switch to Urdu when in a mixed setting with Chinese people present. It’s incredibly rude to start speaking in a language they can’t understand. So we had an informal thing where whenever a Chinese friend was with us we would switch to English so they could understand what we were saying even when they weren’t a part of the conversation as a sign of politeness. This is something a lot of younger Chinese folk are completely oblivious to and quite a few folk complain that they might be sitting with 2 Chinese friends and the 2 Chinese friends would switch to Mandarin and the friend who didn’t speak Mandarin would be left feeling awkward. I honestly have to give credit where credit is due : Pakistanis are very good at breaking out of their comfort zone and mixing with people from different countries. The Chinese and Indian communities however bubble up a LOT. For the most part, it’s not a problem: Chinese and Indians also help their community members get jobs and so on. But I can honestly say that this bubble mentality will only hold you back in Canada which is a very diverse and multi cultural, multi linguistic nation. So make the effort to mix with people outside your bubble and don’t switch to your native tongue in mixed company: It’s kinda rude.


When we were in Pakistan, we had a joke: Whenever you want to hire someone, hire a Chinese. They will work very hard. But NEVER work for a Chinese boss. Otherwise YOU will be working very hard. And this is for the most part very true: Chinese society trains their kids from a young age to be accustomed to a work load that is abnormally high by South Asian standards. Chinese VPs and Directors work long hours well into the weekends. If it wasn’t for their difficulty with communication skills due to language barriers, they would be rising up the ranks very fast. Just wait for their kids to grow up in Canada. A lot of my friends who immigrated to Canada from China are hesitant about going back to China for jobs even though there are a lot of opportunities back there simply because they fear that they won’t be able to handle the work load anymore after getting spoiled in Canada.


Don’t refuse a drink if someone from China offers one to you. You can swap alcohol with juice or water if you don’t drink booze. But it’s a cultural thing: Refusing a drink is a little insulting or at least a little cold. Chinese people offer a drink in a very traditional way, not the western friendly and carefree way that’s more about socializing or hospitality. When a Chinese person offers you a drink, it’s an invitation into their inner circle and their inner lives. Refusing it is a sensitive thing.
Chinese women are surprisingly not very hung up about the race of their partners. People from Eastern Europe and South Asia make a huge hue and cry if a woman from their region marries someone with a darker skin tone than them. But some of my Chinese friends have partners who are South Asian or African and their society is far more accepting and tolerant of this than a lot of other nations on the planet. However: The upper crust of elite Han society is still very hung up about marrying among your own only so this doesn’t seem to be a general rule.
Chinese people are surprisingly very apolitical. Their views on Chinese politics are often very half hearted or they just don’t care. Contrast this with the fiery and passionate political life of Pakistan or Canada. I suppose political engagement is a luxury when the Government seems to be doing it’s job.

原创翻译:龙腾网 http://www.ltaaa.cn 转载请注明出处

The Pakistani-Chinese friendship thing is something I always thought was either at a government level or a state level but maybe not so much at a people level since I’m a cynical old dude. But in Canada, Pakistanis and Chinese are often very closely bonded and make up each other’s friend circles a lot. One of my best friends in Canada is Chinese and told me her best friend back in her under grad was a Pakistani and in her current degree program is again a Pakistani. It’s honestly a little strange how well people from these two countries get along but endearing because of how vastly different their two cultures and societies are. If there was ever a template on how to achieve peace between vastly different societies, Pakistani and Chinese societies are a good template for it.
It’s China’s turn now. Before 9/11, the African American community bore the brunt of hatred in the US. After 9/11 up until the 2019 era, it was Muslims. Now it’s your turn. The right wing in North America has never fallen short of finding an “other” to blame for the woes of their country and to paint them as a fifth column. With the recent trade war with China and Trump’s anti-Chinese rhetoric, there is an under current of tension towards Chinese people even in Canada. This is despite the fact that Canada has also borne the brunt of the Trade War. But the White Canadian society will always consider the US closer kin and brethren than they will some Chinese immigrant from Guangzhou. I’ve sat in bars and heard conservative white Canadians from demographically white majority towns talk about how the Chinese lie about their GDP growth, how they have no hygiene standards in their restaurants and other racially tinged remarks. I was a teenager when 9/11 happened. I saw how it got worse. And I know how it starts. And it might be starting for you now. So keep an eye out. It only gets worse from here. If it’s any comfort: We’re all in this together.
All in all, It’s been a lovely privilege and fun experience having so many Chinese friends in my social circle here in Canada. They have been my front line friends in a lot of the immigrant struggles we have been through together. And our differences have honestly made us closer rather than set us apart. I welcome any corrections to this answer.
Image source: Pakistan China Friendship - Pakistan Images & Photos


Andy Lee Chaisiri
>>There is a stereotype that Northern Chinese are very tough, hardworking, strong and silent types
The counter-joke to that is “Yes, northern Chinese tough guys were model hard working quiet citizens under Japanese rule,
while those devious southerners were constantly raising problems…”
All Chinese talk poop about their neighbors


Paul Denlinger
Very astute observations, especially the part about how relationships govern how Chinese behave.


Roy Goh
“Whenever you want to hire someone, hire a Chinese. They will work very hard. But NEVER work for a Chinese boss. Otherwise YOU will be working very hard. “
ROFLMAO. As an ethnic Chinese from South East Asia, I approve of this joke! I used to tell this joke myself. That said, it depends on the education or background of the boss. The more “Westernized” the boss, the less you’ll encounter this type of work culture.

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Gabriel Chan
Number 4 about the northern and southern Chinese is interesting because it seems in recent times, it''s the other way around. For most of history, southern China was the main economic power while northern China held military and political power. Since southern Chinese are more accustomed to wealth, they are less materialistic than the northerners that are new money.


Arthur Chan
As an Asian-American, I can tell you that getting out of the “bubble” is a mixed bag. You will have your few friends, and maybe find places where you can be safe, but even in ostensibly progressive places, it is hard, and not merely a language thing. It’s hard for me to envision a longer-term future for Asians in the West, which is why I am hopeful when I see China building roads to Pakistan, investing in Africa, etc.
I completely agree with the fifth column thing. I always knew that if there isn’t some hating on brown people or black people then we were next, and, it was only a matter of time. Which is why it always annoyed me when overseas Chinese would join in on the model minority thing and espouse prejudice towards South Asians or African-Americans.


Allen Allington
My Chinese wife and I live part time about 250 miles west of Shanghai so it’s not an upscale city but a rather common or average rural city of 1 million people. Often I am 1 of 3–4 foreigners in the whole city, the others being English teachers from around the world.
I must say your views are interesting, entertaining and in most cases, sensitive in expression and correct..


Kiersten Jayne Adri-Ang
#10 is not entirely true. My fiancè, my aunt and I sweat profusely. We are overseas Chinese who live in the Philippines.
However, my mother didn’t sweat much and didn’t have to wear anti-perspirant and deodorant.
And also, I have terribly slow metabolism!! LOL.
I agree with the rest of your observations though.


Vincent Tang
As a Chinese student in Canada who lived here for 8 years already and going into undergrad next week, I basically fully agree with you. You have written an excellent answer. Thank you! Long live Pak China Friendship.
Point 21 is the one I''m really worried about, especially because I will be in university now and I hope it doesn''t get too bad…


Ahmed Gustavsson
Very interesting answer. Makes me more interested to find out about Chinese culture maybe I will ask my Chinese friend that I just met an hour ago lol


Lee Lau
Not much to add other than that IMO Cantonese is at least as loud as Mandarin. And Hakka /Hokkien is louder


Jenny Kim

About the pronouns bit: in Chinese both he and she are pronounced “tā.” For male it’s 他 and for female it’s 她. I sincerely hope the last part of your answer isn’t true, if it were, I reckon the suspicion towards China is going to be a lot worse, given how China’s economic position can make it sound like a genuine threat the way many other groups never were … :(
因为在中文里, 他和她都是发音“ta”。男性是他,女性是她。我希望你说的最后一点不是真的,如果是真的,那么中国遭受的怀疑将更加严重,因为中国现在的经济地位对美国构成了真正的威胁。

Usama Ahmad
Ah that makes sense.
As for the last part, I hope that I’m wrong. Its perhaps my paranoia and low opinion of human nature in general that makes me think so negatively about the developing situation in the world. So perhaps my perspective is tainted. But in all honesty, I worry for the safety and well being of my Chinese friends in the US, Australia and Canada.


Jenny Kim
Me too — I’m only half Chinese but I don’t imagine that would help at all if Chinese people become the main “other” Americans begin to target… (it’s not as if they’ve been very good at distinguishing East Asians from each other lol)
Thank you for your concern — people like you give me hope :)


Robert Mookerdum
Two guys in Military uniforms holding hands,that is one step closer to world peace.


Usman Khan
Man your observation skills are excellent . Come back to Pakistan . We need more smart people like you .

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Ken Woo
I’m Chinese-Canadian. Thanks for writing this Insightful article from the perspective of a non-white person. As for your point 21, you are right AND it’s already started.


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