2024-07-01 ad65102105 11798
Chinese visitors to the US are usually disappointed. American visitors to China are usually impressed. Why?


David J Wong


Chinese visitors have expectations that the United States will look like what they see in movies and TV shows. Like this:


And this


They think of the US as the land of opportunity. For instance, even the Chinese nickname for San Francisco is “Golden Mountain.”

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Then they go and encounter this:

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In contrast, many Americans think of China as a backwards, poor place where its citizens are denied basic freedoms.


Then they go there and see this:



It’s not surprising that the America of the Chinese imagination doesn’t meet expectations while the China of the American imagination is far surpassed by the reality.


Ty Doyle
I'd point the finger at two things: first, there is an enormous perception gap. Your typical American has been told for a generation that China is a “developing economy,” which is basically a code word for “poor place” in the West. China is also known for being a dictatorship and a place where laborers work around the clock to make Americans t-shirts and iPhones. So yes, when Americans visit the best parts of China - and they tend only to visit the best parts - and see cityscapes that are every bit as nice as back home (nicer in some spots), it's not surprising that people say “wow, that wasn't what I was expecting!” Call it ignorance, call it arrogance/racism, call it whatever: the bottom line is that your typical American has overly low expectations for Asian destinations other than Japan (a lot of Americans imagine Tokyo the same way I suspect other people imagine New York or L.A.).

我要指出两点:首先,双方存在巨大的认知差距。美国人都被告知,中国是一个“发展中的经济体”,这在西方基本上是“贫穷国家”的代名词。那里的工人昼夜不停地为美国人生产 T 恤和 iPhone。所以,是的,当美国人参观中国最好的地方时——他们往往只参观最好的地方——看到与家乡一样美丽的城市景观(有些地方更漂亮),人们会说“哇,这不是我所期待的!”这并不奇怪。你可以把这称之为无知,也可以称之为傲慢/种族主义,随便你怎么称呼它:归根结底,典型的美国人对日本以外的亚洲旅游目的地的期望过低(很多美国人想象中的东京就像我怀疑其他人想象中的纽约或洛杉矶一样)。

In contrast, Hollywood culture is omnipresent, and it sends a message to the world that Americans live ridiculous, opulent lives in amazing, exciting places. So people arriving to crowded, dirty cities and unimpressive accommodations if they can't afford a decent hotel room (a lot of Chinese travelers are not wealthy by American standards) kinda bursts that bubble.


Second, because of language barriers, a lot of Chinese tourists understandably travel in Chinese group tours. When I lived in San Francisco, this would always be the time of year when I'd see the buses traveling around the city. What always struck me was how much time they spent in parts of the city that weren't that great. I get, for example, that a Chinese tourist might want home cooking in the same way that an American abroad might crave a hamburger, but it always seemed to me as though the tours missed a lot of what makes the city interesting. In contrast, if you're an American in a major Chinese city, you can usually find enough people who speak English to get around fairly easily.

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Gilbert K
New York City made me feel sad.
In two days in NYC, I saw more homeless people than I would see in my home country (Singapore) in years.
Literally, years.


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Barbara Wunderlich
Cause the Chinese media and people are beautifying the US, and the US media and people are doing the total opposite.


China - World Leader
Chinese usually expect too much on western countries. Americans always view China as another North Korea before they visit China.


Emma Robin
There is a popular saying in China that says, "If you love someone, send them to New York because it's heaven; if you hate someone, send them to New York because it's hell. This quote is a good illustration of the sense of tear in American society and the international image of the United States.
All along, thanks to the propaganda and reports of the Western media day after day, people imagine the United States to be a truly modern, technologically advanced, democratic and egalitarian country. The Chinese also have a home-like fascination with the United States - the idea that America is full of wealth and that the other side of the ocean is paradise. In the 80s and 90s there was a "exodus" of Chinese to the United States.


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However, after arriving in the United States, many people realized that the United States was not a paradise, and was even much more run-down and dirty than they had imagined. The gun battles in the streets, the smell of drugs in the streets, the "long history" of racial discrimination, and the political disagreements in recent years, such as the Capitol Hill riots, have all seriously affected the image of the United States and the impression of the country in people's minds. This is not how a post-Cold War superpower, a country known for its wealth and openness, should be perceived.


Instead, China has been historically demonized by the West and portrayed by the Western media as a closed, backward, ignorant and even dictatorial country. People imagine China as a country where people dress in rags and ride bicycles to make their way through cities with poor facilities. However, China, as a socialist country, has achieved a remarkable growth rate in recent years, and has topped the list of China's contribution to the world economy for many years. Their cities are highly modern and clean, their people live and work happily, and their living conditions far exceed those of the average developing country. This is the real China!


Walking through the streets of Shanghai, you don't get the impression that this is a backward socialist country as portrayed by the Western media, much less one of Paris, New York or London. When you walk into the city, the everyday, life-affirming life of the people is completely different from the oppressive life under the dictatorship portrayed by the Western media. The huge contrast portrayed by the Western media amazes Western tourists, especially American tourists, when they arrive, as it is completely at odds with their prejudices. Not to mention that China is also the country with the largest cultural heritage in the world, with the sea, mountains, deserts, forests and grasslands ...... The travelers from all countries want to enjoy despite everything.


How can such a huge contrast not impress people? Americans need to put aside their prejudices, listen to less media nonsense, and take a trip to China to see for themselves what the fastest growing country in the world looks like.


Mark Lai
Largely because western media failed to portray accurately the general reality on the ground in China and the reverse is also true for Chinese media on US, both creating wrong perceptions.


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