Chinese students and the questions they ask

This article focuses on a topic we’ve discussed before, sometimes with a great deal of passion. I find it intriguing. My apologies in advance if I paste a lengthy chunk. It is so relevant to so many of our recent discussions.

At a recent lecture at a Beijing university, students politely lambasted this correspondent – and by association all other foreign journalists – for painting too negative a picture of China.

“Why,” asked one questioner, “do you keep writing about the Tiananmen Square incident and the Cultural Revolution? The past is the past. China has changed. It is time to move on.”

He had a point. The world’s most populous nation has indeed been transformed in many ways since the dark days of Mao Zedong and the massacre of civilians by the People’s Liberation Army in1989. But the same could also be said of Japan since the second world war, yet many of the students had a very different view about the value of history when it came to the atrocities committed by their neighbour more than half a century ago.

“Why,” asked another questioner, referring to the massacre in Nanjing in 1937 and the imperial army’s use of sex slaves, “can’t Japan face up to the past?”

Such double standards are, of course, not limited to China. Nor does everyone in Beijing accept that Tokyo has a greater responsibility to grapple with unpleasant past episodes than their own government.

Yet the events of the past six months suggest that the education and media systems in China are exacerbating knee-jerk nationalism and choking critical self-reflection in a way that augurs badly for the country’s bid to become a world leader in ideas as well as exports.

This is a refrain I’ve voiced before, that when the world sees the faces of rage, the random assaults on Japanese businesses in China, the seething fury, it’s hard to reconcile it with China’s aspirations to be a global leader; something seems “off.” And people are reminded about their worst fears of years ago, about a vitriolic China ready to lash out over old grudges (and whether those grudges are legitimate or not isn’t the issue).

So what about in Japan? Is there this monolithic xenophobia that unites just about everyone as iit seems to in China? Do the people all applaud Koizumi’s pilgimage to the Yasukuni Shrine and think in unison about their history? The writer says no.

[A]t least there is a public debate in Japan about such issues. Mainstream newspapers such as the Asahi Shimbun are sharply critical of Mr Koizumi’s visits. Left-leaning weekly magazines and the communist newspaper “Akahata” are legally free to publish criticism of the government’s failure to face up to the past.

On the anniversary of the end of the war every August, pacifist demonstrators are able to protest outside Yasukuni even as war veterans and ultra-right gangs honour the fallen soldiers enshrined inside.

There are unofficial restrictions on the media in Japan. Many newspapers self-censor negative reports about the emperor. Gangs of nationalist thugs attempt their own form of control through intimidation, with sometimes murderous attacks on left-wing journalists and cinemas that show pro-China films about the Nanjing massacre or unit 731.

But this is nothing compared to the systematic government blocks on historical debate in China, where schoolbooks ignore or gloss over the famines of the Great Leap Forward and claim that it was Mao Zedong’s communists – rather than American nuclear bombs – that defeated Japan in 1945. Most texts make no mention at all of China’s failed attack on Vietnam in 1979.

In the media and higher levels of academia there is some discussion of more contentious aspects of history, such as the struggle with Taiwan, the invasion/liberation of Tibet and the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, but nothing like the range of opinion to be found in Japan, where some scholars and journalists are brave enough to say – and write – heretical truths about the emperor, such as that he is descended from Korean stock….

The tale of the two massacres is revealing. In Japan, the extent of the killings in Nanjing almost 70 years ago has been the subject of countless documentaries, symposiums and books. In China, discussion of the killings in Tiananmen 16 years ago is entirely taboo. A search on the English language website of Xinhua – the Chinese state news agency – over the past month showed 30 articles relating to the Nanjing “massacre” and only one that referred to Tiananmen, which was described as an “incident”.

Of course, there are important differences between the two. As well as the vastly different scale and temporal distance, the crimes of Nanjing have been judged by an international jury (albeit one comprised mainly of its former enemies during the Tokyo war tribunal), while the rights and wrongs of Tiananmen have never been assessed in any meaningful legal and public fashion. In other words, Japan has been found guilty and a right-wing minority is now trying to lodge an appeal in the court of domestic and world opinion. China’s communist party, however, believes it has no reason to stand trial….

Compared to 25 years ago, China is more open, but there is still a knowledge gap between the two countries that reflects badly on Beijing. Students in Tokyo (or London for that matter) are taught a sanitised version of their nation’s history, but at least they can read an alternative view in the domestic media. Such is the degree of censorship in China, however, that some of their counterparts in Beijing admit sadly that they have to rely on overseas reports.

“I never knew before about the Tiananmen killings,” one student told me. “At first I didn’t want to believe it. But I checked everything I could find on the internet and now I think it’s true. It is a shame that we have to learn about what is going on in our own country from foreigners.”

Again, I apologize for the long snip, but so much of it ties into our recent discussion points — TS, the rape of Nanjing, censorship, challenges teachers in China face, the CCP’s silence over its past sins compared with other nations. It also drives home, to me at least, what a disservice the government in China does to its people by controlling information and committing a form of brainwashing. If China can really rise up to global stature and gain true respect, its people will require depth and perspective. It takes more than manufacturing capabilities for a nation to achieve real greatness.

The Discussion: 205 Comments

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

The problem with today’s China is lack of triumphalism. With rapid economic growth, the victimhood can easily turn into uncontrolled nationalism.

Reporter seems to suggest that Chinese should reflect more on themselves instead of getting mad with others. Insteresting lecture.

June 25, 2005 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

Slightly off topic, but related. Friend of mine in Shanghai were wandering around taking photos for their holiday. More than once, when they were trying to take photos of less attractive aspects of the city, they had complete strangers challenge them and say “why are you taking photos of that?” and even try to stand in the way.

June 25, 2005 @ 9:13 pm | Comment


Richard once said that Chinese has a interiority-superiority complex. I generally agree with him. The oscilliation between two state is a sign of immaturity. One symptom is to seek approval of others. I think the incident you see is also one of symptoms.

However, I differ from Richard on solution. Richard’s solution is to have press freedom, i.e., completely bashing CCP and let pro-west intellectuals dominate the media. The problem is that, the so-called pro-west intellectuals in China are the most serious patients of this complex.

This reflects greatly in their writings. Most anti-CCP chinese activist are strong supporter of pro-Taiwan independence and pro-Tibet independence. They are doing this simply to cater to western media and desperately seek for others’ approval.

In any country, going against nationalsim is suicidal for any politician.

June 25, 2005 @ 10:09 pm | Comment

I had attended the meeting at Tsinghua Univ when TaiWan’s KMT party leader Song Chuyu gave a lecture, to my surprised, i clearly think someone was reciting, and the question was so perfect that can’t out from a student. and the security person serving microphones always “accidently” stood nearby the next asker. I felt shame about it, never would attend such thing again.

so don’t always believe some questions in formal occasion.

June 25, 2005 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

Chinese students aren’t exactly known for their thinking skills. A cultural complete lack of empathy for anyone else is also at play here. They simply cannot put themselves in someone else’s position. It really is just a huge lack of maturity on all levels of society.My Chinese wifes sister-in law is a perfect example. Her son tripped on a table leg. She tells him to beat the table. Screaming “You are a bad table!” Etc…. What king of a lesson is that from a 40 year old women? SHE is emotionally an infant as are most people in China.It’s pathetic yet kinda funny to watch. If you watch television you will see incredible acts of childishness by adults. This is simply normal here. There isn’t ANY rational thought put to anything. They stop developing emotionally at a very young age.

June 25, 2005 @ 11:15 pm | Comment

i’m a Chinese students, I think some culture differences lead to your attitudes toward chinese, i admit many chinese students look younger than the same ages aboard, this is not means immature or any other problems, just different.

June 25, 2005 @ 11:30 pm | Comment

hmm … chinese students are immature, intellectually and emotionally, eh?

hmm … how would you describe jenna and not-jenna bush, eh? they are rocket scientists by comparison, aren’t they? it must be that american press freedom …

disclaimer: that was pure snark. no need to defend …

June 25, 2005 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

“I like sleeping, watching T. WE. Do you like Beckham?Do you like N.B.A.” This is from the Chinese TEACHERS!Jennas gots a nice lil’ toilet on er!The other one can make me breakfast.P.S. Maybe the Mickey Mouse notebooks threw me off.I like F-4 as much as the next 39 year old. Vic IS a hottie.

June 25, 2005 @ 11:46 pm | Comment

Loved the article. Thanks Richard.

China is such a seething mass of contradictions that, in China, black can be white and up can be down. The Chinese are capable of explaining away absolutely everything with usually an extremely wierd-ass view and no logic whatsoever….because they have to.

How emotionally wrecked and incoherant does a person’s mind have to be in order to readily accept that it’s bad to dwell on the past like TSM and CR (or any other unpleasant aspect of history) but good to re-live the Japanese invasion over and over, show little children photographs of soldiers murdering civilians etc etc?

Chinese people aren’t allowed to think. Full stop/period. The govt considers thinking dangerous so Chinese are taught to parrot things and always learn “the right way” “the right view” the right “everything”.

This partly explains why Chinese people cannot debate or discuss alternate views on certain subjects. They’ve never done it before, they are not allowed.

In China wandering off from the rest of the herd is dangerous, especially when the shepards are all cruel, paranoid, ruthless, corrupt and greedy scum who will stop at nothing and no-one in order to remain in the job.

Another contradiction in the article was the students expressing regret at the ‘good news’ only domestic media reporting and intolerance of criticism. However, they still sit there and defend this awful government and parrot the offical party line like good little patriotic lapdogs.

I am so happy that my kids don’t have to schooled at a Chinese state school where visiting sites of national humiliation is a large part of the curriculum and the truth is used so sparingly in the texts books used.

I loathe, with a great passion, the CCP because of what they do to the young people of this once great country. Producing overly-patriotic, hate-filled robots with huge victim-mentality chip on their shoulders, in-built suspicion of anything foreign and acute inability for independent and innovative thought.

People have said on this site before, China deserves better.

Can I make myself any clearer?

June 25, 2005 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

Well put Martyn,In China thinking is the REAL Cultural difference.I prefer talking to my Boston Terrier.She is so alert.So open to new ideas.She likes western food for example.She also thinks I’m God.That doesn’t hurt either.

June 25, 2005 @ 11:54 pm | Comment

Ah, so THAT’s why they eat dogs. Dogs think too much.

June 25, 2005 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

Yesterday,My wife told me that her sister in law asked her if I had A.I.D.S. I have a very nice relationship with this person.My wife asked her why she thought I had this disease.”He’s a foreigner,and ALL foreigners have A.I.D.S.! I wasn’t surprised at all. Of course I have heard about this “thought” but it was close to home.

June 26, 2005 @ 12:00 am | Comment

BTW, let’s not forget I can write that above because I am a foreigner. No mainland citizen can do the same without risking imprisonment.

Case closed.

June 26, 2005 @ 12:02 am | Comment

Gettin’ rid of the intellectual competition. It’s all so much clearer now…………….

June 26, 2005 @ 12:03 am | Comment

American Man

You crack me up man. You’re killing me here with those comments.

Keep it real my friend.

June 26, 2005 @ 12:07 am | Comment

Martyn, It’s the BOREDOM! BTW, Gordon’s my straight man.

June 26, 2005 @ 12:15 am | Comment

The Chinese will not believe Gordon is straight, even if he passes his HIV test.

June 26, 2005 @ 12:17 am | Comment

Maybe it’s the mascara?The perfect hair?The mutton chops?The riding chaps? The Jimmy Somerville CD”s?I dunno but he IS MY straight man.Hands off! Got me?

June 26, 2005 @ 12:26 am | Comment

I do not want to offend everyone here. But I can not help saying this.

Western man interested in asian girl generally have an inferiority-superiority complex. Most of them are introward, shy and intellectual. They have a superioty feeling over Asian, at the same time had some bad experience with the blond. The submissve nature of asian woman makes them feel good.

June 26, 2005 @ 12:55 am | Comment

That is really open-minded!I just happen to like women who Spit .It’s a personal preference.I have NEVER dated a blonde in my life.I am not smart ,shy or introward(sic?)My wife is MY boss.I think you need to get laid by ANYONE!P.S.What ya doin’ later?

June 26, 2005 @ 1:06 am | Comment

Joan, How do YOU feel about the Japanese?

June 26, 2005 @ 1:11 am | Comment


Don’t bother getting into that old argument mate, it’s not worth it.

Anyone who looks at our world and comes up with those kinds of views obviously has some rather large issues to deal with as well as being just plain stupid.

Don’t bother. Ain’t worth the effort.

June 26, 2005 @ 1:31 am | Comment


June 26, 2005 @ 1:36 am | Comment

“Introward” is the opposite of “outroward”. You would know that if you ever had a Chinglish teacher.

June 26, 2005 @ 1:38 am | Comment

Okay, as a Western woman who has on occasion observed the whole Western man/Asian women phenom, regarding the comments about this phenom by the anonymous commentor, I have to say…

Um, well, never mind, and it doesn’t apply to present company, of course.

And also, I have met some Chinese college students who think pretty damn well. Call me a kiss-ass, but I think our friend Henry here is a good example. Another student friend of mine would say that this is in spite of the educational system, not because of it. And that’s the problem. Real independent thinkers will always manage to emerge, but they aren’t being helped by the system; instead the system tries to stifle them. And that’s a shame.

June 26, 2005 @ 1:39 am | Comment

Henry, there is no doubt that there are many totally brilliant Chinese students who ask highly intelligent questions. The point of this article has more to do with issues of history, where the government has encouraged people to dwell on some issues (the Japanese invasion) and to not dwell on others (TSM, CR). This affects their perspective and can lead to some very strange statements and questroins, at least to Western ears.

June 26, 2005 @ 1:54 am | Comment

It IS the education systems fault.It’s NOT a racial issue. Chinese people in other countries are some of the smartest people in the world.I have had a few intelligent conversations in China.That’s in 4 years.Not good numbers. So the math is pretty easy. As for Western men/Asian women I too agree that many men who come here don’t seem to have alot to offer a woman.I happen to look like Johhny Depp on a GOOD day. Despite my sub-Appalachian education ,I am also extremely loaded. (Rich not drunk) My wife happens to like men who bite their nails. Again, A personal preference.Now Chinese men are a joy to behold.

June 26, 2005 @ 1:55 am | Comment


(that’s me chuckling)

June 26, 2005 @ 1:56 am | Comment

It IS the education systems fault.It’s NOT a racial issue. Chinese people in other countries are some of the smartest people in the world.I have had a few intelligent conversations in China.That’s in 4 years.Not good numbers. So the math is pretty easy. As for Western men/Asian women I too agree that many men who come here don’t seem to have alot to offer a woman.I happen to look like Johhny Depp on a GOOD day. Despite my sub-Appalachian education ,I am also extremely loaded. (Rich not drunk) My wife happens to like men who bite their nails and pass a hell of alot of gas. Again, a personal preference.Now Chinese men are a joy to behold.You see the local competition is rather fierce.

June 26, 2005 @ 1:58 am | Comment

You people bashing China! You make me sick!

(Today’s My Birthday and I thought I would beat anyone else to the punch to prove I am a clever foreigner))

June 26, 2005 @ 2:29 am | Comment

American Man you’re right that public expressions of independent thought are generally seen as dangerous in China.
so is it any surprise that people would avoid “intelligent conversations” with you, a foreigner?
to assume just because you’ve lived there for four years and have a chinese wife that you know how the game is played and people are going to open up to you … ridiculous.

June 26, 2005 @ 2:35 am | Comment

Lisa … don’t hold back on us!

June 26, 2005 @ 2:35 am | Comment

hank happy birthday

June 26, 2005 @ 2:36 am | Comment

AM, go into the local Chinese community, look at those Chinese drug dealers, prostitutes, hookers. A lot of them are those who have lived in the states for generations.
A lot of people who constitute the model community image are those who were raised up under the system you are loathing.
So long as I know, Beijing University, together with Tsinghua, is the most important supplier in China for the U.S. science and technology personel.
Such are the facts I think somehow are not perfectly consistent with your arguments.

June 26, 2005 @ 2:46 am | Comment

Hank, I must add to the Happy Birthday chorus…”HA-ppy Birthday…happy Birthday…happy Birthday…HAAAA-ppy Birthday, happy birthday to…youuuuuu!”

In my family we have this very silly tradition of calling each other up on our birthdays and singing the silliest rendition of a birthday song that we can come up with. The pressure’s really been on me the last few years cause I’m kind of running out of ideas…

June 26, 2005 @ 3:03 am | Comment

And KLS…some other time…

June 26, 2005 @ 3:04 am | Comment

I don’t remember EVER saying I understood ANYTHING about China. Wife or no wife.Also you really prove my point.Intelligent conversations ARE dangerous here.Great country! As for Chinese drug dealers. Mine was Vietnamese so I don’t know what your on about. Good stuff too. P.S.You really need to lighten up a little.

June 26, 2005 @ 3:04 am | Comment

Leo, Again your blaming your social ills on another country.It’s like breathing to Chinese people.Every country has bad/good elements.Why can’t you just accept that SOME Chinese people are drug dealers,pimps,prostitutes,liars,morally bankrupt,have halitosis,two-faced,born again Christians,Republicans,Red Sox fans……………………………………………………………….?

June 26, 2005 @ 3:56 am | Comment

I was just suggesting that if you’ve only had a few intelligent conversations in China over the last four years you should probably look in the mirror to discover one reason why.

June 26, 2005 @ 4:13 am | Comment

” I ask for men and they send me boys!” You bore me.Go back under you rock! Now!

June 26, 2005 @ 4:28 am | Comment

Okay, I’m a bit late here so here, we go:

AM: AIDS? HOLY SH!TE I’ve never heard that one. Funny though, because that’s what my mom thinks of all Chinese in China. Needless to say she’s glad I’ve got a girlfriend already from somewhere else.

Henry – You are the master! Very good comment, I think you’re spot on. It doesn’t contradict what Leo says either, which is fair enough – that the good scientists come from there, although I would have to add that really, many Chinese scientists in the states don’t attend Tsinghua or BeiDa to get to the US, they get over earlier and go to Harvard, MIT, Berkeley etc.

Re: Immature chinese kids. I think there’s a tremendous amount of “Xiaotaiyang” syndrome running around rampant throughout every socio-economic class in China, in contrast with, as esnw brings up – the upper middle class and upper class in the states. Not to point fingers, but Leylop couldn’t sew or cook before she went travelling, and this is pretty much accross the board for many chinese – never had to do anything for themselves. What a different world! I could sew and knit by the time I was 8, and I cook up a storm, garden, whatever. There’s a bit of a lack of practical know-how among many chinese, which you DO get in the states but not until you hit upper-middle class. Can’t really blame the kids though, because they’re just trying to get ahead!

finally, to the local stirrer up there looking for a reaction to the “yellow fever” phenomenon – yes, sometimes it certainly looks that way, doesn’t it? People fall in love though, who are we to judge?

June 26, 2005 @ 4:32 am | Comment

Martyn, Stop! Move away from the cookie jar!

June 26, 2005 @ 4:35 am | Comment

KLS, why the hatin’, man?

To be honest, I’ve had intelligent conversations, sure, but not about topics I want to have them on, necessarily. I guess i would propose, KLS, that it is hard sometimes, because it’s not really safe to talk openly – at least this is what I’ve been told – imagine if you thought your neighbor might rat on you? Narcs everywhere.

June 26, 2005 @ 4:36 am | Comment

C’mon you two, play nice. Let’s keep this coversation to overtly emotive language, overexaggerations, generalisations, misconceptions and stereotypes with shrill and excitable comments full of finley-honed anti-China invective which completely fails to consider the big picture in a superiority-complex, easy black-and-white world, and China-bashing kind of way, with, of course, a hefty dose of blaming the CCP for absolutely everything and ovbvously, last but definitely not least, seeing through all the bollocks and propaganda!!

June 26, 2005 @ 4:44 am | Comment

AM, two lesbians probably, possibly sisters, with me just watching….

June 26, 2005 @ 4:46 am | Comment

no hating from me. if “american man” looks like an american man a lot of people he meets in china will be less likely — especially in public — to speak their mind than they would be with their family, workmates or classmates.

I feel sorry for “American man”. he hates china and sneers at its citizens, but he’s had to live there for four years. poor guy. why not leave the place then though?

June 26, 2005 @ 4:48 am | Comment

KLS – you look all cuddly and approachable then? good for you.

June 26, 2005 @ 4:55 am | Comment

LUCY LEE? There sure are alot of mosquitos round here………………..

June 26, 2005 @ 4:58 am | Comment

AM, I just ask you to go to the local China town (not those renovated and preserved as heritage). A lot of these drug dealers, prostitutes, hookers, are not new immigrants but have been in the states for generations. I just ask you to remember that these are also a part of the model community!
They are absolutely the products of the American public education system.
You claim that the Chinese in other countries is the smartest. However, a lot of the Chinese you count as smart have received their basic and higher education under the system you are loathing. Had they even not gone to the states, they would still be very successful!
This pattern not only applies to the communist China, but also to the democratic India.
It obviously contradicts your claim that the Chinese are dumb in the homeland, and suddenly turn brilliant once in the states.
And KLS, Happy birthday!

June 26, 2005 @ 5:01 am | Comment

Oh, and AM – Red Sox fans are nice, intelligent people. so the accent is a little annoying sometimes, but hey! so is the New York Nasal.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:03 am | Comment

Leo – where are you pulling this from? First – not everyone in Chinatown is a hooker etc. I would say most are hard-working. I would also say that many can’t speak english very well, and that this is partly due to an inability of the local city to enforce attendence to school, and partially because the communities are too damn insular.

that being said, there are two chinatowns in NYC – one is poor, the other rich. Keep this in mind. you are talking, fundamentally, about the failed community. There are also incredibly prosperous ones. Like outside DC (not in DC) and outside manhattan (in Queens) etc. so don’t generalise too much.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:08 am | Comment

I agree with Henry that the questions were possibly prepared and assigned to the students by university/party officials, but questions like the two mentioned in the article hardly need to be given to students. My students ask stuff like that all the time because its how they truly feel, and usually all they know about those topics.


go into the local Chinese community, look at those Chinese drug dealers, prostitutes, hookers. A lot of them are those who have lived in the states for generations.
A lot of people who constitute the model community image are those who were raised up under the system you are loathing.

And there are no prostitutes in China? Give me a break. I can’t find a hair salon in Urumqi where they actually cut hair – sometimes they don’t even bother to have scissors.

Yes, Tsinghua produces alot of skilled scientists, engineers and programmers. But knowing how to build a supercomputer and knowing how to think critically and carry on a rational dialogue about social and political issues are two different things. I know programmers back in the U.S. who can’t have a civil discussion about who was the better Star Trek captain, Kirk or Picard, let alone the war in Iraq.

One thing I rarely hear in conversations with people in Urumqi are phrases like “you raise an interesting point”, “if what you say is true, then doesn’t it follow…”, “I will think about what you’ve said”, “I never thought of that” or any other phrase that implies that the other side could actually have new ideas or information of value. There are plenty of people in America who do that too; they don’t have a discussion with an open mind, but rather they approach it as a platform for stating their position. In Urumqi, this is made worse because a) alternative ideas and speech can get you in alot of trouble, and b) a provincial attitude that basically says “I am this and you are that – we have no common ground on which to meet”.

I find the second one the more frightening. Thats where you get “We Chinese believe yadayadayada” and “AIDS and pornography are afflictions brought upon China by the West”. Never mind we’re all just a bunch of human beings trying to get a decent haircut. It prevents people from putting themselves in the other persons shoes.

That’s the other set of phrases I almost never hear: “I empathize with your country because we have the same problem”. If I ask about a problem or issue in China, most of my students first reaction is “Why do you criticize China?” That’s because they immediately think of me as not Chinese, as opposed to just an individual who sees a problem. It doesn’t occur to them to ask “Would you ask about the same problem back in your country?”, the answer to which is yes – or at least I try to. When I criticize, say, the intense and counterproductive rage Chinese people have towards Japan, I’m not criticizing China – I’m criticizing rage. I denounce thoughtless rage no matter who did it. But my students kneejerk reaction is to hear “China is bad”, not “Throwing rocks at buildings and assaulting peoples cars because of what country its from is bad”.

That’s a reason why corruption is so prevalent; there’s little sense of universally applicable ideas of right and wrong – or rather, little faith that universal justice could ever exist. A local teacher complained to me about all the ways her boss abuses his position. She was so happy when I would say “that sucks!” because whenever she talked to locals about it, no one would say “I hate it when that happens too!” They’d only say “That is how it is.” No one says “this is wrong, and I can’t tolerate it”. It seems like most people have a fatalist attitude that things can’t be made more fair, and it can be really sad sometimes to see.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:08 am | Comment

BOO HOO,Why is everyone picking on ME. I am KIND. I never have hurt others.The others always hurt me. For no reason.I am a peaceful man. I am perfect in every way.Leo,Have you every been out of your hometown! Take that pacifier out of your mouth.It’s “Bad for your health.”

June 26, 2005 @ 5:09 am | Comment

Laowai, I lived in the Bean for many a year. I happen to LOVE Yaz,Jim Rice, Rico, etc NUTHIN” but respect for those dudes. peace out!

June 26, 2005 @ 5:17 am | Comment

Ay Man, yessssssssss, I move from country to country, from place to place. It is unconvenient but I was brought up to accomodate to that.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:21 am | Comment

We’re speaking here about the restrictions that the government place upon a lot of freedoms in China. Particlulary, the flow of information, both of the past and the present.

Richard referred to the control of information as “committing a form of brainwashing” and also stated that “If China can really rise up to global stature and gain true respect, its people will require depth and perspective.” I couldn’t agree more.

This reminded me about something my friend’s girlfriend told me a few months back.

She’s quite senior in a large state-owned publishing house in northern China and she told me about something called “The 8 Topics”.

These are topics which are all but banned in China. Even discussion of any of the 8 topics require “guidance” from the Party. She was told that in her job as an editor, any publications that even barely touch upon any of the 8 topics must be immedately reported upwards to the Party.

The 8 topics are:

1-Ethnic strife
3-Religious strife
4-China History as set out by the party
5-The official record of historical figures in the party.
7-Independence movements
8-Discussion of top party leaders

June 26, 2005 @ 5:23 am | Comment

Dave, where the prostitutes are is not the issue we are talking about. I just use it to smash this model community myth and the claim that the people are dumb at home and suddenly become genius only landing in the states. It is too much a self-applause, don’t you find it?

June 26, 2005 @ 5:27 am | Comment

Ay man, I don’t beleive you.If you are looking for someone to agree with you go to China Daily.Better yet talk to any of the 1.3 billion Chinese.You can ask them what to think.Of course it’s inconvenient. Moving sucks!Anyway,This wall is starting to bore me.I’m gonna go talk to my Boston Terrier now.She mentioned something about learning something new this morning.Were gonna discuss it over some beers. Cheers!

June 26, 2005 @ 5:28 am | Comment


You’ve surpassed yourself man. Great bit of China observation.

That’s a pretty easy-to-understand point you’re making about something which (as we can see on this thread) can be very emotive. I see that some people here sometimes react like your students by only seeing China bashing and not a guy with a question/problem.

This is the point I’m talking about:

“I rarely hear in conversations with people in Urumqi are phrases like “you raise an interesting point”, “if what you say is true, then doesn’t it follow…”, “I will think about what you’ve said”, “I never thought of that”—davesgonechina.

Exactly, you don’t hear many people here pausing for thought, musing over the points raised, re-examining their own views and opinions, prepared to give ground or, hell, even agreeing to disagree.

It speaks volumes for the education system, modern culture and governemnt attitudes.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:32 am | Comment

Leo, the Chinatowns are hardly model communities – where are you getting this from? i regard them as insular, kind of backwards, and basically self-defeating. On the one hand, it is good to be with people from the same place as you, it supports you. But many minority communities in the states do not cope well with and are not supported well by the US. Hardly a model.

Although, I have to say, in one sense it is a model. Think about the disproportionate gain in income and standard of living that many of these immigrants experienced coming to the states, even to a situation that would not foster their true potential. hmmm: 1 dollar a day, or 50-100 times that? Not too hard to think about.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:36 am | Comment

BTW,Leo, It’s not just the U.S. it’s anywhere outside of this Political system.North Korea/South Korea why are the North Koreans sooooo backward.Hmmm…………… um………………..China/Taiwan Province (wink,wink)………..I know we’ll blame it on the Japs or America or Falonggong …….Celine Dion ( she’s gonna burn)Anywho my dogsa barkin’ for me.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:37 am | Comment

Leo, I don’t get what you mean by the “model community myth”. What exactly do you mean?

As for the “only a genius in the US” argument, no one is saying that Chinese students don’t learn anything or aren’t intelligent. The point is that in the Chinese educational system there are far fewer opportunities to ask questions and challenge information or knowledge – both because of educational policies and because of societal attitudes.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:37 am | Comment

Laowai, if you are talking about the Asian communities, are the Chinatowns not a part of it?

June 26, 2005 @ 5:44 am | Comment

leo – yes, if you re-read my last post, it was an explanation as to why model communities you mention aren’t models, and then I go back and say, “well, from another perspective, you can still see why they form.”

so what i’ve argued is that the model communities, although having a reason to exist, are not the ‘model communities’ of which you speak, in an effort to debunk your insistance that someone is saying that they are better, somehow, than what you find in China. no one is saying this.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:54 am | Comment

oh, except I guess I did say that they offer more opportunity for a solid standard of living compared to the original country they came from.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:55 am | Comment

Speaking of knee-jerk reactions and a constant suspicion that all foreigners are bashing up on China, hi Leo!

June 26, 2005 @ 5:59 am | Comment

Laowai, you asked me: “you look all cuddly and approachable then?”
maybe that’s right. or maybe I was just very lucky with the people I met.
then again judging by his childishness and petty vindictiveness on this threat, “American man” doesn’t sound like the choiciest prospect for an intelligent chat about very much at all, except perhaps how funny and witty he is.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:59 am | Comment

by the way Leo it’s not my birthday today, it’s hanks!

June 26, 2005 @ 6:01 am | Comment

clearly I misstyped “threat” for “thread” above

June 26, 2005 @ 6:02 am | Comment

“Love is in the air”

June 26, 2005 @ 6:06 am | Comment

Dave, the model community myths is the clichรฉ that Asian communities have an out-of-proportion share in well-paid professions. If you pick up a few biographies of these people, a large part of their first generation are often from the elite class in the home countries, in the sharp contrast to the pre-1949 Chinese immigrants, whose backgrounds were often coolies, workers, etc, and whose descendants often remain stably in the lower class of society, which makes them not much different from the Hispanics.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:07 am | Comment

Sorry, KLS.
Congratulations for you, Hank!

June 26, 2005 @ 6:09 am | Comment


Chill my Brit friend. American Man is so tongue-in-cheek as to render not a single one of his comments ‘petty or vindictive’. Zero. Fact.

So just move away from the cookie jar. He’s also thrown a kettle over a pub, what have you done?!

June 26, 2005 @ 6:13 am | Comment

OK, Leo, but I still don’t see how that’s at all relevant to discussing the lack of critical thinking in mainland China.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:15 am | Comment

BTW, while everyone squabbles and bickers, thanks for the 8 Topics Martyn, that’s interesting. Davesgonechina, great post, you eloquently put into words what everyone knows but just doesn’t know how to say.

Thank god for Martyn and davesgonechina.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:15 am | Comment

KLS, your post brings one thought to mind: patience. I think it’s oftentimes hard for foreigners in many countries (US, China included) to have enough patience with the local populace to start appreciating the diversity and the way things work there. Sounds like you’ve got the patience, dudemar. Any advice to success?

BTW where are you in China? some biographical info would be appreciated!

June 26, 2005 @ 6:16 am | Comment

As far as I can tell, Leo seems to be saying that immigration to a western country doesn’t mean that Chinese people are going to turn out well. Some will end up as prostitutes. As far as I can tell, it’s a reaction against the argument that people in China can’t think rationally. I think? Anyway, doesn’t seem to really explain anything, as far as I can tell.

AM and Martyn … that was a pretty funny little dialogue. I have to say though … if I was Chinese, I’d probably be feeling pretty pissed off right now, even if I was an intelligent and rational person capable of having an intelligent conversation. Kind of wierd how this thread has such a combination of wild sarcasm, offensive humour and really serious commentary.

Speaking of serious commentary: Dave … really good comment. You’re in Urumqi? Hope to hear more personal obversations from you … quite interested to hear what conditions are like in the west.

Oh, one last thing: the comments about men who have yellow fever. I reckon it’s true that there are a lot of guys out there with amazingly beautiful and intelligent and talented asian girlfriends … but who a white girl wouldn’t prod with a 10 foot pole. Maybe I’m one? Who knows? But … who the **** thinks that Chinese women are submissive???? Seems to be someone who has never gone out with one!!!!

June 26, 2005 @ 6:19 am | Comment

Peasant:” Good Mornin’ Me Lord!”Black Adder:”Good Morning Peasant”

June 26, 2005 @ 6:20 am | Comment

Leo, you’ve got a point – oftentimes poor immigrants go to other countries to be in insular relatively poor communities, while (usually later) richer immigrants go to be rich. So much for the myth of opportunity in the States! Is there a better model for empowering poor immigrants? Maybe Canadia? any canadians out there, eh? maybe they’re oot and aboot. (NB: this is light jest – I’ve got a bit of a canadian accent, being from NH)

but the perception is still there, and I’d still propose that actually, their quality of life is still better.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:21 am | Comment

Thanks Ron, appreciated.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:21 am | Comment

I’m pretty sure she’s not in China Laowai, just by reading the posts you can kinda tell. Davesgonechina/martyn/AM are defo in China as their posts are full of observations.

KLS/Leo are defo not in China as their posts don’t include any of the realities of China life.

No bad thing and no dis intended but I can tell.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:22 am | Comment

look, as for the idea that there is no rational or quizzical thought in china:

I’m still recovering from the “English corners” in central china (ie not some sophisticated eastern city) which I used to go to. Yes there were the inanities you’d expect from anywhere in the world.

But the earnestness and desperate interest of some of my interlocuters (okay, interrogators) was something else.
People really wanted to know what someone from outside their world thought.

some foreigners complained about a tendency to bait, ie let’s ask the laowai about taiwan, hehe.
may have been some of that, I suppose, but as I’ve posted elsewhere, more often I think this is driven by people really interested in hearing another point of view, and acknowledging the value of viewpoints developed outside China and the thought control there (irrespective of whether the viewpoint is agreed with or not).

June 26, 2005 @ 6:23 am | Comment

FS9 – to add to your point about YF and contrast it – I’d assert that many american males who end up with trophy wife blonds often have inferiority complexes. Love is sticky, as it often plays off people’s self-esteem issues.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:25 am | Comment

Ron, “american” man may be tongue in cheek but if I were to say “americans are all wankers, ha ha ha, aren’t I funny and provocative and, at the end of the day just tongue in cheek”, I’d expect to be picked up on it.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:26 am | Comment

Yup,Davesonchina and Martyn and some others ARE putting into words alot of stuff MOST foreigners have thought/felt. I thank them. I am sorry if I pissed someone off.But I gotta blow my wad somewhere. Or I’ll go postal.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:27 am | Comment

ooo Allan, I think you just got served.

KLS (by the way, I always wanted to say this – if your name is Chris, why not use KeLiSi instead of KeLiSe? It sounds better and more like Chris. Unless your name is Kelise or something) – Love the baiting post and think you’re dead on. Students bait for fun, but also to hear another point of view in a safe environment.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:28 am | Comment

KLS… how many people’s points of view did you manage to change then? After all, a lot of China can be pretty extreme in some of the things they say. I’m guessing none.

Don’t forget, chinese are overly-polite in social situations, especially with a foreigner. Sure they were interested in what you said but you’ve said nothing to convince me that the above views of martyn and davesgonechina are not 100% correct and spot on.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:29 am | Comment

Blackadder: Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I’m anaspeptic, frasmotic, even compunctuous to have caused you such pericumbobulation.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:29 am | Comment

my bio, Laowai.
well allan was 70% right — I’m not in china … but 30% AT LEAST wrong, I’m not a she! why do people think I’m she? nothing wrong with being a women I suppose.

I’m in London. rather like you, laowai, keen to get back to the PR of C.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:30 am | Comment

I fear that corruption in China has nothing to do with moral education. It is a phenomena that has existed in the US, Europe, Japan, in a lot of places. It is the result of: 1) money (I like money, but this is one side affect one must understand). That is, money as currency is not traceable, no one knows when you got it, how you got it, from whom you got it., and 2) economic power over property given to a political. They either have the power to interfer with economic transactions, or they have the power to transfer economic wealth. The business man wants to make investments, the political just wants the extra money.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:31 am | Comment

KLS, not the same, not the same at all. Amers are all w**kers is just a random statement, American Man was actually very very funny and his “offensive” remarks should be put into that context.

Whether I agree with him or not I cannot find offence in ANY of his above posts.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:32 am | Comment

KLS,I hear that stuff EVERYDAY.Most of us are wankers.We are ALL wankers. And one day we’ll all be DEAD wankers. So pull that cork out of yer ass and enjoy the ride.Were you the singer of CRASS or something?

June 26, 2005 @ 6:33 am | Comment

the political? huh? you mean corrupt politician?

anyway, someone put up in one of these posts that corruption exists in every culture, but that in most cultures it was only very high up (ie – cheney and halliburton etc.) whereas in china it is mostly low down, and fricking rampant, as well as eating up much of the tax money and tearing the country apart at the seams.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:34 am | Comment

FS9: Yeah, I’m in Urumqi – today. I’m actually leaving tomorrow. Been here about 2 and a half years, time to move on. I’ll still be blogging on China, though, as I’m planning to focus on it in grad school.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:35 am | Comment

allan. my apologies. you were right. I though KLS (you still didn’t answer my question about your name) was in china.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:35 am | Comment

KLS, you said that you probably wouldn’t get another chance to come back to China, is that cos you have a cushy job back home? Is there really no chance you think?

June 26, 2005 @ 6:35 am | Comment

As my pa says: “there are Assholes everywhere!” I’m more optimistic, but I take his point.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:37 am | Comment

I know,You hate me because……….I’m American.Poor us American’s.So fat and misunderstood.You know the other day.I was at bible class with ALL the other Americans.And we prayed…….Jesus,help us to change the worlds opinion of us.Let them see the light.If they don’t we’ll bomb the shit out of em’The lord works in strange ways.I guess. It is his will. Anyway,I forgive you KLS. Not cause I want to.Cause I HAVE to! it is so written.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:42 am | Comment

laowai, as for kelise vs kelisi, I never liked the death bit and thought se is more colourful!

laowai, you talked about foreigners losing patience with china. I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently because of the posts that I sometimes see here.

when I was in china it really really pissed me off how quite few pleasant foreigners who I generally liked and got on with, would, after a while, walk around cursing chinese people to me.
“why are the bastards staring at me” … “how gross their spitting is, real savages” … “why’dyou call me laowai you asshole”

don’t want to sound all sanctimonious or pious, but it never really bothered me, I was a foreigner. even when we brits had an empire we didn’t expect to be able to wander around foreign countries being treated like the natives.

you know, you just get used to things or you don’t.
sitting astride a long six-seater communal toilet trench as it flushed and 30 turds rushed cheerily between my legs … or trying to stop the little yellow maggoty worms from crawlling up my shoes as I squatted in some countryside outdoor shithouse … these and other less faecal experiences would really have turned my stomach before I went to china, and now after a couple of years of being back in the UK would doubtless do so again.
but while I was there and adapted, I barely batted an eyelid.

however — I have noticed from chinese friends living in london, that as soon as things go wrong (be it british beaurocracy or a bad relationship -even with another chinese person) a tendency to blame the UK for these problems.

so I guess, after varying lenghts of time, expats love to criticise the country they

June 26, 2005 @ 6:44 am | Comment

There’s no point in calling an American a wanker. Chances are, he won’t know what a wanker is. Nor do Chinese. I once had a student who chose the English name Wankie. I showed a Chinese teacher the word wank in the dictionary, and asked her to talk to the girl (about 14 at the time). I sure wasn’t going to touch that topic with a teenage girl … anyway, the girl said that the name was on her ID card, and she’d change it when she updated cards at aged 18… Then there was another girl who decided to call herself Nympha … that one … well, I just put it in the “too hard” category, and never ever said a word about what it meant. A young male teacher in a girls’ school can’t be too careful!

And … 95% of men are wankers, and 5% lie.

Ke Li Se … maybe it’s Carlos, not Chris? If it was Chris, I’d suggest Ke Er Si.

Lord Meltchit: Potato?
Blackadder: No thanks, I don’t.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:45 am | Comment

aah — another typo above: should be “quite a few foreigners” versus “quite few”, … for anyone that cares!

and the chopped last sentence should read “love to criticise the country they are staying in when it all gets a bit too much … after all, it isn’t easy living in another country.”

June 26, 2005 @ 6:47 am | Comment

JFS, my point was not that corruption is due to a lack of moral education, but rather that most peoples reactions here to corruption are dulled to the point of not only feeling powerless, but not even complaining or getting upset. The general public doesn’t even get righteously idignant about it, because they don’t really have any faith that there is justice in the world. I come with my wide eyed American activist mentality and never cease to be ready to say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”. They don’t even gripe around the water cooler, and when they can do it with me, they tell me it makes them feel alot better.

In the U.S. if a boss told someone they wouldn’t get their federal holiday, even if they couldn’t do anything about it they’d still bitch and moan to their friends, who would say “that’s bullshit, your boss sucks, you should find a new job”. Contrast that to my unversity; before leaving, I had to get my travel reimbursement. To get it, the foreign affairs office lady had to get the signatures of two leaders, who were constantly unavailable. She hates her job, she can’t do anything without marching orders, and she’s constantly depressed. But tell her that the school functions badly, and she pulls the “this is how we do it in our culture” card as if you just said all of China was messed up – when you just meant her bosses. Tell her she should quit and find a new job, and she just stares at you like you told her to swim to Tonga. I pity the poor woman, because she feels there is no way to improve her situation – and she’s an educated, experienced competent person.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:48 am | Comment

marytn it’s not cushy but it’s a job in a career in the UK — a country where I’ll probably spend the majority of the rest of my life.
I’d jump at the chance of a decent job in china for two or three years sometime … but my chinese is no good now and it would need to be a job or situtation which meant that, when I came back to the UK, I’d find something decent again here. call me a pussy, maybe…

June 26, 2005 @ 6:51 am | Comment

KLS – I see your point. I’m lucky enough to have a two syllable first name with sounds that can be more or less replicated in chinese, so I don’t have your problem.

Best names I’ve run into: Pinkie, Shield and Candy.

Of course, by far the best names I’ve run into were from americans: E.g.: Dick Sweat (former senator from NH).

June 26, 2005 @ 6:57 am | Comment

Dave – what will you study at grad school, in relation to China? I recently finished my PhD in Chinese history (woo hoo!) … it’s all Han Dynasty, so quite probably not relevant to whatever you’ll do … but if you have any questions you think I might be able to help with, don’t hesistate to ask. Hell, same goes to anyone else here. Want to know something about the Han Dynasty? My email is attached.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:58 am | Comment

Ron you said of “American man”, Whether I agree with him or not I cannot find offence in ANY of his above posts.

well there was this:
Leo,Have you every been out of your hometown! Take that pacifier out of your mouth.

and winding people up might come across as a bit offensive.

also interesting that statements like:
“There isn’t ANY rational thought put to anything. They stop developing emotionally at a very young age” pass so easily, and banging on about how he can learn more from a dog than from a chinese…

… all very tongue in cheek humour I’m sure

June 26, 2005 @ 6:59 am | Comment

KLS: understandable. I myself am doing what you are not – I’m giving up science for the moment to go back to Beijing to study for a year, pick up some weiqi and penjing skills, then who knows what! might come back to science, might not. Leaving it open for now. I’m 26, and probably should be sorting my shiznit out better – certainly if I were European I’d be sorted – but I don’t really feel the pressure. sometimes I do but fundamentally life is a journey, and I want to die happy, not rich.

June 26, 2005 @ 7:02 am | Comment

Ah London,I just love to go Paki-bashin’ at the ol’ chip shop round midnight.

June 26, 2005 @ 7:03 am | Comment

FS9 – was there corruption in the Han Dynasty?

June 26, 2005 @ 7:03 am | Comment

Have you heard about the new “happy slappy” phenomena? Scary.

KLS – you’re right about complaining about other countries – I like my brittish friends but man, I hate BT, the cambridge college system, porters, the banks and most especially the damn railway system.

Q: how do you deal with the railway system?

A: Leave 6 hours earlier than you think you need to.

June 26, 2005 @ 7:07 am | Comment

what college are you at laowai?

June 26, 2005 @ 7:08 am | Comment

My dog is a Boston Terrier.They are very witty and just a little vindictive.They also have a sense of humor.I love her warts and all.

June 26, 2005 @ 7:09 am | Comment

The only thing worse than British banks are Australian banks. It’s not only the immigrants who think so. An American I know once asked “are all Australian banks total bastards?” and without blinking every Australian in sight knodded and said “yup”.

Corruption in the Han Dynasty? You bet. The worst problem was usually imperial in-laws … the families of the consorts of the emperor. Funny that they never learned from history though … they almost always got completely exterminated after a generation of power or so. Chinese ideas of yin and yang … full moon must inevitably wane … you sure didn’t want to be an imperial in-law when the **** hit the fan.

Of course, lots of other cases of corruption, but the in-laws were the biggest. Also, lots of petty mindless bureaucracy … and most of the other things people complain about here. One very noticeable exception though … almost no talk of any kind about how foreigners look different … really hard to find any kind of description in Han literature of how foreigners look different from Chinese …

June 26, 2005 @ 7:18 am | Comment

Richard – this thread is EXPLODING. Maybe we’ll have another 300 comment thread on our hands? I’ve never seen a thread grow so quickly.

June 26, 2005 @ 7:20 am | Comment

FSN, I am not saying that migration won’t bring something good. Being a prostitute, you can raise a ten time higher rate in any part of the states than in Shanghai. That’s the plus, I’m not joking. My point is only that there is, to some extent, correlation between the success of these people in America and their home country background. In the sense of some people here, the dumb Chinese could become successful if they got Americal style education and American social environment. I know the U.S. is a great nation. But is such statement still too pompous?
I have not looked into the school system development of North America, however, so much as I learned, the 1950s’ Western European school system was even worse – any unfavorable questions would be met with a stick on the skull and challenge to authoriy would end up with a beating-up. It was time only Christian belief was propagated and any mentions of radical thoughts would cause the teacher to lose job. At the same time, this age also saw a lot of important innovations, radical reform in social politics. The possible social unrests were suppressed and the economy miracle was brought about by the desciplined working class. I know at this spot a lot of people may jump out and shout, “we have got rid of those and we have moved on.” But don’t forget the fact that all today’s political and social reality have developed from that time and are consequences of that time, and a large part of wealth were made at that time. Just over a few decades, all the changes have happened and 1950s Western Europe seems to be on the other planet. So, as someone preached here, why not show some patience and grace, sit back and talk more gently?
As to the joke of eating dog, I have to point out that this a wide-spread practice in West Europe in not so remote pre 1945 era. Today it is still practiced in some mountainous areas there.

June 26, 2005 @ 7:20 am | Comment

and laowai, what’s wrong with porters eh? you didn’t ask one of them to carry your bags I hope? or bed a bedder?
by the way, going back the the chinese names thing, I guess you were pretty lucky having a name like laowai…

June 26, 2005 @ 7:26 am | Comment

Leo – get off the prostitution bit. If you weren’t chinese it’d be easy to start accusing you of various stereotyping. It’s not true, please drop it.

KLS – yeah, I knew this name would be useful for something someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

Porters can be great, but there’s a few of them that are overly officious and go out of their way to be unhelpful.

FS9 – agreed on the banks in oz – they were over the top rude when I was there.

June 26, 2005 @ 7:37 am | Comment

Leo, yes, I agree with everything you said in the last post. I too agree that a lot of people, both Chinese and western, tend not to consider things in the context of their development … instead, they narrowly compare a sliver of time, and see all that is different. Very good points, and well explained. The part I’m struggling with is … what’s your final point? The purpose behind it?

June 26, 2005 @ 7:45 am | Comment

KLS, Please.I beg of you,stay in England.China is already boring enough.The thought police are doing a very good job here.I’m sure they would be happy to e-mail you any new methods.You could start a London chapter.If you have’nt already.Now go down the Pub and bore the locals.

June 26, 2005 @ 7:47 am | Comment

anyone watch “Biele Wengehua” ? I think it’s one of the best done tv dramas out of china. really good quality stuff, even if the plot is a little ridiculous at times.

June 26, 2005 @ 7:48 am | Comment

mmmmm,,,Steak and kidney pie…..fattening mmmmmmmmmmm

June 26, 2005 @ 7:53 am | Comment

Chinese English teacher:”Australians don’t really speak English” My Aussie buddy:” Sir,Why can your government can stop 1.3 billion people from thinking,but they can’t stop them from spitting?” DOH!

June 26, 2005 @ 8:09 am | Comment

Goodnight KLS,I’m gonna go to the fridge and finish off that last piece of Chinese peasant meat.It’s REAL lean.Reflect on a long day of hate.”so I said a quick prayer and I felt satisfied, then I rode back to find Isis just to tell her I love her”

June 26, 2005 @ 8:21 am | Comment

My great pleasure to share some points with you, FSN. It’s hard, you know.
The first part of my argument is just to clarify your “As far as I can tell, Leo seems to be saying that immigration to a western country doesn’t mean that Chinese people are going to turn out well. Some will end up as prostitutes.”
The second part is to comment on your supposition “As far as I can tell, it’s a reaction against the argument that people in China can’t think rationally. I think? Anyway, doesn’t seem to really explain anything, as far as I can tell,” which is, of course, in the context that other people are whining that the Chinese education system has brought about this. So I just cite one example that at some time in history there were similar education system and this very similar situation have eventually evolved to today’s very different realities.

June 26, 2005 @ 8:44 am | Comment

You posted these comments of American Man and said they were offensive:

“Leo,Have you every been out of your hometown! Take that pacifier out of your mouth.”

“There isn’t ANY rational thought put to anything. They stop developing emotionally at a very young age” pass so easily, and banging on about how he can learn more from a dog than from a chinese…”

No, it must be our different sense of humours as I do not find them offensive. Jeez, he’s been slagging off everyone and everything for christ’s sake. Lighten up.

Anyways, despite him slagging off everyone, you only take exception to those derogatory about Chinese comments. Interesting. Actually, not interesting.

June 26, 2005 @ 8:59 am | Comment

KLS, I better reply on the Open Thread or else Richard might start issuing ‘off-topic’ written warnigs when he wakes up.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:00 am | Comment

By the way, where’s Jonesy today? Off on another social engagement?

June 26, 2005 @ 9:01 am | Comment

Am, I leave town for a day and a half and look what you do.

Leo, that’s so Chinese to blame everything on someone else.

You mean to tell me that all of these hookers in China are products of American society when none of them could afford to fly their asses over there if they could even get a visa?

Prostitution is the oldest profession and it certainly isn’t anything new to China. That’s something that was here before the foreigners ever started shipping in opium.

As for your comment about westerners who like Asian women having a superiority complex…Bullshit! (but that is something that comes natural to Chinese men and that’s why Asian women prefer Westerners).

It took me two years before my late fiance would tell her brother no whenver he wanted to borrow money. She would always say, he is my older brother and he is the man in the family, I can’t say no.

I had to go through the same thing with my wife now. It took forever for me to get her where she would tell me that she didn’t want to do something ( she’s learned to say no just a little too well now).

I see a lot of Chinese girls walking around with black eyes and they aren’t married to foreigners.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:07 am | Comment

Can we get off prozzies and back on topic please?

Ignore Leo, he’s sounds young.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:17 am | Comment

Leo, restating the things you just said in the same words does not equate with answering the question. Did you get your training from DIMIA? (Australian immigration department). How is the fact that there are prostitutes in China town in a western country have anything at all to do with the current discussion? It isn’t a comment on either western or asian education systems / cultures as some of the hookers will be just off the plane, and others born in the western country. You seem to think that the fact that there are Chinese prostitues means something … but it doesn’t. Your opening comment in your response to my question made me think that you were actually going to give me a real answer, which makes me all the more sarcastic and dismissive to learn that you either can’t / won’t.

Welcome back Gordon. Ummm … “late” fiance? Did you kill her for lending too much money? I too have the problem with training my girlfriend to say no / let me know what she wants … but it’s not because she is submissive … it’s because she’d just shut up and get resentful and make me pay in other ways if I didn’t somehow manage to work out what is in your head by telepathy or something. Not what I call submissive.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:26 am | Comment

I think it’s called passive-aggressive. Hoorah.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:30 am | Comment

Laowai … seems like you have experience of it. ๐Ÿ˜›

June 26, 2005 @ 9:34 am | Comment

FS9 – lots of p/a people everywhere! I don’t have the experience you guys are talking about, not being attached at the hip to a chinese woman, but it’s rare to find someone who is totally straightforward. I got enough of it in NH, actually – Yankee culture is really hard-ass. It breeds some p/a people.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:41 am | Comment

Gordon, if you take every benign comment as insult, it is yourself who are being “Chinese”.
I have not said that Chinese prostitution is product of American society. Read my posts twice, if necessary, thrice!
I have never said anything against prostitution anytime, anywhere!
I have never made even a slightest fuss about Caucasians liking Asian girls!
If you are traumatised by your ex-brother-in-law, I am listening to your whines, and sympathetising with you!
And I am so impressed that despite that fact that you have been so traumatised, you unbelievably take up the second endeavor, wow!
And you now even managed to get her to say no to her brother. What a progress in the human evolution! My doggy still cannot bark a clear syllable.
And you even uncover the best concealled secrects that those black-eyed women walking around are not married to foreigners! All “I find myself have stay too long” posts will definitely be beaten by this one!
Oh, Gordon, Gordon!

June 26, 2005 @ 9:43 am | Comment

Ben … you’re right. I should have paid attention sooner.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:44 am | Comment


“because she’d just shut up and get resentful and make me pay in other ways if I didn’t somehow manage to work out what is in your head by telepathy or something. Not what I call submissive.”

I love you mate. Any man who comes out with that line receives instant respect from yours truly.

After all, if you don’t know what she wants then there’s no point in her telling you is there?! Not being telepathic is one sure way to get yourself into allsorts of trouble.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:46 am | Comment

Leo has unleashed the humor!

June 26, 2005 @ 9:48 am | Comment

It’s just that Leo pops up, talks a load of bollocks and makes some crap comment which I think isn’t even worth replying to. There’s some great comments above however.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:49 am | Comment

Anyway, what’s your take on this Filthy? What does a founding member of the Peking Duck “Old Guard” say about lack of freedoms in China and the impact on it’s people?!

Us “New Bloods” need to know…..!

June 26, 2005 @ 9:51 am | Comment

Well said Ben mate.

You keep the commenters in line, they’re like a pack of wolves sometimes.

Good on you.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:54 am | Comment

Ron, he’s not slagging everyone off, just a select few. half the time he’s making cold sober points and half the time he’s just taking the piss. so it means you can’t (I can’t) call him up on any of his bullshit for fear of “not getting the joke”.
fair play, he admits he hates living in China and admits that his comments are just because he’s “gotta blow [his] wad somewhere”.
I’m just a bit surprised that no one else non-chinese called him on some of his bullshit (the bullshit that was being said with a straight face).

June 26, 2005 @ 10:00 am | Comment

Richard, I think this comments list needs a “no Chinese allowed” sign on it for honesty’s sake.

June 26, 2005 @ 10:02 am | Comment


Now YOU are being offensive.

Just because you find take exception/don’t get the joke/take offense at something and MOST other people don’t doesn’t mean you have to start lashing out like a spoilt child and taking a swipe at everyone who reads and contributes to Peking Duck.


How come you are one of the very very few that is getting upset over this? Doesn’t that tell you something?

I’ve noticed your downright wierd opinions and your tendency to stamp your little feet and abuse people but with that last comment you’ve just gone WAY too far.

You’re not even Chinese so what fricking high horse are your on? You feel sorry for them? Cos I don’t remember you ever calling down someone for slagging off westerners.

You even supported JR despite his abusive comments. That says it all doesn’t it? Two of a kind.


June 26, 2005 @ 10:11 am | Comment

it was a joke Ron

June 26, 2005 @ 10:13 am | Comment

“Richard, I think this comments list needs a “no Chinese allowed” sign on it for honesty’s sake.” kls

Way out of line. Way, way out of line. You should think again and apologise to everyone for that. No excuse for it.

June 26, 2005 @ 10:13 am | Comment

No KLS, you don’t have a sense of humour remember? You’ve just proved that today. Bye.

June 26, 2005 @ 10:14 am | Comment

well I was just entering into the spirit of the thread, what with the humour and sarcasm.
*I* thought it was quite funny…
still, nothing like a bit of self-righteous anger to get the blood pumping eh Ron?

June 26, 2005 @ 10:20 am | Comment

FSN, I am not restating my words. I am restating yours.
AM said that the Chinese in the states are some of the smartest, so it is an issue of education. I just stated the fact that there are also some not quite smart there, who are produced by his home country’s system whereas some of those smartest are not home-baked, either. Prostitution by the second/third generation Chinese immigrants is just one example of these not smart ones. This is where the issue of prostitution was raised. Before that I have just concentrated on the issue of the education system.

As to Ben, this is the gentle statement he made about me “It’s just that Leo pops up, talks a load of bollocks and makes some crap comment which I think isn’t even worth replying to.” And sometimes he won’t miss a chance of being cute to the rest, as in the statement “There’s some great comments above however”.

June 26, 2005 @ 10:24 am | Comment

Alright, alright, that’s enough, calm down, we’re all different here.

Ron, calm down mate, if KLS says it was a joke then it was a joke as far as I’m concerned. Maybe a bad one you think but a joke nonetheless.

On a separate topic, I’ve got to agree with Laowai as well. Quit the prostitute thing, it’s a dead-end conversation, going absolutely nowhere.

June 26, 2005 @ 10:37 am | Comment

I think a lot of Chinese people must be frustrated because even though they know(think) foreigner’s criticisms are right, they know they can’t do anything to change it. They are in a bad position. If they accept the criticism, then they are stuck in a society they know is bad, but can’t change. If an American hates Bush or Clinton, they can scream about it, and know that 4, 8 years later the guy will be gone. Also, they can simply not care, because Westerners enjoy a lot of personal freedom- a level which unfortunately most Chinese cannot even comprehend.

Maybe they try to leave, as many have. If they are going to stick it out, then they need to deal with the criticism. Blaming foreigners, dreaming of mighty China’s rise, whatever, can fill the bill. A lot of Chinese I’ve met are sober about it, they know China has problems, but they see the progress and hope that things will get better. They tend to be the more educated with a bright future.

June 26, 2005 @ 10:41 am | Comment

Ivan is such a queer name, if you ask me.

Sounds like a bitch trying to be macho.

You know, like a dyke with “Mom” tattooed on her arm.

Get a life loser.

June 26, 2005 @ 10:54 am | Comment


Can’t say I’m glad to be back.

I believe that I have found the place in this country where I want to live and die.

They call Hangzhou “Heaven on Earth”, but I’ve lived there and the place I just returned from doesn’t hold a candle to it. I’ll blog it tomorrow with photos.

No I didn’t kill my late fiance. LOL

Actually, she is my hero. She gave her life before our wedding in Guangdong to rescue a drowing boy. She couldnt swim, but she took off her life vest and threw it to the boy and the river swept her away.

I still maintain close contact with her family. (including her brother)

June 26, 2005 @ 11:03 am | Comment

Gordon, that’s an amazing story, thanks for sharing. There are a lot of splendid people in China.

June 26, 2005 @ 11:07 am | Comment

Leo, I’m listening to Ben’s advice on this one.

You know Ben, this thread has gone on so long, I’d forgotten the original point of the thread. Thanks for reminding me. ๐Ÿ˜›

Ummm … does Chinese education systems inhibit creativity / original and or critical thinking / toleration of alterate views?

Yes, they do. But in a sense, every education system does that, by teaching people to conform to the orders of society. It’s how you get on in life. The drop outs are the ones who didn’t succeed in mastering the act of conformity. As Leo said, it’s only in very recent times that the west as opened up to allowing any kind of non-conformity, and it was the cultural revolution of the 1960s west that really changed things. I always think that the term belongs to the west much more rightly than China. China was going nuts in the 60s, but it was elsewhere that a real revolution was going on. Personally, I see Japan having its own 1960s right now … and in my opinion, that’s mostly because Japan starting going down the path of industrialisation / universal education about 40 or 50 years behind the west … and 45 years ago in the west was … the 1960s. That’s my first point.

Second: I think that the nature of Chinese literacy tends to force teachers to use a rote learning technique. If you’re learning to read characters, except in rare cases, there’s no hope of you working out what is the word on your own. The teacher tells you, and you copy it out 100 times, and remember that that symbol is a horse, a question, or your mother, as the case may be. It tends to lead to students who are very good at memorising things, but not good at puzzling out things for themselves … because there’s no point in even trying to teach Chinese people to read using this technique.

Next point. I’ve taught classes of up to 40 high school students. It’s hopeless. You are essentially forced into “chalk and talk” because any other method becomes unmanageable. 20 to 25 is the ideal, in my view, and enables a teacher to personal interact with every student in a class within the space of one session. It just isn’t economically feasible to have classes this small in China, and this may be another part of the reason.

Something that struck me when I was teaching in HK. The kids who entered secondary school were great. They had flexible minds, and were eager to learn. I could introduce new concepts / techniques to them, and they’d quickly begin attempting to apply them. On the other hand, I usually felt that I was having no impact at all on the older teenaged kids. Of course, this is a problem in all countries, but I will state categorically that my 12 year old students in HK were nothing like the stereotype of the Asian student. They were creative, fun, flexible, and able to learn. But they also said that they hated secondary school … and were quickly being turned off.

I think that one of the reasons a lot of westerners have difficulty in engaging with Chinese people in intelligent conversation about certain key topics is that they’re unaware of the basic thought patterns behind it. It’s like a muslim and a christian talking about god. They both use the same word, but chances are there are a whole set of assumptions that each takes for granted, which in the end renders the conversation pointless and annoying for all concerned. You need a common frame of reference. So, for example, in a discussion about Tibet or Taiwan, there’s no point in talking about human rights, or self-determination, etc. They ideas don’t figure. Have a look at Chinese websites arguing their case. They always start with some event in the 300s, or 500s, or something like that. On the other hand, western “free Tibet” websites etc., will usually start their timelines in 1949. Each side is thinking about the issue in a very different way.

OK, that was my rational reasoned side. The other side of me gets really **** **** because most of the time I find Chinese people to be dreadfully ignorant about their own history, and repeat things like “history proves that … ” but when you actually follow up on the historic event, you discover that they actually know next to nothing about it. There is a definite victim mentality, and a tendency to dismiss things you might say because you’re a foreigner. That outrages me, and I just won’t have it … but since most quickly realise that I know more Chinese history than they do, I get it less often than others. There is a VERY strong sense of “we can criticise things Chinese, but don’t you, as an outsider, DARE to do that.” Everybody has this, to a certain extent … but it’s much stronger in China than other places.

June 26, 2005 @ 11:10 am | Comment

That’s a sobering thought Matt. I think there’s a lot of truth in it as well. Still, I reckon that even though some mainland Chinese might think as much about what you say, a lot maybe don’t or at least don’t want to admit it, certainly not to a foreigner anyway.

It’s their mother country as well, and what with the victim mentality/nationalism and what have you, as well as the relatively shallow genuine knowledge (at least in a lot of cases) of other countries, I sometimes wonder how many of them are truly aware of their lack of freedoms etc.

I mean, many don’t have any kind of experience on which to compare China against the rest fo the world.

June 26, 2005 @ 11:14 am | Comment

Gordon. I’m eating my words. Thanks for not taking offense. I shouldn’t have been so flippant.

About KLS’s comments: I think he has a point. Seems to me that there are things in this thread that I would take umbrage at, if I were Chinese. Even as I chuckled at a few of AM’s comments, I was also thinking, “wow, that’s over the top.”

June 26, 2005 @ 11:15 am | Comment

I’m sorry to hear about your past loss Gordon. She certainly was a hero mate.

June 26, 2005 @ 11:17 am | Comment


Don’t sweat it. I like to think that I have an excellent sense of humor.

It really does take a lot to offend me.

For those of you who have been in China long enough, you have probably read the story as it was published from Beijing, HK all the way to Chinese newspapers in the US.

I’m very lucky to have such an unerstanding wife that appreciates my relationship with my former fiances family.

Unfortunately memories never die.

June 26, 2005 @ 11:27 am | Comment

Sure FSN9, every education system and every society teaches people to conform to society’s norms. This is universal and inevitable. But China is more extreme in it’s definition and interpretation of those norms imposed on Chinese society. It’s a lot more conformist for a start.

I’m not so sure about rote-learning of Chinese characters being necessarily responsible for the lack of innovation in young Chinese minds. Rote learning every subject may have an influence but the Chinese classrooms of the last 50+ years at least have taught the ‘correct’ history, philosophy, literature etc. The education system is all about the ‘right’ answer and ticking the ‘correct’ boxes.

That in turn carries on to conversations about TB and TW. The difference is that Muslims and Christians, theoretically at least, should be able to appreciate each others standpoints, regcognise them as being different and converse with that in mind. This isn’t the case in China. There is no “agree to dissagree” attitude here and I’m not only talking about conversations with foreigners. Between Chinese themselves also.

An Indian and a Pakistani might loathe each other but they would be able to understand and accept their totally opposing views. In China, even amongst Chinese, their are few “opposing” or “alternate” views, there’s only the ‘correct’ view in many cases.

As the article says, at least in Japan there are all sorts of different views about e.g. Nanjing and people are free to compare and contrast and discuss etc. There’s none of that here. There’s only the party line.

This partly explains what you say at the end, they are sometimes woefully ignorant of their own history because they only know the party line, like all other mainland citizens.

aren’t we talking about the relative

June 26, 2005 @ 11:50 am | Comment

Well, as you can see from my above comment, I cited evidence that supports both points of view. Undoubtedly they’re taught that there is one correct belief, I don’t dispute it. I just don’t think that there are other factors at play as well.

June 26, 2005 @ 11:59 am | Comment

FS9, when was the last time you were in China for any length of time by the way?

June 26, 2005 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

Well, look what happens when I sleep.

I just skimmed a lot of these comments, so I’m sure I missed a lot. For what it’s worth, I think humor is an individual thing. IMO, American Man, I’m sure you’re just yanking everyone’s chain, but I think if I were Chinese I’d be insulted by some of that because it’s awfully hostile. I’d have to read between the lines to see the humor in it. I think if you want to have more Chinese people participating in these threads, a little bit of that kind of humor goes a long way.

I am a very funny person, by the way. People tell me that all the time. They give me this weird look and say, “You’re…funny.”

June 26, 2005 @ 12:37 pm | Comment

Gordon, I hardly know what to say. However long ago it was, I’m so sorry to hear about your fiance. What a hero.

June 26, 2005 @ 12:46 pm | Comment

How can you guys stereotype or generalize 1.3 billion Chinese? Yes, 1.3 billion people. Why trying to study Chinese culture and people as if they were like ants? There is no mutual respect here. This is mainly a site visited by Americans, so that clarifies. Americans think their way is the only way and that all the rest is simply inferior. Even if they are visiting other countries, they probably will never understand or learn to appreciate these countries. It’s fully understandable why they have re-elected Bush, because Bush represents the average American.

I wonder how many Chinese actually visit this site? It’s interesting to read this all. Americans gossiping about Chinese, behind the back of Chinese. I can’t help myself, but laugh.

June 26, 2005 @ 12:50 pm | Comment

zhj, there are several Chinese readers who comment here all the time. Please see my new post called “Comments,” where I try to address the type of concern you are raising. I think you make a good point.

June 26, 2005 @ 12:53 pm | Comment

Only a thought but can’t Chinese people stand up for themselves? Do they need to be protected from American humour as well? Are the westerners here trying to be as sensitive as mainlanders?

June 26, 2005 @ 1:03 pm | Comment

Look, I really do enjoy the humor and I don’t want to sound patronizing. But everyone who has lived in China knows, if you don’t treat the people with a certain degree of senitivity you’ll be in deep trouble. SOme of them simply aren’t familiar with our brand of insulting humor — and that’s not unique to China. If you said some of the things that were said here to some Thai people, for example, they’d be quite confused and some would either burst into tears or run away (or both). Can we compromise just a bit to accommodate out friends?

June 26, 2005 @ 1:11 pm | Comment

If I said anything indecent about your former fiancรฉ, I am sorry.
I must repeat again that I am not against any interracial relationships. In fact, I have never said a/any words about this issue here/anywhere. I suppose you have mistaken an unsigned post as mine. I must tell you this is not true.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

The last post is to Gordon.

June 26, 2005 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

Good Morning Gordon!That KLS guy is like playdough in my hands.So,so……………. easily controlled so…….. malleable.He’s what We want .Anyone that simpleminded can be turned to our cause.It will be mass destruction like the world has never seen.Whoa,Whoa, ah, ah, ah……

June 26, 2005 @ 6:05 pm | Comment

Other Lisa have you met KLS? Oh, are YOU Chinese?I don’t want to offend anyone.If your Chinese I apologize.If your offended I apologize.Also, If your from ANY country with NO sense of humor I apologize. I think that meat last night went bad.I gots da squirts.Sorry,I apologize.I know how sensitive and kind the Chinese people are.I apologize.Yes,I thought 9/11 was hilarious too.Yes ,All foreigners ARE monkeys.Yes,the hair on my chest PROVES it. I apologize……Monkey’s aren’t as evolved as CHINESE. Lizards have no body hair.I apologize……..Yes,Please steal All of my wages.I apologize…….

June 26, 2005 @ 6:17 pm | Comment

American Man, you crack me up, I have to admit it. Just play nice. Nice to welcome you to the group.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

Thanks Richard. I really appreciate your blog. I will try to play nicer.I realize your position must be difficult. Maybe you can start a thread bashing Americans.I’ll be the first person to post.We all need to learn to laugh at ourselves.We are all take ourselves way to seriously.I am TRULY sorry if anyone was offended.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:32 pm | Comment

BTW, ZHJ,Contrary to Chinese public opinion not all foreign devils are American.Also not all foreign devils speak English.People outside China are a very diverse group.

June 26, 2005 @ 6:38 pm | Comment

AM, we’ve already established that I’m “funny.”

June 26, 2005 @ 7:28 pm | Comment

Dear Filthy Stinking No.9,

Many Chinese people are ignorant about many aspects of their own history, true, but they have a very very long history to recall. And frankly speaking, most Westerners are also horrifyingly ignorant of their own histories.

I have taught in high schools in Australia and England, middle schools in Japan and South Korea, and middle schools and universities here in China. Students in China are far more polite and respectful and (I must say) far more mature than a damn good number of the students teachers have to deal with in Western schools! And as far as I am concerned, Chinese students are no less brainwashed than Western students students – in both cases, the overwhelming majority view the world as a simulacra, are products of the same (and I stress the word “same”) global consumer discourse (ie. popular culture) and share the same commodity fetishes, and reify social relations in exactly the same ways. I have been looking for differences, but I see very few!

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 26, 2005 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

American and European students are famous for marching in protest against their governments, despiute all that brainwashing. They did so in the 60s, and again with the Iraq war. Many are extremely critical of the government, and many are adept at debating and philospophy and problem solving. Far more so than in China, where these things have been actively discouraged.

Of course, Chinese students are famous as well for demonstrating in protest against their government. As we know, that wasn’t very warmly received.

June 26, 2005 @ 7:45 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

It is true, as you say, that Chinese students, generally speaking, are not used to debating – but they can debate when encouraged to do so – I have ran many successful debates here with my students. Intelligent one too!

Many Chinese students are excellent at problem-solving too, and believe me, many of them are also extremely critical of their government, and often, even in class, are very candid in their criticisms.

Many students in the West are good problem solvers too. Many aren’t. You get the same kind of diversity among students here as you get in the West.

Many Chinese students also took to the streets and protested against the Iraq invasion. I have photos, which I took myself, of students participating in such street protests – and if you like, I can scan some of them and email them to you!

Mark Anthony Jones

June 26, 2005 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

MAJ, you never cease to surprise me (and it’s nice to have you back).

Many Chinese students also took to the streets and protested against the Iraq invasion.

Well, OF COURSE they went out and demonstrated against the US! My point is that in America we go out and march against OUR OWN government all the time! Now, if you had pictures of your students going out and marching against the CCP, then I’d be impressed. Marches against the Iraq war were aggressively encouraged by the CCP, so there was zero risk. Quite the contrary.

I managed many Chinese workers, and found their problem-solving skills quite limited, mainly due to lack of experience. Those who were best at problem solving inevitably had studied overseas. This is something the government is acutely aware of and trying to addrtess. It is why just about all the middle managers in the PRC are imported from Taiwan and HK.

June 26, 2005 @ 8:45 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

Yes, well I guess much depends on the type of problem-solving we’re talking about here. I take your point though, and I largely agree, but I think it would be very wrong to underestimate the abilities of the Chinese. And I much prefer to teach here in China than in Western Sydney or East London – where your own personal safety can be a real issue!

Some of the most damaged students I have ever come across were in London, and resources here in China are very often better than what’s available in the average London school – even in provincial towns here in China.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 26, 2005 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

Just a little foible here – honestly, I don’t want students who respect me right off the bat. I want them to challenge me. It’s the ones whose respect you earn from interactions who learn the most, in my experience. I taught science in the US and english in China – most of my teaching is science though, and it was so much more refreshing when you got a group of totally disrespectful little upstarts – because they always learn waaaaaaayyyyyyyyy more than the kids who sit quietly in the front and nod at everything you say.

Okay, really off to bed now.

June 26, 2005 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

I am the last to underestimate the incredible industriousness and intelligence of the Chinese. Tragically, Maoism set them back many years, but I know they will rise again, and are doing so now. It is no coincidence that wherever Chinese go, they rapidly become the most successful and most powerful people in their communities. I attribute this to a great appreciation of education, which results in their working very hard to learn and master anything and everything they set their minds to. The Chinese never cease to amaze me. Can you imagine where they’d be now without the CCP??

June 26, 2005 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

Richard,I think that’s the real point of this thread.You nailed it! I love me some Chinese!

June 26, 2005 @ 9:01 pm | Comment

Other Lisa,You Crack me up!

June 26, 2005 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

Dear Laowai,

Yes, you have made a good point here – I also prefer for my students to challenge my ideas, my views. That’s always going to be the best way to learn. Here in China, I always make a point of stressing to my classes the differences between what Western teachers expects of their students, and what Chinese teachers generally tend to expect. I emphasise the fact that I want them to challenge me, and I reward students who do – in terms of how I assess them. It’s a case of bridging the cultural gap.

Not all Western students are interested in exprerssing their own ideas either, mind you. I’ve been teaching for over 13 years, and I love working in tough schools, like the schools in the East End of London, but the experience can be very stressful at times, which is why I always escape back to Asia every few years.

I have never had any serious conflicts with any of my students, anywhere, but I know of teachers in London who have been challenged by their students – yeah! – challenged by student weilding knives!

This happens in Japan too actually. When I lived in Japan back in 1999, there was an average of one stabbing per day in Tokyo’s middle and high schools. Usually students stabbing other students, though occasionally teachers found themselves at the receiving end as well.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 26, 2005 @ 9:05 pm | Comment

Come to America,Your student’s will put a cap in yer ass.187 O.G.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:10 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

It is true, I agree, that certain aspects of Maoism have set back the Chinese – the legacies of the Cultural Revolution continue to exact a toll on many – we have, indeed, cross generation damage.

But what you need to remember here, is that Mao’s revolution did succeed in uniting what was a seriously dangerous and divided China, and in doing so the revolution was able to bring about a relative (I stres the word “relative”) peace and stability – sufficient enough to provide a foundation on which future leaders have been able to build a better, more prosperous China.

It is very unlikely that the Nationalist, had they won the civil war, could have achieved the same levels of stability thoroughout China.

Mao’s legacy is a mixed one.

The other thing, is that I have taught in both Japan and South Korea – and students there are very very similar to Chinese students – they are taught in much the same way, relate to their teachers in much the same way, etc. The criticisms that you level at Chinese students and the education system here, also apply to South Korea and Japan.

In this sense, it is the legacies of Confucianism that are more at play, that are the more influential – not Maoism.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 26, 2005 @ 9:18 pm | Comment

Anyone here know Richard Feynman’s writings? A now-deceased Nobel prize winning physicist. He never wrote anything about China specifically, that I am aware of, but his general attitude and approach to learning has always been something I have found inspirational. His comments on the methods used to teach science in USA are very interesting, and his comments about his time in Brazil, and the inability of the students there to think for themselves, would be very useful to keep in mind when thinking about matters Chinese.

June 26, 2005 @ 10:59 pm | Comment

Yes I know Feynman and have actually used some of his writings for my postgraduate students in China.
It’s a perfect way of challenging some of their determinist thinking – you know, how they’re all trained to think mechanistically as if still stuck in the steam age of Marx. A good dose of quantum physics is a remedy – and the best Chinese students take to it enthusiastically.

June 26, 2005 @ 11:52 pm | Comment

I owe you a qualified apology, because you didn’t get my intended irony. Partly my fault. Just saw your post to me (about halfway up):
When I said the Chinese will always assume you (or any Foreigners) are gay, it wasn’t about you or anyone, or about gays. It was my dig at the common Chinese assumption that all Foreigners are sexually predatory or otherwise decadent.
And to me the word “gay” is not an insult. Or should not be one. So my dig was at Chinese prejudice.
Sorry that I wasn’t more careful though. Should have said “irony alert” or something.
All that said – what, you say “Ivan” is a “queer” name? I’ll go read Solzhenitsyn’s “Ivan Denisovich” again and look for the gay scenes.
๐Ÿ™‚ And come to think of it, some of those onion domes on St Basil’s Cathedral (built by Ivan the Terrible) DO look rather phallic…

June 27, 2005 @ 12:12 am | Comment

I like Russian men!

June 27, 2005 @ 12:18 am | Comment

Fair enough, Ivan.

I haven’t noticed your posts before, So I didn’t have any precedent on how to guage your comments other than to take them literally and that was my mistake.

I apologize for the cheap jab at the name Ivan as well. In fact, the name Ivan generally conjures images of rather ‘masculine’ individuals when you think about it. (Ivan the terrible, The big steroid guy from Rocky 113, etc..)

June 27, 2005 @ 12:26 am | Comment

Thanks Gordon. By the way I really like your blog, so it threw me when I realized I had offended.
In Russia the implication of the name “Ivan” is about as neutral as “Joe”, the name of “Everyman.”

June 27, 2005 @ 12:46 am | Comment

Hence the name, Joe-blow ๐Ÿ˜›

June 27, 2005 @ 8:29 am | Comment

Students:”What do you think of 9/11?” American man:”What do YOU think of 9/11″Students: “You Americans cry,WE Chinese laugh.”American man:”Yeah, Nanjing was kinda funny too!”Chinese students:Blank stare (even more than usual) This has happened many, many times.

June 27, 2005 @ 6:54 pm | Comment

Did they really say they laughed?

June 27, 2005 @ 6:57 pm | Comment

It’s THE funniest thing in the world.My wife says it’s a face thing.She says that the Chinese don’t really care about the deaths in Nanjing. Just the loss of face.So America lost alot of face.One of those weird “Cultural Differences” I guess.

June 27, 2005 @ 7:21 pm | Comment

Very weird. I’ve never heard of an American laughing over Nanjing…

June 27, 2005 @ 7:23 pm | Comment

No empathy.It’s Knee-jerk as usual.

June 27, 2005 @ 7:38 pm | Comment

AM has a real point … but if he expresses it as directly as that to Chinese, all he’s likely to do is convince them that all foreigners really are as rude as many think. There certainly seem to be a lot of people around (I’ve heard them in Australia too) who think that America had it coming.

June 27, 2005 @ 9:12 pm | Comment

FSN9, I heard the same from a few in Singapore, to my shock. I thought they were isolated nutcases, but I’m learning we’re seen around the world as the Ugly Americans, and it isn’t getting better under Bush.

June 27, 2005 @ 9:18 pm | Comment

My reaction was to try and make them THINK! A waste of time of course. Who was being rude?

June 27, 2005 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

I have tried to use logic with the people here. “HUH?” It get’s to ya. No doubt about it.BTW,Filthy,I’m dyslexic.I also enjoy dyslexic jokes.Bring em’ on!

June 27, 2005 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

It must be OK if the Aussies are saying it.

June 27, 2005 @ 10:31 pm | Comment

Like Mom always says: “Kid’s say the darndest things.”

June 27, 2005 @ 11:31 pm | Comment

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