Just a 30-second rant.

I went to dinner two night’s ago alone (as usual these days) and a Taiwanese family was at the table next to mine. Their 6-year-old boy wouldn’t stop staring at me (the laowai death stare is far less common here than in China, of course). Suddenly, he just shouted out, “Waiguoren, waiguoren! Ta bu hui shuo Zhongwen!” His family just smiled lovingly at the apple of their eye, while I sat there feeling singularly self-conscious. I said softly, “Wo hui shuo Zhongwen” (though it’s not quite true, yet), which shut the little sucker up.

Then last weekend I had a craving for a greasy American cheeseburger, and went to the Friday’s in Ximen. (Not recommended; Ruby Tuesday’s at Warner Village is way better.) The hostess on the ground floor pointed me up the stairs, and then I heard her speak into her little microphone, telling the hostess upstairs I was coming. “Waiguoren qu lou shang,” she said. (A foreigner is coming upstairs.) It just got me thinking, why not a customer is coming upstairs? Can you imagine being in a Friday’s in America and hearing the hostess refer to you as a foreigner, or as a black man or as a Chinese man? Can you please seat this Chinese man? (Although I’ve never been to a Friday’s in the US; maybe it’s a global policy to refer to Friday’s customers who can’t speak the local language very well as “foreigners.”)

Was thinking about this all week. it feels good to get it down on “paper.”

The Discussion: 129 Comments

Yeah – the first one’s annoying. I find it’s pretty rare in Taipei (or at least a bit more subtle) – certainly compared with the rest of Taiwan.

I don’t really mind the waitress example though: at least ‘waiguoren’ is being used as a description (if they were busy it would actually help identify you). Do you think a Chinese guy in the US would mind it if the waitress said “Can you please seat this Chinese man?”? I doubt it.

You can get into long discussions about whether waiguoren is insulting or not (and what it actually means – foreigner or non-Chinese). Personally I think it depends totally on the context. As long as it’s not said in an insulting or annoying way I’m fine with it …

January 19, 2006 @ 3:20 am | Comment

I get this sometimes, too. (Then there’s my German friend who gets called “Meiguoren!” a lot. That’s gotta feel even worse!)

I was walking along with a Pepsi the other day and one of my students ran up and said, “Why do all foreigners like Coke? Whenever I see foreigners, they’re drinking Coke.” “Well, I’m not,” I said. “I’m drinking Pepsi.” (This student is an English major–she has classes with foreign teachers every day of the week? Do you mean to tell me every one of them is drinking Coke every day?)

January 19, 2006 @ 3:21 am | Comment

I remember an incident in Chiba (Japan) where a kid sitting next to me at a super-market food court pointed at me and said, “mommy mommy look at the foreigner” to which I replied, “didn’t your mother ever tell you it’s rude to point”. The mom was pissed and got up and stormed away. Did I offend her somehow?

January 19, 2006 @ 3:21 am | Comment

I don’t think it’s official Friday’s policy. As for Denny’s, well….
In Shanghai, I often here people say “oh, foreigners are so..(fill in with your negative description of choice)..,” I just always respond to them “why are Chinese people so rude, and not smart enough to realize that foreigners can also speak Chinese.”
That usually ends the conversation. Or starts a fight.

January 19, 2006 @ 3:40 am | Comment

“Do you think a Chinese guy in the US would mind it if the waitress said “Can you please seat this Chinese man?”? I doubt it.”

Are you serious? You really don’t think someone would mind if the same thing happened in the US? If I was in a restaurant and the waiter/waitress said “please seat this Chinese man” to a Chinese customer, I would get up and walk out in protest right that second. Return home and put the story all over the internet just as Richard or anyone else would. I would also expect to see the restaurant out of business in the next week tops.

January 19, 2006 @ 3:45 am | Comment

I often hear Chinese here in Europe refer to people as ‘waigouren’, even though they are the foreigners or minority group. I sometimes also hear nicknames that are not that good sounding either, such as ‘xiaobi’ (small Belgian) for a Belgian etc.

Imagine going to China and refer to a Chinese as ‘a foreigner’!

January 19, 2006 @ 3:50 am | Comment

Hey, I thought EVERYONE was a foreigner except for the English!

January 19, 2006 @ 4:07 am | Comment

…more about the English calling everyone else “Foreigners” (although the Chinese do it in far more stupid, unsubtle and impolite ways than the English, generally):

Some years ago I got into a spat with a horribly rude and boorish fat old English woman, at a train ticket counter in London. And she went into a rant about “you bloody Foreigners ruining our country”. Ah, I speak with an upper middle class WASPY Northeast American accent, and look like a perfect WASP, and YET she called me a “bloody Foreigner”….even though my accent should have sounded perfectly North American to her…

…so in response, I told her that my American Father (US Army Air Corps) was stationed in East Anglia during the war and he shot down four enemy aircraft of Hitler’s Luftwaffe before they reached England…..and that DID shut her up and she skulked away with well deserved humility….. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just my little rant – to supplement Richard’s – about the English way of saying “Foreigner”. I love the English but I really want to smack them around sometimes. OH, but on THAT note, here’s something NICE about England and America:

Ben Franklin’s London house – the house where he stayed in London for many years, until just before the American Revolution – has been restored and it’s OPEN to the public!
(This is close to my heart, because I had some personal connections with the people who worked on this project for many years.) You can read about it on the website:


๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ The people who run Franklin’s house in London, are very dedicated to the “special relationship” between Britain and America (as I am). So, a recommendation for any Brits here, or any Yanks who might visit London…. ๐Ÿ™‚

January 19, 2006 @ 4:36 am | Comment

Please. I’ve had Chinese people point and call me “waiguoren” in Queens, New York. As for the little kid, he’s a kid. The problem is the adults (mind you, they start ’em young).

On the “Chinese Man Incoming” example: notice, no one expects an American working at a Bennigans in Kansas to say “Foreigner coming upstairs”. Why? Because even the most landlocked American understands that there are many cultures and nations, and they aren’t the same. In China, however, it’s perfectly acceptable to lump all non-Chinese together as English-speaking, Coke-drinking, chopstick-challenged white people. In fact, its standard practice. The US equivalent would be “Outlander at table 12” or perhaps “pigs in a blanket for the mysterious stranger”.

As for whether “waiguoren” is insulting, I apply the same test as I do for the Yasukuni shrine: if they feel insulted, they’re insulted. Even if you completely disagree with a Chinese person who wants to personally slit Koizumi’s throat, you have to respect their feelings. Likewise with “waiguoren”: telling me that I’m not offended when I’m idly playing with my butter knife and have that murderous glint in my eye, well, you’re not helping.

And I bet you a Chinese tourist would get upset. Anybody remember the Malaysia pig vouchers? (pics at ESWN). The staff painstakingly drew pig heads by hand on 344 vouchers to indicate the Chinese tourists were cool with pork as opposed to, yknow, Muslim. The hotel is owned and operated by ethnic Chinese, too, so the idea that offense was intended goes out the window. And in the name of the Gods, who loves their pork more than the Chinese? Trust me, Chinese tourists can be just as (over)sensitive as us. Just as the Taiwanese.

January 19, 2006 @ 4:36 am | Comment

sorry, last line should read: just ask the Taiwanese.

January 19, 2006 @ 4:39 am | Comment

For the Yasukuni shrine test: well, I certainly don’t feel offended by “Waiguoren” or “Laowai” or “look, mom, a foreigner !”

I do get annoyed when people yell “Hello !” at me, or assume I can’t speak Chinese; in those cases I try to pretend I think they’re Japanese (I mean, hey, I’m French, why assume I’m American and prefer English to Chinese ?).

I also tend to be annoyed by the use of “Guowai” to mean, essentialy, the USA and western europe, as if the other countries who are also outside of China don’t really count.

What makes me uncomfortable is how the health and fashion (etc.) magazines tend to be filled with pictures of similing blond-headed westerners. Ugh.

January 19, 2006 @ 5:17 am | Comment

I was the manager at a hostel in Essex which was serving as a halfway house for violent and screwed-up youths. One night a number of skinheads came round with bats (I think baseball, actually, but cricket would be more like it) to attack one of the residents. I tried todisperse them in my best Michael Caine accent “Right! Don’t you point that spear at me!”. One pushed me away and snarled “Sod off……. CANADIAN!” It was only the second time I had been a victimof outright racism (the first being when I was rejected for a role in the local production of Ain’t Misbehavin’.

January 19, 2006 @ 5:28 am | Comment

You know, now that I’m back at a university here in the US, it’s been very tempting to shout “NIIIIIIIII HAAAAAOOOOOOOO! or Lao waaaaaaiiiiiii! to some of the Chinese walking down the street, but I’ve yet to do it and I doubt that I will – it’s kind of hard to get away with it since I know most of them here.

I guess you should be lucky that he didn’t shout “gao bizi” or refer to you as a monkey.

January 19, 2006 @ 5:28 am | Comment

Well, there has been some good points made, so I won’t repeat. I would just say, being called lao-wai or waiguoren is far better than being treated like one, or esp. if you were a “wai-lao,” a.k.a. foreign labour or “waijixinniang”- foreign nationality bride….

January 19, 2006 @ 5:44 am | Comment

Seriously, Ruby Tuesday’s is an international resturaunt. Write a pissed off letter to the corporate headquarters. Not only will you be doing the company a favour, by pointing out the fact that their local affiliate is engage in ignorant and racist behavior, you will also be helping to educate the local rubes, when heaqdquarters demands that they shape up.

January 19, 2006 @ 6:04 am | Comment

Then there’s my German friend who gets called “Meiguoren!” a lot. That’s gotta feel even worse!

Well, every kaukasian looking person is an American until proven innocent. Makes life easier.

A very nice thing, I heard from a Chinese lady once, was: No you can’t be a German, you look to handsome (her words not mine) for a German . : )

January 19, 2006 @ 6:45 am | Comment

That is all well and good, except that ‘foreigner’ is usually has good conotations in China, its pretty much a status symbol because it’s so rare for most Chinese ot see a foreigner, let along to sit in the same restaurant as one.

It’s only bad to be called a foreigners if you are Chinese or think of yourself as being Chinese. Then it’s equivelent of Kerry being called unAmerican.

The only reason that you don’t hear this in the west is that the odds are that anybody with a diffrent skin color is more likely to be a have been born in the west than be a true foreigner.

If I pointed at every Chinese in Newyork and shouted ‘foreigner’, or ‘Chinese’ at them I’m sure that I’d have a lot of guys with New york accents chiming telling me to &*^% right off.

January 19, 2006 @ 7:15 am | Comment

“Firstly, let me state my cringing embarrassment at the fat old Englishwoman’s attitude – that kind of ‘little Englander’ island mentality does still exist among the wealthy/upper class/rural sets of my compatriots, I’m afraid. Very sorry.

On the other hand, London and other major cities are as multicultural as it gets – 25% of people in the capital were born outside the UK. Thus in England there is really no such thing as a ‘foreigner’ any more – foreigners become English if they stay here long enough and learn the language well enough, regardless of ethnicity and nationality.

This is not the case in China, a historically isolated place where there are, I feel, some feelings of racial suspicion and superiority lingering on. Even that US defector who came to China in the 50s had to wait 60 years to get a green card – but on the other hand, many Chinese regard ABCs as Chinese whether or not they speak Chinese or understand anything about their country of ‘origin’.”

Cheers –

Phil (formerly of Living in China, now back in Europe)

January 19, 2006 @ 7:39 am | Comment

Richard, or write a letter to the tourist ministry. Ask them if they think the behaviour of such “establishments” is going to increase Taiwanese tourism or something to that effect, especially as you have a well-visited blog.

January 19, 2006 @ 7:45 am | Comment

I don’t really mind the waitress example though: at least ‘waiguoren’ is being used as a description (if they were busy it would actually help identify you).

The restaurant was nearly empty. It was late, and I was one of the last customers before they closed the kitchen. I attribute it to a moment of carelessness on the hostess’ part, not any malevolence. But it was annoying.

January 19, 2006 @ 7:46 am | Comment

John, Ruby Tuesday’s was fine. Friday’s was the perpetrator here.

January 19, 2006 @ 7:47 am | Comment

The next time that you find yourself in a situation like the two described, point back at the perpetrator and, with a wide-eyed look of astonishment point at them and exclaim “Taiwan ren! Taiwan ren!”
Then you can all have a laugh together.
The “waiguo ren” in Queens example is pretty good as well. Once I was talking with a Taiwanese friend who had returned from a vacation in Australia. All of her anecdotes relating to the trip referred to native Australians as “waiguo ren,” causing me to stop her and ask if the “waiguo ren” in her story were in fact “aodaliya ren.” She replied that they were, prompting me to ask how it is that Australians in Australia can be considered as foreigners. Apparently the Chinese idea of what qualifies someone as a foreigner is more to do with race (i.e. anyone not Han Chinese) than location.

January 19, 2006 @ 8:42 am | Comment

In Hong Kong, we Westerners are Gweilo (foreign devils). We tend to adopt it to describe ourselves. A form of appropriation, like homosexuals talking about “queer culture”.

With my local ethnic Chinese wife, my name for her is Chinkie, and her name for me is Gweilo.

It’s all a matter of context, right?

January 19, 2006 @ 9:18 am | Comment

In China you rarely ever hear anyone refer to you as “Waiguoren”. In the 14 months that I lived in China, I only heard someone refer to me as a “waiguoren” twice. The rest of the time I had “Laowai!!!” shouted at me.

ACB is correct. You shouldn’t feel any animosity about being called a “Waiguoren” as it is a respectable reference.

January 19, 2006 @ 9:29 am | Comment

I can not believe this post was written by you, Richard. You blog about China all the time and you are supposed to know this issue.

Americans feel offensive about “foreigner” because US are founded by “foreigners”, or maybe you would rather say, “international”.

However, it is not the case for most of the other countries in the world. Do NOT expect everyone goes with your own culture. If you are in Taiwan, do as the Taiwanese do. You are minority there and you are supposed to be identified as “foreigner”. Dont consider it “offensive”, it’s just how it goes.

I am sorry to say this, but this post is really stupid. Especially you are angry with a kid.

January 19, 2006 @ 9:37 am | Comment

Best time I ever had with this was in Beijing a couple years ago. I was in a DVD store and a couple of older sales ladies saw me and said something like, “Laowai laile.” And I said, “Dui, laowai laile,” – the expressions on their faces were priceless, like I was a talking dog or something. You’d think it wouldn’t be so surprising that a foreigner in Beijing could speak some Chinese, but they were just shocked.

Very friendly after that I might add.

January 19, 2006 @ 10:24 am | Comment

I see your point, to a degree. Taiwan is not as pluralistic a nation as, to use your example, the United States, and so we should not expect people to treat the issue of race and ethnicity with the high degree of sensitivity commonly found in the west. At the same time, Taiwan is a modern, industrialized nation/rogue province and Taipei is a large, international city not unlike New York, London or Shanghai. As such, it can be frustrating for foreigners to feel that they are being gawked at in spite of the fact that there are large numbers of them to be found in all quarters of the city. Moreover, the assumption (albeit on the part of a child in this instance) that foreigner=unable to speak Chinese is understandably frustrating as is the implicit understanding that if someone doesn’t understand us we are free to gossip about them.

January 19, 2006 @ 10:30 am | Comment

Addressing the waitress scenerio, I think she deserve the benefit of the doubt from harboring any ill-intent. “Waiguoren” is quite simply the most striking description about you from which she can refer to, therefore as you walk upstairs you are serviced accordingly as a new customer rather than someone who is walking around looking for a bathroom.

January 19, 2006 @ 12:59 pm | Comment

hey what do you say to being constantly asked if you are japanese in america even if you are american? or asked if you speak english even though you are carrying on a perfect english conversation with them? people go by looks, every time.

sure these aren’t harvard educated liberal luminaries, just ordinary folks of the us of a. but so are those ordinary chinese people who work at Friday’s. i am really tired of americans et al constantly talking about the laowai death stare as if you (or your kin) don’t do this when you are at home to other non white races.

i’d like to be sympathetic, but for a grown man who is commandering a large worldwide readership with his personal thoughts about all things chinese, i think you should learn from this experience to understand what empathy is and only then do you understand what racism is about.

the next time someone ask me if i am japanese, i am going to start my own blog.

January 19, 2006 @ 2:01 pm | Comment

Take a chill pill. True, a U.S. waitress would never say “chinaman, coming through”. But I do get plenty of strangers complimenting me on how well I speak English. I don’t mind, because nothing mean is meant by it. The kid was rude for pointing and shrieking, but the waitress was applying what, to her, is a simple description. Sometimes I think people are so careful about “political correctness” in the U.S. precisely because we have had such a long and painful history with race, something we struggle with to this very day. So we develop this hyper-sensitivity around this subject, much as “southern hospitality” actually developed as a coping mechanism to deal with the high level of violence that is endemic to the south. As much as I sympathize with your discomfort personally, I think it is unfair for you to expect a Taiwanese to observe the the niceties surrounding race in the same highly-attuned way as an American. In fact, the Taiwanese can be *ahem* bracingly forthright in a number of ways that would be considered rude in the U.S.

This is not to say that there is no problem with racism in Taiwan. There is horrible racism — mostly towards other asians. Filipinos and indonesian help can be treated quite badly. I do think it is important to speak up about that. There is even tremendous prejudice towards mainland chinese people, especially women who come as mail-order brides. In contrast, being called a “waiguoren” or “laowai” is pretty innocuous stuff.

Remember, Alberto Fujimori was called “El Chino” by Peruvians despite his Japanese ancestry. They still elected him president.

January 19, 2006 @ 2:07 pm | Comment

I think xs has a good point. Ignorance abounds whereever one may be. And considering that this is a 6 yr old (like you weren’t horribly obnoxious at 6), I really don’t think you need to make such a big deal of it.

January 19, 2006 @ 4:05 pm | Comment

ha, waiguoren is not something insulting in Chinese for sure. However it does mean something “distant”. Next time when you hear waiguoren, say: NI3 CAI2 SHI4 WAIGUOREN!
Either you will shut them up in a surprise or they will be friendly with you as Lisa pointed out: Chinese often respect a waiguoren who can speak Chinese.

January 19, 2006 @ 4:28 pm | Comment

This was a “30-second rant,” not a big deal. I said in my earlier comment, if you read it, that this was more a matter of carelessness on the waitress’ part, not malevolence. Not racism. This is not a blast at the Taiwanese, who I’ve found to be very tolerant people. This was two small incidents happening close to one another that got me thinking, that’s all. One was about an obnoxious kid (but the comment was really more about his parents), the other of an annoying remark by a waitress. Don’t blow it up to make it sound like I’m charging Taiwanese people with racism. If that’s how it came across, my apologies. It’s nothing more than a somewhat humorous if slighly exasperated account of a foreigner and the odd experiences he has abroad. I think referring to a person as a foreigner in front of his face is tactless, not (necessarily) racist. I can say almost certainly that if she were speaking English, she would not have said I was a foreigner. She used the word, carelessly, because she didn’t think I’d understand it. It wasn’t even a conscious thing, it was kneejerk. Not the end of the world, but irritating in a funny kind of way. I would never dream of saying anything or contacting the restaurant – it was totally insignificant . If I thought there was racism involved, like not letting me in, then I’d have said something.

January 19, 2006 @ 5:21 pm | Comment

but this post is really stupid. Especially you are angry with a kid.

I have the right to get irritated – not angry – with anyone of any age shouting at the top of his lungs about me in a public place, with his parents sitting and smiling. I never got angry, and found it kind of amusing. Irritating but amusing.

January 19, 2006 @ 5:24 pm | Comment

I honestly can’t believe some people think Richard is wrong in this one. What, it could be worse? He is a foreigner? Are you guys for real? Wrong is wrong, absolutes are good.

January 19, 2006 @ 5:30 pm | Comment

I rarely hear poeple call me foreigner in the US. If I was Richard and encountered what he did in Taiwan, I would certainly be quite annoyed and might be a bit angry too.

January 19, 2006 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

Richard, you should have been here 20 years ago! OTOH, you could still travel to someplace in the boonies and experience it first hand. Go to one of those armpit-of-the-world places like Pingtung or Douliu and you’ll find it’s still the 1980s. One of the things I like about going up to Taipei is not getting stared at or talked about like I was a deaf and dumb circus freak, so I think you were either very lucky or unlucky to have this happen. Depends on which way you look at it I guess. There does seem to be a neanderthal subset out there that assumes no non-Taiwanese has any feelings, any rights or could possibly understand their complex and sophisticated language. They make me really glad I’m not Thai or Indonesian… :-/

I’ve travelled overseas on business with many Taiwanese and most had that habit of calling all westerners ‘waiguoren’ or ‘laowai’ regardless of geographical location. I pretty quickly changed their minds about the logic of that, though there would be about a 1% minority that grudgingly change their speech habits but not their opinion. You can’t win ’em all. I have come to accept that waiguoren = westerner however. Now I pretty much only take offense at ‘adogah’ (high nose).

January 19, 2006 @ 6:51 pm | Comment

I got 2 stories:
A) My all-American, Abercrombie-&-Fitch looking friend Eric once took mild offense at a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco because as the racially mixed party of friends sat down, the Chinese wait staff skillfully (borderlining elegant) switched off only his chopsticks for a set of fork and knife without first asking. For the rest of that dinner, he out-cried racism of “differential treatment” and rubbed it upon his Asian American friends. Um, I guess he was allowed to elect being pissed off.

2) At my college friend Rob’s family THanksgiving dinner in Los Angeles 15 years ago, Rob’s elder brother, with deep curiosity and concern, asked me “do you see things smaller?” Rob and I were both beyond irritated; he was mortified. Realising some awkwardness, Rob’s parents, with kindness and apologetic tone said, “Oriental kids are so intellegent and hard working!” You had to be there, so great.

January 19, 2006 @ 6:55 pm | Comment

Pope, I’ve been very lucky – in Taipei, I almost never encounter the kind of stares and occasionally blatantly discriminatory treatment I encountered in China. And I mean really discriminatory, not just being called a laowai or stared at.

Jason, I’ve had to endure the fork-and-knife thing in China, but while it’s annoying, I keep in mind that their intentions are good, and they think they’re helping me. (But it’s still annoying.)

January 19, 2006 @ 7:28 pm | Comment

You are being considerate. Those wait staff can come with all kinds of kind or ill intentions when they took away your CHinese set-ups; for one, “man, another laowai who will boss me around starting form fork and knife” *presumptive* to “Another dumb ass who can’t use chopsticks.” *patronizing*
I was goona say, just don’t let it get to you too much no matter what. But I think you’ve long got it.

January 19, 2006 @ 7:59 pm | Comment

I’m sorry if I read too much into your post. I guess most of the time, by the time I write my comment I’m really responding to all the comments on the thread as much as the post itself.

By the way, those of you exasperated by how tactless the Taiwanese can be, at least have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s not just because you are a foreigner. I took a bus to Yelieu with my boyfriend last summer, and the driver took it upon himself to inform me that I really need to lose a lot of weight, especially if I want to hold on to my guy.

(In case you wonder, I am a U.S. size 8, not that is should make a difference)

January 19, 2006 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

Chinese kids are definitely not raised to be seen and not heard. English kids are the way to go.

January 19, 2006 @ 10:02 pm | Comment

Funny thing about their obsession with noses: Monkeys have small, flat noses. So I suppose the Chinese are more closely related to monkeys……

January 19, 2006 @ 10:48 pm | Comment

Oh and yes, chopsticks are SO HARD to use! It takes a special kind of genius (racially inherited – by the Japanese as well of course) to use chopsticks. 1.3 billion Chinese (and 150 million Japanese) are f—ing ARTISTS, who know how to use chopsticks! Very graceful, a special skill which it is impossible for “Foreigners” to learn….

…HOWEVER, ah, DRIVING? Oh, well, DRIVING is EASY! Any mentally retarded Communist Party Cadre can just extort some money from his fellow peasants, and then go out and buy a car and – BOOM – just go out onto the street and start driving!

DRIVING is EASY! Chinese people start driving cars with NO training whatsoever! A nation of GENIUSES, I tell you!

January 19, 2006 @ 11:11 pm | Comment

Ivan, did you take your medication today? Calm down!

January 19, 2006 @ 11:42 pm | Comment

One time a little Chinese kid came up to me in McDonald’s and said, “Ni shi waiguoren, dui ba!”

I leaned down and said to him, “Ni shi Zhongguoren, dui ba!” He ran away and hid behind his parents. I loved it.

As far as I’m concerned, the kids aren’t really a problem. It’s the older people whose idea of conversation is to snort, “Hei, laowai” and see if you turn to face them that annoy me, along with the people who follow you around in the supermarket and carry on a long conversation about what you’re buying. (“O, ta mai Yidali mian, ta yiding bu xihuan Zhongguo mian. O, ta xianzai mai pijiu. Ta yiding hui mai Baiwei, shi Xifang de paizi. O, ta mai Qingdao a! San ping!”)

After awhile, though, you get used to it all. China isn’t going to change to match our sensibilities. A little rant like yours, Richard, is a good way to blow off steam when it gets to us.

January 20, 2006 @ 1:20 am | Comment

Being called a foreigner here in China doesn’t bother me after it is what I am. I so, however, take exception to being called a waiguoren by CHinese students when I’m in Canada…

January 20, 2006 @ 1:31 am | Comment

I must agree with richard at being irritated about the child. When I was 5, if I had pointed at someone and shouted “foreigner” my mother would have told me off for being so rude. Not to say that children can’t make mistakes, but discrimination often starts at an early age. If parents condone or even inadvertently encourage it, that’s bad for future generations.

January 20, 2006 @ 2:27 am | Comment

Yup, it’s the parents and you have to school them so they school their kids. I once got in a crowded elevator to have a one start the pointing and “Waiguoren!” isht on me. I like kids, but I was in a bad mood that day. I leant down to the kid and told her (gently, in Mandarin) that she was making her mom lose face, since only the offspring of poor uneducated peasants were unused to interacting with foreigners and she was making it obvious to everyone that they were too poor to send her to a bilingual school. I never saw anyone get out of an elevator so fast in all my life, and I didn’t know a face could turn so red while the owner was still breathing.
Yeah, it was mean, but I bet that little girl never bothers you. Mom would have done a better job with her than I ever could.

January 20, 2006 @ 2:50 am | Comment

On a loosely related note, a personal pet hate of mine is the ramped up charges that vendors often try to apply to laowai. Here’s a typical (and common) experience from 2005:

I was chatting in the local square with friends one evening last summer. Deciding that a drink was required I asked a nearby vendor for the same orange beverage he had just sold to a Chinese girl for two Yuan. He asked me for five Yuan. I called over a friend of mine to tell the vendor that if he (or any members of his family) were a visitor to my country, he would pay the same price as everybody else. There was nearly a riot! He snatched the (plastic) bottle from my hand and threw it at me and began a Hitleresque tirade.

Any other tales like this from the land of integrity?

January 20, 2006 @ 3:08 am | Comment

“Yeah, it was mean, but I bet that little girl never bothers you. Mom would have done a better job with her than I ever could.”

Your Mandarin must be excellent! That poor kid probably still gets beaten daily over that little episode.

January 20, 2006 @ 3:13 am | Comment

I would recommend the good old “gui-lao” prank: simply stick your tongue out, cringe your face and claw your fingers at the next kid who pulls another “waiguoren” thing at you. I bet it’s more satisfying.

January 20, 2006 @ 3:28 am | Comment

Another fun response is to look around you rapidly as if you want to see the show as well and make a show of shouting “waiguo ren zai nali? wo yao kan!” or something like that. Having little experience with sarcasm, this will blow the average Taiwanese mind.

January 20, 2006 @ 6:25 am | Comment

Liu Yixi: In 18 years here, I’ve met only a handful of Taiwanese who understand the concept of sarcasm. Luckily, I’m married to one of them.

January 20, 2006 @ 7:15 am | Comment

While traveling hard-berth through China in the mid-80’s and walking from car to car, I so startled one gentleman that he froze midway into digging out whatever was in his nose. I’ll never forget the horror of his companion as his face shot back and forth between mine and his friend’s, realized the humiliation, and grabbed his friend’s arm to yank out his forefinger. Then there was the typically diminutive octagenerian woman I greated one evening with my most polite ‘wan an’ who spit on the ground and muttered, ‘bai guizi!’ Yeah, my initiation to all that started twenty years ago, and it continues now as I live in Japan. Take my advice: if you plan to spend significant time here while retaining your sanity, ignore it. A sharp glance of disapproval is sufficient for cases over the top, but the wise man lets it go like water off the back of the Peking Duck.

January 20, 2006 @ 8:29 am | Comment

Bill, where are you based in Japan? I’m planning to go back there in April.

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to find people to drop in on ๐Ÿ˜‰

January 20, 2006 @ 1:01 pm | Comment

Taking the chopsticks away is just training for laowai to pack their own non-disposable chopstick and help conserve natural resource.

January 20, 2006 @ 2:12 pm | Comment

Um, okay.

January 20, 2006 @ 3:33 pm | Comment

I wouldn’t mind so much having the chopsticks snatched away and replaced with silverware, except for … the spoons. What is it with spoons in China?

The fork and knife usually are what I expect, but then comes the spoon, looking like something I could use to paddle a canoe.

I’ve tried explaining to waitresses that it is a little hard to eat soup with a kind of huge ladle-sized instrument normally used back home for serving something from a platter. But, what can you expect in reply, expect a “bu hao yisi”. Actually, I find it more funny than annoying.

I’ve noticed this in Japanese restaurants in Shanghai, as well. Is it generally true in Japan and Taiwan? Elsewhere?

I’m also curious about the consistancy — this is so common, but always just the spoon. Never a huge meat fork or butcher knife.

January 20, 2006 @ 9:20 pm | Comment

I think there’re some misunderstandings here. It’s all about history and culture. China is not as diversified as America and Europe and it’s been a country dominated with a single culture for thousands of years. And it’sa tradition, more accurately it’s a way of expressing their hospitality to treat people who are from far away in a better way than to treat people from China. The word Waiguoren is a completely neutral in Chinese. Also, i think you should forget a little kid’s curiosity because they don’t see you guys very often.

January 21, 2006 @ 12:31 am | Comment


“China is …. and it’s been a country dominated with a single culture for thousands of years.”

Um, you need to reconsider that statement seriously.

January 21, 2006 @ 1:17 am | Comment

LOL. It all depends on my mood. Sometimes those kids make me laugh, sometimes they infuriate me.

I guess what rankles is that the ‘rents never intervene to say they are being rude. You expect kids to be rude, but you don’t expect parents to reinforce. In fairness, Chinese parents appear to believe that it is a great loss of face for a child to be rebuked in public, and will usually refrain from doing it. Chinese grandparents seem quite free of that idea, however.

I have had many funny experiences. With my olive skin courtesy of my Italian mother, I have been mistaken for an Arab on more than one occasion. Older Taiwanese from time to either call me a Japanese or address me in Japanese as if expecting that I am one — is it the beard? On a hike last week I ran into an elderly couple — the husband kept speaking Japanese to me even after I had demonstrated facility in Mandarin and politely told him I was a Yank from way back, and despite (or perhaps because of) his wife’s insistence that I was a perfectly ordinary migoulang, and not a foreigner of the exalted Japanese variety. My favorite is still the discussion that went on around my wife and I in a market in a rural southern town. After much debate, I was awarded the status of Japanese, and my wife was determined to be the Indonesian maid. That was a classic — a running joke between us.


January 21, 2006 @ 5:00 am | Comment

well i think there is nothing wrong for a small kid to call a different-looking person as a “waiguoren”.

I agree with jsun that in Chinese, “waiguoren” is a neutral even positive word in most of time. believe me, i am a Chinese and stay in US for more than six years. still i was yelled “go back home chink” . that’s so sick that i decide come back to my country eventurally.

January 21, 2006 @ 5:15 am | Comment

“Mr Right”,

I don’t believe that you were told “go back home, Chink” more than once or twice in all of your six years in America. (Although, after six years in America, your English grammar is still horrible, so I have other doubts…)

But still, that’s nothing! Sometimes during my travels through Texas, the local people shouted at me: “Yankee go home!” ๐Ÿ™‚

January 21, 2006 @ 5:25 am | Comment

i am not feel ashamed for my english coz i don’t have to speak the shit for three years after i come back to china.

i got two masters in US that’s why i love US. but the reality is the shit happens far more than once. besides that i was hitted by snow balls and cans. that definately are the worst part of US.

January 21, 2006 @ 5:34 am | Comment

yes you would never hear anything derogatory yelled at foreigner in China. I must have been overly sensitive when I was called a “ta ma de lao wai” Since then I have completely discounted the nonsesne explaination that Lao Wai is a term of respect.

On the pricing discrepancy issue. I was pissed off when I propositioned a passel of prositutes in Guangzhou only to find out that Lao Wai’s had to pay 800 while local men could get the low rate of 300 RMB. I promptly turned on my heels and headed for the nearest bar.

January 21, 2006 @ 5:35 am | Comment

Yeah, so many Americans call Chinese people “chink,” you hear it every day. And it was so bad you had to leave America. Tell us, which state was this? Details, please.

Mr. Right, read the post carefully. There’s nothing wrong with a kid calling a foreigner a foreigner. There is something unsettling about him shouting it out in a public place, his parents beaming in the background.

January 21, 2006 @ 5:37 am | Comment

ok guys, i know the feeling you may have in China. I totally agree that’s bloody true for some chinese they don’t like foreigers especially US people since they are educated in an anti-american atmosphere. that’s pity, isnt it? i suggest you forget about it. believe me most of Chinese are friendly. just like most americans.

i think it’s my fault to talk the shitty things too much. so i shut up now. BTW, i was in Illinois at champaigh and urbana and then in Syracuse in Newyork. i am not a lier.

January 21, 2006 @ 5:53 am | Comment

Sorry, I don’t buy it. I know many, many Chinese students who’ve studied in the US. Some have certainly told me about encounters with racism, but most of their stories were about being slighted, being insulted – never being called Chink or having things thrown at them.. Never have I heard of any being the victim to so much racism, especially in a college environment, that they had to leave America.

January 21, 2006 @ 6:02 am | Comment

He claims to have TWO American Masters’ degrees, and he still writes like that?

If he has an American Masters’ degree then GW Bush is ready for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

January 21, 2006 @ 6:39 am | Comment

Oh and also, what he said about being hit by snow balls in the US: My best friends did that to me all the time. And being hit by beer cans happens after the first hour of any good college party. ๐Ÿ™‚

January 21, 2006 @ 6:42 am | Comment

More: Actually I CAN imagine some scenarios where a Chinese student in an American college MIGHT hear something like “go home to China” (although “Chink” is so outdated, I think the last time it was used was 100 years ago – and since the VietNam war the term of abuse for East Asians has been something else):

1. He may have run into an extremely drunken fraternity asshole at a frat party – and I’m putting 2+2 together here based on the “being hit with cans” thing (beer cans I assume), or,

2. If a Chinese student in America (eg, like some of our trolls here) starts running off at the mouth with all sorts of anti-American, Chinese Nationalist propaganda at an American college dormitory, then yes he’s likely to be told to go back to China. But as a random event while walking down the street? No. It just doesn’t happen.

3. On that note, if a Chinese student in America can’t handle his liquor (imagine that!) then yes I can imagine him provoking some hostile comments…..at my college we had no Chinese students (because it was shortly after Mao died), but we had a few Japanese students who went completely wild and belligerent after two beers…

January 21, 2006 @ 6:54 am | Comment

I can imagine him encountering some racism here. Hell, I was once called a “Jew” (once in my life, and I somehow got over it). But enough to drive him from the country? Come on.

January 21, 2006 @ 7:07 am | Comment

“But as a random event while walking down the street? No. It just doesn’t happen.”

yes Sir, the beer can and snow balls did hit me instead of fellow american students right behind me when i was “walking down the street”. As i said, i don’t have to be a liar.

personally i think some of your guys are sick and negative. what’s wrong with my english anyway? i had high scores on GRE that is why i got fanicial aid from your univiersity. ok, think it reversely, try write something in Chinese when you are taliking about china. i bet that can be a real pain in your ass.

your guys can deny that but for me racism IS part of the damn reason for my decision. yes i had a so-called “american dream” when i was first landing in US in 1996. now i wish your guys continue the dream. again, enjoy your life and be happy in China.

January 21, 2006 @ 8:17 am | Comment


Good point. And as you know (although this guy, and probably many Chinese readers here, do not),
it’s FAR more common for Jews to be insulted in America, than Chinese. Especially in these times. (Maybe California in 1880 was different, but these days, Jews have a harder time than Chinese in America.)

Hell, a story about that: Back in the 1940s, during the War against Hitler, my own Mother – who was/is a Christian but had a conspicuously Jewish surname (as her father was partly Jewish) – in America DURING THE WAR against Hitler, my Christian mother’s family got hate mail and even shit (literally, shit) in their mailbox, from haters of Jews.

Funny thing is, my Mother is even more Catholic than the Pope. ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, in the 1940s, her senior high school class took a trip to Washington DC, but her (authentically) Jewish best friend was not allowed to go, because they were scheduled to go to a restaurant which did not serve Jews. This was in the late 1940s, even after the war and the news about the Holocaust, this shit was still going on in MAJOR cities in America. (Richard you know where I mean, not a backwater at all.)

I’m proud to say that my Mother (at age 18) protested, she refused to go on that trip (in solidarity with her friend) and she stood in front of the bus to Washington and watched it go. (But they DID still give her a diploma, although she caught a lot of flack for that demonstration.)

Oh and Richard, one more thing:
You’re a Jew! So there! (In good company, with Jesus among others…)

And at any rate, even when my partly Jewish mother’s family got antisemitic hate mail in the 1940s, they weren’t driven out of the country. No f—ing way. Not after their own ancestors had fought for it at Gettysburg and back and back to Ben Franklin’s time….. ๐Ÿ™‚

So back to the original topic: No I don’t buy it when this guy says he was “driven out of the country” by anti-Chinese remarks….just try being a Jew in America – OH and then the story of the CATHOLICS in America is another story entirely, how the Irish Catholic churches were literally smashed and burned in the 1840s (cf, Scorcese’s flawed, but still great movie “The Gangs of New York”)….

…in sum, yes a lot of ugly shit goes on in America, but in the long run, pluralism is America’s middle name.
In 2004 a half-Jewish Senator, John Kerry won the election (before Bush stole it again). And a Chinese-American President of the USA is not out of the question.

January 21, 2006 @ 8:18 am | Comment

pluralism, that is the word i used to know. thanks for your posting, Ivan! hope every one here will see it.

my last words for this topic: i am not “driven out of the country” by anti-Chinese remarks. But racism is one of the main factors for my final decision. logically clear? that’s all. so late, bye guys. enjoy.

January 21, 2006 @ 9:04 am | Comment

Mr. Right, I work and live in a U.S. university town similar in size to Champaign-Urbana, and I find the racism which you experienced to be very much out of line with what I have experienced. First of all, there is a huge international student population here, with many students from Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan. So it would be pretty strange for someone to single out an Asian person for abuse as if they had never seen one before. Secondly, college town people tend to be pretty liberal and modern. If it were to happen here that Chinese person were to be pelted with beer cans and taunted with racial slurs, you can bet that the perpetrators would be charged with hate crimes, expelled from university if they are students and shamed out of town.

January 21, 2006 @ 9:50 am | Comment

Guizi, foreigner, guilao, etc. Hi, from time to time I saw that westners are upset by those what chinese people call foreigners. While i am passing by, i think i ‘d like to clarify them.

First, foreigner means waiguoren; this word originally from Japan as in history japanese prior to chinese had contact with white people. they use kanji create waiguoren, chinese simply import it. so waiguoren only means “you look like not born in this country” and really nothing else. If you don’t like this word, what you can do is: tell all your chinese friends, tell all your western friends, gradually let all chinese know that you don’t like this. I won’t call waiguoren anymore as i already knew you don’t like it.

guizi or guilao or something else including gui, which means ghost. This word from the time when chinese first saw whitepeople about 200 years ago. Blonde hair and blue eyes serously scared them at that time, so that is what this word came from. This word is also refered as “ribenguizi”, means japanese ghost, used to call japanese invaders in WWII. So guizi means foreign invaders. I don’t think any chinese will call you that today except your chinese girl friend. she might call you that as a nick name. The important thing is here: this word does not have anything offensive today and I am 100% sure if it happens you hear that, it doesn’t mean you are offended. If a local chinese wants to offend you, they won’t use this word.

However, you might like to know what will get you in a bad situation:
Here are the cases:
1, please do not talk about taiwan, chinese will feel offend more than you call them “fuck you”. unlike westners, chinese don’t think a government forms a country, they think blook line make a country but this is not my topic here.

2, do not get involved in china-japan talk. I understand most of westners think japan is a more friendly country than china, look, it is a long story between china and japan. As a chinese i can assure you, no chinese hates english, german or french, they might hate american for a month after some unhappy events happen, but after that they like american as a whole. BUT BUT BUT, some chinese hate japanese from generation to generation, neither you nor me can change that. so do not get involed.

3, do not feel offended if a chinese says “foreigners are so…..” something like that. Most of chinese have no chance to be friend with people from other country. they try to judge how they are from one or two people they met, it is wrong. I agree with you.

anyway, here are something you should enjoy in china:
1, food. i can eat a whole beijing duck, can you? pay attention to the food, they are different. there are actually five diffenent food in china, different styles. if you just eat some chinese food in your conntry’s chinatown, they are “cantonese style”, strongly recommend you “si chuan cai”, they are fantastic. most of chinese overseas are cantonese so it is very hard find good si chuan food outside china, i am dreaming about it in australia all the time.

2, history. it is very common to find a temple or a building 1000 years old. sometimes government even can’t be bothered to repair them. I also recommend you learn some chinese history, the more you know about chinese history, the more you find china’s greatness. i agree a theory that ancient chinese people are much more educated, polite, nice than todays’, though i am todays.

3, for guys who wants a chinese girl friend: generally chinese girls dont have “only enjoy today” attitude. they want see a good future. most of chinese girls think westner people are very rich. well if you think you are not, make sure you let her understand you gotta finance your house too, otherwise there are some misunderstanding gonna happen.

4, for girls who want handsome chinese guys, well i know there are not many, please contact me via msn messenger jinstudy@hotmail.com.

thx for reading.

January 21, 2006 @ 9:51 am | Comment

If you ever make it down to Kaohsiung, look up Smokey Joes. They have great burgers and ribs. It’s good stuff.

January 21, 2006 @ 10:25 am | Comment

I would like to thank Xin for that long post of total nonsense. I haven’t seen that much rationalization in one place in a good long time

January 21, 2006 @ 11:20 am | Comment

I was being shown around my wife’s village by my 4 year old nephew once (>) when a bunch of kids started shrieking about the “Lao Wai!”.

My nephew (all of four years old, remember) told them that I wasn’t a Laowai, I was his uncle. After a short debate in Chiu Chow Yan, the kids decided that as I was ah-hong’s uncle (just like some of their own fathers), clearly I couldn’t be a foreigner. At which point, the kids dragged me off to see their pigs and goats.

January 21, 2006 @ 12:10 pm | Comment

I lived in a southern state for two years when I first came to the US. I somtimes saw people gestured toward me in the Nazi way near the college campus. I tried to ignore things like this as much as I could. I never encountered this in California.

January 21, 2006 @ 1:51 pm | Comment

Oh fuck it all. Sometimes, it really does make sense to be patriotic in the most simple ways. Especially for the USA. So – even though many of my friends here know that I CAN BE intellectually subtle (whenever I need to be), and my friends here know that I am better educated than 99.999 percent of the commenters here – still, SOMEtimes, the time is just right, to sing:

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountains’ majesties,
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee!
And crown thy good
With brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!

Any of you who have any good feelings about this – no matter what country you are from – good night and God bless you all, until later.

Ivan the Yankee, from the country of the “willingness of the heart”…..

January 21, 2006 @ 2:35 pm | Comment

Who made you so mad that you had to write in a burst of anger likes mad dog, as usual?

Yes, you are very smart. But I rarely read your comments, I doubt few people here do.

January 21, 2006 @ 3:27 pm | Comment

Went into a little mom-n-pop fast food joint in Brooklyn. Old dude that ran the place had a little trouble understanding my English so I thought I might switch to Spanish but his English was still better. Later on his son was standing around watching the game and looks in my direction a few times and says something about ‘el chino.’

For me to own up to being Chinese… would be like for a Scottish highlander to admit to bein’ English, but I raised my drink to the man and everybody was happy.

For some reason, non-white people in North America have more trouble being referred to by their race or tribe in Anglo environments. That is something we need to get over.

As for waiguoren, that doesn’t really mean foreigner. The word foreigner has to do with national boundaries and soil. ‘Waiguoren’ doesn’t.

January 21, 2006 @ 4:12 pm | Comment

waiguoren, yangren, huren…while it may not feel great to be singled out as an ‘outsider’, none of these terms have the same negative connotations as the anglo use of the word “foreigner’, as in ‘you don’t belong here, go home, etc…’ The Chinese propensity to categorize extends to members within the Han ethnicity, ie: waidiren, beifangren, nanfangren, etc.,ad nauseam…and to members of one’s own family, ie: waipo, waigong, eryipo, sanbiaoshen, etc…

As far as the kid in the restaurant, I agree with Michael Turton that it may have to do with saving face. Chinese parents tend to be over-indulgent with their children and rarely discipline them in public, although when they do it tends to be a real whipping.

I suggest that the next time richard is confronted with “waiguoren, ta buhui shuo zhongwen”, to counter with the following: “ni ye buhui shuo zhongwen, nandao ni bama mei jiao ni, zhongwen bushi shuode, shi kande he xiede. wo hui shuo hanyu/guoyu, ni hui ma?”

January 21, 2006 @ 7:15 pm | Comment

Don’t let those catty irrational posts get you. I respect your faith, which I do believe is the common source of real strength in humanity and light of truth, and all that you can say better. Therefore, my point is, you cannot possibly let those little demonic ideas projected out of the xings, hungs and c_hand coward types ire you; I am not suggesting that you carry thoughts like “they don’t know what they are doing”, but instead recognize them as just catty bickering. You don’t win them by treating them as real targets to be hit; you lose because you got mad after mistakenly dignifying their subtle malice as intelligent challenge.

January 21, 2006 @ 7:36 pm | Comment

My friend, an English professor who speaks good Mandarin, was ever so happy about his recent trip to China. He reckoned that Chinese people are much more civilized now then when he was there 20 years ago. His reasoning was based on the fact that he was no longer called “yang guizi”. Instead, people would refer to him as “waiguoren” and address him as “zhewai waiguo pengyou”.

January 21, 2006 @ 8:48 pm | Comment

huren and yangren:

just clarify this for you guys, huren is never refer to westners. It doesn’t have any emotional insulting means today at all. BTW, my ancesters were from Mongolia, so basically i am huren, :p.

yangren’s yang was picked by westners themselves 200 years ago. It doesn’t have anything negative.

I am so surprised too many people upset by this waiguoren thing, as no chinese really mean to.

here is another example, when i came to australia, i was told by other chinese friends that the word “chinese” is basically insulting because of its “something-ese” instead of “something-ian” like canadian. so the same, vietnamese and japanese are insulting too. I still don’t know how these words came from but what i know is, today it means nothing.

here is another thing, i was working for a australian company doing business with chinese. so from time to time, there are chinese customers coming. people here make tea in office using those tea bag. but sometimes i brought my tea leaves. they laughed and asked “is that drug?” mind you i am not upset, simply explain that leaves are better than tea bag… if you guys are living in china you should know it, leaves generally more expensive. from that time i told them, they start preparing tea leaves for chinese customers. and one day i made a cup of coffee, they said “oh, i tought chinese drink tea.” lol

anyway, have fun.

January 21, 2006 @ 8:56 pm | Comment

Xin wrote:
“However, you might like to know what will get you in a bad situation:
Here are the cases:
1, please do not talk about taiwan, chinese will feel offend more than you call them “fuck you”. unlike westners, chinese don’t think a government forms a country, they think blook line make a country but this is not my topic here.

2, do not get involved in china-japan talk. I understand most of westners think japan is a more friendly country than china, look, it is a long story between china and japan. As a chinese i can assure you, no chinese hates english, german or french, they might hate american for a month after some unhappy events happen, but after that they like american as a whole. BUT BUT BUT, some chinese hate japanese from generation to generation, neither you nor me can change that. so do not get involed.”

This is utter crap. I hear this way too often. You’ve got to grow up and address these issues. Besides, Chinese media never STOPS talking about Taiwan and Japan. I suspect what you mean is that, like state-controlled media, your brain can’t cope with logical debate, alternative viewpoint, or truth.

And your argument about Chinese girlfriends and full financial disclosure…well, let’s not even go there!

I say again, grow up. You have the privilige of spending time in Australia; you should use that time to explore as many different ideas as possible before the mind police get hold of you again.

January 21, 2006 @ 10:26 pm | Comment

Hi Stuart

I am still in australia now. And my knowledge sources are not just from china. Last year I bought a book called “Legal Theories” which describing all western theories including libreism and western democarcy.

Have fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

January 22, 2006 @ 12:09 am | Comment

Remember the verbal challenges, insults and demand for “respect” back in the height of multicultural/gender identity politics, politically correct 80’s and early 90’s? This thread and occasionally others in the past remind me of those “kou shui zhan” (saliva war).

January 22, 2006 @ 12:24 am | Comment

“I am still in australia now.”

Stay there as long as you possibly can. Talk to Japanese people there; take the time to find out what they’re thinking and explore the Sino-Japanese issue from both sides.

Discuss the Taiwan issue in the same way. Oh, and if you come across any Tibetan nomads feel free to ask them how things are going since the ‘liberation’

Above all, never hide behind the “do not talk about” policy that you proposed earlier.

January 22, 2006 @ 1:07 am | Comment

Stuart – good post. I always hear about how Chinese people feel sensitively about so many issues – but when do THEY consider that non-Chinese might be sensitive about some issues? It’s as if Chinese people have been wronged throughout eternity and thus have a right to say what they like, when they like. But at the same time because of that there are many issues that you cannot ever bring up.

If China was an individual it could really do with seeing a psychiatrist. I wonder how many different conditions, neuroses, etc China would be identified as having. Can anyone help me out? I can think of:

General paranoia (someone’s always looking to invade China – it’s Japan again this time)
Some sort of “victim syndrome” (someone’s always snubbing or insulting China)

There are more, I’m sure, but I can’t think of them right now.

January 22, 2006 @ 4:11 am | Comment

I don’t embarrass japanese anymore, as I know this is a national issue not individual.

In terms of Taiwan, I have talked 4 taiwanese, 1 wants be independent but currently working in mainland, 1 wants remain as what they are, 1 want to be unified, the fourth one, whose grandfather told him that he want PLA move in before he died, so that he can see china re-united. Sorry to bring this statistic, maybe you prefer talk to too many taiwanese wanting to be independent and put those wanting to be re-united in “brain-wash” bucket.

As for tibet, I do know what happened before libration, a crap slavery society, where slave owners use female slave back skin to make drum; where use slave skulls to build religous shirne. Again, you talked to those country betrayers too much, you didn’t have a chance to see those kids from slave family, they have a firm loyalty to china and which makes tibet part of china as it was since 1000 years.

I agree china today have heaps of human right issues. There is no any issue aiming at any specific community. I can’t remember how many times, as a friend, tell all western people that, those taiwan issue and tibet are nothing but bullshit. I feel really frustrated. Why some american people call Bush is dirty politian while call dalai lama is holy person? I don’t understand.

Millions of times people here talk to me like talking to some poor one whose brain needs to repair. is that really hurt you if dalai lama is not ture?

I have been living in australia for nearly 5 years, in this 5 years I can see a great progress is being made by chinese government, something that was not allowed to say 5 years ago, now it is allowed and accepted by government.

Here is another thing, people those from Hong Kong, even they don’t like communism, but when talking to taiwan’s independence, how many of them would support this? Wake up man, this is not brain wash. I already said, chinese see country based on blood lines, that’s why I said taiwan has no chance to be independence.

From Manchuria the north, HongKong the south, from Tibet the west and shanghai the east, every sand belong to ONE country. The word ONE is the real meaning of Dragon. What do you think that symbol we are waving around means? ONE.

sorry for my emotional talking, but seriously, don’t believe dalai lama, or at least search for historical chinese document yourself to find the “other part”. I am sure most of you guys read chinese.

January 22, 2006 @ 4:39 am | Comment

Raj wrote:
General paranoia (someone’s always looking to invade China – it’s Japan again this time)
Some sort of “victim syndrome” (someone’s always snubbing or insulting China)

lol, you are right. This is true and I believe this is wrong. At least I am not part of it.

But don’t you think some western people have the similar problem? No matter how many times I said waiguoren never means offensive, still many people don’t believe. :p

January 22, 2006 @ 4:44 am | Comment

Stuart and Raj,
Excellent posts. You’re right about the “Don’t talk about…” shield. As an Asian scholar, I used to defend China a LOT (esp. its political and economic progress), but now after my 4th time there, I see a disturbing phenomenon that’s too common: Too many Chinese people willingly suppress debate, e.g. by refusing to talk about “sensitive topics”– (e.g. the three T’s– Tibet, Tai wan and Tian an men).

You obviously are brainwashed. Stop apologizing for Chinese hyper-patriotism, its cultural ignorance (i.e. saying “wai guo ren”), its unjust treatment of Tai wan and the murder of the Tibetans in the 1980s and 90s. You have the same opinions as most Chinese people; nothing you have argued is new or original.

And by the way, Tai wan IS another country– NOT a “rebel province.” It has its own flag, own currency, own political structure, own financial institutions, own han zi and pin yin systems, and own sociocultural nuances.

Therefore, Tai wan has all the characteristics of a different COUNTRY. Period. Chinese hyper-patriots should learn to let it go free.

Lastly, “wai guo ren” IS a rude word. Xin, would you like it if we referred to you merely as an “Asian,” grouping you with the South Koreans, Japanese, Malaysians and Vietnamese? If you don’t know where the person is from, ASK. Or just use the word “Westerner” — at least it’s safer. I can’t imagine how my German and French friends must feel when some culturally-ignorant ignorant Chinese people shout “Hello!” to them in a patronizing way on the street.

Stop defending the sheng ba lao, Xin. I’m not anti-China– I’m just anti-stupidity.

January 22, 2006 @ 5:33 am | Comment

“In terms of Taiwan, I have talked 4 taiwanese…”

Nothing like rigorous sampling for getting to the heart of the matter.

“…taiwan issue and tibet are nothing but bullshit. I feel really frustrated. Why some american people call Bush is dirty politian while call dalai lama is holy person? I don’t understand.”

One country? Try telling that to a Tibetan. You’re right about that Dalai Lama chap, though – a thorough despot if ever I saw one.

January 22, 2006 @ 5:36 am | Comment


Now I need you to teach me Chinese then. As a native chinese speaker, I never feel “wai guo ren” insulting and I have been refered as asian many times in australian I am not upset. Why do you enforce me to accept “wai guo ren” is insulting? If studying China is your job, I wouldn’t say it is a success one.

BTW, waiguoren is same in writing in both chinese and japanese. They call me waiguoren and I call them waiguoren. So what you suggest those people working and living in china do? Fighting back?

I am not banned to talk to tibetan in china, there are many in the place i was living too and i am their customers. My God.
Everytime, people like you enforce me to believe, tibetan is not chinese, taiwanese is not chinese, even you Xin, you are mongolian, not chinese. God sake, I AM. I am mogolian but mogolian are chinese hundreds years already.

In australian there are many chinese too. We always have sort of talk like “do australian discriminate us?”. I told my chinese friends once you got a job you can see your rights are protected by australian law absolutely. Maybe some people don’t like you individually but that’s not discrimination at all. In australia, I am surely a “WAI GUO REN”. I don’t criticize australia politics, not a word even invited to conversation by local people. I am WAI GUO REN here, OK? I can’t believe today many western people living in china and keep being bothered by this simple word.

If you guys think I am brain washed, pls, wash me back then. I am free to access any resources in australia.

I don’t know how many of you guys really know about what dalai lama claims. He wants to claim half of China’s current territory to be seperate country for 1 million tibetan. How many chinese population over there? You should know that we call tibetan people “Zang Zu”. Another, Miao Zu, got 7 millions ppl, 7 times than tibetan, never claim independence. Zhuang Zu, 12 millions, never claim independent. MengGu Zu, which is mongolian, about 4 million in China as chinese, 2 million in outer mogolia as another country, all mongolian in china, never claim indepence. This is China, man. People live in ONE country first than solve problem after.

To understand australia, part of western country, I do not use my chinese understanding method as I know it’s different. Same, to understand China, don’t use western way. They were different from beginning of human civilization. That’s why importing demacracy and making it work for china looks so harder than import microsoft windows to a chinese version. If you guys keep use western way to read china, brain wash, evil red communism, or anything else will be your conclusion forever.

Here is a slight difference as you can see:
In my high school history class, when teacher told story about american independent from UK, the class were full of regret. As teenagers, their opinion were “what a shame for UK”. Chinese, guys as you can see, their mind are always from individual towards to a single ONE centralized point. Taiwanese, if you go to taiwan and feel that taipei and beijing are virtually same, then you should believe this, taiwanese are chinese, they are thinking as the same way as me. They are currently scared by China mainland’s communism charactars and some bad memory, but one day once they realise they a reunification make them be part of a greater china, their chinese soul will wake up and they will be happy to be a part.

Let’s talk about misunderstanding between western people and chinese people. All of these misunderstanding came from people always use their own value system to explain the other side. This mistake, however, has the greatest power. As I read through american website about korea war, american made a wrong conclusion that china will not fight. A perfect example american use western mind to analysis events. If american government officers took a chinese high school class, they would have found the unique ties between korea and china. A china’s intervene into korea war is merely a history replay under different title, anti-imperilism at that time instead of under the name of Middle Kingdom as in old days.

I tried to use western value system to understand why western people see taiwan as a country, and also hwo demacracy work in australia, it made sense. But unfortunately, to make china as demacratic as australia, or america, western can’t help. China need to realise the demacracy from it’s own value system, a different version demacracy, not a western modified version.

So, taiwan will be re-unified. CCP must do this, if they failed, their name will be cursed by all chinese forever like Qing dynasty lost HK to britain, taiwan to japan, shangdong to germany.

Anyway, it’s all about which value system you use to analyse the political events. A chinese american born in usa, will agree with you guys, their parents who born in china, will agree with me on taiwan issue.

thanks for reading.
BTW, for ladies working or living in China and feel few friends around, pls contact me at jinstudy@hotmail.com. ๐Ÿ™‚ fully explanation for everything you are frustrated in China. Ladies Only Please.

January 22, 2006 @ 7:01 am | Comment

Xin: So, taiwan will be re-unified. CCP must do this, if they failed, their name will be cursed by all chinese forever like Qing dynasty lost HK to britain, taiwan to japan, shangdong to germany.

I strongly suggest you not hold your breath. I’ve been blown away at how opposed to this most Taiwanese are, with some notable exceptions. Many of them would literally rather die. For now, at least, the idea of re-unification (a bit of a misnomer to begin with) is absurd. Some things are worth dying for.

January 22, 2006 @ 7:25 am | Comment


I post a thread in a chinese forum, to ask native chinese people’s opinion on “waiguoren”.

They are all speechless. As it is really nothing to explain further.

No rude element, trust me, a word as pure as crystal.


January 22, 2006 @ 7:37 am | Comment

I don’t agree with everything Xin says … but she’s/he’s clearly NOT simply a product of the indoctrination that all Chinese get. He/she is trying to think out the issues. So, don’t give him/her too much of a hard time!

(For Xin: I really suggest you read up a bit more about conditions in Tibet before China’s invasion, from sources that are not published in mainland China. Your information there is seriously out.)

January 22, 2006 @ 7:43 am | Comment

Xin wrote,
“As for tibet, I do know what happened before libration, a crap slavery society, where slave owners use female slave back skin to make drum; where use slave skulls to build religous shirne.”
Where on earth did you get this crazy story from? I know that Tibet before 1949 was not the utopian Shangri-La that it is often made out to be in the west, but slave skin drums? Maybe you are confused about the nature of Vajrayana Buddhism. It is often the case that ritual implements are made out of the skulls or bones of religious teachers who have passed on, but I have never come across any stories of human sacrifice, slave skull shrines and the like.

January 22, 2006 @ 8:07 am | Comment

Xin, I understand there is nothing rude about the word waighuoren in and of itself. As I said, the issue was a.) the child screaming about me in a public place while the parents smiled; b.) the girl thinking I didn’t understand and alluding to me in Chinese in a way she wouldn’t if she thought I did understan. She spoke fluent English; she wouldn’t have dreamed of saying in English a foreigner was coming upstairs. Not the end of the world. Just a 30-second rant, a bit of bemused irritation. Let’s let it go…

January 22, 2006 @ 8:18 am | Comment

How did this thread morph into a discussion of Tibet? This blog has no illusions about Tibet, no idealization of the Dalai Lama, and no “Free Tibet” motif. I think it’s time to close down this thread.

January 22, 2006 @ 4:52 pm | Comment

this is my second day to visit this thread. apperently, as i can say, some of guys here just keep talking things they know nothing about.

i am sure some guys keep sending trash comments are never been to Tibet before and know nothing about the princess wencheng in 1000 years ago. let me put it in this way. China is huge and much older than most of the countries in this world. just think about it: USA has a history not more than 300 years. Can USA still be there after 3000 years? why don’t your guys show some respects to China especially in her culture instead of barking the trival things like a child’s attitude and their parents’ reaction? next time when you complain about China please read something more valuable or do some investigations by yourself. hope that make sense.

January 22, 2006 @ 9:38 am | Comment

“i am sure some guys keep sending trash comments are never been to Tibet before and know nothing about the princess wencheng in 1000 years ago”
If I understand your logic, then China and Tibet are one unified nation on account of a marriage that took place
in the Tang dynasty. I’m not sure that holds water. Do you think that China is the property of Mongolia because of the Yuan dynasty?

January 22, 2006 @ 9:55 am | Comment

i’d like to back up mr. right on his experiences in america. why don’t westerners believe a chinese person when everyone’s rushing to richard’s defense about a ratty little kid?

when i was a kid i was chased around by the local boys by bike on my paper route and called a chink. i can tell you it was scary, trying to hold onto my little life and my newspapers.

my american great uncle (by marriage) liked to call me a chink. to him it was a term of endearment. he was a seargent during wwii, so it must have been nostalgic. i was too young to understand that it was derogatory. even when i did understand it, i brushed it off. he seemed like a nice guy, always making us great thanksgiving dinners.

ok, all of this happened in the 70s, before PR. but certainly the word chink didn’t die out a 100 years ago, as some experienced china watchers like to claim. as for the present day, i still read in forums that chinese and kids shouldn’t be allowed to count when they click on all those valuable google adsense ads, like the ones on this blog.

foreigner in chinese is not only neutral, it’s honorific. all foreigners are guests in china. it’s only in asian countries where a foreigner is considered a guest. in england, to call someone a foreigner is extremely derogatory, sufficient cause to start a fistfight. please check your language and culture before you decide what the word actually means. using a literal translation means you haven’t done your homework.

laowai, again is a term of endearment. lao just mean ‘old’ like one has known each other a long time. it’s also a bit informal, thus reducing the space between people. you use it when you ask your old dad for money, your old mom for something good to eat and a laowai for a cigarette.

now when someone uses ta ma de laowai or yang gui ze, that’s when you should start ranting and challenging people to duels, cut off their balls and subject them to total public humiliation.

if people can’t pick up on the meanings of these rudimentary chinese words, how can you criticize a chinese person for his english grammar? at least he’s using all the words correctly. i also like to compare apples with apples. can any westerner with a masters in chinese step up please? let us scrutinize your use of the chinese language and grammar. this won’t be so hard since chinese grammar is so much easier than english.

January 22, 2006 @ 11:16 am | Comment

“Do you think that China is the property of Mongolia because of the Yuan dynasty?”

I like it :o) Problem is, China will one day claim everything as far West as Iran on the basis of the Yuan dynasty.

January 22, 2006 @ 11:18 am | Comment

“foreigner in chinese is not only neutral, it’s honorific. all foreigners are guests in china.”

It is indeed an honour to be charged more than a Chinese citizen for goods and services.

January 22, 2006 @ 11:23 am | Comment

I don’t have time to address all of the above points. But on the issue of Tibet:

Is Tibet itself, as envisioned by the Dalai Lama, a dictatorial theocracy as bad as the Taliban? His Holiness is invited to so many events in the US, as if he is some sort of mini-Jesus. But I mean in Tibet, people are asked to worship his Holiness unconditionally, and people’s corpses are used as sacrificial materials for the eagles? And according to American standards of freedom and democracy, Shouldn’t Tibet should be overthrown immediately after it declares independence from China?

The ONLY reason, the ONLY reason Tibet independence is such an issue is because it is independence from China. If Tibet does become Independent, and if the Dalai Lama somehow begins adopted an Anti-US mentality, he and Tibet would quickly be thrown in the same bunch as Iran and other evil theocracies by the US. This is all international politics.

On other issues:

Xin made a great point about using your own set of values to analyze another culture. Doing that is bound to get to you reach ridiculous conclusions.

I live in America, I read English books, newspapers and watch English TV channels. I know about what’s going on in Iraq, about the Alito nominations, about NSA spying incident, about all the debates between Democrats and Republicans. Yet, I don’t claim that I somehow penetrated the American culture/political system, and can understand these issues much better than Americans do. Why? Because I am not American. I lived most of my life in another culture and have a vastly different set of values and beliefs than Americans. So I don’t attempt to debate American friends and showing them somehow I know better, because I know I don’t know better. I know that everything I read on the NY Times, the Washington Post, Time magazine, CNN, Foxnews, NPR, etc are just surface phenomena, and I know that my understanding and perspective on these issues are very limited.

January 22, 2006 @ 12:38 pm | Comment

And, “wai guo ren” is NOT a offensive term in Chinese. If I rank Chinese phrases to describe people from other nations in order of offensiveness it is:

“Yang Gui Zi”/”Gui Lao” , “Yang ren”, “Wai Guo Ren”

In fact, you can also say “Wai Guo Peng You”, meaning foreign friends.

January 22, 2006 @ 12:43 pm | Comment

What many of you exhibit is a general tendency to “misread” China, and apply your own experiences and values to situations happening in China.

The Global Daily magazine in China published a lengthy article last year called “The Misreading of China in 2005”. It lists numerous pieces of news concerning China, and how they were interpreted by the Western media. And then it goes on to dissect each of the interpretations and explain where the misreading lies.

For those of you who read Chinese, here’s the article, read it, it’s quite insightful in my opinion:


Abridged English version:


January 22, 2006 @ 12:48 pm | Comment


doesn’t seem like you have too many chinese friends.

January 22, 2006 @ 2:26 pm | Comment

Interesting blog. Now I understand how deep the gap can be between cultures…. Misunderstanding everywhere. Richard, if you are interested, you can setup a Chinese blog, where you can get a lot thoughtful comments from Chinese also, where you can also improve your Chinese. I am a Chinese, I can speak some English but cannot express me very well with English (especially when arguing something)

January 22, 2006 @ 3:21 pm | Comment

From my point of view, here you may know western-educated thoughts, but not real chinese thoughts……. A bias, also, sadly.

January 22, 2006 @ 3:24 pm | Comment

Richard wrote:
a.) the child screaming about me in a public place while the parents smiled; b.) the girl thinking I didn’t understand and alluding to me in Chinese in a way she wouldn’t if she thought I did understan. She spoke fluent English; she wouldn’t have dreamed of saying in English a foreigner was coming upstairs.

HI Richard, I understand the image A might upset you as I already been in australia for 5 years. Turst me, it is NOT a image like “the mother is encouraging the kids to challenge a person from other country.” As for the girl that you said she spoke fluet english. Understand this: native chinese never speaks fluent english unless they have a full time work in english country for more than about 6,7 years. My english came from my mind in chinese first then transferred to english. This is how most of how chinese speak english. When I was in china, I only have ONE hour english class all my life taught by a english native speaker, other time english teachers are chinese. If this girl never live abroad, she must be like what I said, she seems fluent in mouth, but logic in mind is still chinese. If you don’t believe, test this in taiwan as well, for all they learn english in taiwan, “fluent in mouth, mind is still in chinese.”

January 22, 2006 @ 3:24 pm | Comment

Can we call this a brainwashing too? A little better than Communism, but not much. Just my point of view, sure you can delete them, this is your blog, anyway.

January 22, 2006 @ 3:26 pm | Comment

Regarding to Mongolia:
Emperor KangXi in Qing Dynasty once said: We don’t need to build great wall to defend enemy (He meant Russia here) in north anymore, Mongolia is our Great Wall. I will see this is a great honor for my acestors.

When fighting with russian in qing dynasty, fighting opium war with britain, fighting with japanese, mongolian have contributed so much to this country. They are truely chinese now.

But seems I heard western people crying “Why Why Why do you think you are chinese, you are not! you should be freed, should be independent, should be seperated should be blur blur blur”. China, is always ONE over there. I told you. lol

January 22, 2006 @ 3:43 pm | Comment


the taiwanese are materialists to the bones. when push comes to shove, they may sacrafice their lives, but not their businesses. the recent election of mayor ma to the head of the kmt means a seachange is already in the air.

January 22, 2006 @ 3:43 pm | Comment

Hi LGD. I like the idea of a Chinese language blog similar to this one. I would like to set it up if I were not very stupid where computers are concerned.

January 22, 2006 @ 3:45 pm | Comment

“foreigner in chinese is not only neutral, it’s honorific. all foreigners are guests in china.”

It is indeed an honour to be charged more than a Chinese citizen for goods and services.


If you are trapped in a moutain or fell in a valley inside china, I am sure chinese government save you as a priority because you are “waiguoren”, which will piss other chinese off.

If the same thing happened in australian, I am sure australian government will give equal chance to be saved, not a priority one, which is, fair.

January 22, 2006 @ 3:48 pm | Comment

China Hand wrote, “The ONLY reason, the ONLY reason Tibet independence is such an issue is because it is independence from China. If Tibet does become Independent, and if the Dalai Lama somehow begins adopted an Anti-US mentality, he and Tibet would quickly be thrown in the same bunch as Iran and other evil theocracies by the US. This is all international politics.”
The Dalai Lama has said that if Tibet was returned to the Tibetans that he would like to see the country turned into a giant peace park. He has also been vocally critical of feudalistic practices in Tibet’s past and is an outspoken advocate of religious freedom and human rights in all countries. I hardly see how you can put him in the same category as the Taliban.
As for anti-China sentiment being the only reason for western countries to advocate Tibetan freedom, I’m pretty sure that the PLA’s genocide and banning of religious freedom has something to do with it as well. Just an idea.

January 22, 2006 @ 3:51 pm | Comment


you don’t need a chinese blog, all english version windows XP and windows 2000 can input chinese fonts. Here are a test:

if you see ?????, means you haven’t got chinese language installed. If you something look like chinese but weird, means you might need change the coding setting to let program know they are not english. I am using an english version windows XP. Mac OS X can do the same thing.

January 22, 2006 @ 3:52 pm | Comment

Tibet before 1950:

Some people don’t believe what I said “They use slave skin to make drum” thing.

My point here is not to lower tibetan people and their culture.

My point is, it is rather ridiculous to believe “it was once holy land and ruinned by CCP”.

1, USA has a very good living standard in this world, betther than China I believe. Australia is very good too. Why are they good? There must be answer, right? Healthy social system, equal opportunity, higher technology and well education. Now if you belive tibet was even a place american should be dreaming of, would that mean they had these things too? before 1950? Especially a healthy social system and good education? I doubt it.

2, It sounds like, Egypt was not holy country, Rome was not holy country, no other country is holy except, according to dalai lama, Tibet was. How could they be so lucky? There must be bunch of books teaching you how to build a holy society in tibet which have more value than Aristotle or Adam Smith. You know it is not the case.

3, When chinese invest a lot of money to build Tibet today’s economics, western people critisize that government is trying to destroy their religon. My question is, how can you assume, Tibetan young men are enjoy those poor religous life? They are same as you and me, want chat on the internet, go to a bar have some drinks and then pick up a chick? A lot american in fact assume: my kids should be graduated from havard university MBA and pick up hot chicks in a BMW, but tibetan kids are supposed to living in the temple all the time, worship statue all the time, no girl friends all the time. If CCP introduce Internet in Tibet, “No! That’s not good! They are destroying their religon!!” Jesus Christ!

You are free to check whether tibet were slavery society or not before 1950. Dalai Lama was surely not a slave.

January 22, 2006 @ 4:15 pm | Comment

I think that you have a point (although I still don’t go along with the slave-skin drum angle). Tibet has been viewed romantically by the west in a way that is not realistic. Maybe you should read a book written by a scholar at Michigan called “Prisoners of Shangri-La.” It is about the difference between the reality of Tibet and Tibetan history and how certain people in the west want to see it as a magical ideal place where everyone is happy and holy all day everyday.
Now I’ll meet you half-way and acknowledge that certain people in the west view Tibet through rose-colored glasses. Would you be willing to admit that people in Tibet should be free to have religion if they want to? Or learn their own language in school? As for the great progress that glorious China is supposedly bestowing upon those poor barbarian Tibetans with such great kindness, did they have to kill so many Tibetan people in order to do so? I have also heard quite a lot about how much the Chinese discriminate against ethnically Tibetan people when it comes to jobs.

January 22, 2006 @ 4:28 pm | Comment

3, When chinese invest a lot of money to build Tibet today’s economics, western people critisize that government is trying to destroy their religon. My question is, how can you assume, Tibetan young men are enjoy those poor religous life? They are same as you and me, want chat on the internet, go to a bar have some drinks and then pick up a chick? A lot american in fact assume: my kids should be graduated from havard university MBA and pick up hot chicks in a BMW, but tibetan kids are supposed to living in the temple all the time, worship statue all the time, no girl friends all the time. If CCP introduce Internet in Tibet, “No! That’s not good! They are destroying their religon!!” Jesus Christ!

That hits the hammer on the nail… great post Xin. And I’m glad Liu Yixi accepts that.

We do accept that religious freedom is good. But Tibetans today are not being deproved of their religion. If you go to the city of Lhasa today, there are actually more temples built than before, more efforts in promoting local customs and religion. Beijing was even so concialitatory as to allow Tibetans to have their own leader and observe all their religious customs, provided the leader is politically loyal to China (which is why Beijing points its own Tibetan Banchan Lama and does not recognize Dalai). You tell me which other gov’t in the world is willing to tolerate and cater to another religion in the same degree as China?

You go to Tibet today and talk to the local there, most people actually WELCOME their new way of modern life, and DO NOT want to go back to the days where they spend 8 hours a day praying the the other 5 hours going through ceremonies for the various Gods. Of course they are still able to do these things today in Tibet in one of the many temples built BY THE GOVERNMENT. Tibetan culture is frequently introduced and promoted in Chinese TV. I like Tibetans, I like their culture, and I’d like to visit Lhasa someday. And the gov’t in China today does not promote a climate of rejection and dislike of Tibet’s culture and religion at all, but instead actively promote it and portray it in positive ways. There are even “affirmative action” policies for Tibetan kids in attending college (their standards are much lower than Han’s). So the idea that somehow the Gov’t wants to destroy Tibetan religion is preposterous.

January 22, 2006 @ 4:39 pm | Comment

“Beijing was even so concialitatory as to allow Tibetans to have their own leader and observe all their religious customs, provided the leader is politically loyal to China (which is why Beijing points its own Tibetan Banchan Lama and does not recognize Dalai). You tell me which other gov’t in the world is willing to tolerate and cater to another religion in the same degree as China? ”
China Hand, I have always wondered why it is that an avowedly athiest Marxist government would select the spiritual leader of a Buddhist sect. If the government really endorsed religious freedom, why would it control and monitors Tibetan religious life and institutions?
“So the idea that somehow the Gov’t wants to destroy Tibetan religion is preposterous. ”
I hate to sound cynical and wish that I could agree with you but here is how I see the situation; the government is not openly hostile to religion like it was in the Cultural Revolution (burning temples and so on) but is much more subtle in how they control religious life. I have been to many daojiao guan and fojiao miao in the mainland and found them to be like a museum (with lots of guards in uniforms) compared to how lively and open religious life is in Taiwan. Things are better than thirty years ago but still not good.

January 22, 2006 @ 4:52 pm | Comment

[…] (I hope) for the reader are never about current events, but about my personal experiences in China and the people I meet […]

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