Since China has more than 1.3 billion inhabitants it fascinates me about finding out how do Chinese people behave in public. I have heard from all my friends who have been there some crazy stories, but I think that western people should not judge the social behavior of the Chinese people in the public.
First of all, its the way they have been doing for a centuries. And as the oldest civilization on the planet, they have been doing pretty good.
I am wondering why people from European countries or North American countries always complain about the Chinese public behavior.
Why westerners just cant accept while they live in China the fact that Chinese are there home and westerners are not. Message to western folks:
“You do not like the way it is in China now, you can go back to your home country and be happy!”
Now if you love their culture the same way as I do, you would not mind the social differences, you will embrace it. That is the only way you can truly appreciate their culture.
Here is a funny video about what Chinese people think about foreigners. I think its hillarious and I would love to enjoy this type of public converastion with them:
So what we can learn from this video about Chinese behavior in the public when they see a foreigner?
What comes to my mind right away is that Chinese people are so friendly and open. The guy who just asked a foreigner to practice English is probably one thing that you will hear a lot when living or visiting China.
I’ve also heard that Chinese parents also tell kids to come up to a foreigner and start practicing English. Which I found very good thing. Eventhough some friends of mine that were living there did find it a bit annoying.
If you love Chinese culture, you need to take this opportunity and try to make a new friend, maybe you can exchange English for Chinese lessons. What a great idea to go for a coffee and chat with your new friend. Both of you will be happy.
Asking personal questions in public
Now when you start talking to people in China, you cannot be surpriced if they start to ask you questions about your work, salary or things that you owned. Many will often ask about if you own a car, house and a business.
These things are Tabu in many western countries. Now I am asking why? Are westerners affraid or jealous if one person has certain material things or if he shares how much he makes?
Maybe if we will be more open to ourself in our coutries, we would all be much more happier. Why do we need to pretend we are something. Just say it how it is! Like the Chinese people. LOL!
Talking in Chinese
The other thing that was so cool is the reaction of Chinese people when they hear a foreigner to speak Chinese. Its also not common in Europe. Here people expect you would know some common language like English and not too many people try to speak to you in your local language. That is why people are not so impressed when you really try to speak their language.
And it looks like in China, it is very common.
When that happens, you need to stay humble and do not start boasting with your Chinese skills. From my own personal experience more humble you will stay, more part of the society you will become. And if that is your solely purpose, you will do just fine.
Talking about food with Chinese people
Everytime I see or talk to people in China, it seems to me that they are always eating. Their food is really tasty and I beieve much more healthier.
Be prepared on long conversations about certain foods. Do not be surpriced if they will start telling you about drinking hot water and why its good for your health. Or if they will tell you that your food is so unhealthy. They do not mean it in the wrong way. Also all people I know and even girls, they enjoy very spicy meals. Sometimes they will laugh at you if you try it the way they like to eat it and you will turn red from the spicyness. Do not take it personally.
Not showing negative emotions in public
I think this is one of my personal favorite things to know about Chinese culture. They will hardly display anger behavior in public or start an argument. They thing by doing so they will “lose their fase”, which is very important for them.
I only wish many people in Europe or America will learn this.
So if you want to become part of the society n China, yelling or making problems overthere in public will be major no-no! So do not be embarrassing people in public and keep your emotions under control. That is the way you will earn respect in China.
Are Chinese people gross on the street?
Many of my friends were literaly disgusted when they heard people in China belching, spitting or passing gas in front of others. These behavior are almost non-existent in Europe or America. So it will take you a while to get used to it, but this type of behaviour has something to do with Chinese people and traditional Chinese medicine.
Basically they believe that holding things inside of you is bad for your health. So they are trained since childhood to remove fluids from your body if neccessary to avoid certain health problems.
And since Chinese culture dates way back centuries, I think they have proved their point.
Smoking in public in China
In recent years in America or Europe many coutries started a war against smoking. We all know about smoking and non-smiking areas, but in China it is virtually non-existent. They might not even ask you a permission if they can smoke near you. Again, you would need to get over this otherwise you will start arguing and remember that is a big no-no if you want to survive the cultural shock in that country.
Staring at foreigners and body distance
There are plenty videos online showing that Chinese people are staring at foreigners, especially if you will be at some small town or village. Do not be surpriced, like one of my friend, who told me that Chinese people came to him and start touching his arms or even cheeks.
Its just they want to feel you, because you look so different to them. They would not harm you, I think they actually like to see you being different.
Also when you will have chat with Chinese, they might sit very close to you. Either next to you or infront of you. So it will be very funny if you try to make a bit space, because they will immediately close the distance again, no matter how hard you will try.
Personally it makes me feel important. Chinese people care about speaking to you, learning about your culture and you should show them the same attitude about learning their culture.
I hope you enjoyed this post and let me know if you got some of these experiences when living in China or if there are more differences in Chinese public and social behavior. If you find this article useful, please do not be affraid to share it to your friends. Lets start spreading more information about Chinese culture.