20 Things I Hate about China, Part 2

I guess that after reading the first part of this article, some people might have changed their holiday destination if it was China. The last blog entry could have been perceived by some readers as harsh, cruel or ruthless, however this is what frustrates me personally and this is my point of view only based on the experience I gained working, traveling and living with Chinese people. Here are the other top 10 out of 20 most annoying things in China:

11. Open windows in the winter.

thumb first snow in hunan

One of the signs of approaching winter in China are Chinese people wearing a few more winter clothing outside and much heavier clothing inside the buildings. The reason is that it is much colder inside their houses than outside. It means that when it seems to be pretty sunny outdoor in early December, you might be freezing in your flat anyway, like I was at that time. However, the most annoying thing is that Chinese people always leave their windows and doors wide open all year long no matter how cold it is and what temperature outside is: on the trains, in the restaurants, at schools, in flats and houses- everywhere!! For God’s sake!! It’s soooo cold, people, can’t you feel it?! What do they do to warm themselves up then? They buy a wooden electric box with a big whole (it looks like a mini piano). They sit down on a coach or sofa and keep their feet inside the box, cover their legs with thick cotton or wool material (it might be a blanket, bed sheet or quilt) to keep the warmth and finally plug it in so they can control the level of heat.

Yes, they do it while all doors and windows stay wide open!!! People in small villages make wooden tables with a big whole in between and put some wood underneath to set the fire and cover it with a cotton blanket so they can warm their feet under the blanket where the fire is already on. During the winter my heater air conditioner was useless as it did not give much heat. I was simply freezing at night sleeping with super warm winter clothes and my gloves on.  Therefore, I hate winters in China. For me, Chinese are not ready for heavy snow and freezing winters at all. Late December, whole January and February were one of the worst months here for me. I even had to stop traveling at that time as the temperatures were too low for me. The other thing I have noticed during the winter time is that Chinese always wear their winter clothes indoors. They never change their clothes when they come indoors. They cook a dinner at home wearing their coats, eat a lunch in the restaurant with their jackets on and work in offices or shops also wearing sweaters, hats, gloves and scarves.  Shanghai was pretty humid this winter but Hunan province was one of the worst when it comes to winter temperatures unlike Chongqing, which is 5 hours by bus from the place where I stay, where it was pretty warm in late January (more or less +12 degrees). In Huayuan, my bathroom was very cold and it was tough for me to take a shower without shaking and I used all possible methods to make myself warm such as keeping all lights on all the time or using electric fan. Fortunately, it is getting much warmer at the moment and I can enjoy the nice weather.

12. Lack of certain cosmetics.

China can be a nightmare for girls when it comes to make-up cosmetics, good quality shower gels, shampoos, hair conditioners and so on. The most frustrating is the lack of deodorants! Actually, there are some available in big cities such as Beijing/ Guangzhou/ Shanghai but certainly not readily. Unfortunately, stores in Hunan province do not carry deodorants at all. Why? Some say that Chinese simply do not need deodorants because of their healthy diet and some other genetic  factors their bodies do not emit that much foul smelling odors as European people do. Therefore, you can find them only in big cities where there are many foreigners. For the first few weeks here I had been using the cosmetics I took with me from home. However I remember that when I ran out of them I struggled a lot. Without dental floss, deodorants and proper tooth paste I felt really uncomfortable so I started ordering them from stores in Beijing and Shanghai via the Internet. The price was much higher but it was definitely worth it. The other thing is the quality of make-up cosmetics, it is really bad. I could not find my favourite powder or eye liner and those ones I bought here caused a skin rush on my face so I simply stopped putting make-up on my face. Moreover, shampoo I have been using makes my hair extremely dry and the shower gel does not soften my skins properly as it should do. There are also many fake cosmetics sold on the market as well as in local shops.

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13. Pushy people.

thumb xian market

Chinese are overall a friendly and kind-hearted population, however they are also way too pushy when it comes to foreigners. There are three main things which drive mad here:

1. Being pushy when trying to sell something to me.

Example 1: I arrive at Huayuan bus station which is located in the centre of the town. The taxi drivers are waiting for me outside the bus so they can offer me a ride to the school. I get off the bus and they keep screaming in Chinese “Where are you going?!” or in English “Taxi! Taxi!” I ignore them as I want to take a walk but they keep pushing me and trying to drag me into their cars opening the car doors. I need to push them away to get out of the crowd and go over the other side of the street. They don’t stop following me for the next couple of minutes.

Example 2: I go to the shop to buy some t-shirt. As soon as I enter the shop 3 members of staff start to follow me showing me some coats, jeans and shirts saying in English “It’s beautiful!” They do not even ask me first what I am trying to find. All they want is to sell to me as much as possible. I say nicely that I am not looking for a coat, I am trying to find a black t-shirt. They say there are no black t-shirts available in stock but instead of this they have a lovely black coat to sell. WHAT!!?

2. Trying to have a control over me and everything I do.

People often ask me “Where are you going?”, “What did you have for your lunch?”, “What did you do this weekend?” and I do not mind it. However, they sometimes cross the line and try to know absolutely everything about what I do every day with the exact time. Some teachers call me and the first question they ask is “Where are you now?” When I say I’m home, the next question is “Why are you at home?” When I say “I’m working” they ask “What are you working on?” and soon.  When I do shopping in the supermarket people look into my basket and touch the products I buy in order to find out what it is (madness) and make some comments on the food I buy (when I buy fruits and vegetables they say I am on a diet or I must be cooking for my boyfriend and when I buy some fast food they say I can’t get used to Chinese food or I am fat). Moreover, when I text someone, teachers and students are likely to stare at my phone and read my messages asking me “Who is Andrew?” (The guy who I was texting at that moment). When I use my laptop in the office, teachers keep looking at websites I surf or read my e-mails. Sometimes Chinese people’s behaviour is unacceptable and way too rude to me. I mean it’s rude to me but probably they can’t see anything wrong with it. It’s just the way they want to find out something more about me. Maybe they are just curious about my life. I don’t know but I often consider their behaviour as disrespectful. Chinese, I need some privacy!!

3. Putting some pressure on me when it comes to eating

Chinese have three big meals a day: breakfast (6.00- 8.00), lunch (11.30- 13.00) and dinner (17.00-19.00). It is completely different from my eating habits as I prefer to have 6 or 7 small meals every 2-3 hours. They don’t understand that. So when it’s dinner time they need to make sure I show up on time and eat as much food as they want me to eat and drink as much alcohol as I can. They can call me 4 times to tell me the dinner is ready even when I say “No, thanks. I’ve already eaten and I’m full” (in Chinese). They don’t get it though and keep annoying me repeating it many times. When I get angry they put even more pressure on me saying “You must eat now. The headteacher will get angry” Whatever people! I often end up eating the food I don’t want to and drinking Chinese wine I hate with a smile on my face to entertain everyone around. How annoying!

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14. Bad hygiene.

thumb hanging out with locals

I have noticed that Chinese don’t pay much attention to their daily hygiene routine. It seems like they don’t have their hygiene routine at all. I’m not saying here all of them don’t take a shower and stuff, just trying to explain that most of them have really bad hygiene habits such as changing their underwear every three days, taking a shower once a week, not brushing their teeth at all, not using body creams and other cosmetics, not shaving off and so on. They have a bad breath especially in the morning and their teeth look horrible like they have never ever seen a tooth paste before and the bad body odor might kill you. Here are some examples. Every time I enter the classroom and walk through to ask random students some questions it smells like they don’t change their socks. It is sometimes unbearable. The other day I asked one of my students “What is your favourite day of the week and why?” and he replied “Saturday because I can take a shower”. WHAT!? At first I thought it was a joke but my students quickly explained to me that there is no hot water in the school so during the winter they can take a shower only at the weekends when they get back home. I just couldn’t believe. How come? They do morning exercises at 9 am, then boys play basketball and girls play badminton or jump a rope on the school yard during their lunch break, go back to the school for afternoon classes, then run and dance in the afternoon and evening exercises at 9 pm before bed time. These students are so physically active and they need to take a bath or shower at least once a day. If they don’t, that means they stink all day long till they go back home on Saturday. Wow, still can’t believe it!! When I told them that I must take a shower at least once a day they were like “Wow! Teacher, you are so clean”. Additionally, during Chinese New Year (see “Happy Chinese New Year 2012!”) I noticed that people didn’t take a shower at all. There was no hot water there and they just washed their faces and went to sleep wearing the same clothes as they wore all day long.

15. Bad quality products.

There are two possibilities when buying an item in China. It is either super cheap and super crappy, as it will probably break down after you touch it, or it’s very expensive (for Chinese standards which equal European prices) and its quality is very good. I was so frustrated when I bought an IPod which turned out to be a fake and I had to send it back to the seller, shoes which fell into pieces after a week or so and a bike which keeps breaking down (two days ago both tyres got punctured). Unlike China, Hong Kong is a place where you can get good quality products for a little money. Therefore, every time I visit Hong Kong I make a list of all items I need and get from there.

16. Lack of rules on the roads.

thumb traffic jam in beijing

Junior 1 campus is a 20 minute walk from the main campus where I live and where Junior 2, 3 and all senior classes take place. For this reason I bought a bike to get conveniently from one place to another. Additionally, I ride a bike to the supermarket when I need to do some shopping and go to other villages around Huayuan in my free time. To be honest, every time I ride my bike I keep getting frustrated as people seem not to have a clue how to behave on the road. The red light is always green for them and they always try to overtake. It’s pretty scary I must say especially when I listen to music while cycling. After a bike accident which happened to me about a month ago when the taxi driver drove and crashed into my bike so powerfully that the bike wheel broke into two pieces, I am extra careful now. Fortunately, nothing happened to me. I just fell on the ground and got some bruises. Chinese, when it comes to driving, go from one extreme to another. They either drive a car freakily fast and dangerous or way too slow. The bus drivers are the worst though. Every time I get into the bus I pray to get off it in one piece. It’s madness. You can get sick because of unexpected turbulences. Once I was in rush and took a motorbike from the school gate to get to the bus station. It was raining and the guy was driving so fast and I was pretty scary. He didn’t even give me a crash helmet. Since that time I prefer to walk. It’s the safest option.

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17. Tasteless sweets.

thumb chinese buns

When I feel like eating something sweet, going to a shop to grab some chocolate isn’t the best idea. Why? The chocolate is tasteless here. Not only the chocolate itself but also the other sweets such as cookies, muffins, biscuits or lollipops. I don’t know why. I’ve heard before that Chinese are still learning how to make a good chocolate (so far with no results) but I didn’t know that all sweets might be like that. I am used to eating delicious and creamy éclairs, chocolate brownies, yummy cakes and I am addicted to Maltesers! I can keep eating Chinese sweets and it can’t satisfy me in terms of consistency and good taste. The only one product which taste as good as it should is Pringles crisps but I’m not a big fan of them. So Chinese, there is one more thing to work on- SWEETS!

18. Giving wrong directions.

For unknown reason, if you ask a Chinese for direction, he or she will always tell you where to go. Yes, always even…… if he or she has no clue where the place you are heading to is!!!! I don’t know if they want you to get to a wrong place on purpose or they are just too kind or/ and proud to say “I’m sorry. I simply don’t know” They look at your map, they think for ages to give you the answer being so sure so you believe them. After a 20-minute walk you ask another person for help and you find out the way you’ve gone through so far was wrong and you need to turn around and completely change your direction, mostly go all the way back till you get to the place where you asked the first person for direction. Wrrrrr! One of my friends explained to me that surely most of the time Chinese don’t understand our Chinese language and they don’t want to upset us by saying “I don’t understand your Chinese” so they just pretend they understand what they are asked for and show a random direction to get rid of us.

19. The number of students in the classroom.

thumb junior 1 class

Teaching more or less 80 students in one classroom is not an easy job, especially when it comes to practicing oral English. It’s almost impossible to ask each student a question and wait for his/ her response for more than a second. For me, as a teacher, it is something I really struggle with as I want them all, one by one, to practice oral English. Because of this, I don’t know all the names of my students by heart and when I see their faces in the street I can’t tell what class they belong to. I only know that I have seen them before.  Of course, there are some active students whose names I will never forget but there are only a few of them. The rest of the class is very quiet and, will all respect, all Chinese faces sometimes seem to be the same for me. I recognize all teachers though and I know their English names. You can image what happens when all of my students start to talk, chat or shout. It gives me a headache. Junior 1 and Junior 2 are very active when we work in groups. They have lots of ideas which they want to share with me- all of them at the same time. In this case, the best idea is to drill pronunciation all together, but most of the time they want to talk to me one by one which is extremely difficult.

20. Bureaucracy.

There is always a stack of paper to fill in when it comes to applying for Z visa or extend the L visa. This is the time when I often lose my patience. What’s even more frustrating, Chinese confuse themselves with bureaucracy. You can go to the police station in Chongqing when you are asked to provide some documents from Hunan police station. At Hunan police station you get told off for not providing all documents from Chongqing police station and you are sent there to get more papers and so on. It’s pretty much like a never ending story. The next annoying thing is that Chinese, for some reason, are not willing to translate to you what, for example, the policeman or policewoman just said. They just say “It’s ok.”, “We are ok”, etc. I guess language abilities don’t allow them to translate word by word properly so they just give up and say what they say.

thumb dsc04081 1

Despite all of these, mentioned in the 1st as well as 2nd part of the note, difficulties and frustrating things I find in China, I am still enjoying myself a lot. Undoubtedly, I’m having a time and adventure of my life and I wouldn’t have a thing. As long as I am myself and don’t fuss over trifles, keep smiling and stay positive I’m absolutely fine to face another challenges! CHINA, bring it on!!


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Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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38 thoughts on “20 Things I Hate about China, Part 2”

    1. Avatar of Agness

      Hey! Thanks for you comment. I’ve checked your blog- it’s awesome! Looks like you enjoy yourself a lot there. Guess what! When I was looking for a job in China I sent my Cv to Aston English and wanted to work in the same place you are now- what a coincidence! Do you have twitter at all? Would love to stay in touch! Cheers!

    1. Avatar of Sasha

      The reason why you feel cold in winter is mainly because you are in Southern Provinces like Chongqing, Hunan. It is only the custom of people there.
      Try some Northern cities, it would be more comfortable and warm staying at home during winter. They live totally different lifestyle with people in Southern cities.

      You can find the cosmetics you need in cosmetics shops like Manning and Watson, but will be hard to find in supermarkets. If you don’t mind, you can try to make some local friends to help you with choosing cosmetics and utilities.

      The reason why they ask you what are you doing or forcing you to have a meal is totally a tradition in China, and it show they kindness from their perspective. That’s what mothers did to their children.

      You can contact me if you find any other questions living in China. Hope you enjoy your life there.

    1. Avatar of you are garbage

      What qualifications do you have to Scold the Chinese??? the biggest prick people is you nation!!! you nation is a Pile of Shit!!!!you nation is Fascist Retard!!

      1. Avatar of Dolph G

        Thank you. This was the other point I forgot to bring up. When you comment about things you don’t like, obvious things like, well, the potential to be run down on the street every time you cross it, you tend to get replies like this. It doesn’t matter how you word it, how nicely you say it…

        If you’re going to China, you either have to lie and say, “It’s the most beautiful place with kind people and wonderful experiences” or you get called names by people who have never seen anything outside their city, yet alone outside their country.

  1. Avatar of East Asia Power
    East Asia Power

    East Asians (Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese) have fewer apocrine sweat glands compared to people of other descent, and the lack of these glands make East Asians less prone to body odor. The reduction in body odor and sweating may be due to adaptation to colder climates by their ancient Northeast Asian ancestors. Axillary odor is known to be determined by the ABCC11 gene that
    also codes the type of earwax one has. Most of the population secrete “wet” earwax, however, East Asians are genetically predisposed for the allele that codes the “dry” type earwax, associated with a reduction in axillary odor.


    1. Avatar of Nance

      Have to disagreed on this. Although I’m originally from the U.S., both me and my Chinese born mother would be drench with sweat after coming back from a simple > 1 hr walk. And we shower often because, fortunately, we do have hot water at our apartment at our disposal.

  2. Avatar of G G

    I agree with you! I went to china before! People have very very bad smell! I feel like they do not brush their teeth at all! I cannot stand their mouth smell! Chinese food is good, but quite nasty! It is too oily and low quality!! Chinese people always want to show how smart they are, but they have no life in general, except eating and working!

  3. Avatar of Stephanie

    “Unlike China, Hong Kong is a place where you can get good quality products for a little money. Therefore, every time I visit Hong Kong I make a list of all items I need and get from there.”
    I LOVE how u worded that!! HK is owned by China, yet we will never be the same as China. I am in shame to be called Chinese; I call myself Cantonese or a Hongkonger.
    The thing is, HK is DIFFERENT than China. They own us because they need a place to buy infant powder (99% of theirs are poisonous), etc..
    HK people have way more manners and hygiene. Whats sad is Chinese people in Hong Kong, messing up EVERYTHING (making our streets dirty, stocks are messed up because of our REAL designer brand sales, etc.).
    When I was little, I wanted to work in Hong Kong after I finish my oversea studies. Now, I don’t think I’m going too.
    Thank you for reading this, and be happy you’re not Chinese.
    Hong Kong needs help :(. Free us from this-this disgusting place called China!!

      1. Avatar of Siggy

        China is responsible for a lot. Five diseases have come out of China.they are responsible for the decline of the elephant of the rhino tiger, god knows how many other animals, why don’t they leave the wildlife alone. They have no respect for nature. Disgusting .

  4. Avatar of Dolph G

    China is a horrible place, especially for kids. I made the mistake of taking my family to China for a job I was offered. Was offered more money and a place to live with all expenses paid. Thought it would be fantastic. It’s a year I sincerely wish I could take back.

    My daughter was constantly alienated and treated like a zoo animal. People staring at her, talking to her in Chinese RELENTLESSLY (I mean, they couldn’t grasp that she didn’t speak the language, so they’d keep talking to her, louder and louder), even poking her. At 7 years old, trying to teach her things like responsibility. In China, a very difficult task, as no one is responsible for anything. They ignore virtually EVERY law they have. A Chinese law book is the biggest piece of fiction you can buy.

    And the police. We were once accosted by several really drunk men who would not leave us alone. I was at the point where it was going to get violent, but I was with my daughter, and really wanted to avoid that. So, a police car was going by, I stuck my hand out and managed to get his attention. With the help of someone on their phone, I managed to communicate with them that these men were following us, getting in our personal space, and becoming agitated and threatening. There response to me was, “It’s because of what you did.” I said, “What did I do?” They replied, “You know what you did.” This line of questioning went on and on, and I never actually did find out what I did. Later, I was told by a Chinese worker at my company that in Shanghai, the worst thing you could ever do was call the police. They don’t help, they just make things worse, as they have no understanding of the law and are very uneducated and lazy.

    It was after that, that I noticed police cars always had their red and blue lights on, regardless of if there was no emergency, they weren’t working, sometimes they were just sitting in front of the police station.

    The ignorance everything was enough to drive one mad. Within weeks, I was asking myself, “Why do they do this?” and “Why do they do that?” and the Chinese I would ask would generally reply, “I never thought of that.” And I’d think, “HOW???”

    The pollution was so bad in Shanghai for a while that you couldn’t see a block away. And yet, at night, it seemed like every street corner had a group of charcoal bar-b-que vendors selling snacks. The smoke coming from these things was incredible, and they were everywhere. I said to an acquaintance, “If you’re having such problems with the air, why do you allow these bar-b-ques?” The reply, “Oh, there’s only a few of them, the bad air is the government.”

    I’ll tell you, if they ever do have a revolution, it’s going to be one of the stupidest ones ever, if they’re just randomly blaming the government with no understanding of how or why these things are happening. I did a quick estimate on how many bar-b-ques could potentially be in the city, and worked it to about 12000 on any given night.

    We put my daughter in an international school that was provided by the company I was working for, but quickly took her out of it and put her in a much more expensive one for a few reasons. First, the discipline of the children at this school was deplorable. I went in a few times for meetings and to see the school and it seemed like the majority of the school, on breaks, were running through the halls screaming. Teachers would just walk past them ignoring the behaviour. Another factor was that it wasn’t really an international school. My daughter was one of about a dozen non Asians in the school. As well, she was getting yelled at by teachers for asking questions. I went in for a meeting and they even told me that. “She is quite clever, works hard. The only bad behaviour she has is questions. She likes to ask questions.”


    The last straw was, I went in there for a meeting with the headmaster to talk about some disturbing things I heard they were teaching, mostly about hating Japan, which I thought was wrong to be doing with a grade 1 class. As I walked in the school, a giant television screen shone messages from over the front door. The message was “No smoking” and a bunch of Chinese gobbledy goop, probably explaining why smoking was bad. As I approached the headmaster’s office, I could smell smoke. Seriously, I’m not making this up. Giant televised sign saying “No Smoking” and in the hallway of the headmaster’s office, two guys smoking away. I pointed them out to the headmaster, and she said, “That’s okay, they’re teachers.”

    I didn’t even set foot in the office. I said, “I just wanted to let you know that she will not be coming back, EVER.”

    That’s just the angle from being a parent. The list you’ve provided covered quite a lot of the other problems, but trust me, with so many other countries in the world, China may just be the one you want to skip.

    Go to Japan. Japan was an interesting trip, quite a different culture, but not as maddening as China.

    1. Avatar of Sydney Ma

      The truth is often painful at first. It pains me to even think about it for I am a Chinese girl who has often defended the traditions, institutions, values and dignity of the Children of Heaven.

      After living in China for more than 9 months, I have come to a most repugnant conclusion. I realize now that much of the problems in Chinese society, and a plethora of problems there are, are not from the Chinese government (not a surprise to me since I am a long time China watcher suspicious of the anti government rhetoric of the west). What is surprising is that the myriad problems within Chinese society comes from the behavior, values and the beliefs of its people, a people that with all their traditions of wisdom behave in the most atrocious, despicable manner towards each other today. In a sense, I’d always expected this but were perhaps too proud to admit it and needed first hand experience for verification. Now I cannot escape that basic truth.

      I once remember long ago watching a documentary in the US. A Chinese man said that the problems with China is that the nation has so many “low quality people”. I remember feeling palpably shaken and offended. Angry even at these words. Surely this is racist propaganda from the west permeating a gullible if not corrupt Chinese mind. I will detail my opinions formed from my experiences and they may be offensive at first to many overseas Chinese and even some mainland Chinese but ultimately I hope for us, all of us, to reflect on the veracity of my reasons. I sincerely hope that my experiences are only representative of Beijing or other northern cities and places. Indeed, in my experience, people from the more developed South are better which you’d expect as the South is far more developed and better educated than the North. Two disclaimers: This is not to say that the media in the west isn’t racist against the Chinese. It most certainly is. In fact, Asians in general I believe are some of the most discriminated against groups in the US. Also I sincerely hope that people will put this in context, not seeing it as a rant but as social criticism and thus not react to it instinctively but as food for reflection.

      The Chinese people especially in the north, display selfishness, rudeness, greed, ignorance, and pettiness the likes I have never seen before. There are too many examples from my own experience to give an illustration of all their deficiencies. But for those who are in China and who can speak passable Chinese, I’d like to offer you one experiment so that the point my be partially illustrated to yourself. Ask a sample of Chinese women what their hobbies and interests are. Take note how many of them say “shopping” and “sleeping” just to get a taste of what they are like.

      Granted, this kind of shallowness shouldn’t be a demonstration of any kind of deep defect on the Chinese population of course. It’s just shallowness, partially excused by the fact that capitalism is so new to Chinese. But it is a surface of an iceberg and it is indicative of deeper problems with modern China and its people.

      In my experience, many Chinese are quick to blame their government for all the problems in their society such as air pollution, traffic, corruption etc. These are all real problems. Moreover these are problems faced by almost all of the world’s developing economies and many of the developed ones too. But what is interesting in the Chinese case is that the Chinese people often do the blaming based on rumor and from an ignorant conception of themselves and the rest of the world. Take one example. I know someone in Beijing who is the CEO of a large international company. Though I can’t be sure because I don’t know him that well, he seems otherwise a gentle and kind man but he displays a kind of ignorance and hypocrisy that is common in the Chinese people. When I told him I was an American, the first thing he mentioned to me was how much he admired the American government and how defective his own government is. I was instantly curious. Why was he so approving of American style governance? What made the US government so much better in his eyes? What has the Chinese government done to deserve such opprobrium? He mentioned that the Chinese government has done little to narrow the wealth gap and made the air less polluted in Beijing.

      Then I asked him what car he drives. He said he just bought a very large American style SUV. He also plans to buy an even bigger SUV and moreover already owns several other luxury cars. Surely he is aware and ashamed of his contributions to the bad air quality in Beijing? Doesn’t seem to me like he is even aware of his behavior as a contributing factor. I also asked how many houses he has. He has three. Three large houses. Again, he doesn’t seem to be aware that his behavior and that of those in his tax bracket are contributing in buying up property they don’t even use but as a mark of mere patrician vanity to the fact that so many Chinese, i.e., the 99% beneath his economic class can’t afford houses in China.

      He is part of the problem. I choose this example not because it is so exceptional (rather it is typical) but it is so representative of larger problems. If the government had made stricter controls on vehicles, many Chinese like him would complain that this was “totalitarianism” in preventing people from their “right” to own a large American SUV. Indeed, the government already taxes some luxury and gas consuming vehicles so that they cost twice as much as they do in the US but that is not preventing Chinese from buying them whenever they get a chance. In Shanghai, it’s even worse. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a Maserati or a Lamborgini, cars which get even worse mileage per gallon than American SUVs. There’s no doubt in my mind that the people sitting behind the wheels of these vehicles bitch and moan all the time about how ineffective their government is at preventing air pollution completely oblivious to the fact that they are a large part of the problem. Of course, to them, the problem of bad air quality is the government’s fault never the Chinese people’s ridiculous need for ostentatious displays to garner social approval. In many Chinese people’s minds, the Chinese public is never the problem. They are the solution. And changes to the government is just the antidote to all of China’s ills. It’s difficult to run a large country with such an ignorant and uneducated population and the “solutions” many propose will make things far worse. The government has to balance growth with environmental protection and in my opinion, it has done that better than any country in history, certainly better than the US and England during comparable times of development. When will Chinese people start buying less cars, stop littering, start recycling and in general doing their share to clean up the environment, an environment they have degraded?

      It’s becomes painfully obvious to me how something like the Great Leap Forward could happen in China where millions starved. When a society is built on so many layers of superficiality, bullshit and hypocrisy, and passing off responsibility to others, getting at the truth to solve real problems becomes impossible.

      They are blind to their own behavior and moreover show an incredible naivete of America. Perhaps it’s because of too many rap videos or other stupid sitcom shows or even western propaganda of the western lifestyle and the “American dream” (which has always been just that, a dream) but many Chinese people see that lifestyle or at least popular images of that lifestyle in the media and probably think that that is the norm in the US. They then automatically attribute that “success” to the wondrous perfection of the US government. Rather than the real cause for America’s wealth (or at least that of its corporations and its 1%), such as the availability of resources (often obtained through aggressive and morally if not legally illicit means), of American willingness to accept new ideas, of the long hard battle by its citizens for the rule of law, etc, it is the structure of its government that is the attributed cause in many Chinese people’s minds.

      I often tell people here that the US is just as economically polarized as China. I also tell them that corruption is a serious problem in the US (of course, it’s “de facto” corruption but isn’t that just as bad?) and that the president and the congress in both parties are essentially completely controlled by the corporations and the 1/10th of 1 percent, their financial lifeline, and that the US was once even more polluted than China is today. Despite the fact that all this is supported with a wealth of empirical evidence, it usually elicits incredulous stares; surely no place on earth is as polluted/corrupt/inefficient/poor as China? They are completely ignorant of all the injustices that happen in the US. Again, their ignorance runs in so many directions it’s hard to keep track.

      Moreover, it’s incredible how little people know how to behave among others. Basic etiquette that all civilized societies must have (such as not cutting in line) often show little practice in China. People are routinely run down by cars running red lights. I have been hit by a car simply walking in a parking lot quite recently because the driver was oblivious to what was going on as he backed his car out of the stall, displaying no consideration for pedestrians. Luckily it was just a minor bump without any injury but many people are not so fortunate and are hit by idiotic drivers with little regard for other people’s (and perhaps their own) lives. I can’t emphasize how often this occurs and how even more incredibly, this kind of behavior is not met with any more serious reactions from others who stand by. Much of what passes as unacceptable behavior in other countries are accepted without anyone doing anything to curtail it.

      The traffic problems here also stem from incredible ignorance and selfishness. People run red lights, pedestrians cross whenever they feel like it not realizing that this endangers others and moreover causes huge traffic inefficiency. The government has recently spent millions putting up fences near roads and center dividers and putting crossing guards (which in China is meant to guide adults and not children to cross the road like it is in the west) and enforcing the existent rules of the road often in ingenious ways. This is the right way to go. But I feel incredibly sympathetic to their plight of fighting such behavior in that the behavior that these improvements are fighting against is a tide of ignorance, a tide composed of a billion selfish and ignorant people all of whom thinking that they are an exception to any rule. A lack of insight that one’s own behavior has ramifications and multiplier effects within society also contributes. For example, many Chinese people reason very linearly, rationalizing their behavior by thinking that since they are not hurting anyone by crossing the road (or running a red light) they should be allowed to do it. They don’t think in nuanced and comprehensive ways. They don’t take into account that when they do things like cross in traffic, others see it and are thus encouraged to follow in like manner. This then encourages drivers to behave in dangerous ways such as weave through jay walking pedestrians and so on. The end result is a vicious cycle ending in dangers which can all be avoided.

      I believe that the problem just illustrated is analogous to other problems such as corruption and many other things which plague modern China. When you have social pressure and ignorance of consequences of one’s action that all encourage things like bribes, you have at the end of a long spiraling chain which descend into the depths of a very deep shit hole. The implicit Chinese social system of guanxi puts enormous pressures to fulfill social obligations that can turn venal and it is this pressure at the root of so my corrupt practices in China today. It becomes so obvious to an outsider like myself. It is the responsibility of its citizens to take notice and change these problematic practices and values.

      Public health is also a huge problem that at its very root, stems not from governmental incompetence or malfeasance but mostly from public ignorance, selfishness and superstition. People routinely spit, blow snot rockets, have their children urinate and make bowl movements, and puke on the street completely unaware of the serious health hazards this posses. Things like SARS and H7N9 and many routine flus are spread quickly in China because people’s lack of personal hygiene and responsible behavior. Hepatitis is common in China. People complain about the air quality all the time but smoking causes far more health issues than smog but so many people smoke in public that it is a far bigger threat to public safety. The common sight of someone worrying about the air then lighting up a cigarette would be hilarious if it weren’t for the fact that their cigarette contributes to the decline of health in others.

      The ignorance and hypocrisy is merely the tip of the iceberg when detailing what is wrong today with many Chinese people. There is also incredible dishonesty. Much more so than even in American society in my opinion. In talking with many Chinese, they are well aware of this social problem (how could they not be?) but are quick to blame the fact that there are so many people in their country making it very competitive and the fact that most people receive poor education. All that may very well be the case but I have been to many countries where the people are even poorer and less educated and I don’t always have to count my change in worrying about being short changed in those countries.

      For example, when I got my current apartment, I was told that it was a two bedroom apartment. That’s what was sold to me. When I moved in, I found one of the doors to a bedroom locked. I was then told completely casually by the rental agent that the family wants to use that room for storage and that I was not allowed to use it, initial promises and the lease be damned. Unfortunately for them, and unlike most Chinese people, I actually care about truth and justice and threatened to sue them. I called the cops and had a locksmith sent to my house and open the lock. Of course, since the lease clearly stipulates that the whole apartment was mine to use, they knew they didn’t have a chance in court and would lose and would have to pay my lawyer fees and storage fees; they capitulated and now I have complete use of the whole apartment. Most Chinese people have put their tails between their legs and caved under the demands of the landlord not wanting to stir up “trouble” and moreover thinking their behavior “civilized” when it is just cowardly and shortsighted. They would have swallowed their flickering sense of resentment and injustice and merely complained to their friends while doing absolutely nothing about it.

      Again, this kind of dishonesty is so common in China that people are now use to it and it happens because people don’t give a damn. Lies are told as if they were greetings. There is no sense of civic responsibility either for their own behavior or in dealing with others. It happens everywhere in Beijing at least and all the time. Everyone that I know living in China has many stories just like this. Again, the police (who even gone to the great lengths of giving the senior mother of the landlord a severe tongue lashing for the behavior of her family) and the legal system, i.e., the representatives of authority and the “despotic” government, were the good guys protecting my rights while the despicable behavior are from ordinary Chinese citizens. In the US, consumer rights came at the end of long, hard battles by citizens who cared about justice. Many sacrifices were made. I am doubtful that the Chinese people today are willing to make those sacrifices and moreover, I am more worried that their lack of civic responsibility will be masked by rationalizations that attribute spurious causes such as blaming the government for problems of their own deficiencies. Much of the formal institutions to protect people’s rights are already in place in China. But how will they be put in practice if people don’t have the wisdom, personal responsibility and the sense of justice to carry out actions? They need to be exercised by a competent public to work. They don’t work by magic.

      That’s not to say the government is perfect. They should have instituted many measures much earlier. But the thing is, they admit this. Take a look at the speech given by Xi and Li at the 18th congress to see such candid admissions. They take personal responsibility. In the end, I believe that at least the central PRC government is not only one of the most competent but also most moral governments in the world. It’s not just what they have done but what they have had to go against. To lift half a billion of the world’s poorest and most ignorant people from abject poverty is nothing short of miraculous. Despite the large economic inequalities that exists in China today, I believe that the positives of living a minimally decent life far outweighs the negatives of extreme inequality (perhaps that’s just my Rawlsian intuitions kicking in). In the US, the rise of inequality has not been coupled with a rise in pulling people out of poverty. In fact the opposite has happened over the last 40 years.

      Also, while the Chinese government is an embodiment of a deliberative democracy, it stops short of allowing full freedom of expression and transparency. But after living here, I no longer have the faith in the Chinese people (as I once did) to be responsible with that freedom. I now quite firmly believe that that will take more time for Chinese people to be able to handle living in a fully deliberative and modern democratic state for that kind of state requires a level of wisdom and civic responsibility that the Chinese people do not currently possess. The Chinese government is right to gradually step in that direction instead jumping straight in by giving everyone full freedom of expression. It’s impossible to build a fully deliberative democracy when such large percentages of its population are concerned with nothing more than money, sleeping and shopping and shy away from any kind of deep reflection and sincere debate about issues that really matter. If the Chinese people spent as much time and energy learning about the world and publicly deliberating the problems that plague their society as they do playing video games, text messaging, watching vapid American sitcoms and shopping for trendy brands, China would already be a completely advanced country and moreover a genuinely democratic one. What’s stopping them is not their government but themselves.

      The problems with China are many but they are often embodied within its people. I can’t emphasize how normal the above behavior is. You see it almost everyday. You see people obnoxiously honking their horns for minutes at someone blocking the road with their obnoxious SUVs then proceed to block the road with their own obnoxious SUVs. At one time, Chinese people looked down on foreign others as barbarians, people who did not have the social refinement, education, and virtues of the Chinese. But now it is the Chinese people who must learn to be civilized. It will take time. I have no doubt that eventually they will move in that direction but like all developed nations, it took great changes within society, within individuals, to effect change. It starts with taking personal responsibility. The last message to the Chinese people I’d like to give is that if you want to see what the causes of those problems that face you are, take a look in the mirror and you have its source.

  5. Avatar of BlondeInChina

    I am an American that has lived in China for over two years. I feel that a lot of the comments and hate on here is a result of not knowing many actual Chinese people, or much about Chinese culture. For example, have to ever noticed the little dots and dashes on the sidewalks and even in the subway stations? Have you ever wondered why those were there, or have you ever found them to just be really annoying? They are there for the blind. When they walk on flat ground its dashes, and when they get to an intesection of some sort, it turns to dots. This is just one example of things that you may just not understand about China.
    Although China has it’s problems, what country dosent? One of the things about living in a diffrent country is accepting their culture, and not judging them for it. It’s true that a lot of people will throw their trash on the ground instead of throwing it in a trash bin, but this is something that is obviously somewhat acceptable in their culture or people wouldn’t do it.
    One more point I would like to touch on. The way people drive is obviously diffrent from the way we drive back in the states. Did you ever think about the sheer number of people that are driving in China versus the United States? If people in China drove the same way we drive in the USA the whole country would be one huge traffic jam. I am not excusing not stopping for pedestrians, because I don’t agree on that, but it is just how it works here.
    I think the biggest part of living in China as an expat is your attitude. If you decide to be upset becuase these people have a diffrent way of life than you do, you need to remember this is not your home. You shouldn’t be upset over the fact that the Chinese people live in a way that is acceptable in their culture in their home country. Remember you are a guest in their country, not the other way around.

    1. Avatar of c_ystal

      Well said!

      I personally found it quite pathetic to live in a country that you hate, and complain about it afterwards ONLINE.

      Posting a photo of the poor man with bad teeth and use it as a reference to prove her point of chinese having a poor hygienic lifestyle is pretty low as well. You clearly have no respect to people at all, i guess thats why you don’t enjoy living in China.

      Not knowing how to appreciate a different culture is like a very primitive crime.

  6. Avatar of christy

    “So Chinese, there is one more thing to work on- SWEETS!”

    As a Chinese born outside of China, I have to disagree with you. It’s not something we need to “work on”, it’s not part of our culture to eat super sugary American desserts. Everything is mildly sweetened, and if you grow up eating Chinese sweets, you’ll learn to appreciate it. I understand it’s hard for you to grasp since your taste buds have probably been desensitized from eating ultra sweet desserts since birth, but don’t say it’s a flaw in Chinese cooking. It’s how we like it, and it’s not going to change.

    1. Avatar of 1010108388

      Chinese sweets are usually natural-made sweet foods. They usually take those sweet flavours from fruits. They rarely eat chocolate

  7. Avatar of Feh

    And the cruelty with animals.
    I’m not being racist, but the Chinese people do not seem to have humanity. They do not have a law to take care of animals and not to respect animal life. If there are laws in this country that talk about it, it are not met and nothing happens to punish offenders.
    I know that in other countries even with protective regulations of animals there are assholes who do not comply, but in China is where we find more atrocities on animals.
    China is a country I would never visit.

  8. Avatar of Mengnan Wei

    I’m a Chinese but graduated from Missouri University.
    I lost my job for not lying to my client in San Diego and now I came back. I’m really having a hard time trying to blend in again.
    People here are good at spitting on the street, yelling and smoking in restaurants.
    Everyday in my own country is a torture to me!!!
    I must find ways to get the hell out of here!!!

  9. Avatar of smith smith

    8. A map app on your phone will solve the directions problem. After my first month I would never ask someone where something is. I believe it is a face and pride thing. They have to feel like they know everything about everything in China, and always more than a “simple foreigner”.
    It gets more frustrating when you need to ask someone a question about something and even when they know the answer in Mandarin, but not English, they will just respond in English with a wrong or incomplete answer anyway because you look European, and they want to look smarter by speaking the “foreigner language.”

    1. Avatar of nemrut

      That’s quite a lot of backseat psychoanalysis there. Perhaps you’re projecting your own insecurities on a culture you simply don’t understand.

      1. Avatar of From Poland too

        Foreigners understand Chinese culture much better than the locals because they have access to the sources that provide the real history of the country in the past 100 years. There were cases when the Chinese were listening to me and my explanation of China and two weeks later they would say EXACTLY THE SAME THINGS I SAID even if they initially did not agree with me or didnt understand and would patronize me and show me “their country”. They have no idea about. This is how cheeky they can get. And oblivious of their own stupidity.

  10. Avatar of nemrut

    Do you feel validated now that your thinly veiled China bashing post has received so much affirmation?

    China is a massive country with a population more 4-5x of any western nation, and despite this, changing rapidly.

    Projecting your western mindset and expectations on developing country of this magnitude is not only ignorant but repulsive.

    China’s history – over 5000yrs, is the oldest, uninterrupted continuous culture in the world.

    Who are you to look down on their lifestyle and way of doing things?

    1. Avatar of From Poland too

      And why did you call China a developing country if it has 5000 years of history (other nations and continents dont have history, they just were sitting and looking at each other every day for thousands of years)?

      5000 years was not enough to develop common sense and manners?

  11. Avatar of Lawrence

    I’m a Dutch expat, moved to China about a year ago. Now the time has come to leave and, despite of what I was thinking this time last year, I am happy to.

    I agree my dislike for the country and its culture (if that’s what it really is) may partially be the result of my own lack of understanding (biased), but here is my list of daily annoyances:

    – Noise. Yelling on phones and public transport, vehicles with horns loud enough to stun you on the spot and make your ears bleed (getting you run over instead of warned).

    – Filth. Dirty streets and again vehicles. It’s hard to keep clean with so much dirt around. Never had so much black water coming off me taking a daily shower. Loud and gross spitting in public, rotting trash everywhere. Little ailments keep harassing me.

    – Lack of respect, in general and for rules. Traffic is one thing. People working in apartments around yours at the most ungodly of times is quite another. The continuous invasion of personal space and queue jumping. Why let somebody out the elevator first if you and your family can squeeze in first?

    – Quality and service. Forget what you know about buying proper goods and get warranty. Cheap products come with instant fall-apart-warranty. For the good stuff be prepared to bleed (everything imported). Unless you’re clueless don’t get a handyman to do jobs for you ; Chinese definition of “job done” is very far apart from yours.

    – Punctuality. None existent and usually surrounded by blatant lies to cover up laziness.

    In the last few decades I have travelled often and seen many countries and cultures, so I’ve seen my share of different cultures with associated goods and bads.

    China, for me, has more bads than goods, unfortunately, so I’ll choose to leave and not return.

    For all the haters: I was married to a HK Chinese woman for 12 years and am married to a mainland Chinese woman now, studied Chinese. You may call me biased, but certainly not oblivious.

  12. Avatar of johnny stock

    i am currently living in china, i have to say i agree with the majority of points, and i would also like to add a few :). The biggest issue for me was police surveillance, not local ‘oooo’ photo taking people, that was quite amusing, the police on the other hand wwere alot more noticeable, especially in shanghai. I was taking pictures and videos in the main tourist spots, and i was always aware that within 1 minute of those photo’s and videos being taken in multiple places there was a police presence appearing in the corner of my eye, as i continued with the photoshoot pretending to look oblivious, it became alot more personal, 3 police within 10 yards of me on their walkie talkies, sometimes more, i was walking down one area near zheijing road when a police officer drove on the pavement!!! very strange, and too my surprise stopped in my walking path and took a picture!!!. I thought ooo that was big brother and carried on walking, and then three hundred yards the same office pulled up in front of me on the main pedestrian area and took another picture, this i posed and smiled for the camera like john travolta out of saturday night fever lol just so they knew i knew lol :) :) the cheeky mofo i thought :) take that photo and send it to your database :) :) I was in the largest tourist spot in shanghai, the bund area. Their obviousness was a bit cheeky to say the least, ive never felt so uncomfortable in a tourist area, and ive never had that type of of treatment, i was very well presented too, shirt etc, when i wore my normal rock n roll attire there were 5 to 10 within seconds, what a shame that the authorities perceptions of the world outside of china are so limited and they have the cheek to think that i am the one this the crazy and threatening lol :) :)

  13. Avatar of Zhang

    As a southern Chinese who lived in both America and China for years I would agree on most things on this list. Such as impolite people and not following the rules. But have you ever thought about the conditions both countries went though?

    China was and still mostly is huge rice field that supported huge population for thousands of years, it modernized much later as opposed to less populated western countries that had to deal with less problems. (Thanks Qing dynasty for being isolationist, we could of been like Japan, but much earlier)

    The only reason why China is not the North Korea of today is the economic reforms made by Deng Xiaoping. He was the reason why you see Made in China labels. He transformed the country from mostly farm and very little in manufacturing to a industrial powerhouse(though pollution is now far more worse than it used to be, and many cultural heritage is now lost)

    Things you see happening in China right now is what happened in Europe and Americas decades or even centuries ago. Those changes western countries had already gone though long ago, many parts of China still have not. It’s like teaching Native Americans about the concept of owning land, they never encountered this scenario before and don’t know what to do with it.

    Now I’m not saying that you should just leave the impolite or rule breakers alone, you shouldn’t. No one should. But changes like this takes time. And China is changing rapid, I believe its going to be better in the coming years. That is if our governments learn to respect one another and not start world war three…

    Anyways, thanks for reading my comment, have a nice day.

  14. Avatar of Shannon

    Not all Chinese are bad, but it is WELL KNOWN that they are the #1 POLLUTERS OF THE WORLD AND DISRESPECT FOR HUMAN FREEDOM. My trusted friends said he saw Chinese tourists steal protected coral reefs wtf is wrong. To say it’s history derived is nonsense. The fact the thry cannot have any basic morals is SAD and DEPRESSED. If I can’t speak my rights living in China, I would essentially become emotionally devoid. That in itself creates a short life span. So life is too short to live like that no matter what social status you are. Health is my number 1 priority.

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