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bobbyd

US / China people-to-people relations

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bobbyd

With all the talk about relations between the US and China going south, I'm curious how expats currently living in China see people-to-people relations right now. Are you seeing a change in attitudes towards Americans when the inevitable where are you from question pops up? Are you noticing existing friends acting differently towards you or anyone you know due to the increased tension between the two countries? Just wondering. Thanks!

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mungouk

Well, I don't live in China but it's probably worth pointing out that "people" doesn't equal "government" — one of the few things at the moment that keeps me going TBH.

 

Also that the media's control over the perception of other countries is, well, media/government controlled to various (but large) extents.

 

Is your question maybe more succinctly put as "how will I be treated as an American immigrant [expat] in China"...?

 

 

 

 

 

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bobbyd
15 minutes ago, mungouk said:

it's probably worth pointing out that "people" doesn't equal "government"

I agree. That's why I clarified it as "people-to-people" relations. Ultimately the media/government does shape the minds of people on both sides of the Pacific for better or worse, so it's hard to fully untangle that piece, but I figured if the question is asked from the level of people-to-people relations, then readers wouldn't be commenting on whether this government did this or that unless in impacted their personal relationships/experiences.

 

18 minutes ago, mungouk said:

Is your question maybe more succinctly put as "how will I be treated as an American immigrant [expat] in China"...?

Was actually more curious about other people's experiences.

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mungouk

@bobbyd well I think we more or less agree, although I would dispute that the power of propaganda on either side of the US-PRC divide is equivalent. 

 

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abcdefg

I live in China, am American, and have not yet noticed a groundswell of animosity from ordinary people I meet day to day. I expect there to be some backlash to the propaganda struggle, it just has not yet reached Kunming (where I live) or my neighborhood or my social group, not sure of the reasons. I do get frequent questions about Trump along the lines of, "What the f#*% is that guy doing?" I try my best to distance myself from him; but that only goes so far. 

 

As the situation worsens, I do expect some fallout. It now is not only a trade war, but a broader and more basic conflict. As it becomes more of a general-purpose, broad-scope "pissing contest," I think Americans living here will feel some impact. (Hope that I am wrong; and I admit that I am definitely *not* an astute or particularly well informed political analyst.)  

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Baby Charlie

I am in Harbin, and other then all 3 of the Walmarts closing the week that tariffs were enacted, I have not noticed any clear animosity towards  me. I do get a lot of what is wrong with your country and is your president as stupid as he appears to be, questions. I answer to the best of my ability: Morons are governing America and Yes!

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DavyJonesLocker
1 hour ago, Baby Charlie said:

I do get a lot of what is wrong with your country and is your president as stupid as he appears to be, questions.

 

Although I am not American and as much as I like China I do feel there is a lot of blatant hypocrisy towards Trump and his policies from some of the Chinese population, especially towards trade when the Chinese have never played fair for decades by any stretch of the imagination.  😉

 

If there is some form of animosity between two countries I think though it is totally inexcusable for any member of the public to somehow vent their ill feelings on another countries citizens as we have seen a few times with Japanese over the years . 

 

I have over the years the (very) odd time got a subtle hint of "why don't you go back to your own country" from some older traditional (if you call it that) Chinese. However a quick reminder of how many Chinese have settled in other countries around the world usually ends the conversation.  

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NinjaTurtle
13 hours ago, abcdefg said:

I do get frequent questions about Trump along the lines of, "What the f#*% is that guy doing?" I try my best to distance myself from him; but that only goes so far. 

 

I like to use the line, "I do not have political discussions with Chinese people."

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Dawei3

I go to China a few times/year and I'm here now.  I wondered whether the trade tensions would make it less inviting.  In my experience, I've felt nothing different from my many previous trips.  While I expected my friends to treat me the same way, I've found strangers to be just as warm as in my previous experiences - even strangers on the low end of the pay scale.  

 

I just got back from a tiny convenience store that I've been to a few times (in Beijing). When I was paying, they looked at my wallet, curious as to where I'm from.  When I said I'm American, they immediately said "it's a very good place" (这是一个很好的地方).  We had a nice conversation.  I didn't detect a moment of negativity.

 

Similarly, last week in Yunnan I took a cab to my hotel.  I sat next to the cab driver (usually the only place you can sit if you want to use a seat belt).  There was no traffic, so I was comfortable talking with him.  We talked the whole way.  That I was from the US had no negative reaction on him (and I was looking for it).  It was the opposite:  when I mentioned that China has many historic sites, he noted that Americans are very smart, the US has a very short history, yet it is so powerful and rich.  All of the friends & family of my friend there were extremely warm to me.  There wasn't a moment of tension.  

 

Also, from interacting with undergrads & grads at a university in Beijing I also detected no difference from my many previous trips.  One young guy asked me "what is the biggest concern of young people in the US today?"  That is, he was generally curious about the US, not tensions.  Last weekend at a social event where I met lots of people, I felt the same warmth I always do.

 

Finally, I expected closer friends to ask me about the US/China situation, but none did.  It seems to be a non-issue - much to my surprise.   Then again, to most Americans the trade war is something we've just heard about -  but not yet felt.  

 

As background, although I'm not fully fluent, most of what I can say I can say well (很自然).  This has an extremely positive effect on people.  Rather than being frustrated about an inability to communicate, there's wonderment about our ability chat (I feel the same way).  In contrast, an American who speaks little to no Chinese might have a different experience.  Also, I'm a visitor, not an expat living here.     

 

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Shelley
2 hours ago, NinjaTurtle said:

I like to use the line, "I do not have political discussions with Chinese people."

 

Its too long.. just "I do not have political discussions" is good enough. No need to specify with who, I think it comes across wrongly.

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vellocet
16 hours ago, abcdefg said:

I do get frequent questions about Trump along the lines of, "What the f#*% is that guy doing?" I try my best to distance myself from him; but that only goes so far. 

Really?  I find he hardly ever comes up except in conversations with other foreigners.  The general attitude towards Americans is very positive.  Once in a while you'll get a jerk, but that's anywhere.  Sometimes I get quizzed about how America is, and what the hell am I doing in China when I could live my life there instead.  Chinese people would trade places with me in a heartbeat.

 

I did have a conversation last week where a Chinese friend rolled his eyes when talking about the tariffs.  But if he'd have pressed it I'd have pointed out that China has been benefiting their industries with tariffs for a long time.  Tesla just bought land to build a huge factory in Shanghai, and the reason stated was 50-60% higher price due to tariffs and transportation expenses.  American workers lose, Chinese workers win.  

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