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muyongshi

I always love it when people dig up old posts just for a nice simple comment....

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flameproof

I don't mind Laowai. I better don't want to know if there is bad meaning to it. It sounds friendly to me.

Quite funny I find those Chinese that say "HELLO" and then fall into a state of menial laughter. Are they on magic mushrooms?

I like to address some Chinese as "同志" - that's often replied with a smile and a comment.

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johnd
I'm going back home this Monday and I'm planning on doing a social experiment where I call every Chinese person 老外 to see what kind of reaction I get. I will keep you guys posted!

Keep us posted please. I've got a feeling that they will still call you laowai, no matter what country everyone is in, and if you try to call them laowai you'll just get puzzled expressions.

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dalaowai

That actually already happened when I was in Vancouver last year. I was on a bus and I was one of two white guys. The majority of passengers were Chinese. Two people sitting in front of me referred to me as 老外 when talking about me and I just looked at them and said "你们正在我的国家,在加拿大你们是“老外”!and they just looked at each other aand laughed. They said "that's the first time someone called me 老外 and I said "感觉怎么样?” and at this point they just praised my Mandarin. haha

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cdn_in_bj

I didn't read over this whole thread but I think that some people are being overly sensitive about this. It is not some sort of racial slur nor does it have any derogatory roots. Heck, I even refer to other foreigners here as "老外".

As for the word "老" implying some sort of negative meaning, well what about 老婆 and 老公 (wife and husband)?

On the otherhand, if they call you "傻屄老外" or something like that, then you have a reason to get angry.

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miffy2007

Yes, I agree, I think people here are WAY too sensitive. In the states, when non-white people complain about being discriminated against, most white people would tell them "to let it go" and that they are being too sensitive.

I don't know what else I can tell you - some of you even seem to get offended when some kids laughingly saying hello to you. In that case, I think it could just be that you have some anger management issue. Maybe you guys are just looking for a fight subconsciously. What I can tell you is that, you will encounter the same phenonmenon if you visit developing countries, whether it be Egypt or Congo, when kids there see foreigners, they would act in exactly the same way as the Chinese kids. Many of you already think bad of people and doubt their intention from the start. It's no wonder why you're such angry people, because you never give people benefit of the doubt. Nobody is perfect and you aren't either. I was walking with two German girls and one British guy when a Chinese woman pointed at one of the German girl and made a comment. The British guy immediately took offense and asked me "what? is she telling her friends to look at the freaks?". No, that was not what the Chinese woman was saying, in fact, she was telling her friend she wanted to get the same dress like the German girl.

There is this British guy who posted this long statement about how Chinese were racist toward foreigners during the Qing dynasty, but what he forgot to add is the way how the Brits treated Hong Kong people. HK Chinese weren't allowed to live in certain areas (ie, the Peak) and they remained second-class citizen under British rule. The passport they gave to HK people, the BNO, is practically useless, yet, many people living under western colonial regimes simply endured, without complaints.

If you try to be the moral compass and tell people what they should or shouldn't be doing, you have to judge yourself based on the same yardstick as well. Those who condemn the Chinese left and right for being racist, I bet are the same ones who lock their car doors when driving through black and hispanic neighborhoods.

I'm not arguing with you - you have your opinions and I am entitled to mine. But I think it's wrong to judge China based on Western standard. Many countries in the West are immigrant countries so they are used to seeing multiethnic people - some white people may not like non-white minorities but they keep it civil most of the time because of political correctness. But as soon as black or hispanic families moved into a white neighborhood, white flight starts - is it not a form of discrimination? There are many social ills being perpetrated against minorities, but as a white person, you probably have never realized that because you have never experienced any of these due to your dominant status in western society. Any French person here? Tell me how the Arabs, especially the Moroccan and Algerian immigrants, being treated in your country? An Arabic sounding name on your resume is a sure way that it would end up in the trash. In many western countries, in some areas, non-white minorities still risk of being beaten up solely based on their skin colors. I'd like to remind you that the US has just stepped out of racial segregation a mere 40 years ago and South Africa just got out of it recently.

I'm not justifying anything - it's true that some Chinese are being racist toward whoever. Hack, I'm a Hong Kong Chinese and I'm being discriminated against all the time, without the benefit of being a waiguoren. But stereotyping an entire race is bad, someone here makes some very sweeping statement about Chinese people, as if they know 1 billion of them all. I've encountered racist people in America all the time and I always let it go. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard the word "Chinaman". It's just as bad as calling some one "chink", but for some oddball reason, it's okay, it's not censored in movies and media and some white people use it in the open, and I've heard it numerous times on the street. Some white American girls told me they are not racist but they hate Asian girls because Asian girls act like whores. My Mexican friend was told "you can look, but not touch" when she was browsing in a fancy boutique in Old Towne Alexandria, VA. Isn't that bizare? A true hell for any non-white minorities to live in would be the American deep south. I find it very interesting that some of you guys opt out on talking about "white on non-white" racial discriminations in their countries because it doesn't suit your agenda, instead, you selectively focus on wrongs or misunderstanding that other people do to you.

This is just classic example of "moral righteousness" - one that I can't tolerate. Stop using western standard to judge China - you realize that the vast majority of Chinese people have never or won't ever have a chance of meeting anyone foreign in their life? It's not that they are inherently evil or racist, it's just that they are not taught the same political correctness like the West. Many white people remain racists but they don't show it on the surface because of political correctness - they just manifest racism and bigotry in other ways. Some Chinese people like to talk about others because some of them are just plain stupid and are ignorant about foreigners - most of these people do not have malicious intent like what you dscribed, so please stop painting them as some type of Asian KKK thugs, okay? I just don't understand why some of you guys being so angry. And I just don't understand since when "laowai" has become a racist term? I guess I'll have to stop calling my father "laoba".

My best friends are Arabs and we always talk about why some white people are like that. I'm no psychologist but I think it is some type of a deep complex - 1) that some white people are completely intolerant of ANY criticism by non-white people because on a subconscious level, they feel that their white privilege is being challenged. How dare a Chinese person insult ME?? In reality, far from being discriminated against, I've seen many, many more circumstances where white people are actually FAVORED over Chinese people in the Chinese society - all of a sudden, I don't see no one talking about "social injustice", "racial discrimination", the whole nine yards...why? Because this time, racial discrimination works in favor of white people at the locals' expense, so it's OKAY. I've been passed over for jobs in Shanghai just coz they want some token white face (doesn't matter if they are high school drop outs or unemployed back in their home countries). You KNOW that this kind of job discrimination is happening all over China, but none of you have talked about that - so much for being the moral authority that you are...

2) subconscious guilt - historically, the most racist measures perpetrated against non-white people, were by, not surprisingly, white people. Many white people (not only those in China but in the western world), jump at the chance of finding faults of non-white people, it's like saying "haha, you did THAT too!! I'd better blow things way out of proportion and give him a moral lesson!!" But most of their criticism against non-white people are really, really miniscure. Whether it be Beijing, Cairo or Damascus, I heard foreigners complaining about the SAME thing - I almost feel like telling them to "please find something original to compalin". They just have this illusion that the locals are hostile to them, but in fact, nobody really cares - foreigners always think they are important but they really are not in the grand scheme of things. If you must know, the locals discriminate you just in the same way you discriminate them, no more, no less...so nobody should be giving others moral lesson just coz they FEEL they discriminate less. We all stereotype people - stop making yourself look like a saint.

Someone here tell Chinese people to try to live in the shoes of the "laowei" in a day in China and they would know how it feels like to be one...well, I have, as a Chinese person who've lived in the US for 10 years...I've experienced much, much worse...But it doesn't matter how many years I've lived there, I could be there for 4 generations and still being looked and treated like a foreigner...I will have to return to the US for practical reasons (my job requires it) but I dread until that day comes.

How I wish some of you folks experience the life of a non-white minority in your own countries!

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Qcash3

Firstly, I agree with many of the other posters points when they say that people are a bit overly sensitive about the whole 老外 issue. There have been times when I tired of being constantly referred to as the 老外, but such occasions are easily remedied by telling your name to the offending parties. If it is just some group of random people, then personally I feel that it doesn't really matter that much whether or not they stare and whisper as the 老外 walks past. I've had much stranger reactions from people in China, one young girl actually screamed and ran away when she accidently bumped into me on some country road in 河南。 Although to be fair, if I had never met a black person in my life and then one just walks out of a cornfield at dusk, I might be a bit taken aback as well. Anyway, my point is that there are far worse things that you could be called, and far more important things to worry about. The pollution in Beijing is far more liable to kill you than a 70 year old woman telling her grandkids to look at the 老外。

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woliveri

miffy2007,

There's enough stupidity to go around in every nation, country, or local area. I came from a small town in Central Florida where most people don't know the difference between a Chinese, Vietnamese, or Korean. They just refer to them all as Chinese. I have been discriminated upon here in China many times and just blow it off. I've married a Chinese woman who's appearance looks very young, much younger than her age, so we often are just plain stared at and not a glancing stare. This makes my wife feel more uncomfortable than I so I feel more for her in this situation. When I'm on the Bund in Shanghai the water vendor is barking out "2 kuai", "2 kuai" in Chinese and when I approach him and ask in English it's 5 kuai. I need to speak to him in Chinese to get the same price as the locals. I practice martial arts here and there are teachers who literally prey on the Laowai. I have a friend who made arrangements before coming to Shanghai, then his teacher is bringing him around to all the other parks with other masters and it turns out he's trying to "spread the wealth" by asking my friend to pay for visiting these other masters when it was not previously agreed upon.

So there's enough crap in the world to go around.

I also used to live in Southern California where the Chinese population is very large. I love to go to these areas to enjoy Chinese culture as do many of my friends. Many "white folks" love Chinese culture and Chinese people so don't feel that everyone is that way in the US. Perhaps you went to an area with heavy racial problems.

I"ve also been discriminated upon in Arabic restaurants in the US. I used to love this kind of food, still do but have found in some restaurants the staff wouldn't wait on me. So I just got up and left.

Don't feel because we are white that we always void of these problems. Stupidity is stupidity no matter where you find it.

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wushijiao

I generally agree ideas expressed by miffy2007: subtle, systematic racism still exists worldwide and in the United States. Generally speaking, white people benefit from this, unfortunately. So that is certainly something to keep in mind before one complains.

On the other hand, hearing "laowai" or "khallou" a few dozen times per day can be hard, psychologically, to deal with if you have never had to deal with it. But I do know that a similar thing happens elsewhere, as miffy2007 pointed out. I was called a "gringo" everywhere I went in South America. Again, some people take offense at that term, but much like "laowai", it is almost never used maliciously.

Personally, I don't think "white" people can ever really expect to know how it feels to be a Chinese-American in the US, or a black person in the US, but I think we should be willing to listen and learn, and be willing to try to understand the other person's point of view.

A true hell for any non-white minorities to live in would be the American deep south.

Are you sure? I have a Chinese-American friend from Alabama, and he loves it there. I also know a Taiwanese guy who studied in Mississippi and never had any major problems. Also, many black people have voted with their feet, so to speak, and have moved back to the South, especailly cities like Atlanta. I'm not denying that there are still fairly big problems there (see: Jena 6/ white discontent with Mexican-Americans moving to the South), but I don't know if life is "hell" there for everyone.

woliveri, as far as prices, in Shanghai buying a water at a "Mom and Pop" store, they will try to rip you off 99 times out of 100. But, in my opinion, that is just because you are a clear outsider (as a white person). For example, and likewise, if a Chinese toursit goes to some town in Henan, or wherever, and tries to buy carrots using a non-local accent, the seller will try to take advantage of that (maybe not to the same degree), because he or she knows that the person most likely doesn't know the true price. That may seem unfair. But, that's just kind of the "rules of the game". The onus of knowing the price falls on the buyer. When consumers, as a whole, become less sensitive towards price and more sensitive towards product quality and service, then it becomes in the interest of the seller to gain a reputation as having fair prices. Maybe that transition has already happened in Shanghai since the Kedi's and other 7-11-type stores are everywhere, and the small stores are going out of business. Also, many Chinese consumers, it seems, now have the luxury of being able to shop at foreign supermarkets that (in theory) provide better food safety. My only point is that the behavior of the small shop owners really isn't racism or stupidity, but just the product of a out-of-date way of doing business. But I might be wrong. :conf

Anyway, my point is that there are far worse things that you could be called, and far more important things to worry about. The pollution in Beijing is far more liable to kill you than a 70 year old woman telling her grandkids to look at the 老外。

Hilarious!

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miffy2007

woliveri and wushijiao, thanks for your inputs. Points well-taken.

woliveri, regarding your experience of being ripped off by the Chinese locals - I can completely relate to that, and I'm a Chinese person myself. Many white people told me, justifiably so, that they hate being taken advantage of. One says, no matter how he asked nicely at the ticket counter, the staff would almost always force him to buy soft-sleeper, telling him that cheaper options aren't available (but he sees other Chinese getting them). He immediately think that "gees, it must be because I'm white and they think that I'm rich!" He relates his experience as "racial discrimination" because he *thinks* it only happens to white people. But this is not true and I'll explain to you why.

In fact, I was just discussing this issue with my local Chinese friends the other day. I asked them, do you know why so many Hong Kongers, Taiwanese and overseas Chinese avoid coming back to the "motherland" even for visits? It's because we are so tired of being ripped off and taken advantage of so often. For example, when negotiating to 包车, I always have to write down the details on a piece of paper; because if I don't, I'll surely get ripped off, what was originally negotiated for, 50 kuai would turn into 200. Another example, I was travelling with a Taiwanese guy by train, not only were we forced to buy soft-sleeper tickets, the train crew took the liberty to sleep on our beds before we got on the train. They were not willing to give up even though we bought the tickets. One of them motioned us to switch to the soft-seaters. I was holding the guy's collar and ready to punch him in the face. And then this lady in uniform came and told me to calm down...she explained they need to "transport" the crew members to the next stop so they could continue the service. Okay, I understand that but what does it have to do with usurping customers' seats? The two guys still did not budge, didn't move or anything, just lying there and giving me this "what can you do about it" look. In the end, me and my friend have to move to another carriage. Some onlookers murmured "they really should treat 港台同胞 better". I was like, what 同胞??

And mainland Chinese always brutally laugh at my Mandarin accent, no matter how hard I try to perfect it. I see how local Chinese get mesmorized when they hear a white person saying "ni hao" to them, no, I never get that kind of recognition. No matter what I do, it almost always draws criticm. Now, unlike many of you who aren't planning to stay in China for the long haul, I am. I quit my job, sold my car and my apartment to come back to study and to hopefully work in the cultural heritage field in China. I used to have a tax-exempt government job but I'm willing to get paid like a local because I truly wanted to contribute, call it patriotism or whatever. I've sacrificed so much to be here but I've experienced so much negativity that I feel like I'm exploding. Many overseas Chinese want to come back to contribute, but we've been treated like crap by our own people. We are completely disillusioned.

So you see, discrimination happens to people of Chinese origin too - I think it's even on a grander scale than to foreigners. Discrimination has a more intense and lasting effect on me than to foreigners, afterall, god damn it, I'm Chinese too!!! Like many countries, internal discrimination is rampart in China. A Beijing 户籍 is NOT treated the same as a Guanzhou one; city people look down on the peasants, etc. But that's just how it is in the word, you can never get rid of regionalism and bigotry. I first traveled to China in 1985 and continued to return every year until I temporarily moved to the US for work. So I can definitely say that I've had more exposure and knowledge about how China works than most foreigners. China has its problems, but don't forget that it's also a country of 1.13 billion people, so it's not easy. Economic development in China only started about 20 years ago. So foreigners do need to give it a break. Find me a utopia in the world and I'll move there in a New York minute. China has already changed so much during the past twenty years - rule of law and accountability are slowly taking shape.

And I whole-heartedly agree with wushijiao, that we need to be open-mind and be willing to understand and accept our differences as human beings. I may not agree with you but it doesn't mean I don't respect you. If all 1.13 billion of Chinese all act and think in the way westerners want it, China would be an incredibly bland country, isn't it?

The fact is, foreigners always complain about how they are treated by the locals, but have they for once, just once, thought about if their actions and words have ever offended or deemed culturally unacceptable by the Chinese? Many foreigners I know here in Xi'an, have not. 他们入乡已不能随俗, 却要批评人家国家这样不好, 那样不好. 这种人的态度我最不能容忍.

Some foreigners complain that they have problems finding "real" people to befriend with in China. There are real people alright, but as my experience's shown, some foreigners are being so obnoxious and cultural insensitive that they alienate "real" people, those that genuinely want to help and not asking anything in return. What is left to be friend with are "abnormal" ones, those that have "unclean" motives - "white fever", English practice partner, gold digger, etc. Some foreigners never have "normal" Chinese friends, not because there aren't any, it's because they don't appreciate a good person when they see one. Chinese people can be very giving and kind, but I'm sad that those people above would never find out.

Why am I telling you this? I just want to illustrate to you that understanding has to go both ways. You don't hear too often Chinese people complaining about the behavior of those ethnocentric jerks, but it happened all the time. I just want to give you a different perspective, based on my personal experience. And it's not just in China, I've lived in the Middle East for an extended period of time, such as Cairo, Damascus and Amman. But what makes the Mid East different than China is that Arabs have an even more "tougher" stance with foreigners. They are very proud of their identity and are not afraid to stand up against the foreigners who overtly critize their countries. They wouldn't even try to reason with them they would just tell them to "go home". Most western people just simply could not adapt living there.

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yonglin

miffy2007, I feel really sorry for you. I can't believe you met so many of those arses.

Personally, I don't get why anyone would desire desire to go abroad in the first place if they're not willing to accept (or at least learn about) any of the cultural particularities of the foreign country.

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md1101

hey miffy im pretty shocked myself. come to think of it i know me and my mates in xi'an (2 years ago) used to have bitching sessions about china. now i wonder if anyone overheard and got offended. but the bitching was usually about queues or customer service. though at the end of the day we always knew things were different in china and perceived rudeness in the west was not necessarily rude in china. after about 4 months or so of being in china we all stopped whinging and instead started bitching about all the other 'new' foreigners complaining about china.

anyway i hope you stop mixing with those tools in xi'an. i wouldnt help out anyone i just met anyway. actually i've had people help me out in china with looking for apartments and so on and now i wonder if i was ever thankful enough. come to think of it i don't think i was. the offers for help in china come so often that you start to take it for granted. which is a real shame. i think everyone here can take a lesson from this.

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shanghaikai

I hate these threads. It just makes me angry at everyone. :cry:

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studychinese
I hate these threads. It just makes me angry at everyone.

The problem is that people are too discriminating in their hate. I despise all races, cultures and creeds with equal vigor.

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jeffofarabia

I never really thought of laowai as a racist term. I just think that most Chinese people haven't seen too many foreigners and they are surprised. They aren't venomous in their comments just curious.

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jonaspony

Hey Miffy... thanks for the rave. How true.

I spent several months in a small remote Chinese town before I heard the term Laowai. Another Westerner came to town and I was showing him around - where to have his photos processed, how to catch the bus etc. He was a total jerk, acted like the great white sahib, ordering folk around. That's the first time I heard the word, and I thought it totally appropriate.

The other foreigners I was with seemed to have the same notion, but because they were female it wasn't quite so obvious. They would allow themselves to be feted and toasted at dinners, as if they really had done something worthy of it. In the end, being the youngest and malest available, I took to returning the toasts on their behalf. Then they criticised me for being drunk all the time. :(

The next time I heard the term was in a back alley where I hoped to visit a friend. A young boy raced into the alley, saw me, stopped, Laowai! and then scooted out again. Fair enough, I thought. I have nearly scared some folk to death. A little 'laowai' in return is a small thing.

Going back to Beijing to study, and meeting a lot of expats there, they all bitched vehemently against the Chinese. I may have understood what they were saying, but I never understood why they bothered. Such a misguided sense of superiority!

Several folks have replied to you Miffy, I am glad that what you have written has hit a chord. I hope you can carve out a good thing for yourself in Xi'an. I admire your spirit, and your style. Don't let the wankers get you down. Huaqiao get it much harder than Loawai, probably without any of the benefits. I hope it changes for you soon, and whatever you are hoping to achieve is successful. Cheers ... Jonas

PS. I'd love to know what you are planning to do there. Feel like dropping me a line?

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miffy2007
Personally, I don't get why anyone would desire desire to go abroad in the first place if they're not willing to accept (or at least learn about) any of the cultural particularities of the foreign country.

yonglin: You were at 西安交大 recently, no? I wonder if you've met them? They also live in the international student dorm. I had to go back to my previous posting and edit their details out because it'd be too obvious!! Actually, they are not here for language and cultural immersion, but for a new academic cooperative degree program between 西安交大 and a university in Europe. Some are here because it's a cheap Masters program (in terms of tuition) compared to what schools in UK and EU charge. One is hoping to leverage this "China experience" as a stepping stone for his scholarship application (which he got) and boost his resume and publicity when he returns home to open his own company. One explained that she wasn't here by choice because "the program takes place in China so she has to come". I wasn't sure what she meant by that, I hope she wasnt duped and forced to put in that application...

The program turns out to be a complete disaster both academically and administratively...

I'll live by your motto: 不管遇到什么困难,还得坚持下去 :wink:

hey miffy im pretty shocked myself. come to think of it i know me and my mates in xi'an (2 years ago) used to have bitching sessions about china. now i wonder if anyone overheard and got offended. but the bitching was usually about queues or customer service. though at the end of the day we always knew things were different in china and perceived rudeness in the west was not necessarily rude in china.

md1101, haha, customer service? Is there any in China? I often complain about it too. But by foreigners bitching, I mean more like racist attack or making insinuating remarks about the whole Chinese culture and race. For example, if you are angry about the service of a particular individual, you should attack him directly, instead of saying "why are the Chinese so incapable of doing this and that?" and let out a stream of complaints that is unrelated to the individual concerned. I'm sure you know what I mean because that's usually how some foreigners bitch about stuff. If I made the exact same statement but change Chinese to American (or insert whatever nationality), wouldn't you be offended by my comment too? Foreigners here don't know I understand English perfectly well so I often overhead them saying nasty things about Chinese people, at first I feel very angry but I've heard it so many times that I'm pretty much numbed by it now.

And whenever foreigners bitch about the Chinese – you bet that their comments will be overhead and *someone* will get offended. But the Chinese don't usually show it, either because they don't speak English well enough (or just being shy) or that they don't want any confrontation (like me). I've heard some foreigners here said some really nasty racist stuff, if they were in an Arab country and make the same comments about the Arabs, I guarantee you that their visa will be revoked. I remember when I was fixing my visa at the residency office in Damascus, one western guy asked if there's any other way to speed up the resident visa application as he finds it annoying, having to repeatedly fill out the same forms and information. The Syrian immigration officer just answered him bluntly, "Yes, there is, an exit visa". I was like, way to go man!

Honestly though, I've lived in many, many developing countries, and I found that "expats" in China (and maybe Dubai) tend to be the most immature and most unwilling to adjust their mentality and attitude to their host country. Many speak Chinese well, but their cultural sensitivity and open-mindedness are just not there. I've been wanting to find out why. I think part of the reasons could be that many of them are quite young (or youngish), and that China is the first country abroad away from home? My first abroad experience was to Morocco, when I was 17 years old. Even though I was so young at the time but I don't remember myself being close-minded like some of the foreigners in China though...and my experience was TOUGH!!!! In Xi'an, I often heard foreigners say "but in the West, we do X, Y and Z" but they don't understand that they are NOT in the West anymore...

Despite being a developing country, China is a relatively easy country for foreigners to live in and still can maintain the kind of life style that they want – but this freedom should not be abused to turn around to slam their host country. If an immigrant to the US keeps complaining about his host country, I'll advise him to go home; so I don't think there should be a different rule about foreigners bitching about China in China.

Those would likely get offended by rude remarks by foreigners are usually highly educated Chinese. Those who don't get offended, even though someone say in their face "Chinese people stint" and still go "hehe...", are, in my opinion, likely to be complete idiots, fools who have no sense of shame, and stay around foreigners for motives other than pure friendship. Any normal and "real" Chinese, if he/she overhears rude remarks, would stay away from foreigners for good. I know five highly-educated locals here who document their experience/struggles with foreigners. They've all been "burned" by foreigners at some point in their lives so they choose to interact with them as little as possible. But when foreigners complain, they never think of the possibility that *some* locals might understand and get offended. But I guess they've never thought about that because what they think about is what China and Chinese people can do for them.

after about 4 months or so of being in china we all stopped whinging and instead started bitching about all the other 'new' foreigners complaining about china.

You know some said foreigner/expat is synonymous with "whiner". Having foreigner status, atleast you have other means to complain or be treated better than the locals. But regular Chinese people, especially peasants, don't have that privileges, like I said, they just endure the hardship, suck it up and move on. They haven't gone mad like some of the foreigners here!!!!!

anyway i hope you stop mixing with those tools in xi'an. i wouldnt help out anyone i just met anyway. actually i've had people help me out in china with looking for apartments and so on and now i wonder if i was ever thankful enough. come to think of it i don't think i was. the offers for help in china come so often that you start to take it for granted. which is a real shame. i think everyone here can take a lesson from this.

I always believe there's a certain goodness in each individual, if I can help them, why not? But I think my experience with foreigners in Xi'an has changed my perception entirely, especially after the incidents I described in my previous posting (I went back and deleted some of it as it gives away certain people's identity). When someone say things like that to you (whom I considered as friends), well, it really hurts but what can I do, I just take it as a lesson and move on. And there are situations where I just simply can't avoid helping people, ie, when I'm asked in the face or on the phone, am I supposed to just walk away or hang up the phone? Then it'll be me who's being rude.

I wish I could stop mixing with foolish people too! No matter where I go, there seem to be a tendency to attract the most bizarre occurrences. Like one time, I traveled from Syria to Lebanon, and don't know how, I ended up in Hizbollah's stronghold in the Bekaa Valley. I was like a lost, miserable looking puppy walking among men with AK-47s but people there were nice enough to show me the way out...unharmed...I've had too many incidents like theset!! I'm glad that I'm alive at all!!!

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miffy2007
I hate these threads. It just makes me angry at everyone.

shanghaikai: I feel the same too. I don't think the OP *really* wants to know people's opinion on laowai, because it looks like he has already formed his preconceived notion. My apology for prolonging this thread – but my examples are meant to show angry foreigners (some, not all are) an "alternate" view about Chinese people. I will make this post (a rather long one) my closing remarks. This discussion is getting old anyway...

I never really thought of laowai as a racist term. I just think that most Chinese people haven't seen too many foreigners and they are surprised. They aren't venomous in their comments just curious.

jeffofarabia: you're right, it's not, but some angry person insist that it is...

For those who don't understand Chinese culture and language well enough, I'll reiterate:

Laowai is an informal/slang term used to describe foreigners in China. It is NOT an equivalent of "Chink" or the N word. A close Western equivalent that I could think of is calling a French person of Arabic descent "Beur". Some Americans would address Hispanic workers and people in general, "Amigo". As someone said, laowai is used in the exact same way how gringo is used in the Latin American/Hispanic context. In and of itself, it is not inherently racist or derogatory, and many Chinese even use laowai as a term of endearment. Of course, just like many words, it can be used maliciously, but it depends entirely on the tone and context. But when used on a daily basis, locals almost always mean it in a neutral/descriptive way. Laowai can best be described as slang word, not racial epithet.

If some foreigners still want to believe it otherwise, I can't help them with that. Just continue to be an angry person, and be VERY afraid because every Chinese is out there to get them...someone here called the Chinese "东亚病夫" as an answer to laowai – maybe he thinks he's smart and all that; but it just shows how ignorant he truly is – he doesn't know anything about Chinese culture and language at all!

I do understand sometimes being called "Laowai" can have lasting "psychological" impacts. But considered this, almost all Asian American kids have experiences of being taunted at (ching chong", "Chinese chicken", "chink", etc) when growing up in American schools - kids can be real cruel. This is some very serious discrimination but you know what, most of them just let it go and move on. Ignorant remarks are not worth being replied to anyway. Minorities living in the West endure racist treatments all the time. But s#$t happens and the world can't be all rosy and idealistic like you want it to be. It shouldn't stop people from enjoying and learning about other cultures. Jerks are jerks and they come in all shapes, colors and forms. No matter how much the world has evolved, we cannot get rid of racism entirely. This is the 21th century and hate organizations like the KKK still exists.

If you keep getting angry and upset about some minute stuff, you risk seeing the fun side of foreign traveling and cultural immersion. So don’t grumble, just go out and enjoy the sunshine. An Egyptian friend once said, “there will always be evil and ugliness in the world, but it depends whether you want to look at the trash or the trees”. Your willingness to understand, respect and accept cultural differences determine how you will be treated and what your experiences will be like in a foreign country. If you have it in your head that you’d be treated badly because people X are racist, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, you will most likely be treated the way you’ve imagined it to be. It’s true, because you’re looking for things to happen so you can have something to complain about.

Like I said in my previous posts: RESPECT HAS TO GO BOTH WAYS. After all, you’re in other people’s countries. And NO ONE can accuse of other races being more racist than they are because they do X, Y and Z. We, as humans, have all contributed and spread hatred and ills to some degree. Example, when foreigners slammed Chinese racist practices during the Qing Dynasty, they forgot entirely the historical America’s Chinese Exclusion Act, Canada’s head tax on Chinese, etc. Western moral righteousness of this kind angers people, especially third world people. Have Western people not learned any moral lessons at all, after the mess that they created in the Middle East????? Being Western/foreign does not necessarily give you a license to be a moral authority to critize how other people live in their own countries.

Unfortunately, many foreigners who live in China fail to understand this concept and continue to alienate those locals who show them goodwill. After almost three decades of the publication of Edward Said's Orientalism, the world hasn't changed for the better. Orientalism is still alive and thriving in this part of the world. It's a real shame that people think they can judge a culture by completely taking it out of context. Nothing happens out of vacuum. Cultural and social circumstances of a particular place shape who you are. If you were born in a competitive country such as China, where upward mobility and access to social resources are SOLELY determined by exam scores and connection, are you confident enough to say that you won't grow up to be like one of those Chinese people whom you bitch about? No, some foreigners aren't interested in China, they just want the Western transplant version of it – a China that is fabricated inside their head.

But then what I found so intriguing is that, once they have had their fills of western convenience, ie, bars and clubbings, KFC, McDonald's, pizzas, and what not, they get sick of the city and want to go to the countryside to see the peasants so they can experience what "real" China is. But then once in the countryside, ladies bitch about dirty toilets, people don't wait on line and random people saying hello etc. I mean, what exactly do you guys want in China? You can't have your cake and eat it too! Could you please enlighten me?? I'm afraid no matter what Chinese people do, it would never be good enough to make angry expats happy so they can stop bitching. Another classic example: I know this western guy, one of those "yellow fever" type (sorry to say) – he moved up north to Shanghai from Hong Kong because he said HK girls don't pay any attention to him (because we Hong Kongers are used to seeing foreigners) but then once he got to Shanghai, he said he's "so sick of" being approached "all the time" for "shady reasons"...but isn't that exactly what he's always wanted? I mean his whole point of moving to Shanghai is because of THIS. I'm not sure if he's just bragging or really genuinely hating the experience. I don't know what to think anymore and I don't want to know.

Going back to Beijing to study, and meeting a lot of expats there, they all bitched vehemently against the Chinese. I may have understood what they were saying, but I never understood why they bothered. Such a misguided sense of superiority!

jonaspony: but what are they bitch about though? I gather it's not about politics or human rights or anything that is remoately benefitial to mankind :wink:

Several folks have replied to you Miffy, I am glad that what you have written has hit a chord. I hope you can carve out a good thing for yourself in Xi'an. I admire your spirit, and your style. Don't let the wankers get you down. Huaqiao get it much harder than Loawai, probably without any of the benefits. I hope it changes for you soon, and whatever you are hoping to achieve is successful. Cheers ... Jonas

Thanks! I'm trying my best but there are times when I feel very exhausted, I feel like I'm fighting two fronts - ignorant locals and angry/self-righteous expats. I never have to deal with this kind of situation before. I've lived abroad the past 10 years of my life, mostly in the Middle East, so I was an expat too but honestly, I never for once, talked bad about Arab locals. I always think if I have problems with my host country, it must be because I have a problem adapting to their way of life, it is not the fault of the host. Afterall, people have been living like this before I came along, so what fault is theirs? I was reading some postings and several foreigners keep stressing that white is the receiving end of racial discrimination in China. I almost felt like crying because they don't know what I've been through. If they only knew...To make this kind of comment is just insane and just plain jerks. Why don't they talk about the times when they do receive favorable treatments, which are many? Do these people live in the same China that I'm living right now?

I'll tell you what happened. I recently applied for a job at an art gallery in Shanghai. I am now finishing my second masters, and I already had a masters from Georgetown foreign service school, I spent many years living and working in the Middle East, and before I abandoned everything and moved back to China, I was working a government job in Washingotn DC. I'm fluent in four languages AND I'm only 29. In many ways, I'm lowering my expectations to start a new career in the art field, nothing fancy, just a gallery assistant. So can you imagine the look on my face when they tell me they ONLY want a foreigner. I said, I AM a foreigner in China; but no, they want a white one. Maybe they think a white face would attract more customers into the shop. Turns out the white guy they just hired speak almost no Chinese and a fresh grad that barely have one year of working experience. I told them, "it's your lost, really because you don't know what type of clients I can get you in Hong Kong". Two more experiences like this one - some ad plainly said that they want foreigners. By foreigner, they don't mean Hong Konger, or Nigerian or Puerto Rican, they want a white person. Is THIS the racism that some whtie people here are talking about??

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renzhe

Awesome rants, miffy. Thanks for sharing.

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deezy
There is this British guy who posted this long statement about how Chinese were racist toward foreigners during the Qing dynasty, but what he forgot to add is the way how the Brits treated Hong Kong people. HK Chinese weren't allowed to live in certain areas (ie, the Peak) and they remained second-class citizen under British rule. The passport they gave to HK people, the BNO, is practically useless, yet, many people living under western colonial regimes simply endured, without complaints.
Lmao...well, what the hell did he expect?

The British and Jewish Sassoon family were dumping opium in China to revalue the British pound. Then waged the Opium War when China finally resisted...after which they colonized Hong Kong for a century.

But, I guess the Chinese were the "bad racists" here? :roll: Because they had the gall to resist their colonialist drug lords???

This whole completely Anglocentric superiority complex and incessant whining no matter what happens (good or bad) is frankly all I've come to expect from the vast majority of Anglo ex-pats in China, particularly young males...

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