I was watching Youtube when a video caught my eye: Chinese Tourist Have No Manners.
The video showed a Thai girl and her boyfriend waiting politely in line when suddenly a swarm of Chinese tourists pushed and shoved their way to the front of the line. It was rude, unexpected and there were no apologies.
I felt angry when I watched that. Angry because I could relate to the circumstance, having lived in China for years, and angry because these were the kind of people that made me embarrassed of my own ethnicity as an American-born Chinese.
As I scrolled through the comments, I saw a lot of mocking comments:
Many of them also angry:
But in the midst of all of those comments, one particular caught my eye:
“I’m Chinese from the mainland China, I think
1. they don’t know how rough they are
2. they don’t know how mannered other countries’ people are
3. because of the “great fire wall” of the Chinese internet made by Chinese communist government, they don’t know how other countries’ people think of them, so they have no chance to learn to change themselves to keep more manners.”
The comment ended with:
“You just care about what they do, but you don’t care about why they do that, you even don’t spend one minute to think about “why”.
And it shook me, because he was right. I, like everyone else I knew, with a prejudice towards the Mainland Chinese, had never bothered asking “why”. We’ve never questioned it or went out of our way to look for the reasons. All this time, we’ve mocked them for their bad attitude and behaviors, but we’ve never once put ourselves in their situations.
China is huge. It has the world’s largest population at 1.4 billion people. That’s more the rest of the most populous nations combined: United States, Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan. And because China is so huge, there are still large pockets of poverty and undeveloped regions. In many of those regions are farmers, who grew up without proper schooling and education, forced to work long and laborious hours while being isolated from the outside world. What they’ve learned and the mannerisms they’ve been taught are basic and simplistic in nature: it’s survival of the fittest. It’s every man and woman for themselves. In a place where they lack opportunities, they must seek them, regardless of what people think of them. It’s how they were brought up; it’s their culture.
While I still don’t condone their kind of behavior, I’m finding it harder to blame the individuals. Instead, I blame the censorship. It’s what shapes the core of their culture and at heart is the reason for the mannerisms we see and disapprove of.
Not all Mainland Chinese people behave atrociously. There are many who are civilized and are like me, embarrassed of being generalized with those who are not. Sometimes before we judge others based on what they do, we should try and consider the circumstances behind their actions. It doesn’t mean their actions are right or that they should be forgiven, it just means that we as the people condemning them for their actions should be sensible enough to hold back on our assumptions and see things from their perspective.