What do Chinese people think of stereotypes that others hold about them?
In a new video, YouTube channel Asian Boss took to the streets of Shanghai to find out just that — and heard interesting responses that might just put some of such stereotypes to rest.
The video begins with reporter Sarah asking passersby to recall stereotypes foreigners have about China.
“They think that China is kind of old school since China is more traditional and less open,” one replies.
Sarah then brings up the stereotype that Chinese people are the “worst tourists” and have “bad manners.”
“I partially agree because China is very big. And we have first-tier cities and second-tier cities,” a woman responds. “As the economy developed in second- or third-tier cities, people started to travel abroad. They might still behave in an uncivilized way.”
The passersby are then asked how they feel about Chinese people being unwelcome.
“As a Chinese person, I definitely feel uncomfortable about it,” a man answers. “But I can’t make people do this or that. The only thing I can do is better myself. Plus, as more and more Chinese people get educated, this may not be a problem a few decades from now.”
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When told that some foreigners believe all Chinese people know kung fu, many of the passersby responded with laughter. “That’s impossible, I don’t know kung fu,” a woman says.
Another adds, “It’s because we have the Shaolin Temple. And we have martial arts fiction novels and movies which promote the impression that Chinese people know kung fu.”
Sarah then raises the controversial stereotype of Chinese people eating dog meat. “I don’t eat dog meat, and the people I know don’t really it eat. I think it depends on the region,” a man says.
Another shares, “I know a man who loves dog meat. He buys the dog and prepares the meat himself. But I find it difficult to accept.”
An older man denies the stereotype and provides a little historical context, but admitted to having tried dog meat himself — although he says he did not like it.
“That’s not true. When did dog meat become popular? It was during the ‘Great Chinese Famine’ (1959-1961) when there was no food, so people started to eat dog meat. During that period, people also ate horse meat. People also ate sparrows, cats and mice. So eating dog meat is better than that.
“I have eaten it. I think it tastes bad. Pork and beef are more delicious.”
Sarah then asks the passersby what they think of the stereotype that Chinese people are not good in English. “Most of us can’t,” a man admits.
However, a woman believes English proficiency may have something to do with age. “I think it depends. For people like my generation, we study English since like 10 years old. Especially nowadays, a lot of people can speak English.
“But for my parents’ generation, they probably can’t speak English.”
Finally, the passersby are asked what they think of the stereotype that Chinese people “seem very materialistic.”
To this, a man replies, “I think everyone in the world is like that. Who doesn’t like material goods? I think money is necessary. And I think foreigners are very materialistic, too.”
The video concludes with the passersby sharing how they believe such stereotypes can be reduced.
“I think even as a Chinese person, I can’t learn everything about our 56 ethnicities and our 5,000 years of culture,” a woman says. “I think for those foreigners who are slightly interested in China, I suggest that they come here to learn more on their own instead of listening to opinions or biased public reports.”