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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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4 Little Words - You Don't Know China...    

By Garreth Humphris
2239 Views | 6 Comments | 12/21/2011 9:20:48 AM

Ah, those 4 lovely little words that sum up a whole pile of misunderstandings and misdirections... For people living outside the Middle Kingdom, you might expect that this would be a pretty obvious thing...sure, I don't know China and I will probably not be able to get 5000 years of history, 60 years of propaganda and 40 years of geo-political isolation into perspective in a couple of weeks...but these words are not used like that!

It usually comes when you are using every iota of personal power to suspend disbelief, defy logic and contain bottled passion to try to understand one of the most inane statements or situations you have ever encountered in your life... And it happens daily!

- Look at that guy on the bicycle riding so crazily in traffic he caused 3 accidents and a near-death experience, what is he doing? - 'you don't know China!’.

- Why are these people ramming their shopping carts into my rear-end while we are waiting in line? - ’you don't know China’.

- Why do taxi drivers stand on their horns in bumper-to-bumper traffic? - ’you don't know China’.

- Why does the ’authority' say the air is clear in Beijing when you cannot even see across the road for smog? - ’you don't know China’.

- Why won't you tell your family you are dating a foreigner? - ’you don't know China’.

- Why do you want to get married within 3 hours of meeting me? - ’you don't know China’.

- Why do Beijingers and Shandongese say ’yidianr’ when everyone south of there comes out with ’yidiandian’ to say “shut up and wait your turn, Laowai“? - ’you don't know China’.

This is the balm to soothe all ills - China’s version of Singapore’s Tiger Balm - apply liberally and all feeling will go away. (if you don't believe me, open some Tiger Balm and then inadvertently wipe your eyes!!!)

So why is this quartet of four little word used?
- It is heard any time a Chinese person cannot explain a nuance of culture, tradition or just sheer bloody-mindedness. Or can't win an argument against you!

- It is heard when a Chinese person has never thought as deeply as you have right now about a part of their life or surroundings.

- It is heard when a Chinese person believes they have no power or ability to change a situation.

Is it a bad thing? Well, it can be infuriating when you hear it, especially when you want to resolve an issue such as a family problem or a legal situation or a ’justice' issue...but it is also powerful in that you know when you hear it that pursuing the issue in the way you are will not come to any viable conclusion for you - khe cera cera, what will be, will be!

Just recently, I have been hearing it more and more - I don't know if it is me just getting into more and more difficult conundrums or if I am somehow annoying people more than I usually do - I'm beginning to wonder if my thought process is becoming more and more aligned to the Chinese logic - and today, I caught myself using it to a Chinese colleague as we were observing someone doing what we both considered the most idiotic thing we had ever seen in our lives - washing an EBike with a hosepipe while the battery-charger and shonky twisted-wires ’chinese power plug’ (bare wires twisted together and rammed into a power socket) were still attached and live...when my friend warned the guy, he non-too politely told us to mind our own business and go jump over the wall!

To which our joint reply was...you don't know China!

P.S: Interesting thing is, I think I've been in China too long and wonder if I might not identify my homeland when I return there...you know, a 'You don't know Australia' moment!

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(Showing 1 to 6 of 6) 1
#2011-12-21 10:38:21 by tanshui @tanshui

Maybe you can write a blog on those two wonderful words 没有理由 or Méiyǒu lǐyóu = 'No why?'.

It is always funny to see the look on a Chinese woman's face when you say 'Méiyǒu lǐyóu' in response to her question "Why are you ....? " hahaha

#2011-12-21 15:25:31 by panda2009 @panda2009

Merry Christmas in Australia!

#2011-12-22 10:49:35 by chrisfr2 @chrisfr2

nice report gareth...
the "you don't know China" or "it's china" is the answer to any question or problem when no other solution can be provided or no deepest reflexion is planed ....
It's is highly frustrating when it's about some couple's problems a foreigner would like to talk about, and his (her) chinese partner use this answer as "last argument"...

Chairman Mao said "the problem should be put on the table or they will stay unsolved" but it's still a tradition to avoid the problem instead of facing it.

I would like to have more reports of ways the mixed couples manage theyr cultural problems : thinking about the chinese new year approaching : the problem that will come soon will be : "what do we do for chinese new year ?"

#2011-12-23 09:36:07 by aussieghump @aussieghump

Haha Tanshui, that is a great one to use....I forgot how that is so infuriating to Chinese people when you do it!!! Maybe it is the reverse of "you don't know China".
The other one to use is 'it would be in your interests if you.....', this means she can't resist what you ask her to do! And also 'I would suggest you...', both relying on the 'face' concept to get the job done!

Chrisfr2 - the test of family mettle is indeed Chinese New Year, the early balance of love vs disdain, acceptance vs rejection and the melting pot of eons of emotions - enjoy!

#2011-12-26 23:32:12 by yolandan @yolandan

lol

no why, just can't help laughing, hahaha

#2011-12-26 23:44:29 by yolandan @yolandan

Chinese always enjoy saying like that:" Everything might be possible, because this is in China "...........In fact, it is not a joke, but a complaint and sarcasm..........living in such a country, Chinese have been keeping great patience and cynicism, or all of these unfair and unbelievable matters would be too much to stand.

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