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Peter lived for nearly a half-decade in China, including two as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is the author of Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice and the (Chinese) Way. It is the intention of his blog to foster the sort of intercultural understanding necessary for long term relationships.
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An Ugly American    

By Peter V
3184 Views | 8 Comments | 6/19/2013 4:26:11 PM

Sometimes I think there ought to be a minimum amount of time that one is required to reside in China before being allowed to write anything about it. Otherwise you get pieces like the one I just read in an online magazine called Escape from America titled “A Foreigner’s First Thoughts on Living in Chinese Culture,” a collection of misperceptions, falsehoods and inanities. I can’t in good conscience encourage you to read the entire piece. But I will present some of its greatest hits (sarcasm intended) in order to see what you should avoid if you want to write intelligent commentary on China.

The piece begins with the author's encounter with Chinese food:

“One of my first nights here, I was able to meet some foreigners who were here teaching English at private schools in the area. During our dinner of many mysterious meats, I interrogated them for a few minutes until our conversation was interrupted by the gentlemen at the next table puking his guts out all over his table… and just… continuing to eat. That happens quite a bit here I was told.”

So Chinese people routinely throw up at restaurant tables—and keep eating. Despite the fact that in four years of living in China I have not witnessed nor heard of anything like this, I’m not calling the author a liar. But if it happened, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation, one that makes the event completely familiar to the Western mind. There are not really any bars in China; or rather, Chinese people do not go to bars. Hence, they do most of their drinking at restaurants. So if someone is going to get shitfaced, it is going to happen at a restaurant, not at a bar. Now, I used to bartend quite a bit in America. And once in a great while, someone would lose it at the bar, (though more than likely they would make it to the bathroom). It was a rare event, but it happened. And, sure, the guy might ask for another drink to get the taste out of his mouth. I submit this is nothing different than what the American witnessed in the Chinese restaurant.

When he is not misunderstanding Chinese culture, the author simply loads his piece with banal observations like “pollution is a big problem here,.” I mean, this guy seriously had to travel halfway around the world to figure this out. Another piece of news in the article is that” the male-female ratio is increasing extremely rapidly.” These are actual quotes. I simply cannot believe anyone would publish something that has the status of “the earth goes around the sun” in so far as being common truths that everyone knows if they know anything about China news.

And when he is not reciting the obvious, he sounds sadly clueless. At one point he declares: “I also thought there would be bicycles everywhere.” I mean, come one. Have you read anything about China in the last twenty years? Or again, “If you do poorly in school, you are severely limited by what careers you can choose. But if you are the top of your class your options multiply.” And this differs from America how?

But it gets better, or rather worse. I submit this as the STUPIDEST sentence ever written about China, and perhaps the stupidest sentence written about politics in the full realization that this is quite a competition: “Interestingly – just as our President waves a Democratic flag and practices Socialism; in China, the current party waves a Communist flag and practices Totalitarianism

I consider myself a nonviolent person, but might have to break my vow if I met the person who wrote this sentence. First, I thought we would have all gotten over our calling Obama a Socialist in 2008. Socialism is a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production. Now, as much as I would like American to look like that, it simply doesn’t. And one of the reasons the Republicans lost the last two elections is that saying America does look that makes you sound crazy to normal people. I have to confess to not knowing what the hell the second part of this sentence means. The implied meaning is that Communism is somehow theoretically opposed to Totalitarianism and that there is some internal contradiction in Chinese politics. But since both political systems are founded on state control of private and public life, it is hard to see what the alleged inconsistency is. But that’s what happens when you flunk out of college your freshman year.

You don’t realize the quality of the writing and the insights on China Love Match until you look around the internet and see how much crap there is written about China. This is far from the worst. So I pose the following rule: If you are going to write something about China, a six month minimum time living here should be required. That and an IQ test.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 8 of 8) 1
#2013-06-19 21:22:01 by 345 @345

是的,中国污染是一个大的问题,这站人们很伤心。

#2013-06-20 18:39:20 by williammorris @williammorris

Do you doubt why most Europeans think that America is a nation of idiots?

#2013-06-21 00:18:35 by mary0624 @mary0624

Great blog! I absolutely agree with the rules posed: “If you are going to write something about China, a six month minimum time living here should be required. “

#2013-06-21 15:13:30 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Sorry Peter, but I think the rule really should simply be "If you're an idiot, don't write about anything!"

@williammorris - as we spent the last couple of years watching Europe's economy unravel due to incredible mismanagement of nation after nation, it became abundantly clear that there are no shortage of idiots over there. In fact it seems like a clear case of the patients running the asylum.

I am not an American BTW.

#2013-06-21 20:25:52 by Enyaluo1977 @Enyaluo1977

I really appreciate your opinion " If you are going to write something about China, a six month minimum time living here should be required".
This is basic and minimal respect for people and a country someone want to speak about!
Whenever and whatever I wrote something for comments, I will write first on my computer according to my experience and knowledge, then check over it before put on this site. I think it's the respect for anyone whom my comments for and who will see my comments.
Well done, Peter!

#2013-06-24 03:43:43 by 10nmblfingers @10nmblfingers

@peter In response to your article I have to agree with John Abbot. How is a n idiot supposed to know? All kidding aside the internet (as does life) has more BS than fact. Idiocy is not am American trait...It has been a pandemic for centuries. I am sorry for those who don't know any better.
With kindness and gratitude

#2013-06-24 05:09:33 by jpcharcutier @jpcharcutier

Well, it's quite common that more or less narrow minded and/or poorly educated people would publish their comments, remarks and articles abt this and that. I won't mind that any sort of people would write about their impressions and points of view - it's their good right... but would hardly read their verbal excriments, nor would I judge them idiots even though they may approach as such... however, I'd never see 'm as spokesmen or -women of a nation ;-)

#2013-06-25 23:11:19 by sandy339 @sandy339

Haha, everybody is so interesting here, I cann’t help laughing…
It is a so great argument!!
I like and enjoy reading your blogs, so precise logic and accurate diction…
I agree with you Stephen Hilgart needs to check his IQ and sanity.

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