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John DeBellotte is an American expat living in Xinhui. John worked as a Pennsylvania State Agent in America and as well as owns Chinese Gong Fu Schools in America, where is is a four time martial arts hall of famer. John spends his time teaching young children and business men English and having fun. John is looking for a fun Chinese girl and speaks some Putonghua & Xinhuihua.
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Chinese But Not!    

By John DeBellotte
4689 Views | 3 Comments | 5/23/2012 12:49:33 AM

I'm still in the USA overseeing a major expansion of my my gongfu organization so I apologize for the limited blog posts. I'll most likely be here for the next two years minimum so I've decided to simply bring my fiancée to America. It'll take about four months for her to get here. So as I suffer here in a country that I love under a government that I hate, I notice some interesting things with the local Chinese community.

For example, I can now tell if someone is ABC, Hong Kong, Taiwanese, or North or South mainland after being around them for about five minutes. Ha ha it’s often very funny to be around ABC's they look Chinese but under the skin they're not easily recognized as such. But that's almost to be expected. The most interesting thing I personally experience is the Taiwanese & Hong Kong ren. These two Chinese groups when living in America (based on my personal experiences in New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, & Toronto) are so unrecognizable as Chinese that Chinese often ask them if they are Japanese!

I'll give you an example; Last week I was invited to bless a new business with a traditional lion dance. Upon entering the office my students were stunned. There was no alter Daoist or Buddhist, it had not been swept, there was no incense to honor their ancestors and many more bad omens. Now all my students at this place were American and they refused to bless this grand opening until the owners took it seriously. In fact they were so offended that they bought the alter and alter tools, brought them to me to activate them or dot the eyes red as its sometimes called, and measure the feng shui so that it was placed properly according to the Daoist (道教不是道家) tradition, swept and cleaned the business ,the business was owned by Hong Kong ren.

So we did the ceremony and then I said come we must drink tea for the success of your business. At this point we were shocked once again to find that not only did they have no tea, they had no tools for traditional tea art! Once again my students unable to accept this and purchased a full tea art set and 18 cups. They bought 18 on purpose because in Cantonese Sup Baht or 18 sounds similar to terms that wish you well on your announcement or business opening. We drank the hong cha, wished the owner good luck and took our leave.

One of my students became very guilty and asked me, "is it our (Westerners) fault that they did not know their tradition?" I said, why do you think that? She told me that everywhere she travels she sees people glorifying our tradition over their own or tourists complaining about the culture around them as if they were forced to be there. Then with tears in her eyes she said, "Dashi, are there any real Chinese left?" Her emotion moved me, I told her yes the true, great Chinese people are alive and well. But in truth I am also troubled that China may lose her self amongst western fever.

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#2012-05-23 14:16:49 by abi513 @abi513

Really John?

I don't think you, Chinese people or the Chinese government needs to be troubled or worried that China will loose herself or be assimilated in the midst of Western fever or exposure.

In fact, I believe it is the REVERSE and North America and Europe should be more concerned about this!

Fifty percent of the nearly 1.4 billion Chinese in the P.R.C. are still in the rural areas with most having a minimal education and still firmly entrenched in traditional Chinese thinking, culture and superstitions.

I'm sure you've noticed Confucious Institutes sprouting-up like weeds worldwide, Western twenty-somethings sporting Chinese symbol tattoos that they haven't a clue to what they mean and even you could illustrate this point.

If that isn't enough, the Chinese movie giant Wanda Group just acquired the American movie giant AMC only waiting on final approval from Washington. This merger will allow the export of more Mainland Chinese movies to America and thus their culture.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but "China may loose herself amongst western fever" ? I'm confident this will not ever happen much less in our lifetime, our children's or their children's lifetime.

Good article John, but a little hard to read with no paragraphs. :)

#2012-05-24 02:20:19 by lotusmaster @lotusmaster

I hope you're right. But the idea of the government buying up stuff doesn't convince me, I don't see the government as China, I see the people and their culture as China. And as I see the Confucius institutes opening up all over the place I also see that their membership is predominantly non-Chinese and in many conversations even in China, the Chinese knew less about their own cultural history than the tourist. So I still hope you are right but I am still worried about it.

And sorry about the paragraphs I actually wrote this one with the web terminal on my cell phone lol, I'll edit it now that I'm at the pc.

#2012-05-25 07:59:30 by bmccull @bmccull

Ah lotusmaster, I think you have become more Chinese than the Chinese!

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