Aug 13

Cross Cultural Dating

Written by Steve on Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 7:05 pm
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17m Now that many non-Chinese have moved to China and many native Chinese live throughout the world, cross cultural dating has become far more common. For someone leaving mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore and moving to a western country, what are some of the cultural pitfalls and traps you need to avoid and adjustments you need to make? For someone moving to any of those four areas, the same questions apply. Are the “rules” different for Chinese women dating outside their culture as compared to Chinese men doing the same?

My direct experience isn’t too pertinent since I met my wife in Phoenix and she had already been living in the States for nine years, but there were still many adjustments we (mostly I) had to make. She was the first Asian woman I had ever dated so I didn’t fall into the “yellow fever” category. However, when I was living in mainland China and Taiwan, I had a chance to observe, ask questions and learn more from others involved in cross cultural relationships.

asian-interracial-datingI am hoping this is more of a “reader contribution” forum rather than just one man’s opinion, so feel free to chime in with your own experiences and observations. I was able to find this reference paper online, studying the “cultural impact upon the dating scripts, perceptions, and behaviors of college students from the United States and Taiwan in their cross-cultural romantic relationships”. Click on the green link for the Adobe Acrobat file.

It’s important to note here that I am talking about true cross cultural relationships, not people from different ethnic groups within the same country.

Here are a few things I noticed:

1. Both parties had better like and respect each others culture, because we are all a product of our cultures and we can’t expect the other to become like us. A successful cross cultural relationship meets in the middle, not on one extreme.

2. There are cultures within cultures. I’ve noticed that couples who are from more educated, successful families tend to have an easier time adjusting to another culture. On the upper level, it’s really one world culture with subtle variances. Taking someone from a very poor family and moving them to another country can be extremely tough on that person and they tend to pick up the worst habits of the new culture. I’ve observed that there are exceptions to this rule but not many.

3. Learn each others cultural nuances. When I began to date my wife, I was kicked under the table more times than I can remember as she wanted my Chinese manners to be perfect when I was in Chinese company. I tried my best and picked it up pretty quickly. It has proven very beneficial over the years, in both business and social situations. Yet I have seen expats in China who have lived there for years, speak the language reasonably well, are in a relationship with a Chinese person yet routinely commit cultural faux pas. They have lived not in China but in expat China, and expected their Chinese mate to adapt to their situation and not the other way around. This can later cause problems in the relationship when dealing with in laws and other Chinese in social situations. As a spouse, you are expected to know Chinese mores and folkways and will embarrass your spouse if you do not. It’s not hard, just watch and imitate.

4. You don’t have to “go native” but you do have to respect the native traditions. The fact that you are from another culture gives you some leeway when it comes to certain subjects. But it’s still best to just plunge in and not worry too much about how you’d look to your friends back home. I’ve been in situations that would have been impossible to conceive in my younger days.

5. When things get a little crazy, don’t condemn! Just because its “wrong” to you doesn’t mean it’s wrong in that culture. I used to pull a little trick where in those situations I’d say to myself, “That’s very interesting!” Sometimes I’d have to say it three or four times but it kept me from passing judgment on a different culture. Eventually, I’d get used to it and it wouldn’t be such a big deal.

6. Never compare cultures. If you do, you won’t be happy and he/she won’t either. Always accept a culture as an intrinsic whole. There are heads and tails on a coin but in the end, there is only one coin and you can’t have just the heads or the tails. Cultures are the same, you accept them as a whole and not in parts. In fact, that applies not just to cultures but also to relationships; there are no “good” and “bad” points to another person, just different manifestations of the same intrinsic qualities. Splitting a person or a culture into parts makes for eventual disappointment.

7. Revel in rather than complain about the differences. My wife has an accent; she’ll always have an accent since she came here as an adult. She has a huge English vocabulary and is easy to understand, but for me her accent is charming and I could not imagine her without it. Plus, I always feel that her English compared to my Chinese is so superior that I would be an idiot to find fault with her.

8. Parents: This can be a tough one. Many times couples will have problems with either set of parents not approving of the relationship. I never had this problem but it can be pretty common with some. Some are into the “pure blood” grandchildren idea, while others feel the cultures are just too different for a successful marriage. I know in Taiwan, many women there have complained about marrying the firstborn son and being poorly treated by their in-laws, since that son is supposed to take care of his parents. I know quite a few divorces that later took place because of this situation.

When I lived in Shanghai, many of the women in my office were curious about my marriage and how my wife and I got along, being from different cultures. As it turns out, we have more in common in terms of attitude, lifestyle and outlook than anyone I’ve ever met, so it’s been pretty easy in terms of adjustment. But I also asked them about what they expected in a boyfriend/spouse and what they thought of foreign men they had met. Their answers were interesting. It’s important to note that these women were from excellent universities and very intelligent.

They didn’t date in high school, they studied in high school. They didn’t date in college, they studied in college. Dating begins after college and most importantly, they didn’t believe in casual dating. What I mean by that is that they expected to be friends first until they knew each other well, then the man would ask the woman to be his girlfriend and if she accepted, they were not only dating but seriously dating. I remember one friend telling me she had accompanied an American work colleague shopping and when they were done, he asked her if she considered this a date. She said “of course not” and was surprised he had even considered it so. The older generation was more conservative in terms of sexual mores while the younger generation (one child) went from their first kiss to well beyond in a relatively short period. Marriage was expected to occur and several told me that if they dated two different people and neither worked out, they would let their parents find a spouse for them.

This was where a lot of westerners got confused. They expected the dating rules to be the same as home, and would try to “pick up” girls at bars and when successful, would wonder why the girl was a ‘gold-digger’. They’d also wonder why many girls would get annoyed when they asked them to dance at a club. I was told that nice girls don’t dance with strangers and to ask them is kind of an insult. When some of these western guys would ask me where they could meet nice girls, I always told them, “anywhere but in a bar or club”. I constantly heard the women in my office describe others as either “good girls” or “bad girls”.

I was told by a younger lady in Shenzhen that the rules were different there and that most girls in high school were already dating. Different parts of China might have different cultural standards so again, this is just what I heard from others when there. Standards might have changed since that time so today’s world is probably a little different.

I once ran into an interesting situation that showed me the difference between polite behavior in Taiwan vs. China. I was with a group of Shanghainese men and women, and it started to rain. I had brought a very large umbrella with me so I was sharing it with one of the women. As we got to a busy intersection, without thinking I extended my elbow since this is considered polite in Taiwan. She took it but when we had crossed the intersection, she immediately let go and said that she didn’t want others to think she was a “bad girl”. I was confused and asked why. Well, she was a “poor” Chinese girl and I was a “rich” foreigner so they’d see her taking my elbow and assume she was a “bad girl”, since that was the stereotype. I’m not sure if her attitude was widespread but after that I was more hesitant to do something that would have been considered impolite NOT to do in Taiwan.

So in the end, it is important to understand that there are cultures within cultures and it’s best to observe and imitate. But remember to protect your shins. 😛

There are currently 4 comments highlighted: 45621, 45631, 45658, 45659.

166 Responses to “Cross Cultural Dating”

  1. James Says:

    Very interesting and informative. I’ve grown up in the US, so sometimes I find Chinese culture to be very confusing as well. Usually I get by by not saying or doing more than is absolutely necessary.

    I’ve also noticed that sometimes various cultures share similarities. For example, among some Hispanic societies, women are traditionally supposed to be very conservative. It seems like something that occurs in places that haven’t been fully industrialized and are hence more socially conservative.

    In places like Beijing, social norms seems to be a lot more similar to the US’s.

  2. Wukailong Says:

    I would like to add something to point 2, or maybe change the orientation a little bit. There are also cultures within cultures in the sense that even though you understand a culture well within a certain group, you might still be in for a culture shock when it comes to new kinds of relationships. I think I have a good grasp of Chinese culture, but becoming part of another family was a challenge because there’s a new set of rules for how to treat parents and grandparents. This comes naturally to someone who’ve been growing up with it, but I had to learn it. I think I’m doing well but it was hard at times.

    In the same way, Chinese expecting a certain kind of treatment from a Western family, including both niceties as well as obligations, might be in for a hard time too until they get the hang of it. Chinese and Westerners do have different ideas of what is “considerate”, and when these expectations are not met and they do not have the adequate knowledge, they dismiss each other as impolite.

    As for comparing cultures, I think that’s OK as long as you don’t think one culture is “better” than the other. I like seeing similarities between Swedish and Japanese culture, or between Chinese and American, for example.

    It’s very common in China for people to speak about cultural differences and assume them, sometimes so much it might be comical. I was once trying to avoid a person but did what people in most places would probably do, saying I was very busy and couldn’t find a time to see her. Finally I felt a bit silly about this and agreed for a meeting (which was OK) and she said:
    – I like the honesty of Western people. When you say that you don’t have time, you actually don’t, but here in China it would be an excuse for not seeing me!
    Of course, I don’t know if that was serious or a gripe at something. 😉

  3. Frank Says:

    Yeah, it was a shock to discover that there is no middle ground between “no relationship” and “fiancee”. Either you’re not getting any, or you’re getting married, making plans for the future, and not getting any either.

    Chinese men are outraged by foriegn men stealing their women, since there are not enough women to go around in China. Their view is that foreign men look down on Chinese women, since white men expect white women, and it’s condescending to accept anything less. Not saying I approve of this, but this viewpoint definitely exists and is widely shared in China.

  4. barny chan Says:

    I think that in any discussion about this topic you have to consider the potentially uncomfortable fact that a significant number of Western men move to China with the primary intention of finding a Chinese wife. Generally, the men who fall into this category do so because they’re uncomfortable with the independence and assertiveness of Western women and are hoping to find a more “traditional” – read submissive – Chinese partner.

  5. Wukailong Says:

    @barny chan: That’s probably true for a group of people, but the men will soon find that they’re on the submissive end – rather than the other way around! 🙂

  6. barny chan Says:

    @Wukailong, I didn’t actually say that they’d find what they’re looking for…

    However, I think it’s indisputable that there’s a worrying sub-culture of Western men in China who, given the opportunity and a few bottles of Tsingtao, freely vent their misogynistic rage at Western women while fetishising their Asian counterparts. These guys would be losers wherever they are on the planet, but the combination of the language barrier, politeness towards outsiders, and straightforward cultural misunderstandings (“What? Aren’t all Western guys grey-haired pony-tailed priapic creeps?”) allow them to masquerade as adequate human beings for far longer than they deserve. They’re a blight on China, but also on the reputation of western men generally.

  7. Steve Says:

    @ barny chan: I think you’re referring to Charisma Man!!

    Another look here.

  8. Judge Not Reinhold Says:

    There is nothing “uncomfortable” about the fact that some Western men move to Asia to increase their dating potential. It’s a rational decision, a form of romantic arbitrage. The strategy often works because local women are interested.

    It’s obvious why local men and Western women hate the concept. They can’t stand the competition.

    The interesting question is why some Western men preach against the practice. A warped sense of moral superiority is my guess.

  9. barny chan Says:

    Judge Charisma Reinhold, there’s a distinct lack of logic in your ability to simultaneously maintain that there’s nothing uncomfortable about western guys moving to Asia specifically for sex (and sex, for the losers in question, is what it comes down to) and that “local men and Western women hate the concept”.

    There are far more convincing and complex reasons for disliking the trend than the simplistic claim that “local men and Western…can’t stand the competition”. Wherever and whenever there have been disparities in wealth, sex becomes a commodity (and spare me the the standard misogynistic line that buying dinner in the west amounts to paying for sex), and it’s just as understandable for a financially struggling guy in Shanghai to be pissed off at the “competition” as it was for a Parisian in 1945 watching American GIs trading food for sex. As for Western women, the reality is that they’re delighted that some of the seediest guys in existence have removed themselves from the scene – let’s be frank, these guys can’t get laid in the West anyway.

    When it comes to disapproval from Western men, I’m guessing a prime factor is that they dislike the possible assumption that they themselves are no more than sexpats.

  10. Steve Says:

    Well said, Barny. This post was not intended to be about loser guys moving to China and pretending to be Brad Pitt, it’s about legitimate romantic relationships. It’s also not about western guys dating Chinese women, it’s about cross cultural relationships. I know more than a few couples where the guy is Asian and the girl is Caucasian, so it’s not a one-way street.

    Yeah, some guys go to Asia, usually as English teachers, to hit on local girls. And I’ve seen the local girls they date. For the most part, both deserve each other. It has nothing to do with moral superiority, it has to do with reality. Those marriages virtually never work out if they do happen. And I have seen nice young women’s lives that were ruined by false promises made by western men. Go to China, screw up a young woman’s life, then go home. If you want love to be a business proposition, there are plenty of hookers who can arrange it. Again, nice girls do not casually date. All I can see in Judge Not Reinhold’s opinion is a warped sense of moral inferiority. It’s what gives expats a terrible reputation in their host countries. Remember, you are a guest there by invitation. You have no “right” to be there and it is up to you to learn and absorb that country’s cultural characteristics.

    A friend of mine once told me a story. She was talking to her mother about one of her aunts who was in her 40’s at the time, very attractive yet never married. Her mother told her why. Back when China was just opening up to the west, this aunt had met an American businessman and they fell in love. He asked her to marry him and gave her an engagement ring. She announced her upcoming wedding to her entire family. She stayed with him at his hotel (thereby losing her virginity at at time when that was very important) for the last two months he was in China and then it was time for him to go back to the States. He told her he would arrange things so she could move there and they could marry. He left her his work and home address and phone numbers and said he would contact her once he got back. She was very exciting and very much in love.

    Weeks passed, yet no word. Finally she called the work number but no such number existed. Same with the home number and both addresses. He had lied to her in order to have sex and a live in girlfriend. Since that time, she has never dated; a life ruined. This isn’t some made up story, it’s real life. Believe me, if I could ever meet this guy, I’d put his head through a wall.

    Yet he probably thought it was no big deal and she’d get over it. That’s the kind of attitude that infuriates me. Expecting YOUR morals to be the only acceptable ones is the epitome of the “ugly uncultured foreigner”, no matter what country you are in.

  11. miaka9383 Says:

    I think one of the biggest mistakes that some cross cultural relationship (or any other relationship) makes is not communicate your intentions/goals and views of the future clearly. There is this young woman that I knew, went into a relationship thinking it was going to be like in Asia where girls go on a date with men with the intention to marry and have a serious committed relationship. The guy on the other hand could just be looking for someone to have “fun” or just casual dating. This type of miscommunication tend to hurt the female but both of them never express their own views about the date or the friendship or their relationship in general. Because of cultural differences and if both sides do not communicate well enough about their intentions or views on the future, this could cause a lot of problems.

  12. Steve Says:

    @ miaka: Just wondering, was the girl born in Asia but living in US? Or was she ABC? How much difference is there culturally between an MIT such as yourself and a Taiwanese American born here in terms of cultural understanding and expectations? Do you see any differences between women from Taiwan as compared to women from China in terms of the dating culture?

  13. miaka9383 Says:

    The girl was born in Asia but living in U.S.
    I am not sure how much difference is there between an MIT or an Taiwanese American only because, there are not many of them my age here for me to compare. My friend Will, he is a American born Chinese and his parents were from Guangzhou. He considers himself American first and foremost than a Chinese. His dating views are same as every other American guy I knew and I think a tradition Chinese woman would scare him off.

    When it comes to Dating in Taiwan ( I have no point of reference about Dating in China) I have noticed a trend of women getting married later and later. These women while single are very progressive, independent career women. Often time after they get married, they take the passion that they have for their job back home to take care of family and in laws becoming domestic again. It is definitely different here where some guys do not expect you to stay home unless you want to. In Taiwan, there is still an expetation of women staying home, having babies and cook and clean adn take care of the household.

  14. Jed Says:

    —- from a person with years of a “cross-cultural” relationship under my belt , in my opinion the gap between sexes and genders is far bigger than the gap between cultures..

  15. miaka9383 Says:

    why do you say that?

  16. Uln Says:

    I think it depends very much on the character of the 2 parties.

    For example, a close friend of mine informs me that in his case it is not difficult at all. On the contrary it is a challenge to have to communicate in Chinese full-time with his girlfriend and family, and he enjoys every minute of it. Instead, he cringes at the thought of the Christmas dinners back home, where his 3 old aunties ask how to say poodle in Chinese, and then they declare it an unintelligible language, drawing no little joy from this assessment and thoroughly embarrassing the parties.

    And that is indeed the thought that worries him most: he likes diversity, he is by nature attracted to the peculiar and the different. That is precisely why he moved to Shanghai, the city where they met. But what about her? She never chose to leave her hometown, nor was she deliberately chasing a foreigner; it all happened fortuitously. Most people are not interested or even able to adapt to a new culture, why would she be any different?

    There will be a time when he will want to share his new family with the old one back home, and he worries that the symmetrical experience – she back in homeland – will be much more complicated than this one, and that the 3 aunties test will be a difficult one to pass, not to mention others like language, work, etc.

    PS. Steve, good picture, you and your wife come out really nice!

  17. Steve Says:

    @ miaka #13: I think your friend Will is “dis-oriented”. 😀

    Your second paragraph reminded me of a conversation I had with a Taiwan born physics professor at UCSD. Both our wives were from Taiwan and I remember him saying, “Steve, we should have married Chinese rather than Taiwanese women”. I asked him why and he said, “As soon as they can, the Taiwan wife will quit working and stay home full time, while the Chinese wife will continue to work no matter how much money you have”. That’s actually pretty accurate in my experience.

    @ Jed #14: One of the Chinese women here was telling me a story about how a group of them with American husbands used to meet to discuss cross cultural issues. In one meeting, one of the women discussed a “cross cultural” problem she was having with her husband but it turned out it wasn’t cross cultural at all, it was a man/woman problem common to all cultures. I agree that once you get past the cross cultural issues, all people are the same. However, some marriages can end because of cross cultural issues so it is an extra impediment to a successful marriage or relationship that must be considered. But as they say, you can see it as a problem or as an opportunity, and choosing it as an opportunity can turn it into an overall advantage.

    @ Uln #16: Ha ha, I guess you don’t marry a person, you marry both them and their families. Fortunately we never had that problem. My wife’s family is terrific and she thinks the same of mine. If we ever divorced, my family would blame me and her family would blame her. 😛

    Peculiar and different? That’s interesting because I never found any of my friends from over there to be either one. I was always amazed how much we all had in common. In fact, I’m not particularly attracted to any one race or ethnic group; I was attracted to my wife because of her own unique characteristics, a “love at first sight” sort of thing. I guess I see the similarities far more than the differences, which to me are more form than function. All roads eventually lead to the same results.

    I completely agree about adapting to a new culture. It seems people are born with the ability to adapt and it can’t be learned. I have noticed that the higher the class, the easier it is for them to adapt to another culture. At that level, all cultures begin to merge. In China, it seemed that the people whose grandparents had been wealthy before the revolution had a greater ability to adapt than the nouveau riche. Similar to miaka, I’ve also seen that so many couples don’t talk out their future expectations before marriage. The Chinese spouse thinks they’ll live in China forever while the foreign spouse expects them to move back to that spouse’s homeland sooner or later, “because it is a more affluent culture, schools are better, more opportunities, blah blah blah”. I’ve also seen couples marry, have a kid and then divorce. Now the foreign spouse can’t leave China without leaving their child, so they stay far longer than they had envisioned.

    No, that’s not us. My wife is MUCH prettier than that girl!! 😉

  18. Sonia Says:

    Reminds me of this.


    I think cross-cultural dating is difficult regardless of whether you’re in the same situation or not. I’ve dated a fellow Asian-American…fairly casually at first. Simply because we weren’t the same kind of Asian, the family situation became a nightmare. That kind of pressure forced us to either “break up” or consider all kinds of serious future plans that as young American, we weren’t prepared to consider in the first couple months of dating.

  19. Raj Says:

    Steve, thanks for the interesting post.

    After I’d been together with my past girlfriend (Chinese) for maybe a few months, she said that I was becoming more and more “Chinese”. To this day I’m not even sure what she meant by that because I don’t think I’d actually done anything differently.

    What maybe happened was that over time she’d simply slipped into her comfort zone so it was almost as if she was back in China dating a Chinese guy. Though to be honest I thought she was dropping some of her “Chinese” baggage and becoming more “British” in her views/attitudes. Like her views on when she “had” to get married and have children.

    I find that the best approach to relationships is not to get bogged down on where someone comes from and remember that everyone is an individual with their own approach to life. Always be prepared that you might need to modify the way you do things, but never make assumptions – otherwise you could easily offend the other person.

  20. miaka9383 Says:

    That’s Zhan Zi yi and her Jewish Rich BF.. I heard they were broken up and gotten back together and broken up again…..

  21. pug_ster Says:

    Yeah, I do think that’s one thing some Westerners don’t understand about the importance with family. Many westerners just think marriage is with the man and the woman but in reality the conflict could go within the family. It happened to me last year when my sister (who is fairly Americanized) married an American. She did it without my parents approval and gave them little notice for the wedding (like less than a week.) Personally I wouldn’t go to the Wedding but my parents understand little English and would not go unless I go. So me and my mom went, (my dad didn’t go.) The Wedding went okay, but I recall that the next day when they went to their ‘honeymoon,’ while leaving us in my new brother-in-law’s house for more than 1/2 of the day until a car comes by to pick us up to the airport. My mom and dad never spoke highly of his new son-in-law and I don’t have alot of respect for him either. Since marrying for more than a year, they never came by to visit my parents. Many of my relatives spoke badly of how my parents can’t properly raise a daughter.

    For me, sometimes I have to tell my wife to stop disrespecting my parents as I never disrespect her parents.

  22. miaka9383 Says:

    Relating back to this topic… do you think your sister’s relationship is set for doomed because her husband does not respect your parents in your opinion and in turn influences your sister not to respect your parents also? Do you think it causes problems in their relationship?
    Also, on a cultrual note, do you think your parents should tell you who to marry even if it is someone you absolutely hate? doesn’t that create more problems? It is a fine line with respecting your parents and being obedient towards to your parents to the extreme. How do you differentiate that line? If lets say your wife is a “westerner” or in this case American Chinese, and traditions are different in her household, and your parents still dictates your actions and her actions how far is too far? The only reason I am asking is you sound like, no matter what your wife does, if your mom disrepects her it is ok, but if she stands up for herself you put her in her place. Feel free to clarify my misconception.

  23. Sonia Says:

    I think Pug_ster simply meant that different expectations for the role of the family can significantly impact the marriage, which is very true. However, in Pug_ster’s sister’s case, I think it’s due more to a personal misunderstanding/disrespect rather than due to different cultural norms. I don’t think in any culture is it ok to inform your parents that you’re getting married in less than a week.

    Actually, to go off of what Steve said about cultures within cultures, the family problem is a significant issue even in Chinese-Chinese families. Some of it is due to different regions, and the generation-gap between mother-in-law/daughter-in-law. I’d recommend Korean Family Dramas as very deep analysis into this social problem ( 😛 ). Despite “cultural tendencies”, often, it really just has to do with personality, because not ALL Shanghainese women are nit-picky, and not ALL Northeastern men are chauvinistic, and not ALL ex-pats are romantic.

    My mother’s own unpleasant experiences with my father’s family has her going so far to suggest that I avoid marrying Asian men in general, especially the Northern ones (ie. Japanese, Korean, and Northern Chinese; ironically, my dad’s actually Shanghainese). It doesn’t help that the Asian men she has met in the US seem to have double standards for White and Asian women. I haven’t experienced this personally, but my mom swears that Chinese men here are more respectful to White women, especially White working women, but think that a Chinese wife should stay at home and take care of the kids.

    Anyway, it’s all much more complicated than it should be. I think the most important thing though, is to communicate your expectations before serious commitments, and be very very picky about mother-in-laws before you get married.

  24. miaka9383 Says:

    I agree. I can definitely understand that there are different family expectations and when you are in a relationship you have to adapt to them. I know even my dad and I do not get along, my parents and my family have at least met my boyfriend. That is just the unspoken rule in my family.
    On a side note, if I was to get married in the future, like your mom, I’d probably choose an American or Chinese man over Taiwanese man due to personal experiences. And I was actually told Steve, just from looking at my Taiwanese girl friends’ relationships, their experience also deter me from want to date Taiwanese men even more.

  25. pug_ster Says:


    I don’t know much about much of my sister’s relationship between her and her husband so I can’t answer that. It has certainly affected the relationship between my sister and my parents because they don’t talk as much as they used to. I do not hate my brother in law because he is an American but because he has little sensitivity toward Chinese culture, even when I have told him about it. If the person my sister married was an American Chinese and done the same thing, I would would have said the same thing and I would’ve have the same displeasure about this. This is not any prejudice toward Americans (like Steve), but I find that many Americans are ignorant toward non-American culture thus this is the result.

    I do not think parents should tell you who to marry, as my parents make a few complaints about my wife when we got married. But at least I would try to resolve them before things get worse. Neither my parents nor I should tell her should tell her who to marry, as we respect their decision, but it does not mean that we like it. My parents didn’t ask her to be obedient either, did not dictate our actions, or made any special requests, but their only request is to respect Chinese culture, which they did not. My parents used to be very close to my sister, but after the wedding the relationship between them soured.

    I never said that my mom disrespect my wife but the other way around. If my mom says anything that disrespects my wife, I would have said something to my mom also.

  26. miaka9383 Says:

    The only reason I asked that comment about the relationship between your mom and your wife… is because mother in law -daughter in law relationships is already hard on both women, but I noticed in Chinese culture or any Asian Culture often times the relationship contains a lot of complex problems. What do you think about that? if it were you who is caught in a middle how would you deal with the situation?

  27. huaren Says:

    Hi Steve,

    Good post.

    Dan Harris over at China Law Blog has referenced your article, and a Jerome Cole has commented there:

  28. pug_ster Says:


    I don’t think the of daughter in law and mother in law problems is a chinese culture thing as many westerners have the same problems.

  29. Sonia Says:


    The mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship is complex enough by itself. But I do think that many Asian families have the issue magnified. I think this has to do at least in part with the fact that in the US, nuclear families have been the norm a couple generations longer than in Asia, and also because Asia is changing so that nuclear families are increasing. Nuclear or extended families being the norm sets different social and environmental expectations to the role of parents, children, and in-laws. In the US, even if you live with your parents, you are expected to have separate spheres and room to breathe. In Asia, even if you don’t live with your parents, or live very far away from them, parental influence may be overwhelming for someone not expecting it. Due to changing times, more daughter-in-laws are embracing the “nuclear family” image, and more mother-in-laws are suffering from the disappointments by the younger generation not living up to their ideals of a proper wife. So this change and clash in the traditional and modern social structure is causing a lot of tensions, even more so than normal. Of course this isn’t only true or always true in Asia, just that mainstream US and mainstream Asia are the only cultures I’m familiar enough with to generalize.

  30. Steve Says:

    @ Sonia #18: What made the family situation so bad? Was it more on his side or your side? Sometimes I think it’s harder for an Asian to date another Asian from a different nationality than it is to date a non-Asian. The expectations are lower with the non-Asian within the family.

    Ah Sonia, you’ll come up with any excuse to watch Korean soap operas!! 😛

    @ Raj #19: Based on my experience, my guess is that you were actually becoming more “Asian” but it had become habit to the point of being on the subconscious level. Because your girlfriend interacted so much with you, she was subtly doing the same. But if she got rid of some of her “Chinese” baggage, does that mean she was acquiring “British” baggage?? 😉

    I think the marriage age thing has changed a lot in China. Only one woman in our China offices married before 30, so the older age for marriage is exactly what Miaka pointed out in her earlier post. In this respect, the mainland and Taiwan seem to be the same.

    Your comment about not making assumptions echoes what Miaka said about communication. Communication is probably the key aspect in all relationships, but it has an even larger role to play in cross cultural ones. In this respect, there is a Chinese trait I really admire and that is directness. My wife tells me exactly what she is thinking and what her wants and needs are. Many other cultures think each should be a mind reader and since men and women think differently, that’s asking for the impossible.

    @ pug_ster #21: I think what your brother-in-law did was rude in any culture, so I agree with Sonia that it was more of an individual thing than a cultural matter. However, what you wrote did remind me of a particular Chinese characteristic that is good to mention. If you are non-Asian and you are meeting your girlfriend, spouse or wife’s relatives for the first time, as soon as you enter the room you look for the oldest person and immediately go to them and introduce yourself. In fact, you should do this in any social situation involving East Asians. You’ll score LOTS of points!! I’m so used to doing this now that I even do it when there are no Asians in the room.

    In general, I have met good guys that treat their wives very well from every Chinese speaking region and country. There might be certain stereotypes that are based on the truth, but there are always plenty of exceptions. I think you just need to look at the individual and not the region.

    Typically, each culture’s family expects the other spouse to adapt to their style and not the other way around. That’s why both the man and the woman need to change their style depending on which family they are with. When I’m in Taiwan, my cultural style is Chinese since I don’t expect them to adapt to me but when we’re with my family, my wife adapts her style more to the American side. It can’t just be a one way street.

    pug_ster, I think the “mother-in-law” thing might be related to a cultural difference between China and Taiwan. What Miaka wrote is definitely true in Taiwan; it’s way worse than in the States, for instance. I have seen daughters-in-law married to the eldest son treated like they were the sister and mother-in-law’s personal slave. I didn’t see that in China proper and that’s why you might not have been aware of it. Several of my wife’s Taiwanese friends divorced their husbands after over ten years of marriage because of in-law problems so that reason is quite common there.

    @ Wukailong: That episode with the person you were trying to avoid is a great example when “cross cultural” differences can be a lifesaver. People can be much more forgiving when that potential is there. Even in my own marriage, sometimes my wife has said things to me that were insulting but rather than get annoyed, I’d ask her if she knew what it meant and she had misunderstood the meaning so when I explained it to her, she felt bad since it wasn’t her intention. Well, even if it was, it gave her an excuse to talk her way out of it! That’s where the differences can be an opportunity rather than a problem, ha ha!!

    @ barny chan: I’m with you and Wukailong on the submissive thing. Chinese women are NOT submissive at all. Whoever thinks that will be in for a very rude surprise!! The loser subculture usually ends up with “bad girls” who take them to the cleaners, so then they all meet at a local Irish pub and bitch all night about their girlfriends while hammering back Guinness Stouts. 😉

    Thanks to FOARP for posting that Charisma Man cartoon on another thread a few months ago. I had seen the Chinese version before but not the original. It might be the most famous “expat” cartoon ever!

    Thanks to Miaka, Sonia & Jed for the women’s perspective. I hope to hear more from Jed since she is very well traveled and also from Malaysia, so she can give us a unique perspective from that culture. Miaka & Sonia, I’m sure you’ll burst a few more stereotypes before this thread runs dry.

    Are there any Asian guys out there that can give us the other perspective? I’d like to hear about the positives and negatives of dating non-Asian women and if it tracks the same culturally.

    @ huaren: Thanks for the link to Dan’s blog. Jerome’s comment brought back a few things.

    The first is the value of a smile. I’m the first to admit that my Chinese is survival only, but I’ve found that a big smile goes a long way when meeting others, whether for business or in personal situations. In fact, when I lived there I smiled more than any time in my life… seemed to work pretty well.

    In China, “good girls” need to be properly introduced to a stranger. If you meet a girl without an “introduction” of some kind, beware. This doesn’t mean you need to be introduced by a mutual friend; if you met her in the context of a social organization you’re ok. And don’t even attempt to kiss her on your first date; there is no such thing as a “goodnight” kiss in China. If she lets you kiss her, you’ve just committed yourself to a serious relationship.

    A kiss is a big deal with “good girls”. They don’t date for “like’, they only date for “love”. Their romantic ideal is to only date one guy, marry him and live happily ever after. I have a great respect for this style because before the couple ever kisses, they actually know each other very well and have created communication skills between themselves. It’s kind of old-fashioned but in a good way.

    Be careful with humor. Chinese humor is based more on wit than on telling jokes. I used humor a lot over there, even in my technical seminars, but I married a very witty wife and knew what was funny and what was not. Unless you are absolutely sure of this, err on the side of caution.

    This is my own personal thing but whenever I go to dinner with family, regardless of who did the inviting, I sneak my credit card to the waitress before the check arrives so when it does, my card has already been imprinted and I always pay for the meal. This works flawlessly the first time and it makes a very good impression. It also beats arguing over the check. In fact, I also do this with friends and colleagues. However, they’ll try it on you the next time so you’ll have to get your card to the waitress before they do and INSIST she doesn’t take theirs later.

    A friend of mine originally from Scotland once told me that when walking down a city street in China, check out which couples are holding hands. It’ll be almost all interracial couples. He was correct! I rarely saw Chinese couples holding hands so don’t be so quick to grab hers. Ask her first if it’s ok. This might have changed since I lived there but it was true at that time. In Taiwan it wasn’t a big deal to do so.

    I lived in Shanghai so my China examples are from there. I’m sure it’s different in other regions so if you know of any differences of if Shanghai has changed in the last few years, be sure to let us know.

  31. barny chan Says:

    Steve: “Are there any Asian guys out there that can give us the other perspective? I’d like to hear about the positives and negatives of dating non-Asian women and if it tracks the same culturally…”

    Define “Asian”. I “look” Chinese (I’m mixed race), but all of my social and cultural reference points are European, and my wife is white and American. Any cultural differences we have come from me growing up in the UK and her growing up in the USA. “Race”, which I actually think is a fairly pointless construct, had never been an issue to us in either London or NY, but for the last few years we’ve been based in Hong Kong and have had to deal with daily rudeness bordering on hostility due to the perceived inappropriateness of a “Chinese” man dating a “white” woman.

  32. Steve Says:

    Hi Barny~

    I was defining Asian as born in Asia while I’d consider you a Brit with half Chinese ancestry. Our sons are half Chinese and while one looks totally Caucasian, the youngest one is a combination of both. He’s completely American but he gets along very well with Asians.

    I’m surprised that you and your wife run into hostility in Hong Kong. I’ve only been there a few times but I would have thought it’d be no big deal there. I’ve never run into any kind of “rudeness” situations with my wife, either in Taiwan, China or Japan and certainly not here in the States. But I have heard from friends that this sort of rudeness is very common in Korea.

  33. barny chan Says:

    Steve, you’re right that HK is not as extreme as Korea (a place where any “foreigner” is constantly reminded of their otherness in a brutally direct manner), but it was a still a shock to us to find ourselves in a city where not only were we stared at as if we were zoo animals (remember HK has been multi-racial for generations, so can’t fall back on the traditional mainland excuse of unfamiliarity) but in which it’s commonplace for people of all social classes to openly and casually use vile racial epithets. HK is becoming increasingly nationalistic and an ugly consequence is that racism is increasing; if this was a political reaction against colonialism it would be more understandable, but, tellingly, it’s people of south and south-east Asian appearance who take the most extreme abuse. When did you last visit HK and how long did you spend there (a lot of the unpleasantness only becomes apparent over time)? My experience is that HK is far more “conservative” than Shanghai or Beijing.

  34. Steve Says:

    Barny, I haven’t been to Hong Kong since 2002. I’ve probably been there about 6-8 times but always for one night only since my division didn’t have any potential business in southern China (we sold to front end semiconductor while that area is strictly back end). I’d go out with my colleagues; three girls and a guy, all from Hong Kong, but never had any problems. My wife has never been there though she’s probably spent about 1-2 months in China if you add up all the trips.

    Honestly, I’ve never had a problem with racism anywhere in Asia, not even Korea where I’ve been out to dinner with women who were Korean colleagues. I guess I was just lucky or in a better part of town. My wife says it’s because I’m “distinguished looking”, whatever that means. 😉

  35. barny chan Says:

    Steve, maybe you’ve never experienced racism in Asia because as well as being “distinguished looking” you’re very “charismatic”…

  36. Uln Says:

    @ Steve – I use “peculiar and different” in a relative sense. The Chinese are not peculiar per se, but they are (were) peculiar in my eyes, just because I grew up in a completely different culture. In this sense, I am just as peculiar to them as they are to me.

    Anyway, my point was that some people like adapting to different cultures and others (the majority?) do not enjoy this so much. When there is a couple expat – local, the expat party is usually a natural traveller/adapter, while the local one is not necessarily so. This means that life might not be so easy back home as it is in China.

    Re: the picture, LOL. Note to self: don’t write posts when back from the pub …

  37. Steve Says:

    @ barny chan #35: Actually I’m not charismatic at all, but I hung around a lot of charismatic people so everyone just assumed I was charismatic. 😉

    @ uln #36: I was just kidding about the “peculiar and different” since I understood your meaning. I don’t think I seemed too peculiar to the Chinese when I was in the big cities, but I was definitely peculiar outside of them. 😛

    For some reason, the Chinese never seemed that peculiar or different to me, though I realize I’m in the minority in that way. It’s probably because I was already so used to the culture before ever going to China, having been married for well over a decade. I’d also visited Taiwan and in some ways, Taiwan is even more traditional than China because it never went through the cultural changes instituted during Mao’s time.

    I’d respectfully disagree with you about the ability of expats to naturally adapt. I didn’t see that at all. What I usually saw were expats that lived in an expat world with expat rules and they expected their girlfriend or wife to adapt to that culture. It was like a world within a world. It was a world of too much drinking, too much complaining about the local culture, too many affairs, too much non-Chinese food and to be honest, too much of an air of racial superiority. Now there were plenty of expats who did not live in that world and those I enjoyed but for the most part, they were the exception rather than the rule. I’ve read enough of your comments to know you are also in the exception category so I’m sure you understand what I’m saying.

    I could tell pretty quickly which of the local girls could adapt to life in a foreign country and which could not. I’ve been in sales and sales management all my life and part of that is understanding people quickly. But I also noticed that many girls who would not be able to adapt still thought they’d be easily able to do so. Their ideas of life, for instance, in the States, were based on watching Hollywood movies and we all know how accurate those are in depicting the real world. 😀

    One recommendation I’d give everyone living in China as an expat is to ask your Chinese friends about their grandparent’s lives. You’ll hear some extraordinary stories! Many of those stories will be heartbreaking but it’ll give you much more of an insight into how current attitudes were formed based on previous events. I’ve noticed that most of the younger people had very close relationships with their grandparents, especially their maternal grandmothers. You’ll also form a better understanding of your Chinese friends.

    On that same note, I’d also recommend (if you haven’t already) asking your own grandparents about their younger years. Most grandchildren never do this and then it ‘s too late. Think back to all the events that occurred in your own youth that you could tell your grandkids. But your grandparents won’t talk about it unless you ask them. It’ll give you much more of a sense of family history than you currently have, and probably raise your admiration of your grandparents a lot. I actually know things about my grandparents that my own parents don’t know, only because I asked them while they were still living. If you procrastinate, one day you’ll wake up and it’ll be too late. Trust me on this, you won’t regret it.

  38. Uln Says:

    @ Steve – I agree most expats are not “natural traveller/adapters” as I wrote above. I guess I was thinking of one particular kind of expat, not the majority of them.

    Anyway, I think you are being too harsh with them, I am sure it is not so black & white and there are many degrees in the attitudes you mention. Usually the expats that were sent here by companies tend to fall into one category, and the ones that came to study Chinese in another, but this rule is not always precise.

    In expat-local relations, I have the advantage that I have been on both sides. Barcelona is similar to Shanghai in that it has an enormous population of foreign residents, and since I spoke OK english I ended up making friends with many of them. It seems to be a universal reaction to judge what you see by comparison with your own background, and in moments of frustration many of them found confort in informing me of all the ways that their countries worked much better than mine. I never got angry with these things but I understand why some people would.

    Note that I was also acquainted with the growing Chinese community in the city, as I used to do language exchange with a few of them. Most are very recent expats, and their attitude was no different to the average Western expat in China: eat Chinese food, hang out with Chinese, etc. Tobe fair, they didn’t do so much of the drinking/dating because most of them were too busy working 6d/week, 12 h/day.

  39. Steve Says:

    @ Uln: Yeah, you’re probably right in that I’m too harsh on them. I was in the “sent by the corporation” category and didn’t have much interaction with the students or English teachers. I spent 98% of my time with locals so I guess I saw life more from their POV. I spent so little time in the expat world that it seemed more alien to me than the Chinese world.

    I hear ya when it comes to Chinese expats in other countries, they are very insular. I have a friend whose daughter tried to make friends with the Chinese students in her college up in San Francisco because she was a diligent student and respected their scholastic focus. It was impossible for her to break into that circle of friends; it was a closed circle.

    Even here in San Diego with our own circle of Chinese friends, most will eat out at Chinese restaurants and if they want to go wild, Japanese. Most of their friends are Chinese and they speak Chinese far more than English though they are all bilingual. I guess 90% of expats and immigrants will fall into that category.

    But I’m sure that’s true with expats and immigrants in every country. The only exception is when the country speaks your language; then it is much easier and more natural to mingle with the locals.

    I was never angry with expats with the one exception of when they denigrated the local culture. I think it was too easy for them to forget they were guests in that country and should be on their best behavior since they were representatives of their own country and culture. I was always aware that the impression locals formed of me would be their impression of my country and my culture and I wanted that impression to be a positive one. The rest of the time, I was just bewildered. Why would someone come all the way to a foreign land and not dive into it? What was the point? Wouldn’t they look back when they were older and regret not spending more time to get to know and understand the culture better?

    I think this holds true in China more than any other country. Why? Because China is undergoing a metamorphosis and what you see today will be gone in a few short years. You’re seeing a unique slice of history that will only last a short while. I’ve heard stories of other businessmen going to China in the ’80s and the world they described to me simply no longer exists. I would have loved to have seen it then, but that makes me appreciate all the more the world I was able to see and interact with when I was there. That world is already gone, replaced by new attitudes and perceptions though the underpinning is still the same; Chinese culture is very deeply rooted.

    Incidentally, I’ve promised my wife to take her to Barcelona for her 60th birthday present. That’s been her #1 travel destination for the last few years. I’ve still got some time to prepare but we’re both really looking forward to it. My youngest son was just there last month to scout it out for us.

    Hmm… Maybe I had better go watch Vicky Christina Barcelona! 😛

  40. hongkonger Says:

    Excellent post and comments!

    Steve # 37

    “What I usually saw were expats that lived in an expat world with expat rules and they expected their girlfriend or wife to adapt to that culture. It was like a world within a world. It was a world of too much drinking, too much complaining about the local culture, too many affairs, too much non-Chinese food and to be honest, too much of an air of racial superiority.

    Right on, Steve, and I also agree totally with your “Now there were plenty of expats who did not live in that world and those I enjoyed but for the most part, they were the exception rather than the rule.”

    Uln # 38

    Yes, this is of course a universal norm: ” there are many degrees in the attitudes you mention. Usually the expats that were sent here by companies tend to fall into one category, and the ones that came to study Chinese in another, but this rule is not always precise.”

    Steve, I think I agree with Barny – methinks you are a (charismatic) charmer too – a natural diplomate 🙂

    Also, as a Hong Kong local, I am afraid I can’t disagree completely with Barny’s assessment of HK’s racial tension and class divide other than to add that expats from affluent nations still generally enjoy a much more privileged social status and treatment in comparison to most locals and especially in contrast to expats from poorer nations such as those from Indonesia or Thailand or the Philippines)

    The thing is, I think a lot of , if not most guys – are generally not very good with crosscultural interactions, and I am referring only to this — at the initial stage – i.e. before the ice is broken.
    Take for example, my new and very friendly Canadian colleague persuaded me to join him at his favorite pub after work yesterday, assuring me that the regulars their are a friendly lot. When I got there, it turned out that I was the ONLY Chinese patron there. Other than the local Chinese staff, the pub was filled with expats. All white male folks – from what I could gather from their accents, they were from the UK, Australia. And I could hear a couple of loud Americans in the background and perhaps a German or two too, I’m not certain….Anyway, my colleague introduced me to his pub friends —- and —- that was that – I was basically left alone the whole time watching them play darts. I felt like a stranger in a redneck pub in this little American pub smack in the center of China expat oasis! Now, I have had similar experience in HK – my hometown – when I turned out to be the only non-white among expats. Kinda makes me wonder what the hell it is that these people talk about in the abscence of an English comprehending local. Why did it feel like the Political correct switch was suddenly flipped ? OK, I am only relating the couple of odd occassions here – not the norm. In any case, normally, when I or anybody of whatever race, for that matter, were introduced to a bunch of Chinese or Asian people, they would try something to make the new comer(s) feel welcome, either by offering a cigarette, drinks whatever. So, next time my friendly Canadian colleague asks me, I’d just have to come up with some excuse to decline. Again, I repeat, this was just one of those anomalies. Anyway, I digress.

    Back to cross-cultural dating: I am not sure, Steve, but you could be right, about the class thing. I’ve never thought of it but now that you mentioned it, it reminds me of something: Too often have I seen Asian dates who spoke only basic English sitting quietly for hours looking into oblivion while his or her date (I have noticed the same with my gay friend for example and his Chinese boyfriends) had the best time chatting away with his English-speaking friends. I always felt bad for them and would try to talk (in Chinese of course) to these out-of-place dates of anothers.

    I’ve always thought that it must be extremely difficult when the language & cultural barriers seem insurmountable with some of the cross cultural couples I know or see —Nevertheless, some work out beautifully, most don’t it seems.

  41. miaka9383 Says:

    It always disgust me when a white guy takes advantage of a new asian immigrant and to fulfill his “fetishes” and starts a relatioinship with her. I have seen this video of this young white guy and his asian girlfriend who doesn’t speak much english and he is openly hitting on girls at the mall. It is absolutely disgusting….
    As for the expats, luckily I never had to run into them in Taiwan. It should be interesting. However, for your pub experience, if I were you I would have started playing darts with them.

    I have got something else for ya…From my perspective, I know I could never get an Asian guy that is compatible to my personality. Majority of them are pretty passive aggressive and they are two faced that annoys me. For some Taiwanese girls they think when Taiwanese men takes them out on a date and carries their purse and caters to whatever they want and let the girls initiate the relationship is sweet, so they decide “oo perfect man” until they get married. These guys change right away after marriage and that not only annoys me but baffles me. They turn into chauvinist pigs, never lift a finger and expect their wives to do EVERYTHING…. I see so many cases that this happens… now guys WHY?????

  42. barny chan Says:

    hongkonger: “I felt like a stranger in a redneck pub in this little American pub smack in the center of China expat oasis! Now, I have had similar experience in HK…”

    An interesting facet of expat life is that many people become far more extreme in their national tendencies than they do in their home countries. In HK, anybody who has the misfortune to venture into Lan Kwai Fong or certain bars in Wan Chai will find loud-mouthed xenophobic Brits of an ugliness that I’ve rarely encountered in the UK. I always tell people here that they’d be mistaken in imagining that these buffoons, like their colonial predecessors (who’ve almost all gone), are representative of their home countries, and that they’d find the UK a pleasant surprise in comparison.

  43. Uln Says:

    @ Steve – Actually, I was also sent here by my company. But that is only the cover-up, my secret mission has always been to learn Chinese better than Da Shan 🙂

    Re: Vicky Chris bcn: I watched it last year. I actually saw the filming crew when I was still living there 2 years ago, they were filming right next to my house. The film’s got some nice images of the city, but otherwise it is quite so-so. Full of cliches and probably responding pretty well to what expats think Spanish should be like: passionate, artistic, crazy.. etc. At some points I even had the impression that Allen was trying to imitate Almodovar!

  44. admin Says:

    Korean men with foreign brides to get 1 million won to attend interracial marriage class.


  45. hong konger for Mr. Bell Says:

    Here is a response via email to me from USA:

    Mr. Bell from S. Carolina wrote: “Feel free HKer to quote me: re Steve’s: He had lied to her in order to have sex and a live in girlfriend. Since that time, she has never dated; a life ruined. Well, SHE chose to not date and is responsible for the rest of her story – How many women in the US or other countries have been lied to?”



    Mr. Bell wrote: “My 2 cents worth was Closet narcissist? Subtract Chinese or women and replace any wounded child (aren’t we all) will become adept at turning bad into good for them or at least i want folks to see my best side……..Maybe in my own marriage we both tend to want to have the last word…but I find less stress when i let it drop or simply say STOP TALKING…i do not like over generalizations as it too easy to let our selves off the hook by blaming others……no easy fix but listening allows us to get a clearer picture than talking about what we think we know

    Love is the answer to most questions
    Love thy enemy or as they say in the South,
    Kill them with kindness … but watch your back 😉

    Speaking of 1950s wives in USA:


  46. jael Says:

    hey admin – actually; the woman shortage in Korea has meant that Korea has been “importing” brides now for a number of years (there was a surge in this pattern of marriages in Taiwan in the 90’s, btw..). Korea actually does a fantastic job in providing integration/adjustment services – but it’s all been to get the women to adapt to Korean culture. In some countries they run pre-departure training; there are centers in every major town and many smaller ones for the women to visit once they’ve arrives and get language classes etc.. The expectation was that the women would become part of Korea’s very homogenous culture; there was no expectation of adaption (at least officially promoted) for the men. That they’re paying men to attend is indicative of the number of men who’ve been attending voluntarily 🙂

    Anyway – it’s good to see that the Korean government is expanding their very extensive program, in so far as they’re placing more emphasis on the husbands adapting as well.

  47. Steve Says:

    @ Hongkonger #40: I’m happy as long as my wife still thinks I’m charming. 😉

    It’s rude in any language or culture for your Canadian colleague to invite you to a pub and then ignore you to play darts. A host always takes care of their guests. That’s just good manners.

    I have another name for those out-of-place dates you mentioned: arm candy. My wife and I attended a Y2K new year’s eve party near San Diego at a restaurant where I think I was the only non-Chinese there with one exception. One of the older Chinese guys, probably in his 50s, had brought his Texas girlfriend who was early 20s, blond, huge boobs and pretty pneumatic, if you know what I mean. The Chinese women, with the exception of my wife, froze her out of the conversation. They were furious that he’d bring her there, possibly because their husbands were the same age as this guy and they might have similar thoughts. Later on the drive home, I introduced my wife to the expression and meaning of “arm candy”. It was pretty obvious that this couple had absolutely nothing in common, rather the attraction was her appearance and his money.

    Being that I’m friends with many cross cultural couples that HAVE worked out, it’s interesting how similar both the men and women are. All the guys are not only open to Chinese culture but embrace it. All the women are comfortable with American culture. It’s easy to see that each couple loves the other for who that person is and not because of the others cultural traits. But you’re right, most of these relationships don’t work out. My guess is that they originally married an ideal or a perceived stereotype rather than a person. The novelty of a different culture wears off pretty quickly and then it’s just two people loving each other and getting along in life.

    I still believe from a cultural standpoint, it’s easier for an American to get along with a Chinese compared to a Japanese person because of cultural similarities. Both China and the States are more direct cultures in terms of communication while Japan tends to be more indirect and relies more on non-verbal communication and body language.

    @ miaka #41: I’d have to put as much blame on the Asian girl for dating such a jerk as I do on the jerk for being a jerk. As my wife says, it takes two quarters to make noise. 🙂

    Regarding your question, I think you might have just had a few bad experiences but I certainly have not seen what you’ve experienced. Maybe it’s because the Taiwanese men I know have all been married for many years? Their wives seem pretty happy with them. Now I’ve seen what you describe, especially in Taiwan, but I don’t think it’s fair to blanket all Taiwanese guys with that stereotype. After all, look at Allen! He’s a good guy who isn’t like that at all.

    In the end, people are just people and you get every size, shape and configuration in every culture. Sure there are tendencies and certain stereotypes are based on reality, but those are just generalizations and it’s never a good idea to apply generalizations on specific individuals because you’ll see what you expect to see rather than seeing what’s actually there. Even in China, what do you hear? Beijing men all have mistresses, Shanghai men are wimps because they cook and clean and their wives boss them around, Cantonese only care about money, etc. Yet in my personal experience I didn’t run into any of this.

    @ barny chan #42: My office was in Wan Chai district (I used to stay at the Luk Kwok Hotel a few blocks away) but I never hit the bars at night so I never ran into those Brits you mentioned. I guess I’m very boring. 🙁 But it sounds like you also ran into “Charisma Man” and the rest of his charisma buddies!

    @ Uln #43: Sorry, you can never speak Chinese as well as Da Shan because he was Chinese in a previous life. But now we all know you’re a closet celeb wannabe!! 😛

    I actually saw VCB last year and my opinion is exactly the same as yours. I liked the locales and the soundtrack better than the movie. It was nice to hear Paco de Lucia again. I saw him in concert (in Albuquerque, miaka) back in the mid ’80s along with Al DiMeola and John McLaughlin when they were all playing together. I liked the early Almodovar movies but after awhile they all seemed to repeat with the same stock characters, at least to me.

    @ Hongkonger for Mr. Bell #44: Actually, Mr. Bell illustrates the point I’ve been trying to make throughout this thread. He’s looking at this from an entirely American viewpoint and what he says makes sense… in the States. But it doesn’t work that way in China.

    In the States, the concepts of “shame” and “losing face” just don’t exist. If you haven’t lived in China or a Chinese culture, you really can’t understand it. Book explanations tend to be superficial and out of context. This woman announced to her family and friends that she was marrying this guy. The shame she felt when she discovered she had been duped must have been overwhelming. Plus, she had lost her virginity. Back then, that mattered. How could she explain this to a future potential husband? The lesson here is that you can’t use one culture’s standards to judge another. And she wasn’t from the “one child” generation either, she was from the 7 or 8 children generation.

    Another comparison that might be more valid would be to say that if a woman is brutally raped and afterward has a problem dating men, it’s HER problem and she should just get over it because she CHOSE to not date. Do you feel she is totally responsible for the rest of her story? This is the equivalent of rape in China from a psychological viewpoint.

    Honestly, those two “middlekingdomlife” articles were the biggest bunch of BS I’ve read in a long time. I personally worked with many women who were in the age category they discuss and none of them exhibited any of those characteristics. Talk about pseudoscience! Now let’s talk about reality.

    The one thing that can be said about the rule during Mao’s time is that women’s status in China rose to become higher than anywhere else in Asia. It might have declined a bit since then but it’s still impressive compared to most other East Asian countries. It’s especially pronounced in cities like Shanghai where being a female only child is not a hindrance at all and girls there tend to have very strong relationships with their fathers, according to what I heard. Many Shanghainese families actually prefer girls to boys. I’m no expert when it comes to the country but I know the cities pretty well.

    Yes, Chinese standards of beauty are different from western standards. So are standards of beauty in Turkey, in India, in Senegal, etc. So what? Yes, Zhang Ziyi isn’t considered that pretty in China. I personally don’t think she’s that pretty either. She’s also quite thin and tall. I have a friend who’s 5’7″ (170 cm) with what westerners would call a perfect figure, yet she’s considered “fat” in China because she isn’t a size 0 or 2. Her larger frame just isn’t that common over there. That’s their culture.

    I have another friend who is 5’1″ (155 cm) and weighs 92 lbs. (42 kg) and she’s considered super hot over there and has had plenty of Chinese (and western) guys try to date her. She’s not anorexic, she’s naturally petite and actually very athletic. It’s normal for her to be petite and she meets the Chinese (and western) standard of beauty, but to me she has the figure of a 12 year old girl and not appealing at all. Makes sense since I’m far taller and bigger than most Chinese men.

    A few of the girls in my office asked me this same question one time. I answered that maybe the foreign guys loved their girlfriends and that was more important to them than beauty. I had no idea how to explain the actual difference in meaning.

    In my Taiwan office, the guys were talking about the girls in the office one day and when I mentioned that if you asked 100 western guys who was the prettiest, at least 98 of them would pick the same girl. They could not guess who it was and when I told them, they were amazed because they didn’t think she was pretty at all, though she was reasonably tall and her figure was fine by Chinese standards.

    Yet when I told this story to an American colleague, before I named the girl he immediately knew who she was; he considered it a “no brainer”. Guys who visited from the States were crazy about this girl, not only for her looks but also because she was really intelligent and a very nice person. She certainly didn’t see herself as attractive. Meanwhile, there was another girl in the office that all the Taiwan guys thought was super hot yet the westerners thought was just ok. Different cultures have different standards.

    I think these two linked articles are dealing with stereotypes based on western assumptions. Neither is true in my experience, except for the part about beauty but not for the reasons given. I didn’t find Chinese women to be any more insecure about their appearance than western women and if anything, they were more secure. Everything I’ve written comes from personal experience; nothing is coming from reading a book or article.

    BTW, the three countries with the most plastic surgeries are:
    1. Brasil
    2. USA
    3. South Korea

  48. Me Says:

    The thread is a bit light on actual advice on cross-cultural dating that goes beyond the abstract.

    Here are my $0.02 (EDIT: I added the counter-viewpoints from my cultural background):
    – As the guy, you have to pay for every meal without even flinching. Depending on where you’re from, that’ll take some getting used to. (where I come from, a woman would not dream to allow a man to pay her share of a meal because that would put her into the category of someone who’s time can be paid for and move the meeting from personal into business)
    – Make presents and buy flowers – if you don’t at least twice weekly, it’s seen as a large problem (Why doesn’t he like me? – for comparison, where I come from, present especially early on would be seen as an attempt to buy attention or interest and later would be seen as an indication of guilt)
    – Respect the family. This one’s amazing – my gf once broke into tears pointing out how she thought what her parents were asking was stupid and wrong but that she still had to do it because they were her parents (and that she was sick of defending a point of view she didn’t share at the least to me- again for comparison, where I come from, your parents are near and dear to your heart but would not dream of impinging on your relationship – it’s seen as a part of a different private sphere, and the expectation is that you would always take your partners side against the parents)
    – Don’t be surprised if your gf believes that having a relationship is all about getting married, having children and you supporting her financially while she takes care of the home, even if she’s educated and independent (for comparison – a woman would be very reluctant to give up her hard won financial independence to stay at home with kids for an extended period, and men spend lots of time trying to talk women into at least a few years of that)
    – Introductions – make a point of always introducing your gf. There is nothing like this in western culture, but if you don’t introduce her (especially to other female people), you are in effect calling her a prostitute or worse. (comparison: folks are expected to introduce themselves and formal introductions are seen as an antiquated form of obsolete etiquette in my culture)
    – Relationships. Don’t be surprised if your gf calls up your best friend in the middle of the night to discuss a problem she’s having with you. Boundaries are set differently with respect to relationships. (comparison: in my culture, even if my friends invited you to consider them your friends, you’d ask me if I was really comfortable with that first; our privacy would be something that I’d expect you to guard as a matter of course)
    – Instrumentalization. Don’t be surprised if your gf attempts to utilize your friends for financial gain. While a complete impossibility where I come from, that’s apparently normal in chinese culture. (again, culturally, using a personal relationship for gain or business would be seen as highly inappropriate, unless the other party volunteered; in addition, my personal relationships would not be automatically shared with a new partner)
    – Belief in advice. “But X said that is good, so I bought a few for us.” What-he-or-she-said (especially if the author is older/a parent or uncle/a friend) is seen as more important than facts/research and skepticism is seen as very inappropriate. (for comparison, the automatic response to ‘X told me’ in my culture would be ‘but how do you really know that’s true?’) This can bite you when her friends agree with her on one of your imaginary transgressions 😉
    – Speaking badly about other people. This one’s a bit weird, but I did a double take the first time my polite and nice gf pointed out what a nice dress that ugly fat n****r was wearing – while that woman was standing right next to us. This is something I don’t understand to this day – where I am from, you simply don’t talk badly about people you don’t know, because, well, you don’t know them. And you don’t talk about people behind their backs except in the most couched of terms. And you especially take good care never to use language that might be construed as racist, because that’d discredit your personality (and anything you’re trying to say) in a major way. In asian cultures, there seems to be a belief that the person hearing themselves insulted will either not understand or not care and that speaking badly about others reflects well on the speaker.
    – Emotions as argument. Crying, shouting, pouting, throwing things, cold shoulders are seen as perfectly valid behaviour in an argument (I feel upset, you are the cause of the emotion, so I’ll make you feel pain). This can be a huge point of contention. Where I come from, the expected behavior would be to keep emotion out of the argument, state clearly what is desired and listen intently to what the other party has to say with an ear out for constructive approaches to solving the conflict.

    Again, as said in the original post, respect, understanding, patience and the expectation that things will be very, very different might help you along. You’re still in for a hard path with some interesting surprises.

  49. barny chan Says:

    Me: “Emotions as argument…Where I come from, the expected behavior would be to keep emotion out of the argument, state clearly what is desired and listen intently to what the other party has to say with an ear out for constructive approaches to solving the conflict.”

    Fantastic, Fool’s Mountain reaches out beyond different human cultures and gains it’s first contributor from another planet. Unfortunately, on Earth, whether in China, the USA, or Patagonia, we all still resort to emotion when we argue with our lovers. We have much progress to make before we can match the rationality of our friend from Planet Vulcan…

  50. Uln Says:

    @ barny – LOL!

    Actually, I have always seen the Chinese as more in control of their emotions than us.There are some notable exceptions, and they do go berserk once in a while, but in general they do a better job of hiding their feelings. At least compared to us latin cultures.

    But I suppose the commentator above must come from Iceland, if not directly from Vulcan 🙂
    (PS no offense, I dont want to get deleted for ad hom. now!)

  51. Wukailong Says:

    @barny: I agree with ULN – this seriously made me laugh out loud (I’m quite restrained most of the time 😉 ).

  52. Me Says:

    @barny – ROTFL. Pure art. Thank you.

    Of course now that my cover is blown, I’ll have to move solar systems again. And I so hate travelling.

    Seriously though, I do think there’s a difference in attitude between the “I’m emotional and therefore have a right to make you suffer” and the more scandinavian attitude of “I shouldn’t bitch even though I feel like it”. Maybe something to do with the need to be able to spend long winters in the same shelter.

  53. hongkonger Says:

    # 47 Steve..”20s, blond, huge boobs and pretty pneumatic,”.girlfriend. The lucky bastard!

    “Honestly, those two “middlekingdomlife” articles were the biggest bunch of BS I’ve read in a long time.”

    Amen, and again I say amen!
    When I first opened those two“middlekingdomlife”links, it took me 20 seconds to decide that they were stinking crap, and have repeatedly stated so to the sender…. but one of my friends still disagrees, and neither does he agree with your response either – despite the fact that according to him that his Chinese wife from China is nothing like what those idiotic articles propose. Go figure.

    # # 42 Barny : Good one.
    So, Mad dogs and Englishmen only applies when they’re outside of the UK?

    #49 Barny – LOL. Brilliant!

    Me Says: August 17th, 2009 at 5:48 am
    “Maybe something to do with the need to be able to spend long winters in the same shelter.”

    Hm….I wonder if Chinese in Harbin, china are less emotional then?

  54. Steve Says:

    @ Me # 48: Me, welcome to the blog! The idea was to get different input from everyone out there so thanks for participating. I do have a question for you though. Did you date one or more Chinese women? Did you meet her in China or overseas? What part of China was she from? I think all of these questions are pertinent when discussing this subject.

    Here are my responses to your observations based on my own experience:
    As a supposedly “rich” foreigner, I paid for every meal when I was in China with my friends and colleagues. There was one exception, a friend who insisted on going “dutch” though I was on a per diem expense account which I barely used because I ate the way the locals did so I always had extra money to spend. In the States when dating my wife, I always paid though I believe her feeling was that whoever set up the date should pay, which is the usual Chinese way in my experience.Therefore, I always made sure I had set up the date. I guess I’m old fashioned in that respect.

    Make presents and buy flowers? Not when you’re dating or married to a Hakka woman! They are too practical for that. My wife is not into flowers at all and as for presents, she prefers cold, hard cash. She’s eminently practical and likes to do her own shopping since she can talk any price down, even over here.

    If my wife’s family asked her to do something she thought was silly, she’d talk them out of it. She’s very stubborn but also very, very good at persuasion. Now excuse me while I go do some chores. 😉

    As I discussed with miaka earlier, I’ve seen a big difference between Chinese and Taiwanese women when it comes to working outside the home after marriage. Did you notice this trait with one woman or many?

    We must come from two different generations when it comes to introductions. I would always introduce my wife to someone who didn’t know her as soon as possible, and I would do the same with friends and colleagues in China, no matter man or woman. To me that’s just basic manners. But if I’m not there at the time, my wife is not shy at all to introduce herself. She’ll ask your name, use it three or four times in the first two minutes of conversation, and if you see her again in five years she’d greet you by name and remember exactly what you originally discussed.

    Neither my wife nor I ever discuss our personal business with anyone else. This is one trait I have always really liked about her. I don’t want to bust your bubble but what you describe isn’t a China vs. other cultures trait, it’s an individual trait. You don’t think your western girlfriend or wife is discussing your personal business with her friends? Actually, most of them are doing exactly that. My wife is big on the sauna at the gym, and is constantly amazed that the women there will tell her their most personal business when they barely know her, including intimate details about their sex life. And I’m not talking just Asian women but all women.

    I agree with you about the financial gain thing, but I think most see that as a win/win proposition for both parties. My brother in law was a senator in Taiwan for 18 years and virtually none of my wife’s friends knew it. It was her way of protecting him. She said that if they knew, they’d try to get her ask him to help their families and he was too busy for that. However, she also came from a political family back when it was dangerous to be a political family in Taiwan and talking too much could get your family put in prison or killed, so that might be a reason she behaves this way.

    Belief in advice? That’s not Chinese, that’s human nature! People make their decisions for emotional reasons and then try to use logic to justify those decisions.

    I haven’t had the “racist” experience you’ve had, not just with my wife but with any Chinese person. Not to say it doesn’t exist, I just haven’t experienced it. Could it be something to do with class rather than race? What I CAN say is that Chinese like to give nicknames to people. I remember when I met my wife, she was working as a lunchtime hostess in a Chinese restaurant in Phoenix. There was a girl working at this restaurant named Annie who was from HK and really, really beautiful. Well, one day she came to work wearing a skirt and it seemed she didn’t have nice legs because the area around her knees was chubby. From that moment, she was “Chubby Legs” Annie. 😛

    Emotions as argument? Not with my wife, but everything you describe can be considered as an individual characteristic. My wife is pretty straightforward and logical when discussing things and we argue so rarely that I can’t really remember the last time it happened. What you describe doesn’t sound like anything Chinese, just basic immaturity.

    For me, the path hasn’t been hard at all, in fact, it’s been ridiculously easy. In the end, it doesn’t come down to culture, it comes down to two people getting along and loving each other. I think the “culture” thing can be used as an excuse by the person doing it as something acceptable in his/her culture when it is really nothing of the sort. But then again, I’ve never met Mr. Spock (though my wife has, said he was a really nice though kinda quiet guy).

    @ Uln: Are you implying that Björk is an extremely logical gal?? 😀

  55. barny chan Says:

    hongkonger: “Barny…So, Mad dogs and Englishmen only applies when they’re outside of the UK?”

    Well, the UK, like everywhere else, has no shortage of idiots, but I genuinely believe that the LKF/Wanchai brigade are in no way representative of Brits generally. Firstly, it’s to do with the profile of Brits who come to work in HK: let’s be blunt, people who work in finance tend to be more boorish than their counterparts in most other industries. If you wanted to replicate the LKF experience in the UK you’d head to bars within the vicinity of the trading floors in the Square Mile or Canary Wharf; in recent years a number of bars in London have adopted a “no suit” policy to deter banker boys because other customers (particularly women) object to their presence. Secondly, when Brits are abroad (particularly when they’re in a country where they don’t speak the language) they inevitably hang out with other Brits and spend most of their time moaning about all of the things they don’t like about the place they’re in – they idealise their own culture while demonising the culture of the place they’re living in. I think the second point also often applies to Chinese abroad – they find it equally hard to integrate and, unsurprisingly, spend all of their time with fellow Chinese moaning about all of the things that they don’t like. Steve’s Western “Charisma Man”, dumbly and offensively trampling over Asian culture, certainly has his overseas Chinese counterpart. It’s no coincidence that some of the most rabidly anti-Western rhetoric at Fool’s Mountain comes from Chinese living in the West; in honour of two of my favourite contributors here, I’ll dub him Pedant Man. Pedant Man, who views himself as a mighty warrior, with an overused and grubby keyboard standing in for a gleaming sword, believes that the West can be cut down to size by his relentless nitpicking criticisms of “so-called Western democracy”. Sadly, just like Charisma Man, his primary achievement is boring everybody else senseless…

  56. Steve Says:

    Another Charisma man comic for everyone. Here’s a panel from the later version of the strip where he’s more like Invisibility Man.

    You’ve seen the first ever strip where he’s introduced. Here is Original Strip 2, Original Strip 3 and Original Strip 4.

  57. hzzz Says:

    Cross cultural dating is a big disadvantage when it comes to Asian males especially in the Western parts of the world because let’s be honest, we are severely under-represented in the media and even when it happens we are as anything but “hot”. Growing up in the US, I find that that many Asian women tend to go for caucasian men because they want to be “different” or simply want to fit in. I actually find that white men/asian women combo to be a lot more common than asian man/asian women, at least here in Boston.

    Maybe this is just me but I find that White males who date Asian females have some kind of superiority complex against other Asian males, as if they are saving the Asian females from evil or something. I attribute some of this to authors like Amy Tan, whose novels portray Asian males as anything but kind and just. In fact, there are very few movies/novels out there which shows Asian males in a positive light. It’s little wonder then, that most Asian women born in the US tend to marry non-Asians even when Asian Americans think and act exactly the same as their white counterparts.

    Going back to the article, the points are right on but the advices are hard to follow. I was fortunate enough to date people from different races and finally settled on another Asian but from a different background/culture than mine. I don’t think everyone can handle the cultural differences aspect and there are things which I feel but I could not communicate with my wife because I don’t want her to be upset. This drives me nuts sometimes. Ultimately though I think relationships all depend on the people in them. Asians tend to be flexible and adaptable and thus I would expect their relationships to be lasting.

  58. barny chan Says:

    Hzzz, isn’t it possible that a lot of Asian males put themeselves at a “big disadvantage” when it comes to dating by clinging to traditional – read chauvinistic – values? I think the actual attitudes of a lot of Asian men have more relevance to the issue than the novels of Amy Tan.

    The real question isn’t why do so many Asian women in the West date guys of other races (it’s a numbers game, there’s simply a bigger pool of non-Asian guys to choose from)? It’s why do so relatively few Asian men in the West date women of other races?

  59. Wukailong Says:

    @Me: Somehow I realized that you were Scandinavian even when I read your first posting, though I can’t say how. 😉 I’m from Sweden, by the way.

    I was going to say the same thing Steve said: I think the financial thing is very much for mutual protection even though it might not look that way when you’re asked the first time. If you help someone, they are expected to reciprocate. This is done so often that it becomes second nature.

    Also, I agree about the “I shouldn’t bitch even though I feel like it” attitude… I often tend to feel that way myself. I guess that gives us a natural disadvantage against more aggressive cultures. 😉

  60. vmoore55 Says:


  61. barny chan Says:

    vmoore55 Says: “white guys…expect their Chinese girl friends to give it up and they do get to have sex with them first. Chinese men get 2nd or 3rd or 4th.”

    It takes two to tango. Why do you think Asian women are favouring Western guys?

    Regarding post #58, maybe whoever marked it down could also respond in words…

  62. vmoore55 Says:

    Asian or Chinese men mostly tango with/by themselves, don’t know why may be they can’t get lucky with a white girl. I know I haven’t got lucky with white girls and I’ve been rejected more than white guys in the same bars and clubs.

    “(it’s a numbers game, there’s simply a bigger pool of non-Asian guys to choose from)?”

    In a way that’s true, but why are the Chinese girls going for the rejects of that pool? And if that was true than why in Hong Kong or Taiwan the white girls are mostly with a white boyfriend?

    What I see is that Chinese girls want to be seen or to be accepted as western and they will go out with a white guy to get it, where as non-Asian women want to be hip and black but not Asian.

  63. barny chan Says:

    vmoore55 Says: “Asian or Chinese men mostly tango with/by themselves, don’t know why may be they can’t get lucky with a white girl. I know I haven’t got lucky with white girls and I’ve been rejected more than white guys in the same bars and clubs.”

    It’s a mighty big assumption that it’s somehow related to the fact that you’re Asian.

    “why are the Chinese girls going for the rejects of that pool?”

    In what way are white guys dating Asian girls in the West “rejects”?

    “why in Hong Kong or Taiwan the white girls are mostly with a white boyfriend?”

    I’ve less experience of Taiwan but I’m living in HK so I’ll give you my perspective of what’s going on here. Firstly, post-97, very few Chinese Hongkongers of either sex date people of other races. You’ll see quite a lot of white guys with Chinese women, but invariably the woman is either a mainlander or Western born Chinese – this is a very xenophobic place and people frown upon mixed race relationships. As for white women here, there’s an infinitesimally small pool of local men who’d date them (and I’d welcome input from HKers who could explain why this is), so it just isn’t going to happen regardless of the attitude of the women in question. A lot of local Chinese men seem to view white women with revulsion – my wife, who would be considered very attractive in most parts of the world, finds that a lot of local men won’t even sit next to her on MTR trains (if she sits next to them, sometimes they’ll actually get up and move). Most single Westerners in HK would be open to dating locals, but, by and large, the option isn’t open to them.

    “What I see is that Chinese girls want to be seen or to be accepted as western and they will go out with a white guy to get it…”

    Maybe the Chinese girls in question consider themselves Western because they are Western, and too many Chinese guys identify themselves by race first and location second.

  64. vmoore55 Says:


  65. barny chan Says:


  66. vmoore55 Says:


  67. barny chan Says:

    vmoore55 Says: “I date many Asian girls and did them too…”


  68. vmoore55 Says:


  69. vmoore55 Says:


  70. barny chan Says:

    Keep going. You’re saving me the effort of discrediting you.

  71. vmoore55 Says:

    hzzz, I agree. “Cross cultural dating is a big disadvantage when it comes to Asian males especially in the Western parts of the world because let’s be honest, we are severely under-represented in the media and even when it happens we are as anything but “hot”. Growing up in the US, I find that that many Asian women tend to go for caucasian men because they want to be “different” or simply want to fit in.”

    Look at the Chinese-American women movie stars, news people, sports celebs and TV celebs, almost all but a few are married to white men. I know of two only.

    It’s a trend for Chinese women to have white lovers, just like white women to have black lovers.

    This is what you will see on TV, a black man and a white woman, a white man and a Chinese woman, a Chinese man and a Chinese woman, a black man and a Chinese woman, a white man and a white woman with mixed or coloured kids, and an Indian or Arab man with a Chinese looking woman.

    What’s wrong with these pictures?

  72. jael Says:

    Yo, well it’d be great to see a few posts deleted about now… However; for some reason or other I’m going to take a stand for we white sluts. God help me.

    First, v55; you seem to be under the impression that someone having sex with you is the pinnacle of interpersonal and inter-“race” relations. You’re a fine example of the type of man that any woman with self confidence, awareness and dignity (as well as personal circumstances that don’t make sleeping with awful men seem attractive) avoids like the plague. Most western women (do you have the same issue with black or south asian descended women, or do you not “try it on” with them – just go for the white girls?) tend to be older than their mid-20’s when they go to east Asia; the scales – if they haven’t fallen from our eyes about how shallow men are capable of being, fall pretty fast. That might be, for the most part, thanks to white men interacting with local women; but our awful man detection radar, if not good, gets good. Fast.

    I’m not certain but I’d think that this may have have something to do with your personal experience. vmoore55 – if you do want to increase your chances with white women, please stop thinking of us as sluts who you want to be with; try thinking of us as human beings. It’ll do wonders, I promise.

    Anyway. Barry – it’s not a HK thing. I think it’s more an East Asian thing; I’ve lived in various parts of the region and there are patterns. And I think there are a few reasons:

    1) What you just saw about. We white women are considered the sluts of the world – not just by angry HK men, but by pretty much everywhere that’s not the west. We know this. You’d be amazed how pretty much every woman I know that’s been approached my a local man (in *pretty much every country in the world* – and I have been to many, many, many, and met many travelers) has been hit up only for sex. And let’s be frank about it: men might find being approached for sex is fantastic; for most women who have no situational need, this is a pretty awful experience.

    2) We’re – on average – a fair bit bigger than most local men. In VN, I was a full head taller and about 10 kgs heavier than the average Vietnamese man (and I was rake thin, for a white girl of my build). Much smaller men/much larger women don’t seem to instinctively find each other.

    3) You ever heard a Chinese woman complain about gender inequality and the social expectations placed on her in a Confucian system? Well, please want to believe me that they’re even less attractive when you’ve been bought up outside the system. The “role” of wife in China is not one that most western women are drawn too – esp not western women who’ve got enough drive/education/ambition to live abroad.

    4) What are Chinese men looking for in a wife? Of the various attributes, how many do we western women have?

    5) a subset of 5. I have a theory (ha!) that most people marry someone with the same values as them, whatever they are. But I also think that – as we get older – we can better appreciate our cultural heritage and the values that it convey. Men marry older. I think (and here’s the theory) men are more inclined than women to marry within their own ethnic group, though both sexes have this tendency in spades. It’s ok to fool around with a foreign/”other” woman, but when it comes to the woman who raises my children, I want her to have the same values I grew up with (or is it look like my mother? 🙂 ) Women, on the other hand, tend to be far more pragmatic; and as we’ll be doing the childraising anyhow, can look further afield. Western society places less (less, not no) emphasis on race as an indicator of social norms, and there are greater range of racial backgrounds in most western countries – so (I think, anyway) western men are more likely to diverge from this trend than say an Indian or Chinese man in India or China.

    6) I was in a very poor country, this could be shaping this opinion: Men tend (tend!) to marry: younger; less educated; poorer. Women tend for older; better educated; richer. When an imported English teacher is making as much as a local professional, you can see that the odds might be against local men.

    I could go on, but I think this will be my last point; my head is hurting some. Just for the record, I’m married to an Asian man. 🙂 It happens! (Also, running really late: I’m not proof reading this – likely a big mistake. Apologies in advance)

    And – as always – broad generalisations about race/gendered patterns of behaviour have as much milage as you give them. 🙂

  73. hzzz Says:

    “Hzzz, isn’t it possible that a lot of Asian males put themeselves at a “big disadvantage” when it comes to dating by clinging to traditional – read chauvinistic – values? I think the actual attitudes of a lot of Asian men have more relevance to the issue than the novels of Amy Tan.”

    I think your post only validates my point about negative stereotypes against Asian American males. It’s entirely possible for some Asian males to cling onto “traditional values”, just as there are plenty of wife beaters in other cultures. A quick google on domestic violence statistics based on race should more than prove that Asian males are hardly the worst offenders when it comes down to being chauvinistic, at least here in the US. Yet you don’t see people such as yourself claiming that “hispanic men are chauvinistic!” Why? There are more than plenty of Asian American males born in the America who hardly retain these “traditions” which you spoke of, yet they are perceived as chauvinistic/traditional just because they are born as asians.

    “The real question isn’t why do so many Asian women in the West date guys of other races (it’s a numbers game, there’s simply a bigger pool of non-Asian guys to choose from)?”

    Hmm no. In the US blacks make up about 20% of the population, about 4 times that of Asians. How often do you see Asians date blacks? Also, using your logic whites should be able to date easily across with all races and cultures in the US, you know that’s hardly the case. My theory is that religion is what prevents interacial marriages. Since Northern Asians are for the most part agnostic religion poses no barriers. You rarely ever see Indians marrying whites and you almost never see Muslim Asians marrying whites.

    “It’s why do so relatively few Asian men in the West date women of other races?”

    That’s a good question. Personally I think that is because the Western media never portrayed Asian men as date-able, period. Think for a moment here, most people prefer to associate with people/things/elements they are familiar with. Only few are the adventurous types who want “foreign” experiences. Asian males are portrayed as “foreign” in the media. Also, there is the negative stereotypes associated with Asian males.

    The book Freakonomics has a study where Caucasian women are asked how much money would a person need to make in order for them to consider dating. While an unattractive male would need to make about 150k to be considered date-able, an Asian male would need to make a whooping 250k. lol. I guess I should consider myself extremely fortunate to date whites in high school.

  74. hzzz Says:

    “This is what you will see on TV, a black man and a white woman, a white man and a Chinese woman, a Chinese man and a Chinese woman, a black man and a Chinese woman, a white man and a white woman with mixed or coloured kids, and an Indian or Arab man with a Chinese looking woman.”

    I think you are being generous. I hardly ever see a US movie/show where the asian woman who plays a semi-major role is together with an asian man. The Western media hardly ever has any Asian males portrayed, period.

  75. hzzz Says:

    “4) What are Chinese men looking for in a wife? Of the various attributes, how many do we western women have? ”

    Jael, actually this perception can be easily changed by the media. It wasn’t that long ago that chunky women are considered to be sexy in Asia because it’s a status of wealth. If China runs TV drams featuring a chinese man/white woman couple non stop you can bet that alot more Chinese men would hit on white women. With the rapid globalization I am sure that will happen soon enough.

    Also, I am not sure how much you about Chinese men but at least in large cities the men don’t expect nearly as much from their wives as you think. For example, there is a stereotype within China that Shanghai men will do cooking and cleaning for their wives. The reality is that since the one-child policy tend to spoil children and most women work in China, the “demanding” work traditionally performed by housewives elsewhere are actually being performed by the grandparents. Now, the friction of a joint family vs. nucleus family is one area where I felt a lot tension with my Japanese wife, who like most Western women is used to the former.

  76. miaka9383 Says:

    back to topic. Are both you and your husband grew up in the western world? If not, what are the cultural differences that you had to over come?
    Everyone here totally missed the point of the post. It is not talking about interracial dating but talking about cross cultural dating. FOR EXAMPLE : Taiwanese man marries an American woman… not Chinese American man marries white American woman.

  77. Steve Says:

    People, this discussion is off topic. It’s about serious relationships, not who “did” who. As miaka wrote, it’s about cross cultural dating, not interracial dating. There is some overlap between the two but that overlap needs to be taken within the context of cross cultural rather than within the same culture. I don’t mind it getting off track a little bit but not when it becomes racist and misogynist.

    @vmoore55: Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday? I don’t think I’ve ever had to delete any of your posts before but you were WAY over the line! This post isn’t about who “bad girls” date or how to hit on Asian or white girls in a bar or club, it’s about serious cross cultural dating. You never once mentioned the word “love”.

    Addressing the disparity between White guy/Asian girl and Asian guy/White girl, I’ll bring up a point no one has previously mentioned. What’s the biggest complaint white women have about guys? They judge a girl too much on weight rather than the actual personality itself. And if you look at Asian girls compared to white girls, who tends to be more slender? Now ask an Asian guy (in Asia) the same question and he’ll tell you he prefers slender girls, even more slender than the white guys. In this case, preference has diluted the potential dating pool for white women who, as jael wrote, tend to be bigger.

    Now what’s the biggest complaint women have about men? They don’t want to date a guy who is “too short”. And of the two races, which one is naturally taller? Taller Asian guys don’t have much of a problem dating outside their race. My wife’s cousin’s son is 6’2″ (188 cm) and is happily married to a blonde haired, blue eyed girl from Pennsylvania. One of my uncles is Japanese American and taller than my aunt. My youngest son who looks mostly Chinese is also 6’3″ (190 cm) and he has both Asian and white girls after him all the time. Regardless of why, height matters.

    Chinese women have also told me that the first thing they look at on a guy is his nose. They love noses with a high bridge, and western guys tend to have noses with a high bridge while Asian guys (and most Asian women) have middle or low noses. The absolutely cutest girl I’ve ever met is from Shenzhen and hates her “low” nose. For me, if she had a “high” nose she’d look terrible and I think her nose is incredibly cute, but she’d prefer a “high” nose which would just look big and out of place to me. I’ve seen Chinese models with what I think are big noses that aren’t attractive at all but in that culture, she has a “high” nose so it’s attractive.

    Besides the high nose, the other remarks I’ve received were about my “long eyelashes” and my chin. Being a typical guy, I’d never looked at or noticed my eyelashes before but when I was asked if my mother had plucked them when I was a baby, I had to take a look in the mirror that night to figure out what the girl was getting at. I found they were long and curled upwards. Most Asian women have short, stubby eyelashes so they notice things like that while most Caucasians have longer lashes and only notice really long, thick lashes. I’m not sure about my chin; seems like a normal chin to me but I guess it was exotic over there.

    I have no idea what “high bridge” noses are considered beautiful, or why long lashes are a big deal, or why other facial features matter. They just do. But I do know that regardless of what you look like, women are attracted more to confidence than anything else so if you talk to someone thinking they’ll reject you, they will since they’ll sense your attitude and comply with it. Asian guys tend to be somewhat shy in my experience. Also, many Asian guys and girls spend their teen and early adult years buried in books while in school, so they just don’t have the dating experience and understanding of the opposite sex that other cultures might have. Experience matters and western guys tend to be more experienced. I also know many Asian guys who have no problem meeting women of all races, but then again I’m in sales so the guys I know tend to be more outgoing than usual.

    @ jael #72: Thanks for your input. I’m probably the most strict of the editors in terms of enforcing site rules, but sometimes a post will be on here awhile before I see it.

    I’m with you up until point 5. This point is illogical. If men prefer to marry inside their own ethnic group and so do women, then there would be no difference between them and no interracial marriages, just interracial dating. Since marriage between men and women is proportionally 1:1, the proportion of men and women marrying outside their race must also be 1:1 so no difference. Individual races might have different proportions, but the overall proportion equals out.

    In the end, what matters is attitude. I didn’t marry my wife because she was Chinese, I married her because of who she was as an individual. If I had married her because she was Chinese, I doubt we’d still be married today.

    @ hzzz: Actually, African Americans make up 13.4% of the population while Asian Americans make up 4.4%, so the ratio is closer to 3:1.

    As an old friend of mine once remarked about religion, if it matters to one of both of the couple, it matters. If it doesn’t matter to either one, it doesn’t matter. A friend of mine from Ningbo living in Singapore is dating an Indian guy but won’t marry him unless he converts to Catholicism since for her that is very important. He was born Muslim. He’s in the process of converting but many of her friends are warning her that he’s just faking the conversion. I have no idea since I never met the guy, but the fact is that her religion is important to her and will play an integral part in their potential marriage.

    The typical portrayal of both Asian men and women in the media is that they can all kill you with one finger. 😉

  78. Stinky Tofu Says:

    Posts on the subject of inter-racial relationships between Chinese women and European men always remind me of an essay by Geremie Barme, the famous Australian sinologist (among other things, he co-produced the great documentary The Gate of Heavenly Peace about 6/4 w/ Carma Hinton), from his book In the Red entitled “To Screw Foreigners is Patriotic.” In short, the essay is about a deep seated emotional and nationalistic need among Chinese men to reverse the so-called “feminization” of China (i.e., Chinese men) by doing to foreign women what foreign men have been doing to Chinese women for many years – that is, “screwing” them.

    In his essay, Barme writes about a great scene in the popular 1990s Chinese television drama A Beijinger in New York (北京人在紐約) where the protagonist (played by famous actor Jiang Wen), a Chinese immigrant to New York who has finally succeeded in business (though at great cost to his soul, which has been undermined by immoral Western culture), throws money at a prostitute while demanding repeatedly that she tell him that she loves him.

    The “screwing foreigners” trope can be extended to include all manner of “screwing” – not just sex. For example, it is quite common to find Chinese who believe that stealing Western intellectual property and engaging in industrial/diplomatic espionage is perfectly justified. In short, since China has been “screwed” by the West for so long, it’s only proper that the Chinese have an opportunity to return the favor.

    Popular Chinese discomfort over the issue of white men dating (and “screwing”) Chinese women is just one aspect of what is a much more comprehensive and pathological Chinese belief in the idea of China as victim. Winning Olympic gold medals is nice, sure; but the Chinese (i.e., Chinese men) won’t really be satisfied until there’s a blond haired American woman in every Chinese man’s kitchen. As such, comment threads such as this one will continue to break down along similar lines each and every time. It’s futile to expect anything less.

  79. Sonia Says:

    @Stinky Tofu,

    That is an incredibly blunt and uncomfortable way of putting it, but on some level, I think it’s right. I admit that despite being born and raised in the US, I still get a kick and even an immense satisfaction whenever I see “the White Man” bested by “the Chinese” at something. There’s also the issue that despite being rather Westernized myself, it disturbs me when I see a Chinese-American being “not Asian enough”. It’s a very innate and immediate feeling, and if you’re aware of it, also a pretty guilty feeling. I think it goes back to what Steve has said about emotions first, then logic. There are different levels on which we think, and there are things that are difficult, if even possible, to justify with logic, such as love, preference, personality, attitude. It’s what makes us humans rather than robots. It’s what causes us to love and accept, but it’s also what causes us strife and hatred. I don’t think that possessing certain feelings are bad or avoidable, but that it’s important to recognize our own prejudices and bias so that we don’t mix that up with reason and ethical behavior.

  80. jael Says:

    miaka9383 – you’re totally right about being far off topic; I was trying not to bite on this thread, but I’d finally had it.. On your question – my husbands family moved from south China when he was a child; he is American. I’ve spent more time in Asia than he has. His “culture” is – more or less – American. I use more or less because there are some differences, particularly in how we communicate. I am much more demonstrative; I’ve needed to “tone down” alot – but it’s also helped to work to ask lots of direct questions, to draw out answers to things that I can see are not being spoken about.

    Where we do have cultural exchange is when it comes to family. I mean – you never just marry one person, you marry into their family. Mother in Law and I have an interesting time establishing where our boundaries are though this is made somewhat easier by the fact that Hubby and I are very mobile, and that I’ve had considerable exposure to East Asian culture, and she to western. For the most part, I’ve found that adopting particular behaviours has earned me considerable credit – for example, making sure P’s bowl is full at all times when we’re eating as a family – *esp* when we’re with extended family. It’s about giving her face; making sure that it appears that P his well looked after, when I behave “correctly” it allows her to enjoy the gratification that comes from their admiring of her familial success. I’m more than happy to oblige. 🙂 The no children has been a bit of a bother; it hasn’t happened, and it’s not going to. I’m not sure there is anything I can do about this one (except hold out for brother in law).

    Language classes have also helped alot – they to make family happy, but more over if I didn’t study, I’d not be able to join in a single family dinner table discussion! While considerations are made, every conversation is in Canto; even if the first few sentences are in English. It’s inevitable.

    More than that, language conveys meaning; not just the “words”, but the very existence of concepts and the way relationships are communicated. To improve the in-law relationship, language has been the most important. In the one local relationship I had in Vn, we had an interesting language work around: the VN forms of you and I are age and gender specific. In romantic relationships, male partners adopt the moniker “anh” (big brother) and the females “em” (little sister). I refused to call him anh, and would not respond to em, despite its romantic implications: I didn’t want to “junior” role that was the inevitable result of being “em-ed”. We used to call each other “ban” – friend. How we addressed each other was a cornorstone of the relationship ; and it needed us to understand each others languages to “get it”.

    So there you go… Less intercultural romantic; more intercultural family. It’s funny though – I’m not an American, and while I’m from a western culture it’s no where near as individualistic as US culture. That’s an interesting dynamic in and of itself.

    Steve: please see my disclaimer; ones milage may vary. I think we’re both right, actually – you say people look for attitudes; I think you’re right. I think though that attitude can be a product of culture; and in many parts of the world culture and race overlap. As such, there is a *tendency* to look to ones own ethnic/cultural/language group for a spouse. I’m not saying this holds true in every case, it’s just something I see around me. I’m really glad you and your wife found each other, and have had such a wonderful time together. You can see it in the long term, multi-cultural relationships that last: it’s based on a foundation of love and respect. In the end, you can have language and “culture”, but without respect – what is there? Here’s to us all being as fortunate as you and yours – one, two or three cultures in the mix.

  81. Steve Says:

    @ Stinky Tofu #78: Do you think that attitude is stronger where there are more westerners or less? What I’m wondering is if familiarity and possible friendship with other cultures and races brings greater or lesser understanding.

    @ Sonia #79: Thanks for being so honest. Do you think that feeling is an expression of identifying with someone who appears to be more similar to yourself? If it was a white friend of yours in competition with an Asian guy, would your feelings be different? I’m asking because I think it’s natural to identify with people most like us in those kinds of circumstances.

    If a Chinese American is not acting “Asian” enough, would your annoyance possibly be from him not meeting your expectation of how he should behave? Is that a stereotype in some form? Or is it more of a “banana” type of feeling?

    @ jael: I can identify with a lot of what you say but in some respects, I think you have it harder than I do. Because virtually all my wife’s relatives are in Taiwan, I’m only dealing with one culture when I see them and know how to react. But you are dealing with a combination of two cultures and have to figure out when they’re Chinese and when they’re American. I’d think that’d be much trickier to figure out.

    I think your example of communication with your VN boyfriend shows how relationships must meet in the middle. It seems you were able to do that successfully on both sides, which isn’t easy.

    I re-read your earlier post and now I see your point about homogeneous cultures compared to blended cultures. When I was a kid, all my friends were white like me. I didn’t have any Jewish friends until I was 10 (I went to Catholic schools) and black friends until about 13 or so. That was the culture at the time so I grew up in a transitional period.

    But once the culture becomes more blended, it changes the thinking of the people within it. After having friends in different cultures, it didn’t just open up those cultures but ALL cultures, at least to me. But if you’re in a homogeneous culture, you won’t have this experience and might see other cultures as more “different” than “similar”. That could make attraction and assimilation more difficult and maintain a certain belief in stereotypes.

    Respect; yes, I agree with you. You also need Peace, Love & Understanding (cue up Elvis… no, not THAT Elvis, the other one) 😉

  82. pug_ster Says:

    @Hzzz 74,

    I think you are in the right track. Like I said, I think the problems with Westerners in general see Asian culture as inferior or 2nd rate. If you have watched a documentary like Slanted screen, you don’t see Asian men taking in dominant roles in Western movies and shows. Director like Justin Lin has been working hard to try to reverse that by introducing Asian in many movies and roles, but fighting against the tide. Because of that, there’s alot of resentment from Asian men. Personally, I would love to see more Asian Males to play plain ordinary mundane roles like doctors, lawyers, postal workers, rather than as ninjas, gangsters, or some karate master. Much of the problems that Western shows want to portray Asian men as the asian person’ rather than a Westerner who happens to look asian.

  83. Sonia Says:

    @Steve. I think it’s more symbolic than just a simple issue of familiarity. When events happen amongst strangers, then it’s easy for me to see them as events that happened between “that White guy” and “that Asian guy”. When I know the individuals involved, then I think “oh it’s between Joe and Michael” so it doesn’t register on the same level. I think that may also answer your question to Stinky Tofu. From what I’ve seen, it’s actually pretty comparable regardless of where we are in the world. If I live in Boston, and a conflict happened in Montana, then I think of the event as symbolic. If instead it happened between dorm-mates, then I see it as a clash of personalities. This wouldn’t change if I lived in China, or even if I lived in a neighboring town in Montana. It’s not because we lack familiarity that I feel less sympathy for them, but that the lack of familiarity turns strangers into metaphors.

    I think this is very common for everyone, and actually translates into a lot of things. For example, we expect our cultural/social heroes to be perfect and are terribly disappointed if they’re not. We expect our political opponents to be monstrous evils and spin yarns about their motives and ill-intent. It’s because when we lack intimate understanding, it’s too easy for “other people” to represent some cause or belief or social issue, and we forget that human-beings are not robots or gods or demons, neither all-knowing or brainless, we forget that “those people” just happen to be a bunch of individuals who may share some identifiable similarities. The way I try to compensate for whatever immediate bias I have against a stranger is to try to remind myself that he/she is a concrete individual rather than an abstract idea. Most of the time, it works.

    The thing is though, I often find that many Chinese people (and other people I guess, but we’re talking Chinese here) almost enjoy making a big deal out of nothing. Many times, a point of contention is really just a tussle between individuals, but they have to make it out as some epic war between cosmos. I’m not entirely sure why this happens, maybe it’s more satisfying and dramatic in some way, but I suspect it’s at least in part due to a mix of the victim complex seeking vengeance, the traditional shame/honor principles, and way too much Wuxia books/films dominating their youths. Thus, there are some who don’t just forget to think of “others” as individuals, but who simply refuse to do so.

    As for the the Asian-American not acting “Asian enough”, I really haven’t figured it out yet.

  84. Sonia Says:

    @Pug_ster, Hzzz,

    I agree that there is significant bias and misrepresentation from the media and popular culture. I hope that is changing. It may explain why some why Asian men are considered more “unattractive” and White men are considered “most attractive” in popular perceptions. However, I think the wrong attitude to take would be the reactionary backlash and resentment as espoused by vmoore55 because it simply worsens the problem by worsening the image of the Asian men. In my experience, I’d say it mostly has to do with personality and, well, looks (come on, we’re all kind of shallow to some degree). I’ve seen my fair share of good-looking, confident and gentlemanly Asian men who can “get girls” regardless of ethnicity. I’ve also seen plenty of confident Asian men who are capable of dating diversely, if you will, despite less than stellar looks.

    Unfortunately, there are also plenty of men, Asian or otherwise, who blame their bad luck on others. While it may be true, it certainly doesn’t improve their attractiveness.

    This is actually true for a lot of things beyond dating. The “victim-complex” is often quite well-justified, but it’s often not very useful. Even if it is effective in some way, the change to society is usually cosmetics, changing terminology, political-correctness, rationed exposure in media, but it does little to alter deep-rooted perceptions and attitudes. I think it’s more important to be positive and pro-active. If you want to be perceived as attractive, then please act attractively. It might not immediately change how people look at you, but at least it won’t lend confirmation to the perception that Asian men all have a needy, awkward, inferiority-complex if they don’t know Kungfu.

    It’s actually a pretty simple concept: the negative cycle. Many Asian men feel victimized -> some have an inferiority complex -> Asian men are stereotyped to have an inferiority complex -> more Asian men feel victimized.

    So I suggest that instead of waiting for someone else to break the cycle, why don’t we break it ourselves?

    Of course, this is an over-over-simplification, but I think it’s a place to start. It may be true that some Westerners consider Asian culture as second rate, but you can’t change how they see things by shoving “NO, WE’RE NOT, YOU DUMBA**” down their throat. So why don’t we show that Asian culture is NOT second rate, rather than proving that it is?

  85. Steve Says:

    @ pug_ster #82: I agree with you that Asian guys get lousy parts in Hollywood movies. It’s the Asian women that always seem to get the good parts but the guys only get positive roles in action films which as you said, involve killing lots of bad guys.

    I have a friend here in San Diego who’s originally from England. Back in the ’70s, he was a martial artist/stuntman for kung fu films made in Taiwan and Hong Kong. He’s worked with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and all the rest of that era’s big stars, and had a ball doing it. These days he’s a writer.

    Since I’m also into Chinese martial arts, we’re always discussing something or other at parties. I asked him once how he managed to learn so many styles. He said, “Oh no, it’s not like that. The director will come up to us in the morning and tell me, ‘You’re praying mantis’ and the other western stuntman, ‘You’re Wing Chun’. We then do the flourishes and stances of that style but the rest of it never changes, it’s just movie martial arts.” So I asked him, “What kinds of roles did you play?” He laughed and said, “I was always the evil, nasty white guy. I got beat up by every major star in kung fu films!” Then he demonstrated his evil, nasty, booming white guy voice in Chinese with appropriate vocal fiendishness. He’s pretty good!

    The point I’m trying to make is that in those films, the Asian guy is always the hero and the white guy is always the bad guy. For decades, the opposite held true in Hollywood. These days, some Asian guys are good guys but they’re all action stars, like Chow Yun-Fat. Hopefully the trend will reverse like it has for black actors, it’ll just take time. Is it right? No, definitely not. But I’m hopeful that it will in the next 10-20 years.

    I think ALL cultures see their own culture as first rate and other cultures as second rate, with the exception of certain persons who are anglophiles, francophiles, sinophiles, etc. When I was in Chile, I was told that their culture was superior to “gringolandia”. When was in China, I was continually told that the Chinese culture was superior to any other. Personally, I think all cultures have strong and weak points, including my own. But let’s face it, almost all of us are most comfortable within our own culture and that’s why we think it’s superior. Because I’m well traveled, I think my perspective is different than most because by eying it from a distance, I could see the warts in my own culture. I can’t see that changing over time as Chinese movies will always portray Chinese culture as superior and American movies will do the same. I just think that’s human nature.

    @ Sonia #83: Thanks for the explanation. It seems to me that these days that we expect our cultural heroes to be anything but perfect. People give celebrities no privacy and then delight when they react, film them and make money off the photos. Photos and home movie clips mysteriously appear on the internet. It’s almost like we’re more surprised and a little disappointed when a celebrity isn’t doing something stupid.

    I agree, the political thing irks me. When I was a kid, William Buckley had a show called “Firing Line” where he would debate an opponent on PBS once a week. The debate was highbrow, not lowbrow. I loved watching that show even as a kid. Later he switched to interviews but those early debate shows really impressed me.

    These days, starting with the political radio pundits, every issue is black and white. Now it’s spread over to cable channels. If I’m interested in learning about health care, I might turn on MSNBC and find out that the plan is virtually perfect but the thieving, conniving, rapscallion Republican blowhards who are in the pockets of the insurance companies have distorted the debate, are un-American, eat their children for breakfast and have an IQ of about 39. So to get the other side, I turn on Fox News and find out that Obama was probably born in Kenya, the health plan will deny me any medical care past the age of 65, it’ll take me 6 months to get a hospital appointment if I get a heart attack, etc. What have I actually learned about the plan? Nothing. But I had a chance to see lots of people screaming at me through my TV screen, telling me that everything they said was “the truth” and the other side is evil incarnate. Sheesh!

    Well, that’s my rant of the day. 😛

    I’m curious when you wrote that Chinese like to make a big deal out of nothing. I haven’t experienced that so I was wondering if you could give some examples.

    @ Sonia #84: I think most Asian cultures are first rate and really cool, so one less person you have to convince. 😉

  86. pug_ster Says:

    @Sonia 84,

    Although that some Chinese and Asians would probably agree with you with the ‘victim complex’ I think that many would probably disagree. In fact, I would probably say that the image toward Chinese has gotten better in the recent years.

    What I also find depressing about China and even in some case Hong Kong is the lack of good looking Asian Male Models and actors. I recall that I saw some Chinese commercials where I see some attractive young Asian lady with some pudgy old short Asian Male and that’s what I find depressing about. I know that it is changing but I hope there’s a bigger (and more well paid) market for Asian Male Models. There’s a definite market for men’s beauty products, weight loss and fitness, fashion clothing, etc… within China’s market hasn’t exploit. I think that if Chinese Males wants to change its image for the better, it has to start in China. That’s what I find it truly depressing.

  87. Steve Says:

    @ pug_ster #86: I also wondered about the same things you do in terms of marketing in China. The other thing that really seemed strange to me was all the western models on the billboards and posters marketing clothing and beauty products to Chinese. Why would anyone want to see a beauty product modeled on a person with completely different looks and complexion? How can that be relevant? I guess they feel it gives the product more cache but in that case, why not use famous Chinese actors or celebrities?

    I was also surprised to see so many posters of Audrey Hepburn. Is there something special about her that appeals to Chinese women?

  88. pug_ster Says:

    @Steve 87,

    I think the problem in China is that there are many Chinese actors, singers, and athletes who are used for commercials. While they have a name, these Asians don’t have the Fabio-like looks.

    My wife used to work for a major foreign sports apparel company, and I think these companies and many of the other clothing companies are very conservative and use Western models instead of asian ones. It is a sad fact that this is still the case today. I hope that some Chinese company who want to sell high end stuff start using attractive Asian Models to market the stuff that would reverse the trend.

  89. miaka9383 Says:

    I think you underestimate the appeal of Andy lau and Takashi (god I am so in love with him) and what is that cute little Chinese boy from Super Junior???? Han Geng?? I am in love with him… he is so cute… anyways there are so many good looking stars in China, just the entertainment business do not know how to utilize them yet… they will….

  90. Sonia Says:


    …and I thought I would be the only one here obsessing over frivolous Asian boy-bands.

    Unlike elsewhere in Asia, the Mainland idol culture is not very developed. It’s got great serious and mature entertainment, but its idol-industry, with its accompanying emphasis on pretty-boys-and-girls, is only just budding, and still in the very awkward stages. Fashion and beauty promoters are invariably “idols” in the Asian or the Western sense of the word. They have to look good and be worshiped for being beautiful, and well, the Mainland just does not have enough marketable idols (as opposed to stars) yet. Its “idols” are still mostly imported, or at least foreign-trained (like Han-Geng). The Mainland’s local stars are for the most part older, more mature, appealing to an older generation, and not necessarily the most beautiful. Its hottest entertainment are also period- and military-themed dramas.

    I’m surprised that there is a lack of local ad-promoters in Hongkong, but I know that in Japan and Korea, idols’ and popular entertainers’ faces and bodies are plastered everywhere and are used for promoting everything. Just check out http://www.allkpop.com and see how many entertainers are promoting beauty products and chicken (for some reason, everyone loves chicken 😛 ).

    Because the entertainment industry is very different in the Mainland, I’m not surprised that those appearing on ads are still foreign. Even so, big-named “pretty young people” do promote all sorts of things. Just look at Zhang Ziyi as a very successful example. It just happens that many, if not most, of the biggest-names and up-and-coming-stars in the Mainland are not necessarily “pretty people”, or even “young people”. Just look at Wang Baoqiang, Zhang Guoqiang, Duan Yihong, and the rest of the cast from Soldiers’ Sortie. Even if some are not bad looking, their images are that of the dirtied, painted, sooty, tattered PLA soldiers, and I doubt that’s something Mercedes-Benz or Rolex or even some hip Chinese Retailer wants to convey.

    [Edit: Aaah! I don’t do proof-reading very well.]

  91. Wukailong Says:

    @Steve: “I was also surprised to see so many posters of Audrey Hepburn. Is there something special about her that appeals to Chinese women?”

    My wife loves the way Audrey Hepburn looks and I’ve met many others who do the same. I don’t really know what it is, but I think it’s a mix between the romanticism of the West that was (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) and that her looks are very ideally Western to many Chinese. Many of these classical movies and icons appeared during a time when China was closed, so I think there’s also a sort of retro thing going on.

  92. miaka9383 Says:

    I am too old to obsessed about boy bands… but who cares! I LOVE LOVE 5566 AND K-one.. I know so immature… I do have to say the idol thing in Taiwan is really really really growing… and I just drool EVERYTIME I watch a taiwanese entertainment show…….God… if all Taiwanese guys look like those models…. (like Ming dao) I would date them all the time.. (forgive me I am shallow and I do love Han Geng)

  93. Sonia Says:


    Hahaha. I agree that Taiwanese Idol culture is much more developed than Mainland. But for some reason, I haven’t been too deep in the loop of Taiwanese Entertainment of late. I can write essays on the subject of Asian Entertainment, though I’m no Pop-culture guru at all.

    I do think that Mainland stars have less of a “hip” and “cool” appeal. Of course you have exceptions like Fan Bingbing or Zhang Ziyi. I think the issue is that Mainland may have a handful of stars who are “glam” like Lee Hyori is “glam”, and they’re marketable as “sexy” and “sophisticated” and Cartier spokespersons. But Mainland doesn’t have a huge hold on the youth market. It’s not very good at projecting “young”, “fresh”, “silly-cute” and “cute-funny”. It doesn’t have the equivalent of Rainie Yang, or Super Junior, or 2pm, or DBSK, or Wondergirls, or Kim So Eun, or 2NE1, or Arashi…just look at how many I can name off the top of my head from elsewhere, and none comes to my mind from the Mainland. It doesn’t even have the equivalent of Club183, who projects a slightly more mature image. Not that there aren’t prospective idols trying, but for the most part, they remain unpolished and awkward at best, and painful on average. So essentially, the Mainland’s got locals to sell Chanel, but nobody famous to sell Gap.

    I think that it’s definitely important for the Mainland to retake its own youth culture, although it by no means has to do it the same way that other countries have. But in the current era, the youth market is the most commercial, most consumerist, and the most influential on the evolution of popular culture, and popular culture will be incredibly important on a culture’s self-image…

    …finally, I think I’ve managed to get myself back on topic…maybe… 😛

  94. miaka9383 Says:

    Maybe I should start writing essays on Taiwanese entertainment industry (to most adults its trash but! fun)
    Because Asian entertainment industry is more and more less about projecting foreign culture but of their own and creating their own trend, even though, sometime we tend to borrow from each other. I would think that the entertainment industry in HK would affect mainland now just like the way it did Taiwan… for example Cao Mong (the grasshoppers every time I translate it I laugh out loud) is going to Taiwan in december to do a concert. They are still popular… or I was definitely heart broken when Zhang Xue You got married and have kids. Yes I love 183 Club before they disbanded or regrouped or whatever…. but you know they are just copy cats of 5566.
    Back to my original point, there are more and more pop idols popping up in the media and it does affect kids, so don’t discount the effects of these Asian Idols…… I suppose it just really need to develop in China.

  95. Steve Says:

    @ Wukailong #91: I guess Hepburn’s figure was also what is fashionable in China; tall and slender with light skin and dark features. I always figured it was “Roman Holiday” since the idea of the princess who has to be so under control in public but gets to let her hair down, along with a romantic love affair with Gregory Peck (who was from La Jolla, BTW) is something Chinese women might relate to.

    @ Miaka and Sonia: You two ought to write up a post on Chinese and Taiwanese Idol Culture. I remember when I was living in Taiwan, some Japanese actor (tall, slender guy, early 30s) who was washed up in Japan, appeared in a very popular Korean soap and became super hot in the Asian world; forget his name though. He was on billboards all over Taipei and I think I even saw him in China.

    I know nothing about boy bands or those girl bands like S.H.E. I’m not really into pop but I know there are many bands out there that are very popular.

  96. Uln Says:

    I am not surprised A.Hepburn is so popular in Asia. She looks Asian!

    But then AH is immensely popular all over the World, I wouldnt be surprised if it is the #1 poster actress of all times? At least she must be up there in the top 5.

  97. Steve Says:

    For me, the charm of AH is that she is not only very attractive and charismatic but has an elegance that is unsurpassed in movie history. I remember one time, six of us from my Shanghai office (3 guys and 3 girls) had dinner together and then gone over to Rojam disco since it was ladies night. There were a few girls sitting in the table next to us with heavy makeup and “sexy” clothes. One of the girls at our table remarked that we three guys probably wished we were with them rather than our colleagues. Now the girl who said this was actually really pretty, slender, smart and personable, and all three of the girls at my table were far more attractive than those other girls.

    I told her she was crazy, that the girls at our table blew those other girls away. Then I told her that the vast majority of good guys preferred personable, elegant women over “sexy” women. She didn’t believe me until I used Audrey Hepburn as an example. Then it made sense to her! 😉

  98. Sonia Says:


    That’s my point exactly though. I don’t know why there’s a complaint about lack of local promoters in Hongkong or Taiwan or Japan or Korea, because I thought there were plenty. Maybe there isn’t and I’m just out of the loop. But in the Mainland, there is a lack of local idols, as in mainland idols, that appear to the young generation. There are plenty of idols from HTJK and US and Europe, and they make somewhat of a splash, and certainly, local idol culture is brewing thanks to some investments in Hunan. But either because of the more conservative state-censored media or the age of the average TV-watching audience (according to my friends from the Mainland, they didn’t start watching Chinese dramas/film until they came to the US because they had no time), the most successful Mainland-produced entertainment are military dramas, family history dramas, and period dramas. Those aren’t exactly the perfect medium to promote “fresh”, “hip” and “young”.

    If I want to watch a Chinese drama, one worth watching, I’d have to get my act together, be prepared to be serious, and then flip the channels for Siqin Gaowa or Jiang Wenli. If I want to watch people who will make me laugh and sell me clothes, I’d watch Korean Variety Shows.

    Romance, the stuff kids like, are relegated to WuXia dramas, which are, let’s be honest, badly made. There have been some modern romances that have hit a higher viewing rates, but they are most of the time kind of heavy, depressing, lots of crying, kind of like early k-drama. But youths need a bit of sunny, silly, and cute without being stupid and dumb. As a kid, I know. We can’t take too many dramas with too much crying, too dumbed down, too preachy, lots of things. People may think idol-dramas are unsophisticated, but it doesn’t mean they’re easy to make.

    I think the problem lies less with a lack of actors, but with a lack of good script-writers. Good Chinese script writers exist, and they can create fantastic, realistic, and sympathetic soldiers, parents, filial-sons, and emperor-to-be’s. They’ve got the speech, behavior, ticks, personality, and charisma of those characters down. But I think that there hasn’t been very many good writers of villains, women (other than mothers), and youths, so these characters have insofar appeared flat, 2-d, unrealistic or unsympathetic. Without good scripts, good actors can be ruined, and good productions can’t be made, then of course the cast and crew of those productions wouldn’t become known.

    …ugh, I got totally off-topic again. Sorry, Sorry (Yay SuJu! 😛 )

  99. Ted Says:

    @ Wukailong #91:

    I also thought a certain amount of the appeal was related to the contrast of what was happening in China at the time, then again maybe Audrey is just generally appealing. Roman Holiday was by far the most popular western movie among my female Chinese students (I’m a Grace Kelly fan myself). Your comment reminded me of my girlfriend’s reaction once when we were listening to Etta James. She just couldn’t believe the music was from the 60’s.

  100. TonyP4 Says:

    This is a sensitive topic for Chinese male but I cannot resist to throw in my two cents.

    I went to a BBQ party yesterday. There are 2 couples of American males and Chinese females, and 2 couples of Chinese American males and Chinese females. My conclusion (too small a sample to draw conclusion though).

    1. The four Chinese ladies come into marriage for economical reasons (better living standard in US than China).

    2. Why the Americans not marry more ladies from other countries? The Chinese ladies are better looking than other countries esp. after 30 years old (when the foreign counter-parts become big or small ‘refrigerators’ literally. 🙂

    3. Why American Chinese not marry ladies other than Chinese? Chinese males have many disadvantages in our generation: shorter, thinner…

  101. perspectivehere Says:

    Several commenters have raised the issue of stereotyping of Asians in films and television series.

    Such stereotyping affects the way Asians and non-Asians perceive themselves and each other, and often create unconscious expectations which impact on whether and how cross-cultural relationships involving Asians develop (including whether they even take place at all).

    There is very good recent film (2006) that explores the portrayal of Asian males in American cinema and television – “The Slanted Screen” – made by Jeff Adachi and narrated by Daniel Dae Kim (who plays the character Jin on the television series “Lost”).

    Its official website is here: http://www.slantedscreen.com/index.htm

    The filmmaker is an interesting and multi-talented person. He is actually the Public Defender for San Francisco – an elected public official. See:


    The entire film can currently be found on Youtube. It is informative, thought provoking and entertaining; with interviews of well-known asian actors and directors, and the problems they face in changing stereotypes.

    One of the more interesting points the film makes is how often parts that are written for Asian men (particularly those with romantic roles) are often changed by studio execs who don’t think audiences would accept them. The solution proposed by the interviewees is that Asians must take more control of the production process – writing, producing, directing and acting – before these stereotyping practices will change to more authentic portrayals of Asians.

    “The Slanted Screen”:
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJwAwH93Yhg&feature=related
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb8o2KPDYBo&feature=related
    Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv4plDRdkO4&feature=related
    Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0gr_UmJ7ME&feature=related
    Part 5, 6 and 7: (available on Youtube)

    The entire documentary is very good and I highly recommend watching it from beginning to end, but if you are short on time, I would look at Parts 4 and 5.

  102. Frank. Says:

    After coming to China, I thought it was really interesting how Asian-Americans back home are so concerned about racism and the depiction of Asians in popular culture, but to even suggest to most Chinese people that they share something in common with Japanese people (like racial background) is considered an insult. I mean, one of the major complaints in this thread is that Asian-Americans are not portrayed as romantic leads in movies and television dramas, but the level of overt racism right now in China is comparable to that of America in the 1950’s, and most people here don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. The general perception that Asian men make bad husbands/boyfriends is really nothing compared to what people on the mainland say about “foreigners”.

    I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad, it’s just that in my experience Chinese people are always saying and doing things that would be considered horribly racist in the west, but not in the mainland. They just don’t have the same perception of racial sensitivity here. It’s never been necessary, so they never developed it.

    Anyway, I suppose my point is the concept of Asian-Americans or Asian people in general, is mostly a western construction. It’s sort of like suggesting that all people from every country other than China are basically the same culture (which they do here).

  103. Steve Says:

    Hi Frank~

    Your comment reminded me of a lunch I attended given by the Chinese Women’s Club in San Diego years ago. The featured speaker was a former mayor of Monterey Park who was supposed to talk about American politics. She ended up being a shill for the Democratic Party but what I found most interesting is that in front of a 99+% Chinese American crowd (I was the only non-Chinese person there) she continued to talk about “we Asian Americans”. I think what’s happened over here is that Asian politicians of any stripe use the term “Asian American” to broaden their voter base. Even Asians here tend to identify more readily with other Asians from a different country, especially if they are immigrants. I guess they see some commonality in a land where most are very different from themselves.

    I never saw that when I lived in Taiwan or China. People identified not only with their country, but even more so with their region.

  104. hongkonger Says:

    “, but the level of overt racism right now in China is comparable to that of America in the 1950’s, ”

    Really????? Here we go again……….Kind of getting tired of reading & hearing this kinda nonsensicle apple & orange comparison.

    Oh, well, *sigh* … Ok, let’s see….The 1950s and 1960s saw the peaking of the American Civil Rights Movement and the desegregation of schools under the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board and the organizing of widespread protests across the nation under a younger generation of leaders.

    The pastor and activist Martin Luther King, Jr. was the catalyst for many nonviolent protests which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act…

    While substantial gains were made in the succeeding decades through middle class advancement and public employment, black poverty and lack of education deepened in the context of de-industrialization.


    Many cite the 2008 United States presidential election as a step forward in race relations: White Americans played a major role in electing Barack Obama, the country’s first black president….Yes, America has come a long way, but does politicized and thus culturalized Political Correctness mean racism is a non -issue in USA?

    What about reversed racism ?
    White Americans occasionally do experience racial discrimination in USA; it is disputed though whether this is properly termed “racism,” and, in general, since other groups have less economic and social power, it is uncommon that such discrimination has the power to seriously harm Whites.

    And then there’s religious fanaticism in the 21st Century America.
    This article appears today ( Sep 1 2009) on Fox News: A Phoenix-area pastor has started to draw protesters to his congregation after he delivered a sermon titled, “Why I Hate Barack Obama,” …..”I hope that God strikes Barack Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy and I hope it happens today,” he told MyFOXPhoenix on Sunday. He called his message “spiritual warfare”
    In Anderson’s controversial sermon, delivered at his Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe (Christian Right-wingers?) before Obama arrived for a speech in Phoenix earlier in the month, the pastor said he wants the president to “melt like a snail” with salt on it. …”I’m gonna pray that he dies and goes to hell when I go to bed tonight. That’s what I’m gonna pray,” he told his congregation…..The Anderson sermon also drew concern after it was reported that one man carrying an assault rifle outside the Phoenix arena where Obama spoke was a member of Anderson’s church.

    Finally, Japanese culture & fashion, movies, arts, literature (comic books) & of course products & technology etc are much loved & followed in South East Asia including and particularly Taiwan & HK, China. It depends on what you are talking about & with whom in China – I’d think a very high percentage of the people from Japan, and expats in general for that matter, are treated fairly in China despite the language, cultural barriers and class – perceived or actual – disparity.

  105. Frank. Says:


    I don’t really understand your point here. What I said was that I live in China, and from my observation people here are more overtly racist than people in the west, and that they don’t have much of a sense that there’s anything wrong with it. If I try to explain to my coworkers that where I’m from it’s not considered socially acceptable to hate everyone from a particular country, for example, they don’t really get what I’m talking about.

    If I ask my friends why 黑人 toothpaste is so popular, they say “because black people have white teeth” with no sense of irony whatsoever.

    I’m not saying China is bad because of this, it just is. I don’t understand why you’re quoting wikipedia articles at me, and making fenqing arguments by stringing together a bunch of random facts when I’m not making an argument in the first place. Protip: the term “reverse racism” is redundant and anyone who uses it should be promptly ignored.

  106. hongkonger Says:


    Relax, I could tell you were not trying to say China is bad because of this or that. My point was – as you correctly mentioned ” It’s never been necessary, so they never developed it,” hence in agreement I quoted Wiki to confirm (not to bash America) that East & West indeed have very different race-relations history, therefore it’s comparing apples & oranges, hence totally inappropriate to compare China with any period of American history with regard to racism, let alone, as you put it “overt racism.”

    Indeed, I didn’t think you said this or that was bad, you were merely stating the facts, which I can appreciate, but to follow that with “making fenqing arguments,” I’m afraid you maybe flinging labels flippantly there, like many non-Chinese posters like to do on many China-bashing blogs out there. I’m sorry, I don’t get how my comment (not even trying to argue) has anything to do with “angry-youths”? As a matter of fact, I had no idea what fenqing was until a couple of years ago when other posters started throwing the term around.

    Re: Reversed racism being redundant in USA, agreed and already said so in above comment: “White Americans occasionally do experience racial discrimination in USA; it is disputed though whether this is properly termed “racism,” and, in general, since other groups have less economic and social power, it is uncommon that such discrimination has the power to seriously harm Whites.”

    Nevertheless, I’ve heard the said-term mentioned quite often here , especially in the ESL circle due to the fact that native-English speaking Asians seem to experience difficulties getting employed in schools and training centers because they are often perceived as non-foreign stocks.

    BTW, this column here is about cross-cultural-dating. If you are interested in what overseas Chinese & perhaps fenqings and other expats think about applying western-style PC-ness & so-called racism to China , may I refer you to : “Are Chinese racist or simply politically incorrect? (310 comments) on this blog.

  107. miaka9383 Says:

    I totally disagree. No matter what 歧視 (Discrimination) exists in China. I feel like you are justifying those actions by saying it is a western imported term. Not saying all Chinese are evil, but the acts of discrimination are just wrong whether it is based on class or race or just plain skin color. You mentioned Japanese, but are you aware that a lot of Chinese girls and Taiwanese girls strive to be white as possible like the Japanese women? (me included but it is not possible)

    Whether or not U.S has it is a totally different story. It is undeniable that racism still exists here in U.S BUT does it justify the fact that Chinese Race relations with minorities and foreigners or foreign born Chinese have not improved?

  108. wuming Says:


    I believe that Asian preference for pale skin color predates these cultures’ general awareness of Europeans and Africans. It is probably more of a class prejudice than a racial one, much like the word “redneck”.

  109. perspectivehere Says:

    @Steve #103

    “I think what’s happened over here is that Asian politicians of any stripe use the term “Asian American” to broaden their voter base. Even Asians here tend to identify more readily with other Asians from a different country, especially if they are immigrants. I guess they see some commonality in a land where most are very different from themselves. I never saw that when I lived in Taiwan or China. People identified not only with their country, but even more so with their region.”


    Your comment is right up to a certain point, so I don’t disagree. But there is a backstory for this which deserves to be highlighted.

    I think there are specific historical factors unique to the Asian American experience that account for “Asian American Consciousness” compared to the lack of such phenomena in Asia.

    Let me illustrate this with two historical incidents that figure deeply in the Chinese American psyche: World War II and the murder of Vincent Chin (as depicted in the 1987 documentary “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”)

    1. WWII-era confusion between Chinese and Japanese, as shown by these articles, with such provocative titles as “How to Tell Your Friends from the Japs”:


    “How to Tell a Chinese From a Jap”: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6795


    http://www.english.illinois.edu/MAPS/poets/a_f/foster/lifemag.htm (Time Magazine December 1941)
    “How To Tell Japs From The Chinese”

    “Angry Citizens Victimize Allies With Emotional Outburst At Enemy

    In the first discharge of emotions touched off by the Japanese assaults on their nation, U.S. citizens have been demonstrating a distressing ignorance on the delicate question of how to tell a Chinese from a Jap. Innocent victims in cities all over the country are many of the 75,000 U.S. Chinese, whose homeland is our stanch ally. So serious were the consequences threatened, that the Chinese consulates last week prepared to tag their nationals with identification buttons. To dispel some of this confusion, LIFE here adduces a rule-of-thumb from the anthropometric conformations that distinguish friendly Chinese from enemy alien Japs.”

    Very useful, this Time Magazine.

    In this era, as much due to wartime feelings as anything else, the last thing a Chinese American would want is to be viewed as Japanese. (And note this doesn’t mention anything about the loyal Japanese Americans who were rounded up and interned – but that’s another story.) No chance of Asian American consciousness raising here – the wartime environment created 2 categories: either you were a friend or an enemy.

    2. Jump to 1982. Japan Inc. is a rising economic power, and Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” began with a deep recession. Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American, was at his bachelor’s party at Detroit bar. Ronald Ebens, an autoworker, mistaking him for a Japanese, got into an argument with him. Later Ebens returned with a baseball bat and beat Vincent to death.

    “Before he slipped into a coma, Chin murmured to a friend, “It’s not fair.” Four days later – and five days before his wedding – Chin died as a result of the injuries he sustained during the beating.

    The incident on June 19, 1982, seemed an almost perfect metaphor for anti-Asian sentiment in America. It was ignorant; Ebens and Nitz presumed Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese American, was Japanese. It was economically motivated; the two autoworkers blamed the Japanese – and, mistakenly, Chin – for the ailing U.S. auto industry and the consequential loss of jobs. And it was horribly violent; the use of a baseball bat as a murder weapon was a brutal act and an equally brutal reminder of Americana.

    But if the beating itself was emblematic of the racial prob-lems in America, the subsequent trial challenged many Asian Pacific Americans’ faith in the American way.

    Ebens and Nitz were charged with and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. For this, they each received a sentence of three years probation and a $3,000 fine – a sentence that many APA community leaders perceived as a slap on the wrist.

    Later federal civil-rights cases brought against the two defendants were appealed, and the juries acquitted each of them. Neither served a jail sentence.

    The first judgment against Ebens and Nitz outraged a group of APAs and motivated them to form American Citizens for Justice (ACJ), a pan-Asian American activist group that mobilized to demand a retrial against the two men.

    It was the first time, according to APA advocates and academics, that people who traced their ancestry to different countries in Asia and the Pacific Islands crossed ethnic and socioeconomic lines to fight as a united group of Asian Pacific Americans. They were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino; they were waiters, lawyers, and grandmothers who were moved by the incident that heightened their awareness of discrimination and racism directed toward the APA community.

    Vincent Chin became a contemporary martyr of the APA movement. Fifteen years later, his death remains a turning point for many Asian Pacific Americans.”



    I think many Asians in America drew a great deal of inspiration from the 1960’s Civil Rights movements and revere Martin Luther King as a great man who broke down a lot of barriers to racial equality in America; but many Asians in the 1980’s were galvanized by Vincent Chin’s story (especially the light punishment given to Ebens) to become activists for social justice, and to go into fields like law, to fight for justice and equality.

    Vincent Chin’s story has special meaning for Chinese Americans (especially those who are derived from Guangdong); Lily Chin’s heartbreak make us think of our own mothers.

    His story may well have faded by now; 1982 is a whole generation ago and there are new stories daily of injustices suffered that are perhaps more compelling for the activists of this generation. (see Vincent Who? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QtdFeDx48Q&feature=related)

    But there is a mysterious alchemy in America by which multiplicitous races and ethnicities grow up warily side-by-side, brought up to believe in a dream of a more perfect society, but not seeing it around them. Then some outrageous act forces them to confront the injustices before them. It leads them to reach out to others and put aside age-old suspicions that might have divided their parents, and unites them in surprising ways. Vincent Chin left an important legacy for Asian Americans, that whether you are Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, you might be equally a victim of bigotry and prejudice, and the only way to change that is to unite and fight back.

    And now it seems that Vincent Chin’s story is broadening to one where Americans of all colors who oppose bigotry and racial intolerance can find something to fight for in his story. It is heartening to see Dennis Archer, the former African-American mayor of Detroit, speak about Vincent’s story as a lesson for all Americans in this post-911 world in this CNN segment on Vincent Chin’s Legacy. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7cyZ9gUpcY&feature=related

  110. pug_ster Says:

    I do think issue with Vincent Chin’s case does highlight the problem in the US about bigotry issue toward asian (asian men in particular) that the media has largely ignored. I see in the news all the time about bigotry toward Blacks and Hispanics but not alot attention toward Asians.

    Last year there was a death over of a student in Columbia Minghui Yu when some black kid chased him down and a car hit him and died. The president of Columbia Lee Bollinger send his condolences but was disappointed when he didn’t raise the issue of bigotry toward asians here in the US.

    The mainstream media doesn’t seem to care about this issue and many Asian organizations are largely unheard. It does makes this Un-American, doesn’t it? Westerners often says that what makes this country so great is that you can vote and have your voices heard. You can vote for people for those people but they just want your vote, but doesn’t represent your voice. So when I voted last fall, I told myself, who cares? At least China represent me better because they care more about people of Asian descent than the US does.

  111. Steve Says:

    @ perspectivehere #109: Thanks for your post and the story of Vincent Chin. His death was not only tragic, but even worse was the light and unjust sentences that the killers received. Even today, Detroit is not a place I would want to visit. I don’t think that story really applies to my situation since my wife and most of the Chinese and Taiwanese Americans we know are immigrants who came here in the ’70s and ’80s, well after the war and in a different area of the country, so I also think a lot of it depends on where you live in the States.

    For instance, a racially diverse city such as San Diego is very different from living in a city with very few Asians of any kind. I don’t think I’d want to live in a place where my wife would be unusual to the point of being unique. I also think much has changed since 1982 as far as the place Asians occupy in my country, politically, socially and in terms of business ownership. In fact, it seems to me that NE Asians are the latest group of Americans to be absorbed into the general culture.

    There was a time in the early 20th century where Irish, Italians and Eastern Europeans were not considered “real” Americans and were treated with discrimination. The key to Asian absorption, in my opinion, is their advance in education and having successful careers. The other ingredient is their willingness to take on “American” ways so outside of their appearance and family culture, they’re the same as everyone else.

    @ pug_ster #110: Do you really feel there is that much bigotry towards Asians these days, especially Asian men? Do you see it in your personal life on a regular basis? Why do you think the death of the Columbia student was racially motivated? Maybe it was just one bad guy killing an innocent guy. Has anyone been able to pinpoint the motive behind the death? The reason I ask is that I just don’t see it where I live and it’s a question I’ve asked of many Chinese living here. The vast majority don’t see it either, though I have run into some who believe it exists.

    Why do you think China cares more about people of Asian descent? Wouldn’t they care more about people of Chinese descent? There were anti-Japanese riots a few years ago in China, which would suggest to me that the animosity was culturally motivated.

  112. hongkonger Says:

    107 Miaka,

    You are of course free to disagree, but I really don’t see what you so absolutely and “totally disagree with” with what I wrote.

    It goes without saying that, of course 歧視 (Discrimination) exists in China. Hell, it exists in every corner of human society where ageism, genderism, ableism, adultism, colorism, genetic discrimination, homophobia, racism,
    second-class citizen status etc. express themselves in many forms: Affirmative action for example was a form of reverse discrimination. In its opposition to race preferences, the American Civil Rights Institute’s Ward Connerly stated, “There is nothing positive, affirmative, or equal about ‘affirmative action’ programs that give preference to some groups based on race.”

    I am glad to learn from Frank that this form of discrimination has become redundant in USA.

    Now, I could be very wrong on this, but I thought the term “racism, and “discrimination” are western imported terms. They are sociological terminologies that refer to treatment taken toward or against a person of a certain group that is taken in consideration based on class or category. Author Hans-Hermann Hoppe, in an essay asserts that a natural social order is characterized by increased discrimination.” Law professor Matthias Storme claims that the freedom of discrimination in human societies is a fundamental human right, or more precisely, the basis of all fundamental freedoms and therefore the most fundamental freedom.

    Do I justify wrong doing? Of course not. But what is considered UN-PC (wrong) in certain culture may not be so perceived in another culture, which Frank was in effect stating and I had – perhaps over-zealously – expressed my agreement.

  113. Steve Says:

    @ Hongkonger #112: Everything you wrote made sense until I got to this part in section 2: “Author Hans-Hermann Hoppe, in an essay asserts that a natural social order is characterized by increased discrimination.” Law professor Matthias Storme claims that the freedom of discrimination in human societies is a fundamental human right, or more precisely, the basis of all fundamental freedoms and therefore the most fundamental freedom.”

    It sounds like Hoppe is saying that discrimination is natural and lack of discrimination is perverse. And it sounds like Storme is saying that discrimination is a fundamental human right. Am I understanding this correctly? How can discrimination be a fundamental human right? Why is discrimination natural? Neither of these make any sense to me.

    Based on my own personal experience, I’d say the major cause of discrimination is a lack of contact and friendship with other races and cultures. Monolithic cultures would naturally identify with someone who looked like they did since everyone they’d meet growing up would look like they did. I remember one time when I was in Shanghai, I hadn’t been around any westerners in a few weeks and ran into a few on the street. They looked weird as if they didn’t belong. I remember feeling this and then laughing inwardly to myself, imagining how I must look to all the Chinese who rarely if ever see a white guy.

    For me, true racism is when someone is in an atmosphere where they commonly interact with another race or races and cultures, yet still maintain a feeling of superiority. That was my main complaint with many of the expats I saw in Taiwan and China who had a severely misplaced sense of personal superiority to the people around them. When a Chinese person stares at a foreigner or says something crude in front of them, it’s not racism but plain ignorance. What they are experiencing is outside the normal realm of behavior so I think you have to take that into account before passing judgment.

    In the same vein, Chinese or any other foreign students studying in American colleges, who ignore or refuse to interact with or befriend anyone who is not Chinese or from their home country and make fun of those who do, are also exhibiting racist or discriminating behavior. They are in an atmosphere where they can no longer claim ignorance.

    @ wuming #108: I agree with you. It reminds me of the late 1800s where wealthy people stayed out of the sun to separate themselves from the “laboring classes”. Dark skin in Asia is associated with poorer, working class people. This isn’t just NE Asia but it also applies in SE Asia in countries such as Thailand. To this day, my wife won’t go to the beach before 4 PM and then after putting on SPF35, hides under an umbrella if she’s not in the water.

  114. hongkonger Says:

    Steve: “Am I understanding this correctly? How can discrimination be a fundamental human right? Why is discrimination natural?”

    I think from the perspective of self preservation this is a survival instinct, and I think perhaps Hoppe was establishing the anthropological fundamentals – for disconstruction – in view of the advent of globalization and hence the imperatives for appropriate adjustments and updated knowledge for better interactions (?)
    “For me, true racism is when someone is in an atmosphere where they commonly interact with another race or races and cultures, yet still maintain a feeling of superiority. That was my main complaint with many of the expats I saw in Taiwan and China who had a severely misplaced sense of personal superiority to the people around them.”

    Yes, Steve, I ‘ve always felt the same about many (not all) expats, the rich locals & well to do overseas Asians in HK, and now in China..

    John Lenon said it well:

    Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
    And you think you’re so clever and classless and free,
    But you’re still fucking peasents as far as I can see,
    A working class hero is something to be,
    A working class hero is something to be.
    There’s room at the top they are telling you still,
    But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
    If you want to be like the folks on the hill,

  115. Otto Kerner Says:

    Steve, maybe you should clarify what you have in mind as “discrimination”; it may or may not be the same as what Hoppe has in mind. One could imagine a purely personal choice in which, for instance, I’m lucky enough to know two women who are interested in dating me, one a blonde and the other a brunette. Perhaps I happen to have a strong preference for brunettes over blondes, so I choose to pursue a relationship with the latter rather than the former. One could certainly say that I have discriminated on the basis of hair colour in this instance, and yet most people would not see this as terribly objectionable. I get the impression, however, that you have something else more pernicious in mind.

  116. Steve Says:

    @ Otto: After I wrote that, I was looking at the word “discriminating” and thought it didn’t sound quite right, like a man who has “discriminating taste” because he drinks Talisker single malt scotch instead of a cheap blended one. 😛

    Discrimination in that context, if that is what these two authors meant, is fine since it’d be similar to your example. I’d tend to use the phrase “attracted to” rather than “discriminated against” in that particular example but the point is well made. The “discrimination” I meant was if you refused to hire the blonde because of her hair color, or thought all blondes should have to use separate washrooms, or refused to be friends with a blonde because of her hair color, or treated blondes as inferior.

    This post is screaming out for a blonde joke but I’m going to resist! 😉

  117. hongkonger Says:

    No blond jokes, huh? WEll, then, how about a multi racial joke?


    A chinese guy,a white guy, and a black guy all get a job at the same place.the boss comes out and says,”i`m leaving for awile,and when i get back i want to see this place swept,and that pile of dirt out front shoveled and in five diffrent piles.” so he tells the white guy,”you are in charge of sweeping.” he tells the black guy,”your in charge of shoveling.” and finally he tells the cinese guy,”your in charge of the supplies.” he leaves and comes back in about three hours and sees nothing done.
    so he asked the white guy,”why didn`t you do anything?” he replies,”i would have but the chinese guy didn`t give me a broom.” so he askes the black guy,”why haven`t you done anything?” he also replies,”the chinese guy didn`t give me a shovel.” so he goes to look for the chinese guy, but he couldn`t find him. finally he walks over to the pile of dirt and the chinese guy hopped out and said,”supplies!”

  118. pug_ster Says:


    @ pug_ster #110: Do you really feel there is that much bigotry towards Asians these days, especially Asian men? Do you see it in your personal life on a regular basis? Why do you think the death of the Columbia student was racially motivated? Maybe it was just one bad guy killing an innocent guy. Has anyone been able to pinpoint the motive behind the death? The reason I ask is that I just don’t see it where I live and it’s a question I’ve asked of many Chinese living here. The vast majority don’t see it either, though I have run into some who believe it exists.

    Why do you think China cares more about people of Asian descent? Wouldn’t they care more about people of Chinese descent? There were anti-Japanese riots a few years ago in China, which would suggest to me that the animosity was culturally motivated.

    When I was a teen, I worked as a delivery guy delivering Chinese food in a bad neighborhood. I worked there for a few months and I got mugged twice by some Africian Americans. Soon, I got let go because they got someone else who drives a car (I ride a bike.) I was sort of glad because I don’t have to work there. In the racial diverse city here in NYC, it is not uncommon to have a couple of kids to gang up on some Chinese or asian kid and beat him up. Also it is not uncommon for some Chinese food delivery guy to be severely beaten or even killed. Unless someone Chinese delivery guy was killed, it is not often reported in the local news, but you will see it in the Chinese newspapers instead.

    For me, I feel safe in my neighborhood, because of the gentrification of my neighborhood where it used to be not alot of Chinese kids in my neighborhood and many kids in the neighborhood would say racials slurs at Chinese. Now I think many people are used to seeing them and it is not bad anymore. Many Chinese set up shop here and are here to stay.

    If you want to know more about Ming-Hui Yu check out this article here and be sure to check out the comments.


    I’ve said that Chinese Media try to raise issue this kind of bias incidents because it is reported in places in Chinadaily and not mainstream western media with stories like this.


    Edit: They report on incidents of Latino hate crimes but largely ignored Asian ones.


  119. Wukailong Says:

    In this interview with Martin Jacques, there is an interesting discussion on racism in China and the West:


    The whole interview is interesting for many reasons (many topics discussed here are covered), but I think the most interesting thing is why racism has never been a topic either Chinese or white people in general have been interested in:

    “A: Well, no society likes to talk about its own racism; this is a universal characteristic of the dominant races in countries. As for why it doesn’t get talked about outside China, well, the people who’ve written about China are mainly Westerners—and the Chinese, of course. Generally, Western academics are white, so it’s not something that they think about. There are a couple of black academics who have written about China, and they’ve engaged in discussion about race because they’re very conscious of how it moulds a society and how it structures human relations. The trouble is that the way in which countries behave has been interpreted in terms of diplomacy and international relations theory. International relations theory doesn’t talk about race.

    Q: But we, as a Western civilization, have dedicated considerable energy—at least within the last three decades—to trying to address racism in our own countries.

    A: I think there’s a much greater awareness. I mean, Obama’s election in America is a vivid illustration of how attitudes have changed. But the whole American behaviour with Guantánamo and their treatment of Iraqis during the war has had a powerful racial component to it. People don’t talk about it that way, but it is a racial component.”

  120. Wukailong Says:

    @hongkonger: “I’d think a very high percentage of the people from Japan, and expats in general for that matter, are treated fairly in China despite the language, cultural barriers and class – perceived or actual – disparity.”

    I wouldn’t dispute that, though this is such a wonderfully complex topic, and one that I like to be more relaxed about these days. In general the attitude towards white people in China seems to be based on their relative economic status. People can be overtly polite to whites and many Chinese only see this sort of treatment, so they either 1) get upset and wonder why they are oppressed in their own country (reverse racism) and/or 2) believe that this is the whole story and that whites always get better deals.

    At the same time, as a white person I’m also seen in a negative way by a group of people by default, and many persons just can’t understand how I could ever understand Chinese or even, with my crude Western mind, understand the pillar of civilization that China is. Of course, when I talk to people they often change their minds, but I need to overcome prejudice. This is probably common for any non-dominant race in any society, though cosmopolitan places have had more experience with this and it might be easier to blend in. Beijing still has some way to go.

    I don’t believe in the inherent racism in China’s culture Martin Jacques does, and whatever the truth is, China is going to become more cosmopolitan in the future. In the long run I’m always optimistic. 🙂

  121. Frank. Says:


    “I’m sorry, I don’t get how my comment (not even trying to argue) has anything to do with “angry-youths”? ”

    I didn’t intend to say that you were fenqing, but rather your response was structured like one – what I’d consider a fenqing argument is a person responding to a perceived slight against the mainland by posting a list of random facts and news stories about similar things in other countries, as if doing so constitutes an actual argument or refutation of the point being disagreed with.

    It’s basically just somebody saying “NO U” in long form with a lot of copy-pasting.

    If you feel insulted, my apologies. your later posts are very thoughtful and interesting.

    Oh, and the thing about “reverse racism” is that it’s an oxymoron/redundant term. Racism is racism. If I discriminate against anyone based on the color of their skin, it’s racist. If I promote one race over another, strictly because of the color of their skin, it’s still racist (not reverse-racist). The only people who use this term in the US are usually right-wing nutjobs and white supremacists. It’s a semantic argument, but a lot of language is politically loaded like this.

    edit: haha, I’m realizing now the word “redundant” has two meanings – i did not mean to say “reverse racism” is obselete, but rather that the term itself is redundant. You can’t have reverse racism, or backwards racism, or sideways upside-down racism, it’s just racism, pure and simple.

  122. Hongkonger Says:

    Thanks WKL & Frank for your kind responses.

    I agree with WKL:
    “I don’t believe in the inherent racism in China’s culture Martin Jacques does,”
    and Frank,
    you are certainly right about this: ” only people who use this term [“Revers racism”] in the US are usually right-wing nutjobs and white supremacists. It’s a semantic argument, but a lot of language is politically loaded like this….You can’t have reverse racism, or backwards racism, or sideways upside-down racism, it’s just racism, pure and simple.”


    The rest is my rant…so ignore at will.

    Like I’ve mentioned in my previous posts here or elsewhere that I’ve worked with many nationalities for over two decades now, and so I am very sympathetic to how “outsiders” including overseas Asians, are perceived or misunderstood — but never to the extend of the kind of protracted full blown racism and ongoing racial profiling and judicial injustices as experienced outside of South EAst Asia — not yet anyway 🙂

    Come to think of it, I have more non-Chinese friends than I have Chinese friends since I started working in China! I’m one of those who get along with anyone. Unfortunately, I also know too many who are closet racists, two-faced PC hypocrites which the Chinese people I know generally are not. (Regionalism I must admit, however, is strong in rural China – and many say even in big city like Shanghai). In fact, with regards to a lot of things Western, South east asians seems to or tend to err on the side of not being cautious enough. Considering how many blindly adopt and admire Western values – i.e. until they experienced living in the West do they get a clearer picture, but still many also choose to remain in the West – I think this is true with foreigners in China as well. Well, absolutely nothing wrong with that at all – like they who are wise put it so very well: To each their own.

  123. Jerry Says:

    It has been a while. Steve wrote me a while back to mention that he created this OP. He felt that I could contribute to this discussion because I have a Chinese girlfriend. So I subscribed to this post and have been following the comments for a while. Honestly, some of the comments have discouraged me from getting back into the fray. Oh well, here goes nothing. Here are some random thoughts.

    My girlfriend is from Taipei and is an English teacher. She and I get along very well. Of course we have problems and issues at times. Part of that is due to cross-cultural issues, man-woman (Mars v. Venus issues), and whatever.

    She likes Adrian Monk, House MD, CSI, Mel Brooks and funny movies. She likes George Carlin; I introduced her to his humor. She loves Carlin’s “Why America goes to War”; because we like bombing brown people.

    @Pugster, I am sorry for the discrimination and violence you have encountered. I know you have mentioned some anecdotes. Let me mention some. I don’t understand the violence and suffering heaped on generation-after-generation of Russian Jews by the Tsars and people of Russia. I don’t understand the anti-Semitism my dad and other Jews encountered growing up in Cincinnati in the 20’s and 30’s. I don’t understand why Israeli Jews practice anti-Semitism against Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza; they are fellow Semites. I don’t understand why Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was tortured by NYPD officers. I don’t understand the murders of Amadou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant, and Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian immigrant, in spite of a tremendous analysis of the Diallo shooting by Malcolm Gladwell in “Blink”. Hatred, violence, racism, strident nationalism, tea-baggers, neo-fascists, the KKK, fengqing, etc. do not make sense to me. To me, they are mindless, insane actions/feelings/people.

    IMHO, discrimination, preferences, biases and prejudices are everywhere. I have them. But they become dangerous when practiced perniciously, insidiously, evilly. I understand what Steve was saying.

    @Miaka, many Vietnamese women and girls try to be as white as possible, too (and Clinique loves them for this tendency ::big smile:: ). And they want to get rid of their flat noses. Go figure!

    Blonde joke. Q: How do you know when a blonde has been making chocolate chip cookies? A: You find M&M shells all over the kitchen floor.

    I will leave you with several quotes from some of my favorite people. What they have to do with the OP, I have no clue. 😀

    Mark Twain once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” 😀

    Samuel Clemens supposedly said, “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”

    Richard Feynman: Some people say, “How can you live without knowing?” I do not know what they mean. I always live without knowing. That is easy. How you get to know is what I want to know.

    Richard Feynman: “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

    Albert Einstein: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

    “Baseball is dull only to dull minds.” – Red Barber

    “Oh, Doctor!” – Red Barber

    Vin Scully: “As long as you live, keep smiling because it brightens everybody’s day.”

  124. hongkonger Says:


    I’ve never read this one, and I LIKE it~!

    Richard Feynman: Some people say, “How can you live without knowing?” I do not know what they mean. I always live without knowing. That is easy. How you get to know is what I want to know.”

    So, Jerry, did you and your daughter check out the curry & kebab joints in Chungking Mansion, while in HK?

  125. Jerry Says:


    HKer, glad you like Feynman. His sense of humor, humility and cynicism continually inspire me.

    Yes, my daughter and I went to Chungking Mansion during the day; we confined ourselves to the first floor. The Indian and Middle East food is very good. My daughter would not eat it; she did not trust it. However, CK Mansion looks much dicier at night. So, I just stuck to shops on Nathan Road and the Temple Street Night Market at night.

    How has the weather been in HK? It is hotter here in Taipei this summer. A lot less rain (We are down 35% and 600 mm ytd) and only one typhoon this season, so far; Morakot did little damage up north, but devastated sections of southern/central Taiwan. 500+ people died in Taiwan. Horrible.

    What really came across as even more horrible was Ma Ying-Jeou’s cavalier non-response to Morakot and his blaming of the victims & Central Weather Bureau for the deaths. He also waved off American and Japanese offers of logistical and heavy equipment help which the country desperately needed. He has come out looking like a horse’s petoot. Pretty sad and disgusting. I think he has one-upped/trumped Shrub’s miserable handling of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. I never thought that anybody could sink that low. It looks like Ma has proved me wrong.

    This country is currently in a funk, a malaise. It feels like the country is somewhat lost and confused. I would describe it as a wound to the soul of Taiwan. It makes me sad, because this is a wonderful country, with wonderful people and surely deserves better.

  126. Wukailong Says:

    @Jerry: It’s good to have you back here!

  127. Steve Says:

    Hey hey, Jerry’s back! Great to hear from you again; you’ve been sorely missed. 🙂 🙂

    They’re not “flat” noses, they’re “low” noses which I happen to think are pretty cute on some girls. Unfortunately, the girls themselves don’t think so. 🙁

    Good blonde joke; I resisted but you could not, ha ha!

    I remember, years ago, stumbling across a show on PBS (American public television) which consisted of Richard Feynman talking about… everything. His life, his ideas, his opinions on a range of subjects, just talking and within five minutes I was hooked. He had to have been one of the most fascinating scientists in American history. My mom’s cousin did his postgraduate and doctoral work at Cal Tech and told me that Feynman was his favorite professor. I sure would have liked to have joined him in a “bongo” jam!

    For those who’d like to know more about him, as a starter I’d recommend his book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!. Feynman was a nuclear physicist (I believe he was the youngest physicist involved in the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos that developed the atomic bomb during the war) and won a Nobel Prize for his work, specifically Feynman diagrams which chart the movement of subatomic particles in quantum physics. He was also the only federal panel member who would not sign on to the official explanation for the Columbia space shuttle disaster report. During the hearing when the Thiokol Corporation management said the o-rings could take the lower temperatures at the Cape that day, Feynman raised his hand and said something to the effect of, “I just dipped this o-ring into my ice water and can see that it’s lost its shape and hardened. How can you say it had not effect?” It has to be one of the best examples of a scientist cutting to the heart of the matter while bureaucrats try to cover up their mistakes. The truth shall set you free!

    Here in San Diego, our baseball cultural icon is Jerry Coleman, the former NY Yankee who apprenticed with Red Barber and has used his signature line “Oh Doctor!” while broadcasting Padre games for decades as a sign of respect to his old mentor. Jerry is getting up there in age and sometimes stumbles with the names of the players, but is beloved by fans here who simply don’t care if he screws things up occasionally. He was also a genuine war hero, serving in both WWII and Korea with the Marines, flew over 120 combat missions, received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. What asked about it, he always says the true heroes were the ones who never came back.

  128. Jerry Says:

    @HKer, @Wukailong (WKL), @Steve

    Thanks for your kind remarks.

    Steve, several comments.

    Feynman was a naturally brave soul and called it like he saw it on the Challenger disaster. He was a kid from Queens who went to school in your old neck of the woods, Princeton, where he got his PhD. Can you believe that Columbia turned him down for undergraduate studies? He did his undergraduate at that mediocre school, MIT. LOL

    Another SD (born and raised) war hero was Teddy Samuel Williams. A pretty good baseball player for the Bosox who also kind of knew how to hit a baseball. OK, he was one of the best. My dad always reminds me that Ted spent over 3 ½ years as a pilot in WWII and a little over a year in the Korean War. That is over 4 ½ years he missed during his prime baseball-playing years. He still had a .344 lifetime BA, 521 HR, 2,654 hits, 2,021 BB and a .482 OBP, which is still the all-time lifetime mark in the MLB (or MFL as Ted called it). He also had a lifetime OBPS of 1.116, second only to Babe Ruth. Last player to bat .400 for the whole season. AT 38 YEARS OLD, he batted .388 and hit 38 HRs! What??? A SD legend. How do you do all that while missing 4 ½ years out of the prime of your career. God knows what he would have done if it weren’t for military service. My dad still can’t get over that. And how could I forget the “Williams Shift”?

    Your comments about Coleman got me thinking about another Barber student, Vin Scully. You know, there is something so reassuring about Vin’s voice. Listening to him broadcast makes me feel good. I feel like all is right with the world. I have to believe that Red Barber looks down on this world, sees Coleman and Scully broadcasting and smiles a big smile. I am sure he is proud of them. Oh, doctor! Pull up a chair! How do you do!

  129. hongkonger Says:

    Best anti-racist comedy ever!

    De-PCing the world

    Russell Peters: I was playing Black Jack..er…African-American Jack


    Frank : “I’d consider a fenqing argument is a person responding ………by posting a list of random facts ..”

    LOL, Frank, I just found out from Russell Peters that that’s just being Chinese — You’ll know what I mean when you get to the part where the Chinese storekeeper goes : “Be a man…..” ENJOY 🙂

  130. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Russell Peters is amazing. I’ve seen the “be a man” act before on the Comedy Network. He is an equal-opportunity cultural satirist who’ll poke fun at just about anybody and any culture, and does so in hilarious fashion.

    I agree with Steve and others that there is a huge difference between inter-racial dating and cross-cultural dating. A Chinese Canadian woman dating a Caucasian man likely has nothing to do with the latter, and is merely the former. And it’s not that uncommon; neither is a Chinese Canadian man and a Caucasian woman.

    In Canada, I’m not sure when one would truly get a cross-cultural dating experience, unless you were a new immigrant or you’re subscribing to some mail-order action. On the other hand, even if the participants are merely engaged in an inter-racial relationship, it is likely to become a far more cross cultural experience once you bring in the parents and extended family. In that circumstance, as others have noted, far better to stay quiet and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.

  131. hongkonger Says:

    “far better to stay quiet and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

    LOL, good quote SK Cheung. It’s from one of the Hebrew proverbs of Solomon, right?

    I was surrounded with mix race couples in HK and nowadays in China – Most of them I see are love being the reason that they’re together. Then there are those whom when you see ’em would probably compell ya to bellow the Tina Turner’s famous line:”What’s love got to do with it?” or rather “what does race have to do with it?” And as Russell Peters so hilariously tells it like it is: ” 300 years from now, we’d all be beige. You can run away from us (Indians and Chinese) but sooner or later we’re gonna hump ya. So, why not just get started now ?!”

    SKC,do you remember the Cantonese saying on coincidence, pure luck, fate, so-happened, chance association, to each their own etc… 冤豬頭撞上盟鼻菩薩 (A stuffy nose buddha accepting a stinky pig’s head offering) or 盲猫碰到死老鼠 ( A blind cat running into a dead mice) i.e. 就算是很差劲的人也会碰上合适的人的意思 (even jerks may meet someone suitable.)

    I am currently watching the MASH series on DVDs – for the third time….Case in point: Major “Hotlips” O’Houlihan and Major Frank Burns…

    Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) : Frank Burns does not know his way around an operating theater, he does not know his way around a body. And if you will have observed anything, you will have observed that Major Frank Burns is an idiot. He has flipped his wig, that he’s out of his head, that he’s a lousy surgeon.

    Hotlips O’Houlihan: Oh on the contrary, I have observed. And Major Burns is not only a good technical surgeon, he is a good military surgeon. I have also noticed that nurses as well as enlisted men address you as “Hawkeye”.

    Hawkeye Pierce: Yes because that’s my name, Hawkeye Pierce.

    Hotlips O’Houlihan: Well that kind of informality is inconsistent with maximum efficiency in a military organization.

    Hawkeye Pierce: Oh come off it, MAJOR. You put me right off my fresh fried lobster, do you realize that? I’m now going to go back to my bed, I’m going to put away the best part of a bottle of scotch… And under normal circumstances, you being normally what I would call a very attractive woman, I would have invited you back to share my little bed with me you might possibly have come. But you really put me off. I mean you… You’re what we call a regular army clown.

  132. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Hker,
    as I’ve said in another context, but is equally applicable here, race/skin colour should have nothing to do with it when it comes to love. I have 5 Chinese male friends who are married to non-Chinese women (2 Caucasian, 2 Indian, 1 Jewish). None of them (well, as far as I know) think about race when it comes to their spouses. Really not an issue when it comes to love.

    If, as some others seem to have opined earlier in this thread, people are working the bar scene simply in hopes of banging a white girl, well golly-gee, that bespeaks a shallowness that I can’t comprehend. Though it might explain why some people are still mired in the bar scene, and haven’t yet found someone who would be willing to marry them.

  133. hongkonger Says:

    “Having been stereotyped for over a century as materialistic shrews, it’s time for us Shanghai women to put the record straight. Like many thousands of Shanghai women of my generation,…”

    Straight from a Shanghai woman’s heart
    By Xu Xiaomin (China Daily)


    Robert 2009-09-05 03:28


    Very well written essay on your views. I am not informed on the culture of Shanghai, but I believe there are many other locations around the globe that probably share the same stereotypes, even here in the U.S.A. Keep up the fine writing.

    With kind regards, Robert

  134. Rhan Says:

    The cross cultural dating is a good read. Not sure how many of you here that comment is not Chinese? Does culture take account of religion? Anyone here have experience dating with Muslim or Christian? I mean the pious lots.

  135. perspectivehere Says:

    @pug_ster #118

    Thank you for your comments.

    I know a lot of Chinese go to the U.S. as poor immigrants and wind up living or working in areas that are economically disadvantaged. There, they experience conflicts with other ethnic groups, some of whom are not very nice to new arrivals. Many Chinese experience bullying and abuse (which can range from merely annoying to criminally violent) from these people. Many Chinese who had these experiences carry fear, resentment, hatred and anger at those who abused them. Many Chinese have bad feelings towards African-Americans and Latino-Americans and other groups that have abused them in various ways. This is natural and understandable, particularly if one has gone through it personally.

    I can tell Steve is a sincere guy. However, his questions about whether you’ve actually experienced discrimination evince a certain innocence about the way life in America works for ethnic minorities. When one has not had to really experience for an extended length of time (1) being made to feel like a second-class citizen or an outsider, or (2) fearing for one’s safety because one comes from a despised/ridiculed ethnic group, one really has a hard time understanding. And it is frustrating trying to explain this – you really have to live it to know what it is like.

    In the early 60’s there was a white man who dermatologically darkened his skin, and kept a journal of how he was treated. The book, “Black Like Me”, showed Americans how awfully African Americans were treated. His book was actually condemned by many white Americans, likely because they blamed the messenger for forcing them to see a truth they refused to acknowledge. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Like_Me.

    Then there was the famous “Clark Doll Experiment” in the 1939 http://abagond.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/the-clark-doll-experiment/ where African-American children were given black dolls and white dolls to play with, and asked to select which ones were prettier and better. The majority picked the white dolls. The experiment has been repeated in various ways (but with less rigor, admittedly) several times since then, and black children continue to prefer white dolls. See http://www.diversityinc.com/public/1301.cfm

    I remember reading an article in Psychology Today some years ago (in the enlightened 1980’s) which talked about how psychologists used to identify a high level of “paranoia” in black men, that they think “people are out to get them” for instance. After the 1960’s Civil Rights movement, psychologists began asking themselves whether the “paranoia” they identified in black men was rather rational behavior in the context of a society that regularly discriminates against them. The point of mentioning this is that for years, an entire profession (psychiatrists) ignored pervasive societal discrimination in making ‘objective’ assessments of the psychological condition of black men. (For example, see “Paranoia in African-American Men Receiving Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment” http://www.jaapl.org/cgi/reprint/32/3/282.pdf)

    I’m reading a book called “Medical Apartheid” which is about the way in which African Americans were used as unwilling or unwitting guinea pigs in medical research in America. See http://www.amazon.com/Medical-Apartheid-Experimentation-Americans-Colonial/dp/0385509936.

    I mention all this to make a point that both Asian- and African-Americans are abused minorities in America, and that they actually have more political interests in common than not. The “problem” of discrimination by Asian-Americans against African-Americans and vice-versa is a pretty small problem compared with the far wider and more pervasive problem of institutionalised racism by the white-dominated system towards both Asians and Africans. An Asian- and African-American might get into a fight because they don’t like each other, but if either gets picked up in the criminal justice system, they will both probably wind up worse off than a white person.

    Look at how people like Madoff and the kidnapper in California of the 11-year old girl got away with their crimes for years and years (the kidnapper was reportedly visited by police officers in his home but they never bothered to challenge him and search the place) while an African American like professor Gates at Harvard is arrested for getting uppity with a police officer. The fact is that whites get away with far more than African- or Asian-Americans.

    I love the book “Stupid White People” by Michael Moore. He has a chapter where he talks about how he is so much more threatened and harmed by white people than by black people. He turns conventional views of blacks on its head, but pointing out that because white people hold so much more power than black people, he’s much more likely to be harmed by them (and he gives plenty of examples of embezzlers, crooked politicians, etc.).

    A great movie to watch is “Do the Right Thing”. There are several scenes in that movie which look at the frictions between Asians- and African-Americans.

    I think if you consider the struggles that African-Americans have had to face in American society, it’s possible through sympathy to understand when some of their members act up and abuse those around them (which may include Asians). This is no different from the Asian-on-Asian bullying that might happen. When I was growing up in New York, I experienced a great deal of discrimination (physical, verbal and otherwise) from a whole cross-section of ethnicities, white, black, hispanic, etc. But what was also fearsome was the threat of Chinese gang violence/recruitment, which happened to some of my friends (and one family friend’s son was killed in a shootout). Face it, the life of a poor immigrant or foreign student can suck big time, and you’re vulnerable to abuse from all kinds of people who are probably worse off than you are because they have to be violent or criminal to get ahead.

    The only way to change this is for more minorities to get into positions of power in institutions. For example, until there were a significant number of African-American lawyers and leaders (and this might not have happened but for black churches, black colleges and the experiences of leadership that African Americans had during WWII), the civil rights gains which all minorities (Chinese included) gained might not have happened. If you immigrated to the U.S. post-1965, you were able to do so because of the courageous and noble actions of African-American civil rights activists, and the changes to immigration law that they inspired. Their struggles broke down many barriers to equality that Chinese-Americans faced, and opened doors for us to enter universities and jobs and clubs, and we owe them big time. Learn your history as a minority American!

    Lest this come off sounding too negative, actually, the conclusion is quite positive – all people are really the same. People might look very different, even strange, but if you live with them and get to know them, they really can be quite different from your expectation, and in fact you can learn how beautiful they can be. And then they don’t look so different or unusual anymore.

    I’ve had a personal revelation from living in Asia for several years that I’d like to share with you. When I look at African-Americans now, I realized that actually they look a lot like Asians, and vice-versa. In terms of facial features, I used to think that Africans looked very different from Asians in terms of facial features (noses, lips, cheekbones etc), but having lived in Asia for several years, I actually don’t think that’s true at all. And in Asia, I’ve met many Asians that have darker complexions than many African-Americans. With all this rich tapestry and variety of humanity and ethnicities to admire, get to know and befriend, it leaves me with great hope for the future of human relationships across cultures.

    @Steve (but please don’t take this personally, because the following is a generalized rant, but not directed towards you specifically because you are a nice and well-intentioned guy but it needs to be said):

    If you belong to a majority racial/ethnic group in society (and in America, that means if you are white), you really don’t know what it’s like to be a minority. And if you ask with a tone of incredulity whether I’ve actually experienced discrimination, then I pretty much expect you to try to tell me that “it’s all in my head”, or “was it really discrimination or just a bad person or bad luck or bad karma or anything other than discrimination like how-do-you-really-KNOW????” And I just take a deep breath and accept that it is just pointless to try to convince you because you’ve lived your life with certain deeply engrained beliefs and “until you have walked a mile in another man’s mocassins” you won’t really know regardless of how much I dredge up painful experiences to share with you which you keep trying to deny the validity of.

    Put it this way. When I stay a long time in a majority-Chinese society (as in Hong Kong) I can easily convince myself that South and Southeast Asian minorities don’t have it too bad. It takes something like news of the shooting of an unarmed Nepali, or the beating of a Southeast Asian domestic helper, to break into my consciousness that perhaps there is significant level of bigotry that needs to be addressed institutionally, with more than just exhortations to “be nice to other people who are different”. So I can understand how one can slip into a certain “comfort zone” of being part of a majority ethnic group and not have to fear acts of discrimination, and then think that things are fine for everyone, when they are not. But at least, if an ethnic Indian tells me about discrimination he has faced in Hong Kong, I won’t say to him “but are you sure they were discriminating against you because of your race? I find it hard to believe, because I just don’t see it in this day and age. Don’t you think you’re just being too sensitive?”

    In Canada, a recent study showed that prospective employers were far less likely to give a job interview to a person with an Asian-sounding name. See http://www.immigrationwatchcanada.org/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page&PAGE_id=4784&MMN_position=92:90.

    I don’t live in Canada, but I have no doubt that the same (or worse) would happen in the U.S. if a similar study were done.

  136. perspectivehere Says:

    @Jerry #128

    Welcome back. We’ve missed your mensch-ness around here (if that’s even a word).

    Ted Williams. A name I haven’t heard in a long time. I remember borrowing his “Science of Hitting” from the NY public library and practicing hitting using his principles (including that unforgettable picture of the strike zone showing hit percentages) when I was an earnest little leaguer.

    If you want to improve your hitting scientifically, study this: http://www.thecrosshairstrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/ted_williams_strike_zone.png

    I think baseball is the perfect sport for China, and I have high hopes for its success there. It really is the perfect sport.

    I saw on ESPN recently the last half-inning of the US-Chinese Taipei Little League World Championship game, where a California team beat the boys from Taiwan. What great players on both teams.


    Considering how good the little league players in Taiwan are, its a shame there isn’t a more developed professional baseball league there. Perhaps when China develops its own baseball leagues, there can be more competition between the two sides, raising the level of play in both places? Time will tell.

  137. Wukailong Says:

    @pug_ster: “If you belong to a majority racial/ethnic group in society (and in America, that means if you are white), you really don’t know what it’s like to be a minority.”

    I second this. I think it’s very difficult for the majority population of any state to understand what it is like being in the minority.

  138. perspectivehere Says:

    Further to the point made in “The Slanted Screen” (http://www.slantedscreen.com/synopsis.htm referenced in comment #101 above) that in Hollywood movies and television series, even roles originally written with Asians in mind are often replaced by studio executives with white or other non-Asian actors, the inimitable Kevjumba has this to say about a recent example of this practice in his very popular Youtube vlog (over 2.3million views), “Asians just aren’t cool enough”?


  139. Wukailong Says:

    Hmm, TV everywhere shows seem to cater to the lowest denominator. I read somewhere about an American girl playing in TV shows in China. Her Chinese was too good, though, so it was dubbed to sound more like the silly Westerner “fresh off the boat” that Chinese enjoy.

    On the other hand, white people are considered cool in China. I’ve been asked a couple of times to attend meetings or ceremonies for companies so they seem more important. Quite silly, of course, but this is probably going to be around for a while.

  140. perspectivehere Says:

    @Wukailong #139

    “I read somewhere about an American girl playing in TV shows in China. Her Chinese was too good, though, so it was dubbed to sound more like the silly Westerner “fresh off the boat” that Chinese enjoy.”

    That’s very funny. It reminds me of “Yan Can Cook” and the accent Martin Yan has on his cooking show. Is it real or exaggerated? http://www.heelpress.com/revisions/show/409

  141. Steve Says:

    @ perspectivehere #135: Sorry to take so long to reply; I’ve been traveling and not much spare time until now.

    Let me explain myself better here; then you might understand where I’m coming from and what drove my question to pug_ster. I’m a big fan of your comments and wouldn’t take anything you said personally. 🙂

    I’ll start by saying that I agree with you; I don’t think any majority can understand a minority’s situation in their own country. They can only understand minority status if they live somewhere where they themselves are a minority, and even that will vary from country to country, culture to culture and race to race. I wasn’t making an assumption, just asking a question based on one man’s (in this case, pug_ster’s) personal experience. Also, I believe pug_ster and I are close in age which means his perspective might be different than people younger than we are. I certainly wasn’t asking the question with incredulity nor did I have any expectations of what pug_ster would say. I agree with your rant, though. I’ve also come across many who dismiss racism or discrimination in their own societies, including both my own and China among others. The attitude is that “others” hold these attitudes but not “us”. As I’ve said before, if discrimination is based on ignorance or lack of contact, I can understand it though I’m not too happy about it. But if discrimination comes from people who actively mingle with other races and still hold these attitudes? Then it is simply racism, pure and simple. Ignorance (or labeling it as being politically incorrect) can no longer be used as an excuse.

    My wife was born in Taiwan, came to the States as an adult and has lived here for the last 30 years. I’ve asked her about it in the past and she told me she has never experienced any discrimination while living here, so it might not be as universal as you think. As I’ve said before, we live in an area of the country that is more culturally integrated, especially concerning Asians, so that might have contributed to her experience. I have also asked this same question of other Asians, including but not only Chinese, and have heard both yes and no.

    But she is also from an upper class family. Socioeconomic status might play just as big a role if not a larger role in determining how someone is treated in any country. If poor immigrants are discriminated against, how much of it is race and how much is economic status? This applies to all countries, not just the United States. If you have wealth and status, it seems the chance of encountering discrimination is considerably lower. Many make the assumption that the discrimination is racially rather than economically driven; I just question whether that assumption is always valid. I’m sure it has a role to play but not sure if that role is the leading one.

    I’m familiar with the book “Black Like Me” and was a kid when it was published. I also remember those times. However, the America of today is completely different than the America of 1961 in a racial sense so I can’t see that example having much bearing on today’s society. The Clark Doll experiment was from 1939 with no relevance to today’s society. Sure, there’s discrimination in every society but there is also a night and day change that has taken place over the last 50 years.

    I agree with you that both Asian and African Americans were discriminated in American society for a very long time. My uncle is Japanese American and when my aunt married him in the early 70s, they encountered their share of abusive comments. But I have never heard any abusive comments when with my wife, so I think a lot of that has changed. Again, I live in San Diego so that plays a definite part. I’m not sure what our treatment would be in some small Mississippi town.

    Michael Moore isn’t any more qualified to relate the plight of African Americans than you or I, unless you’re African American, since as you said initially, only African Americans can understand their situation. Chinese and other Asian Americans are the only ones qualified to talk about their plight. Because of sports and music, it’s highly probable that I know a lot more about African Americans than Michael Moore based on my experiences growing up, yet I agree with you that knowing isn’t the same as experiencing.

    I personally believe the #1 reason for the greater acceptance of Asian Americans into the culture is from their academic and business achievements. As more and more Asian Americans enter the upper middle class, the acceptance of the culture will be greater. It’s based on class. For an example from the other side, look at Paula Jones. When she accused Clinton of sexual harassment, she was immediately labeled “trailer trash” by liberal Democrats, not based on her race but on her economic and educational status.

    My wife once told me about the daughter of a KMT general who went to college in the US and married an African American man. Her Chinese parents disowned her… until her husband was appointed as ambassador to South Africa during the Reagan administration. With his increase in economic and social status, he and their daughter were welcomed back into the family.

    perspectivehere, I could not agree more with you that people are all the same, no matter where you go in this world. Seeing the similarities rather than the differences allows us to make friends easily, no matter where we go. What some perceive as discrimination is in many cases self-caused. If you believe others are very different from yourself, you can create a psychological barrier between yourself and those people that causes them to keep their distance, and then you might react to their standoffish behavior by saying that they are racist.

    We were at a pool party last Saturday night with three other couples. One of the couples who are originally from Taiwan brought with them a young man who had just arrived from Chengdu two days before in order to get his Masters from UCSD. He was a really nice guy who made a very good impression with everyone there. When a few of us were in the jacuzzi, I offered a bit of advice; not to spend his time with other Chinese students but to make as many American friends as possible so to better understand the culture. Being able to understand both American and Chinese culture would give him far more career prospects than just being really good at statistics (his master’s area). The guy who owned the house was a former IBM program manager who had also been a former VP at Gateway (when they were doing better) and now owns his own business. He told this guy that it’s easy for him to buy ‘technical expertise’ but very difficult to find a person who can understand multiple cultures and it was something that cannot be taught. He reinforced my comments with examples of specific career opportunities. The point I’m trying to make is that this student’s initial attitude allowed him to be accepted and make new friends quickly, and that same attitude will most likely create very positive experiences for him while in the States.

    Per your comment in #138: That also drives me crazy. Watching John Wayne play Ghenghis Khan was ridiculous. In fact, a later remake of Ghenghis Khan in 1965 had this list of actors playing Mongolian and Chinese roles.

    Not allowing Bruce Lee (who came up with the idea) to play the wandering monk in the TV show “Kung Fu” was a travesty. I was watching Memoirs of a Geisha and even seeing Chinese actresses who look nothing like Japanese women ruined the movie for me; it was just too unbelievable for me to ignore. Then I think back to Paul Muni and Luise Rainer playing the leads in 1931’s “The Good Earth” and it just boggles the mind, along with Peter Lorre (born in Slovakia) as Mr. Moto and Warner Oland (born in Sweden) as Charlie Chan.

  142. pug_ster Says:

    It is truly sad. I had to stop off somewhere off yesterday and they have Epoch Times (falun gong propaganda) yesterday. Saw on the headline about a local Chinese councilman is running for a local comptroller position and there are allegations of him being part of CCP in 3 articles on a 2 page spread. I”m going to vote for him tonight but I doubt that he is going to win.

  143. Steve Says:

    Sorry pug_ster, I had to collapse your comment for being completely off topic. Gotta be consistent…

  144. Chops Says:

    This isn’t exactly dating, but it’s kinda cross-cultural

    “A Taiwanese woman’s ambition to kiss 100 men in Paris has become an overnight web sensation after she provided details of the quest on her much-visited blog.

    Yang Ya-ching, a 27-year-old music major living in the French capital, has so far notched up 54 smooches, she said on her blog, which features photos of some of the encounters.”

  145. Steve Says:

    @ Chops: Ha ha… does this count as 54 cross cultural dates?? 😮

    I guess some people have lots of spare time…

  146. Inkpen Says:

    The Story: I met a poor chinese girl playing World of Warcraft – She lives in China, I drive semi trucks in America, She speaks very little english. I speak no chinese… we exchanged email addresses. After some creative use of the internet I can read and wright traditional chinese 🙂 We have been e-mail friends for a while, I been helping her learn english with Instant message and Voice over Internet. She recently started talking about moving to america after she finishes her college degree in english buisness. I never been to China, she never been to America

    The Questions: I sence the “Good boy – Good girl” flirting and I am realy happy she finds me attractive but i’m walking in the dark on thin ice. I dont want to screw up my chance to have a traditional, trusting, loveing, relationship could you give some pointers to keep things rolling smooth?

    Because of my occupation its hard to have a “Home life” would a poor chinese girl be happy riding shotgun and seeing all of america?

    What are some of the things she would expect of me? What should I expect from her?

    Lets say she finishes school and I fund her way to america, would this be a smart decision?

  147. Steve Says:

    Hi Inkpen~

    This is my advice:
    1- You should visit China before she ever comes here. Bringing her here without having met her in the past is a bad decision.
    2- When you’re there, trust but verify. Try to confirm all the things she has told you in the past. There are NUMEROUS instances of foreign guys being taken in by clever Chinese girls. Meet her parents and family. See if she actually looks like her photos. Confirm her degree. Don’t leave anything to chance. If she deceived you on couple of things, most likely she will deceive you in the future.
    3- If things go well, buy her a ticket to the States for a holiday here. Show her what your lifestyle is like. Whatever you do, don’t rush into any commitment.
    4- Your odds of success are about 10%, in my opinion. That doesn’t mean it’s zero percent but it’s considerably worse than 50%.
    5- If you’re paying for everything now, you’ll always pay for everything. If she’s from a poor family, a commitment to her is a commitment to support her family.
    6- It’s not unusual for a person to marry for a green card and once they are permanent residents, divorce their spouse. We used to call them “green card girls”.
    7- Because you’re away from home all the time with your job, you’ll need to live in a place where she can have other Chinese friends. However, if she is from a lower class family, what I’ve seen is that girls like that pick up all the worst facets of American life from their newfound friends. It’s much more difficult to learn a new culture if you’re from a less cultured family background.
    8- When you marry someone from another culture, the two of you have to “meet in the middle” culturally to have a happy marriage. It won’t work if you expect everything to be “American style” or she expects everything to be “Chinese style”.

    Tread very carefully. She may turn out to be sensational and make a great wife. Good luck!

  148. Max Carter Says:

    For those interested in cross-cultural dating, go check out http://www.ubidate.com

    On Ubidate, anyone can read or share about the dating customs of any country. This is gold if you’re going abroad and want to be brieffed on how it works there! May it be China or anywhere else.


  149. Nat Says:

    Hi all – I know that this post is really old and I’m not sure anyone will see this comment, but on the off chance that anyone does, here’s my situation:

    I’m an American, studying in France, and have recently fallen for a Chinese guy in some of my classes. Since I’m not here for very long, I decided not to date him because I didn’t want either of us to get hurt. He has, however, been very persistent, and as I am interested in him as well I broke down fairly quickly :P. Now though, as it gets closer to the time when I have to return to the States, I’m trying to figure out how feasible remaining in a relationship would be. I speak no Chinese, and his English isn’t very good, so we communicate in French (even to me that sounds crazy). I guess I’m just wondering if anyone has any insight (especially western girls dating/marrying chinese guys) that might be helpful as I process all this…

  150. r v Says:


    First, good luck.

    Second, prepare for the new cultural experience.

    Third, that said, prepare for the cultural baggage that comes with the cultural experience.

    Fourth, love conquers all, communication barrier is not much of a problem compared to everything else.

    Fifth, some day, you will have wonderful and inspirational stories to tell.

  151. Crystal Says:

    The most important insights in the original post are points 5 and 6. Not judging the “other” culture is a prerequisite for successful cross-cultural dating… and generally speaking such mindset is required for any kind of intimate relationship – because there will always be differences – even for people from the same culture.

  152. No99 Says:

    I watch this show called WTO姐妹會.

    It’s a Taiwanese show with foreign women married to Taiwanese men, actually live in Taiwan, some for a few decades already. Used to be hosted by a famous Taiwanese female celebrity, now it’s a male. Lately they’ve been featuring some foreign men married to Taiwanese women. It’s not very PC but decent. Entertaining.

    There’s different versions of it, in Korea they have one with all younger single women, in Vietnam there’s a mixture of different genders and ages, apparently there’s one in Poland. The Taiwan show is kind of interesting because it’s mostly married individuals. Like these women, and some men, are already part of Taiwan society. If you all have a chance, just check it out on Youtube, Tudou or other sites. Taiwanese variety shows in general can be somewhat mind numbing so not everyone might like the style of the show.

  153. HKer Says:

    Come to think of it, 70% of my friends are cross-cultural mixed couples with lovely children. I have actually not witnessed much cultural related conflicts among these couples other than the ever problematic, even fatalistic money related issues, which seems to affect all marriages ! Well, of course I am oblivious to how couples really relate at home. What’s the reality, though?

  154. HKer Says:

    In any case, as Joe Wong “fears” i.e. ” 50% of marriages (in USA) lasts FOREVER ! ”


  155. Wukailong Says:

    @HKer: LOL, that’s a good one!

  156. HKer Says:

    These Asian girls get the world rockin’ with this sweet cover of “Smoke On The Water”.


  157. pug_ster Says:


    Maybe not about Chinese women, but interesting article of why Old Western Men would go to Thailand and marry young local women.

  158. Steve Says:

    @ pug_ster #157: Yes, I also saw that article in the NYT the other day. I reckon these guys are mostly losers in their own countries who think they can buy their way to a relationship in NE Thailand. Meanwhile, the article is also about why young local women in NE Thailand would marry old western men. As they say in Taiwan, it takes two coins to make noise, right? But a divorce rate over 50% shows that sooner or later, you have to live with a real person and not a stereotype. Really, this is no different than what I saw in China or the relationships between old Chinese men and their very young mistresses. I also noticed that there was no social prohibition regarding large age differences between spouses, either foreign or domestic. In fact, the saying in China is that a girl wants a guy at least 4 years older than she is because women mature faster than men, and I met girls who wanted to marry a man at least ten years older than they were because they preferred the more mature man.

    But it all reminds me of the old Steely Dan song, “Hey 19”.

    “No, we can’t dance together
    No, we can’t talk at all” 😉

  159. No99 Says:

    Something to think about.

    There’s this Indian-Canadian comedian, Russel Peters, who made a joke about how the world in the future is going to be. How, everyone is going to mix so much, and considering that half of all humans are either Indian or Chinese (partially a joke here), in the future, we’re all going to be Beige.

    My cousin and I were kind of talking about this for a bit, how it might play out. We kind of figure that if there is any truth to this, the future of humanity is going to look the people of Southeast Asia. Like Filipinos, Thais, Malays, the ethnic Chinese and Indian dispora from those places, etc. There’s quite a lot of people there who have multiple heritages (from almost all the different ethnicities, “races”, nationalities, etc.) and since both Indians and Chinese form one of the largest groups there, (both also have intermarried with many different groups), there’s a good chance they are the epitome of our future.

    Something to think about.

  160. DB Says:

    Is anyone still paying attention to this post?

  161. pug_ster Says:

    This blog is not exactly the best place for relationship problems.

  162. Steve Says:

    Hi Bert, glad you came across the post and enjoyed the comments. Wukailong and I started another blog called Pacific Rim Shots here: pacificrimshots.com You might want to wander through that and see if there’s anything that interests you.

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