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Posts: 18

General

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Q: Can foreigners truly integrate into the Chinese society after living here for years?

I arrived in Beijing only a few months ago and really want to call this place my new home. However, in the past few months I discovered big differences between Eastern and Western thoughts and behavior, and I don't know if I can fully accept the norms and behave like a local person. Big cultural shock needless to say.

I want to ask those of you who's been here longer: was it difficult for you in the beginning as well? Do you think 'getting used to' is the same thing as true 'integration'?

 

 

6 years 29 weeks ago in  Culture - Beijing

 
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Governor

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I've come to have a tolerance for the local culture, but I have only lost more and more respect for it the longer that I have been here. When you've studied the cultural mindset of China, all you learn is that the benevolent excuses that you have been making for peoples' rotten behavior falls flat. When you learn the language, you understand what vacuous xenophobes are yapping about you AS YOU ARE STANDING RIGHT THERE. I've lived in three different countries at this point (Kenya, Peru, and now China)--China is the only country where I have had a bad reaction to the locals. I plan to leave next year, and never return.

I have met some wonderful and friendly people in China, but every country has wonderful and friendly people. What makes China an exceptional country is the shit.

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6 years 29 weeks ago
 
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Governor

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Not as long as they're "foreigners". As long as Chinese culture, and the Chinese mindset, views people as "Them", they will always be on the outside.

 

Right now, the biggest problem is that China has a "blut und boden" ideology. Even Chinese citizens who are non-yellow (Uigur, or Russian minorities, for example) are still not considered Chinese, due to the belief among the majority that being Chinese is a function of genetics.

 

I'm not saying it will never change, but will take time. Look at Japan, for example, where immigration is still very limited, but happens. There has even been a white Japanese elected to House Of Councilors... granted, he was subsequently voted out, and was targeted by xenophobia (he's not really Japanese... look at him. Do you really want one of... those people in our government?), but it did happen.

 

As long as China considers genetics to be the deciding factor in being Chinese, only people who "look the part" can ever pass. You can learn a new language through work, and adopt local customs, but you can't change your skin color (aside from questionable surgery).

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5 years 25 weeks ago
 
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Shifu

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no

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5 years 25 weeks ago
 
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A Mexican or Native American family could... as long as they didn't speak English.

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5 years 23 weeks ago
 
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I've known some westerners who grew up and literally spent all of their lives in China. They knew Beijing like the back of their hand, spoke Mandarin better than some of the locals, and had a good knowledge of the Chinese culture.

 

But they were always just a laowai.

 

The only difference between me and them (when I had just arrived) was that they knew that trying to integrate was futile.

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5 years 23 weeks ago
 
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