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Q: I’m getting a little annoyed at the use of the word laowei

When I first came to China.I thought I would get more used to people pointing and openly saying laowei. Now I’ve been here for a few years and if anything, I find it more annoying. My chinese is not good enough to educate them only to share with them the sentiment that I’m annoyed. I don’t think they’d like somebody coming up to them in the street, pointing at them and say “foreigner” or “china man”. I know they have a different sense of these things but is it time we started reacting to this?

1 week 4 days ago in  General  - China

 
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Common folk

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One of the few times I ever retaliated to this type of behaviour was on a university campus in Hunan when some male student shouted from an upper-storey balcony "Hello 大鼻子" (hello big nose) and I shouted back "Hello 小鸡巴" (hello small d***). This was probably unwise. 

 

Singling someone out because of their ethnicity is the ultimate cultural faux pas in the Anglophone world but still common in China. I'm afraid we have to just tolerate the shouts of Laowai because China is at least a couple of decades away from getting the memo about racial sensitivity. 

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1 week 4 days ago
 
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If they're just being ignorant farmers I found ignoring them to be the best approach - the same way you'd ignore the horn honkers, public spitters, the people screaming at each other and other obnoxious street noises. Anything else is just wasted effort that will only annoy you more. They're not deliberately trying to be offensive or anything, they just really have no clue. 

 

If they're sneering and barking laowai at me and obviously trying to be dicks I might throw something back at them occasionally but usually you only get that directed at your back as they're scurrying away so I'd ignore that too. It's hard to feel annoyed or offended by such childish, cowardly behaviour... some mixture of disgust, amusement and pity possibly, but nothing more.

 

Noise blocking headphones are a great idea in China - listen to something relaxing and tune them out with the other noise.

 

 

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1 week 4 days ago
 
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Common folk

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One of the few times I ever retaliated to this type of behaviour was on a university campus in Hunan when some male student shouted from an upper-storey balcony "Hello 大鼻子" (hello big nose) and I shouted back "Hello 小鸡巴" (hello small d***). This was probably unwise. 

 

Singling someone out because of their ethnicity is the ultimate cultural faux pas in the Anglophone world but still common in China. I'm afraid we have to just tolerate the shouts of Laowai because China is at least a couple of decades away from getting the memo about racial sensitivity. 

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1 week 4 days ago
 
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Common folk

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gwailo is the more politically correct term

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1 week 3 days ago
 
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I don't get angry at such childish behavior, the only thing that triggers me is other people getting physical, but it doesn't have to be with their fists either. Try standing in front of me / blocking my way like those people boarding the subway or those flyer people outside the station and see what happens to you.

Damn near killed one of those flyer folks last year when entering the subway station, he wouldn't bulge and would stand right in front of me like literally blocking my path while shouting random chinglish, so I just shoved him out of my way, he went rolling down the stairs and I went my own way, no f*cks given.

I will never understand why skinny short dudes think it's a good idea to mess with tall beefy guys, I mean I understand the small-man 'Napoleon' syndrome, but I just think it's stupid, it's really asking for troubles.

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6 days 5 hours ago
 
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Chinese society is in many senses freer that in the West. Laws are treated like suggestions everyone ignores when inconvenient. But the family and relationship rules are strict and specific to each interaction.

For outsiders, there is disagreement on the rulebook. Some advocate hostility and disdain, others submissiveness and veneration. No one is saying laowai should be treated as equals, because equality isn't a big thing in China.

When every relationship interaction is locked down with pre-defined correct behaviour (respect, submissiveness, ego stroking, posturing, avoidance, etc), Chinese are faced with an open choice when facing an outsider. There is some excitement, like a kid who got a present. And sadly, there are little standards you can refer to, if the daluren chooses to bother you. Open, free interaction is a double-edged blade; no social conventions protect laowai from Mainlander rudeness, either.

One thing I learned in China: Sometimes too much freedom can be the worst thing imaginable.

On the same note, despite being generally liberal, I'm strongly opposed to the concept of a Universal Basic Income. Give everyone too much time and freedom, and previously-suppressed perversions will surface in people, creating an entire minority group of active rapists and pedophiles.

RandomGuy:

It's all true, every social interactions are pre-defined in China based on relationship and position. People simply don't know how to behave normally with foreigners because we fall outside the grand tie of social interactions between Chinese.

 

But it doesn't mean that they can allow themselves to have no limits and to be plain rude with foreigners. Common decency between adults is a universal concept across every cultures and China is no exception, if you cross the line you are in for a sea of troubles. "Don't do to others what you don't want others to do unto you" from Confucius himself.

 

And most people in China are perfectly fine, treat foreigners with common decency and as complete strangers should treat one another in any country. But there is always that one person who thinks that it's okay to have absolutely no decency and no limits 'because foreigners are so open' or something

 

Like that guy in the elevator, androgynous urban dweller type, who touched my hair, not once, not twice, but thrice, and thought it to be perfectly okay despite me asking him to stop, probably because 'foreigners don't deserve basic decency' or something, oddly the same guy completely lost it when I started touching his hair, how dare this filthy laowai touch my hair???!!!

 

When local people ask me how they should treat foreigners and what foreigners like, yes the question does arise from time to time, I just tell them that foreigners like to be left alone. Just because you spot a foreigner doesn't mean that you have to make a show out of it "OMG laowai!!!", just leave him/her alone for Mao's sake.

5 days 21 hours ago
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