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Q: Why do Chinese like asking about how much my salary is?

I wonder if other foreigners, especially whites, are asked the same question I am asked about my monthly salary. It puzzles me to the extent that I sometimes feel maybe the Chinese ask the question because I am black. Well, could be an erroneous assumption! Is a salary not a personal issue in China? In my country in Africa, it is. Let me hear from foreigners working in China .... have u been asked this question by Chinese before?

9 years 32 weeks ago in  Business & Jobs - China

 
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Shifu

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They ask each other the same question.  It's all about numbers so they can rank you with everyone else they know.  How much do you make, how much bonus did you get new years, how much can you drink.  Anything that gives them a fixed scale to mentally create the pecking order, and provide a chance to brag (either by he makes more than you or to brag to others that he's connected to you and you make so much).

Chinese friends have confessed to me that they openly lie to even their friends about this, so they won't look bad.

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9 years 32 weeks ago
 
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Emperor

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The Chinese affinity for curiosity and in a way even gossip is second to no one.  And whenever they see a foreigner, more so.  For them it is natural to ask what your salary is, and many other rude or impertinet questions.
It is not based on the color of your skin, and in a way not even in if you are a foreigner or a local.  For them, information is valuable, it is a way to earn "face" among their piers. and thus do ask a bunch of very private and personal questions.

So you may feel better, I have been asked my age, my income, my savings and investments, if I had a car and a house back home, was my former wife fat or skinny, was she pretty, do I like Chinese girls, which ones are better in bed, and many more to continue listing.  And makes no difference if they are older or young, they all will ask.
Sometimes I offer brief answers out of courtesy.  But when they start getting deeper into what evidently is none of their business, I just reply "sorry, can't answer that".

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9 years 32 weeks ago
 
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they ask very forteigner even each other. it determines the next question. "buy me an ipad3" (not really a question is it)

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9 years 32 weeks ago
 
Posts: 1318

Shifu

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They ask each other the same question.  It's all about numbers so they can rank you with everyone else they know.  How much do you make, how much bonus did you get new years, how much can you drink.  Anything that gives them a fixed scale to mentally create the pecking order, and provide a chance to brag (either by he makes more than you or to brag to others that he's connected to you and you make so much).

Chinese friends have confessed to me that they openly lie to even their friends about this, so they won't look bad.

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9 years 32 weeks ago
 
Posts: 1933

Shifu

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In addition to what the above posters said, a lot of Chinese think all foreigners are Bill Gates rich. They want you to say something like a million yuan a day.

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9 years 32 weeks ago
 
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Yep. I've been asked every kind of personal question before, starting with "How much do you make?" I just reply, in a joking manner, "Not enough." That usually disfuses any more questioning along those lines.

If the questions persist, I deflect them all in the same way (with humor). It gets the message across without being rude and does give an answer. I haven't had to tell anyone point blank, "it's none of your business," but I'm not beyond that tactic. Before I said that, however, I would just explain, in my culture, those are questions that people don't ask others unless they know them very, very well, and even then, the questions don't have to be answered.

It also hopefully gets them to understand that just because something is asked, it doesn't necessarily mean I will answer it.

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9 years 32 weeks ago
 
Posts: 1633

Shifu

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I never ceases to amaze me that when my wife and I are invited to dinner by some Chinese people, the conversation always, somehow gets to my salary. I never tell but my wife has no qualms about telling them every wu mao I make whether it be my salary or the amount I collect from private students and side jobs. When they get the info they want then the next line of questioning begins; Why haven't you bought a house yet? How much do you have in the bank? How much did you pay for that? Does he have any kids in his home country?  .......endless..... Just once I want her to direct the questions to me, she never does. I guess she knows I would put a stop to the prying and that may cause a loss of "face". 

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9 years 32 weeks ago
 
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Why not use the standard Chinese response - "it's a secret".

You'll find even complete strangers will ask you how much you get - taxi drivers, for example. I suspect it's also just to confirm their ideas about how rich we really are, or how well we have it over them.

(BTW, in Australia, the question isn't seen as quite so rude, but it seriously must be in context... and I suspect it's just part of a built-in ideal of making sure you're getting enough - we like to look after others, mate ;-D)

I usually get asked where my family is... ah, the looks of bewilderment when I say I don't have one... AND don't want one Smile

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9 years 32 weeks ago
 
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Governor

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Yes I have been asked several times most are just nosey because they all think we are rich anyway some Chinese earn a dam site more than a lot of teachers.....I usually tell them non of their business and leave it at that

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9 years 32 weeks ago
 
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That's one of the questions they will ask you on your job interviews. They will ask what was your salary like? I'm not sure why....That's the experience I had with people asking how much do you make. I don't really care how much you make as more than how much you really have. Some people live paycheck to paycheck and they may be curious to see if you do too. Other than that they might just look for a friend with benefits. Depends on what the situation is. A friend or person you just met or a potential employer.

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9 years 32 weeks ago
 
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as higher your salary as high you social rank, that in the mind of the most who ask this question.

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9 years 30 weeks ago
 
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I like to double the number then complain it isn't enough. 

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9 years 30 weeks ago
 
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I'm the exception here, it seems. I haven't been asked at all.

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9 years 30 weeks ago
 
Posts: 1198

Shifu

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some asked me as well and i would like to ask them how they can afford all these expensive cars with a monthly average income of 2k in my area... really bothers me how they do this ._.

don't say blackmoney, most of the people can't get this due to their jobarea

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8 years 22 weeks ago
 
Posts: 1198

Shifu

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some asked me as well and i would like to ask them how they can afford all these expensive cars with a monthly average income of 2k in my area... really bothers me how they do this ._.

don't say blackmoney, most of the people can't get this due to their jobarea

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8 years 22 weeks ago
 
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Governor

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Drives me crazy how freely my wife tells other people exactly how much I make.  It's usually followed by complaints from her mother asking why don't i make more and why don't i do this or do that.

 

It's enough to drive anyone crazy really. Can't wait for the day that I'm back in my home country where people tend to care a lot less about your personal finances and care more about you as a person.

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8 years 22 weeks ago
 
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I was asked an the Chinese teacher looked shocked an then got upset cause she was arguing that they do more than the foreigners. After that she stop talk to me. 

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3 weeks 5 days ago
 
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