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Posts: 3736

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Q: Why do Chinese people not answer questions?

we have all been there i am sure:

you meet a Chinese person (or a group) and the 'interrogation' starts.

the questions range from the mild and innocuous:

   Where are you from?

   Do you like (insert word here)

to the bizzare

to the creepy / disgusting

 

and these could come from people you know well to random strangers.

 

but when I ask even the same (cilvil and/or innocuous) questions in return - there is nothing.

from a blank face to ignoring me or my question (as if ignoring the question makes it go away) and this to my face.

 

there appears to be no sense of the Chinese person understanding how rude (and childish) this is.

not to mention that is shows a complete lack of respect and contempt, as if being 'hospitible' only means saying 'we welcome foreigners, but only as something to be used to their advantage, not as people.

 

on another thread i asked a poster the same questions that he asked us, only to be ignored.

this is something only a child would do (in my experience)

yet he claimed to have a 'good friend who was European' so would be familiar with the expectation of the nature of Q&A between people.

 

to me, this is the main way Chinese people lose face and makes them seem untrustworthy.

With all this talk of 'you don't understand China' when i ask questions to gain more of an understanding there are only blank stares.

 

I did find another older question on the same theme, but was not satisfied with the anwers.

https://answers.echinacities.com/question/chinese-do-not-answer-direct-questions

 

your thoughts?

1 year 28 weeks ago in  Culture - China

 
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did you expect a Chinese person to answer here ? 

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1 year 28 weeks ago
 
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They might be trained just to listen without a doubts ...

 

I've always had a problem to spur a discussion in Chinese classes ...

 I felt like I am a cop ... keep asking questions ..., but I've always considered a lack of English fluency was the reason for silence.

 

Now, here when you tossed a Q at Wang (OP) and he wouldn't answer it, I had a feeling he's conducting a survey. I was even thinking, if there is a way to make money by keep asking questions. 

I came across an English teaching job online advert, where I got a questionnaire with more than 30 questions. Once, I would submit a filled survey, I would qualify for the next step, buTT ... the next step never came .., so there sure is a way to earn something by doing surveys.

 

sorrel:

maybe they are 'trained to listen'

but some of them have vey thin skins and resort very quickly to anger or name calling.

 

This could be becasue Chinese people are not used to formuating a logical arguement.

 

I would like to hear any theories in this.

1 year 28 weeks ago
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icnif77:

"You don't ask ... anything! Just answer it!" ... as in cop's interrogation cell  ..surprise

 

TIC ... , not cop's cell ... 

 

Anyway, he'll have a lot of takers at his next ... question-you!

1 year 28 weeks ago
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WangNan2020:

I wasn't doing any survey. What Q did I ignore? Ask it again and I'll try to come up with a response.

2 weeks 2 days ago
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2 weeks 2 days ago
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icnif77:

Soon, I'll change my handle to "Answer-of-da-Day" ...   

2 weeks 2 days ago
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WangNan2020:

The post was pretty long, which specific question was it about? Please point it out or rewrite it here.

2 weeks 2 days ago
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sorrel:

@WangNan
sorry you are not able to read through things yourself.
It could help your English if you did so, considering you asked the refereced question in the first place.
Good luck 

2 days 22 hours ago
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1 year 28 weeks ago
 
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The avatar and score on that post from 7 years ago seem vaguely familiar but I just can't put my finger on exactly why....

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1 year 28 weeks ago
 
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Chinese are trained to be spys from a young age...lol...ask questions gain knowledge...but don't tell the enemy anything..lol...Huawei is the equivalent of MI6 only Huawei knows more.
Its like this thread...you can only see it on the VPN because George has quarantined us from infecting the Chinese users with truth and facts

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1 year 28 weeks ago
 
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did you expect a Chinese person to answer here ? 

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1 year 28 weeks ago
 
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i chatted to a Chinese friend on this issue, and she said that it seems some Chinese people like to test the tolerance limit of foreigners by incessent questioning.

likewise for refusing to answer questions.

 

so - we are an experiment / entertanment, not actually real people.

but then we know that already, as Chinese people can be quite transparent in this respect.

 

 

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1 year 27 weeks ago
 
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Seven years in China and I had not one Chinese friend. Much of the reason for this was the fact that even those with the best of English they could not hold a proper conversation and would resort to asking stupid questions. I would, in turn, ask my own even more daft questions until they shut up and left me alone. 

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1 year 27 weeks ago
 
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Let's be honest here. The only value you as a foreigner posses is to exploit for profit of some kind. Profit could be financial, face, ridicule to get face, just to hate on outsiders. It is rare to to point of non-existent when a Chinese person is your friend simply because they like you and uou share some interests. They always want something. Always.

The ubiquitous awkward and crude questioning is them just attempting to imitate a conversation and attempting to trigger a response that will affirm an ingroramous' view of the world.

They are also trying to be cunning in not answering a question or giving non-answers. It is culturally ingrained that if someone knows something about you, then they will at some point use that knowledge against you (for their own profit/benefit).

Everything is about exploiting someone or a situation for profit and benefit.

On a side note, have you ever noticed that no Chinese person will ever just call or wechat you with "Hey, how's it going? Do you want to hang out tomorrow?"
Never. No Chinese person will contact you unless they want something that will profit/benefit them and expect/demand you drop what you are doing to comply. Once you've done it, they ghost you again.
If you don't do it, expect a tantrum, some transparent emotional blackmail and then threats "But we are good friends. I will report you. I hate Japan."

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1 year 27 weeks ago
 
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Why do Chinese people not know how rude they are when they don't answer civil questions?

 

In the eyes of non Chinese, this makes them seem uncivilised and ignorant.

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1 year 27 weeks ago
 
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90% of them don't know what I just asked (I'm being generous), and that brings 'Face' into it...

 

“It is better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln

Here is a verse from the Bible that sounds similar, but clearly different:

“Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” – Proverbs 17:28 NIV

haha,,, I asked an English teacher about 20 times,,  where is the 'copier machine',,,  she got totally stuck on 'coffee machine',,,,,,,   haha,,,, 'There is no coffee machine.',,,  damn,,, I still lmao about that....,,,,,,,,,   ***white guy from America I Must be looking for the 'coffee machine'.  :p Tongue

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1 year 26 weeks ago
 
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I honestly don't know what you are referring to.  If I ask "Where are you from?" or "Do you like..." I always get an answer.  I will only get this type of treatment for asking questions they don't want to answer.  Specifically sensitive topics.

 

In my opinion the locals are extremely friendly.

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2 weeks 4 days ago
 
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Don't forget they might be afraid of giving an answer that some important people might disagree with. it is better to be safe than sorry.

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2 weeks 3 days ago
 
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It is the rabbit and headlight syndrome for the majority; yet there are some 'special' cases stuck in teenage vanity mode, or succumbing to inert xenophobia; these few will prevail with a mixutre of coaxing ('I'm just trying to help') and formal encouragement, ('stand up and answer').  Then again the direct nature of western culture exaccerbated by poor listening and speaking skills is more often the cause; and that is crux of our cause. Pity the passive aggressive - it's lonely enough already without more ostracism.  Above all let them laugh at, and with you - your mates do and they love to talk to you.

 

 

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5 days 18 hours ago
 
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Look for good people, some more open minded people are in Shanghai. If they don't talk to you, you don't need to talk to them. But there are few surprising exceptions, when you understand these people really love me and they are my good friends! So, if you succeed to meet such people in China, stay mostly with them.

sorrel:

@xeniadmy
if you actually read though the original question, I point out the random strangers on the street seem happy to ask foreigners random/bizarre/offensive questions, so it has nothing to do with 'meeting people' or 'looking for good people'.

I have encountered locals who seem to think it is ok to sit at my table in a restaurant and basically 'interrogate; me and the other foreigners at random despite not being invited to join the group, or strangers on the street who will stop me for no other reason (it seems) than to ask the foreigner question after question with little intention of answering in kind.

And I am not sure why you are focused on Shanghai, as this was not mentioned at all in the original question.

 

2 days 22 hours ago
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5 days 10 hours ago
 
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Lived and taught in China (Shanghai) for 5 years.... My advice to you if you are there: Do yourself  a really big favor,  LEAVE.

sorrel:

thanks for not answering the question! Shanghai is quite international compared to the greater part of China, so living and working in Shanghai is not representative of (probably) the experience of the majority of foreign workers in China.

3 days 41 min ago
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Governor

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Wow, seeing how long ago ths question was posted, makes the email seem like click bait!  But having spent many years living in China, & having taught most of that time, along with being married to a Chinese national, I add my answer from a lot of time, since there are some very recent answers.

 

As anyone living there, & especially teaching there would've learned in the first weeks: most Chinese can't speak English, despite having English classes throughout their school lives. Except for English teachers, & a few other teaches, there are very few adults that speak English. When I first went there in 2009, to teach in a small county, most of my students understood & spoke English. And while travelling, I could always find people of college age that spoke & understood well. By the time I left, there were much less students that could understand. Yet older friends thought it strange that I still had only learned a minimal amount of putonghua, even though they could only understand much less English.

 

I was at my first school & at the following one to help 10th graders (gao yi) with pronunciation, as an Oral English teacher. But at that second school, there were less due to more focus on math subjects. I had students that could ask where I was from & the other typical questions they were previously taught, but had no idea what I was saying, if I asked how they were in a differnt way than they were taught.  Example: A boy who I had seen doing physics homework in my class, I met the following year on way to supper, told my "Hello, teacher."  I told him hi & "How's it going?"  His reply with a puzzled look was, "I sorry, my English is poor."  Yeah, that's really poor, when you realize what I mentioned above, that they've had English classes sinece first grade!  

And at that time, English training schools were opening everywhere, but with very few Chinese teachers who could pronounce correctly.

 

Now back to the rest of the question. When students asked me questions about personal things that citizens of most countries would consider rude, I'd tell them that asking adults how old they are &  how much money they make is considered rude. I even thought about comparing it to asking their mothers' bra size. You've also no doubt had complete strangers walk up, or even yell from a passing car or bike, "Where are you come from?" I used that question in my classes to teach the correct form. Of course, in the States, & obviously in all developed countries such behavior is plainly called IGNORANT.  But so are many other actions that seem pretty common throughout China, like hocking a loogie anywhere, & normal spitting on floors of stores, schools, restaurants, etc, smoking in areas clearly designated "no smoking", sitting in restaurants with shirts raised above their (men) stomachs, letting toddlers urinate on steps, near entrances, even inside malls or supermarkets. Rather than ask to use the restroom at a business, parents & grandparents will take the toddler outside to urinate in front of the establishment. 

 

Being so used to poor English in posts in comment sections of various articles, I've become pretty good at spotting Chinese trying to pass as "foreigners", such as the CCP's so-called 50 cent army aka wumao or nationalists like "little pinks", so I suspect the question was actually posted by a Chinese. In fact, many of the answers are definitely from non-native English speakers.  I look forward to returning post CCP to teach true Chinese history. 

sorrel:

are you suggesting that I am Chinese ???

thanks for the laugh, this is a first for me !

6 hours 28 min ago
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5 days 5 hours ago
 
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different world

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4 days 9 hours ago
 
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Common folk

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They don't understand

sorrel:

What do they not understand?
Do you mean that 'they' (Chinese people) don't understand the questions they are asking?
or did you just not understand the question or point being made?

please elaborate or can you not manage a response longer than 3 words?

22 hours 41 min ago
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Well, I have not lived nor taught in China but have lived in varius countries including the so called "developed" countries where people have some reactios or actitudes that can perfectly be named as IGNORANT!!. For instance, turning their faces or pretending not to understand the question if hearing a non local accent.  People jumping the queus in front of you at the metro because you look foreing and who cares what you are going to say! And yes, in "developed countries" they also pick their nouses in the metro and jawn, caugh or fart in your face or in front of you.  Or push you in the streets as you are standing on their way!  or even better, talking very loud to you thinking you will understand them better.  And let's be hones, some native English people are not even understood by their own countrymen, and they pretend to teach english just after 20 hours on line course. They get upset they are not understood by foreign English students!!!  My question is: How many of those people have learnt or even have tried to learn another language?  How may of them are only able to understand bit of the foreing language in the written form, but when listening to a native speaker or having to talk, they chicken out... i would like to hear how long have taken some forigners to learn to speak chinese fluently and been properly understood in China.  Well, the few ones who have tried!!

sorrel:

thanks for sharing your 'insights'
I can not understand what point you are trying to make, as you claim neither to have lived or taught in China.

if you want to know about how long it takes non-Chinese to learn to speak fluently, I suggest you start your own 'question'

Your 'answer' seems to prove my point about not answering a simple and direct question.
Did you even read the original question before posting?

Or are you just one of the many new aliases' on this site that post a comment that has nothing much to do with the question and then disappears?

I suppose it makes the site seem more active with 'new' people.
no

7 hours 36 min ago
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12 hours 17 min ago
 
Posts: 132

Governor

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Please do not make a personal judgement. Please clarify your qustions with someone whom can understand English and Chinese.

sorrel:

How is my question a 'personal judgement'?
The language I use is very clear and simple:
I have asked a question and given examples from experience.

All you have done is try and deflect.

And you seem to have proven my point.

 

8 hours 26 min ago
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sorrel:

@limyaumee
I suggest you review your alias' posting history as you initially posed as non-Chinese, but now you appear to have changed character.

remember, consistancy is key 
good luck !

6 hours 54 min ago
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A: I mainly got new (English teaching) jobs in China from here. I also us
A:I mainly got new (English teaching) jobs in China from here. I also used several good job recruiters and I got new offers that way, too.The other (ET) jobs website is Dave's ESL Cafe, and if you'll Yahoo-gle "ESL job vacancies in China", you'll find more websites advertising ET job openings in China. You can replace 'ESL' with any job you're looking for ... Many reasons why no replies from job advertisers ... Chinese borders remain closed as one. Nobody will hire you, if you can't enter China. The other thing here is (was from 2009 - 2017), never stop sending your CV until you get an interview invitation ... In my time, I usually spoke to at least two schools in the same time and then I picked and signed the best contract .. Good luck! -- icnif77