Indians dance, Americans have all the sex

In the sister post to this one, I tempted the Gods by moaning to heaven about my bus ride from hell through Wudaokou intersection every morning. And sure enough, the Gods had their revenge last evening: in the ugliest traffic jam since the invention of the horn, bus 307 took 45 minutes (I timed it) to travel a hundred or so meters, through three crossroads and over a railway track. Time to dust off my bike.

In a moment, I’ll continue with a few more national stereotypes by Chinese from the ethnic hotpot that is Beijing’s student district. First, two quick comments on the ones I raised before: Koreans and Japanese. First off: I don’t mean that all Chinese in Wudaokou have this bad opinion of all Koreans. But more than once I’ve heard this ‘street wisdom’: the best Koreans go to study in America, the second best go to Europe, the next best stay home, and the rest come to Beijing.

To be honest, I think there’s a little truth in that: it strikes me that a lot of Koreans studying here are enjoying the freedom of being away from their parents, and the ridiculously cheap prices of their beer and fruit compared to home. This goes for most of Wudaokou, of course, but the Koreans seem to enjoy it … louder.

As to the Japanese, it goes without saying that any stereotype in China is rubbing up against the shoulder of a seventy year old, very deep-seated, animosity. This doesn’t mean that young Chinese feel the same hate as their grandparents do: many love Japanese culture, and even want to move there (like Marie). But it’s difficult to grow up in any environment without it rubbing off.

I remember a Japanese classmate last year, who told me he was impressed by the friendliness of the Beida campus towards him, until the time a student came up to him and said (only said) “I want to hit you”. And as ‘Mark’ commented in my last post: “That’s also why Japanese keep to themselves in China. It’s not hard for them to get dragged into a fight just because they’re Japanese.”

Now, onto the juicy stereotypes. First up, America! Also in the comments, Edna writes: “the response I’ve come across all over China is ‘Ah? You’re American? But you don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes…Are you sure?'” The other common stereotype I’ve heard complained about is that Americans are sexually adventurous, and the girls are loose. Yankee readers: any more?

Finally, the question “what about indians?” is posed to me by a commenter with the eyebrow-raising email address awesomearmpit@. Well, awesome armpit, I’ll defer to the Indian journalist Pallavi Aiyar, who in her enjoyable book Smoke and Mirrors writes of the knee-jerk reaction of countless Chinese when they see she’s Indian: an assumption born of too many Bollywood bootlegs that all Indian women are prone to burst into song and dance, in a colourful saree.

Please comment with any stereotypes you’ve seen in China of your own motherland – I’m British, remember, so (apparently) I’m too reserved to ask anyone myself.

1 comment

  1. I’m an American who’s lived in Guangzhou for almost 3 years. One stereotype about Americans comes to mind is the gun thing. Taxi drivers and students alike want to know if I have a gun or if my family has a gun. When I tell them no, they often, occasionally surprised to the point of incredulity, ask why. Associated with this stereotype is the general idea that American cities are quite dangerous, especially when compared to Chinese ones.

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