Ethnocentrism in China Pt. 1

It happens both ways, believe me.

So China, being the most populous country, is also weirdly one of the most diverse-yet-homogenic. It has over 55 ‘minority ethnic groups’, Han making up the majority of the population (about 91.59%). Given that each have their own distinct culture, language (more or less) and dress, you think they’d have an open mind about foreigners.

Not really.

Now granted, I don’t support or agree with everything that this article says, but this one passage sticks out in particular:

…native Chinese, as opposed to Americans, are more sensitive to the context in which an object is embedded, and so focus greater attention on that object when it’s in an inconsistent context, says Park. Most recently, a study by Park’s group, in press in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience demonstrated that Westerners process human faces more actively than East Asians, consistent with the Western focus on individuality.

– Your Brain on Culture, Beth Azar

Okay,so No. 1: "focus greater attention on that object when it’s in an inconsistent context"… yes Virginia, I am that object. Depending on where you are in China, foreigners are celebrated, despised, ignored, cheated… sometimes, actually, USUALLY all of the above. Add that to the fact that I’m darker and hairier (and fatter, don’t worry, I’ll go into that in a later post) than the ones they see in movies, and I’m treated like the abominable snow-monkey.

No. 2: ‘process human faces more actively than East Asians, consistent with the Western focus on individuality.‘ The sublimation of individual identity is feels perhaps more pronounced than when I was in Korea or Japan, or Thailand, Cambodia, Laos or the Philippines, for that matter. Here, there’s an importance given to your 关系, the relationships and connections you have. It exists in other cultures, and I miss the one I had back in Chicago, but here identity is derived more from who your mother, father, tailor, butcher, sister, teacher etc. is than in the states.

I mean, I haven’t seen it directly… more sensed it. Also, everyone speaks Chinese all the time…

More about the foreigner side of it later…

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