Fat, Pompous, Free: How Chinese View America
The Chinese View of America
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama is visiting China, in part to promote 'people-to-people' relationships between the two countries. China Real Time hit the streets to see how average Beijinger views the U.S.-China relationship.
23, 7-Eleven cashier
What's your opinion of the U.S.? My deepest impression about America is Wall Street and its financial industry. Also, Americans are polite.
What do you think of the U.S.-China relationship? America and China aren't friends. They seem to be friendly on the surface but nobody knows whs really going on inside.
18, high school student
What's your opinion of the U.S.? America is rich and things there aren't expensive. Meat is cheap, but the price of vegetables is higher. And many Americans are fat.
What do you think of the U.S.-China relationship? War isn't going to break out in the next 50 years. But because I'm not in the army, I don't really think war is any of my business.
What misconceptions do you think Americans have about Chinese? Misunderstandings come from regional differences. For example, in America electronic games are just for playing and for fun. In China, they're more professional.
22, college student
What's your opinion of the U.S.? I'm most impressed by Manhattan and the American TV series "Gossip Girl," but they also make me think America is kind of pompous as a whole.
What do you think of the U.S.-China relationship? It isn't positive.
What misconceptions do you think Americans have about China？ Americans consider Chinese uncivilized. But not everyone is like this--everyone is different.
What's your opinion of the U.S.? Americans follow rules very well. For example, I once saw an American wait for a policeman’s guidance after a small traffic accident instead of running away.
What do you think of the U.S.-China relationship? It isn't positive. The two countries are using each other based on their own interests.
What misconceptions do you think Americans have about China? The most problematic part between these two countries is the issue of Taiwan. America and Taiwan are tied closely, and they put a lot of pressure on China.
25, medical technician
What's your opinion of the U.S.? It's an advanced country with high medical standards. Doctors there are paid well.
What do you think of the U.S.-China relationship? The U.S.-China relationship is always intense. America can't stand China’s development because it wants to maintain its world dominance.
What misconceptions do you think Americans have about China? It’s hard to say exactly what Americans’ misconceptions towards China are, but one thing for sure is that they like to pick on China.
43, restaurant owner
What's your opinion of the U.S.? Americans are bad and they're trying to split every country into two, like China, Korea and the Soviet Union. America wants to be the world police and take over the whole world. In 2008, Americans caused the financial crisis. Because of that, my business closed. I lost my deposit of 400,000-500,000 yuan ($64,000-$80,000) and my car.
What do you think of the U.S.-China relationship? The America-China relationship seems to be good, but actually it's not. For example, Chinese cars and steel are examined when they are exported to America and heavily fined. Americans are good at doing this.
What misconceptions do you think Americans have about China? China’s domestic ethnic relations are not that tense. In areas like Yushu, Qinghai and Lhasa, people have different beliefs, but they don’t hate each other like America claims.
Note: 400,000-500,000 yuan is approximately $64,000-$80,000. An earlier version of misstated the conversion as $64,000-$807,000.
What's your opinion of the U.S.? America is a free and democratic country, with good social rules and civilized people.
What do you think of the U.S.-China relationship? The America-China relationship is pretty good, especially because their economies are so intertwined. America is a big client of China's, and many Chinese products are exported to America.
What misconceptions do you think Americans have about China? There are many areas where China isn't well-developed, but Americans hope that China will handle everything well in one step. America itself has been through the many struggles—including the black liberation movement. Thus China should be understood and given a chance to develop over time.
46, employee of a foreign company
What's your opinion of the U.S.? It's arbitrary. They advertise dominance and power outside and pursue democracy at home. Americans also tend to neglect minor rules and dress casually at meetings.
What do you think of the U.S.-China relationship? Much of America’s conduct, such as developing military power, work against China. But the economic relationship between the two countries is always enhancing, so they are more reliant on each other and restrain one another.
48, doctor at a public hospital
What's your opinion of the U.S.? Democracy inside, hegemony outside. The U.S. loves to play the role of international policeman. They believe they're the most just and require others to measure up to their standard.
What do you think of the U.S.-China relationship? Generally speaking, it's is fair. Besides, these two large countries have more benefits than disagreements with so much dependence on each others' economies.
What misconceptions do you think Americans have about China The U.S. believes its democracy is the best and judges China’s human rights based on its standard. But China has its own situation. We have a different social development and political background, so our standard can never be the same as theirs. Running a country is like treating a disease: there is no medicine in the world that can cure every illness. Individual differences must be taken into consideration.
68, retired purchasing clerk
What's your opinion of the U.S.? The U.S. is bad, really bad. They just like to instigate conflict.
What do you think of the U.S.-China relationship? The U.S. wants to destroy the relationship between China and Russia. If the two biggest countries get into a conflict, their dream will come true.
What misconceptions do you think Americans have about China？ That everyone here is unsatisfied. Even inside the U.S., people there aren't satisfied either.
1:16 pm March 21, 2014
Chairman Meow wrote:
No doubt the average Chinese see us as over-fed, over-confident, under-educated and un-predictable. The thing they dislike the most is our insistence on commenting, meddling and influencing their internal issues/policies, like Taiwan, justice system, and those silly islands. The Chinese I know (and I know many) believe that due to the immense size of the country, there has to be a different rule set to govern those billion people. They don’t spend much time championing civil rights (race, gays, religion) and the “victims” try to find a way to survive, because the overall agenda of the country is more important that individual rights. You would be shocked to discover how many Chinese are exceptionally satisfied. Lastly, they take great pride in their country, and back in the day, we used to feel the same way about our country.
1:52 pm March 21, 2014
Bunny wrote 巴里:
The only view worth listening to is that of the cleaner’s. The others are just templates.
6:25 pm March 21, 2014
Michael Towns wrote 迈克尔:
Good piece. There should be more of these international citizen commentaries.
6:31 pm March 21, 2014
LizEnFrance wrote 莉兹:
I’m in a very internationally diverse MBA program with a lot of Asian participants. The overall message I get from them is: “We like Americans. We just don’t like your government.” Since I don’t much like it either, I don’t find this offensive. International exchange programs are very helpful in learning to see the people instead of just the government (or the TV shows). I wish more people had the opportunity to shake things up.
6:40 pm March 21, 2014
Wendy Williamson wrote 温迪:
Why are all of the quotes in broken and unidiomatic English? Did the interviewer only accept answers in English, or were the responses translated from chinese ham-handedly?
6:48 pm March 21, 2014
Praising Americans would cause Chinese to lose Face wrote 赞扬美国将会让中国人丢面子:
In general, Chinese do not often praise others because doing so makes them lose Face. 不錯 ‘not bad’ is as good as it gets, so actually we hardly ever praise others. Pride is at the bottom of this, so the myth of the ‘humble’ Chinese (a myth we foster) is false, but we do indeed pretend to be humble because we want our Face to seem humble to others. Finally, Chinese look down on ALL foreigners of all kinds as inferior to us, so we look down on Americans. But we think Americans are not the most inferior foreigner in the world. We allow no green card and erect super high barriers in every area you can think of to keep foreigners out. We wonder why America has such huge immigration problem because if they just copied us, they would have none. At the same time, we are glad US welcomes Chinese even though we do not welcome them. I know that is duplicitous but so what?
6:52 pm March 21, 2014
Japan in the 1930s did not like meddling either wrote 1930年代的日本不喜欢干涉:
US opposed Japan’s gobbling up of Asia including China and this American meddling was irritating to Japan. Pearl Harbor was necessary to prevent further American meddling.
6:53 pm March 21, 2014
Mr. Left wrote 左先生:
LizEnFrance > I think you pretty-much got it right.. > Michael Towns > You are on to something.. WSJ > Love theses kind of poles.. Thanks :)
莉兹 > 你相当正确..
迈克尔 > 你认识到了这件事..
华尔街日报 > 喜欢这种报道..谢谢:)
12:21 am March 22, 2014
Bill Rich wrote 比尔:
How many of these Chinese have access to international web sites ?
12:47 am March 22, 2014
Anon wrote 阿农:
I believe all of the responders besides Jia Shaoying and Mr. Wang are right on the nose. They have us sized up pretty fairly and accurately.
1:48 am March 22, 2014
Paul wrote 保罗:
I think this is a pretty representative sample of the opinions of Chinese. Unfortunately foreigners understand Americans better than the reverse. I wish American were more curious about how ordinary people abroad think instead of watching stories about what Michelle Obama is wearing in China.
I really like reading this sort of average man in the street stories.