I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

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Mr.November
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Re: I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

Post by Mr.November » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:27 pm

Having lived in China for over 5 years, having many Chinese friends and speaking fluent Chinese, I would like to address this topic.
Apart from living there, I have also spent a considerable time in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Malaysia and travelled extensively throughout China, particularly in the more remote, western parts of Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan.

First, China should not be considered a nation-state in the western definition of the word. It's not a country like France or Australia, It's more a civilisation, comparable to what we would call the Western civilisation as a whole. It's a diverse mix of peoples speaking different languages, of different ethnicities and cultures, spread across the social strata from the poor farmers of Guizhou, to goat herding muslims in Xizang, from Tibetan yak herders, to the middle class urbanities in second tier cities, and from poor factory workers of Guangzhou to influential business people in Shanghai and educated academia in Beijing, speaking Cantonese, Hakka, Uyghur, Min, among hundreds of other languages. Mandarin for them is like English for us - a uniting language, often being for them a second language (like for me and many other posters).

It's important to understand that - especially that in Cambodia, most Chinese use Mandarin as their second language.

So where the Chinese dollars in Cambodia come from? From four major sources.

Firstly - property. China has been experiencing a crazy real estate boom over the last 2 decades. Small apartments in Shanghai or Beijing are changing hands for millions of dollars, and virtually everywhere in China is very expensive to buy property. With so much capital appreciation, no wonder many got rich doing virtually nothing, just sitting on an old flat acquired 20 years earlier.

Secondly, from self made business. Many less educated Chinese see their only chance of prosperity in opening own business - and they usually copy something that works. Chinese are entrepreneurial and cunning, much more so than Khmers, and are willing to make money above all else. Plus, they are able to copy the looks of things quite well. Even if one in a hundred of small businesses somewhat succeeds, the sheer population size means that there are millions of self made yuan millionaires. Whether it's a small factory making flower pots that are sold on TaoBao, a fake Gucci bag workshop, a property flipping scheme, or a washing machine parts sweatshop, there are literally millions of small Chinese business owners (legal or illegal) that made some good money in China.

Third, money from corruption, hush-hush deals and plain cheating/fraud, which plagues in China at every level of society. Again, if you consider the population size, you will have a huge amount of people with illegally gained money, who want to move it abroad before the authorities start asking questions.

Fourth - from parents. The old Chinese culture is of saving/keeping all the money for the new generation. I met many old uncles who had a small shop (metal workshop, electrical store, restaurant etc.) who were millionaires, yet lived and worked 7 days a week in squalid conditions resembling that of the poorest workers. Because themselves they grew up in rural poverty during Mao's age, they kept their wealth secret and valued every cent, not even dreaming of spending any money on improving their life. If you work hard for 40 years and save every cent, it's no secret that you will be rich. So once the parents are too old to work, their wealth is gradually passed to their children - who, due to the 1-child policy, are being spoilt princes and use their parents' wealth to buy Rolls Royces and gamble.

So above are the four sources of money for the vast majority of Chinese in Cambodia.

And who are the Chinese who come to Cambodia? Most Chinese here are from poor, working class background, which is characterized by the need to "show off", which is not only a Chinese trait. Many newly rich people from poor/uneducated backgrounds do the same - look for example at the African-American rappers. Their wealth was acquired fast, too fast for the old farmer traits of spitting, defecating in public, speaking loudly, being rude and being surrounded by rubbish to go away - that's how they grew up. The only thing that changed is that they have now money. As the old Chinese saying states: You can take a person from the province, but you can't take the province from a person.

For Brits, a good comparison are Chavs. Imagine a Chav made big money, whether by scam, a strike of luck from some dodgy business or stealing from parents. They would still act as chavs no matter where they are. Just look at the Spanish Costas and the British holiday makers there, or at my native Krakow, where hordes of drunk Brits act just as the Chinese in Cambodia.

Why Chinese have no manners? Blame the Cultural Revolution and Mao. Actually many Chinese do have manners. But those who do stay at home because they do well there, and don't need to start a new life in Cambodia, or just travel here and stay under the radar because they act normally and no one notices them. Those with no manners simply grew up in poverty and follow their parents' rural style, that allowed the parents survive in the Mao's era. Yes, Mao was an avid spitter himself and even was using a spittoon frequently during his meetings with Nixon. Being a "proper" farmer with farmer manners was envied, heroised and something to aspire to in China in the 60s and 70s, and no one wanted to be seen as a bourgeoisie contra-revolutionary, especially during the purges of Cultural Revolution.

What was learned was never unlearned and continues to the second generation now. It is getting better though, less and less people in China find those manners normal, there are even signs asking people to be polite, not to spit, to talk quietly, even in the countryside. Smoking bans are being introduced, and it's simply becoming more cool to be well mannered in the western sense.

Why the Chinese drive fast? Because of impunity. There is no authority to stop them speeding or drink driving. I would never drink drive in Europe, because it's very likely I would be arrested. But here? It's just more convenient to drive a bit drunk than to catch a taxi. It's not solely a Chinese thing to drive fast. It's only because they tend to own the majority of fast/flashy cars that it gets noticed. Khmers (and westerners here) are probably the same, give a Khmer a Bentley, and you will see him driving like an idiot too.

Why Chinese don't learn English? They do! In fact there are more English speakers in China than in the USA, and Chinese are proud if they can speak a foreign language. Again, it's an educational background issue - poor peasant children grew up without any opportunity of learning English, they made some money and moved to Cambodia seeking better life. But now it's too late to learn for them, and since there are so many Chinese around, it's difficult to integrate. For comparisons, I just look at many of my uneducated Polish countrymen, plumbers etc, who went to the UK 10-15 years ago when EU opened its borders, until today many cannot speak much English. Or look at the Brits who live in Spain, same story, did many learn Spanish and changed their ways? Combine that with the fact that most of the Chinese here speak 2 languages already (Mandarin and their native language), and it is clear that it is not them who should be told to learn English, especially that Khmer is official in the country where they live, not English.

A person is like a tree, when the tree is young it's easy to bend it, but as it grows it hardens and cannot be bent anymore.

With all that being said, there are many inspirational, interesting and ambitious Chinese in Cambodia that can easily be found among the poor and uneducated majority. What unites them all is their desire to make a better life for themselves by making money. They work and open businesses, some fail, but many prosper. And no matter their manners or background, the truth is that the Chinese as a group navigate in Cambodia way better than Westerners or Khmers, and many of you are simply jealous.

Just my $0.02
Last edited by Mr.November on Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

Post by clutchcargo » Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:03 pm

^^^^^^

Thanks for taking the time to share your considerable insights and experiences. Personally, that's broadened my view of things a lot.

Out of interest, or perhaps my bug bear, why are the Chinese seemingly obsessed with gambling and casinos? Now I understand casinos are illegal in the PRC and so it seems to me when you have prohibition...people want it more. But it's more than that isn't it?

Just seems strange to me that as you say the Chinese are so hard working, focused on making money to get ahead etc and then what? Blow it in a casino? Seems to me that Sihanoukville revolves largely around the casino trade and brings with it all the associated vices eg kidnappings, suicides, gangs, violent crime, drugs etc.

It just sounds very illogical to me. Appreciate your thoughts around that.
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Re: I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

Post by Mr.November » Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:33 pm

It's true that Chinese love to gamble. In most casinos, from Las Vegas to London, Chinese form the majority of gamblers. I don't have a firm reason for that, but it's likely cultural thing.

First, there is the obsession with monetary wealth. Chinese don't wish themselves "merry Christmas" or "Happy New Year", but "get wealthy and prosper" or "good fortune" instead. They don't pursue studying purely for academic excellence and grades, but for the money they can earn with a degree from a good university. And while hard work can help with acquiring wealth, most believe it's due to luck in life.

That brings us to the second reason - superstition and a strong belief in luck, which is so prevalent in the Chinese culture. Chinese truly believe than fortune can be tricked. Take for instance the numbers, yes we Westerners like no. 7 and find 13 unlucky, but the Chinese take that to an entirely different level. Prices for most "lucky" car number plates or phone numbers are in hundreds of thousands of Yuan, while many Chinese hotels don't have the 4th floor and shops price items Y8.88 instead of Y9.99. Number four, "si" in Chinese is unlucky because it sounds as "die" when pronounced, and 8 is lucky, because "ba" sounds like "prosper" - this alone makes it a huge deal. Other examples of superstition are everywhere, from Feng Shui (which is a huge industry in China), drinking tiger paws and snake skin concoctions (without any consideration for endangered wildlife), not showering or washing hair for a months after childbirth, joss sticks with fruits outside modern apartment doors, burning paper for the ghosts (and polluting staircases with smoke plus causing fire hazard) ... Many of those are deeply ingrained from childhood, passing from parents to children.

Chinese strongly believe they can influence luck to a varying degree. This ranges from simple adorning of good luck or choosing lucky numbers, to elaborate rituals as above. If you are riding a winning streak, you should continue, all is going well. If you are not doing so well, go recast the Luck choreography, then come back to the gambling table to verify the effectiveness. This may take multiple interactions until you succeed.

As you mentioned, gambling is prohibited in China, and forbidden fruit is often irresistible. That's probably one of the main reasons actually, look at Macao - locals don't really gamble there much (some do, but most don't), even though they are ethically and culturally Chinese. It's just not as exciting if it's legal.

Finally, there is peer pressure from other gamblers, if you are Chinese, your friends want to take you to a casino, not to a pub. And once you go a few times and try, you are hooked. Gambling is very addictive, and engages the same neural pathways as cocaine or sex, and you are unable to think clearly about the house edge, because you are addicted to the high occasional winning gives you.
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Re: I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

Post by phuketrichard » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:39 am

couple of questions from observations of the Chinese that frequent Phuket

Why do they feel the need to talk so DAM LOUD in public?
Why, in supermarkets do they block lanes and aisles?
Why do the have no respect for other cultures?
Why do they seem to not act human at times, (all one needs do is look at the videos of Chinese behaving badly) ?
In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely. HST
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Re: I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

Post by SINUS » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:42 am

I read the comments of a respected Polish brother and only now I understood what Chinese good people were and how good they occupied Cambodia :)
Last edited by SINUS on Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

Post by SINUS » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:56 am

Mr.November wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:27 pm

Firstly - property. China has been experiencing a crazy real estate boom over the last 2 decades....

Secondly, from self made business....

Third, money from corruption, hush-hush deals and plain cheating/fraud, which plagues in China at every level of society....

Fourth - from parents. The old Chinese culture is of saving/keeping all the money for the new generation. I met many old uncles who had a small shop (metal workshop, electrical store, restaurant etc.) who were millionaires, yet lived and worked 7 days a week in squalid conditions resembling that of the poorest workers. Because themselves they grew up in rural poverty during Mao's age, they kept their wealth secret and valued every cent, not even dreaming of spending any money on improving their life. If you work hard for 40 years and save every cent, it's no secret that you will be rich...


Just my $0.02
My question sounded like this - where do so many AMERICAN dollars are in China?
Do Chinese make dollars in special factories in China? :)
And not a good example about the grandfather, who worked 40 years and saved every cent. :)
$ 1 000 000/40 years / 365 days = $ 68.49 per day, provided that he worked seven days a week and absolutely not spent money on anything.
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Re: I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

Post by Mr.November » Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:42 am

SINUS wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:56 am
My question sounded like this - where do so many AMERICAN dollars are in China?
Do Chinese make dollars in special factories in China? :)
It's a simple trick, and there is a whole financial industry geared for this: a moneyed Chinese sends money in Yuan to a Mainland Chinese bank account held by a company registered both in the Mainland and in Hong Kong, then travels to Hong Kong and collects cash in HKD (a small fee is deducted), which is then converted freely to USD, and flies to Cambodia with cash.

It works the same with Macao casinos - send money to a junket's account in the Mainland, collect HKD in Macau to gamble. Both China and Hong Kong have enormous USD reserves and HKD is freely convertible at a fixed rate to USD in Hong Kong. Ultimately the dollars come from export - most of the cheap stuff the world buys comes from China, so our dollars make our way there.
SINUS wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:56 am
And not a good example about the grandfather, who worked 40 years and saved every cent. :)
$ 1 000 000/40 years / 365 days = $ 68.49 per day, provided that he worked seven days a week and absolutely not spent money on anything.
It is actually true, but I was talking about a few million RMB not USD. In fact a small shop can easily make $50-$100 per day in China, then not only they save 90% of it, but also invest, for example on the stock market or in property, I have seen it many times. Their shop (property) valued at $2-$5 million USD, inside two grandpas making metal plates among rubbish. Then son, not working at all, comes in a new Bentley to visit them.
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Re: I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

Post by frank lee bent » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:05 am

Highly illuminating. Thank you!
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Re: I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

Post by ozguyinshv » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:51 am

Mr.November wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:27 pm
Having lived in China for over 5 years, having many Chinese friends and speaking fluent Chinese, I would like to address this topic.
Apart from living there, I have also spent a considerable time in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Malaysia and travelled extensively throughout China, particularly in the more remote, western parts of Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan.

First, China should not be considered a nation-state in the western definition of the word. It's not a country like France or Australia, It's more a civilisation, comparable to what we would call the Western civilisation as a whole. It's a diverse mix of peoples speaking different languages, of different ethnicities and cultures, spread across the social strata from the poor farmers of Guizhou, to goat herding muslims in Xizang, from Tibetan yak herders, to the middle class urbanities in second tier cities, and from poor factory workers of Guangzhou to influential business people in Shanghai and educated academia in Beijing, speaking Cantonese, Hakka, Uyghur, Min, among hundreds of other languages. Mandarin for them is like English for us - a uniting language, often being for them a second language (like for me and many other posters).

It's important to understand that - especially that in Cambodia, most Chinese use Mandarin as their second language.

So where the Chinese dollars in Cambodia come from? From four major sources.

Firstly - property. China has been experiencing a crazy real estate boom over the last 2 decades. Small apartments in Shanghai or Beijing are changing hands for millions of dollars, and virtually everywhere in China is very expensive to buy property. With so much capital appreciation, no wonder many got rich doing virtually nothing, just sitting on an old flat acquired 20 years earlier.

Secondly, from self made business. Many less educated Chinese see their only chance of prosperity in opening own business - and they usually copy something that works. Chinese are entrepreneurial and cunning, much more so than Khmers, and are willing to make money above all else. Plus, they are able to copy the looks of things quite well. Even if one in a hundred of small businesses somewhat succeeds, the sheer population size means that there are millions of self made yuan millionaires. Whether it's a small factory making flower pots that are sold on TaoBao, a fake Gucci bag workshop, a property flipping scheme, or a washing machine parts sweatshop, there are literally millions of small Chinese business owners (legal or illegal) that made some good money in China.

Third, money from corruption, hush-hush deals and plain cheating/fraud, which plagues in China at every level of society. Again, if you consider the population size, you will have a huge amount of people with illegally gained money, who want to move it abroad before the authorities start asking questions.

Fourth - from parents. The old Chinese culture is of saving/keeping all the money for the new generation. I met many old uncles who had a small shop (metal workshop, electrical store, restaurant etc.) who were millionaires, yet lived and worked 7 days a week in squalid conditions resembling that of the poorest workers. Because themselves they grew up in rural poverty during Mao's age, they kept their wealth secret and valued every cent, not even dreaming of spending any money on improving their life. If you work hard for 40 years and save every cent, it's no secret that you will be rich. So once the parents are too old to work, their wealth is gradually passed to their children - who, due to the 1-child policy, are being spoilt princes and use their parents' wealth to buy Rolls Royces and gamble.

So above are the four sources of money for the vast majority of Chinese in Cambodia.

And who are the Chinese who come to Cambodia? Most Chinese here are from poor, working class background, which is characterized by the need to "show off", which is not only a Chinese trait. Many newly rich people from poor/uneducated backgrounds do the same - look for example at the African-American rappers. Their wealth was acquired fast, too fast for the old farmer traits of spitting, defecating in public, speaking loudly, being rude and being surrounded by rubbish to go away - that's how they grew up. The only thing that changed is that they have now money. As the old Chinese saying states: You can take a person from the province, but you can't take the province from a person.

For Brits, a good comparison are Chavs. Imagine a Chav made big money, whether by scam, a strike of luck from some dodgy business or stealing from parents. They would still act as chavs no matter where they are. Just look at the Spanish Costas and the British holiday makers there, or at my native Krakow, where hordes of drunk Brits act just as the Chinese in Cambodia.

Why Chinese have no manners? Blame the Cultural Revolution and Mao. Actually many Chinese do have manners. But those who do stay at home because they do well there, and don't need to start a new life in Cambodia, or just travel here and stay under the radar because they act normally and no one notices them. Those with no manners simply grew up in poverty and follow their parents' rural style, that allowed the parents survive in the Mao's era. Yes, Mao was an avid spitter himself and even was using a spittoon frequently during his meetings with Nixon. Being a "proper" farmer with farmer manners was envied, heroised and something to aspire to in China in the 60s and 70s, and no one wanted to be seen as a bourgeoisie contra-revolutionary, especially during the purges of Cultural Revolution.

What was learned was never unlearned and continues to the second generation now. It is getting better though, less and less people in China find those manners normal, there are even signs asking people to be polite, not to spit, to talk quietly, even in the countryside. Smoking bans are being introduced, and it's simply becoming more cool to be well mannered in the western sense.

Why the Chinese drive fast? Because of impunity. There is no authority to stop them speeding or drink driving. I would never drink drive in Europe, because it's very likely I would be arrested. But here? It's just more convenient to drive a bit drunk than to catch a taxi. It's not solely a Chinese thing to drive fast. It's only because they tend to own the majority of fast/flashy cars that it gets noticed. Khmers (and westerners here) are probably the same, give a Khmer a Bentley, and you will see him driving like an idiot too.

Why Chinese don't learn English? They do! In fact there are more English speakers in China than in the USA, and Chinese are proud if they can speak a foreign language. Again, it's an educational background issue - poor peasant children grew up without any opportunity of learning English, they made some money and moved to Cambodia seeking better life. But now it's too late to learn for them, and since there are so many Chinese around, it's difficult to integrate. For comparisons, I just look at many of my uneducated Polish countrymen, plumbers etc, who went to the UK 10-15 years ago when EU opened its borders, until today many cannot speak much English. Or look at the Brits who live in Spain, same story, did many learn Spanish and changed their ways? Combine that with the fact that most of the Chinese here speak 2 languages already (Mandarin and their native language), and it is clear that it is not them who should be told to learn English, especially that Khmer is official in the country where they live, not English.

A person is like a tree, when the tree is young it's easy to bend it, but as it grows it hardens and cannot be bent anymore.

With all that being said, there are many inspirational, interesting and ambitious Chinese in Cambodia that can easily be found among the poor and uneducated majority. What unites them all is their desire to make a better life for themselves by making money. They work and open businesses, some fail, but many prosper. And no matter their manners or background, the truth is that the Chinese as a group navigate in Cambodia way better than Westerners or Khmers, and many of you are simply jealous.

Just my $0.02

Very good and informative post. And I agree with you that many posters on this forum do seem to be jealous. I met some very friendly Chinese in Sihanoukville when I was working there. Knowing some of the language helped. But yeah Sihanoukville is a dump.
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Re: I want to clear up some misunderstanding about the Chinese

Post by Asia Traveler » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:05 am

phuketrichard wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:39 am
couple of questions from observations of the Chinese that frequent Phuket

Why do they feel the need to talk so DAM LOUD in public?
Why, in supermarkets do they block lanes and aisles?
Why do the have no respect for other cultures?
Why do they seem to not act human at times, (all one needs do is look at the videos of Chinese behaving badly) ?
Could you shed some light on these behaviors? It is extremely hard to like having anyone with these traits near you regardless of race or country or origin yet the main land Chinese demonstrate this behaviors so often. Why?
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