Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Good manners in China: what could change?

Yesterday I explained how the Chinese people perception of good manners differs from a "western" perception of good manners.

Even though more and more Chinese people adopt a western approach and behaviour why should they adopt "western" good manners standards.
So what will change? What "good manners" will be adopted?

In fact some western rules are already accepted.
Back in 2006, 2007, there was a huge campain organized by the central government in order to "educate" Chinese people before the Olympic games. This campain mainly focus on spitting, littering, skipping a queue.
And things change quickly! Today very few Chinese people spit on the floor. Most find it rude even though they won't have noticed a few years ago.
As for littering and skipping a queue, fewer Chinese people do this.
Public toilet change as Chinese people sense of intimacy is growing. Before you would poe on a open toilet next to someone else. Today toilets are build with seperated individual cabines.

What foreigners in China find rude?
I asked some foreigners who stay in China what for them was the most unpolite?
I suppose that what foreigners find most upseting would also be perceived the same way by Chinese people? There would therefore be some good manners that Chinese people would adopt in the future?

Here are some answers:
Line jumping.
"I've learned to yell "你不要插队" Nǐ bùyào chāduì!! You don't line jump! or 你是一个插队人。Nǐ shì yīgè chāduì rén. You are a line jumper!! and in a couple of instances put my hand on the man's [invariably its men] shoulder as he was trying to worm by. A couple of the locals cheered me on and started laughing. I sense that most chinese don't like line jumpers any more than me but they haven't grown the bollocks yet to make an issue of it.
"Staring, with adults, I give them about 25 seconds and then stare back until they break the stare. I am thinking about giving them a Maori hakka. It seems to work. With kids I say "hi" and the usually deals with the situation."
"I carry around a few copies of MOH 80-2, Section 18 [Ministry of Health Directive 80 #2, from 2011] section 18, and occasionally show it to a waitress or laoban when I am bothered by smoking. The critical section reads "第十八条 室内公共场所禁止吸烟。公共场所经营者应当设置醒目的禁止吸烟警语和标志。室外公共场所设置的吸烟区 不得位于行人必经的通道上。
公共场所不得设置自动售烟机。公共场所经营者应当开展 吸烟危害健康的宣传,并配备专(兼)职人员对吸烟者进行劝阻" The 'business' part is "Article XVIII ban smoking in indoor public places." I have firmly insisted and more often than not gotten a private dining room at no extra charge. My chinese friends are a bit uncomfortable but if you balance the difference between being poisoned and uncomfortable the choice is pretty obvious."
Chinese people standing much too close to you
"Even after explaining it several times, some still want to walk down the street on top of me".
"People in the metro get in then stop directly at the door."
"Some old guys don't close the door when they are in the toilet doing 大便"
Making noise at the cinema
"When I went to the cinema with my girlfriend last night, some Chinese man sat behind me playing games on his phone most of the way through the film. Despite my turning around on three occasions and other people shushing him."
Shouting "waiguoren"
"When I stand in line for anything anywhere and someone in that line almost always points and shouts "waiguoren" blatantly in my direction."..."I point at the Chinese person and shout "zhongguoren".

And someone asked what Chinese people find most rude about us foreigners.
This is his answer:
"Foreigners who always talk about the bad things Chinese do, but then they do these things themselves"

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