Seven Wrong Impressions You May Have About China
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Politics and Activism

Seven Wrong Impressions You May Have About China

Orange chicken is not a Chinese dish, you cannot find it in China.

Seven Wrong Impressions You May Have About China

I was born and raised in China. And being here in the United States, I have witnessed so many misunderstandings and misconceptions towards my people. Here is a list of seven wrong impressions you may have about China. Hope this will clear the air.

1. Chinese people are bad drivers.

I remembered how shocked I was when I first heard that Americans were under the impression that Chinese people sucked at driving. Like in the data collection process in a scientific experiment, there are always outliers. There are bad drivers among Chinese people, but in my point of view, Chinese people are generally good at driving. Because China does not have as good of a transportation system and engineering planning as Southern California, sometimes driving in China's metropolitan areas like Beijing and Shanghai are much more challenging than driving on I-405. For example, my uncle lived in Los Angeles for over 20 years, but when he returned to China, he was patronized by the fact that people could drive so fluently and calmly under such terrible traffic. In addition, most Chinese immigrants are not familiar with the different system in the United States. Also, as I mentioned, there are outliers. There are certainly some hot-headed, irresponsible young Chinese students who liked to break rules. But just like how you should treat a scientific research, outliers do not define a whole group.

2. Chinatown is exactly like China.

I remember watching this show "The Odd Couple" starring Matthew Perry. Just to be clear, I loved the show, and the fact it mentioned Chinatown being exactly like China was part of a great joke. But when I hear the line “Why is she going to China? We have a perfect Chinatown here,” I was like, "wait, is this what American people think?" I have been to Chinatown in New York and Los Angeles, and I admit that there are some parts that are very China-like, such as Chinese restaurants and the huge population density. But other than those, there are nothing China about Chinatown. We have KFC and McDonald in China as well, but we don’t see American people as garbage-food-eating species. Most Chinese cities are modern, clean and have rather friendly environment. So the next time you think that China must be dirty, messy and not suitable for living, buy a plane ticket and fly to China to check out. It may surprise you.

3. Panda is Chinese food.

Get out of here! This is so far the biggest insult on Chinese food. Chinese food is way more fancy, complicated and rich in variety. I am a food guy, I love to try different kinds of food, but deep down I know that many of the food I taste here in America do not taste the same in its original country. I am not saying it tastes worse here, I’m just saying that they are different. Panda is just an example of fake Chinese food. There are many places such as P.F. Changs that share the same problem. As I mentioned, they do not taste bad, especially for American eaters, since they are in fact Chinese food being modified to meet the tasty habit of Americans. Just do not confuse them with real Chinese food. Oh, also, orange chicken is not a Chinese dish, you cannot find it in China.

4. Karate is Kungfu.

I’m pretty sure most people could tell the difference, but there are some Americans I talked to who could not distinguish Karate from Kungfu. I practiced WingChun and Sanshou for a couple of years, and they are both styles in the Kungfu genre. Karate is from Japan, Kungfu is from China. I know that Bruce Lee kind of mixed a lot of styles up to create Jeet Kune Do, but originally they are different styles of martial arts. Recently the Fox News set up a street interview in Chinatown to mock Chinese people. I was not as furious as some of my Chinese peers, because I knew it was a need for comedy. But when I saw the reporter asked a random Chinese person if he knew Karate which followed up by a clip where he practiced Taekwondo (which is Korean martial art), I realized that this is some new level of stupidity. So if anyone wants to make a joke about Kungfu, maybe do a quick background research on martial arts, or the joke will be on you.

5. Chinese people are rich as f***.

During my freshman year in UCI, I had a group project with four American teammates. When we first met and introduced ourselves, I mentioned I was from China. The first reaction I got was “you must be rich.” If you look closely, you can see a bunch of question marks appeared on the top of my head. Where do they get this impression from? After living in the U.S. for a while, I finally understood what they were talking about. China has a relatively large gap between rich and poor, and due to the unreasonably high tuition here in UC, most Chinese students coming here have relatively wealthy families (which sadly, does not include me). They drive insanely expensive cars and shop in malls like there’s no tomorrow. I have met these people, hung out with them, and trust me, their families are even richer than you could see. Like people always say, money does not define a person. And that is true, since I became really good friends with a lot of them and did not feel any difference (except that they drive cars like Maserati and I ride a used bicycle). They are also here to learn something, so don’t put a reputation on them as the rich Chinese people who don’t need to do anything. But remember, not all of us are that rich.

6. Chinese people are good at math.

True and not true. Chinese students do usually have better grades in mathematics, but the reason is that China has a fiercely competitive education environment from elementary to junior high school. There are about 1.4 billion people in China, and close to 300 million of them are students in school (pre-college). Last checked, the United States has an entire population of 318.9 million. Think about it, all those students have to compete with each other to earn a spot in a good university and receive further education, which results in a harsh learning condition where everyone has to put up their effort into grasping knowledge. So of course Chinese students would be better at math, since some of the college-level math courses have already been taught in middle school back home. It is not about talent in general.

7. Chinese people are too serious.

The only reason we do not laugh at your joke is because we don’t get it! Admittedly it or not, language is a huge gap between immigrants and American people. Since studying in the US has become easier over the years, many Chinese students do not have a perfect English speaking skills when they land here. If you see a Chinese guy working all the time instead of hanging out with you, it’s probably because he honestly doesn't know what to say around you. When you are cracking jokes with your crew and making everybody laugh, your Chinese friends, if they fit my description, won’t know what to do. If they laugh, they will feel embarrassed not knowing what you are talking about. But if they don’t, it will be more awkward. There are so many great comedians in China, and Chinese people love to make jokes they can share and understand. If you can somehow get your Chinese co-worker drunk and make him or her suddenly forget all the cultural and language barriers, I believe you will see how funny he or she really is.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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