We can always fool a foreigner (Chinese proverb ?)

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We can always fool a foreigner (Chinese proverb ?)

Postby long_way » Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:44 am

Author Paul Theroux wrote in his book "Riding the Iron Rooster" that the Chinese have a proverb saying “We can always fool a foreigner”. After googling that phrase it turned out most of the references to the "proverb" actually pointed to the Theroux's book.

After all it doesn't matter if the proverb really exists or not, the fact is when you travel through China you will notice that many (if not most) Chinese people think that foreigners are very naive sort of people and when you couple that belief with the commonly shared notion that ALL foreigners have a lot of money it is not the least surprising that many scams are targeted specifically at the foreign tourists.

Tourists are 'fair game" for scammers in any other country, China is nothing special in that respect. The fact that someone is far from their home, with no support network whatsoever and usually without knowledge of the language and local customs makes travelers extremely vulnerable in the best of situations.

However it appears that Chinese people have a very strong sense of "us and them" and that perception is only partly based on the racial differences; once a foreigner is accepted by the Chinese he or she will become "us" even though they have different race origin. The dynamics of the process of "adopting" foreigners into their own culture is a topic which I don't understand so I can not write about it.

What i can say, though, is that my own experience has been that when you smile to people in most cases you get a smile back, if you frown that's what you will get back. My experience has been that Chinese people are very sincere and straight forward people and if you approach them with sincerity they will be most helpful and friendly and won't see you as a walking wallet.

Just by chance I came across a blog entry which expressed almost in the same terms what was written above:

"At this point I must attempt to state clearly that I love China... It's a beautiful place with sincere people, this Disneyland of the Tao... It's been a long journey for me, to fully appreciate saying that, but it's really the only way I could ever enjoy my experience there... I guess it takes me the longest, to learn the basic lessons... Most people already know that if you like something or someone, the feeling is generally reciprocated... When I was good to China, it was good to me... I now know this to be true in many other areas of living, which is how I find contentment in daily life under ANY flag..."
( http://cmor.pnn.com/articles/show/19036 ... ersonality )
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