Through my Chinese wife, I have been able to gain some insights into how we Westerners are apparently often viewed in Mainland China:
- pampered; there is a notion that we always expect a lifestyle that is far above anything a typical Chinese city dweller can aspire to, with big houses or apartments with many rooms, air conditioning, glorious bath rooms with marble tiles and gold armatures, and brand new BMWs, Range Rovers, or Buicks.
- ravenous carnivores; humongous amounts of meat must be served up when a westerner comes to eat with you. They will eat as much meat in one meal as a Chinese family reserves for a whole month.
- English speaking; no matter whether you’re French, Swedish, or Italian, your real language is English.
- shifty; westerners are not trustworthy, and will break laws, and hearts, and promises. It’s different with Germans though, who say what they mean, and do it (phew!). Marx was German, after all, so they can’t be all bad.
- drunks; westerners will consume unbelievable amounts of alcohol, all the time, and there is no stopping them.
- destructive; they are also feared to break the bathroom armatures, because they are these ham fisted ogres who expect things to be much more robust. I see where that one comes from, and share that sentiment whenever I have German guests. My toilet flush was usually broken afterwards, be it in China, England, New Zealand, France, or Canada. Germans expect toilet flushes to be heavy duty construction grade mechanisms, and you can basically schedule a plumber appointment the day you hear they are about to come and stay with you.
- clumsy; westerners don’t understand that “yes” can mean “no”, and that “it could be difficult” is the end of the disussion. You need to drive home every point with them to the bitter end, as if they were stupid.
All things considered, I consider myself lucky to have passed muster regardless, and I can’t explain it, because all of the above describe me perfectly.
Perhaps I was deemed acceptable because I have a car and a house, which is one of the standard check points for bachelor eligibility in China. Oh, and I have a dish washer, too.