10 Things the Chinese Do Better

05 Nov 2004

Tian brought this article to my attention, and I had to share it: “From cells to bells, 10 things the Chinese do far better than we do,” from a Canadian job site.

You can’t take the article too seriously, because it cites some pretty atypical “things” in its list, and I feel that living in Shanghai I should probably be aware of them if they’re widespread. Still, it’s an interesting read.

(For those from outside of China that are interested, the ones in the official list of 10 that I have not personally experienced in my four years in China are #7 and #10. #5, #8, and #9 I’ve seen, but they are not very common.)

Share

John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. The article main focus is the application of these technological advancements rather than the origins of invention.

    I also do not agree to all the items listed. For example, is it really necessary to have a waiter or waitress to cover your belongings with a slipcover (5), and then you would have to ring the wireless service bells to get their attention (7).

    About Daily banking (6), well if you have a country that has 1.6 billion people, banks had to do something to service all their customers.

  2. At the First Department Store on Huahai Lu, down the street from the Xiangyang Market, they will hem pants for you on the spot. Pants that you buy from their overpriced shelves, of course.

    Random observation: why are the bags for all big department stores in Shanghai yellow and blue? Are they all copying the Isetan color scheme (is it itself original)? Or are they just big University of Michigan fans?

  3. Ah Jan Wong. This article is from Toronto’s Globe and Mail and was probably a weekly column. Wong is that paper’s former Beijing correspondent during the 1980s and early 1990s. Before that she was one of the first foreigners ever enrolled at Beijing University and a Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. She’s written a really good book on her time in China as a teenager called Red China Blues: my life from Mao to now. It’s available at the bookmall on Fuzhou Lu on the 7th floor.

    Her reporting from Beijing won her a lot of respect, but the column she wrote afterwards took it all away. When I worked a competing paper I heard people bitch about her all the time. This article shows she’s mellow a bit but she’s still bitter.

    Thanks for the link.
    John Guise

  4. Red China Blues: my life from Mao to now. It’s available at the bookmall on Fuzhou Lu on the 7th floor.

  5. Jan Wong’s “Lunches with Jan Wong” is pretty entertaining, as a snippy little slice of her personality, which you either dig or despise. She has a habit of making gross generalizations about China, though.

  6. This was part of a gigantic “focus on China” Saturday issue of Globe and Mail, complete with a frontpage that featured huge Chinese characters (pretty much saying: China is coming, watch out)… It had quite a few interesting features, but also a lot of the old babble. Interviews with grandmothers in Beijing etc.

    Stian in Toronto

  7. Great link. I’ve been thinking of those 10 for quite some time. Especially the stop lights. No one will ever become “impatient” at stop lights when they’re watching the timer. BRING THAT TOO CALIFORNIA FOR THE LUV OF GAWD.

    And bring the OCTOPUS debit card here from Hong Kong. Go into 7-Eleven to buy me a Sesame Slurpee, credits for my cell and then use the same card to take the ultra-clean and efficient subway system practically anywhere in Hong Kong.

    If you frequently travel worldwide, you can offer many suggestions about how to improve your home country. Especially if its America – which seems to be behind by a decade (or stuck in the 80s & 90s) in many ways.

  8. Gah, I can’t stand people like Jan Wong. I find intellectual apostates a sad and pitiable lot. All that results is bitterness and instead of making amends for a mistake, they end up recreating them in new forms. It’s painfully ironic that the multitudes of Chinese who bore direct witness to the madness of the Great Prolitarien Cultural Revolution are struggling to come to terms with it, while those who were only affected on the fringes are the most resentful.

    Anyways, in regards to the points themselves in the post. I found the entire topic to be rather trite. Naturally given the prepondence towards idiocy by the author.

  9. Just recently my girlfriend and I went to this little French cafe in Changchun that had those “wireless service bells.” They’re cool, except the tables were really small and people kept hitting them accidently. I’ve also seen #10, and #5 is very common in any mid-level or better restaurant here.

    I saw #9 at the Capital Theater in Beijing, but that’s it, and I’m almost certain that I’ve seen #8 in Shanghai, but I agree they’re not very common.

    Unfortunately #3 has yet to arrive in Changchun, but that will probably change when the city finishes its taxi modernization program (buses and the light rail already have IC cards).

  10. I’m now living in Chengdu,Sichuan Province and the ones I haven’t experienced are #7,#8,the rest are common here.

  11. I haven’t been to a Hangzhou movie theater in years that hasn’t had the seats on computer.

    Slip covers are also very common in restaurants that run over 50RMB a head but I think they are there to stop spills. We have all seen how drunk people can be after dinner. It is also rare that a thief is in a private room.

    Wireless bells are also common in better foot massage parlors. Maybe Jan didn’t want to admit she gets her corns sanded.

    Cheap or free hemming is also widespread. I had someone actually iron my shirt after purchase once.

    Traffic lights seem only to encourage people trying to time their five lane cut around the those waiting.

  12. I could care less about all that fancy stuff. If China can’t have even remotely clean public bathrooms, then forget it!

  13. One thing that I haven’t seen personally in the mainland (though probably do exist) and have seen in Taiwan is that you can play DVDs in cars on those GPS screens.

  14. Da Xiangchang Says: November 6, 2004 at 1:22 pm

    10 things I WISH the Chinese did better:

    1) Clean their toilets (credit to the anonymous poster).

    2) Don’t litter.

    3) Don’t jump in front of long lines.

    4) Don’t piss or shit on the sidewalks.

    5) Don’t easily get hurt then cover that hurt with pathetic nationalistic pride when criticized by the outside world.

    6) Don’t pick their noses in front of everyone.

    7) Stand up when an old man or a woman with a baby gets on the bus.

    8) Replace the godawful Chinglish that covers major tourist spots all over China, including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

    9) Show some creativity.

    10) Don’t believe something just because someone older told you so.

  15. 5) Don’t easily get hurt then cover that hurt with pathetic nationalistic pride when criticized by the outside world.

    I agree, its so much more satisfying bombing a smaller nation.

  16. 7) Stand up when an old man or a woman with a baby gets on the bus.

    I don’t agree with this one; I find that the Chinese are usually remarkably good about this.

  17. 10 things I WISH the Chinese did better

    Very good points. Thank you.
    I have observed all these.
    Can I put it in my blog?

  18. “5) Don’t easily get hurt then cover that hurt with pathetic nationalistic pride when criticized by the outside world.

    I agree, its so much more satisfying bombing a smaller nation.”

    11) Don’t suddenly change the subject when criticized by the outside world.

  19. Da Xiangchang Says: November 7, 2004 at 5:43 pm

    Jing,

    My, aren’t we sensitive? Yes, it’s true that America is currently “bombing a smaller country.” I see nothing wrong with this since the leader of that smaller country wants America to bomb parts of it. And finally remember this: without America bombing another “smaller country” from 1942 to 1945, the Chinese would be speaking Japanese today.

  20. Seeing as this wasn’t going to be an in-depth conversation, I took the opportunity to throw in some rhetorical sniping. It seems like I’m getting some return fire of my own.

    As for the perceived gratitude the Chinese should express for America, why? The Americans only entered into WW2 following December 1941, The second Sino-Japanese war started 4 years earlier (or 10 depending on how you see it). After the war, the Americans backed the Nationalists who would eventually lose, and then of course the Korean war, they at present continue to prevent the reunification of Taiwan. Why should the mainlanders in any way be grateful towards America? In fact, the communists should be thanking the Japanese, for without them, they probably wouldn’t have succeeded against the Nationalists.

    Besides, your analogy is crumbles under even the slightest scrutiny. Iraq wasn’t a threat to anyone besides possibly itself. By the time the U.S. declared war against Japan, Japan had already invaded much of Asia and killed a couple thousand American soldiers by attacking Hawaii. Even prior to the war, there was a certain strain of pro-Japanese sentiment within the American establishment that supported Japan’s war against China. Though FDR however was not of this school of thought and it dissappeared overnight with Pearl Harbour.

  21. Da Xiangchang Says: November 8, 2004 at 10:27 am

    My entire point is that without America, China would NEVER have beaten the Japanese. After all, the Chinese pretty much gave up half their country and retreated to Chongqing–CHONGQING!–to make their new capital, and even there, the Japs were relentlessly bombing their asses. Does that sound like a country that’s WINNING a war?!! Without America, Japan would’ve eventually colonized ALL of China, and anyone who denies this should seriously study their history books–the ones without red covers, I mean.

  22. “4) Don’t piss or shit on the sidewalks.”

    Did you copy that one from Baltimore or Cleveland?

    I like your other points. However, see below.

    “Without America, Japan would’ve eventually colonized ALL of China…”

    History books, no matter what cover, do not speculate on hypothetical outcomes. Even if they did, even your star-and-stripes covered books tell that by 1940 or so the size of Japanese occupied land in China was not growing but in effect shrinking.

  23. Jing started “Seeing as this wasn’t going to be an in-depth conversation, I took the opportunity to throw in some rhetorical sniping. It seems like I’m getting some return fire of my own.”

    Fair enough.

    Jing:”As for the perceived gratitude the Chinese should express for America, why? The Americans only entered into WW2 following December 1941, The second Sino-Japanese war started 4 years earlier (or 10 depending on how you see it).”

    What possible relevance could such a point have? What would be necessary to (a) actually foresee all the events and comprehend all the factorsand then (b) when should anyone come to someone’s aid to qualify for gratitude? Pointless. The point is they showed up to aid a civilisation that claims to be many millennia old and that same civilisation could not sort it out after all that time. Brits do it too. They start a ruckus and then when the Yanks come to their aid they spend the next 100 years complaining they did it all and the Yanks were Johnny-come-latelys. Again missing the point. Twice the USA has saved Fortress Europa. And now they buy that nonsense of being America’s poodle. What a short memory. More to the point, Chinese would in all probability be speaking Japanese and living as slaves or worse had not the Yanks showed. That does not demand gratitude from the realistic and civilised—they would give it willingly.

    Jing: “After the war, the Americans backed the Nationalists who would eventually lose, and then of course the Korean war, they at present continue to prevent the reunification of Taiwan.

    Again the demand that someone have a crystal ball and only chose the winners ignoring the political ramifications of backing the other guys (who, according to testimony from people who were there, evidently did not actually fight the Japanese, occasionally machine gunning the nationalists as they tried to link up in battle against the Japanese). But China was a mess before Japan attacked and the warlords were running the show anyway—from whom would anyone choose? By the way, the Chinese who “volunteered” to fight in the Korean war and were repatriated to China are still treated as traitors, a legacy of Mao–the guy we wisely did not back up.

    Jing: “Why should the mainlanders in any way be grateful towards America? In fact, the communists should be thanking the Japanese, for without them, they probably wouldn’t have succeeded against the Nationalists.”

    Too true. You make my point.

    Jing: “Besides, your analogy is crumbles under even the slightest scrutiny. Iraq wasn’t a threat to anyone besides possibly itself. By the time the U.S. declared war against Japan, Japan had already invaded much of Asia and killed a couple thousand American soldiers by attacking Hawaii. Even prior to the war, there was a certain strain of pro-Japanese sentiment within the American establishment that supported Japan’s war against China. Though FDR however was not of this school of thought and it dissappeared overnight with Pearl Harbour”

    You can not make a consistent argument at all and your diatribe crumbles under the weight of its own poorly constructed nature. Forget the crystal ball, you say now. First you chastise us for not coming in till 1942 (in fact the diplomatic war had begun long before), now you say we had just cause because the Japanese had already wrecked havoc and death. Make up your mind. You now demand that we wait until the world is in flames before we make a move. Jing, you spin in the wind changing your argument on whims.

  24. I’ve only seen #7 in western-style restaurants. Here in Korla, Xinjiang we’ve got a little place with a fairy-tale castle roof called “Feeling West Coffee”… half-decent steaks and coffee, for Xinjiang that is. Anyway, you can press the little button on the table to come over and fill your water glass. (Ah, the pleasure of drinking free water in China… I get so tired of tea.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *