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Stereotyping doesn't help

China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-21 08:18

As a foreigner, it is most interesting to hear some Chinese people say: "You don't understand Chinese (people or culture)." Surprisingly, the very characteristics such people try to convey to me are contradicted by the thoughts and behaviors of some other Chinese people I know.

No one can be a totally authoritative representative of a nation or culture. We should neither stereotype others nor stereotype our own customs and culture. The moment we do so, there will crop up an exception.

Some (and only some) Chinese people have the tendency to stereotype others. They express authoritative opinions and cite "facts" about Western culture based on what they see in some Western movies, without realizing that Western movies are not true representatives of Western culture. In fact, Western movies try to change and influence Western culture most of the time, instead of reflecting what life actually is like in the West.

Stereotyping should be avoided at all costs. And I should add (lest I commit the mistake of doing the same) that most Chinese people are free of it. Expressing an opinion that we want others to believe in is typical to human nature. But it should be within limits.

MichaelM, from China Daily blog

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(China Daily 05/21/2013 page9)

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