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China and us

Updated: 2011-09-20 10:38
By Valerie Chetcuti (

China Daily website is inviting foreigner readers to share your China Story!

It is funny, we Europeans see the Chinese as one face, one identity. Obviously this applied to me even more. I come from a very small island right in the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta. An island breeds a certain sense of narrowness and lack of open mindedness. Thus it was quite natural for me and my friend to view all Asians as the same, one face, one identity.

China and us

Valerie Chetcuti. [Photo provided to] 

This was of course before we even thought of traveling to China. Once the decision was taken we began to read and do online research. We really thought we had enough knowledge of China to be able to travel with ease, two women, middle aged at that, let lose in China.

Though our sense of adventure was acute, we still were of the frame of mind that Chinese really were indistinguishable from one another.

It was only when a Chinese man looked at us and said something in Chinese that we changed out opinion. We were in Kashgar with a very lovely guide Nor. Realizing that we were being discussed, though the language barrier proved to be daunting, at the end of the day, certain human expressions are really all the same. Nor told us that the bottom line of the comments of this Chinese was that all western people look alike.

Now my friend and I are really, at least from a Western point of view totally different. One is fair with blue eyes. The other, I that is, am darker with brown eyes. It suddenly hit us really between the eyes that they were seeing us exactly as we saw them, one identify, one appearance.

It was quite a revelation and left us thinking and musing at this great discovery.

We began to look in earnest at our lovely Chinese hosts. Of course they were different, not one was the same. As we moved from region to region this was even more evident. They all had there own identity and on closer inspection a lot of them were beautiful. Each had the culture and customs of the region they belonged to. One could almost say that China really resembled Europe, with its different regions, languages, and customs. On no account would I as a European see Europe as one identity. Rather, each country or in the case of China each region is unique, as are the people and customs.

Our discovery of China had only just begun but this revelation was just one of the many that we were to experience in the 20 or so days to come.

The author recently graduated from Open University in International Relations. Living in Rabat, Malta, the author has two beautiful daughters, two dogs and three cats.

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