Being a foreigner in China nowadays is not such a difficult task- in places with a big concentration of “same types”…but here in Tianjin (is the 5th biggest city in China, in number of inhabitants), where we
live, and for sure in places even more to the countryside, the scenery is a bit different. And the hostility is, let’s say, a bit omnipresent.
Well, before continuing, let’s analyze where this love and hate relationship comes from: in recent History of China, many countries have made its occupations here (and have obviously caused the expropriation of many important territories for them)- Portuguese in Macau, English in Hong Kong, German in Shandong, Japanese in the North Provinces, etc. Even far behind, in the 1600’s Europeans occupied a part of Shanghai, not allowing even the presence of any Chinese person on these territories. That has provoked, of course, this hostility to the foreigners, that’s passed generation after generation. But this invasions gave a hand to the Communism, that “took back” what was its by right. And they kept his Country “closed” for more than 20 years!
By this time we were also given our nicknames: “Foreign devils”, Lao Wai in Mandarin, and “big noses”, Gui Lao in Cantonese. Nowadays people still know/use this words, that means merely: foreigner!
There are approximately more than 400.000 of foreigners in China, but there are also people from outside mainland of China that have never seen one of us in life!
There are lots of Chinese that dislike foreigners, and I have a clue why: we, eventually, have more things for the exact same price than theirs, we obtain a better treatment from salespersons/waiters, we usually live in better places, we receive higher incomes for equal jobs, and all that inside their Country!!!! There persons that insist on showing their rejection: spit on the floor when you’re passing, try to stalling you on the taxi (I’m used to this in Brazil, but still not nice), charge you a lot more than normally would to a Chinese, make “landscape faces” when you’re obviously needing help…etc. But this also can’t be generalized, because there’s always the individual distinction.
Despite all this hostility, there are also lots of curious things involving foreigners: they look ostensibly towards inside your cart in the market, wanting to palpitate even on which softener brand you choose, and if you have a baby then, get prepared!!! You’ll never be able to go anywhere without feeling hemmed in, followed, stopped, deflected of your way, by many of them wanting to see and take pictures of the baby! It’s extremely irritating, because nothing anymore is that easy.Even a little walk to the supermarket turns to be a mission impossible, as you’re trying to decide (decipher that letters on the package) which drain cleansing tablets brand is the best option, you look towards the stroller and voilá: there are at least 3 women around trying to touch the little hand, saying byebye’, saying a lot in Chinese, and mainly, horrified by the fact she has already earrings being less that one year old (here they put earrings only later because blablabla something, that one of them tried to teach me, but I only understood the beginning)!!!!!
Despite all the love for foreign babies, the fact of trying to hail a taxi with these slit eyes that God didn’t gave me, and a baby stroller is the warranty that you’re about to get none!!!! One cab even stopped (called by the hotel employee in a foreigner district in Beijing), but when he saw 4 foreigners with a baby and a stroller, he ran out with the doors still open!!!!!! Relevant detail: it was raining a lot that day! Try to imagine my “on vacation budist monk” face, already wet and with a heavy baby in my arms…but whatever, let’s work on the serenity issue, as Tibet is not far from here (don’t think this word belongs to my dictionary anymore), we have the moral duty to absorb something….mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….
The language is not very helpful as well on the loving foreigners issue, because they don’t speak English, mostly, and us, when do, is the very basics. Then, why to prefer a foreigner rather than your own compatriot?
Taxis, for example, when they decide they don’t like you, or do not understand where you wanna go, they simply stop wherever they are and tell you to get out, just like “get out, go, go, go”. And you, cursing as further as you can go, humbly get out then. The little lady (Fuli Hua is her name), that helps us there in my house, for example, is a very charismatic individual; and in our universal language of mimics, we understand perfectly to each other when the subjects are cleansing cloths, dish wares and Mr. Muscle! She is from the group that doesn’t hate foreigners, not even a little. And, as like her, a lot of them have welcomed so truly, always offering their best (and on this list I include a lady that helped me go down the stairs with the stroller without having said a word, only by noticing my despair face). That is called humanity! And for that, not a specific language is required!
My intention is not generalizing behaviors or dictating trends of them. I’m only giving a tragicomic tone (so me!) to this subject, that I consider a very interesting and enriching one. Interpersonal relationships, whatever its types are, have always something to add, even a lot of laughter…And never ever forget something: nothing is never gonna be impossible for Google Translator! Farewell, foreigners!