Column: Common Misconceptions


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An accurate understanding of China is not an easy task. Many Americans do not fully understand China, even though they understand some of China’s culture and customs.

There are some misconceptions about China in America. Cultural differences between China and the United States result in different attitudes and practices between the two parties towards the same things. For example, Americans are not only willing to praise others, but are also willing to accept other people’s praise. In order to show humility, the Chinese often refuse the praise of others. This refusal sometimes makes Americans feel inexplicable, as if you do not accept their praise.

Additionally, in the United States, another situation that arises frequently is that the Chinese are always willing to say something caring about guests as a courtesy. When hosting events, the Chinese people often like to say, “You are probably tired; you should take a good rest.” However, those ordinary greetings may be misunderstood by Americans, as the Chinese expressed concern about their physical condition. Since Americans like to boast that they are young and strong, they could even be angry if you question their physical health.

Chinese think that when good friends are helping each other, they simply do not have to say thank you. If they say thank you, it appears that the relationship between the two sides is not very close. Americans are used to saying thank you to close friends when helping each other, and they expect to hear polite expressions in return like “thank you” or “please”. So, when Americans see the Chinese people help each other without saying thank you, they will find it strange. Americans will think that the relationship between these Chinese is not very close. In reality, it is because of the close relationship between the Chinese that they do not need to say thank you.

This column was submitted as an assignment for an INTO Marshall writing class.

The instructor, Saba Gebrehiwot, can be contacted at [email protected]

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