Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely based on my personal observation. Always keep in mind that I am a young man with university education and living in Shanghai. Before you draw any general conclusion, be sure you understand that like in any large country, opinions vary greatly with ages, education background, economic status and regions.
One of my reader asked about the discrimination against foreigners she heard from a website:
I chanced upon a website (while looking for job opportunities) about how Asians, blacks, etc. are discriminated in China. Could you read the article in this website and give me your comments:
If you think it is worthwhile and helpful for those who are new in China like me, may I suggest that you open this topic for discussion among your readers in order for us to know the experiences of other foreigners in China, and thereby guide us in our job search.
Well. I don’t observe ANY discrimination for foreigners in Shanghai. I believe what I see through my eyes are perfectly real. However, still don’t draw a general conclusion just because of what I see.
What is the True Feelings for Foreigners
The majority of people in China are very friendly with foreigners, no matter of the colors of their skin. It is true that white people (with golden hairs and blue eyes) are more closer to the typical image of a foreigner in Chinese people’s minds than people from other countries in Asia, but there is definitely no discrimination against black people or other Asian people. I bet you can feel at home in Shanghai.
In Most Areas of China, Foreigners are Rare
Foreigners gathers in large cities like Beijing, Shanghai or Guanghzou. In other areas, such as middle and west part of China, people seldom see foreign people in their cities. They are just very curious about foreign people when they appear in their lives. As I described in my article Back From CultureXChina Party, expenses, passport and visa are main barriers for normal people in China to go out of the country to see the rest of the world. Foreigners coming to this land bring very good chances for people to learn the outside. So don’t feel strange if you are surrounded by a group of people to talk with you excitedly using their not-so-good English – they mean welcome to you instead of make fun of you. It is also a chance to talk with native speakers to practice oral English since English skills are important to succeed in China.
Here is a joke. When asked about his experience in Xi’an, Bill Gates said people there recognized him and talked with him just to practice their oral English. :-)
In Large Cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou
Of cause if you come to China, chances are you will visit one of these cities as the first stop (or the only stop). The situation in these cities is more important to you.
I am not sure you are aware of the fact that only 0.4% of the populations in Shanghai are foreigners [source (Chinese)]. That means, unlike in U.S, my neighbors, my friends are mostly local people. So foreigners are also relatively rare and be ready to response to people kindly if they say hey to you just want to improve their English.
As I perceive, most foreign people are very polite and with very good manner, and they get on very well with local people. After closing the door of the country for more than one centaury, people are very excited about opening up to the world and seeing more and more people from other countries coming the city, why will they discrimination any foreigners?
For non-English speaking people, don’t worry. You will feel that you are welcome equally. Generally speaking, my friends, especially those who are not finally wealthy, admire people who stepped out of the door of his/her country and enter a new country like China ?this implies independent and financial success.
Certainly you will definitely feel culture shock of various degrees after you move to China. It is natural that you need sometime to get used to it.
“Background to Racism in Asia” is not the truth
The story described in the Background to Racism in Asia section of the article is not true, at least from my personal point of view.
‘White’ northern Chinese have for centuries looked down upon ‘black’ darker skinned Chinese as lesser, undesirable people.
This is the first time in my whole life to hear about this.
Welcome to the City
I personally welcome anyone to this opening city and experience the great lives here. I am also very interested in what foreigners feel in the city? Their experience is valueable and trustworthy to you since I can only see the matter from a local resident’s point of view. Please make comments about your experience that you think there is no discrimination or experiences that may be considered as discrimination. Thanks!
Discriminations Do Exist in China
Certain kinds of discrimination do exist in China. Japanese is discriminated to some extend. The Anti-Japanese Movement is a vivid reflection. It is largely because the Japanese government refused to admit what they did for neighboring Asian countries in the World War II, including Nanjing Massacre. People from Japan may have hard time in China. Japanese students going back to Japan told the Japanese media that taxi drivers in China often tell them “If I had known you are a Japanese, I won’t have let you get into my car!” Well. I didn’t want to talk about this special case, and think it totally wrong to discriminate for any reason. I finally decided to leave this comment here using smaller fonts just try to tell you the truth in the city.