Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Us and Them

In Vancouver a lot of people are talking about the invasion of mainland Chinese into the city.

They talk about how they are snapping up real estate here, inflating housing prices, making property even further out of the reach of average Vancouverites.

One even called them "savages" -- finding them hardly polished in social manners, but filthy rich and act like they own the world. She knows many who are in their 30s and already retired, having made their money as mine owners and now living well in Vancouver. What about all the accidents and deaths in their mines?

Many of these mine owners she explained didn't have much of an education but were very clever people. I added that they knew people and had the guanxi to do business.

She thought those who were educated knew English, but I pointed out an engineer may not necessarily know English, but only the vocabulary he or she needed to know in order to do their jobs. I also explained that those who were educated at top universities were privileged because they needed to have gone to a top high school which meant having been accepted at a top elementary school, both of which were affiliated with either Peking University or Tsinghua University. And how do you get into these places? Through endless sessions with tutors, which of course require money.

So much for egalitarianism in a socialist society, she remarked.

Others complain about how loud mainlanders are. One friend recently stayed at the Excelsior Hotel in Hong Kong and they were shouting down the hallway to their friends or family members or had no courtesy to be quiet late at night while other hotel guests were sleeping. Some people called the front desk to complain, but what can they do?

Or what about how mainlanders in hotels and airplanes leave the bathrooms so dirty, with the garbage can filled with toilet paper, one said. I explained that in China, the sewage pipes are so small that they get clogged easily which is why they don't throw the toilet paper into the toilet, but into the garbage instead. And some don't know what to do with a western toilet and will stand on the seat to do their business...

People privately complain about the situation as there isn't much to be done about it. In Vancouver mainlanders are taking the place of Hong Kongers in the 1980s, infusing the local economy with money through real estate investments and buying up luxury cars.

While they seem to be living their lives here as if they were in China, have they given a thought to trying to integrate themselves into a western society? Time will tell.

But in the meantime, the Chinese community who have lived here for a long time wish to disassociate themselves from these newcomers, who they feel need to learn some basic social etiquette first.

So who will teach them the ropes? And will they be interested in learning?

1 comment:

  1. A very real and good read....

    I don't think the older generation is / will be interested in learning. They are set in their ways. The young folks should be interested in adapting and overtime things should change. Many of my friends and acquaintances on the Mainland, Chinese folks, also get tired of the social habits, but when you're engulfed in the atmosphere 24-7-365, I think the prevailing mentality is "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".

    Even with myself, I notice some of my social habits changing. No, I don't plan on standing on toilet lids, but I can now bump into person after person and never think twice about saying "excuse me, sorry, etc..". Part of being engulfed in the atmosphere.