Can I call a Taiwanese a foreigner

Waiguoren = H0nkey

The meaning of words, from how they are used is different form their literal meanings.


OK, I think I’ll just tell her everyone agrees with me!! Stir her up a bit more. Thanks to those who posted. Cheers Amos.

But we dont all agree with you

Cretzer, I realise most people don’t agree, Actually, doesn’t bother me either way, I was just happy to get some support. Either way, by dissagreeing with her, our conversation will get more indepth.

I agree with Amos – waiguoren is a matter of perspective.

Locals always say that the term has no negative connotations, but generally get visably irritated if you refer to them as such.

Further, in my experience, Chinese people refer to non-Chinese even when abroad as waiguoren. I take that to mean that waiguoren means more than just “foreignor,” it means “not one of us.”

So, what’s good for the goose…

How about telling them you prefer a moniker like “yi4 guo2 ren”, “person from ANOTHER country”?

Even in English, though, I and most of my non-Chinese friends refer to non-Chinese people as “foreigners”. I found that I had kept this habit even when in the US, and sometimes when I was talking with an American friend who had nothing to do with China/Taiwan and was trying to express the idea that a certain person was Western, I would say, “He’s a foreigner”, which obviously didn’t work too well in that situation.

Anyway, to the inquiring/commenting Chinese, you can always say, ‘No, I’m not a “waiguoren”, I’m a “wai4 xing1 ren2” [an extraterrestrial]’. That usually confuses them long enough for you to either leave or change the subject. If you hang around, have your choice of planet of origin ready in Chinese, of course.


I’ve always been partial to the answer “Wo genben bushi ren”(我根本不是&#20154 .

I used the wai4xing1ren2 line a lot when I was in China. It got a reliable laugh which usually broke up the crowd of gawkers (If anyone thinks people stare hear they should go to Handan, China. There’s a reason why you probably don’t know where that is).

Around here I sometimes claim that I’m not a foreigner, I’m “localized” ben3tu3hua4. This joke usually makes my girlfriend roll her eyes, but you always need a few jokes like that.

There’s still time to jump on the bandwagon

I just did I quick tally. I can call her a forigner 5, I can’t 6, a few people were just rambling on so I didn’t count em

Have class Wed night, so get in and have your say. My post just before Hartzels comment is my stand if you want more clarification.

If it gets to 6 or 7 all, I’ll claim victory

Cheers Amos.

take that to mean that waiguoren means more than just "foreignor," it means "not one of us."

No it means ‘white person’.

quote[quote] I'm a "wai4 xing1 ren2" [an extraterrestrial]' [/quote]

That’s my standard answer.


Can you call anyone a “foreigner” and what would be your motivation for doing so?

Personally I think the less than endearing need of some Taiwanese to label others is not something worthy of emulation.

I never found the need to divide people into “foreigner” and “non-foreigner” groups before, why start now?

So no, you can’t call your teacher a “foreigner”, and you can’t call anyone else a foreigner either. It’s not polite.

Student, at first I thought you were talking crap, but after reading a couple of times, I reckon you’re on the ball. Before Taiwan I don’t think I ever used the word foreigner. Now well. Thanks buddy. I agree totally.

Resist the Han homogenous tendencies as you’re only giving into them and that will hurt the other “yellow minorities” which get excluded by the Han majority. Try “citizens of the island” and point to the fact they have a Taiwan family register (eg. permanent residency rights and can vote as island citizens). Overseas Chinese Passports don’t always have permanent residency rights without any family registers and their voting rights are restricted. So are these ROC Overseas Passports also “citizens of the Island”? Or do PRC nationals qualify as island citizens? Show me their Taiwan family registers! Otherwise, they are legally foreigners if without permanent residency and island citizenship from a Taiwan family register.

Amos: I would have thought that I was talking crap too except for the fact that I had the not terribly pleasant experience of being referred to as “Waiguoren” in my home country by Taiwanese acquaitances. Of course it had never crossed my mind to refer to them as “the foreign people”.

They insist that it is not a derogatory term but when everyone else (from Taiwan) is referred to by name and I am simply “Waiguoren” I feel it is not entirely polite. Would it kill them to remember and use my name?

Somebody bruises the feelings of a banana, then we should just feed the peels of a bruised banana to the poor little monkeys who are “waiguorens”?

What a great idea and, of course, all in the name of corrective actions by our mentors of emotional sensitivity training! What a crock.

Well, the way “wei guo ren” is used in Taiwan, it meant “whitey.” (At least it’s better than all the kids screaming “Mei guo ren” at evey white face they see. The bigger problem is when I go back to America to visit friends and family, I refer to myself and white people as “foreigners.” That really pisses Americans off.

I agree totally that using waiguoren in place of someone’s name is at best rude and at worst mildly racist. It annoys the hell out of me when I’ve told someone behind the counter my name, and they write “waiguoren” on a form. I don’t even like “waiguo pengyou” in cases where someone knows or could easilly ask my name. My foreignerness is not always my most relevant quality.

On the other hand, sometimes it is quite relevant, which is why not using the term at all seems frankly silly. Anyone here who teaches, studies Chinese, translates or edits is in Taiwan specifically as a foreigner. I would guess that this includes well over 90% of the posters here. It’s not like a lot of people who go to the States or other such countries, study at a university taking all the same classes as locals, and then work as a doctor or manager basically like all the native born folks they studied with. We’re here precisely because we’re foreign, which colors our experience and makes possible some very defensible generalizations. Thus I’d say that when I ask if someone is a local or a foreigner, the term foreigner is useful and I do get valid information from it (if only as a set of probabilities and possibilities).

Although it’s rude and possibly racist to use foreigner, it remains a useful category in a lot of situations and I have no trouble with anyone using it.

Tell your co-worker that amongst “internationally-thinking” foreigners ( not everyone of course)we pride ourselves on knowing details, and being able to distinguish, about different countries, cultures and races. If she was abroad and said “What do you foreigners think?” she would be laughed at for having the cosmopolitan sophistication of the average village idiot. When faced with the fact that her racism is not “smart”, her face will be nicely wounded.

The same when i am asked “What do you foreigners think?” I reply: “Which country do you want me to start with?”

Dear taiwanstatus,

I’m confused by your analogy. What is the “banana” in the story?

Originally posted by Student at NTNU: I'm confused by your analogy. What is the "banana" in the story?

Banana = yellow outside and white inside

An Asian who behaves and thinks like a white person (i.e. some ABC/CBC/BBC’s).