Chinese on the mainland compared to those in Taiwan

For those of you who have stayed any extended length of time in the PRC, how would you compare the Chinese there to those in Taiwan?

I now the PRC is a big, big space and they all have their local particularities there. But still, would somebody be up to some sweeping generalizations nevertheless?

I am not interested in this thread here about the political big 'uns, there are enough threads about this I guess. More about the old-joe-six-packs you interacted with.

Thanks in advance.

oh…i could just go off and start talking about mainland experiences, but the thing is, that you mostly end up being seen as a racist, just because others who haven’t been to mainland do not really understand what ur talking about…that is why i stopped telling ppl my mainland stories…

Fine, I’ve been to mainland China three years over various stays, so if you feel uncomfortable here, I’d still appreciate your oppinion as a pm.

I spent a year on the mainland in the early 90’s, and the people there seemed a lot more confident in themselves than Taiwanese. They seemed a lot surer of their own identity, yet woefully uninformed concerning matters in the outside world. Perhaps this has changed since, though, with all the illegal Internet sites, etc.

Er…Quite a few people here don’t think they are ‘Chinese’.


Lot more confident = raving nationalists

Surer of their own identity = brainwashed


Lot more confident = raving nationlists

Surer of their own identity = brainwashed[/quote]


My wife’s aunt in Shanghai (!) told her not to go to Taiwan because “they’re so poor over there!” :shock:

Okay, so up to now we have vastly different political outlooks (to nobody’s surprise) I guess and mainlanders being less informed about outside events.

Now, politics aside, what differences did you see in personal behavior and interaction?

About being uninformed, do you see Taiwanese as being very interested in, informed and up-to-date about foreign events?

Thanks for all answers so far.

Last year I flew CathayPacific, Hong Kong-Bali. Sitting in the row beside be were 5 mainlanders. After eating their in-flight meal, they all cleaned their knives, forks, spoons and put them in their pockets and purses.

I walked back, informed the Taiwanese stewardess…she came up and politely asked where was the silverware. The mainlanders got confrontational, then backed down and returned the silverware with lots of “对不起” and “不好意思”

My Chinese teacher in Australia (who was from Beijing) told me this too. The amazing thing was he had actually been to Taiwan!!! The mind boggles.

buyiyang is the only word I can really think of to describe the differences!! It is very difficult to make generalisations. A farmer in the back blocks of Hunan province is very different from a wealthy, educated person in Guangdong.

I would attribute the main differences to socio-economic and political reasons. Until 1978 China was going through an period of enormous social and political turmoil. Most people in China don’t even talk about it, but for everyone over the age of 40 it must have had a tremendous impact on their lives.

Taiwan also went through a lot of political turmoil, but the people have enjoyed a far greater degree of economic prosperity and since the mid-80s a far greater degree of political freedom. Although parts of China are now becoming quite prosperous and modern, even those who now enjoy the wealth have usually only had it for a short time. And of course they still don’t enjoy any real political freedom.

Despite the differences in outlook I think the only real difference is that Chinese people are sometimes a little more difficult to approach and get to know. However, once you break the ice they are very friendly and hospitable, just like the Taiwanese (although their questions can get a bit tedious at times).

And although most people in China just parrot the People’s Daily on any political issues it is always refreshing when you meet someone who knows better or recites the official line with a good sense of irony. It is also very interesting to talk to well-educated, professional people under the age of 30. They don’t carry the psychological scars of the Cultural Revolution and have experienced a China of opportunity and prosperity. They are far more outward looking and interested in a range of issues and while they might not challenge the Party line they don’t necessarily accept it uncritically. China is changing.

In the final analysis I believe that people are people and the vast majority of them in whatever country are friendly and welcoming. I have found this to be true in both China and Taiwan (and quite a few other countries).

I’m sure that say as much, if not more, about you than it does about those people. :wink:

If I had to make a list of the five things I like most about China, “the people” would be there. The same would be true on a list for Taiwan.

But if I had to make a list of the five things I hated most about China, “the people” would probably come out on top, whereas they might not even make my hate list for Taiwan.

as for me, china and i are having a love-hate-relationship…i’d love to go there again, when ever i’m not there, but just hate it when i am there…

I’ve been to china on several occasions at a time, when i didn’t understand a lot of the chinese language. I just loved china and her people. I loved to travel around, meet people, everybody was just soooo friendly…

well, that is, why, when i was studying chinese, I went to china as a liuxuesheng. that time, I started to understand what people where talking behind my back or even into my face…not really nice things and i was veeery, very disappointed, since I have always loved china and never expected, that people wouldn’t actually be as friendly as i always thought they are. it’s also an other thing, if you’re trying to live there as a longtermer or if you’re going there as a tourist. as a student, you don’t wanna be stared at and called laowai every single day. you don’t wanna fight about prices with the same people over and over again and you don’t wanna be shouted at, if you find out, that they cheat you…you don’t wanna be treated as an animal in the zoo, but as a real person…what happens to most people is that after half a year u start to not care anymore. which i think is very comfortable, but sad…

I never ever had any bad experiences in taiwan and I think as a whity life in taiwan is much more comfortable and less annoying as in mainland. but that of course is not a reason not to go to mainland…

In Taiwan, hardly anybody tries to cheat me. In China, this often happens.

In Taiwan, the government doesn’t care who I sleep with, or what religion I belong to. The Chinese government may well take an interest in such things.

In Taiwan, the social system based on personal connections has mostly been a good thing for me. In China, the same basic cultural base has resulted in a system with all the virtues of fascism plus the mafia.

I have zero trust in China. I would warn businesspeople not to invest in it, because you can’t trust anybody (and they can do bad things to you if you live there). I would warn government people etc. never, ever to believe what the Chinese government says.

I went to Tibet and Beijing a couple of years ago. Tibet is a police state–I mean that literally. The police followed me around, and they got into my e-mail.

I had been to Beijing once before back in 1990, and had good memories of it, but this time I hated the place. There’s something about it I can’t put my finger on. Not that it has the police-state feel of Tibet–it’s a lot more free-wheeling, as long as you don’t practice Falungong or something–but there’s an edge to things. For instance, they were promoting their Olympic bid (which they later won, of course) and gave the impression that they felt they had a right to it, and other countries would bow before them. And then there’s the Muslim quarter (Niujie), which was being bulldozed to make room for something concrete and modern. It’s all just money and power now. At least during the Cultural Revolution they actually believed in something!

Okay, end of sermon.

Okay, end of sermon.

And Amen.

As said, if we could keep here to the personal interactions with the locals, I would be too happy.

Nothing against the observation the political system of the PRC lacks, Tibet issue etc. etc., but these are all pretty obvious (trite?) points and discussed ad nauseum elsewhere. And not what I was really interested in.

The effects of these points on personal interaction however I liked to read about.

Most interesting I found the part about the cheating and overcharging. That is something not encountered in Taiwan on the level usual in the PRC? I am not just thinking about touristy spots, but in general.

I know you’d like to get politics out of the equation, but my belief is that’s hard to do for Chinese people. My interactions with Taiwanese show me that this can be done here. It is very difficult to have Chinese friend that does not try and tell you how great everything is in China. Whether it’s basketball or economic development. In the course of arguing over these “social” things the topic will gradually get brought back to politics somehow.

I also find that Taiwanese are much more accepting of general criticism of things in their country. If you make one implied negative comment about China to a Chinese look out! They’ll start WWIII right on the spot, and almost the first words I hear are “You’ve been corrupted by your western decadent lifestyle”, or something else in an attempt to minimize the validity of your argument.

One caveat here, all my Chinese friends are, or were, graduate students studying abroad. Thus, perhaps they were somewhat more nationalistic than others not in the system.

Interesting topic, interesting discussion.

I think the mainland China people are the way they are due to the government mindset mindcontrol a la USSR back in the old Soviet days. In other words, Chinese people live in fear, don’t really know what reality is, outside their propaganda models, and don’t trust people in general.

In Taiwan, however, land of the free, it’s just like everywhere else in the world – full of noise, commercialism, freedom, love, openminded people and a good sense of reality.

How I miss Taiwanville, now that I am in Nadaland. Big Red China I do not miss at all and never will, may it drop into the slime of history soon and let freedom ring there. China is a police state, good riddance to it!

Someday, in about 2456, the year that is, China will be free…

Interestingly enough, most of my friends from the mainland try to defend how free it is. They don’t paint the picture of the police state that we always read and see in the media. They tell me that as long as you stick to non-political topics things are very open. I know that this is causing some problems though, as people feel that economic concerns should be open to public debate. How ofter, however, are these economic concerns, completely devoid of political connections? I also know that as the media is set loose to make its own money, and uses sensational and investigatinve reporting technigques the envelope of what is acceptable to say in the mainland is widening. Of course, this type of trend would eventually undermine the CCP if it doesn’t step in and crush the movement.

What about the xiaojies on either side of the Taiwan Strait? No need to involve any politics in this question.

Of course in China there are a lot more to choose from, but imho Taiwanese women have some special quality which I cannot quite express in words, but I am certain that it exists.

but whether you’re in taiwan, china, or HK, everyone has something to say about the government this, the government that in closed circles. if it’s not chen-shui bian here, it’s hu jintao over there.
i think i learned all my political chinese terminology from taxi drivers in Beijing. and soccer too when the thing was in japan/korea. lots of nostalgia about pre-opening up china too.

but for sure (talking about attitudes in previous post) there is a mentality that, for all chinese that i’ve met, a bad government is better than no government. that political instability would plunge china into chaos and millions of lives would be lost, instead of a few hundred every year. that lots of change has already come about. and the rest will follow if slowly. case in point, the fa lun gong. people in china, and even some in HK and overseas think they are a cult and should be suppressed (i know there is lots of outside support too, but to my surprise there was lot of overseas support for the govt on this particular issue).

if ever greater china had a significant change in legal culture and political culture and government culture, I would be very curious to see how the democratic experiment would work.