I disagree. I believe that sincerity is practised no more diligently here than in other cultures…[/quote]
I didn’t say anything about sincerity being practiced less diligently elsewhere.
Do this: Have a conversation with a Taiwanese friend (in Chinese or Taiwanese) and ask them who their favorite colleagues are or what kind of people they like. Also ask them what kind of people they dislike. Five gets you ten “lao shi” will be a major criterium in the final analysis.
Believe me, a lot of Taiwanese express high levels of frustration at people who are sneaky and highly indirect. But they know how to deal with such people, using extremely subtle, sensitive tools which take decades to sharpen.
The problem with many Westerners is their radar is not finely tuned to local behaviorisms, so they have a difficult time distinguishing between general or superficial elusive/indirect behavior and genuine antisocial or aberrant behavior.
There is also the issue of impatience. Westerners often expect to either understand a new culture in a matter of months or bend that culture to their will. It just doesn’t happen that way. For those who did not grow up here, it takes at least 5-10 years to get up to speed, and that is a decade of diligent observation and questioning, as well as fluency in Chinese or Taiwanese.
The interesting thing is, after all that time, the answers an experienced Westerner will give you to questions about the local culture tend to get increasingly vague. That’s because, as I said before, the secret is in the process, not the product.