Read it and don't hate me

Ok,this is not gonna be a very pleasant topic. Some of you might get pissed off but please believe that i am not being racial at all,just trying to convey some veiw points from the locals.

Please don’t get angry after reading.
It’s just some culture gaps that i’ve bumpped into. It’s probably ascribable to some misunderstanding.

This is a conversation between me and a taxi driver last week.
I told the driver that I teach English as a part-time job and therefore,i got to know some foreigner friends.,

(the driver) “So,there’re lots of foreigners come to taiwan teaching english?”

“Yeah…i suppose so.”

“They must earn more than the locals here.”

“Im not sure. But the money won’t be too bad.”

“That’s bullshit!” (The driver started to get emotional…) “They can’t do anything here expect teaching English!”

“No that’s not ture cuz some are businessmen here and you know,they work as all types of different jobs.”

“Yeah,but think about it,if they can make good money in their own countries then why are they here?”

(I started to feel uncomfortable in the conversation…) “Maybe they just like to travel.”

Then i got off the taxi. I had no idea why is it he was so hostile with foreigners in Taiwan. Maybe it’s becuz he’s a taxi driver and he’s 40-something and probably doesn’t make as much as he wants so he gets jealous blah blah blah…

Here’s another one.
I went down to the security room in my coomunity to talk to the security guys. The CEO of my community is a 40-year-old fat guy with a baby face. A really nice guy. He was in the security room,too so we chatted a little bit. As we chatted, a foreigner who also lives in this community passed by us.

(the CEO) " There’re so many foreigners in our community"

“Really? I just moved here”

“And they all teach English here.”

“Are you sure? How do you know?”

“Come on,you know there’re a lot of English teachers here.”


“One time, a foreigner held a party here and they were very loud.”

“Many people complained?”

“Well…it’s okay,you know taiwanese. We are always friendly and more tolerant with them for some reason…especially taiwanese women here…those bitches!”

I couldn’t believe what I heard. He was smiling when he said that.
He’d better be joking.
I felt totally awkward and annnnnnngry for what he’d said.
Few days later I’ve learned that the CEO is still single. So i suppose that he’s just jealous…

Of course not everyone here think like that. Only very few people.
Have you ever heard something like that from your taiwanese friends? and how did you react then?

Jacana, there are ignorant morons everywhere. Don’t let it get you down.

I’ve met a few people who have opened up and let me know their negative feelings about foreigners living in Taiwan. It’s rare, but happens on occasion. It makes me wonder how many people really think this way but are afraid to be honest.

I am often asked if I am an English teacher (I was, but not now). A woman who works at the gym I go to has asked me on four different occasions if I am an English teacher, each time I politely answer. I know she remembers me because she knows my name. But, for some reason, she can’t remember what I do for a living. It doesn’t bother me, just seems kind of funny.

I think it’s good that you, as a Taiwanese with foreign friends and an interest in the foreign community in Taiwan, have had these conversations with locals. Some of my Taiwanese friends and co-workers refuse to acknowledge the fact that some Taiwanese do not like people who are not Taiwanese. As an American, I would never dispute the fact that my country has some very racist individuals and that life there can be difficult at times for a foreigner or a minority. It would be nice if more Taiwanese would make the same assessment about Taiwan.

I have to laugh when people say there are “so many foreigners” here.

Take a look at the demographics for my country:

New Zealand European/Pakeha: 75.0% -
Other European: 5.0%
Maori: 14.7%
Asian: 6.6%
Chinese: 2.8%
Indian: 1.7%
Other Asian: 2.1%
Pacific Islander: 6.5%
Samoan: 3.2%
Cook Islander/Rarotongan: 1.5%
Tongan: 1.1%
Other Pacific Islander: 1.8%
Others: 0.8% (Africans, Latin Americans, Middle Easterners, etc.)

(source 2001 census) by contrast Taiwan, with less than 2% non Chinese (mostly aboriginal) is very a very homogenous society.

As for what the taxi driver said he may have a point although clearly a pretty jaundiced view. After graduating from university I moved between a number of factory jobs and agricultural work before moving to Taiwan as the high unemployment rate in New Zealand can make it difficult to find good work.

I’m not sure I get this.
The taxi driver asks, complainingly, if the foreigners make more than the locals do for teaching English.
The answer is yes, but you say you are not sure. Why not tell the truth? Is it fair? Depends. Should a Chinese teaching preschoolers make the same as a foreigner doing the same job? Should a Chinese teaching high school or older students be paid the same as a foreigner doing the same job?
The driver’s idea that foreigners come here because they can’t get a good job in their home countries is just ignorance fired with rage over the pay inequality.

The other guy seems to complain that there are a lot of English teachers around (in the building). Maybe there are. Is he right or wrong?

Instead of looking at the alleged cases of anti-foreigner sentiments here, perhaps it would be better to address this question: WHY DO SOME/MANY TAIWANESE THINK THIS WAY?

Why do many Taiwanese people feel this way???

Possibly due to face, money is everything out here. For you to even earn more than someone can be taken as an insult.

Money is a material thing, material things in the end mean nothing. When your close to death do material things make you happy? No. I hope the eastern and western cultures will find this out in time.

[quote=“wolf_reinhold”]I’m not sure I get this.
The taxi driver asks, complainingly, if the foreigners make more than the locals do for teaching English.
The answer is yes, but you say you are not sure. Why not tell the truth? Is it fair? or wrong?

Well i said “im not sure” becuz I REALLY wasn’t sure.
I know as an English teacher here you can make pretty good money but i never know exactly how much is it cuz it’s not very nice to ask people their salary in Western culture right? Some locals make pretty good money,too. So it depends.

[quote=“Tim475”]Why do many Taiwanese people feel this way???


I didn’t say that “many Taiwanese feel this way”, only a few people maybe. But you’re right. Maybe it’s the money as to the CEO,maybe he found it hard to get a GF for himself so he kinda comlpained about taiwanese women being “extra friendly” to foreigners…you’ll never know. but hey,there are still lots of locals think positive of you guys don’t they? :wink:

[quote=“Tim475”]Why do many Taiwanese people feel this way???


I didn’t say that “many Taiwanese feel this way”, only a few people maybe. But you’re right. Maybe it’s the money as to the CEO,maybe he found it hard to get a GF for himself so he kinda comlpained about taiwanese women being “extra friendly” to foreigners…you’ll never know. but hey,there are still lots of locals think positive of you guys don’t they? :wink:

I believe if you do investigate, you will find that in nearly all cases, the foreigner is making more than the local in the same teaching position.

I believe if you do investigate, you will find that in nearly all cases, the foreigner is making more than the local in the same teaching position.[/quote]

Haha i know! ( I used to teaching English so i know that better than anyone else…) In the same teaching position of course foreigners make more than locals becuz you guys are native speaker. :notworthy:

I think some of it might be about money, especially for those with tough, low-paying jobs (taxi drivers for instance). Foreign teachers make more than their local counterparts, whether right or wrong. But I think the stereotypes that foreigners are rich (or girls like foreigners because they have money) is not true; how many foreign teachers make 150k+ a year, even after five, ten, twenty years? Not many. How many Taiwanese? Quite a few.

In my experience, there is quite a lot of resentment towards foreigners, and certainly not just from those with low salaries. Fortunately or unfortunately, most of it is hidden and never admitted, to themselves, let alone others. I’ve seen numerous instances of someone I thought was very cool and had no prejudices, saying something along the lines of, “well, yeah… foreigners ARE blah blah blah” after being friends for a long time. Perhaps they don’t look at me as a foreigner (esp since they say these things to me), but I’m still shocked and disappointed when it happens.

I think most of it has to do with the stereotypes of Westerners in Taiwan (‘people with no skills coming to take our money and women’), and the behavior they see/hear about (which unfortunately will mostly be limited to bars, where the foreign pricks make their presence known much more than the cool foreign guys/ladies), combined with individual personal issues (not able to make more money, unable to get a girlfriend, unhappy with life in general, etc). The rest of it is just ignorance and racism, like you find all over the world in varying degrees.

Jacana, I’m impressed. First you don’t believe in all the stereotypes, and second (and what is perhaps needed even more in Taiwan), is that you find such discrimination to be wrong. What the West views as ‘discrimination’ or ‘racism,’ Taiwanese simply don’t. You can argue semantics and Chinese vs. English, but language greatly affects one’s world view.

Of course, these are generalizations based on my experience. <- Flame retardant.

Unless the discriminatory act or racism is directed at the Taiwanese. On several occasions I have listened attentively to Taiwanese talk about the discrimination or racism they experienced while in my country (which I would never dispute), only to have those same people refuse to acknowledge similar acts against foreigners here in Taiwan.

Back in the old days when I was teaching, the best paid English teachers were the local ones who helped the students prep for the joint college entrance exam and other such tests. Working in the big factory cram schools around Taipei station, they taught classes of 150 students, and earned three times as much per hour as any foreign English teacher. I never heard of any foreigners getting such a job, because it required native-speaker fluency in Chinese to explain the English grammar to the students. In fact, the teachers’ English wasn’t necessarily all that good, but they knew their English grammar well enough, and knew what the students needed to know in order to get high marks in the exams. At the time, I used to think how lucky I’d be if only I could get my Chinese up to a suitable level to be able to snag a job like that.

Actually, I know a young lady who teaches in six different cities a week, teaching advanced (ADVANCED) grammar to groups of up to 300 students. She makes $400,000+ a MONTH. I’m not kidding.

But she had to take huge number of courses, and be able to explain the really stupid parts of English, all those exceptions and such. But wow.

But the english salary is probably for another thread… didn’t mean to digress.

The difference between hourly pay rates between local and foreign teachers is not that great. I asked my boss at one school about how much the Chinese teachers make. She told me 400 NT p/h. I make 600 NT p/h at the same school. Sure, that’s a 200 NT difference, but justifiable in that a) I speak/write better English than they do, and b) I’m the one attracting customers with my exotic “waiji laoshi!” cool. Also, I have at least a B.A. to get a work visa, while many local teachers don’t have qualifications (it’s not uncommon to see 20 year old girls straight out of highschool teaching in the cram schools and kindergartens here). The Taiwanese English teachers make a substantially better than average wage for a local (remember the average Joe only makes 30,000 - 40,000 NT a month; minimum wage in McD’s and 7-11 is 80 NT p/h!). They don’t really have that much to complain about.

Does she need a boyfriend? husband? pet? :wink:

Ive seen this over and over again in many years of doing export
business here. We had many suppliers and most of them had an
obvious disliking for a foreigner (me) coming here and opening up shope
even though I would buy many components from said companies.
I’ll never forget the attitudes from many long term business partners
when their racism showed its true colors. When we had booths at
the Taipei or overseas electronics trade shows, my suppliers would come
into my booth and give me snide remarks about how I am stealing
Taiwanese peoples money. The chinese they use goes like this.
“Ni lai Taiwan, dzwan taiwanren de chen” as if they own Taiwans
export economy and foreigners are not allowed to compete. The
Taiwanese guys even did this in Germany at the CEBIT show and it went on year after year. I got this attitude from both competitors and business
partners and especially after I would shut off a vendor who I had given many years of profitable business to.

I’m talking about very wealthy company bosses who were profiting from my orders to them.

Not just the poor people folks. Alot of dislike of foreigners out there. That
having been said, though, it doesnt really matter so much because thats
just the way they are and you cant change it. At least in our lifetime.

On the original topic of local people feeling and expressing hostility toward foreigners: Yes, for sure, it’s very common, and I detect it in a substantial proportion of people I come into contact with in the course of my daily rounds. It’s especially prevalent among poorly-educated, unhappy people like taxi drivers – the palpable hostility that so many of them exude when I sit in their vehicles is one of the main reasons why I don’t like taking taxis unless I really need to. I also detect it a lot from elderly people. You just have to learn to ignore it as best you can – if you take it to heart, it might get you down very badly and make living here hardly bearable.

However, though there are many Taiwanese with such negative attitudes towards foreigners, I’m sure it’s no worse here than in most countries around the world, and is nowhere near as bad as many, including the PRC and South Korea.

At least there are very few people here who will openly curse, threaten or attack us just because we are foreign. I’ve had very few experiences like that during my long sojourn on these shores. The worst such instance was in Zhongli in the late 80s, when I was standing with a couple of Chinese girls in a long queue waiting for a Sunday evening bus to Taipei. An old man came up and started pushing me and yelling “Foreigners to the back of the queue! Foreigners to the back of the queue!” As he was old, I couldn’t reciprocate his aggression, but just had to fend him off while my companions, mortified with embarrassment, pleaded with him to leave it alone and go away. He kept at it for several minutes before he felt he’d made his point well enough and trundled away still muttering anti-foreigner sentiments. No one else in the queue said a word, but I got the feeling that a lot of them were relishing the foreigner’s discomfiture, and that if I’d so much as lifted a finger against the old fool, they’d have weighed in quickly on his side. Fortunately, that was very much an isolated incident, and the good response I’ve received from so many Taiwanese over the years has made up for unpleasantness like that a thousand times and more.

I don’t want this thread to become a rant on the racism of Taiwanese (not that I’m in charge or anything). I guess I just wish more Taiwanese were AWARE there is such a high level of discrimination and racism; when talking with friends, I try to show them the extent of the problem, but am very careful about saying sweeping generalizations or sound like I’m downgrading their culture.

Actually, I’ve had quite a few instances of violence or random cursing because I’m a foreigner, but most were while living in Tainan (and no, I never did anything to instigate such behavior).

Again, I hope more and more of my Taiwanese friends can be like the original poster, realize there’s a problem, and feel like doing something about it, even if its just discussing it.