[quote=“shuiping”]“They Don’t Say Yes, They Don’t Say No, They Don’t Say Anything”
I was watching a movie from the Chinese perspective of the first Opium War(1838). The British Admiral asks the Chinese ambassador whether he wants to trade. No response. The young British translator says to the admiral, “They’re always like this. They Don’t Say Yes, They Don’t Say No, They Don’t Say Anything.”
Is there any way to deal with this (other than the obvious - avoid any dealings with Chinese/Taiwanese)?
This has nothing to do with politics. The above is just an example.
Regarding everyday simple questions(do you want a Coke, did you do yesterday’s homework, whatever), Chinese behave this way (flat affect, no response).[/quote]
The following reply was channeled to me by “Tainan Limbo Cowboy” from the Netherworld of Suspended Souls.
The answer is something deeply embedded in the Chinese, and Taiwanese, psyche. And you will never change it.
In the Chinese it is a known as “Wu Weu Erh Wu Pu Wei” - Through not doing, all things are done.
It is sometimes interpreted as a devious way of getting someone else to do what they either are afraid to do, do not know how to do (and don not want anyone to know they their ignorance) or do not wish to do.
However, it goes beyond those simple simple explanations.
Referencing, and badly paraphrasing, the excellent and highly reccomended book Stilwell and the American Experience in China - 1911-1945 by Barbara Tuchman, she offers this from her characters facing this same ‘wall of silence.’
“They are continually averse to influencing events.”
“…as Kipling noted when he wrote the epitaph, “A fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.” By contrast, Europeans and their American descendants had been driven by the impulseto change the unsatisfactory, to act, to move away from oppression, to find the frontier, to cross the sea. They were optimists who believed in the efficacy of action. The people of China, on the other hand, had stayed in one place, enclosed by a series of walls around his house and village or city. Tied to the soil, living under the authority of the family, growing their food among the graves of their ancestors, they were perpetuators of a system in which harmony was more important than struggle.”
That pretty much sums up what has become an almost genetic impulse to do and/or say ‘nothing.’
The "gun-boat diplomacy’ and ‘silence as a virtue’ (virtue being a western concept alien to these people) explanations are off the mark.
Of course, it may be that they just don’t like you or care enough to say anything.
Don’t overestimate these people.