Maria Pipenko, a traveler, and kung fu teacher tried to eliminate all the sad clichés that come to mind when we think of China. Let’s face it: China is a bit of an outcast of the world from pushy Chinese tourists to superficial impressions of Westerners staying there.

Personally, I love everything Chinese and it always saddens me how a bad first impression can lead to so many misunderstandings. I decided to put all the stereotypes together and try to break them.

Popular Stereotypes About China 

#1. The Chinese have no manners, but that’s only our point of view on etiquette. A well-behaved Chinese person has a whole set of manners that western people often lack

Blow your nose with a handkerchief or let your friend pay for dinner is very rude, but an educated Chinese will never mention it so as not to embarrass you. They always think of others first.

#2. The cruel Chinese eat cats and dogs. I will not argue with anyone about why eating cows or pigs are considered better.

10 Popular Stereotypes People Have About China And To What Extent Are They True
© Maria Pipenko

I’ll just quote one of my Chinese students: “How can you eat a dog? They are our friends!” Yes, they sometimes eat dogs in China, but the number of people who do this is extremely small.

#3. You cannot distinguish one Chinese person from another. Of course, you can! The Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore are different, as are the mainland Chinese in the north and south. It’s about getting used to the environment: you will soon see its diversity.

#4. All Chinese are short. Their fault was related to diet, but in the last 20 years their well-being has improved and they have grown.

#5. Chinese products are of low quality. Of course, many cheap Chinese products suck, but if you look at the labels of almost every famous brand, you’ll see the same Made in China printed on them. Quality is defined by the ordering party, not the manufacturer.

#6. China is a cheap country. There is a big cost difference between big cities and provinces: You can rent a big apartment for $ 200 in central China, but you will have trouble finding a small apartment for $ 500 in Shanghai. The only thing really cheaper here than in the West is eating out.

#7. The Chinese only eat rice. Guys, Chinese cuisine is one of the most diverse in the world, even the variety of vegetables is much greater here, much less the ways of cooking or the variety of spices. Chinese cuisine is an endless list of options, depending on the season and the region.

10 Popular Stereotypes People Have About China And To What Extent Are They True
© Maria Pipenko 

#8. Severe punishments for drug crimes. Most foreigners are outraged by that and, unlike other points on my list, this is the truth: China is tough on drugs, punishments range from long prison to death sentence.

However, it is not a whim, but a necessity. In the early 20th century, about a third of China’s population was addicted to opium, so it is not surprising that the Chinese government is doing everything it can to prevent it from happening again.

#9. All Chinese are masters of kung fu. Okay, and all Americans love hamburgers. Kung Fu is truly an integral part of Chinese culture – no movie or TV show is shot without including kung fu fights.

The number of fans here is much higher than in the West, but most of them remain on quite a low level — let’s say, in line with amateur basketball.

#10. One family — one child. I didn’t even ask my friends if they had siblings before I found out that they really did, and not just one.

The only child rule is for big cities. In the provinces, parents pay the fine when they register their second (or third) child or even leave them unregistered, which doesn’t really bother them.

 By the way, as of January 1, 2016, the Chinese can have two children.

I hope my observations help others realize that we are all people in the first place. It is important to try to understand the actions of people from other cultures before judging them.