Culture Shock! China - A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, 2nd Edition

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62 CultureShock! China

Hairy Arms
Chinese view foreigners with open interest. Recently, a Chinese lady
was heard making comment about the arm hair of a male Australian
colleague. The commentary, without any malice intended, went
something like this. She said, “Foreigners have very hairy arms,
Chinese don’t. We think they have hairy arms because they are
less evolved and more closely related to apes.” There is the pride,
authority and superiority of 5,000 years of continual civilisation
behind that comment.

Chinese hold a strong sense of national pride. In part
because they are well-taught in school to do so, and in
part because both ancient and modern China have made
an indelible mark on the world. To the Chinese, China
losing her first Olympic bid wasn’t just a defeat, it was an
embarrassment. It was a vote of no confidence by the rest
of the world.
When China won both the bids for the 2008 Olympics and
the 2010 World Expo in one fell swoop, citizen confidence
skyrocketed. Immediately after the World Expo bid was
secured, a senior Chinese professional at an international
business roundtable was overheard commenting that she
now felt confident enough in China’s future so she was going
to purchase real estate. China had now taken its rightful place
on the world stage.
All of that expectation comes with great expense. The
future of China rests on the shoulders of the current working
generation. This generation has more earning potential
and more responsibility than any other has had. Because
of mandatory early retirement to trim excess employment
cost off of Chinese state-run companies, a 30 to 45-year-old
breadwinner is usually supporting up to four generations of
his or her family, as well as aunts, uncles and cousins that may
need financial support. It is likely that they are making more
money than any other generation of their family ever has.
This was highlighted during research to develop the brand
positioning of a leading Chinese insurance company. One of
the surprising findings about Chinese men that emerged is
that they were as concerned about health and fitness as their
American counterparts. When probing more deeply as to the
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