Everyone has very different worldviews especially towards China. I myself have never been to China so I view the country through what I have heard or seen, which is probably all based on stereotypes and misconceptions. I spoke with a friend, Jake, who has actually visited China. He gave me some insight as to what his own expectation were of China and how it differed and was what he expected after experiencing the country first hand. Jake went to China for school credits in the summer of 2010. He decided on China primarily because he always wanted to go. He told me, “Ever since I was little, China had this mysterious beauty to me. The Great Wall and Forbidden City were the two places I’ve always wanted to go in my life.” Growing up myself, China never really appealed to me. I had always associated China with communism or with a lack of freedoms, but also with delicious food. It was interesting to talk to a friend and see that China had always been an interest to them. My friend honestly and absolutely loved China, everything from the food to the clothes to the entertainment. It was something he said he would do again if the opportunity ever presented itself again.
I asked him about his thoughts and expectations he had about China before leaving. He went on to say, “I thought when we landed in Beijing that we were going to be in this semi-futuristic metropolis, but when we got out of the airport, there was nothing around us but fields. I was expecting to see people going around walking in crazy different clothing, but everyone dressed somewhat normal. The rest of my stereotypes and feelings towards China were correct in the sense that almost everything I had pictured was exactly true.” Expecting the Chinese to dress in stereotypical Asian garments is what I would have come to expect as well. This stereotype is just one of the many that have been implanted in the minds of the tourists.
A lot of different people apparently told my friend Jake that you have to go to China every few years to see how much it’s changed, but specifically in our area in New York, all he heard before leaving was “CHINA’S A COMMUNIST COUNTRY! THEY’RE GOING TO KILL YOU IF YOU TALK ABOUT SOMETHING THEY DON’T LIKE.” Clearly there are still many people around that have fallen prey to the negative portrayals of China. “That wasn’t the case at all. Everything seemed mostly normal, granted yes we were in a communist country, but it was nothing like how I have seen the Chinese people being portrayed. They’re not all robots. They all have personalities just like the rest of us.” There can be a lot of close-minded people out in the world who only listen to what they are told and do not question or make their own opinions on places like China.
There is a certain way that China is sold to tourists, some of it matches up correctly with reality, and some parts are a little exaggerated. Jake said, “When I was there, the Chinese loved the tourists, and from what I saw, they treated them with a whole lot of courtesy. I feel like the Chinese just want to show other countries that they’re not as bad as some people think they are. They definitely want people to see them as just like everyone else.”