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Is it Racism to be called Foreigner or Laowai in China? [Copy link] 中文

Rank: 4

Post time 2007-2-13 16:52:22 |Display all floors
The words Foreigner and Laowai are used so often by the Chinese, in the everyday life, Internet forums, TV, newspapers etc. Is it politically correct to call someone a Foreigner or Laowai, or is it another "Waiguo Guizi" racist term?
What are your thoughts?

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Rank: 4

Post time 2007-2-13 22:44:16 |Display all floors
In China, generally no.  It is just the Chinese way of stating what you are, though I think 'non-Chinese' would be a better translation than 'foreigner' given that there are now a large number of white, black & brown people being born in China.  My only issue with it came that in Nanjing I never saw a Korean called lao wai.

I have more issues with Chinese saying it abroad.  I was on a bus in Edinburgh a few months ago and a group of Chinese girls were pointing out the window repeatedly calling the locals lao wai when, in fact, it was they who were the lao wai.

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Post time 2007-2-14 03:32:00 |Display all floors
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Rank: 6Rank: 6

Post time 2007-2-14 05:04:46 |Display all floors
Racist? No. Annoying after a while? Yes.

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Post time 2007-2-14 06:46:00 |Display all floors
I personally don't think it to be Racism. Its a chinese of saying foreigner. :) At least chinese have to say something. So if anybody thinks that saying laowai or waiguoren is racism then is calling them foreigner a racism? if u go to another country and somebody call u foreigner, is it a racism? of course not.

The person who thinks like this, whatever chinese will call foreigners in chinese language, he/she will always think that word to be a racist word. Although its just problem with that person. Not with chinese people. Because in their language they use to say foreigners laowai or waiguoren.

The only sensible question over here is what is the difference b/w laowai and waiguoren? So according to my understanding Laowai is informal and waiguoren is formal. Like if i will be going on street and some chinese will see me then he will call me laowai. But if i will go to any office or for any offical work, then they will call me waiguoren.

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Rank: 6Rank: 6

Post time 2007-2-14 08:35:29 |Display all floors

to #5

The question is, why the need for a random person on the street to loudly announce that you're a foreigner? In your average Western country, when a person of a different color passes on the street, the locals don't yell out "African!" or "Chinese!" or "Arab!" It's cute in China for a little while, and then it rapidly becomes annoying. I yelled "Zhongguoren!" back a few times. If they're going to insist on pointing out the obvious, then so will I.

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Post time 2007-2-14 09:05:46 |Display all floors

To Post # 6

Originally posted by sockmonkey at 2007-2-14 08:35
The question is, why the need for a random person on the street to loudly announce that you're a foreigner? In your average Western country, when a person of a different color passes on the street, ...



After reading ur post i really :) Because most of the times people who say laowai louldly either they wanna say their friends that look a foreigner is going or either they have met very few or no foreigners in their life so they c them as very strange thing. But I am still 100% sure that they don't look down on foreigners. But when they say laowai loudly they actually considers foreigners some strange and at the same time some superior person.

But I have heard that sometimes some old people don't like white people or might be USA white people because of history.

[ Last edited by ahmadi at 2007-2-14 09:16 AM ]

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