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It is Chinese tradition to welcome people from afar with friendliness and hospitality, but why would we still tolerate them if they show no disregard for manners? Should foreigners enjoy privilege in China? The following article is from the Global Times.|
A fascinating scene in recent blockbuster Kingsman: The Secret Service came when Colin Firth's character said "Manners make the man" word by word and then elegantly and nimbly taught several rude boys a lesson the hard way. This is an old saying, but one that has spread rapidly among Chinese fans. However apparently, not everyone can do as Firth says.
Earlier this week, a European man squabbled with a local taxi driver in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, after he was rejected as the driver was there to pick up a client appointed via a popular taxi-hailing app. While the driver tried hard to explain, he couldn't get through to the foreigner due to language problems. The discontent foreigner, who assumed the driver discriminated against people from other countries, peed against a door on the right side of the taxi and continued the confrontation regardless of any explanation or persuasion from onlookers.
The dispute lasted about three hours and was finally put to an end when local police came in. The taxi driver agreed to give the European guy a lift with the police and took no charge. However, this incident received far more doubts than praise as many posed the question: why not give less tolerance to such rudeness from a foreigner?
It is commendable that the taxi driver exercised restraint throughout the squabble and showed his manners to address the dispute in a rational way. While he suffered economic losses for suspending work for more than three hours, more importantly he deserved an apology from the foreigner for the unacceptable insult of peeing to the taxi. The police should have clarified the responsibilities of each side and urge the perpetrator to apologize for the insulting behavior, not patched up the quarrel.
Despite three decades of China's opening-up, many Chinese people still feel awed by foreigners, let alone arguing with them, and tend to swallow losses or insults humbly rather than seek due justice in a dispute. This may be because of the language barrier, but it represents a lingering mentality that it is better to suffer some losses than stoke a dispute into an "international event." However, in a modern and open society, it's universally recognized that everyone's rights and dignity deserve to be respected and whoever behaves inappropriately needs to be equally held responsible.
As Confucius said thousands of years ago, "It is always a pleasure to greet a friend from afar." People in China are culturally encouraged to treat those from other countries with courtesy and friendliness.
Of course, foreigners also get routinely ignored by taxi drivers who don't want to risk the language barrier, have people shout "Hello" at them on the street as if it was funny, and hear themselves referred to as "old foreign" constantly. The fault here is hardly on one side, especially for Africans and other non-white foreigners, who are often the subject of racial discrimination from Chinese who should know better. But many Chinese keep up a commendable politeness even when confronted by obnoxious and privileged foreigners.
It would be too harsh to ask everyone to behave as a gentleman like Firth, but they should at least obey basic rules and respect other people. Reports about badly behaved foreigners in China are not rare and boundless tolerance for them will contribute to their superiority and encourage their disregard for manners.