Different tiers of Chinese

I think breakfast is a good time for observation. (Told a friend I usually took one hour at the breakfast table, he exclaimed incredulously, what do you do for an entire hour?! — Of course not just eating cereal silly)

This morning, the room was full of Chinese from different places and different classes. There’re those from Taiwan, some of the early merchants who hit the big time just as China opened up, became wealthy and now reside in the USA and Canada, trading numbers to keep in touch when they get home. There’re those who speak perfect Chinese but choose to speak English with each other, probably because they’ve lived abroad for so long. Of course, there’re overseas Chinese like me who ate porridge with a fork (hehe!).

There’re those who are native “old money” Chinese, there’re those who are “new money” Chinese who have picked up a third language (other than English) – it’s not surprising to hear fluent Japanese, French pouring out of Chinese mouths. And there’re Chinese from villages outside Shanghai serving us all.

The scene made me wonder what each type of Chinese thought of the other? What do the real Chinese think of their compatriots who once came from the same country but now embrace different lifestyles, culture, attitude and demeanour? Do they envy, admire or despise “us”?

What is a real Chinese anyway? With the Internet, China is fast becoming a melting pot of influences. At the heart of it, how does every Chinese individual decipher these influences, internalise or adapt to the crazy whirlpool of global temptations?


About transez

Design researcher: curious about people, passionate about life.
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