Friday, 2 October 2015

Chinese Whispers

Keep it quiet but the Chinese are here …..

Nothing tells you this more, than the fact that the rich of China (both politicians and business leaders, as well as their families), are taking etiquette and ‘foreign’ manners lessons, to enable them to deal with the rest of the world more confidently. Now thirty years ago, that may not have meant too much, but now, with over 190 billionaires and more than two million millionaires, China lags just behind the USA, in number of high-net-worth individuals, according to research from Forbes magazine and the Boston Consulting Group.

Chinese International Tourists Are A New Phenomena .....

Of course Western entrepreneurs quickly realised there was a market for etiquette and manners training for these nouveau rich, and have opened up 'finishing’ or ‘manner’ schools all over Beijing. For instance, a school for 'British manners’, found that its first customers were primarily drivers of Rolls Royce’s wanting to dress the part, but this then quickly evolved in to being middle-class and wealthier customers in search of a ‘British-lifestyle’ …. Similarly there are Swiss finishing school’ type establishments, offering anything from an afternoon session, to 12 week courses, with charges accordingly.

The new found wealth of the Chinese isn’t just limited to the uber wealthy ($30m or more are classed as people of high net value), but those lower down the wealth ladder, but includes those who can now go abroad on holidays. In 2014 there were more than 100 million Chinese travelling across the globe, and many of whom have exhibited misbehaviour's that have grabbed headlines worldwide. Among the most extreme: defacing an Egyptian sculpture, throwing boiling water on a flight attendant and urinating outside.

This has caused an embarrassed Chinese government to issue proclamations and statements telling Chinese people who go abroad that they must behave better. Of course to no real effect. Chinese peasants for example have little or no toilet inhibitions ....

Chinese Toilet Behaviour Is Shocking .... This Is On The Beijing Tube!
 .... which just shows that you can take a worker out of the countryside, but its harder to take the peasant out of the worker.

You simply can’t undo nearly seventy years of isolation under the communist regime, and centuries of inward looking behaviour patterns in a few years of tourism. Open access to the Internet and foreign films aka ‘globalisation’ will have some impact, and some high profile loss of face as bad behaviours are reported back home, will also have some impact, but it will be a slow process ….. so on the basis that every little bit helps (and with a nod to the ‘trickle-down effect’ theory), then teaching the rich how to hold a knife and fork or drink tea from a cup and saucer is as good a start as any.

Ironically of course, while the Chinese and other Oriental high wealth individuals may be keen to pick up ‘British Manners’, back home they are almost completely lost.


  1. I thought that manners didn't cost anything and that banks keep your money safe! Is there anything I was told as a child which is actually true?


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