After spending a memorable month in China, I quickly tired from the endless shoving. Instead of politely passing or asking permission, in general the Chinese forcibly move by without regard to personal space. In fact by the end of my trip, each time a pushy Chinese physically propelled my body, I chastised them. Although my verbal corrections worked, imparting basic manners to the Chinese population is going to take a generation or two.
Coping with the Pushy Chinese – The Art of Being Shoved
The Pushy Chinese – 1st Example at the Forbidden City
I’m admiring the colorful gifts as I’m standing in a gift store in the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Suddenly I’m violently accosted, as my body moved an inch to the right. A Chinese lady had pushed me out of the way so she could pass by.
Instead of saying “excuse me” or making some form of polite gesture, she shoved me out of the way. This triggered annoyance on my part. I did not allow her to pass. Rather, I turned to her, and as is speaking to a child, I held up my finger in her direction and forcibly said “no!” “Don’t push,” I advised.
Totally baffled, she looked in my direction like an animal staring into a pair of headlights. Perhaps no one had ever corrected her rude behavior. Nevertheless, my warning worked. The pushing ceased. Therefore I moved out of the way to let her by.
The Pushy Chinese – 2nd Example at Versailles
A similar incident happened a few year prior while I was at Versailles, France with Allan and my parents. This time an entire Chinese tour group aggressively overtook us while I was pushing my Mom in a wheelchair. My father’s oxygen tank was hanging on the back, and tethered to his face with an air hose.
Suddenly one lady from the Chinese contingent pushed through us right into my Dad’s hose. Instinctively I grabbed the back of her shirt, pulling her back. If I had let her continue, she would have hitched the hose and dragged my Dad down headfirst. “No! The hose is connected,” I shouted to the oblivious violator. Unfazed, she stared at me and walked around. She made no apology or recognition of having done anything wrong.
Why are the Chinese so Pushy?
Essentially their behavior can be attributed to over population and lack of education. There are just so many people in China that thrusting others out of the way has become a necessary part of advancement both literally and figuratively. To get ahead in life you need to push, whether it be at a bus station where no one queues or at work when you are fighting for advancement.
Even street traffic works the same way. For instance, a bus almost ran me over while I was jaywalking in Beijing. In most other countries, traffic will slow down or swerve to avoid you. In China, only idiots jaywalk, present company included. I literally jumped out of the way to avoid being flattened by a behemoth. The pervasive attitude is: get out of my way, I’m coming.
Furthermore, since most people push in China, few are taught otherwise. No real education exists in how to properly and politely act in public. So with both domestic and international travel, Chinese act like they do at home. Unfortunately this involves shoving and lack of queueing.
What Needs to Be Done to Fix this?
I think the Chinese populace needs to be educated on how to act in public. I’ve heard rumors that China is now to providing classes to those traveling abroad so they can learn acceptable behavior. I remain hopeful, but a bit doubtful of any immediate change. It’s really going to take a generation or two before 1.4 billion people alter their behavior.
Despite this, I believe addressing each transgression will at least bring attention to the slight. I may not change their behavior, but perhaps with repeated reminders some might become a bit more polite. At minimum speaking out helped to alleviate some of my frustrations at being made a personal bumper car.
I realize I am generalizing about an entire population. Not everyone in China is pushy, just as not all Americans wear white tennis shoes. However, I would say that generalizations can be made based on the behaviors of the majority. And admittedly, if I had not been taught otherwise, and I too lived in an overpopulated country, I probably would push to get ahead as well.
Do you have any questions or remarks about China?
Please let me know in the comments.