Thursday, February 08, 2007

Chinese people and the Jews

A quick break from my exploits in Tibet for an interesting article in the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/06/AR2007020601713.html

A lot of Chinese people have told me how interested they are with Jews because they are supposedly so wealthy and powerful. They are also find Israel fascinating because of its resilience while being surrounded by enemies. My new boss recently went on about how smart Jewish people are. Being from New York, where any stereotyping is seen as bad, I feel pretty uncomfortable hearing people say these things. Ironically, they sound quite similar to the "model minority" stereotypes people have about Asians in US. Chinese people don't really understand that though- they have a fixed image of wealthy, savvy, intelligent Jews and they don't see what could possibly wrong with that (many of them are also convinced that Chinese people in the US are all dirt poor). They think Jewish and Chinese culture are similar, and therefore feel a sort of kinship with Jewish people- even though very few Chinese people have ever met any Jews.

3 comments:

ChinaLawBlog said...

"Kinship" is a great word to describe it. The Koreans are the same way. The thing is that implicit in this kinship is the idea that outside of "we Chinese and Jews", everyone else lacks "family values" and a work ethic. Believe me, you can get to this if you scratch deep enough.

J said...

I should have also mentioned 吃苦- some Chinese people also say they feel close to Jews because both are used to suffering.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that anyone has positive feelings about Jews for whatever reason. Most contact between peoples is superficial, even when many ethnic groups live in the same city. Most information we have is either anecdotal or second-hand via the media. Some of what we know is correct, some incorrect, most a mixture of the two. So, the fact that the Chinese are not experts on the Jews shouldn't mean that their opinions are worth less than those who dislike the Jews.