Every country has suffered some pangs of stereotypes from some other countries or even the world at large. China as a country, and its indigenous inhabitants, the Chinese, are not exceptions. There have been so many stereotypical speculations about the Chinese culture. Similarly, the Chinese people have suffered equal and proportionate pangs of stereotypes over the years. These stereotypes against the Chinese people and their culture have been lurking around for years, such that they have gradually evolved into myths, and are still being popularized through the movies and books written by non-Chinese who view China and its people from the vantage point of their stereotypical viewpoints. This is why this blog article seeks to debunk three major stereotypes about the Chinese culture that have become myths, or that are on a speedy race to becoming myths.
Myth No 1: Cats, Dogs and Rats are Major Parts of Chinese Diet
China as a country has a wide range of delicacies and cuisines. The different kinds of cuisine is specific to certain parts of China. While it is true that people from certain regions of China do eat such animals that most foreigners consider inedible, they are not a major part of Chinese cuisine and delicacies; rather, they are only considered delicacies by a minority group of the country. A common example is the practice of eating dogs as part of an annual dog meat celebration in Yulin. The Stern public criticism of this event by animal rights activists and some western celebrities shows how much they believe it is a widespread practice in China.
However, in reality, only a minor fraction of the population who inhabit the Guangxi and Guangdong regions do so. In fact, many cities are contemplating placing a ban on the consumption of dog meat as a result of the fact that they are companion animals and deserve some level of human treatment.
Moreso, the consumption of animals is a cultural matter and that there is no general rule adopted by the world on what meat is permissible or not. The animals that are forbidden as parts of diet in some country are widely accepted as a delicacy in some other countries. For example, the consumption of beef is considered sacrilegious by Hindus in India. This same beef is considered a delicacy by a good number of countries of the world.
As a matter of fact, the stereotypes about Chinese food choices have eaten so deep that many non-Chinese believed the theory that the deadly coronavirus originated from the Chinese penchant for bat meat which is not true.
Myth No 2: The Chinese Art Market is Just a Local Market
The Chinese art market has grown over the years from a local market into a formidable international market. The Chinese contemporary arts attract buyers from all over the world, and the figures keep increasing on a daily basis. In fact, a veritable online repository of art, the artling, stated that 40% of the Chinese art buyers come from Western countries against 60% from the local market. With the number of international venues increasing rapidly for Chinese artists, there's no doubt that this trend will continue.
Therefore, it will be an unfounded myth to say that the Chinese art market is just a local market since evidence abounds that a good number of other countries particularly the western world purchase a good number of Chinese contemporary arts.
Myth No 3: Chinese Language has no Grammar
This is another common misconception about one of the Chinese major elements of culture—the Chinese language. Many westerners believe that the Chinese language has no grammar because Chinese doesn’t have any of those things they believe are components of grammar in European languages; I mean such things as: conjugation, agreement, gender etc.
Proponents of this myth need to note that the Chinese language is a distinct language with its own uniqueness. It does not necessarily have to possess what other languages consider as elements and components of grammar to become a grammatical language. The Chinese language is a language with its own grammatical rules. These rules have been studied extensively and have been expanded by Chinese linguists over the years and have been out on the internet for anyone who wishes to learn them. A major online repository of Chinese grammar is Chinese Grammar Wiki that already has over 500 articles purely on Chinese grammar, and it’s only just getting started.