Orientalism and the Real Orient.

As I was reading the Orientalism article, I feel like I need to step out and say something as a Chinese as well as a transfer student. Personally, I never received any weird comment since I came here. However, I can say people here do have some prejudices or misunderstanding about the Asia. Although I don’t talk much, I record the world by my mind like an observer. One of my friend called Amy, she is also a student of OP. I remember she once asked me if she looked like Chinese because people around her all assumed she was a Chinese. I told her that, first of all, she doesn’t look like Chinese. What’s more, if I can’t tell, I will ask her nationality before making any conclusion as a respect to you. I am not saying that people here are rude, but most Western people actually regard the south Asia as a whole. In other words, people may not recognize that so many different countries lie in that place.

Shanghai highway in city

Another example is that different events no matter from big to small as long as it’s about China here are all kinda of lacking creativity. What does it mean by that? Most of the Chinese-Americans, American artists or Asian scholars prefer to perform the ancient part or traditional culture of China or other Asian countries, but what I want to say is that those old-fashion things can hardly attract me not to mention foreigners. I can understand those people them want to present the cultural charm of Asian, but too much same artworks just make people’s thoughts got locked. Like, if I say what you think of Chinese culture, you may come up with lanterns, dragons or dumplings. It’s fine if you really like those things. However, the reality is that we have not only lanterns, dragons or dumpling, we have share bikes that they are available in all the streets in cities in China which nicely solve the environmental problems; we have the best transportation system in the world that in Shanghai, it just looks like a sky maze which made of intricate highways; we have the widest spectrum of food that includes 8 main styles of cooking that each province got over hundreds of localized dishes and we change the menu along with seasons, weather, even your health condition; Our famous novel series is known as the fantasy of heroes with Kongfu’s adventure, and how many people know the deep love and hatred behind martials and the pageantry existing between the sky and the earth before they criticize Chinese literature.

The return of the condor heroes

3 thoughts on “Orientalism and the Real Orient.

  1. One of the key parts of Orientalism you observe here is way a dominant culture marginalizes another culture by making it seem “ancient” or primitive or more broadly, outside of history — ahistorical. In your examples, China is static, not progressing, while the West is all about change. This not only insults a dynamic culture like China, but it makes it a “charming” object against whic Western culture seems superior.


  2. Alex Y

    Hey Yunhao, thanks for another fine post. As someone’s only inherited their Chinese-ness, it’s always nice to get a reality check from someone who’s actually Chinese. I think you, as Mr. Heidkamp points out, make a great point on America’s view of China. I remember my dad told me that his coworkers who were on a business trips were completely ignorant about China, even going so far as to ask my dad if the water was safe to drink. Obviously, they’d only heard of China from US media which unfortunately doesn’t paint China well, often they only show China as the enemy of US (even more so with the coronavirus) or as some antiquated, backwards country. It’s truly unfortunate, as not only do most Americans (as well as other Western countries’ citizens) receive the wrong impression of China and form absurd stereotypes as a result, they also distance themselves from the people and culture of China, which is a tragedy. Most Chinese people resemble most Westerns more than the top 1% of their country; they have phones, hopes, college worries, parental struggles, anime, drama, television, etc. Although the China/West (America in particular) divide is somewhat justified given the apparent cultural and governmental differences (CCP aren’t too tolerant to say the least), I just hope that the people’s can somehow make connections. Thanks again for the great post, and don’t go too crazy during the quarantine.


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