Why are the Chinese so nationalistic?

  1. Chinese people are generally more optimistic about their country than others. 85% of Chinese are optimistic about their country – see this excellent answer already – Robin Daverman’s answer to Why is Chinese nationalism so popular on Quora? While obviously nationalism exists in all countries, it seems disproportionately popular when it comes to questions about China. if 85% of a country’s people are optimistic – yes they are going to be more nationalistic on average than your typical country.
  2. Chinese people generalize Westerners as brainwashed by Western media – and the reason is because a lot of Westerners generalize Chinese as being brainwashed by the CCP. This causes a back and forth finger-pointing exercise between the two factions, each accusing the other of being ‘brainwashed’. The truth is of course, not all Westerners are ‘brainwashed’ – How Popular Is Donald Trump? less than half of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing, We asked, you told us: Most believe Huawei did nothing wrong Most Westerners do not believe Huawei did anything wrong, and only 31% are optimistic about their own country. If Western media/Trump administration was really brainwashing Westerners, they’re doing a terrible job at it. Of course the other side of the coin is not all Chinese are brainwashed either – the truth is somewhere in the middle – but of course the neutral opinions like mine often get drowned by the pro-Chinese opinions so the answers that people see are often the pro-Chinese ones. Also note: a lot of those pro-Chinese answers are actually written by Westerners who lived in China or are sympathetic to China. Ironic right?
  3. Most Chinese people have never been outside their country and their impressions of other countries come mainly from the internet – The Number of Potential Chinese Outbound Tourists Could Double by 2020 to 240 Million | Jing Travel The number of Chinese people with a passport is less than 9 percent (Compared with USA at 42% and Canada at 66%). This is probably related to why so many Chinese people have the false impression that Westerners are all brainwashed to hate China – because they see Western media, they see Quora and some ignorant Chinese questions – and they believe that all Westerners are like that. This actually explains a lot of things. It explains why they think all Americans are nationalistic, that Koreans all do plastic surgery or that korean men look feminine etc because while the absolute number of Chinese tourists is still large (9% of 1.3b is still 120m people) the percentage of the total population who has traveled to another country is still very low, which is why these generalizing impressions have taken hold.
  4. Chinese tend to be very sensitive to any criticism of their country. I mentioned this in my other answer already Tong Zou’s answer to What is your opinion about China and Chinese people? and anyone who has Chinese friends, well we already know not to talk about politics/Tiananmen/Taiwan issues around them because those are very sensitive topics. I am not anti-Chinese nor am I advocating the CCP be replaced yet on a lot of my answers I am being attacked by Chinese people who misconstrue my criticism as attacks on China or Chinese people. Chinese people take these criticisms very personally and get very defensive about it. Again, this has only happened with Chinese people from my experience. I have answers criticizing America, Korea, Japan etc too but I have not received the same attacks from those people.
  5. Backlash for the century of humiliation that China endured against the West, and a result Chinese people feel the need to be even more nationalistic to compensate. Is it fair to lump all Westerners into the same bucket for events caused by British/French/Americans that happened 150 years ago? Probably not, but Chinese often see America/USA = a proxy for Western democracy, so basically whatever they see in America (high poverty rates, undeveloped infrastructure, rampant drug use, election of Trump etc) they equate to the failure of Western democracy. Believe me, its frustrating as a Canadian to be lumped into the same political bucket as the USA as our politics are very different, but to Chinese, USA = all Westerners = all brainwashed to hate China. But yes, this is the main reason why China will do everything it takes to win that trade war against the USA – they refuse to be humiliated anymore, they will be as nationalistic as they need to be.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming movie “Crazy Rich Asians”?

I liked it, I guess as a Chinese-Canadian I’m glad to see a Hollywood movie come out that finally portrays Asian men in a positive light. In too many Hollywood movies, Asian girls and Asian men have been portrayed in a dichotomous way with double standards: Asian girls always the hot young beautiful sex fantasy for the white protagonist (see: Lucy Liu, Brenda Song, Jamie Chung, Zhang Ziyi etc) and the Asian guy some nerdy or kung fu stereotype (see: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Ken Jeong, Jimmy Yang the latter two who is coincidentally in this movie).

But for the first time since Bruce Lee’s films back in the 1970s we see Asian men being portrayed in an American movie… looking masculine. The scenes with the abs and topless and stuff is actually a huge barrier breaker more than people realize – how many American films have you seen where an Asian guy has been shown like that? again I don’t think since Bruce Lee. and that was 40 years ago.

The plot itself is nothing special – its typical Korean drama affair – but its the significance of this movie being a Hollywood racial barrier breaker that is the big deal here.

And not just that, but the cast is perfectly cast. All of the main characters more or less resemble who they are in real life. Constance Wu was born in Richmond, Virginia, she is that scrappy Asian American girl who finally made it big in Hollywood with Fresh Off the Boat. Henry Golding is that charming, handsome half-Asian guy who had never acted in any film before. Gemma Chan is a posh, sophisticated goddess who graduated from Oxford – prim and proper just like her role as Astrid. Awkwafina was once an unemployed New Yorker – now she’s a successful actress and music artist and just as quirky and funny as her role here.

These Asian American / Asian British stars lived the American Dream, and I think much more than the actual movie itself, I enjoyed the movie for its significance in bringing Asians (especially for men) back into a positive light once again. No more stereotypical kung fu / nerdy guys.. this proves to Americans (Korean drama fans already know this) that Asian men can be both masculine and sexy and be romantic..


Why do a lot of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans think they are racially superior?

I think all three countries have arrogance for different reasons. Keep in mind though that I don’t think Chinese/Koreans/Japanese are overall very arrogant; I find Americans to be generally the most arrogant out of all people I’ve interacted with.

Chinese have a lot of pride in their 5,000 year history. Many Chinese will mention that Chinese written history goes back to the Shang Dynasty. Only Greece and Egypt really rival China in terms of history. China was the pre-eminent superpower in the world for over 1000 years, especially during the Middle Ages. Until Europe reached the Renaissance, China especially during the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties was incredibly powerful. These days China is an emerging superpower still trying to shake off the disaster that was the Cultural Revolution which pushed back their development by about 100 years.

Koreans are historically quite closed and modest. They are one of the few countries that never had imperial ambitions or tried to invade another country in its history. Modern day Koreans may think they are superior to Chinese and other Asians because of the strength of their economy, entertainment, fashion and other soft influence power they have over the world which at present time is superior to Chinese/Japanese soft power.

Japanese had the most success in their history after (ironically) Americans forced them to open up in the 1850s and they were the first Asian country to industrialize. This gave them an added technological edge over other Asian countries that allowed them to conquer Korea, and a very weakened Qing Dynasty China (which previously had to fight off Western powers in the Opium wars). Japanese arrogance stems from this colonial period. They were able to take over Manchuria, Korea, Taiwan and the military was probably the most advanced in the East. Of course, they met their match when they tried to attack the USA. Modern day Japanese influences the world with their technology and animation but overall I would consider their influence to be declining compared to China and Korea.