5 Things To Know When Being Friends With Chinese
“Gold is easy to get, a close friend is harder to find” this Chinese proverb reveals the attitude of the Chinese towards friendship – they appreciate it and believe that a good friend is difficult to find, but if you are lucky to become friends with a good person, you should value him. If Chinese people develop a deep bond with other people, they stay friends for the lifetime.
In China, there is a friendly attitude to all people, including newcomers, so if you are open-minded, loquacious, friendly, you won’t experience any problems when being friends with the Chinese.
Barriers You May Face When Making Chinese Friends
If you wonder how to be a nice friend and want to find Chinese friend, be ready for some obstacles. They are the following:
If you come to China, it’s obvious that you should learn Chinese. Of course, you may find Chinese people, who speak English, but there may be a problem. Sometimes they can consider communication with you as a free English lesson to practice English. They see that you are a foreigner and they assume that they can learn English for free. You may think that you can get along together, but soon your interaction will dissolve into a one-sided relationship. So, it’s better to learn Chinese, find a person with the same hobbies and interests and speak his native language. Then, it’s likely that your communication will be more natural.
♦ You may meet social outcasts
Basically, these are people, who speak English, but don’t have friends in their native country. They can be preoccupied with Western culture, talk with you about politics or culture of your native country. The problem is that they may consider you as a means to cure their loneliness and isolation, but they don’t consider you to be a friend. So, it’s better for you to go to the places, where you may find people, who share your hobbies. For instance, go to the dancing class, the motorcycle club, gym, etc. There you may find friends of the same interests, speak Chinese with them and build a natural bond.
♦ Regional differences
China is not a homogenous society, so the ideas of friendship are different in different regions. People in the South and in the North may see friendship differently. In most cases, ideas about friendship in the South are dramatically different from the Western views. For them, friendship is a cultural bond, which is based on mutual help (what I can do for you and what you can do for me) and respect. It may be called networking or instrumental relationship. In fact, it will be tough to make close friends. Many people argue that this difference occurs to the fact that Chinese people in the South need more time to develop trust, but once they’ve done it, you’ll get a friend for life.
On top of that, some Chinese people find friends (e.g. workmates) just to hang out in the evening. This type of friendship is called “mixed” or “guanxi” (relationships that have both an affective and instrumental dimension).
Speaking about the Northern part of China, it’s easier to make friends there (if you look from the Western perspective of friendship). Friendship with them is built on the emotional bond and shared hobbies. People judge each other by character and personality traits rather than on the social status.
If you want to become good friends with Chinese, then remember that it can be challenging. If you want to know how to be a nice friend, want your friendship to be prosperous, pleasing and long-lasting, be aware of these five things：
1. Food Comes First After The Family
Yes, there is the food cult in China! And this is quite logical because there is a lot of food and it is incredibly tasty. Where is the best time to spend an evening with friends? In a nice restaurant that offers a variety of mouth-watering dishes.
Besides, for Chinese, having a dinner is a ritual. They eat very long, taste all dishes and all important decisions are made during the lunch. On top of that, hot pot (aka Chinese fondue) and BBQs are extremely popular in China. This activity brings people together as they cook food together, communicate, laugh and it’s a perfect way to socialize.
Therefore, you should love the food as much as the Chinese love it because most of your leisure, you’ll spend tasting new meals in different places.
2. Close Friends Become Practically A Family
Chinese are very family-oriented. They believe in blood ties so much that they marry and form families in a way that like starting a business partnership. They treat their relatives with love and respect and once they’ve made friends, they treat them as the part of their family and their behavior changes. If you want to be close friends with Chinese, be ready for being the part of family gatherings and close communication with the parents of your friend. For instance, you may call them “āyí” and “shū shu”, i.e. “auntie” and “uncle.”
They know much about your life (career, friends, hobbies and even dishes you like to eat) and you know much about their life (TV shows they watch, family bonds and family events, even about their high blood pressure).
3. Friends In China Ignore Some Rules Of Politeness
The Chinese are polite and hospitable. They do their best in order to make the foreigner feel comfortable in their country and get only positive impressions. They always keep you at a distance and they are never rude. However, if Chinese considers you to be a close friend, some rules of politeness are ignored. For instance, they don’t say “please” and “thank you” because it makes them feel uncomfortable. They think that being friends means that it’s natural that they do everything for each other, so using “please” and “thank you” is superfluous. Besides, a Chinese friend will make fun of you in a joking manner. It means that he accepts you as a friend.
On top of that, In China, it is accepted that one person pays for the whole group in a restaurant. If a Chinese friend considers you a foreigner and a guest, then he will never allow you to pay the bill. However, if he allows you to do this, know that he considers you to be his friend.
4. Friendship Is Based On Shared Hobbies
Chinese people love their culture, so if you want to be good friends Chinese, you should show interest in Chinese culture and learn much about it. Then, you’ll have much to discuss. Besides, common hobbies spark a friendship across cultures, so you should share the same interests with your friend. If you want to find Chinese friend, show up at places, which you can find people of the same interests. Chinese people are outgoing and they like sports, music, art. So, be ready to hit the gym, bicycle trips, traveling, running, play badminton. Also, visit the art galleries, music shows, poetry readings. Your leisure activities depend on the type of hobbies you share. By the way, notice that China doesn’t have the bar/club culture, adopted in the West.
On top of that, common hobbies will help you to build a special bond between you, which will cultivate trust and will transform into a lifelong friendship.
5. Friends Give Presents
To give small presents is a part of Chinese etiquette. If you go to your friend’s place, always bring something with you. An ideal option is to bring fresh supplies (food, drink) in sufficient quantity. But don’t try too hard, just bring enough to show that you paid attention.
Besides, each time you go back to your country, go abroad on a vacation or a business trip, you should always come back with lots of local specialty items, i.e. things that you can’t get in China), to give as gifts to all your good Chinese friends. Also, give small gifts to your friends for no reason.
Therefore, being friends with Chinese isn’t hard if you are open-minded, compassionate, friendly, hospitable, have a sense of humor and value private space. Once you’ve maintained a strong bond and trust with your Chinese friend, be sure, he will be your friend for life!