The Differences Between Mainland Chinese and Overseas Chinese

One interesting aspect of life in Mainland China is the tendency of Mainland Chinese to assume Overseas Chinese are exactly the same as they are. Most Overseas Chinese I have met identify primarily with their home countries first, and as a descendant of Mainland China society/culture second (sometimes a distant second, depending on the individual). This has been verified by my own personal experiences, and I have found many differences between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese natives.

So my questions for group members are:

What have been the experiences of you all with regard to the differences between Mainland and Overseas Chinese?

Can any Chinese natives share their thoughts on why Mainland Chinese assume Overseas Chinese are the same as they are? Is it a cultural issue, lack of experience outside China, or something else?

Can anyone comment on how they have observed these issues to affect the work environment in Mainland China?
— By Sean Upton-McLaughlin 马培善

Differences Between Mainland Chinese and Overseas Chinese
Differences Between Mainland Chinese and Overseas Chinese

THOMAS AW: Left more than 100 years ago for Global travel, or still hoping to venture Out — wondering whether the Moon is as bright in other locations, as China ???

Gope Suresh. H: it is same around planet, people living in one place, who don’t travel nor study about other culture, places, follow their own biased media, think in one way, this is from my experience of living in 5 countries and traveling 25, and meeting people from 50 countries or more.

THOMAS AW: An Individual is representative of Human Beings, in consciousness and the behavioral habits .

Different skin pigmentation, language affinity, cultural traits — due to geographical locality, weather changes and environmental influence .

HARMONY of ONE, still looking up at the same SKY anywhere, with those familiar Sun, Moon and Stars .

* Eat, Drink, Sleep, Bathe, Activities, Surf the Net — same for overseas, mainland or living near to the Top of the Volcano mountains .

Friends and Relatives in a MEGA Family, globally.

Jeffrey Tong: You can always find differences if you are looking for them, and you can equal amount of similarities if that’s what you’re looking for too. Depends on your frame of mind.

Yitao Xiao: I was the same as the ones in mainland. But I have been changing since I left there, because the environmental influence. In fact, they are also changing. Maybe the same way, may be different.

Li (Cliff) Li: I am in Chengdu now. No one waits in line, they would even interrupt while it is someone’s turn for service. And the traffic gives me mini heart attacks — no one cares for pedestrians; and I don’t think Red Light means anything to a lot of bike riders. (Okay, I lived in the U.S. city with the most courteous drivers.) And No one says “thank you.” I am like the odd ball here, because I say Xie Xie. I will give a round of applause to the services people, they can really multitask.

Bernhard Wessling: I find the question is strange; it assumes that “mainland Chinese” all all the same or in some way so comparable that one can differentiate them from overseas Chinese who themselves also are considered to be a relatively homogeneous group?

I don’t believe so. I find already mainland Chinese are so much different, there are so many, from so many different regions, towns, countryside, education, personal interests, beliefs, character … with or without historical / cultural background … I could not take over the task to characterize mainland Chinese and then make a comparison with overseas Chinese (who as well are so much diverse …)

clara zheng: If they think it is the same, I can only say that they don’t know the influence of culture. For people in Mainland China, most of they never live in oversea, therefore they don’t know the culture of other country, something in books is totally different with the true world. Therefore, mainland Chinese is different to overseas Chinese. It is natural in my view, I don’t think it is a problem.

Florian Valet: I have actually been travelling a lot around China before to get married with a Chinese national and I agree with previous comments.
Xi Zang people were nice, friendly, polite, educated, courteous, religious and calm.
In Guangxi if found people were Nice, Friendly if they had an interest, un-polite, rude, lacking manners and education, not having any religious orientation or guide-line, excited and greedy of success (it doesn’t mean I didn’t make really good friends there)..
For this reason I would say that we cannot compare all Chinese mainland’s as one individual and that this question would be more relevant to identify the bad effects from the communism and to compare them with effect (Good or not) from other social or governmental system.

Bruce Chung: the difference is big. we speak the same language, but we mean different things many times. our diet is different, while I can take salad or burgers, while they prefer rice or noodles most of the time. i follow news around the globe while they tend to care most about domestic issues. i see China’s economy closely integrated with the global economy, while they see Chinese economy somehow independent from what’s happening around the world.
all in all, i think Chinese society is a bit protected, and that they are accustomed to see things in certain angles.
i learned to respect each others point of view, and that’s served me well all those years.

clara zheng: To Bruce Chung, you are right: to respect each others point of view. Actually, this point is very important in what ever country, not only in China. As I grown up in China and lived in Australia 14 years so I totally know, if you don’t respect others, then others’ll not respect you. You may not agree with other’s opinion but you need to respect his/her opinion. Everyone one has right to express his/her view.

To Sean Upton-McLaughlin 马培善: In my view, both of a cultural issue and lack of experience outside China influence Mainland Chinese and Overseas Chinese. As I am Overseas Chinese who grown up in mainland China but lived in Australia 14 years, I have lots of classmates and friends in Mainland China and lots of classmates and friends in Australia, therefore I can know that.

Eileen Zhang: I disagree with the statement that Mainland Chinese assume that there is no difference between them and Overseas Chinese. From my personal experience, Mainland Chinese believe that Overseas Chinese are more intelligent and independent. For one thing, Overseas Chinese are proficient in speaking another language, for another, they could deal with all sorts of problems such as finding accommodation and doing house chores. Moreover, Mainland Chinese are less likely to be influenced by foreign culture, whereas Oversea Chinese may be exposed to foreign culture and shift their focus of life. This explains why Oversea Chinese may not be familiar with the current trend in Mainland China, but their Mainland Chinese friends are well informed. As a result, there will be a discrepancy between Mainland Chinese and Oversea Chinese in terms of their value and beliefs.

Florian Valet: Well to conclude nothing is black or White but everything is grey…
Starting from this we can state that there might be Mainland Chinese thinking that overseas Chinese are identical to them as there might be some thinking that they are different.
I definitely think that without needing to “Understand” a general statement like this could be debated.
Then its important, and I come back to my previous comment, to understand that what is called China nowadays, is made of a wide quantity of very different people, let’s take Henan/Guangdong as an example, who already consider themselves to be quite different, how can we imagine that they don’t think overseas Chinese are not difference….

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