Whenever Chinese people talk about themselves, one thing you always hear them talk about is the “quality of the people” (人的素質). It’s often used as a deriding, as 孔慶東 had used against Hong Kong people, as well as those who spoke anything other than Mandarin. It’s also used as a form of self-criticism, whenever an atrocity happens, and either nothing is done, or people just don’t care. It’s also used as an excuse that the Chinese aren’t yet ready for political reform. As Yuan, Shi-kai had thought, which made him think he could become emperor of a new China –he didn’t last a year.
One criticism I have of authors like 柏楊, author of 醜陋的中國人 (Literally “Ugly Chinese”, although the English title is “…and the Crisis of Chinese Culture”), is that he constantly derides Chinese culture, and character, in much the same fashion. Personally, I don’t share his disparity for change because of something embedded within the culture.
For instance, I heard about a person, to which I’m connected by the third degree, that he along with a bunch of foreigners wanted to go to the Great Wall. So the group all got into a bus, went around to a bunch of shops, and then, the bus just left. No great wall, just a bunch of crappy souvenirs no one really wanted to buy, and no way back to the hotel. The typical reaction to this amongst certain Chinese would be, “Ooh! The 素質 of our people are really bad!” Well, here’s an example of someone who’s not Chinese committing a scam:
And I’m sure if I dug hard enough, I could find examples of this type of stuff happening to tourists all over the world. The point is, no one culture has a monopoly on bad behavior. I’m not trying to justify this, but the argument should be changed from “Our 素質 is bad” to, “How can this be prevented next time?” What kind of environment is allowing these people to use such methods for monetary gain, when they would normally otherwise find legitimate work?