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Reader responses to section on anti-Americanism

We've decided to publish (with the author's permission) reactions that we received about our section on Anti-American Sentiment Among Nationals of Other Countries. We feel that these commentaries serve considerably to further and better inform it.

Response from Nick McGuine

A British national with many years of EFL experience in China

I think that we all have our own, set ideas about Americans, which are usually negative (whether born out of recent political events or—more likely, in my view—out of jealousy/insecurity). Americans do tend to come across as terribly naive and parochial, so I think that it's a good thing to explain the reasons behind this.

Educated Brits are far more outward looking, because of our history and geography, which can make us horribly smug when taking the piss out of "Dumb Yanks". When I lived in Hong Kong, one flatmate was from Boston; we never missed a chance to rag him about his ignorance of the rest of the world, but the fact was, he was a great guy. If non-Americans can be brought to understand why Americans don't share our world view, I think that this could make life a lot more comfortable for everyone.

Frankly, I would have added some advice to Americans to be a little more thick-skinned: I knew an engineer, here, who was a fantastic bloke (when sober) and who had learned—off his own bat—to speak pretty fluent Chinese, yet whenever anyone made a crack about the US, he would react like a little kid, going into a sulk. We Brits can't understand this, as we have been hated by various peoples for several centuries, so we take it as a given, when travelling. I would also advise them to be aware that some of their behaviour is often seen as very arrogant, when they are not, in fact, being so (this is also very much an English problem, particularly among the middle classes: I am constantly being told that I am arrogant, when I am merely doing what I believe to be right. I am also very forthright in my opinions, which doesn't always sit well with the Chinese).

Given the nature of the website—and, therefore, the kind of people who will be reading it—I think that such advice as you have given is perfectly appropriate. It fits in well with other sections of the site, such as Chinese women and marriage: Honest, sensible and well-intentioned.


If you have a different opinion or would like to be heard on this issue, send your comment to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and indicate whether you would like your response to be published anonyously if we decide to use it. Well-written and intelligent responses that help to inform the discussion will be appended. We can only consider onymous (non-anonymous) replies for publication on this page (and if you are unknown to us, we may ask for identity confirmation). Anonymous responses may be published in the reader's forum under Comments, Suggestions, and Feedback with the username "Guest."


About Us

Middle Kingdom Life is the premier award-winning educational website for foreign teachers and Western expats in China. It was founded by an American professor in psychology and sociology for the purpose of disseminating valid and reliable information about living and teaching in China. The site's mission is to protect and enhance the interests and social welfare of foreign teachers and Western expats in China.

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