If you believe what Chinese government spokespeople tell you, the Chinese people are a delicate, sensitive lot; picture 1.4 billion Lin Daiyu’s and you’ll get the general idea. It seems they are constantly having their feelings hurt by cloddish and ill-intentioned foreigners. Yet who are the worst offenders? This critically important empirical question has finally received the attention it deserves; the results are reported here (in Chinese only; sorry).
The study, by a young Chinese journalist, examines an electronic database of the People’s Daily for the years from 1946 to 2006. If the study is accurate, the feelings of the Chinese people were hurt only once before 1978 – by Indonesia, way back in 1959 – but since then all continents have pitched in, with the sole exceptions of Australia and Antarctica. (I believe the Aussies sullied their record of inoffensiveness after 2006.) The worst offenders? The Japanese, of course, at 47 instances. The Ugly Americans are a distant second at 23, and even if you credit all of NATO’s offenses to them don’t manage to get more than another 10. The Indians come next at 7 instances, while the French and Germans belie their national stereotypes with a mere 5 and 3 instances respectively.