When I first arrived in Taiwan I was living in Taipei. It was the former provincial capital, the 3rd commercial center of Taiwan and ultimately the capital of taiwan which is a de facto nation. I took taxis almost anywhere since they were very reasonably priced compared to what I was used to in New York and much more so that the expensive taxis in Tucson, Arizona. They also offered air conditioning which was quite a benefit to me since Taipei is a fairly muggy climate.

 

The cab drivers were usually quite curious about me as a foreigner that could speak Chinese even though it was quite wretched. I guess wretched Chinese trumps non-existent English. Taiwanese people are all generally friendly and tend to make a little extra effort for guests to their country. So I got a lot of great Chinese practice for the price of a cab ride and the cabbies got an opportunity to pick the mind of a foreign resident filtered through rough Mandarin.

 

Subjects would range from politics, Taipei traffic-horrible because they were building the now wonderful and expansive Taipei Mass Rapid Transit system, and quite often-Chinese people. One of the cabbies started our conversation with, “Excuse me sir…by the way where are you from? Oh US? Anyway-I’m sorry to tell you that Chinese people are the worst people on earth…” Of course this made me feel bad for several reasons: 1) the guy telling me this was Chinese, 2) I have  special love and admiration for Chinese history and culture, 3) practically all races have good and bad people and more and less appealing aspects. The driver continued on with his meme about the nature of Chinese people that troubled him the most. He said that he traveled to the US once. He was there with non-existent English skills and not many compatriot contacts. Somehow he hooked up with some overseas Chinese guy living there that claimed he could help him with his need at the time(I forget the details on that point) and the guy screwed him over taking a few thousand US$ from him and providing nothing.

 

I immediately became an apologist for Chinese people (how ironic) not because I’m naive to the point of not believing Chinese people are incapable of bad behavior or scheming but knowing that the math is not right in that kind of claim. My point being that it is impossible for a whole ethnic group of people, especially such a large one can all be bad. That being said I will posit that the Chinese have the most scoundrels (aggregate, not per capita) out of any ethnic group because Chinese are the largest single ethnic group on earth. Therefore by extension they have the most smart people,stupid people, gay people, non-gay people,etc.

 

The fact that Chinese society has always been so populous and dense means that there has always been a lot of pressure and competition. That coupled with feudal/imperial system up until the 20th century produced an environment where conditions didn’t bode well for most and survival was achieved by the fittest (not always the nicest). So my cabbie’s plea has been repeated to me many times by different people. I know that Chinese people tend to be suspicious of others. They tend to trust fellow Chinese more than other ethnic groups. Unfortunately the Chinese treat their own worse than they treat others and history shows that Chinese have been way busier warring amongst themselves and than with foreigners. The Chinese have many restaurants that offer 1 fish served 3 ways. I often joke that is how they are to fellow Chinese. Dense population and limited resources will really spike that competitive nature.

 

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