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Written by Mary Higgins
It’s one of those cliches of China advice, something that’s told to every business person before they travel to China for the first time: “Don’t lose your temper. Displays of anger are frowned upon in China.”

Yeah, right. If that’s true, then why is it that I see people here publicly and spectacularly Losing It here in China just about every single day?

You’ve all seen them — usually involving some nouveau-riche guy with a manbag and his mobile phone clipped to his belt, occassionally a little juiced up on baijiu, ranting and raving and screaming and shouting at whoever has slighted his “face”. I’ve seen people screaming at airport check-in staff, shop assistants, cab drivers, security guards, each other in the street when they collide on their bikes, there seems to be no end to the anger and frustration among the locals.

So why are we foreigners always advised against joining in the fun? I think that, far from being frowned upon, public displays of anger (”PDAs”) in China have been elevated to an art form.

I want to look at another kind of PDA, which I enjoy almost as much as a spectator sport - and that is Public Domestic Arguments. I never cease to be amazed at the number of domestic arguments you see on the streets in China. Walking to and from work, I pass by a major subway station and would see close to one every day. They invariably go something like this:

1. Young couple are bickering on street side.

2. Girl gets teary, pouts, crosses her arms, and turns her back on Guy, ignoring him. This is the Pouty Chinese Girl Routine. If you’ve ever been out with a Chinese girl, you know EXACTLY how this works. If you are a foreigner, you do not proceed to step 3 and it all stops right here.

3. Guy gets very red in the face and slightly sweaty, and speaks intensely but very closely to Girl. He forcibly grabs her shoulder and tries to turn her around. This is the Huffy Chinese Guy Routine. Sometimes the force used by the guy can get a bit rough - certainly more than you could use on the street in the West without being set on by about 6 chivalrous passers-by. But in China no one ever seems to intervene in these situations.

4. Girl breaks free and starts walking away from Guy, but she is sure to walk slowly enough that he can catch up with her.

5. Guy stands there slightly nonplussed, shaking his head and looking the other way, maybe gets out his phone and has a bit of a play. He acts like he is not going to follow Girl.

6. Guy follows Girl.

7. Go back to 1 and repeat.

Have any of my readers actually interevened in a PDA in China before?

Our valuable Editor Mary Higgins has been with us since Tuesday, 24 November 2009.

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+2 #5 Boomer 2013-01-28 13:37
Quoting Jeroma:
I am just really shocked by the general lack of equality in Chinese relationships and in my relationships with Chinese women. Where exactly did all these princesses get the idea that men should take any abuse that they are given without fighting back, buy them lots of stuff, always be very gentle, and then expect nothing back? It blows my mind.

Jeroma How right you are, what is wrong with these women? violent, obnoxious control freaks. You can actually go from quite wealthy to ’stone broke’ with women here while not actually spending a dime. They chew up your relationships with friends and sulk like babies. Being decent to them just goes over their fucking heads!
+3 #4 Jeroma 2013-01-25 08:09
I am just really shocked by the general lack of equality in Chinese relationships and in my relationships with Chinese women. Where exactly did all these princesses get the idea that men should take any abuse that they are given without fighting back, buy them lots of stuff, always be very gentle, and then expect nothing back? It blows my mind.
+2 #3 Okinawa 2013-01-24 23:01
Not quite PDA but still things that for me sum up Chinese women and their men - and are direct extensions of the whining little princesses that they are taught to be (and allowed to be by their menfolk).

1. The sight you see every weekend of the woman strolling through the shopping malls with an itsy little handbag, a look of superiority on their faces, and their boyfriend two metres behind them shouldering tons of brand name bags full of clothes he has bought for his darling little princess.

2. Sitting in a bar outside on Hengshan Lu one evening. A little princess rocks up to the front door, stands in front of it and waits a couple of seconds. Her puny man/boy a little behind her. Without even looking at him, she points at the door and in her loud whiny voice yells “拉”. And the idiot rushes forward to open the door for her. I spat out my beer laughing so much - which she didn’t like much but ignored.

I went out with a chinese girl for four years - never again. The fights and insecurities are fun for a while but then it just gets really boring. Especially the whole being expected to give them face in public thing.
+1 #2 Dragon Jones 2013-01-24 20:47
I, being affianced to a Chinese girl, know EXACTLY what you’re talking about.

I’ve been caught in the middle of TOO MANY of these.

I get so pissed about it now that, when she starts to pout, either:

1) We go straight home to fight (which pisses me off more because I was out to do something) or,

2) I just walk away. I go my way and she goes hers. And then we meet back at home later to argue.

I HATE to argue in public. After a few seconds, it starts to draw a crowd.

EVERYONE wants to see how the LAOWAI is arguing with his Chinese girlfriend and how he mistreats her, so they can go back and tell all their friends about how horrible LAOWAI’s are and how girls should never date one.
+4 #1 Peter 2013-01-24 19:39
Ahhhh the Pouty Chinese Girl Routine, I’m only too familiar with that. The flare of the nostrils, the slight curl of the upper lip, the almost imperceptible stamp of the foot in huffy protest. I find it quite endearing really, especially when I know I’m right…

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