For all the well-deserved anti-Americanism in the world, perhaps no place is it better deserved than in China. The Chinese individual takes massive burdens on himself for the betterment of the American individual. One example is the competitively low wage a Chinese laborer accepts in exchange for keeping the price of a Tonka truck, or a Kitchen-Aid food processor down. Another could be the relatively slim purchasing power of a Chinese citizen based on a national policy of currency devaluation vs. the Dollar, again seeking to keep prices low for you’re average Joe-Six-Pack (esp. if he’s drinking Tsingdao). Now both these arguments are reversible, that they have positive macroeconomic effects, and net-positive social effects, but one that does not is that same average Joe-Six-Pack’s proclivity toward China-Bashing.
I’ve been a lot of places and met a lot of people, and I know the difference between wide-spread national stereotypes (See: France; Cheese-loving surrender-monkeys, America; George W. Bush), and translating those into personal stereotypes. But the unfortunate frequency with which Americans confuse the two regarding China is belied in the media. National insults rightly stir national animosity (whereas the Europeans have a lot less to complain about), especially when Americans so frequently fail to clarify the subtle difference between Chinese People, and their disagreement's with their government's' policies, or with corporations' lack of safety oversight while seeking higher profits. But nowhere in the world have I found such uniform and unambiguous goodwill directed at a simple foreigner (外国人). I have now been welcomed to Beijing several times.
Arguably a large part of the pleasant attitudes is sheer interest. I have been approached by more than one stranger, bus-ticket-collector, student, or barker wanting to know why I am visiting, and how I like it. They are sure to comment on my ‘excellent Chinese’ even if I only manage one word in a conversation.
I am still relatively new here, but I know that if I were Chinese, I would have some serious reservations about how Americans regarded Chinese. But perhaps that’s just because I’m neurotic. Either way, that was a freebie.