In defence of mainland manners

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2010, 12:00am

I am writing in response to Hailey Wai's Bright Spark (Young Post, September 13). In it, Hailey condemns mainlanders as uncivilised at the Shanghai Expo and cites cases of queue jumping, sleeping on benches and washing their hair in the drinking fountains.

I think Hailey has been too influenced by the West. China is the greatest civilisation on earth. We have given the world so much. We had cities and governments while Westerners were still beating each other over the head in caves. Why should we let them tell us what is 'good manners' or not?

I have seen Westerners with terrible manners, spitting gum on the streets, licking their fingers when they turn pages in a book, and eating with their hands.

When they go to China, they need to understand that it is not their country. China is different. We have our own culture.

Jason Leung

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Jason. While we should all be aware of, and respect, cultural differences, especially in such a multicultural society as Hong Kong, there is such a thing as common decency. And it shouldn't matter where we come from - good basic manners are universal.

Of course, every culture has its unique traditions, and it is inappropriate for one culture to criticise another as inferior or uncivilised.

Perhaps the best rule to apply is consideration. We may not all understand another culture's customs, but as long as we are considerate of people's feelings, and don't consciously do anything to offend or inconvenience them, it is more likely our ignorance of specific details will be forgiven.

If someone has been queuing for an event for four hours, as is often the case at the Shanghai Expo, and someone else pushes in front of them, this is not a matter of 'Western' or 'Chinese' manners. That sort of behaviour is just rude.

Karly, Deputy Editor