Having grown up in the UK, graduated from universities in both the UK and Greece, having visited more than thirty countries, spent extensive periods of time in Nepal, India and Thailand before arriving in Japan, having started and managing companies in both Japan and China, having lived in Japan and China for a total of about twenty years, having studied seven languages, and having been married to somebody with a different nationality for more than a decade, I thought I had come to the conclusion that a person’s nationality—something assigned to them when they are born, and totally beyond their control—is even less relevant than their favorite color.

But, . . . recent experiences in China have forced me to reconsider my position and rethink the opinions of those that I have been denouncing for the past two decades.

Many, if not most, of the Japanese businessmen I work with have low expectations and opinions of the average Chinese. I found this to be unfair and offensive. Why judge somebody just on their nationality?

However, it has recently become clear(er) to me that China may be an exception that can no longer be ignored. It should also be emphasized that I am _NOT_ talking about the average Chinese person who has never been overseas; I am talking about those that not only speak a foreign language, but have also spent some time living abroad.

I am sure that there are many exceptions, but I am beginning to realize that the length of time a Chinese person spends overseas has little, or nothing, to do with how well they understand the people, language, or culture of that country. What is common sense to almost everyone in that country may always seem extremely foreign to the Chinese visitors. Yes, visitors! As, no matter how much time they spend “living” in another country, it seems that very few actually join the local society to an extent where they can truly understand the “common sense” and “traditions”, which form the base of the social values.

Soon I’ll give you a couple of real-life examples . . .