Not All White Guys in China Are Rich!

In china business by Michael Michelini10 Comments

Bet that title got your attention! But it is true, so many Chinese people see a white face and think he/she is rich. Maybe its culture, maybe its tradition, maybe its how

In this post I put a statue I just saw recently in China, a fat Chinese guy. I’m told that a fat person in China means:

  • Rich
  • Happy
  • Lucky
  • So Greedy

For example – when at temple, if there is a fat guard, the fattest one of the group is the happiest.

To me, this means a lot about Chinese culture…that:

money = happiness

It is really true, there is another saying, I think its better said in Chinese, but a rough translation in english:

A girl would rather be crying in the front seat of a BMW then happy in the back seat of a [insert cheaper car name]

I’m told that was a joke from a TV series about matchmaking, and the girl said that to become famous. But I can’t help but believe money is so tightly ingrained into the minds of Chinese…..make money, save money, buy house / real estate.

Chinese are much more savers than Americans. Americans make money, but spend money just as fast. Chinese make money and SAVE money…that is the big difference….

The American dream is to get a steady job, get married, buy a BIG HOUSE, BIG CAR, fill the house with new furniture, have kids, and hopefully keep that steady paycheck to pay back all that debt you made, and then send your kids to college. Thats the American dream, really.

The Chinese dream – is there one? I think its to save money, maybe pay your parents money, they get face in their hometown that their child has made it in a big city away from home, and continue to save money, buy real estate. Buy more real estate, get a husband/wife, rent out your multiple houses, keep saving, keep making money. I think I’m pretty much right here?

I think Chinese would agree with me, in the culture money is the measurement for success, and success is measured as happiness.

But the “Chinese dream” is so rapidly changing. There are so many big differences between generations, what the grandmother / grandfather experienced to what parents to what current children are experiencing. I think a lot of the children now have seen such rapid growth in the Chinese economy….farmers turned into multi millionaires and factories growing exponentially making middle class, hard working factory owners international conglomerates. I think maybe this new generation of Chinese is a bit more light hearted, desiring to enjoy life more, spend more now, worry later. But time will tell.

My staff in China have always told me how much pressure they get from their parents to earn as much money as they can. That they are not living for themselves, but instead to earn money for their parents and their hometowns. Maybe this is also strategy for a raise, but I do believe this is part of the culture here.

China….its really an ever evolving culture.

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  1. Mike,
    I am sad that you define “The American Dream” in that way. I find it a bit insulting. I’m not sure if I can define it, or that I know what it is. But I believe I know people who live it. But i know it isn’t what you said or the way you said it. If anyone reading this blog would like a more accurate definition, please at least visit wikipedia’s definition, at least their definition is closer, and unbias.
    I really hope your knock of what you consider to be “the american dream” was unintentional and not a way to somehow justify your personal goals and dreams.

    1. Author

      Hey Piotr,
      sorry for slower response, I have been thinking about it and I researched the “American dream”, maybe calls for another blog post, but in this comment box I’ll put the definition:

      From Google dictionary = American dream, noun, The traditional social ideals of the US, such as equality, democracy, and material prosperity.
      From Wikipedia, American Dream – is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success

      So there is the definition, I keep thinking of the movie “Goodfellas” and at the end he is in the witness protection program, living in the suburbs of America unhappily. There is also the movie “American Beauty” that takes cracks at the American dream.

      I see the American Dream as having a corporate job, living in the suburbs, paying your taxes and bank loans back. At least, that is what I have seen it become.

  2. Not all of Chinese think about money=happiness .I am the one who don’t think so.
    About the “BMW” girl,i don’t want to say too much,only i want to say,oh,she is so crazy,society makes youngsters’ mind. Maybe she will sitting the bike and crying.
    About save money,that’s the culture difference.People living and following their own steps the realize what’s right.

    1. Author

      Hi Yang,
      Just like Piotr objected in my interpretation of the “American dream”, sadly I have to generalize people in order to compare and reflect.

      We are all living the life how we want to, as best we can. At least I hope so. But sadly, I believe, the majority of people do not take responsibility for creating their own destiny and opportunities.

  3. I have to admit, the Chinese don’t really have much of a dream except to work hard and make lots of money. While their culture cares much about face they also care about taking care of their elderly. While I think thats great, the one thing I don’t like is when the parents pressure their children to get married by age 26 or no guy will want them. I don’t know about you, but most chinese girls even to the age of 40 look pretty good. And in my opinion, the older the woman, the more mature and less dramatic/emotional she will be. Like a fine wine, better through age…

    About american dream, I thought it was to make a big score (bank robbery or big con) and escape away to one of the Caribbean Islands? Oh wait, thats my dream :-p j/k

    1. Author

      ahah, yea Attila, we have our own American Dream versions. To me, is to be free of debt and obligation, to be able to live in the world as I see fit, and not have bank loans and governments telling me how to live, whether that government is US or China.

      Yea, Chinese tradition, Chinese CULTURE. Its what holds them back…..that is what is lucky about the American society, it has “no culture” so therefore it can grow quickly and not worry about what someone’s parents’ cousins’ aunts’ great grandmother thinks is best for them. Maybe this will change, but culture is a hard thing to change/break. I do see it in the younger Chinese, but still they always complain about their parents pushing them to live life how their family wants them to.

      And yes, Chinese women, like all women, get better like a fine wine (do i get points for that one?)

  4. Hey Mike,

    I cannot reply to your reply so I will reply here. That is a much better version of the American Dream. To me the american dream is known to people that move here from other countries. They have an american dream of starting with nothing, as nobodys, and being prosperable. Something that cannot be achieved in other countries, possibly socialist. You cannot own land in some other countries, or at least in the past you could not. To me the american dream is to give your children better opportunities to succeed than you had. Owning a home is some wealth that you can pass onto them. It seems like in China the dream is similar, but it takes several generations to get it done, so the parents let the children go off, and they are supported by the parents, but in return, when the children finish studying and start making money, they must help support the aging parents. it sounds like that is more the culture of china where in US people are more focused on retirement plans andor social security to take care of them when they are old.

    the adjectives BIG and BIG are just insulting as if americans overindulge and are greedy. Your definition of dream started with the BIG house and BIG car and then fill it with NEW furniture and children. I think it starts with family and children and then getting a house, a safe stable place to raise that family, and a car, a safe way to get them to where they need to go. It starts with family and then the needs come along. And sure bigger stuff and luxury items are bought too if the family is doing well. and there are examples of people who just spend money on themselves yes and dont have kids but that is not the american dream. its hope. its that you can make it. you can set your family on its way to do bigger and better things. leave a legacy that you helped future generations be successful too.

    1. Author

      Hwy Piotr,
      thanks for your passionate reply, i really do appreciate it!

      I do know what you mean, but on the flipside of that it seems very hard for immigrants to enter usa now more then ever…..which therefore limits this american dream.

      And wjile you appreciate this american dream….for some reason my experience and viewpoint of most american friends of mine is…..not….this……thinking how to explain it, but i think the majority of americans get caught up with the material things side…..and then debt takes over….and then we become slaves to banks……

      do u not agree that is a major problem in america?

  5. hey,

    once again i cannot reply. I do agree mike. materialism is dangerous. leads to debt, stress from having all this debt, and can lead to bankruptcy. you are correct. is it a problem? to each his own right. thats freedom. anyone can do what they want with their money. so i do agree that what you described exists, and it probably exists in huge numbers, and it may be an american norm or american trend among yuppies, but it is not the american dream. yet it seems like the people you describe are the target (non business to business) market for your bar products business. so in a way we can complain about materialism, and then go into business by selling material items.

    i really like interesting topics and discussions you inspire. i just hope to protect the integrity of the image of america to your international audience. yes america has its vices – but there are virtues as well

    1. Author

      true……i can accept i should not have called it the american dream….but i do have to admit my perseption of what americans call success is a big house, nice car, and who cares if there are people starving in africa…..

      why do we make ice cream trucks for dogs (blogged that a year ago) but if people want to use their money for it, and create unnecessary things…then so be it….stuff like that makes me sick.

      but i guess like u say, if ……people want to buy things they dont need to impress people they dint like , then its their freedom and choice, right.

      i dont really have the answer….but it doesnt seem fair to the world population as a whole

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