Chinese misconceptions about America have developed due to Chinese state-owned media either mistranslating certain terms, or the media portraying America in ways that politically steer public opinion.
Of course, “Chinese people” here is a generalization, but the misconceptions are widespread.
Let’s look at these 10 main Chinese misconceptions about America.
1. The president of the U.S. is equivalent to the chairman of China
This is probably the deepest misunderstanding. In fact, the English word president has other meanings, including chairman of a company, university, or other associations. The president does not have ruling power like the chairman of China.
The U.S. president does not control everything and every system. In actuality, the word president is more accurately described as “executive administrator” in Chinese.
In the United States, its political system has three separate branches, plus supervision of the news media and freedom of speech. The functions of the American president, in addition to representing the country and acting as commander in chief during wartime, are not much more than a chief of staff in Chinese central government, and in some cases, he has less power.
In theory, presidential campaigning is not limited to only the wealthy people. The United States has a system to ensure that its election is fair, and tries to prevent money being used to influence the election outcome.
2. The president’s wife is the national mother of America
Chinese people are accustomed to calling the highest leader’s wife “the mother of the country.” The U.S. president’s wife is just called the first lady. In the U.S., no one can be called the mother of the country because citizens are the masters of the country.
3. Drugs, sex, and gambling are rampant
In the United States, drug trafficking is against the law and is strictly prohibited. It is true, however, that there are many drug addicts in the U.S.
Prostitution is illegal in all states except one, Nevada, and only in brothels, not on the street. Las Vegas is in Nevada, but doesn’t allow prostitution; it is famous for gambling casinos.
Because Nevada is an inland desert state, gambling and prostitution have become the economic mainstays, the same way Macau has become a gambling city. Inland desert states have huge challenges developing agriculture or animal farming. Due to travel inconveniences, they cannot develop industry either, so they attract tourists with adult entertainment and gambling.
But even so, adult entertainment and gambling have to meet strict management requirements.
4. Americans are not family oriented
In America, adult family members pay for their own expenses. When children become adults, they don’t do much with their parents, and they are not solely responsible for taking care of their parents. That is very difficult for Chinese to accept. Chinese believe that taking care of one’s parents is the most important thing to do. For that particular reason, Chinese view Americans as cold and do not take family seriously.
In fact, Americans are very family oriented, with strong family values; it is just displayed differently. For example, in the U.S., many entertainment and travel vacations are for the entire family. Christmas and Thanksgiving are treated like the Chinese New Year, and family always gets together when possible.
The concept of “home” is quite different for Chinese and Americans. To Americans, home means family, where your family or parents live. If an American says they miss home, or are homesick, it usually means they miss their family. Chinese emphasize the structure, such as a house, instead of family members.
5. The White House is a palace
The White House, after being translated into Chinese, is called the White Palace.
However, Americans deliberately avoided the word palace when constructing the White House. They made it clear that it is not an office or resident for an emperor or a king, but for a president.
The property belongs to the country, and the one who uses it is only a renter and must pay rent. After four years, a new renter will move in.
Such a structure has little to do with a palace, but Chinese insist on calling it the White Palace, which brings the misconception.
Keep an eye out for the other 5 Chinese misconceptions about America.