Types of Chinese

In 1928, Familie-Journalen printed this illustrated description of what it saw as the three most common types of Chinese people. The accompanying text says (from left to right):

The half-westernized Chinese from the ports of China. He has only been to school for a few years, calls himself student and thanks to the ancestral privilege literate people have always had in China he now claims a right to leadership of the country. It's this half-westernized Chinese who is behind all protests in China, but his misapprehensions of western democratic principles has caused him to spread turmoil wherever he goes and strikes at schools and universities have become a daily occurrence in China. He has learned English at one of the American missionary stations and thinks himself omniscient. In reality his learning is extremely limited.

The old, dignified Chinese who still cleaves to ancient traditions that claim that an imperial government in Beijing is the supreme form of government and all the country's ills have been caused by the republic. He is an incarnation of the ancient, dignified but hopelessly outdated Chinese culture and wisdom.

The fully westernized Chinese. He has studied in Europe or the states and has become so progressive that he's full of contempt for the old, Chinese civilization. But it has become apparent on numerous occasions that these westernized Chinese lack the energy and persistence to continue the what they started in the west. Their knowledge of modern science is very superficial and as a result they're simply blowing in the wind. According to most experts on China it will still take several generations before the Chinese have shaken off their sleep and until that happens the truly destitute China cannot do without the help of the white man.

Familie-Journalen no. 37, sept. 11 1928 p. 34.

It was apparently the magazine's view that the peasants and workers who made up the overwhelming majority of the Chinese population weren't typical of it. What the magazine did find typical about them was their supposed backwards nature and ignorance about the modern world that made them incapable of managing the country without the ”help” of ”the white man.”

Given that Familie-Journalen mostly reprinted material from Amalgamated Press, one of the world's largest publishing houses with publications across the British Empire, the article is most likely of English origin.

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Beware the rickshaw runner. Tourists in Shanghai often treat the Chinese with misguided kindness, which can have severe consequences.
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The inevitable meeting with the Chinese

The tourist arriving in the great cruise ships will naturally primarily be looking to take part in the pleasures of the night life and to shop on Nanjing Road and Rue Joffre. And promenade on the Bund, of course. However, many will also want to meet the Chinese in their natural habitet in the Chinese districts. It is naturally for each to decide how to spend their time in the city, but Shanghai Modern has to strongly advice against leaving the concessions in the tense situation we're currently experiencing.

Still, the vast majority of the inhabitants in the concessions are Chinese, so unless you never leave the tour bus, it is inevitable that you will meet the orientals! This is when you need to look out. Tourists are often gripped by pity and try to alleviate some of the misery they see, but this will easily cause more harm than they realize.

The rickshaw runner, an illustrative example

A fine example of how badly it can end is the omnipresent rickshaw runner. He's standing on the street, offering his services and what can be more quintessentially Chinese than he? So our tourist approaches him to ask what he wants for a trip down Nanjing Road turning on Yu Ya Ching Road and back to the Bund by Fuchow Road. He states his price, which is naturally laughably low, and, so what, what does it mean to me if I double or triple it? This is where it goes horribly wrong.

By nature, the rickshaw runner is a simple man with few needs. Give him a bowl of rice a day and a few rags to tie around his waste and he's happy. What will happen when he suddenly finds himself with what is to him a surfeit of money? Well, he'll immediately let go of his rickshaw and run to the nearest opium den and he won't be seen until he staggers out in a daze several days later. It doesn't benefit him and what's worse, it is destructive for the transportation infrastructure, the entire economy even. Give the poor any more than they absolutely need and you've contributed to the spread of indolence!

The peddler

Or look at the peddler. The sweet, oriental girl shouting at you in her atrocious English to try to convince you to buy a buquet of flowers ”for your misses.” You're thinking, ”aw, she's got such sweet, slit, black eyes, she reminds me of the girl from last night” and before you look around, you've paid the price she asked for. She's laughing at you behind your back and thinking, ”oh, so I can just raise prices” and before we realize, prices have risen across the board. And what's worse, the girl can buy rice for her entire family and China's problem with overpopulation will get even worse than it already is!

The curse of a good heart

This is the root of the problem: The compassion white men naturally feel for others is insufficient against the innate cunning of the orientals. Reason and level headed deliberation, some of the other unique features of the white race, must be employed instead. When you meet the oriental during your stay in Shanghai, you must always keep in mind that you are the superior, that you is the one making the rules and that you are responsible for making sure they're obeyed.


Pretty as the small Chinese women are, never let them seduce you into spoiling them.


Søren Hein Rasmussen
Christina Maria Jessen

Ying Chen
Sissel Vennike Ditlevsen
Christina Maria Jessen
Carsten Lysbjerg Mogensen
Søren Hein Rasmussen
Rikke Holst Thomsen

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