Differences Between Chinese and Expat in China When Making Friends

People sitting around a campfire during international student networking night
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Differences Between Chinese and Expat in China When Making Friends

What are the differences between the way and details of Chinese making friends and foreigners making friends? In China, many Expat group creates Networking Night to tighten the relationship between expat in China and local Chinese people. Some language school might host an international student networking night to support their students learn Chinese in China.

Chinese people like to ask directly “Can we be friends?”

At an international student networking night, this kind of directness when delivered to friendship seems strange and weird to foreigners and is too much of an initial commitment before knowing each other.

That kind of candor can scare the foreigners away, as friendship to foreigners is not something that you vocally agree on, but rather something that is built over time.But this kind of question is common to Chinese people. Sometimes they think that foreigners like this kind of directness.

Asian person telling story to woman at international student networking night
Students creating jiaozi at international student networking night

Practice your English/Chinese

I often hear Chinese people say: I have a foreign friend, so I can practice English with him. This kind of transactional-like approach can simply make your target feel like they’re being used. Remember that expats in China can make good money by giving simple conversation classes, so most will see no benefit in chatting with you simply so you can improve your English. 

Ask if they want to have a coffee or a drink sometime instead. You’ll still get to practice your English, but you might make a genuine friend, too!

Attitude towards women/girls

Although Chinese and foreigners have a common topic when talking about women, just as women around the world are talking about men. But Chinese people have always been masculine. They think that men are the masters of the family. Therefore, they will reveal the contempt for women. Sometimes it is even the whole society. For example, they will call women “beauty.” This can sometimes make people feel uncomfortable.

Students hanging out at a bar at international student networking night

The Communication Ways

Chinese people like to text messages, but for foreigners, send a text is only when you have something to say. Some Chinese texting 20 times a day just to say “hi” can seem invasive for a foreigner, as foreigners usually only text to make plans or sharing a story or some news. Chinese people usually say this phrase too early and too often. For foreigners, this is a phrase usually reserved for their closest friends and relatives. Saying it to someone they met once in a coffee shop is not commonplace. Most foreigners don’t feel comfortable with messages from people they hardly know that say, “I miss you”. This makes it interesting to stay in touch with the people you meet at international student networking night.,

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