Chinese stereotypes, in more detail


This post discusses the results of the China Autocompleted piece in further detail, with observations that didn’t make the cut for the final Tea Leaf Nation piece.

  • Beijing: While one might expect queries on China’s capital to focus on its infamous pollution, questions on that topic are less numerous than on the cheapness of its automobiles – local dealers are fond of running sales.  Other queries focus the city’s lack of skyscrapers, snow, and a First Ring Road (it has Second through Sixth).
  • Tianjin shares elite municipality status with Shanghai, Chongqing, and neighbor Beijing, but many netizens wonder why.  Other ask why it is not a top-tier city, suggesting that it plays Baltimore to Beijing’s Washington DC.  On a lighter note, one top query concerns Tianjin locals’ predilection for holding weddings in the afternoon.
  • Hebei: With its most prosperous areas cut away to form the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin, Hebei Province is left being considered polluted and undeveloped.
  • Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang: These three provinces individually produce few autocompleted results, but put together they are commonly referred to as Dongbei – The Northeast – a region known for its cold weather, beautiful women, and lack of resistance (to Japanese colonization in the 1930s).  Locals are considered tall, but have poor reputations and are known for starting fights (with each other, apparently, not the Japanese).
  • Netizens wonder about why Inner Mongolia “beats new soldiers”, a reference to a late 2013 hazing incident involving a local firefighting brigade.  Others ask why the area isn’t independent – perhaps in light of the fact that the independent nation of Mongolia lies to its north.
  • Shanxi lacks snow but has a lot of coal, and the locals love eating vinegar.
  • Shaanxi is the only province for which all results relate to the origin of its various names throughout history – understandable, given it was the base of the first emperor and later the flourishing Tang Dynasty.
  • Tiny Ningxia’s only result concerned a grisly 2013 incident in which a local man killed his wife and six family members following a marital dispute.
  • Gansu is considered poor.
  • The far western province of Xinjiang inspires a mix of curiosity and revulsion, with many asking about its chaos, terrorists, thieves, and desire for independence.  Others wonder why the local Uighur minorities look like foreigners, why they hate Han Chinese, and why they are given affirmative action-style privileges as well as the right to carry knives. Fruit from Xinjiang is considered especially sweet.
  • For Tibet,  no queries asking “Why is Tibet…” yield any auto-completed results, though deleting the “Why” and leaving “Tibet” produces a range of results relating to tourism and domestic television dramas.  Skipping auto-complete and doing a standard search for “Why is Tibet,” yields a results page includes articles about why Tibet wants independence, why it is part of China, and why it is worth visiting.
  • Qinghai: Along with Tibet, this is the only region with no auto-complete results.
  • “Why is Jiangsu China’s Number One Province?” goes the top query for this prosperous coastal region.  Others ask why it is so developed, why it has smog, and why its cut-off score for China’s college entrance exam is so low.
  • A top query for China’s commercial capital of Shanghai asks why it has no publicly-provided heat in the winter (answer – it falls south of a designated boundary, meaning locals get to shiver no matter how cold it gets or how developed the city is).  Others ask about the city’s cheap cars and poor air quality.  Locals are known for looking down on outsiders, especially people from Anhui who supply a large amount of the city’s migrant labor force.
  • Anhui is considered poor and undeveloped. Netizens wonder why it has no basketball team.
  • Zhejiang is considered rich, prosperous, developed, and smoggy.  Many results involve a question of whether the province needs to “take a hike” out of China – not a serious discussion of independence, but a reference to a 2013 online debate that occurred after flooding led to schadenfreude about the cocky coastal province brought low.
  • Fujian is considered poor and undeveloped.
  • The renegade province of Taiwan is “unwilling to return” to the motherland. Some ask why it is an inalienable part of China.  The island and its people are known for using traditional Chinese characters, resisting unification, liking Japan, and looking down on mainlanders. It also has a lot of movie stars.
  • Guangdong: China’s largest province by GDP is known for being developed, yet chaotic.  People wonder at its lack of snow as well as the locals’ predilection for eating just about anything, including monkeys.
  • Guangxi is known for being poor, undeveloped, and backward.
  • Guizhou is considered poor.
  • Yunnan is considered poor, but is known for both having snow and having a climate that’s like “four seasons of spring”.
  • Chongqing is known for its hot weather and beautiful women.  People wonder why it has elite municipality status.
  • Sichuan is known for both the beauty of its women and the frequency of its natural disasters (notably the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake).  Its people are known for eating spicy food, having good skin, and being short.
  • Hubei people are sometimes called “nine-headed birds,” a reference to a mythical creature once worshipped by the province’s ancient peoples; the nickname now associates locals with cunning and crafty natures.
  • Hunan is famous above all else for its provincial TV station, about whose outages and scheduling people have many queries.  Other top queries involve its lack of a Railway Bureau, as well as why the locals eat spicy peppers and betel nuts.
  • Jiangxi is known for being poor and undeveloped, and lacking a high-speed rail connection.
  • Hainan is considered undeveloped.
  • Shandong is known for having a high cut-off score for the national college entrance exam. Its people are considered tall.
  • Henan is considered polluted, undeveloped, and poor. It lacks good universities but is home to an abundance of people, who have a terrible reputation: “Why are Henan people so bad?” goes one query, while others focus on their propensity for stealing manhole covers (merely a symbol of how they will steal anything of value to sell for scrap).  Some less familiar with the region ask why its reputation is so poor and why its people are discriminated against.

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