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China café

Years of authoritarian rule have made China into a "me first" society. But among my neighbours, manners survive. Plus, the highway patrol and the end of the tourist season

By Mark Kitto   November 2008

There’s no civil society in China

Despite the public signs that declare otherwise, China is not a particularly civil society, at least not in the courteous sense. Strangers avoid eye contact except when staring, please and thank you are as often heard as a silent “k,” and you’re more likely to catch a door in the face than have it held open for you. Altruism, kindness and selfless acts for the general benefit are all considered pointless, verging on the idiotic. China is a “me first” society and the fool can be the hindmost.

It might sound grim, but it…

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