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Letter from Moganshan, east China

In China, it’s good manners to jump to conclusions about someone you’ve just met

By Mark Kitto   April 2011

It is good manners in China to tell someone what you think they want to hear, as soon as possible after meeting them. The locals here jump to conclusions like British children jump into puddles. Hence first conversations become a series of corrections rather than an exchange of pleasantries.

I went to the barber for a haircut. There were a couple of local businessmen paying.

“You’re the foreigner from Harmony village aren’t you,” one of them shouted.

“There are no foreigners in Harmony village actually,” I replied.

“Then you must be the one from 395 village,” the other declared with…

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