What do Mexican people think of China and Chinese?



Lucía Fernanda Ramírez Reyes, Private Teacher and Translator at Freelancing (2003-present)

I live in Puebla, people from here can’t tell the difference between Far East Asians.

Puebla’s nationalistic symbol is called “China Poblana”, an Indian woman traded as a servant-slave who supposedly came from Philipines in “La Nao de la China”, that was the extent of what people saw as “China”; generalizing all Asia as “China” doesn’t go as far now though, but most still can’t tell the difference between Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thailandese, Singapurean…

Very few people have bad opinions of Chinese immigrants, but when they do it’s due to the exploitative and inhumane conditions in which Chinese and Korean managers, supervisors and bussiness owners are towards their employees, however social awareness is not highly common and most Mexicans are ignorant of those issues. Whenever Mexicans have had bad experiences with Chinese bussiness, they tend to reason its not every Chinese person.




People see them as “exotic”, because of being foreigners, so they are very well received and warmly welcomed, opposite to how most Mexicans from this region treat other Mexicans and Central Americans.

Most humans in most countries idealize foreign countries, cultures and lifestyles, it goes more than half and half when it comes to Mexicans, some of my people have the most bizarre ideas about places in Western Europe, Canada, the US and Far Asia. They think of Japanese and Chinese as specially clever, hardworking, good for bussiness, disciplined and civilized, which is true to an extent but it’s seen as some kind of ethical utopia with no crime and absolute regard for others which is in fact clueless and unrealistic.

Some people interact with Chinese more often due to their jobs, travels or studies, and tend to have more sensical opinions.

There were racist eugenic government policies against Chinese in the 1920s and the 1930s, and deportations. Actually it only became legal for Chinese to acquire the Mexican citizen ship until about 20 or 30 years ago.

译文来源:三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/47074.html 译者:Joyceliu





Chinese exchange students usually only hang out with other Chinese hardly ever speaking Spanish, even the ones who’s major degrees are about Spanish language or Latinomerican Studies.

There are very open, outspoken and friendly Chinese migrants once in a while who are very eager to learn from our culture and socialize, but I’ve seen most talkative migrants and turists have a fixation for praising China and the way things are done over there as to be above and better than all other cultures and economic, social and political systems every two sentences, and tend to complain a lot about neutral things, so even they are amicable and likeable, it can get a bit annoying, or funny.



So if you’re interested in our culture, many people are gonna show you everything they can, take you to their homes, to parties, to eat and drink, to travel and will try to become your new generous best friends, it’s also because we are proud of many things in our present and our past, including our food, which brings me to some unrequested advice: try not to be a picky eater if you are, it can feel insulting as a Mexican and can be seen as arrogant/stuck up depending on the way, and how often you refuse to try new food/cultural things like holiday traditions, and people might get a bit distant afterwards.

Mexicans are aware of China’s economic success and admire the Chinese for it




David Martinez, Us/Mexico dual citizen/history nut. Yep, that Mexican Thing.

It's a complex relationship. Chinese have been emigrating to Mexico for almost as long as they have been emigrating to the US, so there's two interrelated perceptions there. There's also a cultural divide within Mexico - cultured people are more likely to have specific perceptions (positive or negative) about Chinese than less cultured people, who may lump all Asians together as "Chinese" (this happens less and less but it still does amongst Mexico's uneducated - usually making Japanese, Filipinos and Koreans pretty angry when they overhear Mexicans calling them Chinese).


Immigrant Perceptions

Mexico's Urban areas have always had some Chinese population. Mexico City (DF) is very fond of their "Cafés de Chinos" (Chinese Coffeehouses) - these are a mixture between a 1950s style café, that serves Mexican pan dulce and café con leche (coffee au lait) in addition to standard Mexican cooking. These are owned and operated by Chinese arrivals from immigration waves in the 20s and 60s. There was a previous wave of Chinese immigrants that come from the 1800s, either directly or as a result of the United States' Chinese Exclusion act (many of them traveled to Mexico where there was no such restructions). There's a sort-of-diluted Chinatown in Coyoacán (Mexico is very syncretic, so even in self-isolating communities such as the Chinese, you can expect more mixture of "them and us than in, say, the USA"). Here's a translation of someone talking about these unique Mexican-Chinese places after moving abroad:


墨西哥的城市地区一直有一些中国人口。墨西哥城非常喜欢他们的中国咖啡馆——这是一种混合了20世纪50年代风格的咖啡馆,供应墨西哥甜面包和咖啡牛奶,以及标准的墨西哥菜肴。这些咖啡馆由20年代及60年代移民潮中的中国移民拥有和经营。上一波来自19世纪的中国移民潮,有些是直接移民到此,有些是美国《排华法案》导致的结果(他们中的许多人搬到了墨西哥)。在科约阿坎就有小型唐人街(墨西哥是一个融合性很强的国家,所以即使是在像中国人聚居的较为封闭的社区,也能看到“我们之间的融合程度要高于美国”)。 Here's a picture of a café de Chinos:



So Chinese immigrants are seen as outsiders when they clusterize, and as part and parcel of our syncretic culture when they integrate.

In general, Mexicans consider the Chinese people as good-natured, family-oriented and hardworking, a little cold and calculating for the super-warm Mexican taste, but like them overall.



Perceptions of China as a Country

Personally, some of the same uneducated Western stereotypes of Asians and Chinese apply for uneducated Mexicans, as we're Western in mentality, so I won't repeat them here.

Positively, Mexico, always careful to preserve and show our pre-hispanic past, appreciates old cultures, and there's no culture as old and exquisitely so as China. So Mexicans, fans of history that we tend to be, truly appreciate learning about the Chinese and their experiences, inventions and philosophies. Buddhism and Dao have made some real inroads in Mexican circles.





Albert Cornelius Doyle, studied at Harvard University

They have an interesting historical relationship. Naturally 95 percent or more of Mexicans have Asian heritage, and most realize this. So there’s an understanding that they have as much Asian blood as European, and with the more indigenous people, even more.

Also, in the northwest, and in the stolen piece of Mexico called California, there have been modern Chinese persecuted alongside modern Mexicans since the Gold Rush and the building of the railroads. Both have worked for gringos for shitty wages for 150 years. So there’s a certain mutual sympathy, until quite recently.

There are also more Chinese immigrants to Mexico than any other country except the U.S. So there is a substantial Chinese population at present. Mexicans love them some Chinese food, and Chinese restaurants are almost as ubiquitous as in London!




But there is also a great deal of entrepreneurial resentment. I have been in artisanal craft stores where the owners shoo Chinese shoppers out, because they fear that offshore factory ships will reverse engineer and 3-D print the native crafts and then undercut them on price and corner the market. It is ridiculously expensive to import any electronics with Chinese chips (which means most), because Mexico enforces very strict anti-dumping laws against the Chinese.

That is shifting quite recently, as the Trump administration alienates and insults Mexico, and is saber-rattling about punitive re-structuring of NAFTA. China has seen its opening, and is cultivating trade agreements with Mexico — so the political and economic relationship between the countries is warming.




Joe Kyle, Retired businessman & military officer

I live in the Yucatan peninsula, where the indigenous people are by far the largest ethnic group, and they are Mayans, but also Mexicans by nationality. Mayans tend to be very polite, respectful, patient, and tolerant people. I have never seen a Mayan treat anyone with anything other than a smile and respect.

Interestingly, when visiting Mayan ruin sites one will often hear from the guides, as they explain the meanings and symbolism of the ruins and glyphs, of an ancient link to China. I specifically recall when visiting Palenque and hearing the story of the Red Queen that the guide addressed links to China that seemed to exist at the site. Best said, no proven links between the ancient Maya and Chinese civilizations have been documented, but there are some indicators, or teasers, that suggest one.




Mikel Chesneau, Born in Monterrey, Mexico

As a Mexican who has met a couple of Chinese immigrants in my native city and has heard plenty of things other young Mexicans think about China and its people, I’d have to say that the vision is generally quite neutral.

We really appreciate Chinese people as they make delicious food which we really enjoy in Mexico, there’s a good amount of Chinese people running restaurants like that and many people love them. I think any Mexican that has talked to them and seen how their business is run would agree that they are very hard working.

I think the vision towards the Chinese has become more positive in recent years, in my neighborhood there were quite a few Chinese people and everybody was just happy to see some different people living in the city, since we don’t see a lot of Asians. One friend of mine was even happy to do some small talk with a Chinese guy at the mall who didn’t seem to be very proficient in Spanish.

And also, China is giving the middle finger to the US, which we find amusing. So that’s another source of respect towards the country.






Jossy Solá, lives in Mexico

I do not want to speak for everyone, but I think many of us think of Chinese people as dirty people? By dirty people I do not mean, they're dirty. Let me explain:

My dad sells things outside WalMart, sometimes he enters when he need to buy something. There is a food shop by chinese people, and what my dad saw was them washing the mop in the sink... for some of us that is not a good idea, that is not hygienic. So that was a bad impression from them.

Also maybe most of the people see chinese people as persons that eat almost everything (like dogs, fetus, etc.)

These are the two "stereotypes" I can find people may believe.

But obviously, the thoughts varies from person to person.








Derek Branum

I think they are embraced with affection. There are plenty of Chinese and Chinese~Mexican people in Mexico. Your question brings to mind memories of a favorite old bartender that worked at one of my favorite restaurants (Mijares) in Pasadena, Ca. His name was Johnnie , he was Chinese and grew up in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. He spoke fluent Spanish and we considered him a Chinomexican ! My casual experience of chatting with Mexicanos about Chinese ( Los chinos) is that they are hardworking industrious people who do good making and keeping money.



Ksjf Gsnd

I dont know about other regions, but i can say that in my state baja california there is a strong presence of chinese culture, there are plenty of chinese restaurants and we mexicans love chinese food. In mexicali (the capital city) there is a “Barrio Chino” and in that city is said that they made the best chinese food in all Mexico. One of my best friends is part chinese and she one of the niciest persons i have ever met.Chinese people are generally seen as very “humildes” and hard working



Fran Jaime, Mexican, Atheist, Hardcore realist. (1975-present)

My aunt Trini, my mom’s cousin, married a Chinese immigrant. I have nothing but beautiful, loving memories of my uncle Ángel (He was given that name by immigration officials. I think they couldn’t pronounce his real one). He was a very sweet, hardworking man. He owned a café de chinos (Chinese coffee shop) downtown, which always had delicious biscuits and coffee (Mexican kids drink coffee from an early age). I remember he had a jukebox and I lovd playing records there, but he would never let me put coins in. He would open it and then have me pick whatever songs I wanted. He treated my aunt like a queen. He was a bit strict with my cousins, but he never hit them. He died the same year as my father. He was a good man.



Eduardo Sánchez Hidalgo, works at Lionbridge

I don't personally know a chinese person, but it seems to be two extreme oposite opinions about chinese people in México.

1.- People from China can be seen as rude, stuborn and cheating.

2.- Some mexicans think chinese people are natural born intelligent.

As I said, I don't personally know a chinese person, so I can only suppose there's all kind of people in China, as anywhere else in the world.






Karina Acosta, I am Mexican

Most Mexicans think Chinese are stingy.

I haven’t met any Chinese, but I think positively about them because of I have read about them.




Mike Garcia, Comic Illustrator and Knowledge Lover.

As people, a bit distant but friendly. As a culture, known for the chinese food restaurants and coffee shops. Economically, as a competitor, a country with cheap labor that has stolen business from our country. Usually regarded chinese products as bad quality ones, but that perception is slowly changing.


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