Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Monkey Men in China- China’s Inability to Innovate

Posted by w_thames_the_d on August 22, 2010

There is a sahing- monkey see, monkey do, well, this is alive and well in China. The reason I bring this up is that while vacationing in a Chinese hotspot, I noticed this remarkable phenomenon. Chinese love to copy or mimic. I am not being an ass when I say this, or maybe I am, but let me explain.

While strolling along the beach I noticed about 50 Chinese huddled by the water they dared not enter as it apparently was an unknown to them. There were about 10 packs of 5 of them and their behavior was identical. One old haggard woman with a coolie hat from the 1920’s would venture near the waves, dunk in her largest toe, and race back to the shore screeching, while the rest of them joined in the hilarity. I do not know if the 50 people had choreographed the event or not, but it repeated itself for about 30 minutes, i shit you not.
Then one of my colleagues bent over and began to collect shells, they were looking for only the pretty ones, and no shit, within seven minutes the damned beach was filled with bent over coolies combing the beach for shells- presumably, but then again its China so maybe they thought my friend had come upon a few dollars. In any event, my colleague was somewhat dismayed as the coolies had literally picked this swath of beach clean of shells. They had abandoned all hope of dunking a toe in the ocean and had undertaken this new task with the zest of the red guard.
Having no more shells to pick my friends walked off to the shade. The poor Chinese were now in a quandary as this leader of men the one who had shown the novel idea of picking up shells had left or abandoned them. I watched in amusement, sure that if I’d decided to prostrate myself and begin chanting in tongues, some of the coolies would have followed me. Deciding that oftentimes discretion is the better part of valor, I walked off, leaving them once again to wait for another glorious leader to emerge and offer their mundane existences a glimmer of hope.

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