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How do Vietnamese people view the Chinese?

16 Answers

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As a Vietnamese I think China is a very beautiful country

I love Chinese art


Traditional architecture




Modern cities


And especially Chinese food


Everything about Chinese history is very interesting. I especially love Hanzi, Chinese characters, and Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothes


It’s a country blessed with natural scenery


I know China just finished building the biggest airport in the world


And China just tried to imitate Vietnam’s hand bridge


This shows everything is possible in China including grand construction project


Longest bridge in the world


More high speed trains than the world combined

But I am very disappointed in China - how China is behaving in the East Sea of Vietnam.

Being such a powerful country, but China has not been kind to Vietnam. Through out history China has acted very aggressively towards Vietnam. This makes many Vietnamese feel angry and hate China.

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As a Vietnamese I would have to say that I strongly support Vietnam’s claim to the Paracels and Spratly’s, so China is to me always a threat as long as China continues to pressure Vietnam in the South China Sea.

I cannot empathize with China when it is sinking Vietnamese boats, arresting fishermen, passing laws that violate Vietnam’s sovereignty. If China is to have a better image to Vietnamese people, then the sea dispute must be solved according to international law, and China should stop entering Vietnamese EEZ - the 200 miles exclusive economic zone that all nations are entitled to.

Putting asides the sea dispute however, China’s rise is good for Vietnam in many ways. Aside from the obvious economic benefits, there are some positive cultural spill over.

For years, we Vietnamese had a massive inferiority complex and sell hating tendency. Many people looked down on their own culture and thought everything Western was automatically the best. Many people had negative views of Asian culture including Vietnamese culture. They think that it was outdated, lack glamor, sophistication comparing to Western culture, that Vietnam should abandon some traditions and follow the Western world (Ie. Lunar New Year).

People even thought Asian looking people were ugly and if you looked Western, you would be considered beautiful. And everything Western people did was right. People would even make excuses for them if they were bad and tried to explain their actions.

But in the past few years when China became more powerful, we have been experiencing a kind of cultural renaissance. And now we are more proud of Vietnam’s traditional heritage. We are are bolder at showing off our traditions. Now people even consider extreme Asian features like single eyelids to be beautiful (Well we do have Kpop to thank for this also).


In the past if people had money, they built Western style mansions, now Vietnamese style mansions are very popular with the characteristic wooden furniture.

I think the rise of China is very important for Vietnam. In the past, no countries in Asia could challenge the dominance of America and Europe in any area.

I admire China because they do not bow down to to Western powers. And in their foreign policies or foreign speeches, they always emphasize strongly their values according to ancient tradition. That is something neither South Korea, Japan or Taiwan, Singapore have ever done or dared to do.

In addition, I dislike places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore because they are pro colonizers countries, who always see themselves as subordinates to their former colonial masters.


Eva Air painted in Hello Kitty. It’s a known fact that Taiwan is a Japanophile country due to the Japanese colonization of Taiwan. The Taiwanese consider themselves honorary Japanese which is a shame to their heritage.


Hong Kong people preferring to be under British rule.

China is very proud of its heritage and I think Vietnam should follow its example.


Chinese traditional painting and teacups.


Bonsai trees


In my opinion, the other Asian countries although rich and developed do not have that capability to bring Asia or Asian culture to become the mainstream world culture. But China can.

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As a Chinese person, I would have to say I was amazed by the hatred I felt the first time when I encountered Vietnamese people in the US when I didn’t even do anything, but at the same time, they were curious about what we think about them. I got asked by Vietnamese people about how we think about them for like 15 times at least. But TBH, in China, people, especially the younger generation, talk about the United States, Europe, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Canada, Australia but no one talks about Vietnam if you are not a businessman that has business in Vietnam, the only thing I can think of is Pho and the Vietnam war because of all the American movies. I met a lot of people from different countries because of my work, I would say Vietnamese people dislike us the most, probably coz of history.

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As for me, I have been told of two significant differences between Vietnamese and Chinese: (1) Chinese are cruel while Vietnamese are kind, and (2) Chinese are greedy while Vietnamese are not. In my opinion, such are simply stereotypes that are perpetuated by Vietnamese in order to distinguish themselves from Chinese.

Let's take an example regarding the first stereotype. My mother once told me that, she saw something cruel in China during her visit. She saw a demonstration of a burn treatment medicine: The seller demonstrated the efficacy of the medicine by making his assistance, a teenage girl, hold a hot-heated chain so that it burnt her skin and he would apply the very medicine to cure her. My mother was horrified by that experience.

I do not know much about what really happened, but my brother explained that it was just a trick: The girl already applied a thin coating that reduced the heat from the chain to the skin, so that she would only be slightly burnt and that would go away within days. There is no cruelty behind it; instead, it is only a trick. But the shock value my mother received would stick with her for years to come.

About the second stereotype, the many arguments about Chinese mostly boiled down to a single point: historically there were many Chinese in Vietnam and they were usually rich (many Vietnamese Chinese recently were rich, thats why the government cracked down on them in the 1970s). But, it beckons a question: if someone is rich, it is not necessarily that he or she is greedy. Rather, he or she must have some skills and knowledge and wisdom that aided them in getting their wealth. In this, Dor Kimp has kindly provided it some insight:

Bí quyết thành công của người Hoa ở Chợ Lớn

The thing is that, some Vietnamese are just jealous of Chinese who were richer than they are. They do not simply envy, they also fear the Chinese control thanks to their wealth. They saw that as a threat, and used that as a pretext to drive the Chinese away or discriminate against them in return. If Vietnamese really want to become prosperous, they should learn from the Chinese, not make evil out of them. I think that, the Chinese are not greedy, but there are something adherent in their own practices that Vietnamese could always learn and emulate, just like how Europeans learned from Jewish wisdom and practices in order to enrich themselves.

If you look deeper into the parallel between Chinese and Jews, there are many things common: (1) they are both entrepreneurial peoples, (2) they both value knowledge and hard-work, which leads to wealth, (3) they are both visionary and mindful of creating and controlling trade networks. All these seem to stem from their own origin: (1) they are both strangers on others' soil (overseas Chinese and pre-1945 Jews), (2) they both understood that, since they are foreigners, they had little hope to attain and hold land, thus they opted for trade, and for that, (3) they are both suspected and mistreated. But, eventually their wisdom and knowledge triumphed.

In short, what Vietnamese view Chinese is usually the result of long-held stereotypes that ultimately stemmed from jealousy and fear. Jealousy and fear leads to distrust and demonization, and shunned the very source from which Vietnamese could learn. At the same time, it blinds the Vietnamese from the very weaknesses and flaws that they have yet to address or remedy. If the Vietnamese really want to beat the Chinese, they should first try to learn and emulate the knowledge and experience of the Chinese, while trying to remedy the flaws of their own. As for the stereotypes about Chinese, that is a relic of history that should be removed.

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An ever cultural superpowers.

In the past, sometimes, China was conquered by nomadic people. But these very conqueror were then fascinated by China culture and were finally assimilated into China culture. For example, the Qing Dynasty, Northern Wei Dynasty.

The cultural influence of China upon Vietnam, Japan, Korea are undisputable immense.

2. Most of history, China has usually been a military, politic, economic superpower.

3. Deep down inside, China possesses an unique confidence and resilience coming from thousands of years of being a cultural superpower, a “Center Country”.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the war that cost from 10 to 20 millions Chinese lives. And the world are shocked by the brutality of Japanese towards Chinese people, especially Nanjing Massacre, Unit 731. However, Chiang Kai-shek once said that The Japanese is a disease of the skin , the Communists is a disease of the heart. If we look back into China history, we can notice that the Second Sino-Japanese War is not China bloodiest war. And the atrocities the Japanese did to China during WW2 is not the most brutal one that foreign invader did to Chinese people. For example: The Manchu Conquest of China: over 25 millions death, Taiping Rebellion: 20–30 millions death… And most importantly, there are many times, the conqueror were then assimilated by China culture, and became Chinese. Therefore, to Chinese, The Japanese invasion is just a disease of the skin. But Communism, an ideology that may affect Chinese way of life, was seen by Chiang Kai-shek as a disease of the heart.

Even during lowest point in China history, China still managed to fight with the US in Korea War (1950–1953) to a stalemate. At that time, the US was the strongest superpower in the world, the only nuclear power, even the USSR also avoided direct confrontation with the US. China still took on the US. This unique confidence come from thousands of years of being a “Center Country”

4. A global superpower : 21st Century will definitely be China century.

5. Great help to Vietnam during Vietnam war (1954–1975) and Vietnam Independence War Against France (1945–1954)

I am grateful to Chinese for your help especially during the Vietnam Independence War Against France (1945–1954). At that time, the US, the world richest and strongest country then, chose to side with the France to continue to enslave Vietnamese. And China was the only country that open arms to us at this desperate time. China is the first country that recognized Democratic Republic Vietnam of President Ho Chi Minh in 1949. The Soviet Union and Stalin then was indifferent to Vietnam Independence War. Without China help, it would be extremely difficult for us to defeat the France. To our Chinese friend, we never forget your help. Vietnam propaganda machine nowadays mainly focus on our sea dispute, but rarely talk about our good old days. I think that we should have had a better relationship.

Some Vietnamese argued that China help to Vietnam also benefited China, such as: China could expand her political influence in international arena, Vietnam served as a pawn of China, the USSR in the world hegemony game. I think that in addition to the above reasons, China help to Vietnam also came from the compassion of Chinese people giving to us. To our Chinese friend, we also love you a lot.

6. I think that the propaganda machine of the US and the West are extremely unfair and bias toward China and Chinese people. For example: The “One Belt One Road Initiative” of China clearly bring about lots of benefit to host countries. But the US and the West propaganda only portrayed it as: “China Debt Trap, Environment Pollution, Chinazi Plan Of World Hegemony”. Sadly, many Vietnam e-newspaper followed the US and the West propaganda. I strongly disagree with them. This propaganda agenda only deepen the misunderstanding between us.

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Most of the Vietnamese ( esp the Northerners ) share the common DNA of the Southern Han blood. So you can call them ethnically (Southern) Han Chinese origin.

Before the northern Han came down , the area in South China namely Guangxi, Guangzhou , Hunan, etc and Annam ( in Vietnam) were governed by one ruler. The Prime Minister decided to move to Annam, and he was until now still being revered by Vietnamese.

Culturally, Vietnamese and South Chinese are almost the same. They have similar beliefs, living styles ( I mean compare when China and Vietnam were of same standard of living back in the 1970s), family values and life values , Confucianism teachings, graveyards, eating habits, musical instruments ( though some are adapted ), the imperial palace architecture, the old Royal system with Eunuchs, temples design , mono -syllabic language etc. In fact , before the French introduced the romanised scripts ( spelt with French style) in the late 1890s, all written forms were in Chinese characters.

Even the features ( the looks) are the same esp those Northern Vietnamese , as they are of the same DNA as South Chinese. The southern Vietnamese are darker as it is a mixture of Northern and Southern Vietnamese ( mostly Champa origin.) The Vietnamese language has evolved but one can still catch many words and terms being of South China ( especially Cantonese ) origin including swearing words.

Of course , the Vietnamese being sovereign has all the rights to self-determination. There are so much common traits that Vietnamese and Chinese have. So hope that Vietnam can determine its own destiny and not be influenced by other parties . To progress , Vietnam needs to have forward-looking, work with neighbours peacefully. remain Asian thinking ( not to be influenced by so called Western styled “freedom and liberal thinking” , adapt to positive values and work on human resources.

Working positively with China , Japan, South Korea and Asean countries is a good start.

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Unfortunately, many Vietnamese people I know don't like China and Chinese people. In Vietnamese history, China is painted as an aggressive, vicious and cruel invader. There are a lot of Chinese tourists coming to Vietnam every year, and they are viewed as loud, untidy and stingy people. It's difficult to have an opinion on Chinese in general, since China is such a huge and diverse country. I'm sure Chinese from rural areas are quite different from the ones from the cities. My observation is that, Vietnamese people who never met Chinese normally dislike them (due to education and media influence). For Vietnamese who have interacted with Chinese, their opinion varies depending on their experience with Chinese people. I can tell you about my experience, knowing that it might be very different from the majority's.

I was lucky to have very nice and smart Chinese friends at schools (undergrad and MBA, thus can be safely classified as middle-class :D). I also worked with a lot of Chinese colleagues and had a boss who comes from Shanghai. Comparing to Vietnamese people, I think:

Education : Chinese people whom I met received very good education, especially people from Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing. A lot of Chinese universities are now in the top 100 and 200 of best universities in the world, while Vietnamese universities are struggling and don't even know how to educate their students.

Work ethics : Chinese people are very hard-working and professional. I was impressed by my colleagues' professionalism and responsibility. From my conversation with some Chinese friends, I figured out that they normally work much harder than I did (10-12 hours vs. 8-9 hours/day). I guess it comes from the culture. Chinese culture respects people who work hard. Vietnamese culture prefers people who don't work so hard, but still get a lot of money (just look at our leaders ;)). It might be also because China was industrialized earlier than Vietnam (China opened up in 1979, while Vietnam started to reform only in 1986).

Politics : they are both communist, and I'm not so much a fan of that. A lot of people might dispute this point, but in my opinion, China has much stronger and more competent leadership compared to Vietnam. Both countries are corrupted, however, Chinese politicians still somehow care about the welfare of their country. They talk about Chinese dream. They send smart students to oversea to study and then come back to work in the government. They chose smart and competent leaders for their party. While in Vietnam, politicians seem to mostly care about money. Vietnamese politics is truly a dumb-down version of Chinese politics.

Media : a good point about Vietnam is that we still have access to FB & Google, and the media in Vietnam is less strictly controlled than in China. Therefore, I have impression that Vietnamese are somehow less "brain-washed" than Chinese. As a result, Vietnamese people also seem less supportive to their communist government than Chinese do.

Just my 2 cents. I think Vietnamese people can learn a lot from Chinese, despite the aggressive politics of Chinese government.

Thanks for the A2A, James Luong :)

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This is a critical and complex answer that affects not only Asia, the South China Sea but also global geopolitics.

I am answering this because many if not all of the answers are deeply personal, they talk about their own feelings, particularly the Vietnamese who are not afraid to show their emotions when necessary.

I have lived in both countries each for many years. The political systems, the wars, the past transgressions are well documented. From being in both places and listening to how each society feels about the others, especially the Vietnamese view of ethnic Chinese, this is what in my view has been missing from the responses.

The ‘boat’ people which totaled 1.6 million, the majority of which were from the South, were by and large ethnic Chinese. Stop for a moment and go back to that time where Chinese were basically kicked out of the country, put into make shift boats and told to sink or swim after having all of their possessions taken from them.

There were answers that noted a lot of negative stereotypes about the chinese from cunning to untrustworthy. Suffice it to say, the Vietnamese ethnically ‘cleansed’ their Chinese population during that time to the point where I couldnt use any of my chinese language skills in the country at all after 1992. This is the only country in Asia where I could not speak mandarin or cantonese, they were simply gone eliminated.

The 1979 war was the last straw for the Vietnamese, it is true that their army was large, ready and absolutely fearsome especially on their own turf. The chinese were not well organized, used conscripts and quickly lost a short war.

The long history of Vietnam like so many countries in the region, as a vassal state of China and the modern versions of both countries especially the Vietnamese 40 year battle to have a single country controlled by the North where well over 3 million died to achieve that goal has left the Vietnamese with a readiness to take offense at anything the Chinese do.

The SC Sea issue is both serious and typical. There is no trust as China wants Vietnam to go back to being a vassal state. Vietnam will never accept that, it is deeply engrained and taught to every child in school to never accept any outside control or influence.

Keeping this short, there will continue to be trade and tourism, especially Chinese going to Vietnam which is inexpensive and booming. But if the Chinese feel they haven’t forgotten their 100 years of ‘shame’ blaming the west, the Vietnamese have over a 1,000 years of domination by the Chinese and they simply will not forget, go back to or put up with.

The Vietnamese whom I have spoken to, lived with and did business with since 1992 feel the greatest threat to their sovereignty is China. They showed how they viewed the Han people by kicking them out of the country and taking all of their possessions. These feelings will not go away easily especially with the avowed Chinese policy to own the entire South China Sea because 2,000 years ago they had bigger ships. My view, the Chinese should beware of the Vietnamese. The USA and shortly thereafter the Chinese, both learned that fighting them is not a good idea and now with USA and ASEAN support, Vietnam will not back down lightly.

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I’m chinese. And when I first went to Vietnam, before I took off a Vietnamese girl happened to add me on Facebook. I just chat with her and she told me that she wanna take me around when I arrive at Ho Chi Minh~ so I agreed

and that day I arrived at Ho Chi Minh city around 22:30, since the flight was a little bit delayed and I was on the flight for more than 6 hours. So when I arrived, she sent me message, and the chat was like this

Girl: hallo did you arrive? Why don’t you send me message? Send me your hotel address so I can pick you there and we can walk around

Me: OK, but Trang sorry I’m too tired today and I hope I can take a break so we can go outside somewhere tomorrow. Is that ok for you? ^^

Girl: OK, no problem. I won’t forget this insult. We Vietnamese don’t eat our words like you chinese who are used to cheating and lying~ now fxxk off and don’t call me again, you chinese idiot~

And then she deleted and blocked me…

Me: WTF???

So I just hanged out by myself for the next whole week, and this was a disastrous experience

first when I arrived first day, the customer asked me to pay him $10 or otherwise he won’t let me pass… almost all the Chinese travellers had been asked for the tips but all the other foreigners didn’t.

and lots of churches and museums didn’t allow me in because I’m a chinese. Moreover, every shop and restaurant tried to charge me a little bit more when they knew that I’m chinese…

Even in Hanoi when a Vietnamese waitress noticed that I’m chinese, she spitted in my soup…

mans the stuff girl in the front desk of my hotel smiled and said “đĩ mẹ mày” to me … I asked her why she said that and she told me this is “hallo” in Vietnamese. She didn’t realise that I learnt Vietnamese before and this phrase is actually a dirty word… when she smiled to me I felt more disguising…

.before I went to Vietnam I once got very positive impression on this country, cuz I got many Vietnamese friends here and I’m also keen on the socialism country which is similar to us. We even share similar culture.

but after I went there, all the good impression on this country disappear… Vietnam might be the most anti-China country in southern Eastern Asia (the next one must be Thailand). So if you are a chinese, I suggest that you can choose another country for travel such as Malaysia, Singapore or Philippine where people are more friendly.

AND AT last, let me mention you, that Vietnamese guys are far much more friendly than Vietnamese girls. I got quite a lot Vietnamese male friends with whom we could chat a lot and go travel together. While when I met Vietnamese girls, no matter whether on internet or in reality, 60% will be regardless of me even without a glance, and 40% will directly say :”fxxk you china dog”…

PS: someone might misunderstand me. I like Vietnamese people very much, and spent lots of time learning “TiếnG Việt”. And quite a lot of my Vietnamese classmates and colleagues once helped me before, which I really appreciated. I just wanna say I was shocked and disappointed that the Vietnam I once expected and the real vietnam i saw when I arrived are totally different. This made me very upset.

and I don’t mean Vietnamese girls are bad. Just for me, according to my experience, Vietnamese guys are easier to make friends with than Vietnamese girls

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My maternal grandfather was a Vietnamese. He left Vietnam in the 1960s to do business in Leh, India, and later moved to China.

The attitude of the Vietnamese towards China is very complicated, and overall it is not good, especially on real political and historical issues.

Some people think that China is an imperialist country that has invaded Vietnam for thousands of years, because textbooks and propaganda say so, and from a historical perspective, this seems to be the case. However, there was no concept of a nation-state more than 2000 years ago. The Baiyue people are a very large and complex tribal group. Among them, Wuyue, Minyue, Ouyue, Yelang, Dian Kingdom, etc. constituted a part of ancient Chinese nation and history. The South Vietnamese, Xiou, Luoyue and others participated in the construction of Vietnamese history.

Overall, they are very awesome to China, but they also hate it.

Because both Han and Ming dynasties have conquered Vietnam in history, especially Han dynasty, General Fu Bo ’s Ma Yuan almost killed all the adult men in Annan area, making the Vietnamese dare not rebel for thousands of years.

However, in the eyes of Chinese emperors, officials and scholars, it is to maintain unity and not to be an aggression. Vietnam has existed as a Chinese territory for thousands of years, and was divided until the five generations and ten countries.

But in the eyes of the Vietnamese, China is not as easy to bully as someone said, and it is very miserable to make China end. A veteran soldier from Vietnam participated in the war against China, that is, the Battle of Laoshan. When they ambushed the Chinese army, a Vietnamese sniper killed a Chinese officer, as if he were an instructor or the like. As a result, hundreds of Chinese soldiers rushed out to take revenge like a wasp. Before they could react, the Chinese bayonet and bullets had stabbed into their chests. The Vietnamese veteran was hiding in the ditch before he was killed.

From then on, the Vietnamese forces where he is located have an unwritten rule, and they will never snipe Chinese officers. Because that would double the morale of the Chinese soldiers and suddenly increase their combat effectiveness.

Now the Vietnamese can say to the Chinese whether it is a feud, but they do not like it very much.

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