27 November 2010


Face is an important part of Chinese society. The concept of Face is much simpler than it is described. Face is your reputation, how others see you as a person. Westerners tend to care little about Face in the Chinese sense. We blab about everything we do on facebook, blogs, the twitters etc and never give a damn even if its something mildly inappropriate or embarrassing. We admit our wrong doings and mistakes. For example George “Dubya” Bush publicly admitted the he had trouble with alcohol. No Chinese person would ever dare do this, as it would bring shame upon him and cause him lose face. To the Chinese, Face is like blood, it is precious and very bad to lose. Chinese people will go to great lengths to preserve face and keep the skeletons in their closet in their closet. People will go to great lengths to cover up their flaws and mistakes from the public. This may be part of the reason Asians always aim to be the best and to outperform their peers, they want to look as flawless as possible. Having a big flaw (like being terrible at math) shows that you lack face. Saying that someone has no face is a great insult. For example, you should never openly blame a Chinese person for a mistake. By attributing blame to that person, they lose face because you are saying that the mistake was made due to a flaw that person has, and losing face is a great disgrace. Face can also be treated as a commodity that can be given and earned. For example, say a father works at the post office, and his son wants a job there, the father will put in a good word for his son the office. By doing this, the father has given the son face by giving him a good reputation there even before he starts working. Face can also be salvaged before it is lost. For example, a president can make a remark that would cause him to lose face, but his spokesperson steps in and tries to justify the presidents statement. The spokesperson just salvaged the presidents face.

All in all, you just have to remember that Face = Reputation. You should also be cautious as you may cause a Chinese person to lose face without even knowing it. In 2006 when Hu Jintao visited the White House, Dubya tugged on Hu’s suit because he walked off the wrong side of the podium after a press conference. This was a source of great humiliation and loss of face for Hu, as it appeared as if Hu was a child that needed to be pulled to go to the right place. As a result, the Chinese media covered it up in order to preserve the presidents face.


  1. Face doesn't quite match reputation. One can have a good reputation and yet still be kind of an inept goober of a person.

  2. To go on a tangent...why do you always see an Asian girl and White guy together in commercials?

  3. Thats a topic Im not comfortable getting into. Ask TCG of you must.