Textappeal | 3) August – London Mayor Boris Johnson offends the Chinese at the Olympic handover… three times
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3) August – London Mayor Boris Johnson offends the Chinese at the Olympic handover… three times

  |   CultureShocks Blog

Elliot Polak with Boris Johnson

The news:

In August, London Mayor Boris Johnson was accused of being “rude, arrogant and disrespectful” for accepting the Olympic flag with one hand, putting his hands in his pockets and not buttoning up his jacket. As explained by one Chinese blogger: “At such a formal occasion, he should have buttoned his jacket. If you dress informally or not properly, it can be seen as disrespect to the host (in China). “When he was stepping to the stage and down, he put his hand in the pocket of his jacket. This shows he was extremely casual, he did not seem to take this occasion seriously. “After he took over the Olympic flag, he simply passed it to the Chinese standard-bearer. He was the only person who took the flag with one hand. This is very disrespectful to the Olympic flag.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/olympics/2626544/Chinese-media-mocks-London-2012-Olympic-handover-performance.html

Behind the news:

I first heard this one from Boris Johnson himself. He told me how he shocked the Chinese nation at the Beijing Olympics, adding provocatively “We’re British, why shouldn’t we do things the British way?” Being somewhat eccentric and making fun of oneself and others is well accepted in Britain, almost even a sport. However less individualistic societies such as China, the concept of “preserving face” – i.e. to not be embarrassed in social and public situations – is highly valued. It is difficult for many Chinese people to understand why you would want to make your hosts or yourself look silly. With China as today’s biggest growth market for many brands, loss of face in advertising can have significant commercial impact. French car manufacturer Citroen demonstrated its “revolutionary” qualities with a humorous image of the revolutionary Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung, in an advertisement that only appeared in Europe. When it was circulated in China via Internet, 70 percent of people surveyed felt insulted and stated that they would not consider buying a Citroen car. © Textappeal 2009



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